Some of these khans on the road to Damascus or other large Eastern cities are spacious buildings, and the scene presented within them when some caravan stops overnight, or several parties of travelers meet there, is picturesque in the extreme. Everybody wears bright-colored garments and everybody is armed, and the grunt of the camel and bray of the donkey make night, if not musical, certainly most melancholy to the untrained ear.
But innovation has crept in, and the city khan is now a kind of bastard hotel, with a rude host, who makes you pay for your own lodging and the provender of your animal; and as part and parcel of the establishment you also find a coffee-shop, coffee being the primal necessity of Oriental well—being, taking precedence even of tobacco, which, however, always accompanies it. There is always a bazaar close by, at which you can purchase savory kibabs of mutton and other cooked food. Men are no more ashamed to eat in the street than they are to pray there; so you may see multitudes taking their meals al fresco at the hours of morning, midday or sunset, after prayers.
Neither does the Mussulman need elaborate bed and bedding for his repose. He does not undress as we do, but only loosens his garments, without taking them off, and stretches himself on top of his bed or rug, as the case may be. When the weather is cold, he takes off his shoes, but wraps his head and the upper part of his person tightly in his blanket or shawl, at apparent risk of suffocation. Keeping the feet warm and the head cool, which is our great sanitary law, is reversed by the Turk, for he keeps his head covered and his feet uncovered as much as he possibly can. In the morning he gets up, shakes himself, tightens his garments, performs his matutinal ablutions, and his toilet is made for the day. Under these circumstances it will be seen that many things which we should regard as essential necessaries in our hostelry, would be pure superfluities to our Turkish or Arab brother.
Of course, in these places you meet a great mixture of nationalities and all classes and conditions, for the rich, in the absence of other hotel accommodations, must use them as well as the poor; only, as every man brings his own things with him, you find more luxury and comfort in some of the arrangements than in others. You may see rich merchants from Bagdad or Damascus sitting on piles of costly cushions, attended by obsequious slaves, and smoking perfumed Shiraz out of silver narghiles, whose long, snake-like tubes are tipped with precious amber and encircled by rows of precious stones worth a prince's ransom. Huddled together, in striking contrast to this picture, you may see, crouched on their old rugs and smoking the common clay chibouque, a bevy of street-beggars, also enjoying themselves after their fashion.
These khans serve also as shops or bazaars for the traveling merchant, Persian or Turk, who is ever ready to show you his wares, without seeming to care much whether you buy or not.
The city khans are very simply built in a quadrangle, with small rooms, like convent cells, running all round it. These are used both as sleeping-rooms and shops. The stables for the animals and the store-rooms are in a covered corridor beneath. As there are permanent residents here, and valuable merchandise and other articles stored away, there is a gate strongly bolted and barred, and often sheathed in iron, and a gate-keeper, generally to be seen sleeping or smoking, whose sole business is to prevent the entrance of improper or suspicious persons.
The evenings at the khan used to be, and sometimes still are, enlivened by the presence of the almes or dancing-girls, whose ancestors may have danced the same wild and wanton dances before Cleopatra. The singing-girls, monotonously chanting the same dolorous and drowsy tunes, with imitation guitar accompaniment on the saab were also wont to wound the drowsy ear of night for the diversion of the guests. Drowsier and more sleep-compelling still were the interminable tales spun out by the professional story-teller, giving ragged versions of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments for the delectation of the tireless native listeners.
In those old days, too, the khans used to be the resort of the slave-merchants, who kept stowed safely away, for inspection and purchase, Circassian, Georgian or more dingy beauties, to suit all tastes. But civilization, in its encroachments on Turkey, has compelled the cessation of open sales of either white or black slaves in public places, though so long as the social and domestic system of the East remains unchanged, the sale of women for the house or harem will continue. It is conducted, however, with more privacy, and Christians are not permitted the privilege of viewing the proceedings. This restriction has taken away from the khans one of their former great attractions.
To European or American travelers accustomed to the ease, luxury and profusion of our modern hotels, where the guests enjoy more comforts than most of them get at home, this kind of entertainment for man and beast certainly does not seem attractive. Yet there is enjoyment in it when the khan is tolerably free from fleas and "such small deer," and one is accustomed "to roughing it," and blessed with a good appetite and digestion.
Yet, truth to tell, it is more picturesque than pleasant at the best—more gratifying to the eye than to the other senses, especially to those of smell and hearing. For the odors arising from Turkish or Arab cooking are not those of Araby the Blest; and the close contiguity of the beasts of burden assails both the senses named more pungently than pleasantly. Besides, the Oriental, generally making it a rule to wrap up his head carefully in the covering, snores stertorously throughout the night; so that silence, which we regard as necessary for repose, does not rule over the khan; and when daybreak comes, the startled traveler may imagine Babel has broken loose again, since both men and animals rise with the dawn, and make most diabolical noises to indicate that they have risen.
Enterprising Europeans have set up many hotels in Eastern cities, but they are almost exclusively resorted to by strangers or Europeans resident in the country. Even the high Turks, lapped in luxury and sybaritic in their habits of personal ease, prefer their own hotel system to ours, carrying all their comforts along with them, and a retinue of servants to take charge of them. You will very rarely see a Turkish gentleman, even if educated in Europe, stopping at Messeir's or any of the great Eastern hotels on the European plan.
At Messeir's in Constantinople, or at Shepheard's hotel in Cairo—places of historic interest almost, through the vivid descriptions of travelers like the authors of Eothen and The Crescent and the Cross—a most motley medley of Western nationalities may be encountered, the adventurers, tourists and wanderers of the world congregated there during the winter months, and presenting a panoramic view of all the peculiar phases and contrasts of European civilization, more antagonistic there than elsewhere. There you see the German savant with his round spectacles, round face and round figure; the lean and restless Frenchman; the imperturbable Englishman, drinking his bottled beer under the shadow of the Pyramids; and the angular American, more curious, but more cosmopolite, than any of them. The returning Englishman or Englishwoman who has spent twenty years in India also presents an anomalous type, proving how climate and mode of life may alter the original; for it is curious to contrast the round, rosy faces of the fresh English girls outward bound with the sharp, sallow faces and flashing, restless eyes which characterize those who are returning. The babel of tongues at these tables-d'hote, where conversations are being carried on in every European language, is most perplexing at first, though French and English predominate. Altogether, for the student of character there is no better field than one of these European hotels in the East—none where the lines of difference can be found more sharply defined; for travel and contact with strangers appear only to bring out the contrasts more clearly, and produce a more direct antagonism, instead of softening down or assimilating them, as one might expect.
Very few travelers see the city khans—fewer still ever venture to pass a night within their walls. Even on the routes of desert-travel the pilgrims for pleasure avoid them, substituting their own tents for the stone walls, and confiding in the arrangements made by their dragomen or guides, who contract to make the necessary provision for all their wants for a stipulated sum—one-half usually in advance, the balance payable at the expiration of the trip. To do these men justice, as a rule they provide liberally and well in all respects, their reputation and recommendations being their capital and stock in trade for securing subsequent tourists. Yet it cannot be doubted that this system has robbed the Eastern tour of some of its most salient and striking peculiarities, and has deprived the traveler of much opportunity for insight into the real life of the Oriental, only to be seen while he is journeying from place to place, since his own house is generally closed against the stranger, and it is only in the khan that a glimpse of his mode of life can be obtained.
The khan, like the harem, is one of the peculiar institutions of the East, and will probably so continue, in spite of the advancing tide of European civilization; which, however it may affect the outer aspects of that life, has as yet made little impression on its more essential features. The men may wear the Frank dress (all but the hat, which they will not accept), may smoke cigars instead of chibouques, and drink "gaseous lemonade" (champagne), in defiance of the Prophet's prohibition; the women may send from the high harems for French fashions, and "fearfully and wonderfully" array themselves therein; but in other respects the people will stubbornly adhere to their own social system and habits of life.
It follows that the traveler who goes to the East to study the manners and customs of its people will get only an imperfect and outside view if he makes himself comfortable in one of the hybrid European hotels we have described, instead of braving the picturesque discomforts of the Oriental hotel or khan, which he will find endurable by taking a few preliminary precautions easily suggested to him on the spot.
EDWIN DE LEON.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
THE CALIFORNIAN AT VIENNA.
I am in bonds and fetters through not understanding the German tongue. It is a weary torture to be a stupid, uncomprehended foreigner. I am lost in a linguistic swamp. It is necessary to employ one man to talk to another. The commisionnaire does not understand more than half I say. What might he not be interpreting to the other fellow? The most trivial want costs me a world of anxiety and trouble. I desired some blotting-paper. I went to a little stationery shop. I said, "Paper! paper! fuer die blot, you know. Ich bin Englisher—er: ink no dry; what you call um? Vas? vas? Hang it!" They took down all sorts of paper—letter-paper, wrapping-paper, foolscap, foreign post. I tried to make my want known by signs. I made myself simply ridiculous. The shopkeeper stared at me in perplexity, disgust and despair. Then he discussed the matter with his wife. I fretted, perspiring vigorously. I went away. I went to a commissionnaire at my hotel. It required five minutes to explain the matter to him. He discussed the matter with the portier. The portier is quite buried under gold lace and brass buttons. The commissionnaire returns to me. He thinks he knows what I require, but is not quite certain. All this trouble for a bit of blotting-paper! It is so with everything. Every little matter of every-day life, which at home to think of and do are almost identical, here costs so much time, labor and anxiety! My strength is all gone when I have purchased a paper of pins and a bottle of ink. Breakfast and dinner task me to the utmost. The slightest deviation from established custom seems to act on the people at the restaurant like a wrong figure in a table of logarithms. It required three days to convince a stunted boy in a long-tailed coat that I did not wish beer for dinner. He would bring beer. I would say, "I don't want beer! I want my—some dinner." He would depart and take counsel with the head-waiter, and I would feel as if I had been doing something for which I ought to be corrected. The latter functionary approaches and exclaims with domineering voice, "Vat you vants?" I reply with meekness, "Dinner, sir, if you please." He brings me an elegantly bound book containing the bill of fare. But it is in German: I look at it knowingly: Sanscrit would be quite as intelligible. I put my finger on a word which I suppose means soup. I look up meekly at the functionary. He glowers contemptuously upon me. He recommends me to an underling, and bustles off to guests more important. There are in the dining-hall French, German, Italian, English and Japanese. Tongues, plates, knives and forks clatter inside—wheels roll, rumble and clatter over the stony pavement outside. I wait for my soup. Hours seem to lag by. I appeal in vain to other waiters. Life is too busy and important a matter with them to pay any attention to me.
The aristocratic German waiter is cool and indifferent. It is beneath his dignity to approach you within half an hour after you sit down. He knows you are hungry, and enjoys your pangs. He is sensible of every signal, every expression of the eye with which you regard him. To appear not to know is the chief business of his life. He will with the minutest care arrange a napkin while a half dozen hungry men at different tables are trying to arrest his attention. Before I met this man my temper was mild and amiable: I believed in doing by my fellows as I would be done by. Now I am changed. I never visit the Vienna restaurant but I dwell in thought on battle, murder, pistols, bowie-knives, blood, bullets and sudden death. After eating a meal it requires another hour to pay for it. A nobleman, dressed de rigueur, condescends to take my money after he has made me wait long enough. There are two of these officials at the hotel. One in general manner resembles a heavy dealer in bonds and government securities—the other a modest, charming young clergyman of the Church of England. One morning, when the atmosphere was very sultry, I ventured to open a window. The dealer in government securities shut it immediately, and gave me a look which humiliated me for the day. I said I wanted, if possible, air enough to support life while eating my breakfast. He said that was against the rules of the house: the windows must not be opened. There was too much dust blowing in the street. What were a few common lives compared to the advent of dust in that dining-room?
You must live here by rule. Novelty is treason. It is the unalterable rule of life that because things have been done in a certain manner, so must they ever be done. It requires almost a revolution to have an egg boiled hard in Vienna. I said at my first meal, "Ein caffee und egg mit hard." It may be seen that I speak German with the English accent. The eggs came soft-boiled. I suppose that the nobleman who attended on my table went to the prince in disguise who governed the culinary department, and informed him of this new demand in the matter of eggs. It is presumable that the prince pronounced against me, for next morning my eggs were still soft-boiled. Then I braced myself up and said, "See here! I want mine zwei eggs, you know, hard, hard! You understand?" The nobleman looked at me with contempt. The eggs came about one-tenth of a degree harder than the previous morning. I resolved to gain my point. I saw how necessary it was to put more force, vigor, spirit and savagery into my culinary instructions to the nobleman. This despotism should not prevail against me. When the free, easy and enlightened American among the effete and crumbling monarchies of Europe shrieks for hard-boiled eggs, they must be produced, though the House of Hapsburg should reel, stumble and totter.
I said on the third morning, "Haben Sie ein hot Feuer in your kitchen?" Ja. "And hot Wasser?" Ja. "And will you put this hot Feuer under the said hot Wasser, and in that hot Wasser put the eggs and keep them there zehn Minuten, zwanzig Minuten, or a day or a week—any length of time, so that they are only boiled hard, just like stones, brickbats, rocks, boulders or the gray granite crest of Yosemite? I want mine eggs hard." Then I ground my teeth and looked wicked and savage, and squirmed viciously in my chair. There was some improvement in the eggs that morning, but they were not hard boiled.
The Viennese spend most of their time in the open air, drinking beer and coffee, reading light newspapers, eating and smoking. In the English and American sense they have neither politics nor religion. The government and the Church provide these articles, leaving the people little to do save enjoy themselves, float lazily down life's stream, and die when their souls become too spiritualized to remain longer in their bodies.
I am fast becoming German. I have my coffee at nine: it requires two hours to drink it. Then I dream a little, smoke a cigar and drink a glass of beer. At twelve comes dinner. This I eat at a cafe table on the sidewalk, with more beer. At two I take a nap. At five I awake, drink another glass of beer, and dream. From that time until nine is occupied in getting hungry for supper. This occupies two hours. Then more beer and tobacco. Some time in the night I retire. Sometimes I am aware of the operation of disrobing, sometimes not. This is Viennese life. One day merges into another in a vague, misty sort of way. Time is not checked off into short, sharp divisions as in busy, bustling America. From the windows opposite mine, on the other side of the street, protrude Germans with long pipes. They sit there hour after hour, those pipes hanging down a foot below the window-sill. Occasionally they emit a puff of smoke. This is the only sign of life about them.
The window-sills are furnished with cushions to lean on when you gaze forth. The one in mine is continually dropping down into the street below, and a man in a brass-mounted cap, who calls himself a "Dienstmann," does a good business in picking it up and bringing it up stairs at ten kreutzers a trip. The kreutzer is a copper coin equivalent to an English farthing. Every day here seems a sort of holiday, and in this respect Sunday stands pre-eminent.
The ladies, as a rule, are fine-looking, shapely, well-dressed and particular as to the fit of their gaiters and hose—a most refreshing sight to one for a year accustomed to the general dowdiness which in this respect prevails in England. Most of the English girls seem to have no idea that their feet should be dressed. The Viennese lady is very tasteful. She is neither slipshod nor gaudy. I never beheld more dainty toilettes. Everything about them, as a sailor would say, is cut "by the lifts and braces."
Vienna abounds in great bath-houses. I have tested one. I wandered about the establishment asking every one I met for a warm bath. Some pointed in one direction, some in another, and after blundering back and forth for a while, I found myself before a woman. For fifty kreutzers she gave me a ticket. Then she called for Marie. Marie, a black-eyed, bright German girl, came. She went to a shelf and burdened herself with a quantity of linen. Then she signed for me to follow. I did so in an expectant, wondering and rather anxious frame of mind. Marie showed me into a neatly-furnished bath-room. She spread a linen sheet in the tub, and turned on the water. I waited for the tub to fill and Marie to depart. Marie seemed in no hurry. I pondered over the possibilities involved in a German "Warm-bad." Perhaps Marie will attempt to scrub me! Never! At last she goes. I remove my collar. Suddenly Marie returns: it is to bring another towel. There is no lock on the door—nothing with which to defend one's self. I bathe in peace, however. On emerging I examine the pile of linen Marie has left. There is a small towel, and two large aprons without strings, long enough to reach from the shoulders to the knees. I study over their possible use. I conclude they are to dry the anatomy with. On subsequent inquiry I ascertained that they were to be worn while I rang the bell and Marie came in to substitute hot water for cold.
The American commission to the exhibition occupies a bare, disconsolate, shabby suite of rooms. They resemble much the editorial offices of those ephemeral daily papers which, commencing with very small capital, after a spasmodic career of a few months fall despairingly into the arms of the sheriff. I had once occasion to visit the commission on a little matter of business. What that was I have forgotten: I recollect only the multiplicity of doors in those apartments. When I turned to depart, I opened every door but the proper one. I went into closets, private apartments and intricate passages, and after making the entire round without discovering egress, I made another tour of them, but still could not find where I had entered. A solitary American was seated in the reading-room looking weary and homesick, and I asked him if he could tell me the right road out of the American commission. He said he hardly knew: this was his first visit, but he'd try. So both of us went prospecting around and opening all the doors we met, while a deaconish old gentleman behind a desk looked on apparently interested, yet offering nothing in the way of information or suggestion. I presume, however, this is the only amusement the man has in this forlorn place. I was beginning to think of descending by way of the windows when the strange American at last found a door which led into the main entry, and we both left at the same time, glad to escape.
I will do one side of the American department in the exhibition stern justice. It commences with a long picture placed there by the Pork Packers' Association of Cincinnati, descriptive of the processes which millions of American hogs are subjected to while being converted into pork. There are hogs going in long procession to be killed, and going, too, in a determined sort of way, as if they knew it was their business to be killed. Then come hogs killed, hogs scalded, hogs scraped, hogs cut up into shoulders, hams, sides, jowls; hogs salted, hogs smoked. Underneath this sketch are a number of unpainted buggy and carriage wheels; next, a pile of pick-handles; not far off, a little mound of grindstones; after the grindstones, a platoon of clothes-wringers; next, a solitary iron wheel-barrow communing with a patent fire-extinguisher; following these a crowd of green iron pumps, with sewing-machines in full force. Such is a bit of the American department.
It is the fashion here that every one should have a growl at the general slimness and slovenliness of our department. Every one gives our drooping eagle a kick. This is all wrong. We can't send our greatest wonders and triumphs to Europe. There is neither room nor opportunity in the building for showing off one of our political torchlight processions, or a vigilance-committee hanging, or a Chicago or Boston fire, or a steamboat blow-up, or a railway smash-up. Were the present chief of the commission a man of originality and talent, he might even now save the national reputation by bundling all the pumps, churns, patent clothes-washers, wheel-barrows and pick-handles out of doors, and converting one of the United States rooms into a reservation for the Modocs, and the other into a corral for buffaloes and grizzly bears. These, with a mustang poet or two from Oregon, a few Hard-Shell Democrats, a live American daily paper, with a corps of reporters trained to squeeze themselves through door-cracks and key-holes, might retrieve the national honor, if shown up realistically and artistically.
So strong a resemblance exists between a battle-scene of a mediaeval Spanish poet and the culminating incidents of Lord Macaulay's Battle of the Lake Regillus, as to justify somewhat extended citations. Of the Spanish writer, Professor Longfellow says, in his note upon the extract from the Vida de San Millan given in the Poets and Poetry of Europe, "Gonzalo de Berceo, the oldest of the Castilian poets whose name has reached us, was born in 1198. He was a monk in the monastery of Saint Millan, in Calahorra, and wrote poems on sacred subjects in Castilian Alexandrines." According to the poem, the Spaniards, while combating the Moors, were overcome by "a terror of their foes," since "these were a numerous army, a little handful those."
And whilst the Christian people stood in this uncertainty, Upward toward heaven they turned their eyes and fixed their thoughts on high; And there two persons they beheld, all beautiful and bright,— Even than the pure new-fallen snow their garments were more white.
They rode upon two horses more white than crystal sheen, And arms they bore such as before no mortal man had seen.
* * * * *
Their faces were angelical, celestial forms had they,— And downward through the fields of air they urged their rapid way; They looked upon the Moorish host with fierce and angry look, And in their hands, with dire portent, their naked sabres shook.
The Christian host, beholding this, straightway take heart again; They fall upon their bended knees, all resting on the plain, And each one with his clenched fist to smite his breast begins, And promises to God on high he will forsake his sins.
And when the heavenly knights drew near unto the battle-ground, They dashed among the Moors and dealt unerring blows around; Such deadly havoc there they made the foremost ranks among, A panic terror spread unto the hindmost of the throng.
Together with these two good knights, the champions of the sky, The Christians rallied and began to smite full sore and high.
* * * * *
Down went the misbelievers; fast sped the bloody fight; Some ghastly and dismembered lay, and some half-dead with fright: Full sorely they repented that to the field they came, For they saw that from the battle they should retreat with shame.
* * * * *
Now he that bore the crosier, and the papal crown had on, Was the glorified Apostle, the brother of Saint John; And he that held the crucifix, and wore the monkish hood, Was the holy San Millan of Cogolla's neighborhood.
Turn now to the Battle of the Lake Regillus. In a series of desperate hand-to-hand conflicts the Romans have on the whole been worsted by the allied Thirty Cities, armed to reinstate the Tarquins upon their lost throne. Their most vaunted champion, Herminius—"who kept the bridge so well"—has been slain, and his war-horse, black Auster, has barely been rescued by the dictator Aulus from the hands of Titus, the youngest of the Tarquins.
And Aulus the Dictator Stroked Auster's raven mane; With heed he looked unto the girths, With heed unto the rein. "Now bear me well, black Auster, Into yon thick array; And thou and I will have revenge For thy good lord this day."
So spake he; and was buckling Tighter black Auster's band, When he was aware of a princely pair That rode at his right hand. So like they were, no mortal Might one from other know: White as snow their armor was: Their steeds were white as snow. Never on earthly anvil Did such rare armor gleam; And never did such gallant steeds Drink of an earthly stream.
* * * * *
So answered those strange horsemen, And each couched low his spear; And forthwith all the ranks of Rome Were bold and of good cheer: And on the thirty armies Came wonder and affright, And Ardea wavered on the left, And Cora on the right. "Rome to the charge!" cried Aulus; "The foe begins to yield! Charge for the hearth of Vesta! Charge for the Golden Shield! Let no man stop to plunder, But slay, and slay, and slay; The gods who live for ever Are on our side to-day."
Then the fierce trumpet-flourish From earth to heaven arose; The kites know well the long stern swell That bids the Romans close.
* * * * *
And fliers and pursuers Were mingled in a mass: And far away the battle Went roaring through the pass.
The scene of the following stanza is at Rome, where the watchers at the gates have learned from the Great Twin Brethren the issue of the day:
And all the people trembled, And pale grew every cheek; And Sergius, the High Pontiff, Alone found voice to speak: "The gods who live for ever Have fought for Rome to-day! These be the Great Twin Brethren To whom the Dorians pray!"
Of course, we are not to be understood as intimating that Macaulay was consciously or otherwise guilty of a plagiarism. Indeed, he was at the pains, in his preface to the poem in question, to point out how certain of its features were designedly taken, and others might fairly be conceived to have been taken, from ballads of an age long before Livy, whom he cites in the matter of the Great Twin Brethren. He has even detailed a circumstance, in reference to the legendary appearance of the divine warriors, curiously relevant to the resemblance just pointed out. "In modern times," he wrote, "a very similar story actually found credence among a people much more civilized than the Romans of the fifth century before Christ. A chaplain of Cortez, writing about thirty years after the conquest of Mexico, ... had the face to assert that, in an engagement against the Indians, Saint James had appeared on a gray horse at the head of the Castilian adventurers. Many of those adventurers were living when this lie was printed. One of them, honest Bernal Diaz, wrote an account of the expedition.... He says that he was in the battle, and that he saw a gray horse with a man on his back, but that the man was, to his thinking, Francesco de Morla, and not the ever-blessed apostle Saint James. 'Nevertheless,' Bernal adds, 'it may be that the person on the gray horse was the glorious apostle Saint James, and that I, sinner that I am, was unworthy to see him.'" Other striking instances of identity between classical, Castilian and Saxon legends are detailed by Lord Macaulay in the learned and interesting general preface to his Lays of Ancient Rome. But the reappearance of this particular story in such remote times and places, and with such marked similarities and variations, would entitle it to a place among the indestructible popular legends collated by Mr. Baring-Gould in his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages.
A WARNING TO LOVERS.
"Metildy, you are the most good-for-nothin', triflin', owdacious, contrary piece that ever lived."
"Oh, ma!" sobbed Matilda, "I couldn' help myself—'deed I couldn'."
"Couldn' help yourself? That's a pretty way to talk! Ain't he a nice young man?"
"And good kinfolks?"
"And loves you to destrackshun?"
"Well, in the name o' common sense, what did you send him home for?"
"Well, ma, if I must tell the truth, I must, I s'pose, though I'd ruther die. You see, ma, when he fetcht his cheer clost to mine, and ketcht holt of my hand, and squez it, and dropt on his knees, then it was that his eyes rolled and he began breathin' hard, and his gallowses kept a creakin and a creakin', I till I thought in my soul somethin' terrible was the matter with his in'ards, his vitals; and that flustered and skeered me so that I bust out a-cryin'. Seein' me do that, he creaked worse'n ever, and that made me cry harder; and the harder I cried the harder he creaked, till all of a sudden it came to me that it wasn't nothin' but his gallowses; and then I bust out a laughin' fit to kill myself, right in his face. And then he jumpt up and run out of the house mad as fire; and he ain't comin' back no more. Boo-hoo, ahoo, boo-hoo!"
"Metildy," said the old woman sternly, "stop sniv'lin'. You've made an everlastin' fool of yourself, but your cake ain't all dough yet. It all comes of them no 'count, fashionable sto' gallowses—' 'spenders' I believe they calls 'em. Never mind, honey! I'll send for Johnny, tell him how it happened, 'pologize to him, and knit him a real nice pair of yarn gallowses, jest like your pa's; and they never do creak."
"Yes, ma," said Matilda, brightening up; "but let me knit 'em."
"So you shall, honey: he'll vally them a heap more than if I knit 'em. Cheer up, Tildy: it'll all be right—you mind if it won't."
Sure enough, it proved to be all right. Tildy and Johnny were married, and Johnny's gallowses never creaked any more.
Milton, in his famous description of the woman Delilah, sailing like a stately ship of Tarsus "with all her bravery on, and tackle trim," is particular to note "an amber scent of odorous perfume, her harbinger." Perfume as an adjunct of feminine dress has been celebrated from the days of the earliest poet, and probably will be to the latest; but it was reserved for the modern toilet to project a regular theory of harmony between odors and colors—a theory which might never have been dreamed of in the studio of the painter, but is not unworthy of the boudoir of the belle. It is the young Englishwomen at Vienna who, if we may believe Eugene Chapus, have taken the initiative in this new refinement of coquetry, which employs not only a greater variety and quantity of perfume than in previous years, but employs it according to a certain scientific system. At balls, perfumes are especially de rigueur, and it is in her ball-dress that Araminta aims to establish a species of relation between the nature of the perfume she carries and the general character of the toilette she wears. That is to say, gravely proceeds Monsieur Chapus, if pink predominates in the stuff of her gown, the proper perfume will be essence of roses; if light yellow, it will be Portugal water; if the color be reseda (which has such a run at present for ladies' costumes), the chosen perfume will be an essence of mignonette; and so on with the other flowers corresponding to the shades commonly used in fresh ball-toilettes. Undoubtedly to a Rimmel the relation between different odors and different styles of personal beauty or personal traits would be as obvious as is this newly-discovered harmony between perfume and costume; but we fear that the new fashion is due to coquettish art rather than aesthetic taste, and that, like many another whim of the drawing-room, it will die out before the science is fairly established.
* * * * *
The enfant terrible plays an important role in literature as in society during these modern days, and although a little of him goes a good way, yet it must be owned that his sayings are sometimes spicy.
A grandfather was holding Master Tom, a youth of five, on his knees, when the youngster suddenly asked him why his hair was white. "Oh," says grandpapa, "that's because I'm so old. Why, don't you know that I was in the ark?"
"In the ark?" cries Tommy: "why you aren't Noah, are you, grandpapa?"
"Oh no, I'm not Noah."
"Ah, then you're Shem."
"No, not Shem, either."
"Oh, then I suppose you're Japhet."
"No, you haven't guessed right: I'm not Japhet."
"Well, then, grandpapa," said the child, driven to the extremity of his biblical knowledge, "you must be one of the beasts."
Not less critical was the comment of a lad who was taken to church one Sunday for the first time.
"You see, Augustus," said his fond mamma, anxious to impress his tender mind at such a moment with lasting remembrances, "how many people come here to pray to God?"
"Yes, but not so many as go to the circus," says the practical lad.
Quite natural, also, was the reply of a little lady who was found crying by her mother because one of her companions had given her a slap.
"Well, I hope you paid her back?" cried the angry mother, her indignation getting the better of her judgment.
"Oh yes, I paid her back before-hand!"
Another little girl, after attending the funeral of one of her schoolmates, which ceremony had been conducted at the school, was giving an animated account of the exercises on her return home.
"And I suppose you were all sobbing as if your hearts would break, poor things!" says papa.
"Oh no," replies the child: "only the front row cried."
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It was one of the features of the shah-mania that British journalism was overrun and surfeited with Persian topics, Persian allusions and fragments of the Persian language and literature. Every pedant of the press displayed an unexpected and astonishing acquaintance with Persian history, Persian geography, Persian manners and customs. Desperate cramming was done to get up Persian quotations for leading articles, or at least a saying or two from Hafiz or Saadi of the sort commonly found at the end of a lexicon or in some popular book of maxims. Ludicrous disputes arose between morning papers as to the comparative profundity of each other's researches into Persian lore; but the climax was capped, we think, by one London journal, which politely offered advice to Nasr-ed-Din about his conduct and his reading. "Should Nasr-ed-Din be impressed by English flattery," said this editor gravely, "with an exaggerated sense of his own importance, His Majesty, as a corrective, may recall to mind the Persian fable of 'Ushter wa Diraz-kush,' from the 'Baharistan' of Jaumy." In ordinary times an explanation might be vouchsafed of what the said fable is, but none was given in the present instance, it being taken for granted, during the shah's visit, that the Baharistan of Jaumy was as familiar to the average Englishman as Mother Goose. Upon the whole, our country has not been wholly unfortunate in not seeing the shah. Horace's famous "Persicos odi, puer, apparatus," has a very close application in the "Persian stuff" with which British journalism has lately been flooded.
How various his employments whom the world Calls idle!
says Cowper. To describe the holiday amusement provided for the shah in England as having been a grand "variety entertainment" would feebly represent the mixture actually furnished him. One day, for example (a Monday), His Majesty began by reviewing the Fire Brigade; and then Captain Shaw was presented to the shah—likewise Colonel Hogg; and then, according to the Morning Advertiser, "Joe Goss, Ned Donelly, Alex. Lawson, and young Horn had the honor of appearing and boxing before the shah and a small company, at which His Majesty seemed highly delighted;" and next came deputations successively from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, the Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, and the Evangelical Alliance; then a deputation from the Mohammedans residing in London was presented, and Sir Moses Montefiore had a private interview with His Majesty; and finally, to wind up the day's programme, the shah, attended by many princes and princesses, and an audience of 34,000 people, witnessed a performance at the Crystal Palace expressly selected to suit his taste—namely, gymnastic feats by Germans and Japanese, followed by "Signor Romah" on the trapeze. All this was done before dinner; and the curious combination of piety and pugilism, missionaries and acrobats, may be supposed to have had the effect of duly "impressing" the illustrious guest.
A French writer some time since informed his countrymen that in America wooden hams were a regular article of manufacture. This is a fact not generally known; but at any rate, according to Pierre Veron, we have not yet quite outdone the Old World in the arts of commercial fraud. Worthy Johnny Crapaud used to flatter himself that he outwitted the grocers in buying his coffee unground, but now rogues make artificial coffee-kernels in a mould, and the Paris police court (which does not appreciate ingenuity of that sort) lately gave six months in prison to some makers of sham coffee-grains, thus interfering with a business which was earning twenty thousand dollars a year. Some of the Paris pastry-cooks make balls for vol-au-vent with a hash of rags allowed to soak in gravy; sham larks and partridges for pates are constructed out of chopped-up meat, neatly shaped to represent those birds; peddlers of sweet-meats sell marshmallow paste made out of Spanish white; the fish-merchant inserts the eyes of a fresh mackerel in a stale turbot, to trick his sharp customers; and as to drinks, one dyer boldly puts over his door "Burgundy Vintages!" They make marble of pasteboard and diamonds of glass. Adulteration on adulteration, moans M. Veron, all is adulteration!
* * * * *
The problem of aerial navigation seems at present to be agitating as many pseudo-scientific minds as did that of perpetual motion not many years ago, or the philosopher's stone at a more remote period. It possesses perhaps a still stronger attraction in the danger connected with the experiments—the source, we suppose, of the eagerness shown by Professor Wise and his associates to fly to evils that they know not of. Perpetual motion received its quietus from the blasts of ridicule. Air-voyaging has a worse foe to encounter. It may survive the attacks of gayety, but it will succumb, we fancy, to the resistless force of gravity.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
Scintillations from the Prose Works of Heinrich Heine. New York: Holt & Williams.
The task formerly undertaken by Mr. Charles Godfrey Leland, in adapting to our language the songs of Heine, is now well supplemented with some versions from among his prose works by another Philadelphian translator, Mr. Simon Adler Stern. Heine's prose, delicate in its pellucid brightness as any of his poetry, cannot be held too precious by the interpreter. The latter must have all his wits about him, or he will not find English at once simple enough and distinguished enough to stand for the original. To get at Heine's prose exactly in another language must be almost as hard as to get at his poetry. The principal selection made by Mr. Stern is a long rambling rhapsody called "Florentine Nights," in which the author professes to pour into the ears of a dying mistress the history of some of his former amours and exaltations, the natural jealousy of the listener going for a stimulus in the recital. His first love, however, is an idealization—a Greek statue which he visits by moonlight, as Sordello in Browning's poem does the
Shrinking Caryatides Of just-tinged marble, like Eve's lilied flesh.
This weird love-ballad in prose must have taxed the translator almost as much as if it had been in rhyme; for although an interpreter of poetry undeniably has the difficulties of form to struggle with, yet there is, on the other hand, an inspiration and waft of feeling in the metre which lends him wings and helps him on. If Mr. Stern does not encumber his style with a betrayal of the difficulties he has got over—if he does not give us pedantry and double-epithets, so common in vulgar renderings from the German—he certainly shows no timidity in turning the polished familiarity of Heine's prose into our commonest vernacular. "What lots of pleasure I found on my arrival;" "for the men, lots of patience:" trivialities of expression like these are not rare in his version. If they are not quite what Heine would have written if he had been writing in English, at least the fault of familiarity is better than the fault of hardness; and these translations are never at all hard or uncomfortable. When we add that Mr. Stern gives us an index without showing what works the extracts are taken from, and that he gives us an article on Heine without any mention that we can discover of Heine's wife, we have vented about all the objections we can make to this welcome publication; and they are very few to find in a collection of hundreds of "scintillations."
The pleasures that remain for the reader are manifold: so liberally and judiciously are the extracts chosen that we get a complete exhibit of Heine's mind on nearly all the topics he occupied himself about. We have his views on French and German politicians; on French, German and English authors; on art and poetry; on his own soul and character; on religion; besides a great deal of that persiflage, the most exquisite persiflage surely that ever was heard, which flutters clear away from the regions of sense and information, yet which only a man of sense and information could have uttered.
Heine came to Paris in 1831, and saw all the sights and found everything "charming." His wit is a little cheap, perhaps, when he calls the Senate Chamber at the Luxembourg "the necropolis in which the mummies of perjury are embalmed;" at least it becomes tiresome to hear his constant disparagement of the politics which he chose to live under, and which protected him so agreeably; but he is his own keen self where he observes that the signs of the revolution of 1830, what he calls the legend of liberte, egalite, fraternite at the street-corners, had "already been wiped away." Victor Hugo, for his part, did not find it so: he says that the years 1831 and 1832 have, in relation to the revolution of July, the aspect of two mountains, where you can distinguish precipices, and that they embody "la grandeur revolutionnaire." The cooler spectator from Hamburg inspects at Paris "the giraffe, the three-legged goat, the kangaroos," without much of the vertigo of precipices, and he sees "M. de La Fayette and his white locks—at different places, however," for the latter were in a locket and the hero was in his brown wig. Elsewhere he associates "the virtuous La Fayette and James Watt the cotton-spinner." The age of industry, commerce and the Citizen-King, in fact, was not quite suited to the poet who celebrated Napoleon; yet was Heine's admiration of Napoleon not such as an epic hero would be comfortable under: "Cromwell never sank so low as to suffer a priest to anoint him emperor," he says in allusion to the coronation. He respects Napoleon as the last great aristocrat, and says the combined powers ought to have supported instead of overturned him, for his defeat precipitated the coming in of modern ideas. The prospect for the world after his death was "at the best to be bored to death by the monotony of a republic." Ardent patriots in this country need not go for sympathy to the king-scorner Heine. For the theory of a commonwealth he had small love: "That which oppresses me is the artist's and the scholar's secret dread, lest our modern civilization, the laboriously achieved result of so many centuries of effort, will be endangered I by the triumph of Communism." We have drifted into the citation of these sentiments because many conservatives think of Heine only as an irreconcilable destroyer and revolutionist, and do not care to welcome in him the basis of attachment to order which must underlie every artist's or author's love of freedom. "Soldier in the liberation of humanity" as he was, that liberation was to be the result of growth, not of destruction. As for Communism, it talks but "hunger, envy and death." It has but one faith, happiness on this earth; and the millennium it foresees is "a single shepherd and a single flock, all shorn after the same pattern, and bleating alike." Such passages are the true reflection of Heine's keen but not great mind, miserably bandied between the hopes of a republican future, that was to be the death of art and literature, and the rags of a feudal present, whose conditions sustained him while they disgusted him. If Heine fought, scratched and bit with all his might among the convulsions of the politics he was helpless to rearrange, he was equally mordant when he turned his attention to society, and perhaps more frightfully impartial. He hated the English for "their idle curiosity, bedizened awkwardness, impudent bashfulness, angular egotism, and vacant delight in all melancholy objects." As for the French, they are "les comediens ordinaires du bon Dieu;" yet "a blaspheming Frenchman is a spectacle more pleasing to the Lord than a praying Englishman." And Germany: "Germany alone possesses those colossal fools whose caps reach unto the heavens, and delight the stars with the ringing of their bells." Thus shooting forth his tongue on every side, Heine is shown "in action" by this little cluster of "scintillations," and the whole book is the shortest definition of him possible, for it makes the saliencies of his character jut out within a close compass. It can be read in a couple of hours, and no reading of the same length in any of his complete writings would give such a notion of the most witty, perverse, tender, savage, pitiable and inexcusable of men.
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Monographs, Personal and Social. By Lord Houghton. New York: Holt & Williams.
Lord Houghton is one of those fortunate persons who seem to find without trouble the exact niches in life which Nature has designed them to fill. There probably never entered the world a man more eminently made to appreciate the best kind of "high life" which London has offered in the present century; and he has been able to avail himself of it to his heart's content. The son of a Yorkshire squire in affluent circumstances and of high character, Monckton Milnes was not spoilt by finding, as he might have done had he been the heir to a dukedom, the world at his feet; whilst at the same time all the good things were within his reach by a little of that exertion which does so much toward enhancing the enjoyment of them. From the period of his entry upon London life he displayed that anxiety to know celebrities which, though in a somewhat different way, was a marked feature of his contemporary and acquaintance, Crabb Robinson; and the story illustrative of this tendency which gained him the sobriquet of "the cool of the evening" will be always associated with the name he has since merged in a less familiar title.
Lord Houghton has now passed through some sixty London seasons, during which he has been more or less acquainted with nearly every social and literary celebrity in the English metropolis. Having regard to this circumstance, and the fact of his possessing a polished and graceful style of expressing himself, one would naturally expect a great deal from this volume of reminiscences. Nor will such expectations be entirely disappointed. The monographs are eight in number, and will be read with varying degrees of interest, according to the taste of the reader, as well as the subjects and quality of the papers. The portrait which will perhaps be the newest to American readers is that of Harriet, Lady Ashburton, wife of the second Baring who bore that title. Lady Ashburton was daughter of the earl of Sandwich, and Lord Houghton says of her: "She was an instance in which aristocracy gave of its best and showed at its best, although she may have owed little to the qualities she inherited from an irascible race and to an unaffectionate education"—a sentence reminding us of a remark in the London Times, that "with certain noble houses people are apt to associate certain qualities—with the Berkeleys, for instance, a series of disgraceful family quarrels." Lady Ashburton appears to us from this account to have been a brilliant spoilt child of fortune, who availed herself of her great social position to do and say what, had she remained Lady Harriet Montagu with the pittance of a poor nobleman's daughter, she would hardly have dared to do or say. It is one of the weak points of society in England that a woman who has rank, wealth, and ability, and contrives to surround herself with men of wit to whom she renders her house delightful, can be as hard and rude as she pleases to the world in general. Fortunately, in most cases native kindness of heart usually hurries to heal the wound that "wicked wit" may have made. This would scarcely seem to have been so with Lady Ashburton, for Lord Houghton tells us that "many who would not have cared for a quiet defeat shrank from the merriment of her victory," one of them saying, "I do not mind being knocked down, but I can't stand being danced upon afterward." Lord Houghton, however, defines this "jumping" as "a joyous sincerity that no conventionalities, high or low, could restrain—a festive nature flowing through the artificial soil of elevated life." And it must be owned that there was at least nothing petty or rancorous in a nature which showed so rare an appreciation of genius, and an equal capacity for warm and disinterested friendship.
In contrast with this chapter is the one on the Berrys, which is full of interesting details in regard to those remarkable women, and reveals a pathetic history hardly to have been expected in connection with the amusing gossip that has hitherto clustered around their names.
But by far the most interesting paper is that on Heinrich Heine. A letter from an English lady whom Heine had known and petted in her childhood, and who visited the poet in his last days, when he himself, wasted by disease, "seemed no bigger than a child under the sheet that covered him," gives what is perhaps the most lifelike picture we have ever had of a nature that seems equally to court and to baffle comprehension. Lord Houghton has little to add, on this subject, from his personal recollections; but his comments upon it evince perhaps as close a study and sagacious criticism, if not as much subtlety of thought, as Matthew Arnold's famous essay. The following passage, for example, sums up very felicitously the social aspect of Germany, and its influence on Heine: "The poem of 'Deutschland' is the one of his works where his humor runs over into the coarsest satire, and the malice can only be excused by the remembrance that he too had been exposed to some of the evil influences of a servile condition. Among these may no doubt be reckoned the position of a man of commercial origin and literary occupation in his relation to the upper order of society in the northern parts of Germany. ...Here there remained, and after all the events of the last year there still remains, sufficient element of discontent to justify the recorded expression of a philosophic German statesman, that 'in Prussia the war of classes had still to be fought out.'"
Of the other papers in the volume, those on Humboldt, Landor and Sydney Smith, though readable, contain little to supplement the biographies and correspondence that have long been before the world; while the one on "Suleiman Pasha" (Colonel Selves) suggests a doubt whether Lord Houghton has always taken pains to sift the information he has so eagerly accumulated. When we find him stating that the siege of Lyons occurred under the Directory—which it preceded by a year or two; that his hero, then seven years old, "grew up," entered the navy, was present at the battle of Trafalgar (1805), and, subsequently enlisted "in the Army of Italy, then flushed with triumph, but glad to receive young and vigorous recruits"—language indicating the campaign of 1796-97; that "soon after his enrollment in the regiment it became necessary to instruct the cavalry soldiers in infantry practice, and young Selves' knowledge of the exercise [acquired apparently on shipboard] was of the greatest use and brought him into general notice"—making him, we may infer, a special favorite of Bonaparte;—we can easily believe that these things were related, as he tells us they were, "with epic simplicity," and may even conclude that some other qualities of the epic would to more cautious ears have been equally perceptible in the narration. Of a like character, we suspect, is the statement that Selves, being on the staff of Grouchy on the day of Waterloo, "urgently represented to that general the propriety of joining the main body of the army as soon as the Prussians, whom he had been sent to intercept, were out of sight." Lord Houghton has evidently not read the best and most recent criticisms on the Waterloo campaign, but he should at least have known that Grouchy was sent, not to intercept, but to follow the Prussians in their retreat from Ligny, and that, if he lost sight of them, it was because, instead of falling back on their own line of communication, as Napoleon had expected them to do, they turned off to effect a junction with the English army.
Key to North American Birds: containing a concise account of every species of living and fossil bird at present known from the continent north of the Mexican and United States boundary. Illustrated by six steel plates and upward of two hundred and fifty wood-cuts. By Elliott Coues, Assistant Surgeon United States Army. Salem: Naturalists' Agency.
Modern Diabolism, commonly called Modern Spiritualism, with New Theories of Light, Heat, Electricity and Sound. By M.J. Williamson. New York: James Miller.
The True Method of Representation in Large Constituencies. By C.C.P. Clarke of Oswego, N.Y. New York: Baker & Godwin.
On the Eve: A Tale. By Ivan S. Turgenieff. Translated from the Russian by C.E. Turner. New York: Holt & Williams.
The Prophecies of Isaiah: A New and Critical Translation. By Franz Delitzsch, D.D. Philadelphia: The Lutheran Bookstore.
Harry Coverdale's Courtship and Marriage. By Frank E. Smedley. Illustrated. Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson & Brothers.
Afoot and Alone: A Walk from Sea to Sea by the Southern Route. Illustrated. Hartford: Columbian Book Company.