The Note-Books of Samuel Butler
by Samuel Butler
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A story about a man who suffered from atrophy of the purse, or atrophy of the opinions; but whatever the disease some plausible Latin, or imitation-Latin name must be found for it and also some cure.

A Fairy Story modelled on the Ugly Duckling of Hans Andersen about a bumptious boy whom all the nice boys hated. He finds out that he was really at last caressed by the Huxleys and Tyndalls as one of themselves.

A Collection of the letters of people who have committed suicide; and also of people who only threaten to do so. The first may be got abundantly from reports of coroners' inquests, the second would be harder to come by.

The Structure and Comparative Anatomy of Fads, Fancies and Theories; showing, moreover, that men and women exist only as the organs and tools of the ideas that dominate them; it is the fad that is alone living.

An Astronomical Speculation: Each fixed star has a separate god whose body is his own particular solar system, and these gods know each other, move about among each other as we do, laugh at each other and criticise one another's work. Write some of their discourses with and about one another.

Imaginary Worlds

A world exactly, to the minutest detail, a duplicate of our own, but as we shall be five hundred, or from that to twenty thousand, years hence. Let there be also another world, a duplicate of what we were five hundred to twenty thousand years ago. There should be many worlds of each kind at different dates behind us and ahead of us.

I send a visitor from a world ahead of us to a world behind us, after which he comes to us, and so we learn what happened in the Homeric age. My visitor will not tell me what has happened in his own world since the time corresponding to the present moment in our world, because the knowledge of the future would be not only fatal to ourselves but would upset the similarity between the two worlds, so they would be no longer able to refer to us for information on any point of history from the moment of the introduction of the disturbing element.

When they are in doubt about a point in their past history that we have not yet reached they make preparation and forecast its occurrence in our world as we foretell eclipses and transits of Venus, and all their most accomplished historians investigate it; but if the conditions for observation have been unfavourable, or if they postpone consideration of the point till the time of its happening here has gone by, then they must wait for many years till the same combination occurs in some other world. Thus they say, "The next beheading of King Charles I will be in Ald. b. x. 231c/d"—or whatever the name of the star may be—"on such and such a day of such and such a year, and there will not be another in the lifetime of any man now living," or there will, in such and such a star, as the case may be.

Communication with a world twenty thousand years ahead of us might ruin the human race as effectually as if we had fallen into the sun. It would be too wide a cross. The people in my supposed world know this and if, for any reason, they want to kill a civilisation, stuff it and put it into a museum, they tell it something that is too much ahead of its other ideas, something that travels faster than thought, thus setting an avalanche of new ideas tumbling in upon it and utterly destroying everything. Sometimes they merely introduce a little poisonous microbe of thought which the cells in the world where it is introduced do not know how to deal with—some such trifle as that two and two make seven, or that you can weigh time in scales by the pound; a single such microbe of knowledge placed in the brain of a fitting subject would breed like wild fire and kill all that came in contact with it.

And so on.

An Idyll

I knew a South Italian of the old Greek blood whose sister told him when he was a boy that he had eyes like a cow.

Raging with despair and grief he haunted the fountains and looked into the mirror of their waters. "Are my eyes," he asked himself with horror, "are they really like the eyes of a cow?" "Alas!" he was compelled to answer, "they are only too sadly, sadly like them."

And he asked those of his playmates whom he best knew and trusted whether it was indeed true that his eyes were like the eyes of a cow, but he got no comfort from any of them, for they one and all laughed at him and said that they were not only like, but very like. Then grief consumed his soul, and he could eat no food, till one day the loveliest girl in the place said to him:

"Gaetano, my grandmother is ill and cannot get her firewood; come with me to the bosco this evening and help me to bring her a load or two, will you?"

And he said he would go.

So when the sun was well down and the cool night air was sauntering under the chestnuts, the pair sat together cheek to cheek and with their arms round each other's waists.

"O Gaetano," she exclaimed, "I do love you so very dearly. When you look at me your eyes are like—they are like the eyes"—here she faltered a little—"the eyes of a cow."

Thenceforward he cared not . . .

And so on.

A Divorce Novelette

The hero and heroine are engaged against their wishes. They like one another very well but each is in love with some one else; nevertheless, under an uncle's will, they forfeit large property unless they marry one another, so they get married, making no secret to one another that they dislike it very much.

On the evening of their wedding day they broach the subject that has long been nearest to their hearts—the possibility of being divorced. They discuss it tearfully, but the obstacles seem insuperable. Nevertheless they agree that faint heart never yet got rid of fair lady, "None but the brave," exclaims the husband, "deserve to lose the fair," and they plight their most solemn vows that they will henceforth live but for the object of getting divorced from one another.

But the course of true divorce never did run smooth, and the plot turns upon the difficulties that meet them and how they try to overcome them. At one time they seem almost certain of success, but the cup is dashed from their lips and is farther off than ever.

At last an opportunity occurs in an unlooked-for manner. They are divorced and live happily apart ever afterwards.

The Moral Painter—A Tale of Double Personality

Once upon a time there was a painter who divided his life into two halves; in the one half he painted pot-boilers for the market, setting every consideration aside except that of doing for his master, the public, something for which he could get paid the money on which he lived. He was great at floods and never looked at nature except in order to see what would make most show with least expense. On the whole he found nothing so cheap to make and easy to sell as veiled heads.

The other half of his time he studied and painted with the sincerity of Giovanni Bellini, Rembrandt, Holbein or De Hooghe. He was then his own master and thought only of doing his work as well as he could, regardless of whether it would bring him anything but debt and abuse or not. He gave his best without receiving so much as thanks.

He avoided the temptation of telling either half about the other.

Two Writers

One left little or nothing about himself and the world complained that it was puzzled. Another, mindful of this, left copious details about himself, whereon the world said that it was even more puzzled about him than about the man who had left nothing, till presently it found out that it was also bored, and troubled itself no more about either.

The Archbishop of Heligoland

The Archbishop of Heligoland believes his faith, and it makes him so unhappy that he finds it impossible to advise any one to accept it. He summons the Devil, makes a compact with him and is relieved by being made to see that there was nothing in it—whereon he is very good and happy and leads a most beneficent life, but is haunted by the thought that on his death the Devil will claim his bond. This terror grows greater and greater, and he determines to see the Devil again.

The upshot of it all is that the Devil turns out to have been Christ who has a dual life and appears sometimes as Christ and sometimes as the Devil. {235}


Literary Sketch-Books

The true writer will stop everywhere and anywhere to put down his notes, as the true painter will stop everywhere and anywhere to sketch.

I do not see why an author should not have a sale of literary sketches, each one short, slight and capable of being framed and glazed in small compass. They would make excellent library decorations and ought to fetch as much as an artist's sketches. They might be cut up in suitable lots, if the fashion were once set, and many a man might be making provision for his family at odd times with his notes as an artist does with his sketches.


If I were asked what part of London I was most identified with after Clifford's Inn itself, I should say Fetter Lane—every part of it. Just by the Record Office is one of the places where I am especially prone to get ideas; so also is the other end, about the butcher's shop near Holborn. The reason in both cases is the same, namely, that I have about had time to settle down to reflection after leaving, on the one hand, my rooms in Clifford's Inn and, on the other, Jones's rooms in Barnard's Inn where I usually spend the evening. The subject which has occupied my mind during the day being approached anew after an interval and a shake, some fresh idea in connection with it often strikes me. But long before I knew Jones, Fetter Lane was always a street which I was more in than perhaps any other in London. Leather Lane, the road through Lincoln's Inn Fields to the Museum, the Embankment, Fleet Street, the Strand and Charing Cross come next.

A Clifford's Inn Euphemism

People when they want to get rid of their cats, and do not like killing them, bring them to the garden of Clifford's Inn, drop them there and go away. In spite of all that is said about cats being able to find their way so wonderfully, they seldom do find it, and once in Clifford's Inn the cat generally remains there. The technical word among the laundresses in the inn for this is, "losing" a cat:

"Poor thing, poor thing," said one old woman to me a few days ago, "it's got no fur on its head at all, and no doubt that's why the people she lived with lost her."

London Trees

They are making a great outcry about the ventilators on the Thames Embankment, just as they made a great outcry about the Griffin in Fleet Street. [See Alps and Sanctuaries. Introduction.] They say the ventilators have spoiled the Thames Embankment. They do not spoil it half so much as the statues do—indeed, I do not see that they spoil it at all. The trees that are planted everywhere are, or will be, a more serious nuisance. Trees are all very well where there is plenty of room, otherwise they are a mistake; they keep in the moisture, exclude light and air, and their roots disturb foundations; most of our London Squares would look much better if the trees were thinned. I should like to cut down all the plane trees in the garden of Clifford's Inn and leave only the others.

What I Said to the Milkman

One afternoon I heard a knock at the door and found it was the milkman. Mrs. Doncaster [his laundress] was not there, so I took in the milk myself. The milkman is a very nice man, and, by way of making himself pleasant, said, rather complainingly, that the weather kept very dry.

I looked at him significantly and said: "Ah, yes, of course for your business you must find it very inconvenient," and laughed.

He saw he had been caught and laughed too. It was a very old joke, but he had not expected it at that particular moment, and on the top of such an innocent remark.

The Return of the Jews to Palestine

A man called on me last week and proposed gravely that I should write a book upon an idea which had occurred to a friend of his, a Jew living in New Bond Street. It was a plan requiring the co-operation of a brilliant writer and that was why he had come to me. If only I would help, the return of the Jews to Palestine would be rendered certain and easy. There was no trouble about the poor Jews, he knew how he could get them back at any time; the difficulty lay with the Rothschilds, the Oppenheims and such; with my assistance, however, the thing could be done.

I am afraid I was rude enough to decline to go into the scheme on the ground that I did not care twopence whether the Rothschilds and Oppenheims went back to Palestine or not. This was felt to be an obstacle; but then he began to try and make me care, whereupon, of course, I had to get rid of him. [1883.]

The Great Bear's Barley-Water

Last night Jones was walking down with me from Staple Inn to Clifford's Inn, about 10 o'clock, and we saw the Great Bear standing upright on the tip of his tail which was coming out of a chimney pot. Jones said it wanted attending to. I said:

"Yes, but to attend to it properly we ought to sit up with it all night, and if the Great Bear thinks that I am going to sit by his bed-side and give him a spoonful of barley-water every ten minutes, he will find himself much mistaken." [1892.]

The Cock Tavern

I went into Fleet Street one Sunday morning last November [1882] with my camera lucida to see whether I should like to make a sketch of the gap made by the demolition of the Cock Tavern. It was rather pretty, with an old roof or two behind and scaffolding about and torn paper hanging to an exposed party-wall and old fireplaces and so on, but it was not very much out of the way. Still I would have taken it if it had not been the Cock. I thought of all the trash that has been written about it and of Tennyson's plump head waiter (who by the way used to swear that he did not know Tennyson and that Tennyson never did resort to the Cock) and I said to myself:

"No—you may go. I will put out no hand to save you."

Myself in Dowie's Shop

I always buy ready-made boots and insist on taking those which the shopman says are much too large for me. By this means I keep free from corns, but I have a great deal of trouble generally with the shopman. I had got on a pair once which I thought would do, and the shopman said for the third or fourth time:

"But really, sir, these boots are much too large for you." I turned to him and said rather sternly, "Now, you made that remark before."

There was nothing in it, but all at once I became aware that I was being watched, and, looking up, saw a middle-aged gentleman eyeing the whole proceedings with much amusement. He was quite polite but he was obviously exceedingly amused. I can hardly tell why, nor why I should put such a trifle down, but somehow or other an impression was made upon me by the affair quite out of proportion to that usually produced by so small a matter.

My Dentist

Mr. Forsyth had been stopping a tooth for me and then talked a little, as he generally does, and asked me if I knew a certain distinguished literary man, or rather journalist. I said No, and that I did not want to know him. The paper edited by the gentleman in question was not to my taste. I was a literary Ishmael, and preferred to remain so. It was my role.

"It seems to me," I continued, "that if a man will only be careful not to write about things that he does not understand, if he will use the tooth-pick freely and the spirit twice a day, and come to you again in October, he will get on very well without knowing any of the big-wigs."

"The tooth-pick freely" and "the spirit twice a day" being tags of Mr. Forsyth's, he laughed.

Furber the Violin-Maker

From what my cousin [Reginald E. Worsley] and Gogin both tell me I am sure that Furber is one of the best men we have. My cousin did not like to send Hyam to him for a violin: he did not think him worthy to have one. Furber does not want you to buy a violin unless you can appreciate it when you have it. My cousin says of him:

"He is generally a little tight on a Saturday afternoon. He always speaks the truth, but on Saturday afternoons it comes pouring out more."

"His joints [i.e. the joints of the violins he makes] are the closest and neatest that were ever made."

"He always speaks of the corners of a fiddle; Haweis would call them the points. Haweis calls it the neck of a fiddle. Furber always the handle."

My cousin says he would like to take his violins to bed with him.

Speaking of Strad violins Furber said: "Rough, rough linings, but they look as if they grew together."

One day my cousin called and Furber, on opening the door, before saying "How do you do?" or any word of greeting, said very quietly:

"The dog is dead."

My cousin, having said what he thought sufficient, took up a violin and played a few notes. Furber evidently did not like it. Rose, the dog, was still unburied; she was laid out in that very room. My cousin stopped. Then Mrs. Furber came in.

R. E. W. "I am very sorry, Mrs. Furber, to hear about Rose."

Mrs. F. "Well, yes sir. But I suppose it is all for the best."

R. E. W. "I am afraid you will miss her a great deal."

Mrs. F. "No doubt we shall, sir; but you see she is only gone a little while before us."

R. E. W. "Oh, Mrs. Furber, I hope a good long while."

Mrs. F. (brightening). "Well, yes sir, I don't want to go just yet, though Mr. Furber does say it is a happy thing to die."

My cousin says that Furber hardly knows any one by their real name. He identifies them by some nickname in connection with the fiddles they buy from him or get him to repair, or by some personal peculiarity.

"There is one man," said my cousin, "whom he calls 'diaphragm' because he wanted a fiddle made with what he called a diaphragm in it. He knows Dando and Carrodus and Jenny Lind, but hardly any one else."

"Who is Dando?" said I.

"Why, Dando? Not know Dando? He was George the Fourth's music master, and is now one of the oldest members of the profession."

Window Cleaning in the British Museum Reading-Room

Once a year or so the figures on the Assyrian bas-reliefs break adrift and may be seen, with their scaling ladders and all, cleaning the outside of the windows in the dome of the reading-room. It is very pretty to watch them and they would photograph beautifully. If I live to see them do it again I must certainly snapshot them. You can see them smoking and sparring, and this year they have left a little hole in the window above the clock.

The Electric Light in its Infancy

I heard a woman in a 'bus boring her lover about the electric light. She wanted to know this and that, and the poor lover was helpless. Then she said she wanted to know how it was regulated. At last she settled down by saying that she knew it was in its infancy. The word "infancy" seemed to have a soothing effect upon her, for she said no more but, leaning her head against her lover's shoulder, composed herself to slumber.


I was at one the other night and heard a man say: "That corner stack is alight now quite nicely." People's sympathies seem generally to be with the fire so long as no one is in danger of being burned.

Adam and Eve

A little boy and a little girl were looking at a picture of Adam and Eve.

"Which is Adam and which is Eve?" said one.

"I do not know," said the other, "but I could tell if they had their clothes on."

Does Mamma Know?

A father was telling his eldest daughter, aged about six, that she had a little sister, and was explaining to her how nice it all was. The child said it was delightful and added:

"Does Mamma know? Let's go and tell her."

Mr. Darwin in the Zoological Gardens

Frank Darwin told me his father was once standing near the hippopotamus cage when a little boy and girl, aged four and five, came up. The hippopotamus shut his eyes for a minute.

"That bird's dead," said the little girl; "come along."


Gogin told me that Berg, an impulsive Swede whom he had known in Laurens's studio in Paris and who painted very well, came to London and was taken by an artist friend [Henry Scott Tuke, A.R.A.] to the National Gallery where he became very enthusiastic about the Terbourgs. They then went for a walk and, in Kensington Gore, near one of the entrances to Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, there was an old Irish apple-woman sitting with her feet in a basket, smoking a pipe and selling oranges.

"Arranges two a penny, sorr," said the old woman in a general way.

And Berg, turning to her and throwing out his hands appealingly, said:

"O, madame, avez-vous vu les Terbourgs? Allez voir les Terbourgs."

He felt that such a big note had been left out of the life of any one who had not seen them.

At Doctors' Commons

A woman once stopped me at the entrance to Doctors' Commons and said:

"If you please, sir, can you tell me—is this the place that I came to before?"

Not knowing where she had been before I could not tell her.

The Sack of Khartoum

As I was getting out of a 'bus the conductor said to me in a confidential tone:

"I say, what does that mean? 'Sack of Khartoum'? What does 'Sack of Khartoum' mean?"

"It means," said I, "that they've taken Khartoum and played hell with it all round."

He understood that and thanked me, whereon we parted.


Ballard [a fellow art-student with Butler at Heatherley's] told me that an old governess, some twenty years since, was teaching some girls modern geography. One of them did not know the name Missolonghi. The old lady wrung her hands:

"Why, me dear," she exclaimed, "when I was your age I could never hear the name mentioned without bursting into tears."

I should perhaps add that Byron died there.


I saw the driver of the Hampstead 'bus once, near St. Giles's Church- -an old, fat, red-faced man sitting bolt upright on the top of his 'bus in a driving storm of snow, fast asleep with a huge waterproof over his great-coat which descended with sweeping lines on to a tarpaulin. All this rose out of a cloud of steam from the horses. He had a short clay pipe in his mouth but, for the moment, he looked just like Memnon.

Manzi the Model

They had promised him sittings at the Royal Academy and then refused him on the ground that his legs were too hairy. He complained to Gogin:

"Why," said he, "I sat at the Slade School for the figure only last week, and there were five ladies, but not one of them told me my legs were too hairy."

A Sailor Boy and Some Chickens

A pretty girl in the train had some chirping chickens about ten days' old in a box labelled "German egg powders. One packet equal to six eggs." A sailor boy got in at Basingstoke, a quiet, reserved youth, well behaved and unusually good-looking. By and by the chickens were taken out of the box and fed with biscuit on the carriage seat. This thawed the boy who, though he fought against it for some lime, yielded to irresistible fascination and said:

"What are they?"

"Chickens," said the girl.

"Will they grow bigger?"


Then the boy said with an expression of infinite wonder: "And did you hatch them from they powders?"

We all laughed till the boy blushed and I was very sorry for him. If we had said they had been hatched from the powders he would have certainly believed us.

Gogin, the Japanese Gentleman and the Dead Dog

Gogin was one day going down Cleveland Street and saw an old, lean, careworn man crying over the body of his dog which had been just run over and killed by the old man's own cart. I have no doubt it was the dog's fault, for the man was in great distress; as for the dog there it lay all swelled and livid where the wheel had gone over it, its eyes protruded from their sockets and its tongue lolled out, but it was dead. The old man gazed on it, helplessly weeping, for some time and then got a large piece of brown paper in which he wrapped up the body of his favourite; he tied it neatly with a piece of string and, placing it in his cart, went homeward with a heavy heart. The day was dull, the gutters were full of cabbage stalks and the air resounded with the cry of costermongers.

On this a Japanese gentleman, who had watched the scene, lifted up his voice and made the bystanders a set oration. He was very yellow, had long black hair, gold spectacles and a top hat; he was a typical Japanese, but he spoke English perfectly. He said the scene they had all just witnessed was a very sad one and that it ought not to be passed over entirely without comment. He explained that it was very nice of the good old man to be so sorry about his dog and to be so careful of its remains and that he and all the bystanders must sympathise with him in his grief, and as the expression of their sympathy, both with the man and with the poor dog, he had thought fit, with all respect, to make them his present speech.

I have not the man's words but Gogin said they were like a Japanese drawing, that is to say, wonderfully charming, and showing great knowledge but not done in the least after the manner in which a European would do them. The bystanders stood open-mouthed and could make nothing of it, but they liked it, and the Japanese gentleman liked addressing them. When he left off and went away they followed him with their eyes, speechless.

St. Pancras' Bells

Gogin lives at 164 Euston Road, just opposite St. Pancras Church, and the bells play doleful hymn tunes opposite his window which worries him. My St. Dunstan's bells near Clifford's Inn play doleful hymn tunes which enter in at my window; I not only do not dislike them, but rather like them; they are so silly and the bells are out of tune. I never yet was annoyed by either bells or street music except when a loud piano organ strikes up outside the public-house opposite my bedroom window after I am in bed and when I am just going to sleep. However, Jones was at Gogin's one summer evening and the bells struck up their dingy old burden as usual. The tonic bell on which the tune concluded was the most stuffy and out of tune. Gogin said it was like the smell of a bug.

At Eynsford

I saw a man painting there the other day but passed his work without looking at it and sat down to sketch some hundred of yards off. In course of time he came strolling round to see what I was doing and I, not knowing but what he might paint much better than I, was apologetic and said I was not a painter by profession.

"What are you?" said he.

I said I was a writer.

"Dear me," said he. "Why that's my line—I'm a writer."

I laughed and said I hoped he made it pay better than I did. He said it paid very well and asked me where I lived and in what neighbourhood my connection lay. I said I had no connection but only wrote books.

"Oh! I see. You mean you are an author. I'm not an author; I didn't mean that. I paint people's names up over their shops, and that's what we call being a writer. There isn't a touch on my work as good as any touch on yours."

I was gratified by so much modesty and, on my way back to dinner, called to see his work. I am afraid that he was not far wrong—it was awful.

Omne ignotum pro magnifico holds with painters perhaps more than elsewhere; we never see a man sketching, or even carrying a paint- box, without rushing to the conclusion that he can paint very well. There is no cheaper way of getting a reputation than that of going about with easel, paint-box, etc., provided one can ensure one's work not being seen. And the more traps one carries the cleverer people think one.

Mrs. Hicks

She and her husband, an old army sergeant who was all through the Indian Mutiny, are two very remarkable people; they keep a public- house where we often get our beer when out for our Sunday walk. She owns to sixty-seven, I should think she was a full seventy-five, and her husband, say, sixty-five. She is a tall, raw-boned Gothic woman with a strong family likeness to the crooked old crusader who lies in the church transept, and one would expect to find her body scrawled over with dates ranging from 400 years ago to the present time, just as the marble figure itself is. She has a great beard and moustaches and three projecting teeth in her lower jaw but no more in any part of her mouth. She moves slowly and is always a little in liquor besides being singularly dirty in her person. Her husband is like unto her.

For all this they are hard-working industrious people, keep no servant, pay cash for everything, are clearly going up rather than down in the world and live well. She always shows us what she is going to have for dinner and it is excellent—"And I made the stuffing over night and the gravy first thing this morning." Each time we go we find the house a little more done up. She dotes on Mr. Hicks—we never go there without her wedding day being referred to. She has earned her own living ever since she was ten years old, and lived twenty-nine and a half years in the house from which Mr. Hicks married her. "I am as happy," she said, "as the day is long." She dearly loves a joke and a little flirtation. I always say something perhaps a little impudently broad to her and she likes it extremely. Last time she sailed smilingly out of the room, doubtless to tell Mr. Hicks, and came back still smiling.

When we come we find her as though she had lien among the pots, but as soon as she has given us our beer, she goes upstairs and puts on a cap and a clean apron and washes her face—that is to say, she washes a round piece in the middle of her face, leaving a great glory of dirt showing all round it. It is plain the pair are respected by the manner in which all who come in treat them.

Last time we were there she said she hoped she should not die yet.

"You see," she said, "I am beginning now to know how to live."

These were her own words and, considering the circumstances under which they were spoken, they are enough to stamp the speaker as a remarkable woman. She has got as much from age and lost as little from youth as woman can well do. Nevertheless, to look at, she is like one of the witches in Macbeth.

New-Laid Eggs

When I take my Sunday walks in the country, I try to buy a few really new-laid eggs warm from the nest. At this time of the year (January) they are very hard to come by, and I have long since invented a sick wife who has implored me to get her a few eggs laid not earlier than the self-same morning. Of late, as I am getting older, it has become my daughter who has just had a little baby. This will generally draw a new-laid egg, if there is one about the place at all.

At Harrow Weald it has always been my wife who for years has been a great sufferer and finds a really new-laid egg the one thing she can digest in the way of solid food. So I turned her on as movingly as I could not long since, and was at last sold some eggs that were no better than common shop eggs, if so good. Next time I went I said my poor wife had been made seriously ill by them; it was no good trying to deceive her; she could tell a new-laid egg from a bad one as well as any woman in London, and she had such a high temper that it was very unpleasant for me when she found herself disappointed.

"Ah! sir," said the landlady, "but you would not like to lose her."

"Ma'am," I replied, "I must not allow my thoughts to wander in that direction. But it's no use bringing her stale eggs, anyhow."

"The Egg that Hen Belonged to"

I got some new-laid eggs a few Sundays ago. The landlady said they were her own, and talked about them a good deal.

She pointed to one of them and said:

"Now, would you believe it? The egg that hen belonged to laid 53 hens running and never stopped."

She called the egg a hen and the hen an egg. One would have thought she had been reading Life and Habit [p. 134 and passim].

At Englefield Green

As an example of how anything can be made out of anything or done with anything by those who want to do it (as I said in Life and Habit that a bullock can take an eyelash out of its eye with its hind-foot- -which I saw one of my bullocks in New Zealand do), at the Barley Mow, Englefield Green, they have a picture of a horse and dog talking to one another, made entirely of butterflies' wings, and very well and spiritedly done too.

They have another picture, done in the same way, of a greyhound running after a hare, also good but not so good.

At Abbey Wood

I heard a man say to another: "I went to live there just about the time that beer came down from 5d. to 4d. a pot. That will give you an idea when it was."

At Ightham Mote

We took Ightham on one of our Sunday walks about a fortnight ago, and Jones and I wanted to go inside over the house.

My cousin said, "You'd much better not, it will only unsettle your history."

We felt, however, that we had so little history to unsettle that we left him outside and went in.

Dr. Mandell Creighton and Mr. W. S. Rockstro

"The Bishop had been reading Mr. Samuel Butler's enchanting book Alps and Sanctuaries and determined to visit some of the places there described. We divided our time between the Italian lakes and the lower slopes of the Alps and explored many mountain sanctuaries . . . As a result of this journey the Bishop got to know Mr. S. Butler. He wrote to tell him the pleasure his books had given us and asked him to visit us. After this he came frequently and the Bishop was much attracted by his original mind and stores of out-of-the-way knowledge." (The Life and Letters of Dr. Mandell Creighton by his Wife, Vol. II, p. 83.)

The first time that Dr. Creighton asked me to come down to Peterborough in 1894 before he became Bishop of London, I was a little doubtful whether to go or not. As usual, I consulted my good clerk, Alfred, who said:

"Let me have a look at his letter, sir." I gave him the letter, and he said:

"I see, sir, there is a crumb of tobacco in it; I think you may go."

I went and enjoyed myself very much. I should like to add that there are very few men who have ever impressed me so profoundly and so favourably as Dr. Creighton. I have often seen him since, both at Peterborough and at Fulham, and like and admire him most cordially. {251}

I paid my first visit to Peterborough at a time when that learned musician and incomparable teacher, Mr. W. S. Rockstro, was giving me lessons in medieval counterpoint; so I particularly noticed the music at divine service. The hymns were very silly, and of the usual Gounod-Barnby character. Their numbers were posted up in a frame and I saw there were to be five, so I called the first Farringdon Street, the second King's Cross, the third Gower Street, the fourth Portland Road, and the fifth Baker Street, those being stations on my way to Rickmansworth, where I frequently go for a walk in the country.

In his private chapel at night the bishop began his verse of the psalms always well before we had done the response to the preceding verse. It reminded me of what Rockstro had said a few weeks earlier to the effect that a point of imitation was always more effective if introduced before the other voices had finished. I told Rockstro about it and said that the bishop's instinct had guided him correctly—certainly I found his method more satisfactory than if he had waited till we had finished. Rockstro smiled, and knowing that I was at the time forbidden to work, said:

"Satan finds some mischief still for idle brains to do."

Talking of Rockstro, he scolded me once and said he wondered how I could have done such a thing as to call Handel "one of the greatest of all musicians," referring to the great chords in Erewhon. I said that if he would look again at the passage he would find I had said not that Handel was "one of the greatest" but that he was "the greatest of all musicians," on which he apologised.


We often walk from Rickmansworth across Moor Park to Pinner. On getting out of Moor Park there is a public-house just to the left where we generally have some shandy-gaff and buy some eggs. The landlord had a noble sow which I photographed for him; some months afterwards I asked how the sow was. She had been sold. The landlord knew she ought to be killed and made into bacon, but he had been intimate with her for three years and some one else must eat her, not he.

"And what," said I, "became of her daughter?"

"Oh, we killed her and ate her. You see we had only known her eighteen months."

I wonder how he settled the exact line beyond which intimacy with a pig must not go if the pig is to be eaten.


An old Scotchman at Boulogne was holding forth on the beauties of Mozart, which he exemplified by singing thus:

[Music score which cannot be produced] Deh . . . vi—e—ni al—la fe . . . nes—tra

I maliciously assented, but said it was strange how strongly that air always reminded me of "Voi che sapete."


There was a man in the hotel at Harwich with an ugly disagreeable woman who I supposed was his wife. I did not care about him, but he began to make up to me in the smoking-room.

"This divorce case," said he, referring to one that was being reported in the papers, "doesn't seem to move very fast."

I put on my sweetest smile and said: "I have not observed it. I am not married myself, and naturally take less interest in divorce."

He dropped me.


Mr. Latham, the Master of Jones's College, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, has two ravens named Agrippa and Agrippina. Mr. Latham throws Agrippa a piece of cheese; Agrippa takes it, hides it carefully and then goes away contented; but Agrippina has had her eye upon him and immediately goes and steals it, hiding it somewhere else; Agrippa, however, has always one eye upon Agrippina and no sooner is her back turned than he steals it and buries it anew; then it becomes Agrippina's turn, and thus they pass the time, making believe that they want the cheese though neither of them really wants it. One day Agrippa had a small fight with a spaniel and got rather the worst of it. He immediately flew at Agrippina and gave her a beating. Jones said he could almost hear him say, "It's all your fault."

Calais to Dover

When I got on board the steamer at Calais I saw Lewis Day, who writes books about decoration, and began to talk with him. Also I saw A. B., Editor of the X.Y.Z. Review. I met him some years ago at Phipson Beale's, but we do not speak. Recently I wanted him to let me write an article in his review and he would not, so I was spiteful and, when I saw him come on board, said to Day:

"I see we are to have the Editor of the X.Y.Z. on board."

"Yes," said Day.

"He's an owl," said I sententiously.

"I wonder," said Day, "how he got the editorship of his review?"

"Oh," said I, "I suppose he married some one."

On this the conversation dropped, and we parted. Later on we met again and Day said:

"Do you know who that lady was—the one standing at your elbow when we were talking just now?"

"No," said I.

"That," he replied, "was Mrs. A. B."

And it was so.

Snapshotting a Bishop

I must some day write about how I hunted the late Bishop of Carlisle with my camera, hoping to shoot him when he was sea-sick crossing from Calais to Dover, and how St. Somebody protected him and said I might shoot him when he was well, but not when he was sea-sick. I should like to do it in the manner of the Odyssey:

. . . And the steward went round and laid them all on the sofas and benches and he set a beautiful basin by each, variegated and adorned with flowers, but it contained no water for washing the hands, and Neptune sent great waves that washed over the eyelet-holes of the cabin. But when it was now the middle of the passage and a great roaring arose as of beasts in the Zoological Gardens, and they promised hecatombs to Neptune if he would still the raging of the waves . . .

At any rate I shot him and have him in my snap-shot book, but he was not sea-sick. [1892.]

Homer and the Basins

When I returned from Calais last December, after spending Christmas at Boulogne according to my custom, the sea was rough as I crossed to Dover and, having a cold upon me, I went down into the second-class cabin, cleared the railway books off one of the tables, spread out my papers and continued my translation, or rather analysis, of the Iliad. Several people of all ages and sexes were on the sofas and they soon began to be sea-sick. There was no steward, so I got them each a basin and placed it for them as well as I could; then I sat down again at my table in the middle and went on with my translation while they were sick all round me. I had to get the Iliad well into my head before I began my lecture on The Humour of Homer and I could not afford to throw away a couple of hours, but I doubt whether Homer was ever before translated under such circumstances. [1892.]

The Channel Passage

How holy people look when they are sea-sick! There was a patient Parsee near me who seemed purified once and for ever from all taint of the flesh. Buddha was a low, worldly minded, music-hall comic singer in comparison. He sat like this for a long time until . . . and he made a noise like cows coming home to be milked on an April evening.

The Two Barristers at Ypres

When Gogin and I were taking our Easter holiday this year we went, among other places, to Ypres. We put up at the Hotel Tete d'Or and found it exquisitely clean, comfortable and cheap, with a charming old-world, last-century feeling. It was Good Friday, and we were to dine maigre; this was so clearly de rigueur that we did not venture even the feeblest protest.

When we came down to dinner we were told that there were two other gentlemen, also English, who were to dine with us, and in due course they appeared—the one a man verging towards fifty-eight, a kind of cross between Cardinal Manning and the late Mr. John Parry, the other some ten years younger, amiable-looking and, I should say, not so shining a light in his own sphere as his companion. These two sat on one side of the table and we opposite them. There was an air about them both which said: "You are not to try to get into conversation with us; we shall not let you if you do; we dare say you are very good sort of people, but we have nothing in common; so long as you keep quiet we will not hurt you; but if you so much as ask us to pass the melted butter we will shoot you." We saw this and so, during the first two courses, talked sotto voce to one another," and made no attempt to open up communications.

With the third course, however, there was a new arrival in the person of a portly gentleman of about fifty-five, or from that to sixty, who was told to sit at the head of the table, and accordingly did so. This gentleman had a decided manner and carried quite as many guns as the two barristers (for barristers they were) who sat opposite to us. He had rather a red nose, he dined maigre because he had to, but he did not like it. I do not think he dined maigre often. He had something of the air of a half, if not wholly, broken-down blackguard of a gambler who had seen much but had moved in good society and been accustomed to have things more or less his own way.

This gentleman, who before he went gave us his card, immediately opened up conversation both with us and with our neighbours, addressing his remarks alternately and impartially to each. He said he was an Italian who had the profoundest admiration for England. I said at once -

"Lei non puo amare l'Inghilterra piu che io amo ed ammiro l'Italia."

The Manning-Parry barrister looked up with an air of slightly offended surprise. Conversation was from this point carried on between both parties through the Italian who acted, as Gogin said afterwards, like one of those stones in times of plague on which people from the country put their butter and eggs and people from the town their money.

By and by dealings became more direct between us and at last, I know not how, I found myself in full discussion with the elder barrister as to whether Jean Van Eyck's picture in the National Gallery commonly called "Portrait of John Arnolfini and his Wife" should not properly be held to be a portrait of Van Eyck himself (which, by the way, I suppose there is no doubt that it should not, though I have never gone into the evidence for the present inscription). Then they spoke of the tricks of light practised by De Hooghe; so we rebelled, and said De Hooghe had no tricks—no one less—and that what they called trick was only observation and direct rendering of nature. Then they applauded Tintoretto, and so did we, but still as men who were bowing the knee to Baal. We put in a word for Gaudenzio Ferrari, but they had never heard of him. Then they played Raffaelle as a safe card and we said he was a master of line and a facile decorator, but nothing more.

On this all the fat was in the fire, for they had invested in Raffaelle as believing him to be the Three per Cents of artistic securities. Did I not like the "Madonna di S. Sisto"? I said, "No." I said the large photo looked well at a distance because the work was so concealed under a dark and sloppy glaze that any one might see into it pretty much what one chose to bring, while the small photo looked well because it had gained so greatly by reduction. I said the Child was all very well as a child but a failure as a Christ, as all infant Christs must be to the end of time. I said the Pope and female saint, whoever she was, were commonplace, as also the angels at the bottom. I admitted the beauty of line in the Virgin's drapery and also that the work was an effective piece of decoration, but I said it was not inspired by devotional or serious feeling of any kind and for impressiveness could not hold its own with even a very average Madonna by Giovanni Bellini. They appealed to the Italian, but he said there was a great reaction against Raffaelle in Italy now and that few of the younger men thought of him as their fathers had done. Gogin, of course, backed me up, so they were in a minority. It was not at all what they expected or were accustomed to. I yielded wherever I could and never differed without giving a reason which they could understand. They must have seen that there was no malice prepense, but it always came round to this in the end that we did not agree with them.

Then they played Leonardo Da Vinci. I had not intended saying how cordially I dislike him, but presently they became enthusiastic about the head of the Virgin in the "Vierge aux Rochers" in our Gallery. I said Leonardo had not succeeded with this head; he had succeeded with the angel's head lower down to the right (I think) of the picture, but had failed with the Madonna. They did not like my talking about Leonardo Da Vinci as now succeeding and now failing, just like other people. I said it was perhaps fortunate that we knew the "Last Supper" only by engravings and might fancy the original to have been more full of individuality than the engravings are, and I greatly questioned whether I should have liked the work if I had seen it as it was when Leonardo left it. As for his caricatures he should not have done them, much less preserved them; the fact of his having set store by them was enough to show that there was a screw loose about him somewhere and that he had no sense of humour. Still, I admitted that I liked him better than I did Michael Angelo.

Whatever we touched upon the same fatality attended us. Fortunately neither evolution nor politics came under discussion, nor yet, happily, music, or they would have praised Beethoven and very likely Mendelssohn too. They did begin to run Nuremberg and it was on the tip of my tongue to say, "Yes, but there's the flavour of Faust and Goethe"; however, I did not. In course of time the seance ended, though not till nearly ten o'clock, and we all went to bed.

Next morning we saw them at breakfast and they were quite tame. As Gogin said afterwards:

"They came and sat on our fingers and ate crumbs out of our hands." [1887.]

At Montreuil-sur-Mer

Jones and I lunched at the Hotel de France where we found everything very good. As we were going out, the landlady, getting on towards eighty, with a bookish nose, pale blue eyes and a Giovanni Bellini's Loredano Loredani kind of expression, came up to us and said, in sweetly apologetic accents:-

"Avez-vous donc dejeune a peu pres selon vos idees, Messieurs?"

It would have been too much for her to suppose that she had been able to give us a repast that had fully realised our ideals, still she hoped that these had been, at any rate, adumbrated in the luncheon she had provided. Dear old thing: of course they had and a great deal more than adumbrated. [26 December, 1901.]


Mrs. Dowe on Alps and Sanctuaries

After reading Alps and Sanctuaries Mrs. Dowe said to Ballard: "You seem to hear him talking to you all the time you are reading."

I don't think I ever heard a criticism of my books which pleased me better, especially as Mrs. Dowe is one of the women I have always liked.

Not to be Omitted

I must get in about the people one meets. The man who did not like parrots because they were too intelligent. And the man who told me that Handel's Messiah was "tres chic," and the smell of the cyclamens "stupendous." And the man who said it was hard to think the world was not more than 6000 years old, and we encouraged him by telling him we thought it must be even more than 7000. And the English lady who said of some one that "being an artist, you know, of course he had a great deal of poetical feeling." And the man who was sketching and said he had a very good eye for colour in the light, but would I be good enough to tell him what colour was best for the shadows.

"An amateur," he said, "might do very decent things in water-colour, but oils require genius."

So I said: "What is genius?"

"Millet's picture of the Angelus sold for 700,000 francs. Now that," he said, "is genius."

After which I was very civil to him.

At Bellinzona a man told me that one of the two towers was built by the Visconti and the other by Julius Caesar, a hundred years earlier. So, poor old Mrs. Barratt at Langar could conceive no longer time than a hundred years. The Trojan war did not last ten years, but ten years was as big a lie as Homer knew.

We went over the Albula Pass to St. Moritz in two diligences and could not settle which was tonic and which was dominant; but the carriage behind us was the relative minor.

There was a picture in the dining-room but we could not get near enough to see it; we thought it must be either Christ disputing with the Doctors or Louis XVI saying farewell to his family—or something of that sort.

The Sacro Monte at Varese

The Sacro Monte is a kind of ecclesiastical Rosherville Gardens, eminently the place to spend a happy day.

The processions were best at the last part of the ascent; there were pilgrims, all decked out with coloured feathers, and priests and banners and music and crimson and gold and white and glittering brass against the cloudless blue sky. The old priest sat at his open window to receive the offerings of the devout as they passed, but he did not seem to get more than a few bambini modelled in wax. Perhaps he was used to it. And the band played the barocco music on the barocco little piazza and we were all barocco together. It was as though the clergymen at Ladywell had given out that, instead of having service as usual, the congregation would go in procession to the Crystal Palace with all their traps, and that the band had been practising "Wait till the clouds roll by" for some time, and on Sunday, as a great treat, they should have it.

The Pope has issued an order saying he will not have masses written like operas. It is no use. The Pope can do much, but he will not be able to get contrapuntal music into Varese. He will not be able to get anything more solemn than La Fille de Madame Angot into Varese. As for fugues—! I would as soon take an English bishop to the Surrey pantomime as to the Sacro Monte on a festa.

Then the pilgrims went into the shadow of a great rock behind the sanctuary, spread themselves out over the grass and dined.

The Albergo Grotta Crimea

The entrance to this hotel at Chiavenna is through a covered court- yard; steps lead up to the roof of the court-yard, which is a terrace where one dines in fine weather. A great tree grows in the court- yard below, its trunk pierces the floor of the terrace, and its branches shade the open-air dining-room. The walls of the house are painted in fresco, with a check pattern like the late Lord Brougham's trousers, and there are also pictures. One represents Mendelssohn. He is not called Mendelssohn, but I knew him by his legs. He is in the costume of a dandy of some five-and-forty years ago, is smoking a cigar and appears to be making an offer of marriage to his cook. {261} Down below is a fresco of a man sitting on a barrel with a glass in his hand. A more absolutely worldly minded, uncultured individual it would be impossible to conceive. When I saw these frescoes I knew I should get along all right and not be over-charged.

Public Opinion

The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.

These Notes

I make them under the impression that I may use them in my books, but I never do unless I happen to remember them at the right time. When I wrote "Ramblings in Cheapside" [in the Universal Review, reprinted in Essays on Life, Art and Science] the preceding note about Public Opinion would have come in admirably; it was in my pocket, in my little black note-book, but I forgot all about it till I came to post my pocket-book into my note-book.

The Wife of Bath

There are Canterbury Pilgrims every Sunday in summer who start from close to the old Tabard, only they go by the South-Eastern Railway and come back the same day for five shillings. And, what is more, they are just the same sort of people. If they do not go to Canterbury they go by the Clacton Belle to Clacton-on-Sea. There is not a Sunday the whole summer through but you may find all Chaucer's pilgrims, man and woman for man and woman, on board the Lord of the Isles or the Clacton Belle. Why, I have seen the Wife of Bath on the Lord of the Isles myself. She was eating her luncheon off an Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday, which was spread out upon her knees. Whether it was I who had had too much beer or she I cannot tell, God knoweth; and whether or no I was caught up into Paradise, again I cannot tell; but I certainly did hear unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter, and that not above fourteen years ago but the very last Sunday that ever was. The Wife of Bath heard them too, but she never turned a hair. Luckily I had my detective camera with me, so I snapped her there and then. She put her hand up to her mouth at that very moment and rather spoiled herself, but not much. [1891.]

Horace at the Post-Office in Rome

When I was in Rome last summer whom should I meet but Horace.

I did not know him at first, and told him enquiringly that the post- office was in the Piazza Venezia?

He smiled benignly, shrugged his shoulders, said "Prego" and pointed to the post-office itself, which was over the way and, of course, in the Piazza S. Silvestro.

Then I knew him. I believe he went straight home and wrote an epistle to Mecaenas, or whatever the man's name was, asking how it comes about that people who travel hundreds of miles to see things can never see what is all the time under their noses. In fact, I saw him take out his note-book and begin making notes at once. He need not talk. He was not a good man of business and I do not believe his books sold much better than my own. But this does not matter to him now, for he has not the faintest idea that he ever wrote any of them and, more likely than not, has never even refreshed his memory by reading them.

Beethoven at Faido and at Boulogne

I have twice seen people so unmistakably like Beethoven (just as Madame Patey is unmistakably like Handel and only wants dressing in costume to be the image of him not in features only but in figure and air and manner) that I always think of them as Beethoven.

Once, at Faido in the Val Leventina, in 1876 or 1877, when the engineers were there surveying for the tunnel, there was among them a rather fine-looking young German with wild, ginger hair that rang out to the wild sky like the bells in In Memoriam, and a strong Edmund Gurney cut, {263} who played Wagner and was great upon the overture to Lohengrin; as for Handel—he was not worth consideration, etc. Well, this young man rather took a fancy to me and I did not dislike him, but one day, to tease him, I told him that a little insignificant-looking engineer, the most commonplace mortal imaginable, who was sitting at the head of the table, was like Beethoven. He was very like him indeed, and Muller saw it, smiled and flushed at the same time. He was short, getting on in years and was a little thick, though not fat. A few days afterwards he went away and Muller and I happened to meet his box—an enormous cube of a trunk—coming down the stairs.

"That's Beethoven's box," said Muller to me.

"Oh," I said, and, looking at it curiously for a moment, asked gravely, "And is he inside it?" It seemed to fit him and to correspond so perfectly with him in every way that one felt as though if he were not inside it he ought to be.

The second time was at Boulogne this spring. There were three Germans at the Hotel de Paris who sat together, went in and out together, smoked together and did everything as though they were a unity in trinity and a trinity in unity. We settled that they must be the Heckmann Quartet, minus Heckmann: we had not the smallest reason for thinking this but we settled it at once. The middle one of these was like Beethoven also. On Easter Sunday, after dinner, when he was a little—well, it was after dinner and his hair went rather mad—Jones said to me:

"Do you see that Beethoven has got into the posthumous quartet stage?" [1885.]


In the autumn of 1884, Butler spent some time at Promontogno and Soglio in the Val Bregaglia, sketching and making notes. Among the children of the Italian families in the albergo was Silvio, a boy of ten or twelve. He knew a little English and was very fond of poetry. He could repeat, "How doth the little buzzy bee." The poem which pleased him best, however, was:

Hey diddle diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle, The Cow jumped over the Moon.

They had nothing, he said, in Italian literature so good as this. Silvio used to talk to Butler while he was sketching.

"And you shall read Longfellow much in England?"

"No," I replied, "I don't think we read him very much."

"But how is that? He is a very pretty poet."

"Oh yes, but I don't greatly like poetry myself."

"Why don't you like poetry?"

"You see, poetry resembles metaphysics, one does not mind one's own, but one does not like any one else's."

"Oh! And what you call metaphysic?"

This was too much. It was like the lady who attributed the decline of the Italian opera to the fact that singers would no longer "podge" their voices.

"And what, pray, is 'podging'?" enquired my informant of the lady.

"Why, don't you understand what 'podging' is? Well, I don't know that I can exactly tell you, but I am sure Edith and Blanche podge beautifully."

However, I said that metaphysics were la filosofia and this quieted him. He left poetry and turned to prose.

"Then you shall like much the works of Washington Irving?"

I was grieved to say that I did not; but I dislike Washington Irving so cordially that I determined to chance another "No."

"Then you shall like better Fenimore Cooper?"

I was becoming reckless. I could not go on saying "No" after "No," and yet to ask me to be ever so little enthusiastic about Fenimore Cooper was laying a burden upon me heavier than I could bear, so I said I did not like him.

"Oh, I see," said the boy; "then it is Uncle Tom's Cabin that you shall like?"

Here I gave in. More "Noes" I could not say, so, thinking I might as well be hung for a sheep as for a mutton chop, I said that I thought Uncle Tom's Cabin one of the most wonderful and beautiful books that ever were written.

Having got at a writer whom I admired, he was satisfied, but not for long.

"And you think very much of the theories of Darwin in England, do you not?"

I groaned inwardly and said we did.

"And what are the theories of Darwin?"

Imagine what followed!

After which:

"Why do you not like poetry?—You shall have a very good university in London?" and so on.

Sunday Morning at Soglio

The quarantine men sat on the wall, dangling their legs over the parapet and singing the same old tune over and over again and the same old words over and over again. "Fu tradito, fu tradito da una donna." To them it was a holiday.

Two gnomes came along and looked at me. I asked the first how old it was; it said fourteen. They both looked about eight. I said that the flies and the fowls ought to be put into quarantine, and the gnomes grinned and showed their teeth till the corners of their mouths met at the backs of their heads.

The skeleton of a bird was nailed up against a barn, and I said to a man: "Aquila?"

He replied: "Aquila," and I passed on.

The village boys came round me and sighed while they watched me sketching. And the women came and exclaimed: "Oh! che testa, che testa!"

And the bells in the windows of the campanile began, and I turned and looked up at their beautiful lolling and watched their fitful tumble- aboutiness. They swung open-mouthed like elephants with uplifted trunks, and I wished I could have fed them with buns. They were not like English bells, and yet they rang more all 'Inglese than bells mostly do in Italy—they had got it, but they had not got it right.

There used to be two crows, and when one disappeared the other came to the house where it had not been for a month. While I was sketching it played with a woman who was weeding; it got on her back and tried to bite her hat; then it got down and pecked at the nails in her boots and tried to steal them. It let her catch it, and then made a little fuss, but it did not fly away when she let it go, it continued playing with her. Then it came to exploit me but would not come close up. Signor Scartazzini says it will play with all the women of the place but not with men or boys, except with him.

Then there came a monk and passed by me, and I knew I had seen him before but could not think where till, of a sudden, it flashed across me that he was Valoroso XXIV, King of Paphlagonia, no doubt expiating his offences.

And I watched the ants that were busy near my feet, and listened to them as they talked about me and discussed whether man has instinct.

"What is he doing here?" they said; "he wasn't here yesterday. Certainly they have no instinct. They may have a low kind of reason, but nothing approaching to instinct. Some of the London houses show signs of instinct—Gower Street, for example, does really seem to suggest instinct; but it is all delusive. It is curious that these cities of theirs should always exist in places where there are no ants. They certainly anthropomorphise too freely. Or is it perhaps that we formicomorphise more than we should?"

And Silvio came by on his way to church. It was he who taught all the boys in Soglio to make a noise. Before he came up there was no sound to be heard in the streets, except the fountains and the bells. I asked him whether the curate was good to him.

"Si," he replied, "e abbastanza buono."

I should think Auld Robin Gray was "abbastanza buono" to Mrs. Gray.

One of the little girls told me that Silvio had so many centesimi and she had none. I said at once:

"You don't want any centesimi."

As soon as these words fell from my lips, I knew I must be getting old.

And presently the Devil came up to me. He was a nice, clean old man, but he dropped his h's, and that was where he spoiled himself—or perhaps it was just this that threw me off my guard, for I had always heard that the Prince of Darkness was a perfect gentleman. He whispered to me that in the winter the monks of St. Bernard sometimes say matins overnight.

The blue of the mountains looks bluer through the chestnuts than through the pines. The river is snowy against the "Verdi prati e selve amene." The great fat tobacco plant agrees with itself if not with us; I never saw any plant look in better health. The briar knows perfectly well what it wants to do and that it does not want to be disturbed; it knows, in fact, all that it cares to know. The question is how and why it got to care to know just these things and no others. Two cheeky goats came tumbling down upon me and demanded salt, and the man came from the saw-mill and, with his great brown hands, scooped the mud from the dams of the rills that watered his meadow, for the hour had come when it was his turn to use the stream.

There were cow-bells, mountain elder-berries and lots of flowers in the grass. There was the glacier, the roar of the river and a plaintive little chapel on a green knoll under the great cliff of ice which cut the sky. There was a fat, crumby woman making hay. She said:

"Buon giorno."

And the "i o r" of the "giorno" came out like oil and honey. I saw she wanted a gossip. She and her husband tuned their scythes in two- part, note-against-note counterpoint; but I could hear that it was she who was the canto fermo and he who was the counterpoint. I peered down over the edge of the steep slippery slope which all had to be mown from top to bottom; if hay grew on the dome of St. Paul's these dreadful traders would gather it in, and presently the autumn crocuses would begin to push up their delicate, naked snouts through the closely shaven surface. I expressed my wonder.

"Siamo esatti," said the fat, crumby woman.

For what little things will not people risk their lives? So Smith and I crossed the Rangitata. So Esau sold his birthright.

It was noon, and I was so sheer above the floor of the valley and the sun was so sheer above me that the chestnuts in the meadow of Bondo squatted upon their own shadows and the gardens were as though the valley had been paved with bricks of various colours. The old grass- grown road ran below, nearer the river, where many a good man had gone up and down on his journey to that larger road where the reader and the writer shall alike join him.


I know a man, and one whom people generally call a very clever one, who, when his eye catches mine, if I meet him at an at home or an evening party, beams upon me from afar with the expression of an intellectual rattlesnake on having espied an intellectual rabbit. Through any crowd that man will come sidling towards me, ruthless and irresistible as fate; while I, foreknowing my doom, sidle also him- wards, and flatter myself that no sign of my inward apprehension has escaped me.

Supreme Occasions

Men are seldom more commonplace than on supreme occasions. I knew of an old gentleman who insisted on having the original polka played to him as he lay upon his death-bed. In the only well-authenticated words I have ever met with as spoken by a man who knew he was going to be murdered, there is a commonness which may almost be called Shakespearean. There had been many murders on or near some gold- fields in New Zealand about the years 1863 or 1864, I forget where but I think near the Nelson gold-fields, and at last the murderers were taken. One was allowed to turn Queen's evidence and gave an account of the circumstances of each murder. One of the victims, it appeared, on being told they were about to kill him, said:

"If you murder me, I shall be foully murdered."

Whereupon they murdered him and he was foully murdered. It is a mistake to expect people to rise to the occasion unless the occasion is only a little above their ordinary limit. People seldom rise to their greater occasions, they almost always fall to them. It is only supreme men who are supreme at supreme moments. They differ from the rest of us in this that, when the moment for rising comes, they rise at once and instinctively.

The Aurora Borealis

I saw one once in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence off the island of Anticosti. We were in the middle of it, and seemed to be looking up through a great cone of light millions and millions of miles into the sky. Then we saw it farther off and the pillars of fire stalked up and down the face of heaven like one of Handel's great basses.

In front of my room at Montreal there was a verandah from which a rope was stretched across a small yard to a chimney on a stable roof over the way. Clothes were hung to dry on this rope. As I lay in bed of a morning I could see the shadows and reflected lights from these clothes moving on the ceiling as the clothes were blown about by the wind. The movement of these shadows and reflected lights was exactly that of the rays of an Aurora Borealis, minus colour. I can conceive no resemblance more perfect. They stalked across the ceiling with the same kind of movement absolutely.

A Tragic Expression

The three occasions when I have seen a really tragic expression upon a face were as follows:-

(1) When Mrs. Inglis in my room at Montreal heard my sausages frying, as she thought, too furiously in the kitchen, she left me hurriedly with a glance, and the folds of her dress as she swept out of the room were Niobean.

(2) Once at dinner I sat opposite a certain lady who had a tureen of soup before her and also a plate of the same to which she had just helped herself. There was meat in the soup and I suppose she got a bit she did not like; instead of leaving it, she swiftly, stealthily, picked it up from her plate when she thought no one was looking and, with an expression which Mrs. Siddons might have studied for a performance of Clytemnestra, popped it back into the tureen.

(3) There was an alarm of fire on an emigrant ship in mid-ocean when I was going to New Zealand and the women rushed aft with faces as in a Massacre of the Innocents.

The Wrath to Come

On the Monte Generoso a lady who sat next me at the table-d'hote was complaining of a man in the hotel. She said he was a nuisance because he practised on the violin. I excused him by saying that I supposed some one had warned him to fly from the wrath to come, meaning that he had conceptions of an ideal world and was trying to get into it. (I heard a man say something like this many years ago and it stuck by me.)

The Beauties of Nature

A man told me that at some Swiss hotel he had been speaking enthusiastically about the beauty of the scenery to a Frenchman who said to him:

"Aimez-vous donc les beautes de la nature? Pour moi je les abborre."

The Late King Vittorio Emanuele

Cavaliere Negri, at Casale-Monferrato, told me not long since that when he was a child, during the troubles of 1848 and 1849, the King was lunching with his (Cav. Negri's ) father who had provided the best possible luncheon in honour of his guest. The King said:

"I can eat no such luncheon in times like these—give me some garlic."

The garlic being brought, he ate it along with a great hunch of bread, but would touch nothing else.

The Bishop of Chichester at Faido

When I was at Faido in the Val Leventina last summer there was a lady there who remembered me in New Zealand; she had brought her children to Switzerland for their holiday; good people, all of them. They had friends coming to them, a certain canon and his sister, and there was a talk that the Bishop of Chichester might possibly come too. In course of time the canon and his sister came. At first the sister, who was put to sit next me at dinner, was below zero and her brother opposite was hardly less freezing; but as dinner wore on they thawed and, from regarding me as the monster which in the first instance they clearly did, began to see that I agreed with them in much more than they had thought possible. By and by they were reassured, became cordial and proved on acquaintance to be most kind and good. They soon saw that I liked them, and the canon let me take him where I chose. I took him to the place where the Woodsias grow and we found some splendid specimens. I took him to Mairengo and showed him the double chancel. Coming back he said I had promised to show him some Alternifolium. I stopped him and said:

"Here is some," for there happened to be a bit in the wall by the side of the path.

This quite finished the conquest, and before long I was given to understand that the bishop really would come and we were to take him pretty near the Woodsias and not tell him, and he was to find them out for himself. I have no doubt that the bishop had meant coming with the canon, but then the canon had heard from the New Zealand lady that I was there, and this would not do at all for the bishop. Anyhow the canon had better exploit me by going first and seeing how bad I was. So the canon came, said I was all right and in a couple of days or so the bishop and his daughters arrived.

The bishop did not speak to me at dinner, but after dinner, in the salon, he made an advance in the matter of the newspaper and, I replying, he began a conversation which lasted the best part of an hour, and during which I trust I behaved discreetly. Then I bade him "Good-night" and left the room.

Next morning I saw him eating his breakfast and said "Good-morning" to him. He was quite ready to talk. We discussed the Woodsia Ilvensis and agreed that it was a mythical species. It was said in botany books to grow near Guildford. We dismissed this assertion. But he remarked that it was extraordinary in what odd places we sometimes do find plants; he knew a single plant of Asplenium Trichomanes which had no other within thirty miles of it; it was growing on a tombstone which had come from a long distance and from a Trichomanes country. It almost seemed as if the seeds and germs were always going about in the air and grew wherever they found a suitable environment. I said it was the same with our thoughts; the germs of all manner of thoughts and ideas are always floating about unperceived in our minds and it was astonishing sometimes in what strange places they found the soil which enabled them to take root and grow into perceived thought and action. The bishop looked up from his egg and said:

"That is a very striking remark," and then he went on with his egg as though if I were going to talk like that he should not play any more.

Thinking I was not likely to do better than this, I retreated immediately and went away down to Claro where there was a confirmation and so on to Bellinzona.

In the morning I had asked the waitress how she liked the bishop.

"Oh! beaucoup, beaucoup," she exclaimed, "et je trouve son nez vraiment noble." [1886.]

At Piora

I am confident that I have written the following note in one or other of the earlier of these volumes, but I have searched my precious indexes in vain to find it. No doubt as soon as I have retold the story I shall stumble upon it.

One day in the autumn of 1886 I walked up to Piora from Airolo, returning the same day. At Piora I met a very nice quiet man whose name I presently discovered, and who, I have since learned, is a well-known and most liberal employer of labour somewhere in the north of England. He told me that he had been induced to visit Piora by a book which had made a great impression upon him. He could not recollect its title, but it had made a great impression upon him; nor yet could he recollect the author's name, but the book had made a great impression upon him; he could not remember even what else there was in the book; the only thing he knew was that it had made a great impression upon him.

This is a good example of what is called a residuary impression. Whether or no I told him that the book which had made such a great impression upon him was called Alps and Sanctuaries (see Chap. VI), and that it had been written by the person he was addressing, I cannot tell. It would be very like me to have blurted it all out and given him to understand how fortunate he had been in meeting me; this would be so fatally like me that the chances are ten to one that I did it; but I have, thank Heaven, no recollection of sin in this respect, and have rather a strong impression that, for once in my life, I smiled to myself and said nothing.

At Ferentino

After dinner I ordered a coffee; the landlord, who also had had his dinner, asked me to be good enough to defer it for another year and I assented. I then asked him which was the best inn at Segni. He replied that it did not matter, that when a man had quattrini one albergo was as good as another. I said, No; that more depended on what kind of blood was running about inside the albergatore than on how many quattrini the guest had in his pocket. He smiled and offered me a pinch of the most delicious snuff. His wife came and cleared the table, having done which she shed the water bottle over the floor to keep the dust down. I am sure she did it all to all the blessed gods that live in heaven, though she did not say so.

The Imperfect Lady

There was one at a country house in Sicily where I was staying. She had been lent to my host for change of air by his friend the marchese. She dined at table with us and we all liked her very much. She was extremely pretty and not less amiable than pretty. In order to reach the dining-room we had to go through her bedroom as also through my host's. When the monsignore came, she dined with us just the same, and the old priest evidently did not mind at all. In Sicily they do not bring the scent of the incense across the dining- room table. And one would hardly expect the attempt to be made by people who use the oath "Santo Diavolo."

Siena and S. Gimignano

At Siena last spring, prowling round outside the cathedral, we saw an English ecclesiastic in a stringed, sub-shovel hat. He had a young lady with him, presumably a daughter or niece. He eyed us with much the same incurious curiosity as that with which we eyed him. We passed them and went inside the duomo. How far less impressive is the interior (indeed I had almost said also the exterior) than that of San Domenico! Nothing palls so soon as over-ornamentation.

A few minutes afterwards my Lord and the young lady came in too. It was Sunday and mass was being celebrated. The pair passed us and, when they reached the fringe of the kneeling folk, the bishop knelt down too on the bare floor, kneeling bolt upright from the knees, a few feet in front of where we stood. We saw him and I am sure he knew we were looking at him. The lady seemed to hesitate but, after a minute or so, she knuckled down by his side and we left them kneeling bolt upright from the knees on the hard floor.

I always cross myself and genuflect when I go into a Roman Catholic church, as a mark of respect, but Jones and Gogin say that any one can see I am not an old hand at it. How rudimentary is the action of an old priest! I saw one once at Venice in the dining-room of the Hotel la Luna who crossed himself by a rapid motion of his fork just before he began to eat, and Miss Bertha Thomas told me she saw an Italian lady at Varallo at the table-d'hote cross herself with her fan. I do not cross myself before eating nor do I think it incumbent upon me to kneel down on the hard floor in church—perhaps because I am not an English bishop. We were sorry for this one and for his young lady, but it was their own doing.

We then went into the Libreria to see the frescoes by Pinturicchio— which we did not like—and spent some little time in attending to them. On leaving we were told to sign our names in a book and did so. As we were going out we met the bishop and his lady coming in; whether they had been kneeling all the time, or whether they had got up as soon we were gone and had spent the time in looking round I cannot say, but, when they had seen the frescoes, they would be told to sign their names and, when they signed, they would see ours and, I flatter myself, know who we were.

On returning to our hotel we were able to collect enough information to settle in our own minds which particular bishop he was.

A day or two later we went to Poggibonsi, which must have been an important place once; nothing but the walls remain now, the city within them having been razed by Charles V. At the station we took a carriage, and our driver, Ulisse Pogni, was a delightful person, second baritone at the Poggibonsi Opera and principal fly-owner of the town. He drove us up to S. Gimignano and told us that the people still hold the figures in Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes to be portraits of themselves and say: "That's me," and "That's so and so."

Of course we went to see the frescoes, and as we were coming down the main street, from the Piazza on which the Municipio stands, who should be mounting the incline but our bishop and his lady. The moment he saw us, he looked cross, stood still and began inspecting the tops of the houses on the other side of the street; so also did the lady. There was nothing of the smallest interest in these and we neither of us had the smallest doubt that he was embarrassed at meeting us and was pretending not to notice us. I have seldom seen any like attempt more clumsily and fatuously done. Whether he was saying to himself, "Good Lord! that wretch will be putting my kneeling down into another Alps and Sanctuaries or Ex Voto"; or whether it was only that we were a couple of blackguard atheists who contaminated the air all round us, I cannot tell; but on venturing to look back a second or two after we had passed them, the bishop and the lady had got a considerable distance away.

As we returned our driver took us about 4 kilometres outside Poggibonsi to San Lucchese, a church of the 12th or 13th century, greatly decayed, but still very beautiful and containing a few naif frescoes. He told us he had sung the Sanctus here at the festa on the preceding Sunday. In a room adjoining the church, formerly, we were told, a refectory, there is a very good fresco representing the "Miraculous Draught of Fishes" by Gerino da Pistoja (I think, but one forgets these names at once unless one writes them down then and there). It is dated—I think (again!)—about 1509, betrays the influence of Perugino but is more lively and interesting than anything I know by that painter, for I cannot call him master. It is in good preservation and deserves to be better, though perhaps not very much better, known than it is. Our driver pointed out that the baskets in which the fishes are being collected are portraits of the baskets still in use in the neighbourhood.

After we had returned to London we found, in the Royal Academy Exhibition, a portrait of our bishop which, though not good, was quite good enough to assure us that we had not been mistaken as to his diocese.

The Etruscan Urns at Volterra

As regards the way in which the Etruscan artists kept to a few stock subjects, this has been so in all times and countries.

When Christianity convulsed the world and displaced the older mythology, she did but introduce new subjects of her own, to which her artists kept as closely as their pagan ancestors had kept to their heathen gods and goddesses. We now make believe to have freed ourselves from these trammels, but the departure is more apparent than real. Our works of art fall into a few well-marked groups and the pictures of each group, though differing in detail, present the same general characters. We have, however, broken much new ground, whereas until the last three or four hundred years it almost seems either as if artists had thought subject a detail beneath their notice, or publics had insisted on being told only what they knew already.

The principle of living only to see and to hear some new thing, and the other principle of avoiding everything with which we are not perfectly familiar are equally old, equally universal, equally useful. They are the principles of conservation and accumulation on the one hand, and of adventure, speculation and progress on the other, each equally indispensable. The money has been, and will probably always be more persistently in the hands of the first of these two groups. But, after all, is not money an art? Nay, is it not the most difficult on earth and the parent of all? And if life is short and art long, is not money still longer? And are not works of art, for the most part, more or less works of money also? In so far as a work of art is a work of money, it must not complain of being bound by the laws of money; in so far as it is a work of art, it has nothing to do with money and, again, cannot complain.

It is a great help to the spectator to know the subject of a picture and not to be bothered with having to find out all about the story. Subjects should be such as either tell their own story instantly on the face of them, or things with which all spectators may be supposed familiar. It must not be forgotten that a work exposed to public view is addressed to a great many people and should accordingly consider many people rather than one. I saw an English family not long since looking at a fine collection of the coins of all nations. They hardly pretended even to take a languid interest in the French, German, Dutch and Italian coins, but brightened up at once on being shown a shilling, a florin and a half-crown. So children do not want new stories; they look for old ones.

"Mamma dear, will you please tell us the story of 'The Three Bears'?"

"No, my love, not to-day, I have told it you very often lately and I am busy."

"Very well, Mamma dear, then we will tell you the story of 'The Three Bears.'"

The Iliad and the Odyssey are only "The Three Bears" upon a larger scale. Just as the life of a man is only the fission of two amoebas on a larger scale. Cui non dictus Hylas puer et Latonia Delos? That was no argument against telling it again, but rather for repeating it. So people look out in the newspapers for what they know rather than for what they do not know, and the better they know it the more interested they are to see it in print and, as a general rule, unless they get what they expect—or think they know already—they are angry. This tendency of our nature culminates in the well-known lines repeated for ever and ever:

The battle of the Nile I was there all the while; I was there all the while At the battle of the Nile. The battle of . . .

And so on ad lib. Even this will please very young children. As they grow older they want to hear about nothing but "The Three Bears." As they mature still further they want the greater invention and freer play of fancy manifested by such people as Homer and our west-end upholsterers, beyond which there is no liberty, but only eccentricity and extravagance.

So it is with all fashion. Fashions change, but not radically except after convulsion and, even then, the change is more apparent than real, the older fashions continually coming back as new ones.

So it is not only as regards choice of subject but also as regards treatment of subject within the limits of the work itself, after the subject is chosen. No matter whether the utterance of a man's inner mind is attempted by way of words, painting, or music, the same principle underlies all these three arts and, of course, also those arts that are akin to them. In each case a man should have but one subject easily recognisable as the main motive, and in each case he must develop, treat and illustrate this by means of episodes and details that are neither so alien to the subject as to appear lugged in by the heels, nor yet so germane to it as to be identical. The treatment grows out of the subject as the family from the parents and the race from the family—each new-born member being the same and yet not the same with those that have preceded him. So it is with all the arts and all the sciences—they flourish best by the addition of but little new at a time in comparison with the old.

And so, lastly, it is with the ars artium itself, that art of arts and science of sciences, that guild of arts and crafts which is comprised within each one of us, I mean our bodies. In the detail they are nourished from day to day by food which must not be too alien from past food or from the body itself, nor yet too germane to either; and in the gross, that is to say, in the history of the development of a race or species, the evolution is admittedly for the most part exceedingly gradual, by means of many generations, as it were, of episodes that are kindred to and yet not identical with the subject.

And when we come to think of it, we find in the evolution of bodily form (which along with modification involves persistence of type) the explanation why persistence of type in subjects chosen for treatment in works of art should be so universal. It is because we are so averse to great changes and at the same time so averse to no change at all, that we have a bodily form, in the main, persistent and yet, at the same time, capable of modifications. Without a strong aversion to change its habits and, with its habits, the pabulum of its mind, there would be no fixity of type in any species and, indeed, there would be no life at all, as we are accustomed to think of life, for organs would disappear before they could be developed, and to try to build life on such a shifting foundation would be as hopeless as it would be to try and build a material building on an actual quicksand. Hence the habits, cries, abodes, food, hopes and fears of each species (and what are these but the realities of which human arts are as the shadow?) tell the same old tales in the same old ways from generation to generation, and it is only because they do so that they appear to us as species at all.

Returning now to the Etruscan cinerary urns—I have no doubt that, perhaps three or four thousand years hence, a collection of the tombstones from some of our suburban cemeteries will be thought exceedingly interesting, but I confess to having found the urns in the Museum at Volterra a little monotonous and, after looking at about three urns, I hurried over the remaining 397 as fast as I could. [1889.]

The Quick and the Dead

The walls of the houses [in an Italian village] are built of brick and the roofs are covered with stone. They call the stone "vivo." It is as though they thought bricks were like veal or mutton and stones like bits out of the living calf or sheep. {279}

The Grape-Filter

When the water of a place is bad, it is safest to drink none that has not been filtered through either the berry of a grape, or else a tub of malt. These are the most reliable filters yet invented.

Bertoli and his Bees

Giacomo Bertoli of Varallo-Sesia keeps a watch and clock shop in the street. He is a cheery little old gentleman, though I do not see why I should call him old for I doubt his being so old as I am. He and I have been very good friends for years and he is always among the first to welcome me when I go to Varallo.

He is one of the most famous bee-masters in Europe. He keeps some of his bees during the winter at Camasco not very far from Varallo, others in other places near and moves them up to Alagna, at the head of the Val Sesia, towards the end of May that they may make their honey from the spring flowers—and excellent honey they make.

About a fortnight ago I happened to meet him bringing down ten of his hives. He was walking in front and was immediately followed by two women each with crates on their backs, and each carrying five hives. They seemed to me to be ordinary deal boxes, open at the top, but covered over with gauze which would keep the bees in but not exclude air. I asked him if the bees minded the journey, and he replied that they were very angry and had a great deal to say about it; he was sure to be stung when he let them out. He said it was "un lavoro improbo," and cost him a great deal of anxiety.

"The Lost Chord"

It should be "The Lost Progression," for the young lady was mistaken in supposing she had ever heard any single chord "like the sound of a great Amen." Unless we are to suppose that she had already found the chord of C Major for the final syllable of the word and was seeking the chord for the first syllable; and there she is on the walls of a Milanese restaurant arpeggioing experimental harmonies in a transport of delight to advertise Somebody and Someone's pianos and holding the loud pedal solidly down all the time. Her family had always been unsympathetic about her music. They said it was like a loose bundle of fire-wood which you never can get across the room without dropping sticks; they said she would have been so much better employed doing anything else.

Fancy being in the room with her while she was strumming about and hunting after her chord! Fancy being in heaven with her when she had found it!

Introduction of Foreign Plants

I have brought back this year some mountain auriculas and the seed of some salvia and Fusio tiger-lily, and mean to plant the auriculas and to sow the seeds in Epping Forest and elsewhere round about London. I wish people would more generally bring back the seeds of pleasing foreign plants and introduce them broadcast, sowing them by our waysides and in our fields, or in whatever situation is most likely to suit them. It is true, this would puzzle botanists, but there is no reason why botanists should not be puzzled. A botanist is a person whose aim is to uproot, kill and exterminate every plant that is at all remarkable for rarity or any special virtue, and the rarer it is the more bitterly he will hunt it down.

Saint Cosimo and Saint Damiano at Siena

Sano di Pietro shows us a heartless practical joke played by these two very naughty saints, both medical men, who should be uncanonised immediately. It seems they laid their heads together and for some reason, best known to themselves, resolved to cut a leg off a dead negro and put it on to a white man. In the one compartment they are seen in high glee cutting the negro's leg off. In the next they have gone to the white man who is in bed, obviously asleep, and are substituting the black leg for his own. Then, no doubt, they will stand behind the door and see what he does when he wakes. They must be saints because they have glories on, but it looks as though a glory is not much more to be relied on than a gig as a test of respectability. [1889.]

At Pienza

At Pienza, after having seen the Museum with a custode whom I photoed as being more like death, though in excellent health and spirits, than any one I ever saw, I was taken to the leading college for young ladies, the Conservatorio di S. Carlo, under the direction of Signora (or Signorina, I do not know which) Cesira Carletti, to see the wonderful Viale of the twelfth or thirteenth century given to Pienza by Pope AEneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II) and stolen a few years since, but recovered. Signora Carletti was copying parts of it in needlework, nor can I think that the original was ever better than the parts which she had already done. The work would take weeks or even months to examine with any fullness, and volumes to describe. It is as prodigal of labour, design and colour as nature herself is. In fact it is one of those things that nature has a right to do but not art. It fatigues one to look at it or think upon it and, bathos though it be to say so, it won the first prize at the Exhibitions of Ecclesiastical Art Work held a few years ago at Rome and at Siena. It has taken Signora Carletti months to do even the little she has done, but that little must be seen to be believed, for no words can do justice to it.

Having seen the Viale, I was shown round the whole establishment, and can imagine nothing better ordered. I was taken over the dormitories—very nice and comfortable—and, finally, not without being much abashed, into the room where the young ladies were engaged upon needlework. It reminded me of nothing so much as of the Education of the Virgin Chapel at Oropa. {282} I was taken to each young lady and did my best to acquit myself properly in praising her beautiful work but, beautiful as the work of one and all was, it could not compare with that of Signora Carletti. I asked her if she could not get some of the young ladies to help her in the less important parts of her work, but she said she preferred doing it all herself. They all looked well and happy and as though they were well cared for, as I am sure they are.

Then Signora Carletti took me to the top of the house to show me the meteorological room of which she is superintendent, and which is in connection with the main meteorological observatory at Rome. Again I found everything in admirable order, and left the house not a little pleased and impressed with everything I had seen. [1889.]

Homer's Hot and Cold Springs

The following extract is taken from a memorandum Butler made of a visit he paid to Greece and the Troad in the spring of 1895. In the Iliad (xxii. 145) Homer mentions hot and cold springs where the Trojan women used to wash their clothes. There are no such springs near Hissarlik, where they ought to be, but the American Consul at the Dardanelles told Butler there was something of the kind on Mount Ida, at the sources of the Scamander, and he determined to see them after visiting Hissarlik. He was provided with an interpreter, Yakoub, an attendant, Ahmed, an escort of one soldier and a horse. He went first to the Consul's farm at Thymbra, about five miles from Hissarlik, where he spent the night and found it "all very like a first-class New Zealand sheep-station." The next day he went to Hissarlik and saw no reason for disagreeing with the received opinion that it is the site of Troy. He then proceeded to Bunarbashi and so to Bairemitch, passing on the way a saw-mill where there was a Government official with twenty soldiers under him. This official was much interested in the traveller and directed his men to take carpets and a dish of trout, caught that morning in the Scamander, and carry them up to the hot and cold springs while he himself accompanied Butler. So they set off and the official, Ismail, showed him the way and pointed out the springs, and there is a long note about the hot and cold water.

And now let me return to Ismail Gusbashi, the excellent Turkish official who, by the way, was with me during all my examination of the springs, and whose assurances of their twofold temperature I should have found it impossible to doubt, even though I had not caught one warmer cupful myself. His men, while we were at the springs, had spread a large Turkey carpet on the flower-bespangled grass under the trees, and there were three smaller rugs at three of the corners. On these Ismail and Yakoub and I took our places. The other two were cross-legged, but I reclining anyhow. The sun shimmered through the spring foliage. I saw two hoopoes and many beautiful birds whose names I knew not. Through the trees I could see the snow-fields of Ida far above me, but it was hopeless to think of reaching them. The soldiers and Ahmed cooked the trout and the eggs all together; then we had boiled eggs, bread and cheese and, of course, more lamb's liver done on skewers like cats' meat. I ate with my pocket-knife, the others using their fingers in true Homeric fashion.

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