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By Mark Twain


By Mark Twain

(Samuel L. Clemens)

First published in 1880

* * * * * *


[The Knighted Knave of Bergen]

One day it occurred to me that it had been many years

since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man

adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Europe

on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was

a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle.

So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878.

I looked about me for the right sort of person to

accompany me in the capacity of agent, and finally

hired a Mr. Harris for this service.

It was also my purpose to study art while in Europe.

Mr. Harris was in sympathy with me in this. He was as much

of an enthusiast in art as I was, and not less anxious

to learn to paint. I desired to learn the German language;

so did Harris.

Toward the middle of April we sailed in the HOLSATIA,

Captain Brandt, and had a very peasant trip, indeed.

After a brief rest at Hamburg, we made preparations for

a long pedestrian trip southward in the soft spring weather,

but at the last moment we changed the program,

for private reasons, and took the express-train.

We made a short halt at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and found

it an interesting city. I would have liked to visit

the birthplace of Gutenburg, but it could not be done,

as no memorandum of the site of the house has been kept.

So we spent an hour in the Goethe mansion instead.

The city permits this house to belong to private parties,

instead of gracing and dignifying herself with the honor

of possessing and protecting it.

Frankfort is one of the sixteen cities which have

the distinction of being the place where the following

incident occurred. Charlemagne, while chasing the Saxons

(as HE said), or being chased by them (as THEY said),

arrived at the bank of the river at dawn, in a fog.

The enemy were either before him or behind him;

but in any case he wanted to get across, very badly.

He would have given anything for a guide, but none was to

be had. Presently he saw a deer, followed by her young,

approach the water. He watched her, judging that she

would seek a ford, and he was right. She waded over,

and the army followed. So a great Frankish victory or

defeat was gained or avoided; and in order to commemorate

the episode, Charlemagne commanded a city to be built there,

which he named Frankfort–the ford of the Franks.

None of the other cities where this event happened were

named for it. This is good evidence that Frankfort was

the first place it occurred at.

Frankfort has another distinction–it is the birthplace

of the German alphabet; or at least of the German word

for alphabet –BUCHSTABEN. They say that the first movable

types were made on birch sticks–BUCHSTABE–hence the name.

I was taught a lesson in political economy in Frankfort.

I had brought from home a box containing a thousand

very cheap cigars. By way of experiment, I stepped

into a little shop in a queer old back street, took four

gaily decorated boxes of wax matches and three cigars,

and laid down a silver piece worth 48 cents. The man gave

me 43 cents change.

In Frankfort everybody wears clean clothes, and I think we

noticed that this strange thing was the case in Hamburg, too,

and in the villages along the road. Even in the narrowest

and poorest and most ancient quarters of Frankfort neat

and clean clothes were the rule. The little children

of both sexes were nearly always nice enough to take into

a body’s lap. And as for the uniforms of the soldiers,

they were newness and brightness carried to perfection.

One could never detect a smirch or a grain of dust

upon them. The street-car conductors and drivers wore

pretty uniforms which seemed to be just out of the bandbox,

and their manners were as fine as their clothes.

In one of the shops I had the luck to stumble upon a book

which has charmed me nearly to death. It is entitled


by F. J. Kiefer; translated by L. W. Garnham, B.A.

All tourists MENTION the Rhine legends–in that sort of way

which quietly pretends that the mentioner has been familiar

with them all his life, and that the reader cannot possibly

be ignorant of them–but no tourist ever TELLS them.

So this little book fed me in a very hungry place; and I,

in my turn, intend to feed my reader, with one or two

little lunches from the same larder. I shall not mar

Garnharn’s translation by meddling with its English;

for the most toothsome thing about it is its quaint

fashion of building English sentences on the German plan–

and punctuating them accordingly to no plan at all.

In the chapter devoted to “Legends of Frankfort,”

I find the following:


“In Frankfort at the Romer was a great mask-ball, at

the coronation festival, and in the illuminated saloon,

the clanging music invited to dance, and splendidly

appeared the rich toilets and charms of the ladies,

and the festively costumed Princes and Knights.

All seemed pleasure, joy, and roguish gaiety, only one of the

numerous guests had a gloomy exterior; but exactly the black

armor in which he walked about excited general attention,

and his tall figure, as well as the noble propriety of

his movements, attracted especially the regards of the ladies.

Who the Knight was? Nobody could guess, for his Vizier

was well closed, and nothing made him recognizable.

Proud and yet modest he advanced to the Empress; bowed on

one knee before her seat, and begged for the favor of a

waltz with the Queen of the festival. And she allowed

his request. With light and graceful steps he danced

through the long saloon, with the sovereign who thought

never to have found a more dexterous and excellent dancer.

But also by the grace of his manner, and fine conversation

he knew to win the Queen, and she graciously accorded him

a second dance for which he begged, a third, and a fourth,

as well as others were not refused him. How all regarded

the happy dancer, how many envied him the high favor;

how increased curiosity, who the masked knight could be.

“Also the Emperor became more and more excited with curiosity,

and with great suspense one awaited the hour, when according

to mask-law, each masked guest must make himself known.

This moment came, but although all other unmasked;

the secret knight still refused to allow his features

to be seen, till at last the Queen driven by curiosity,

and vexed at the obstinate refusal; commanded him to open

his Vizier. He opened it, and none of the high ladies

and knights knew him. But from the crowded spectators,

2 officials advanced, who recognized the black dancer,

and horror and terror spread in the saloon, as they said who

the supposed knight was. It was the executioner of Bergen.

But glowing with rage, the King commanded to seize the

criminal and lead him to death, who had ventured to dance,

with the queen; so disgraced the Empress, and insulted

the crown. The culpable threw himself at the Emperor,

and said–

“‘Indeed I have heavily sinned against all noble guests

assembled here, but most heavily against you my sovereign

and my queen. The Queen is insulted by my haughtiness

equal to treason, but no punishment even blood, will not

be able to wash out the disgrace, which you have suffered

by me. Therefore oh King! allow me to propose a remedy,

to efface the shame, and to render it as if not done.

Draw your sword and knight me, then I will throw down

my gauntlet, to everyone who dares to speak disrespectfully

of my king.’

“The Emperor was surprised at this bold proposal,

however it appeared the wisest to him; ‘You are a knave

he replied after a moment’s consideration, however your

advice is good, and displays prudence, as your offense

shows adventurous courage. Well then, and gave him the

knight-stroke so I raise you to nobility, who begged for

grace for your offense now kneels before me, rise as knight;

knavish you have acted, and Knave of Bergen shall you

be called henceforth, and gladly the Black knight rose;

three cheers were given in honor of the Emperor,

and loud cries of joy testified the approbation with

which the Queen danced still once with the Knave of Bergen.”



[Landing a Monarch at Heidelberg]

We stopped at a hotel by the railway-station. Next morning,

as we sat in my room waiting for breakfast to come up,

we got a good deal interested in something which was

going on over the way, in front of another hotel.

First, the personage who is called the PORTIER (who is

not the PORTER, but is a sort of first-mate of a hotel)

[1. See Appendix A] appeared at the door in a spick-and-span

new blue cloth uniform, decorated with shining brass buttons,

and with bands of gold lace around his cap and wristbands;

and he wore white gloves, too. He shed an official glance

upon the situation, and then began to give orders.

Two women-servants came out with pails and brooms

and brushes, and gave the sidewalk a thorough scrubbing;

meanwhile two others scrubbed the four marble steps

which led up to the door; beyond these we could see some

men-servants taking up the carpet of the grand staircase.

This carpet was carried away and the last grain of dust

beaten and banged and swept our of it; then brought back

and put down again. The brass stair-rods received an

exhaustive polishing and were returned to their places.

Now a troop of servants brought pots and tubs

of blooming plants and formed them into a beautiful

jungle about the door and the base of the staircase.

Other servants adorned all the balconies of the various

stories with flowers and banners; others ascended

to the roof and hoisted a great flag on a staff there.

Now came some more chamber-maids and retouched the sidewalk,

and afterward wiped the marble steps with damp cloths

and finished by dusting them off with feather brushes.

Now a broad black carpet was brought out and laid down the

marble steps and out across the sidewalk to the curbstone.

The PORTIER cast his eye along it, and found it was not

absolutely straight; he commanded it to be straightened;

the servants made the effort–made several efforts,

in fact–but the PORTIER was not satisfied. He finally

had it taken up, and then he put it down himself and got

it right.

At this stage of the proceedings, a narrow bright

red carpet was unrolled and stretched from the top

of the marble steps to the curbstone, along the center

of the black carpet. This red path cost the PORTIER

more trouble than even the black one had done. But he

patiently fixed and refixed it until it was exactly right

and lay precisely in the middle of the black carpet.

In New York these performances would have gathered a mighty

crowd of curious and intensely interested spectators;

but here it only captured an audience of half a dozen

little boys who stood in a row across the pavement,

some with their school-knapsacks on their backs and their

hands in their pockets, others with arms full of bundles,

and all absorbed in the show. Occasionally one of them

skipped irreverently over the carpet and took up a position

on the other side. This always visibly annoyed the PORTIER.

Now came a waiting interval. The landlord, in plain clothes,

and bareheaded, placed himself on the bottom marble step,

abreast the PORTIER, who stood on the other end of the

same steps; six or eight waiters, gloved, bareheaded,

and wearing their whitest linen, their whitest cravats,

and their finest swallow-tails, grouped themselves

about these chiefs, but leaving the carpetway clear.

Nobody moved or spoke any more but only waited.

In a short time the shrill piping of a coming train was heard,

and immediately groups of people began to gather in the street.

Two or three open carriages arrived, and deposited some

maids of honor and some male officials at the hotel.

Presently another open carriage brought the Grand Duke

of Baden, a stately man in uniform, who wore the handsome

brass-mounted, steel-spiked helmet of the army on his head.

Last came the Empress of Germany and the Grand Duchess

of Baden in a closed carriage; these passed through the

low-bowing groups of servants and disappeared in the hotel,

exhibiting to us only the backs of their heads, and then

the show was over.

It appears to be as difficult to land a monarch as it

is to launch a ship.

But as to Heidelberg. The weather was growing pretty warm,

–very warm, in fact. So we left the valley and took

quarters at the Schloss Hotel, on the hill, above the Castle.

Heidelberg lies at the mouth of a narrow gorge–a gorge

the shape of a shepherd’s crook; if one looks up it he

perceives that it is about straight, for a mile and a half,

then makes a sharp curve to the right and disappears.

This gorge–along whose bottom pours the swift Neckar–

is confined between (or cloven through) a couple of long,

steep ridges, a thousand feet high and densely wooded

clear to their summits, with the exception of one section

which has been shaved and put under cultivation.

These ridges are chopped off at the mouth of the gorge

and form two bold and conspicuous headlands, with Heidelberg

nestling between them; from their bases spreads away

the vast dim expanse of the Rhine valley, and into this

expanse the Neckar goes wandering in shining curves and is

presently lost to view.

Now if one turns and looks up the gorge once more, he will

see the Schloss Hotel on the right perched on a precipice

overlooking the Neckar–a precipice which is so sumptuously

cushioned and draped with foliage that no glimpse of the

rock appears. The building seems very airily situated.

It has the appearance of being on a shelf half-way up

the wooded mountainside; and as it is remote and isolated,

and very white, it makes a strong mark against the lofty

leafy rampart at its back.

This hotel had a feature which was a decided novelty,

and one which might be adopted with advantage by any house

which is perched in a commanding situation. This feature

may be described as a series of glass-enclosed parlors


and every bed-chamber and drawing-room. They are like long,

narrow, high-ceiled bird-cages hung against the building.

My room was a corner room, and had two of these things,

a north one and a west one.

From the north cage one looks up the Neckar gorge;

from the west one he looks down it. This last affords

the most extensive view, and it is one of the loveliest

that can be imagined, too. Out of a billowy upheaval of

vivid green foliage, a rifle-shot removed, rises the huge

ruin of Heidelberg Castle, [2. See Appendix B] with empty window


ivy-mailed battlements, moldering towers–the Lear of

inanimate nature–deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms,

but royal still, and beautiful. It is a fine sight to see

the evening sunlight suddenly strike the leafy declivity

at the Castle’s base and dash up it and drench it as with

a luminous spray, while the adjacent groves are in deep shadow.

Behind the Castle swells a great dome-shaped hill,

forest-clad, and beyond that a nobler and loftier one.

The Castle looks down upon the compact brown-roofed town;

and from the town two picturesque old bridges span

the river. Now the view broadens; through the gateway

of the sentinel headlands you gaze out over the wide

Rhine plain, which stretches away, softly and richly tinted,

grows gradually and dreamily indistinct, and finally melts

imperceptibly into the remote horizon.

I have never enjoyed a view which had such a serene

and satisfying charm about it as this one gives.

The first night we were there, we went to bed and to

sleep early; but I awoke at the end of two or three hours,

and lay a comfortable while listening to the soothing

patter of the rain against the balcony windows.

I took it to be rain, but it turned out to be only the

murmur of the restless Neckar, tumbling over her dikes

and dams far below, in the gorge. I got up and went

into the west balcony and saw a wonderful sight.

Away down on the level under the black mass of the Castle,

the town lay, stretched along the river, its intricate

cobweb of streets jeweled with twinkling lights;

there were rows of lights on the bridges; these flung

lances of light upon the water, in the black shadows

of the arches; and away at the extremity of all this

fairy spectacle blinked and glowed a massed multitude

of gas-jets which seemed to cover acres of ground;

it was as if all the diamonds in the world had been spread

out there. I did not know before, that a half-mile

of sextuple railway-tracks could be made such an adornment.

One thinks Heidelberg by day–with its surroundings–

is the last possibility of the beautiful; but when he

sees Heidelberg by night, a fallen Milky Way, with that

glittering railway constellation pinned to the border,

he requires time to consider upon the verdict.

One never tires of poking about in the dense woods that

clothe all these lofty Neckar hills to their beguiling

and impressive charm in any country; but German legends

and fairy tales have given these an added charm.

They have peopled all that region with gnomes, and dwarfs,

and all sorts of mysterious and uncanny creatures.

At the time I am writing of, I had been reading so much

of this literature that sometimes I was not sure but I

was beginning to believe in the gnomes and fairies

as realities.

One afternoon I got lost in the woods about a mile from

the hotel, and presently fell into a train of dreamy thought

about animals which talk, and kobolds, and enchanted folk,

and the rest of the pleasant legendary stuff; and so,

by stimulating my fancy, I finally got to imagining I

glimpsed small flitting shapes here and there down the

columned aisles of the forest. It was a place which was

peculiarly meet for the occasion. It was a pine wood,

with so thick and soft a carpet of brown needles that one’s

footfall made no more sound than if he were treading

on wool; the tree-trunks were as round and straight

and smooth as pillars, and stood close together;

they were bare of branches to a point about twenty-five

feet above-ground, and from there upward so thick with

boughs that not a ray of sunlight could pierce through.

The world was bright with sunshine outside, but a deep

and mellow twilight reigned in there, and also a deep

silence so profound that I seemed to hear my own breathings.

When I had stood ten minutes, thinking and imagining,

and getting my spirit in tune with the place, and in the

right mood to enjoy the supernatural, a raven suddenly

uttered a horse croak over my head. It made me start;

and then I was angry because I started. I looked up,

and the creature was sitting on a limb right over me,

looking down at me. I felt something of the same sense

of humiliation and injury which one feels when he finds

that a human stranger has been clandestinely inspecting

him in his privacy and mentally commenting upon him.

I eyed the raven, and the raven eyed me. Nothing was said

during some seconds. Then the bird stepped a little way

along his limb to get a better point of observation,

lifted his wings, stuck his head far down below his

shoulders toward me and croaked again–a croak with a

distinctly insulting expression about it. If he had

spoken in English he could not have said any more plainly

that he did say in raven, “Well, what do YOU want here?”

I felt as foolish as if I had been caught in some mean act

by a responsible being, and reproved for it. However, I

made no reply; I would not bandy words with a raven.

The adversary waited a while, with his shoulders still lifted,

his head thrust down between them, and his keen bright eye

fixed on me; then he threw out two or three more insults,

which I could not understand, further than that I

knew a portion of them consisted of language not used

in church.

I still made no reply. Now the adversary raised his head

and called. There was an answering croak from a little

distance in the wood–evidently a croak of inquiry.

The adversary explained with enthusiasm, and the other raven

dropped everything and came. The two sat side by side

on the limb and discussed me as freely and offensively

as two great naturalists might discuss a new kind of bug.

The thing became more and more embarrassing. They called

in another friend. This was too much. I saw that they

had the advantage of me, and so I concluded to get out

of the scrape by walking out of it. They enjoyed my

defeat as much as any low white people could have done.

They craned their necks and laughed at me (for a raven

CAN laugh, just like a man), they squalled insulting remarks

after me as long as they could see me. They were nothing

but ravens–I knew that–what they thought of me could

be a matter of no consequence–and yet when even a raven

shouts after you, “What a hat!” “Oh, pull down your vest!”

and that sort of thing, it hurts you and humiliates you,

and there is no getting around it with fine reasoning and

pretty arguments.

Animals talk to each other, of course. There can be no

question about that; but I suppose there are very few

people who can understand them. I never knew but one man

who could. I knew he could, however, because he told

me so himself. He was a middle-aged, simple-hearted

miner who had lived in a lonely corner of California,

among the woods and mountains, a good many years,

and had studied the ways of his only neighbors, the beasts

and the birds, until he believed he could accurately

translate any remark which they made. This was Jim Baker.

According to Jim Baker, some animals have only a

limited education, and some use only simple words,

and scarcely ever a comparison or a flowery figure;

whereas, certain other animals have a large vocabulary,

a fine command of language and a ready and fluent delivery;

consequently these latter talk a great deal; they like it;

they are so conscious of their talent, and they enjoy

“showing off.” Baker said, that after long and careful

observation, he had come to the conclusion that the bluejays

were the best talkers he had found among birds and beasts. Said


“There’s more TO a bluejay than any other creature.

He has got more moods, and more different kinds

of feelings than other creatures; and, mind you,

whatever a bluejay feels, he can put into language.

And no mere commonplace language, either, but rattling,

out-and-out book-talk–and bristling with metaphor,

too–just bristling! And as for command of language–why

YOU never see a bluejay get stuck for a word. No man

ever did. They just boil out of him! And another thing:

I’ve noticed a good deal, and there’s no bird, or cow,

or anything that uses as good grammar as a bluejay.

You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat

does–but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat

get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights,

and you’ll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw.

Ignorant people think it’s the NOISE which fighting

cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so;

it’s the sickening grammar they use. Now I’ve never heard

a jay use bad grammar but very seldom; and when they do,

they are as ashamed as a human; they shut right down

and leave.

“You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure–

but he’s got feathers on him, and don’t belong to no church,

perhaps; but otherwise he is just as much human as you be.

And I’ll tell you for why. A jay’s gifts, and instincts,

and feelings, and interests, cover the whole ground.

A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a Congressman.

A jay will lie, a jay will steal, a jay will deceive,

a jay will betray; and four times out of five, a jay

will go back on his solemnest promise. The sacredness

of an obligation is such a thing which you can’t cram

into no bluejay’s head. Now, on top of all this,

there’s another thing; a jay can out-swear any gentleman

in the mines. You think a cat can swear. Well, a cat can;

but you give a bluejay a subject that calls for his

reserve-powers, and where is your cat? Don’t talk to ME–I

know too much about this thing; in the one little particular

of scolding–just good, clean, out-and-out scolding–

a bluejay can lay over anything, human or divine.

Yes, sir, a jay is everything that a man is. A jay can cry,

a jay can laugh, a jay can feel shame, a jay can reason

and plan and discuss, a jay likes gossip and scandal,

a jay has got a sense of humor, a jay knows when he is

an ass just as well as you do–maybe better. If a jay

ain’t human, he better take in his sign, that’s all.

Now I’m going to tell you a perfectly true fact about

some bluejays.


Baker’s Bluejay Yarn

[What Stumped the Blue Jays]

“When I first begun to understand jay language correctly,

there was a little incident happened here. Seven years ago,

the last man in this region but me moved away. There stands

his house–been empty ever since; a log house, with a plank

roof–just one big room, and no more; no ceiling–nothing

between the rafters and the floor. Well, one Sunday

morning I was sitting out here in front of my cabin,

with my cat, taking the sun, and looking at the blue hills,

and listening to the leaves rustling so lonely in the trees,

and thinking of the home away yonder in the states,

that I hadn’t heard from in thirteen years, when a bluejay

lit on that house, with an acorn in his mouth, and says,

‘Hello, I reckon I’ve struck something.’ When he spoke,

the acorn dropped out of his mouth and rolled down the roof,

of course, but he didn’t care; his mind was all on the

thing he had struck. It was a knot-hole in the roof.

He cocked his head to one side, shut one eye and put the

other one to the hole, like a possum looking down a jug;

then he glanced up with his bright eyes, gave a wink

or two with his wings–which signifies gratification,

you understand–and says, ‘It looks like a hole,

it’s located like a hole–blamed if I don’t believe it IS

a hole!’

“Then he cocked his head down and took another look;

he glances up perfectly joyful, this time; winks his wings

and his tail both, and says, ‘Oh, no, this ain’t no fat thing,

I reckon! If I ain’t in luck! –Why it’s a perfectly

elegant hole!’ So he flew down and got that acorn,

and fetched it up and dropped it in, and was just tilting

his head back, with the heavenliest smile on his face,

when all of a sudden he was paralyzed into a listening

attitude and that smile faded gradually out of his

countenance like breath off’n a razor, and the queerest

look of surprise took its place. Then he says, ‘Why, I

didn’t hear it fall!’ He cocked his eye at the hole again,

and took a long look; raised up and shook his head;

stepped around to the other side of the hole and took

another look from that side; shook his head again.

He studied a while, then he just went into the Details–

walked round and round the hole and spied into it from every

point of the compass. No use. Now he took a thinking

attitude on the comb of the roof and scratched the back

of his head with his right foot a minute, and finally says,

‘Well, it’s too many for ME, that’s certain; must be

a mighty long hole; however, I ain’t got no time to fool

around here, I got to “tend to business”; I reckon it’s

all right–chance it, anyway.’

“So he flew off and fetched another acorn and dropped

it in, and tried to flirt his eye to the hole quick

enough to see what become of it, but he was too late.

He held his eye there as much as a minute; then he raised

up and sighed, and says, ‘Confound it, I don’t seem

to understand this thing, no way; however, I’ll tackle

her again.’ He fetched another acorn, and done his level

best to see what become of it, but he couldn’t. He says,

‘Well, I never struck no such a hole as this before;

I’m of the opinion it’s a totally new kind of a hole.’

Then he begun to get mad. He held in for a spell,

walking up and down the comb of the roof and shaking

his head and muttering to himself; but his feelings got

the upper hand of him, presently, and he broke loose

and cussed himself black in the face. I never see a bird

take on so about a little thing. When he got through he

walks to the hole and looks in again for half a minute;

then he says, ‘Well, you’re a long hole, and a deep hole,

and a mighty singular hole altogether–but I’ve started

in to fill you, and I’m damned if I DON’T fill you, if it

takes a hundred years!’

“And with that, away he went. You never see a bird work

so since you was born. He laid into his work like a nigger,

and the way he hove acorns into that hole for about

two hours and a half was one of the most exciting and

astonishing spectacles I ever struck. He never stopped

to take a look anymore–he just hove ’em in and went

for more. Well, at last he could hardly flop his wings,

he was so tuckered out. He comes a-dropping down, once more,

sweating like an ice-pitcher, dropped his acorn in and says,

‘NOW I guess I’ve got the bulge on you by this time!’

So he bent down for a look. If you’ll believe me,

when his head come up again he was just pale with rage.

He says, ‘I’ve shoveled acorns enough in there to keep

the family thirty years, and if I can see a sign of one

of ’em I wish I may land in a museum with a belly full

of sawdust in two minutes!’

“He just had strength enough to crawl up on to the

comb and lean his back agin the chimbly, and then he

collected his impressions and begun to free his mind.

I see in a second that what I had mistook for profanity

in the mines was only just the rudiments, as you may say.

“Another jay was going by, and heard him doing his devotions,

and stops to inquire what was up. The sufferer told him

the whole circumstance, and says, ‘Now yonder’s the hole,

and if you don’t believe me, go and look for yourself.’

So this fellow went and looked, and comes back and says,

“How many did you say you put in there?’ ‘Not any less

than two tons,’ says the sufferer. The other jay went

and looked again. He couldn’t seem to make it out, so he

raised a yell, and three more jays come. They all examined

the hole, they all made the sufferer tell it over again,

then they all discussed it, and got off as many leather-headed

opinions about it as an average crowd of humans could

have done.

“They called in more jays; then more and more, till pretty

soon this whole region ‘peared to have a blue flush about it.

There must have been five thousand of them; and such

another jawing and disputing and ripping and cussing,

you never heard. Every jay in the whole lot put his

eye to the hole and delivered a more chuckle-headed

opinion about the mystery than the jay that went there

before him. They examined the house all over, too.

The door was standing half open, and at last one old jay

happened to go and light on it and look in. Of course,

that knocked the mystery galley-west in a second.

There lay the acorns, scattered all over the floor..

He flopped his wings and raised a whoop. ‘Come here!’

he says, ‘Come here, everybody; hang’d if this fool hasn’t

been trying to fill up a house with acorns!’ They all came

a-swooping down like a blue cloud, and as each fellow

lit on the door and took a glance, the whole absurdity

of the contract that that first jay had tackled hit him

home and he fell over backward suffocating with laughter,

and the next jay took his place and done the same.

“Well, sir, they roosted around here on the housetop

and the trees for an hour, and guffawed over that thing

like human beings. It ain’t any use to tell me a bluejay

hasn’t got a sense of humor, because I know better.

And memory, too. They brought jays here from all over

the United States to look down that hole, every summer

for three years. Other birds, too. And they could all

see the point except an owl that come from Nova Scotia

to visit the Yo Semite, and he took this thing in on

his way back. He said he couldn’t see anything funny

in it. But then he was a good deal disappointed about

Yo Semite, too.”


Student Life

[The Laborious Beer King]

The summer semester was in full tide; consequently the

most frequent figure in and about Heidelberg was

the student. Most of the students were Germans,

of course, but the representatives of foreign lands

were very numerous. They hailed from every corner

of the globe–for instruction is cheap in Heidelberg,

and so is living, too. The Anglo-American Club,

composed of British and American students, had twenty-five

members, and there was still much material left to draw from.

Nine-tenths of the Heidelberg students wore no badge

or uniform; the other tenth wore caps of various colors,

and belonged to social organizations called “corps.” There

were five corps, each with a color of its own; there were

white caps, blue caps, and red, yellow, and green ones.

The famous duel-fighting is confined to the “corps” boys.

The “KNEIP” seems to be a specialty of theirs, too.

Kneips are held, now and then, to celebrate great occasions,

like the election of a beer king, for instance.

The solemnity is simple; the five corps assemble at night,

and at a signal they all fall loading themselves with beer,

out of pint-mugs, as fast as possible, and each man keeps

his own count–usually by laying aside a lucifer match

for each mud he empties. The election is soon decided.

When the candidates can hold no more, a count is instituted

and the one who has drank the greatest number of pints is

proclaimed king. I was told that the last beer king elected

by the corps–or by his own capabilities–emptied his mug

seventy-five times. No stomach could hold all that quantity

at one time, of course–but there are ways of frequently

creating a vacuum, which those who have been much at sea

will understand.

One sees so many students abroad at all hours, that he

presently begins to wonder if they ever have any

working-hours. Some of them have, some of them haven’t.

Each can choose for himself whether he will work or play;

for German university life is a very free life;

it seems to have no restraints. The student does not live

in the college buildings, but hires his own lodgings,

in any locality he prefers, and he takes his meals when

and where he pleases. He goes to bed when it suits him,

and does not get up at all unless he wants to.

He is not entered at the university for any particular

length of time; so he is likely to change about.

He passes no examinations upon entering college.

He merely pays a trifling fee of five or ten dollars,

receives a card entitling him to the privileges of

the university, and that is the end of it. He is now ready

for business–or play, as he shall prefer. If he elects

to work, he finds a large list of lectures to choose from.

He selects the subjects which he will study, and enters

his name for these studies; but he can skip attendance.

The result of this system is, that lecture-courses upon

specialties of an unusual nature are often delivered

to very slim audiences, while those upon more practical

and every-day matters of education are delivered to very

large ones. I heard of one case where, day after day,

the lecturer’s audience consisted of three students–and always

the same three. But one day two of them remained away.

The lecturer began as usual —

“Gentlemen,” –then, without a smile, he corrected himself,

saying —

“Sir,” –and went on with his discourse.

It is said that the vast majority of the Heidelberg students

are hard workers, and make the most of their opportunities;

that they have no surplus means to spend in dissipation,

and no time to spare for frolicking. One lecture follows

right on the heels of another, with very little time

for the student to get out of one hall and into the next;

but the industrious ones manage it by going on a trot.

The professors assist them in the saving of their time

by being promptly in their little boxed-up pulpits when the

hours strike, and as promptly out again when the hour finishes.

I entered an empty lecture-room one day just before the

clock struck. The place had simple, unpainted pine desks

and benches for about two hundred persons.

About a minute before the clock struck, a hundred

and fifty students swarmed in, rushed to their seats,

immediately spread open their notebooks and dipped their

pens in ink. When the clock began to strike, a burly

professor entered, was received with a round of applause,

moved swiftly down the center aisle, said “Gentlemen,”

and began to talk as he climbed his pulpit steps; and by

the time he had arrived in his box and faced his audience,

his lecture was well under way and all the pens were going.

He had no notes, he talked with prodigious rapidity and

energy for an hour–then the students began to remind

him in certain well-understood ways that his time was up;

he seized his hat, still talking, proceeded swiftly down

his pulpit steps, got out the last word of his discourse

as he struck the floor; everybody rose respectfully,

and he swept rapidly down the aisle and disappeared.

An instant rush for some other lecture-room followed,

and in a minute I was alone with the empty benches

once more.

Yes, without doubt, idle students are not the rule.

Out of eight hundred in the town, I knew the faces of only

about fifty; but these I saw everywhere, and daily.

They walked about the streets and the wooded hills,

they drove in cabs, they boated on the river, they sipped

beer and coffee, afternoons, in the Schloss gardens.

A good many of them wore colored caps of the corps.

They were finely and fashionably dressed, their manners

were quite superb, and they led an easy, careless,

comfortable life. If a dozen of them sat together and a lady

or a gentleman passed whom one of them knew and saluted,

they all rose to their feet and took off their caps.

The members of a corps always received a fellow-member

in this way, too; but they paid no attention to members

of other corps; they did not seem to see them. This was not

a discourtesy; it was only a part of the elaborate and rigid

corps etiquette.

There seems to be no chilly distance existing between the

German students and the professor; but, on the contrary,

a companionable intercourse, the opposite of chilliness

and reserve. When the professor enters a beer-hall

in the evening where students are gathered together,

these rise up and take off their caps, and invite the old

gentleman to sit with them and partake. He accepts,

and the pleasant talk and the beer flow for an hour or two,

and by and by the professor, properly charged and comfortable,

gives a cordial good night, while the students stand

bowing and uncovered; and then he moves on his happy

way homeward with all his vast cargo of learning afloat

in his hold. Nobody finds fault or feels outraged;

no harm has been done.

It seemed to be a part of corps etiquette to keep a dog

or so, too. I mean a corps dog–the common property of

the organization, like the corps steward or head servant;

then there are other dogs, owned by individuals.

On a summer afternoon in the Castle gardens, I have

seen six students march solemnly into the grounds,

in single file, each carrying a bright Chinese parasol

and leading a prodigious dog by a string. It was a very

imposing spectacle. Sometimes there would be as many

dogs around the pavilion as students; and of all breeds

and of all degrees of beauty and ugliness. These dogs

had a rather dry time of it; for they were tied to the

benches and had no amusement for an hour or two at a time

except what they could get out of pawing at the gnats,

or trying to sleep and not succeeding. However, they got

a lump of sugar occasionally–they were fond of that.

It seemed right and proper that students should indulge in dogs;

but everybody else had them, too–old men and young ones,

old women and nice young ladies. If there is one spectacle

that is unpleasanter than another, it is that of an

elegantly dressed young lady towing a dog by a string.

It is said to be the sign and symbol of blighted love.

It seems to me that some other way of advertising it might

be devised, which would be just as conspicuous and yet

not so trying to the proprieties.

It would be a mistake to suppose that the easy-going

pleasure-seeking student carries an empty head.

Just the contrary. He has spent nine years in the gymnasium,

under a system which allowed him no freedom, but vigorously

compelled him to work like a slave. Consequently, he has

left the gymnasium with an education which is so extensive

and complete, that the most a university can do for it

is to perfect some of its profounder specialties.

It is said that when a pupil leaves the gymnasium, he not

only has a comprehensive education, but he KNOWS what he

knows–it is not befogged with uncertainty, it is burnt

into him so that it will stay. For instance, he does not

merely read and write Greek, but speaks it; the same with

the Latin. Foreign youth steer clear of the gymnasium;

its rules are too severe. They go to the university

to put a mansard roof on their whole general education;

but the German student already has his mansard roof, so he

goes there to add a steeple in the nature of some specialty,

such as a particular branch of law, or diseases of the eye,

or special study of the ancient Gothic tongues.

So this German attends only the lectures which belong

to the chosen branch, and drinks his beer and tows his dog

around and has a general good time the rest of the day.

He has been in rigid bondage so long that the large liberty

of the university life is just what he needs and likes

and thoroughly appreciates; and as it cannot last forever,

he makes the most of it while it does last, and so lays

up a good rest against the day that must see him put on

the chains once more and enter the slavery of official

or professional life.


At the Students’ Dueling-Ground

[Dueling by Wholesale]

One day in the interest of science my agent obtained

permission to bring me to the students’ dueling-place. We

crossed the river and drove up the bank a few hundred yards,

then turned to the left, entered a narrow alley, followed it

a hundred yards and arrived at a two-story public house;

we were acquainted with its outside aspect, for it was

visible from the hotel. We went upstairs and passed into

a large whitewashed apartment which was perhaps fifty feet

long by thirty feet wide and twenty or twenty-five high.

It was a well-lighted place. There was no carpet.

Across one end and down both sides of the room extended a row

of tables, and at these tables some fifty or seventy-five

students [1. See Appendix C] were sitting.

Some of them were sipping wine, others were playing cards,

others chess, other groups were chatting together,

and many were smoking cigarettes while they waited for

the coming duels. Nearly all of them wore colored caps;

there were white caps, green caps, blue caps, red caps,

and bright-yellow ones; so, all the five corps were

present in strong force. In the windows at the vacant

end of the room stood six or eight, narrow-bladed swords

with large protecting guards for the hand, and outside

was a man at work sharpening others on a grindstone.

He understood his business; for when a sword left his hand

one could shave himself with it.

It was observable that the young gentlemen neither bowed

to nor spoke with students whose caps differed in color

from their own. This did not mean hostility, but only an

armed neutrality. It was considered that a person could

strike harder in the duel, and with a more earnest interest,

if he had never been in a condition of comradeship with

his antagonist; therefore, comradeship between the corps

was not permitted. At intervals the presidents of the five

corps have a cold official intercourse with each other,

but nothing further. For example, when the regular

dueling-day of one of the corps approaches, its president

calls for volunteers from among the membership to

offer battle; three or more respond–but there must not

be less than three; the president lays their names before

the other presidents, with the request that they furnish

antagonists for these challengers from among their corps.

This is promptly done. It chanced that the present

occasion was the battle-day of the Red Cap Corps.

They were the challengers, and certain caps of other colors

had volunteered to meet them. The students fight duels

in the room which I have described, TWO DAYS IN EVERY WEEK


This custom had continued in Germany two hundred and fifty years.

To return to my narrative. A student in a white cap

met us and introduced us to six or eight friends of his

who also wore white caps, and while we stood conversing,

two strange-looking figures were led in from another room.

They were students panoplied for the duel. They were bareheaded;

their eyes were protected by iron goggles which projected

an inch or more, the leather straps of which bound

their ears flat against their heads were wound around

and around with thick wrappings which a sword could not

cut through; from chin to ankle they were padded thoroughly

against injury; their arms were bandaged and rebandaged,

layer upon layer, until they looked like solid black logs.

These weird apparitions had been handsome youths,

clad in fashionable attire, fifteen minutes before,

but now they did not resemble any beings one ever sees

unless in nightmares. They strode along, with their arms

projecting straight out from their bodies; they did

not hold them out themselves, but fellow-students walked

beside them and gave the needed support.

There was a rush for the vacant end of the room, now,

and we followed and got good places. The combatants were

placed face to face, each with several members of his own

corps about him to assist; two seconds, well padded,

and with swords in their hands, took their stations;

a student belonging to neither of the opposing corps

placed himself in a good position to umpire the combat;

another student stood by with a watch and a memorandum-book

to keep record of the time and the number and nature of

the wounds; a gray-haired surgeon was present with his lint,

his bandages, and his instruments. After a moment’s pause

the duelists saluted the umpire respectfully, then one

after another the several officials stepped forward,

gracefully removed their caps and saluted him also,

and returned to their places. Everything was ready now;

students stood crowded together in the foreground,

and others stood behind them on chairs and tables.

Every face was turned toward the center of attraction.

The combatants were watching each other with alert eyes;

a perfect stillness, a breathless interest reigned.

I felt that I was going to see some wary work. But not so.

The instant the word was given, the two apparitions

sprang forward and began to rain blows down upon each

other with such lightning rapidity that I could not quite

tell whether I saw the swords or only flashes they made

in the air; the rattling din of these blows as they struck

steel or paddings was something wonderfully stirring,

and they were struck with such terrific force that I could

not understand why the opposing sword was not beaten

down under the assault. Presently, in the midst of the

sword-flashes, I saw a handful of hair skip into the air

as if it had lain loose on the victim’s head and a breath

of wind had puffed it suddenly away.

The seconds cried “Halt!” and knocked up the combatants’

swords with their own. The duelists sat down; a student

official stepped forward, examined the wounded head

and touched the place with a sponge once or twice;

the surgeon came and turned back the hair from the wound–

and revealed a crimson gash two or three inches long,

and proceeded to bind an oval piece of leather and a bunch

of lint over it; the tally-keeper stepped up and tallied

one for the opposition in his book.

Then the duelists took position again; a small stream of

blood was flowing down the side of the injured man’s head,

and over his shoulder and down his body to the floor,

but he did not seem to mind this. The word was given,

and they plunged at each other as fiercely as before;

once more the blows rained and rattled and flashed;

every few moments the quick-eyed seconds would notice

that a sword was bent–then they called “Halt!” struck up

the contending weapons, and an assisting student straightened

the bent one.

The wonderful turmoil went on–presently a bright spark

sprung from a blade, and that blade broken in several pieces,

sent one of its fragments flying to the ceiling.

A new sword was provided and the fight proceeded.

The exercise was tremendous, of course, and in time

the fighters began to show great fatigue. They were

allowed to rest a moment, every little while; they got

other rests by wounding each other, for then they could

sit down while the doctor applied the lint and bandages.

The laws is that the battle must continue fifteen minutes

if the men can hold out; and as the pauses do not count,

this duel was protracted to twenty or thirty minutes,

I judged. At last it was decided that the men were too much

wearied to do battle longer. They were led away drenched

with crimson from head to foot. That was a good fight,

but it could not count, partly because it did not last

the lawful fifteen minutes (of actual fighting), and

partly because neither man was disabled by his wound.

It was a drawn battle, and corps law requires that drawn

battles shall be refought as soon as the adversaries are

well of their hurts.

During the conflict, I had talked a little, now and then,

with a young gentleman of the White Cap Corps, and he

had mentioned that he was to fight next–and had also

pointed out his challenger, a young gentleman who was

leaning against the opposite wall smoking a cigarette

and restfully observing the duel then in progress.

My acquaintanceship with a party to the coming contest

had the effect of giving me a kind of personal interest

in it; I naturally wished he might win, and it was

the reverse of pleasant to learn that he probably

would not, because, although he was a notable swordsman,

the challenger was held to be his superior.

The duel presently began and in the same furious way

which had marked the previous one. I stood close by,

but could not tell which blows told and which did not,

they fell and vanished so like flashes of light. They all

seemed to tell; the swords always bent over the opponents’

heads, from the forehead back over the crown, and seemed

to touch, all the way; but it was not so–a protecting

blade, invisible to me, was always interposed between.

At the end of ten seconds each man had struck twelve

or fifteen blows, and warded off twelve or fifteen,

and no harm done; then a sword became disabled, and a short

rest followed whilst a new one was brought. Early in the

next round the White Corps student got an ugly wound on

the side of his head and gave his opponent one like it.

In the third round the latter received another bad wound

in the head, and the former had his under-lip divided.

After that, the White Corps student gave many severe wounds,

but got none of the consequence in return. At the end

of five minutes from the beginning of the duel the surgeon

stopped it; the challenging party had suffered such

injuries that any addition to them might be dangerous.

These injuries were a fearful spectacle, but are better

left undescribed. So, against expectation, my acquaintance

was the victor.


[A Sport that Sometimes Kills]

The third duel was brief and bloody. The surgeon stopped

it when he saw that one of the men had received such bad

wounds that he could not fight longer without endangering

his life.

The fourth duel was a tremendous encounter; but at the end

of five or six minutes the surgeon interfered once more:

another man so severely hurt as to render it unsafe to add

to his harms. I watched this engagement as I watched

the others–with rapt interest and strong excitement,

and with a shrink and a shudder for every blow that laid

open a cheek or a forehead; and a conscious paling of my

face when I occasionally saw a wound of a yet more shocking

nature inflicted. My eyes were upon the loser of this

duel when he got his last and vanquishing wound–it

was in his face and it carried away his–but no matter,

I must not enter into details. I had but a glance, and then

turned quickly, but I would not have been looking at all if I

had known what was coming. No, that is probably not true;

one thinks he would not look if he knew what was coming,

but the interest and the excitement are so powerful that

they would doubtless conquer all other feelings; and so,

under the fierce exhilaration of the clashing steel,

he would yield and look after all. Sometimes spectators

of these duels faint–and it does seem a very reasonable

thing to do, too.

Both parties to this fourth duel were badly hurt so much

that the surgeon was at work upon them nearly or quite an

hour–a fact which is suggestive. But this waiting interval

was not wasted in idleness by the assembled students.

It was past noon, therefore they ordered their landlord,

downstairs, to send up hot beefsteaks, chickens, and such things,

and these they ate, sitting comfortable at the several tables,

whilst they chatted, disputed and laughed. The door to

the surgeon’s room stood open, meantime, but the cutting,

sewing, splicing, and bandaging going on in there in

plain view did not seem to disturb anyone’s appetite.

I went in and saw the surgeon labor awhile, but could

not enjoy; it was much less trying to see the wounds

given and received than to see them mended; the stir

and turmoil, and the music of the steel, were wanting

here–one’s nerves were wrung by this grisly spectacle,

whilst the duel’s compensating pleasurable thrill was lacking.

Finally the doctor finished, and the men who were to fight

the closing battle of the day came forth. A good many

dinners were not completed, yet, but no matter, they could

be eaten cold, after the battle; therefore everybody

crowded forth to see. This was not a love duel, but a

“satisfaction” affair. These two students had quarreled,

and were here to settle it. They did not belong to any of

the corps, but they were furnished with weapons and armor,

and permitted to fight here by the five corps as a courtesy.

Evidently these two young men were unfamiliar with the

dueling ceremonies, though they were not unfamiliar with

the sword. When they were placed in position they thought

it was time to begin–and then did begin, too, and with

a most impetuous energy, without waiting for anybody

to give the word. This vastly amused the spectators,

and even broke down their studied and courtly gravity

and surprised them into laughter. Of course the seconds

struck up the swords and started the duel over again.

At the word, the deluge of blows began, but before long

the surgeon once more interfered–for the only reason

which ever permits him to interfere–and the day’s

war was over. It was now two in the afternoon, and I

had been present since half past nine in the morning.

The field of battle was indeed a red one by this time;

but some sawdust soon righted that. There had been one

duel before I arrived. In it one of the men received

many injuries, while the other one escaped without

a scratch.

I had seen the heads and faces of ten youths gashed

in every direction by the keen two-edged blades, and yet

had not seen a victim wince, nor heard a moan, or detected

any fleeting expression which confessed the sharp pain

the hurts were inflicting. This was good fortitude,

indeed. Such endurance is to be expected in savages

and prize-fighters, for they are born and educated to it;

but to find it in such perfection in these gently bred

and kindly natured young fellows is matter for surprise.

It was not merely under the excitement of the sword-play

that this fortitude was shown; it was shown in the surgeon’s

room where an uninspiring quiet reigned, and where there

was no audience. The doctor’s manipulations brought

out neither grimaces nor moans. And in the fights

it was observable that these lads hacked and slashed

with the same tremendous spirit, after they were covered

with streaming wounds, which they had shown in the beginning.

The world in general looks upon the college duels as very

farcical affairs: true, but considering that the college

duel is fought by boys; that the swords are real swords;

and that the head and face are exposed, it seems to me

that it is a farce which had quite a grave side to it.

People laugh at it mainly because they think the student

is so covered up with armor that he cannot be hurt.

But it is not so; his eyes are ears are protected,

but the rest of his face and head are bare. He can not only

be badly wounded, but his life is in danger; and he would

sometimes lose it but for the interference of the surgeon.

It is not intended that his life shall be endangered.

Fatal accidents are possible, however. For instance,

the student’s sword may break, and the end of it fly

up behind his antagonist’s ear and cut an artery which

could not be reached if the sword remained whole.

This has happened, sometimes, and death has resulted

on the spot. Formerly the student’s armpits were not

protected–and at that time the swords were pointed,

whereas they are blunt, now; so an artery in the armpit

was sometimes cut, and death followed. Then in the days

of sharp-pointed swords, a spectator was an occasional

victim–the end of a broken sword flew five or ten

feet and buried itself in his neck or his heart,

and death ensued instantly. The student duels in Germany

occasion two or three deaths every year, now, but this

arises only from the carelessness of the wounded men;

they eat or drink imprudently, or commit excesses in the

way of overexertion; inflammation sets in and gets such

a headway that it cannot be arrested. Indeed, there is

blood and pain and danger enough about the college duel

to entitle it to a considerable degree of respect.

All the customs, all the laws, all the details,

pertaining to the student duel are quaint and naive.

The grave, precise, and courtly ceremony with which the

thing is conducted, invests it with a sort of antique charm.

This dignity and these knightly graces suggest the tournament,

not the prize-fight. The laws are as curious as they

are strict. For instance, the duelist may step forward

from the line he is placed upon, if he chooses, but never

back of it. If he steps back of it, or even leans back,

it is considered that he did it to avoid a blow or contrive

an advantage; so he is dismissed from his corps in disgrace.

It would seem natural to step from under a descending

sword unconsciously, and against one’s will and intent–yet

this unconsciousness is not allowed. Again: if under the

sudden anguish of a wound the receiver of it makes a grimace,

he falls some degrees in the estimation of his fellows;

his corps are ashamed of him: they call him “hare foot,”

which is the German equivalent for chicken-hearted.


[How Bismark Fought]

In addition to the corps laws, there are some corps

usages which have the force of laws.

Perhaps the president of a corps notices that one of the

membership who is no longer an exempt–that is a freshman–

has remained a sophomore some little time without volunteering

to fight; some day, the president, instead of calling

for volunteers, will APPOINT this sophomore to measure

swords with a student of another corps; he is free

to decline–everybody says so–there is no compulsion.

This is all true–but I have not heard of any student

who DID decline; to decline and still remain in the corps

would make him unpleasantly conspicuous, and properly so,

since he knew, when he joined, that his main business,

as a member, would be to fight. No, there is no law

against declining–except the law of custom, which is

confessedly stronger than written law, everywhere.

The ten men whose duels I had witnessed did not go away

when their hurts were dressed, as I had supposed they would,

but came back, one after another, as soon as they were free

of the surgeon, and mingled with the assemblage in the

dueling-room. The white-cap student who won the second

fight witnessed the remaining three, and talked with us

during the intermissions. He could not talk very well,

because his opponent’s sword had cut his under-lip in two,

and then the surgeon had sewed it together and overlaid it

with a profusion of white plaster patches; neither could

he eat easily, still he contrived to accomplish a slow

and troublesome luncheon while the last duel was preparing.

The man who was the worst hurt of all played chess

while waiting to see this engagement. A good part of

his face was covered with patches and bandages, and all

the rest of his head was covered and concealed by them.

It is said that the student likes to appear on the street

and in other public places in this kind of array,

and that this predilection often keeps him out when

exposure to rain or sun is a positive danger for him.

Newly bandaged students are a very common spectacle

in the public gardens of Heidelberg. It is also said

that the student is glad to get wounds in the face,

because the scars they leave will show so well there;

and it is also said that these face wounds are so prized

that youths have even been known to pull them apart

from time to time and put red wine in them to make

them heal badly and leave as ugly a scar as possible.

It does not look reasonable, but it is roundly asserted

and maintained, nevertheless; I am sure of one thing–scars

are plenty enough in Germany, among the young men;

and very grim ones they are, too. They crisscross the face

in angry red welts, and are permanent and ineffaceable.

Some of these scars are of a very strange and dreadful aspect;

and the effect is striking when several such accent

the milder ones, which form a city map on a man’s face;

they suggest the “burned district” then. We had often

noticed that many of the students wore a colored silk

band or ribbon diagonally across their breasts.

It transpired that this signifies that the wearer has

fought three duels in which a decision was reached–duels

in which he either whipped or was whipped–for drawn

battles do not count. [1] After a student has received

his ribbon, he is “free”; he can cease from fighting,

without reproach–except some one insult him; his president

cannot appoint him to fight; he can volunteer if he

wants to, or remain quiescent if he prefers to do so.

Statistics show that he does NOT prefer to remain quiescent.

They show that the duel has a singular fascination about

it somewhere, for these free men, so far from resting upon

the privilege of the badge, are always volunteering.

A corps student told me it was of record that Prince

Bismarck fought thirty-two of these duels in a single summer

term when he was in college. So he fought twenty-nine

after his badge had given him the right to retire from

the field.

1. FROM MY DIARY.–Dined in a hotel a few miles up the Neckar,

in a room whose walls were hung all over with framed

portrait-groups of the Five Corps; some were recent,

but many antedated photography, and were pictured in

lithography–the dates ranged back to forty or fifty

years ago. Nearly every individual wore the ribbon across

his breast. In one portrait-group representing (as each

of these pictures did) an entire Corps, I took pains

to count the ribbons: there were twenty-seven members,

and twenty-one of them wore that significant badge.

The statistics may be found to possess interest in

several particulars. Two days in every week are devoted

to dueling. The rule is rigid that there must be three

duels on each of these days; there are generally more,

but there cannot be fewer. There were six the day

I was present; sometimes there are seven or eight.

It is insisted that eight duels a week–four for each

of the two days–is too low an average to draw a

calculation from, but I will reckon from that basis,

preferring an understatement to an overstatement of the case.

This requires about four hundred and eighty or five hundred

duelists a year–for in summer the college term is about

three and a half months, and in winter it is four months

and sometimes longer. Of the seven hundred and fifty

students in the university at the time I am writing of,

only eighty belonged to the five corps, and it is only

these corps that do the dueling; occasionally other

students borrow the arms and battleground of the five corps

in order to settle a quarrel, but this does not happen

every dueling-day. [2] Consequently eighty youths furnish

the material for some two hundred and fifty duels a year.

This average gives six fights a year to each of the eighty.

This large work could not be accomplished if the badge-holders

stood upon their privilege and ceased to volunteer.

2. They have to borrow the arms because they could not

get them elsewhere or otherwise. As I understand it,

the public authorities, all over Germany, allow the five

Corps to keep swords, but DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO USE THEM.

This is law is rigid; it is only the execution of it that

is lax.

Of course, where there is so much fighting, the students

make it a point to keep themselves in constant practice

with the foil. One often sees them, at the tables in the

Castle grounds, using their whips or canes to illustrate

some new sword trick which they have heard about;

and between the duels, on the day whose history I

have been writing, the swords were not always idle;

every now and then we heard a succession of the keen

hissing sounds which the sword makes when it is being

put through its paces in the air, and this informed us

that a student was practicing. Necessarily, this unceasing

attention to the art develops an expert occasionally.

He becomes famous in his own university, his renown spreads

to other universities. He is invited to Go”ttingen,

to fight with a Go”ttingen expert; if he is victorious,

he will be invited to other colleges, or those colleges will

send their experts to him. Americans and Englishmen often

join one or another of the five corps. A year or two ago,

the principal Heidelberg expert was a big Kentuckian;

he was invited to the various universities and left

a wake of victory behind him all about Germany;

but at last a little student in Strasburg defeated him.

There was formerly a student in Heidelberg who had picked

up somewhere and mastered a peculiar trick of cutting up

under instead of cleaving down from above. While the trick

lasted he won in sixteen successive duels in his university;

but by that time observers had discovered what his charm was,

and how to break it, therefore his championship ceased.

A rule which forbids social intercourse between members

of different corps is strict. In the dueling-house, in

the parks, on the street, and anywhere and everywhere that

the students go, caps of a color group themselves together.

If all the tables in a public garden were crowded

but one, and that one had two red-cap students at it

and ten vacant places, the yellow-caps, the blue-caps,

the white caps, and the green caps, seeking seats,

would go by that table and not seem to see it, nor seem

to be aware that there was such a table in the grounds.

The student by whose courtesy we had been enabled to visit

the dueling-place, wore the white cap–Prussian Corps.

He introduced us to many white caps, but to none of

another color. The corps etiquette extended even to us,

who were strangers, and required us to group with the white

corps only, and speak only with the white corps, while we

were their guests, and keep aloof from the caps of the

other colors. Once I wished to examine some of the swords,

but an American student said, “It would not be quite polite;

these now in the windows all have red hilts or blue;

they will bring in some with white hilts presently,

and those you can handle freely. “When a sword was broken

in the first duel, I wanted a piece of it; but its hilt

was the wrong color, so it was considered best and politest

to await a properer season. It was brought to me after

the room was cleared, and I will now make a “life-size”

sketch of it by tracing a line around it with my pen,

to show the width of the weapon. [Figure 1] The length of

these swords is about three feet, and they are quite heavy.

One’s disposition to cheer, during the course of the

duels or at their close, was naturally strong, but corps

etiquette forbade any demonstrations of this sort.

However brilliant a contest or a victory might be,

no sign or sound betrayed that any one was moved.

A dignified gravity and repression were maintained at

all times.

When the dueling was finished and we were ready to go,

the gentlemen of the Prussian Corps to whom we had been

introduced took off their caps in the courteous German way,

and also shook hands; their brethren of the same order

took off their caps and bowed, but without shaking hands;

the gentlemen of the other corps treated us just as

they would have treated white caps–they fell apart,

apparently unconsciously, and left us an unobstructed pathway,

but did not seem to see us or know we were there.

If we had gone thither the following week as guests of

another corps, the white caps, without meaning any offense,

would have observed the etiquette of their order and ignored

our presence.

[How strangely are comedy and tragedy blended in this life!

I had not been home a full half-hour, after witnessing

those playful sham-duels, when circumstances made it

necessary for me to get ready immediately to assist

personally at a real one–a duel with no effeminate

limitation in the matter of results, but a battle

to the death. An account of it, in the next chapter,

will show the reader that duels between boys, for fun,

and duels between men in earnest, are very different affairs.]


The Great French Duel

[I Second Gambetta in a Terrific Duel]

Much as the modern French duel is ridiculed by certain

smart people, it is in reality one of the most dangerous

institutions of our day. Since it is always fought in the

open air, the combatants are nearly sure to catch cold.

M. Paul de Cassagnac, the most inveterate of the French

duelists, had suffered so often in this way that he is at

last a confirmed invalid; and the best physician in Paris

has expressed the opinion that if he goes on dueling for

fifteen or twenty years more–unless he forms the habit

of fighting in a comfortable room where damps and draughts

cannot intrude–he will eventually endanger his life.

This ought to moderate the talk of those people who are

so stubborn in maintaining that the French duel is the

most health-giving of recreations because of the open-air

exercise it affords. And it ought also to moderate that

foolish talk about French duelists and socialist-hated

monarchs being the only people who are immoral.

But it is time to get at my subject. As soon as I heard

of the late fiery outbreak between M. Gambetta and M. Fourtou

in the French Assembly, I knew that trouble must follow.

I knew it because a long personal friendship with

M. Gambetta revealed to me the desperate and implacable

nature of the man. Vast as are his physical proportions,

I knew that the thirst for revenge would penetrate

to the remotest frontiers of his person.

I did not wait for him to call on me, but went at once

to him. As I had expected, I found the brave fellow

steeped in a profound French calm. I say French calm,

because French calmness and English calmness have points

of difference. He was moving swiftly back and forth

among the debris of his furniture, now and then staving

chance fragments of it across the room with his foot;

grinding a constant grist of curses through his set teeth;

and halting every little while to deposit another handful

of his hair on the pile which he had been building of it on

the table.

He threw his arms around my neck, bent me over his stomach

to his breast, kissed me on both cheeks, hugged me four

or five times, and then placed me in his own arm-chair.

As soon as I had got well again, we began business at once.

I said I supposed he would wish me to act as his second,

and he said, “Of course.” I said I must be allowed

to act under a French name, so that I might be shielded

from obloquy in my country, in case of fatal results.

He winced here, probably at the suggestion that dueling was

not regarded with respect in America. However, he agreed

to my requirement. This accounts for the fact that in all

the newspaper reports M. Gambetta’s second was apparently

a Frenchman.

First, we drew up my principal’s will. I insisted upon this,

and stuck to my point. I said I had never heard of a man

in his right mind going out to fight a duel without

first making his will. He said he had never heard

of a man in his right mind doing anything of the kind.

When he had finished the will, he wished to proceed

to a choice of his “last words.” He wanted to know

how the following words, as a dying exclamation, struck me:

“I die for my God, for my country, for freedom of speech,

for progress, and the universal brotherhood of man!”

I objected that this would require too lingering a death;

it was a good speech for a consumptive, but not suited

to the exigencies of the field of honor. We wrangled

over a good many ante-mortem outburts, but I finally got

him to cut his obituary down to this, which he copied

into his memorandum-book, purposing to get it by heart:


I said that this remark seemed to lack relevancy; but he

said relevancy was a matter of no consequence in last words,

what you wanted was thrill.

The next thing in order was the choice of weapons.

My principal said he was not feeling well, and would leave

that and the other details of the proposed meeting to me.

Therefore I wrote the following note and carried it to

M. Fourtou’s friend:

Sir: M. Gambetta accepts M. Fourtou’s challenge,

and authorizes me to propose Plessis-Piquet as the place

of meeting; tomorrow morning at daybreak as the time;

and axes as the weapons.

I am, sir, with great respect,

Mark Twain.

M. Fourtou’s friend read this note, and shuddered.

Then he turned to me, and said, with a suggestion of

severity in his tone:

“Have you considered, sir, what would be the inevitable

result of such a meeting as this?”

“Well, for instance, what WOULD it be?”


“That’s about the size of it,” I said. “Now, if it is

a fair question, what was your side proposing to shed?”

I had him there. He saw he had made a blunder, so he hastened

to explain it away. He said he had spoken jestingly.

Then he added that he and his principal would enjoy axes,

and indeed prefer them, but such weapons were barred

by the French code, and so I must change my proposal.

I walked the floor, turning the thing over in my mind,

and finally it occurred to me that Gatling-guns at fifteen

paces would be a likely way to get a verdict on the field

of honor. So I framed this idea into a proposition.

But it was not accepted. The code was in the way again.

I proposed rifles; then double-barreled shotguns;

then Colt’s navy revolvers. These being all rejected,

I reflected awhile, and sarcastically suggested brickbats

at three-quarters of a mile. I always hate to fool away

a humorous thing on a person who has no perception of humor;

and it filled me with bitterness when this man went soberly

away to submit the last proposition to his principal.

He came back presently and said his principal was charmed

with the idea of brickbats at three-quarters of a mile,

but must decline on account of the danger to disinterested

parties passing between them. Then I said:

“Well, I am at the end of my string, now. Perhaps YOU

would be good enough to suggest a weapon? Perhaps you

have even had one in your mind all the time?”

His countenance brightened, and he said with alacrity:

“Oh, without doubt, monsieur!”

So he fell to hunting in his pockets–pocket after pocket,

and he had plenty of them–muttering all the while,

“Now, what could I have done with them?”

At last he was successful. He fished out of his vest pocket

a couple of little things which I carried to the light

and ascertained to be pistols. They were single-barreled

and silver-mounted, and very dainty and pretty.

I was not able to speak for emotion. I silently hung

one of them on my watch-chain, and returned the other.

My companion in crime now unrolled a postage-stamp

containing several cartridges, and gave me one of them.

I asked if he meant to signify by this that our men were

to be allowed but one shot apiece. He replied that the

French code permitted no more. I then begged him to go

and suggest a distance, for my mind was growing weak

and confused under the strain which had been put upon it.

He named sixty-five yards. I nearly lost my patience.

I said:

“Sixty-five yards, with these instruments? Squirt-guns

would be deadlier at fifty. Consider, my friend,

you and I are banded together to destroy life, not make

it eternal.”

But with all my persuasions, all my arguments, I was only

able to get him to reduce the distance to thirty-five yards;

and even this concession he made with reluctance,

and said with a sigh, “I wash my hands of this slaughter;

on your head be it.”

There was nothing for me but to go home to my old

lion-heart and tell my humiliating story. When I entered,

M. Gambetta was laying his last lock of hair upon the altar.

He sprang toward me, exclaiming:

“You have made the fatal arrangements–I see it in your eye!”

“I have.”

His face paled a trifle, and he leaned upon the table

for support. He breathed thick and heavily for a moment

or two, so tumultuous were his feelings; then he hoarsely


“The weapon, the weapon! Quick! what is the weapon?”

“This!” and I displayed that silver-mounted thing.

He cast but one glance at it, then swooned ponderously

to the floor.

When he came to, he said mournfully:

“The unnatural calm to which I have subjected myself

has told upon my nerves. But away with weakness!

I will confront my fate like a man and a Frenchman.”

He rose to his feet, and assumed an attitude which

for sublimity has never been approached by man,

and has seldom been surpassed by statues. Then he said,

in his deep bass tones:

“Behold, I am calm, I am ready; reveal to me the distance.”

“Thirty-five yards.” …

I could not lift him up, of course; but I rolled him over,

and poured water down his back. He presently came to,

and said:

“Thirty-five yards–without a rest? But why ask? Since

murder was that man’s intention, why should he palter

with small details? But mark you one thing: in my fall

the world shall see how the chivalry of France meets death.”

After a long silence he asked:

“Was nothing said about that man’s family standing

up with him, as an offset to my bulk? But no matter;

I would not stoop to make such a suggestion; if he is

not noble enough to suggest it himself, he is welcome

to this advantage, which no honorable man would take.”

He now sank into a sort of stupor of reflection,

which lasted some minutes; after which he broke silence with:

“The hour–what is the hour fixed for the collision?”

“Dawn, tomorrow.”

He seemed greatly surprised, and immediately said:

“Insanity! I never heard of such a thing. Nobody is

abroad at such an hour.”

“That is the reason I named it. Do you mean to say you

want an audience?”

“It is no time to bandy words. I am astonished that M. Fourtou

should ever have agreed to so strange an innovation.

Go at once and require a later hour.”

I ran downstairs, threw open the front door, and almost

plunged into the arms of M. Fourtou’s second. He said:

“I have the honor to say that my principal strenuously

objects to the hour chosen, and begs you will consent

to change it to half past nine.”

“Any courtesy, sir, which it is in our power to extend

is at the service of your excellent principal. We agree

to the proposed change of time.”

“I beg you to accept the thanks of my client.” Then he

turned to a person behind him, and said, “You hear, M. Noir,

the hour is altered to half past nine. ” Whereupon

M. Noir bowed, expressed his thanks, and went away.

My accomplice continued:

“If agreeable to you, your chief surgeons and ours shall

proceed to the field in the same carriage as is customary.”

“It is entirely agreeable to me, and I am obliged

to you for mentioning the surgeons, for I am afraid

I should not have thought of them. How many shall

I want? I supposed two or three will be enough?”

“Two is the customary number for each party. I refer

to ‘chief’ surgeons; but considering the exalted positions

occupied by our clients, it will be well and decorous

that each of us appoint several consulting surgeons,

from among the highest in the profession. These will

come in their own private carriages. Have you engaged

a hearse?”

“Bless my stupidity, I never thought of it!” I will attend

to it right away. I must seem very ignorant to you;

but you must try to overlook that, because I have never

had any experience of such a swell duel as this before.

I have had a good deal to do with duels on the Pacific coast,

but I see now that they were crude affairs. A hearse–sho!

we used to leave the elected lying around loose, and let

anybody cord them up and cart them off that wanted to.

Have you anything further to suggest?”

“Nothing, except that the head undertakers shall ride together,

as is usual. The subordinates and mutes will go on foot,

as is also usual. I will see you at eight o’clock

in the morning, and we will then arrange the order

of the procession. I have the honor to bid you a good day.”

I returned to my client, who said, “Very well;

at what hour is the engagement to begin?”

“Half past nine.”

“Very good indeed.; Have you sent the fact to the newspapers?”

“SIR! If after our long and intimate friendship you can

for a moment deem me capable of so base a treachery–”

“Tut, tut! What words are these, my dear friend? Have I

wounded you? Ah, forgive me; I am overloading you with labor.

Therefore go on with the other details, and drop this

one from your list. The bloody-minded Fourtou will be

sure to attend to it. Or I myself–yes, to make certain,

I will drop a note to my journalistic friend, M. Noir–”

“Oh, come to think of it, you may save yourself the trouble;

that other second has informed M. Noir.”

“H’m! I might have known it. It is just like that Fourtou,

who always wants to make a display.”

At half past nine in the morning the procession approached

the field of Plessis-Piquet in the following order: first

came our carriage–nobody in it but M. Gambetta and myself;

then a carriage containing M. Fourtou and his second;

then a carriage containing two poet-orators who did

not believe in God, and these had MS. funeral orations

projecting from their breast pockets; then a carriage

containing the head surgeons and their cases of instruments;

then eight private carriages containing consulting surgeons;

then a hack containing a coroner; then the two hearses;

then a carriage containing the head undertakers;

then a train of assistants and mutes on foot; and after

these came plodding through the fog a long procession

of camp followers, police, and citizens generally.

It was a noble turnout, and would have made a fine display

if we had had thinner weather.

There was no conversation. I spoke several times to

my principal, but I judge he was not aware of it, for he

always referred to his note-book and muttered absently,

“I die that France might live.”

“Arrived on the field, my fellow-second and I paced off

the thirty-five yards, and then drew lots for choice

of position. This latter was but an ornamental ceremony,

for all the choices were alike in such weather.

These preliminaries being ended, I went to my principal

and asked him if he was ready. He spread himself out

to his full width, and said in a stern voice, “Ready! Let

the batteries be charged.”

The loading process was done in the presence of duly

constituted witnesses. We considered it best to perform

this delicate service with the assistance of a lantern,

on account of the state of the weather. We now placed

our men.

At this point the police noticed that the public had massed

themselves together on the right and left of the field;

they therefore begged a delay, while they should put

these poor people in a place of safety.

The request was granted.

The police having ordered the two multitudes to take

positions behind the duelists, we were once more ready.

The weather growing still more opaque, it was agreed between

myself and the other second that before giving the fatal

signal we should each deliver a loud whoop to enable

the combatants to ascertain each other’s whereabouts.

I now returned to my principal, and was distressed

to observe that he had lost a good deal of his spirit.

I tried my best to hearten him. I said, “Indeed, sir,

things are not as bad as they seem. Considering the character

of the weapons, the limited number of shots allowed,

the generous distance, the impenetrable solidity of the fog,

and the added fact that one of the combatants is one-eyed

and the other cross-eyed and near-sighted, it seems to me

that this conflict need not necessarily be fatal. There are

chances that both of you may survive. Therefore, cheer up;

do not be downhearted.”

This speech had so good an effect that my principal

immediately stretched forth his hand and said, “I am

myself again; give me the weapon.”

I laid it, all lonely and forlorn, in the center of the vast

solitude of his palm. He gazed at it and shuddered.

And still mournfully contemplating it, he murmured in a

broken voice:

“Alas, it is not death I dread, but mutilation.”

I heartened him once more, and with such success that he

presently said, “Let the tragedy begin. Stand at my back;

do not desert me in this solemn hour, my friend.”

I gave him my promise. I now assisted him to point

his pistol toward the spot where I judged his adversary

to be standing, and cautioned him to listen well and

further guide himself by my fellow-second’s whoop.

Then I propped myself against M. Gambetta’s back,

and raised a rousing “Whoop-ee!” This was answered from

out the far distances of the fog, and I immediately shouted:


Two little sounds like SPIT! SPIT! broke upon my ear,

and in the same instant I was crushed to the earth under

a mountain of flesh. Bruised as I was, I was still able

to catch a faint accent from above, to this effect:

“I die for… for … perdition take it,

what IS it I die for? … oh, yes–FRANCE! I die

that France may live!”

The surgeons swarmed around with their probes in

their hands, and applied their microscopes to the whole

area of M. Gambetta’s person, with the happy result of

finding nothing in the nature of a wound. Then a scene

ensued which was in every way gratifying and inspiriting.

The two gladiators fell upon each other’s neck, with floods

of proud and happy tears; that other second embraced me;

the surgeons, the orators, the undertakers, the police,

everybody embraced, everybody congratulated, everybody cried,

and the whole atmosphere was filled with praise and with

joy unspeakable.

It seems to me then that I would rather be a hero

of a French duel than a crowned and sceptered monarch.

When the commotion had somewhat subsided, the body

of surgeons held a consultation, and after a good deal

of debate decided that with proper care and nursing there

was reason to believe that I would survive my injuries.

My internal hurts were deemed the most serious, since it

was apparent that a broken rib had penetrated my left lung,

and that many of my organs had been pressed out so far

to one side or the other of where they belonged, that it

was doubtful if they would ever learn to perform their

functions in such remote and unaccustomed localities.

They then set my left arm in two places, pulled my right

hip into its socket again, and re-elevated my nose.

I was an object of great interest, and even admiration;

and many sincere and warm-hearted persons had themselves

introduced to me, and said they were proud to know

the only man who had been hurt in a French duel in

forty years.

I was placed in an ambulance at the very head of the procession;

and thus with gratifying ‘ECLAT I was marched into Paris,

the most conspicuous figure in that great spectacle,

and deposited at the hospital.

The cross of the Legion of Honor has been conferred

upon me. However, few escape that distinction.

Such is the true version of the most memorable private

conflict of the age.

I have no complaints to make against any one. I acted

for myself, and I can stand the consequences.

Without boasting, I think I may say I am not afraid

to stand before a modern French duelist, but as long

as I keep in my right mind I will never consent to stand

behind one again.


[What the Beautiful Maiden Said]

One day we took the train and went down to Mannheim

to see “King Lear” played in German. It was a mistake.

We sat in our seats three whole hours and never understood

anything but the thunder and lightning; and even that

was reversed to suit German ideas, for the thunder came

first and the lightning followed after.

The behavior of the audience was perfect. There were

no rustlings, or whisperings, or other little disturbances;

each act was listened to in silence, and the applauding

was done after the curtain was down. The doors opened at

half past four, the play began promptly at half past five,

and within two minutes afterward all who were coming were

in their seats, and quiet reigned. A German gentleman

in the train had said that a Shakespearian play was an

appreciated treat in Germany and that we should find the

house filled. It was true; all the six tiers were filled,

and remained so to the end–which suggested that it is

not only balcony people who like Shakespeare in Germany,

but those of the pit and gallery, too.

Another time, we went to Mannheim and attended a shivaree–

otherwise an opera–the one called “Lohengrin.” The

banging and slamming and booming and crashing were

something beyond belief. The racking and pitiless

pain of it remains stored up in my memory alongside

the memory of the time that I had my teeth fixed.

There were circumstances which made it necessary for me

to stay through the hour hours to the end, and I stayed;

but the recollection of that long, dragging, relentless season

of suffering is indestructible. To have to endure it

in silence, and sitting still, made it all the harder.

I was in a railed compartment with eight or ten strangers,

of the two sexes, and this compelled repression;

yet at times the pain was so exquisite that I could hardly

keep the tears back. At those times, as the howlings

and wailings and shrieking of the singers, and the ragings

and roarings and explosions of the vast orchestra rose

higher and higher, and wilder and wilder, and fiercer

and fiercer, I could have cried if I had been alone.

Those strangers would not have been surprised to see

a man do such a thing who was being gradually skinned,

but they would have marveled at it here, and made remarks

about it no doubt, whereas there was nothing in the

present case which was an advantage over being skinned.

There was a wait of half an hour at the end of the first act,

and I could not trust myself to do it, for I felt that I

should desert to stay out. There was another wait

of half an hour toward nine o’clock, but I had gone

through so much by that time that I had no spirit left,

and so had no desire but to be let alone.

I do not wish to suggest that the rest of the people there

were like me, for, indeed, they were not. Whether it

was that they naturally liked that noise, or whether it

was that they had learned to like it by getting used to it,

I did not at the time know; but they did like–this was

plain enough. While it was going on they sat and looked

as rapt and grateful as cats do when one strokes their backs;

and whenever the curtain fell they rose to their feet,

in one solid mighty multitude, and the air was snowed thick

with waving handkerchiefs, and hurricanes of applause

swept the place. This was not comprehensible to me.

Of course, there were many people there who were not

under compulsion to stay; yet the tiers were as full at

the close as they had been at the beginning. This showed

that the people liked it.

It was a curious sort of a play. In the manner

of costumes and scenery it was fine and showy enough;

but there was not much action. That is to say,

there was not much really done, it was only talked about;

and always violently. It was what one might call a

narrative play. Everybody had a narrative and a grievance,

and none were reasonable about it, but all in an offensive

and ungovernable state. There was little of that sort

of customary thing where the tenor and the soprano stand

down by the footlights, warbling, with blended voices,

and keep holding out their arms toward each other and drawing

them back and spreading both hands over first one breast

and then the other with a shake and a pressure–no,

it was every rioter for himself and no blending.

Each sang his indictive narrative in turn, accompanied by

the whole orchestra of sixty instruments, and when this had

continued for some time, and one was hoping they might come

to an understanding and modify the noise, a great chorus

composed entirely of maniacs would suddenly break forth,

and then during two minutes, and sometimes three, I lived

over again all that I suffered the time the orphan asylum burned


We only had one brief little season of heaven and heaven’s

sweet ecstasy and peace during all this long and diligent

and acrimonious reproduction of the other place.

This was while a gorgeous procession of people marched around

and around, in the third act, and sang the Wedding Chorus.

To my untutored ear that was music–almost divine music.

While my seared soul was steeped in the healing balm

of those gracious sounds, it seemed to me that I could

almost resuffer the torments which had gone before,

in order to be so healed again. There is where the deep

ingenuity of the operatic idea is betrayed. It deals so

largely in pain that its scattered delights are prodigiously

augmented by the contrasts. A pretty air in an opera is

prettier there than it could be anywhere else, I suppose,

just as an honest man in politics shines more than he

would elsewhere.

I have since found out that there is nothing the Germans

like so much as an opera. They like it, not in a mild

and moderate way, but with their whole hearts.

This is a legitimate result of habit and education.

Our nation will like the opera, too, by and by, no doubt.

One in fifty of those who attend our operas likes

it already, perhaps, but I think a good many of the other

forty-nine go in order to learn to like it, and the

rest in order to be able to talk knowingly about it.

The latter usually hum the airs while they are being sung,

so that their neighbors may perceive that they have been

to operas before. The funerals of these do not occur

often enough.

A gentle, old-maidish person and a sweet young girl

of seventeen sat right in front of us that night at the

Mannheim opera. These people talked, between the acts,

and I understood them, though I understood nothing

that was uttered on the distant stage. At first they

were guarded in their talk, but after they had heard

my agent and me conversing in English they dropped their

reserve and I picked up many of their little confidences;

no, I mean many of HER little confidences–meaning

the elder party–for the young girl only listened,

and gave assenting nods, but never said a word. How pretty

she was, and how sweet she was! I wished she would speak.

But evidently she was absorbed in her own thoughts,

her own young-girl dreams, and found a dearer pleasure

in silence. But she was not dreaming sleepy dreams–no,

she was awake, alive, alert, she could not sit still

a moment. She was an enchanting study. Her gown was

of a soft white silky stuff that clung to her round

young figure like a fish’s skin, and it was rippled

over with the gracefulest little fringy films of lace;

she had deep, tender eyes, with long, curved lashes;

and she had peachy cheeks, and a dimpled chin, and such

a dear little rosebud of a mouth; and she was so dovelike,

so pure, and so gracious, so sweet and so bewitching.

For long hours I did mightily wish she would speak.

And at last she did; the red lips parted, and out leaps her

thought–and with such a guileless and pretty enthusiasm,

too: “Auntie, I just KNOW I’ve got five hundred fleas

on me!”

That was probably over the average. Yes, it must have been

very much over the average. The average at that time

in the Grand Duchy of Baden was forty-five to a young

person (when alone), according to the official estimate

of the home secretary for that year; the average for older

people was shifty and indeterminable, for whenever a

wholesome young girl came into the presence of her elders

she immediately lowered their average and raised her own.

She became a sort of contribution-box. This dear young

thing in the theater had been sitting there unconsciously

taking up a collection. Many a skinny old being in our

neighborhood was the happier and the restfuler for her coming.

In that large audience, that night, there were eight very

conspicuous people. These were ladies who had their hats

or bonnets on. What a blessed thing it would be if a lady

could make herself conspicuous in our theaters by wearing

her hat. It is not usual in Europe to allow ladies

and gentlemen to take bonnets, hats, overcoats, canes,

or umbrellas into the auditorium, but in Mannheim this

rule was not enforced because the audiences were largely

made up of people from a distance, and among these were

always a few timid ladies who were afraid that if they had

to go into an anteroom to get their things when the play

was over, they would miss their train. But the great mass

of those who came from a distance always ran the risk

and took the chances, preferring the loss of a train

to a breach of good manners and the discomfort of being

unpleasantly conspicuous during a stretch of three or four hours.


[How Wagner Operas Bang Along]

Three or four hours. That is a long time to sit in one place,

whether one be conspicuous or not, yet some of Wagner’s

operas bang along for six whole hours on a stretch!

But the people sit there and enjoy it all, and wish it

would last longer. A German lady in Munich told me

that a person could not like Wagner’s music at first,

but must go through the deliberate process of learning

to like it–then he would have his sure reward;

for when he had learned to like it he would hunger

for it and never be able to get enough of it. She said

that six hours of Wagner was by no means too much.

She said that this composer had made a complete revolution

in music and was burying the old masters one by one.

And she said that Wagner’s operas differed from all others

in one notable respect, and that was that they were not

merely spotted with music here and there, but were ALL music,

from the first strain to the last. This surprised me.

I said I had attended one of his insurrections, and found

hardly ANY music in it except the Wedding Chorus.

She said “Lohengrin” was noisier than Wagner’s other operas,

but that if I would keep on going to see it I would find

by and by that it was all music, and therefore would

then enjoy it. I COULD have said, “But would you advise

a person to deliberately practice having a toothache

in the pit of his stomach for a couple of years in order

that he might then come to enjoy it?” But I reserved

that remark.

This lady was full of the praises of the head-tenor

who had performed in a Wagner opera the night before,

and went on to enlarge upon his old and prodigious fame,

and how many honors had been lavished upon him by the

princely houses of Germany. Here was another surprise.

I had attended that very opera, in the person of my agent,

and had made close and accurate observations. So I


“Why, madam, MY experience warrants me in stating

that that tenor’s voice is not a voice at all,

but only a shriek–the shriek of a hyena.”

“That is very true,” she said; “he cannot sing now;

it is already many years that he has lost his voice,

but in other times he sang, yes, divinely! So whenever

he comes now, you shall see, yes, that the theater

will not hold the people. JAWOHL BEI GOTT! his voice

is WUNDERSCHO”N in that past time.”

I said she was discovering to me a kindly trait in the

Germans which was worth emulating. I said that over

the water we were not quite so generous; that with us,

when a singer had lost his voice and a jumper had lost

his legs, these parties ceased to draw. I said I had been

to the opera in Hanover, once, and in Mannheim once,

and in Munich (through my authorized agent) once, and this

large experience had nearly persuaded me that the Germans

PREFERRED singers who couldn’t sing. This was not such

a very extravagant speech, either, for that burly Mannheim

tenor’s praises had been the talk of all Heidelberg for

a week before his performance took place–yet his voice

was like the distressing noise which a nail makes when you

screech it across a window-pane. I said so to Heidelberg

friends the next day, and they said, in the calmest and

simplest way, that that was very true, but that in earlier

times his voice HAD been wonderfully fine. And the tenor

in Hanover was just another example of this sort.

The English-speaking German gentleman who went with me

to the opera there was brimming with enthusiasm over that tenor.

He said:

“ACH GOTT! a great man! You shall see him. He is so celebrate

in all Germany–and he has a pension, yes, from the government.

He not obliged to sing now, only twice every year;

but if he not sing twice each year they take him his pension


Very well, we went. When the renowned old tenor appeared,

I got a nudge and an excited whisper:

“Now you see him!”

But the “celebrate” was an astonishing disappointment to me.

If he had been behind a screen I should have supposed

they were performing a surgical operation on him.

I looked at my friend–to my great surprise he seemed

intoxicated with pleasure, his eyes were dancing

with eager delight. When the curtain at last fell,

he burst into the stormiest applause, and kept it up–as

did the whole house–until the afflictive tenor had

come three times before the curtain to make his bow.

While the glowing enthusiast was swabbing the perspiration

from his face, I said:

“I don’t mean the least harm, but really, now, do you

think he can sing?”

“Him? NO! GOTT IM HIMMEL, ABER, how he has been able to

sing twenty-five years ago?” [Then pensively.] “ACH, no,

NOW he not sing any more, he only cry. When he think

he sing, now, he not sing at all, no, he only make

like a cat which is unwell.”

Where and how did we get the idea that the Germans

are a stolid, phlegmatic race? In truth, they are

widely removed from that. They are warm-hearted,

emotional, impulsive, enthusiastic, their tears come

at the mildest touch, and it is not hard to move them

to laughter. They are the very children of impulse.

We are cold and self-contained, compared to the Germans.

They hug and kiss and cry and shout and dance and sing;

and where we use one loving, petting expressions they pour

out a score. Their language is full of endearing diminutives;

nothing that they love escapes the application of a petting

diminutive–neither the house, nor the dog, nor the horse,

nor the grandmother, nor any other creature, animate or


In the theaters at Hanover, Hamburg, and Mannheim,

they had a wise custom. The moment the curtain went up,

the light in the body of the house went down.

The audience sat in the cool gloom of a deep twilight,

which greatly enhanced the glowing splendors of the stage.

It saved gas, too, and people were not sweated to death.

When I saw “King Lear” played, nobody was allowed to see

a scene shifted; if there was nothing to be done but slide

a forest out of the way and expose a temple beyond, one did

not see that forest split itself in the middle and go

shrieking away, with the accompanying disenchanting spectacle

of the hands and heels of the impelling impulse–no,

the curtain was always dropped for an instant–one heard

not the least movement behind it–but when it went up,

the next instant, the forest was gone. Even when the

stage was being entirely reset, one heard no noise.

During the whole time that “King Lear” was playing

the curtain was never down two minutes at any one time.

The orchestra played until the curtain was ready to go up

for the first time, then they departed for the evening.

Where the stage waits never each two minutes there is no

occasion for music. I had never seen this two-minute

business between acts but once before, and that was when

the “Shaughraun” was played at Wallack’s.

I was at a concert in Munich one night, the people

were streaming in, the clock-hand pointed to seven,

the music struck up, and instantly all movement in

the body of the house ceased–nobody was standing,

or walking up the aisles, or fumbling with a seat,

the stream of incomers had suddenly dried up at its source.

I listened undisturbed to a piece of music that was fifteen

minutes long–always expecting some tardy ticket-holders

to come crowding past my knees, and being continuously and

pleasantly disappointed–but when the last note was struck,

here came the stream again. You see, they had made

those late comers wait in the comfortable waiting-parlor

from the time the music had begin until it was ended.

It was the first time I had ever seen this sort of

criminals denied the privilege of destroying the comfort

of a house full of their betters. Some of these were

pretty fine birds, but no matter, they had to tarry

outside in the long parlor under the inspection of

a double rank of liveried footmen and waiting-maids

who supported the two walls with their backs and held

the wraps and traps of their masters and mistresses on their


We had no footmen to hold our things, and it was not

permissible to take them into the concert-room; but there

were some men and women to take charge of them for us.

They gave us checks for them and charged a fixed price,

payable in advance–five cents.

In Germany they always hear one thing at an opera

which has never yet been heard in America, perhaps–I

mean the closing strain of a fine solo or duet.

We always smash into it with an earthquake of applause.

The result is that we rob ourselves of the sweetest

part of the treat; we get the whiskey, but we don’t get

the sugar in the bottom of the glass.

Our way of scattering applause along through an act seems

to me to be better than the Mannheim way of saving it

all up till the act is ended. I do not see how an actor

can forget himself and portray hot passion before a cold

still audience. I should think he would feel foolish.

It is a pain to me to this day, to remember how that old

German Lear raged and wept and howled around the stage,

with never a response from that hushed house, never a

single outburst till the act was ended. To me there was

something unspeakably uncomfortable in the solemn dead

silences that always followed this old person’s tremendous

outpourings of his feelings. I could not help putting

myself in his place–I thought I knew how sick and flat

he felt during those silences, because I remembered a case

which came under my observation once, and which–but I

will tell the incident:

One evening on board a Mississippi steamboat, a boy of ten

years lay asleep in a berth–a long, slim-legged boy,

he was, encased in quite a short shirt; it was the first

time he had ever made a trip on a steamboat, and so he

was troubled, and scared, and had gone to bed with his

head filled with impending snaggings, and explosions,

and conflagrations, and sudden death. About ten o’clock

some twenty ladies were sitting around about the ladies’

saloon, quietly reading, sewing, embroidering, and so on,

and among them sat a sweet, benignant old dame with round

spectacles on her nose and her busy knitting-needles

in her hands. Now all of a sudden, into the midst of this

peaceful scene burst that slim-shanked boy in the brief shirt,

wild-eyed, erect-haired, and shouting, “Fire, fire!


TO LOSE!” All those ladies looked sweetly up and smiled,

nobody stirred, the old lady pulled her spectacles down,

looked over them, and said, gently:

“But you mustn’t catch cold, child. Run and put on

your breastpin, and then come and tell us all about it.”

It was a cruel chill to give to a poor little devil’s

gushing vehemence. He was expecting to be a sort of

hero–the creator of a wild panic–and here everybody

sat and smiled a mocking smile, and an old woman made

fun of his bugbear. I turned and crept away–for I

was that boy–and never even cared to discover whether

I had dreamed the fire or actually seen it.

I am told that in a German concert or opera, they hardly

ever encore a song; that though they may be dying to hear

it again, their good breeding usually preserves them

against requiring the repetition.

Kings may encore; that is quite another matter;

it delights everybody to see that the King is pleased;

and as to the actor encored, his pride and gratification

are simply boundless. Still, there are circumstances

in which even a royal encore–

But it is better to illustrate. The King of Bavaria is

a poet, and has a poet’s eccentricities–with the advantage

over all other poets of being able to gratify them,

no matter what form they may take. He is fond of opera,

but not fond of sitting in the presence of an audience;

therefore, it has sometimes occurred, in Munich,

that when an opera has been concluded and the players

were getting off their paint and finery, a command has

come to them to get their paint and finery on again.

Presently the King would arrive, solitary and alone,

and the players would begin at the beginning and do the

entire opera over again with only that one individual

in the vast solemn theater for audience. Once he took

an odd freak into his head. High up and out of sight,

over the prodigious stage of the court theater is a maze

of interlacing water-pipes, so pierced that in case

of fire, innumerable little thread-like streams of

water can be caused to descend; and in case of need,

this discharge can be augmented to a pouring flood.

American managers might want to make a note of that.

The King was sole audience. The opera proceeded,

it was a piece with a storm in it; the mimic thunder

began to mutter, the mimic wind began to wail and sough,

and the mimic rain to patter. The King’s interest rose

higher and higher; it developed into enthusiasm. He cried


“It is very, very good, indeed! But I will have real

rain! Turn on the water!”

The manager pleaded for a reversal of the command; said it

would ruin the costly scenery and the splendid costumes,

but the King cried:

“No matter, no matter, I will have real rain! Turn

on the water!”

So the real rain was turned on and began to descend in

gossamer lances to the mimic flower-beds and gravel walks

of the stage. The richly dressed actresses and actors

tripped about singing bravely and pretending not to mind it.

The King was delighted–his enthusiasm grew higher.

He cried out:

“Bravo, bravo! More thunder! more lightning! turn

on more rain!”

The thunder boomed, the lightning glared, the storm-winds raged,

the deluge poured down. The mimic royalty on the stage,

with their soaked satins clinging to their bodies,

slopped about ankle-deep in water, warbling their sweetest

and best, the fiddlers under the eaves of the state sawed

away for dear life, with the cold overflow spouting down

the backs of their necks, and the dry and happy King sat

in his lofty box and wore his gloves to ribbons applauding.

“More yet!” cried the King; “more yet–let loose all

the thunder, turn on all the water! I will hang the man

that raises an umbrella!”

When this most tremendous and effective storm that had

ever been produced in any theater was at last over,

the King’s approbation was measureless. He cried:

“Magnificent, magnificent! ENCORE! Do it again!”

But the manager succeeded in persuading him to recall

the encore, and said the company would feel sufficiently

rewarded and complimented in the mere fact that the

encore was desired by his Majesty, without fatiguing

him with a repetition to gratify their own vanity.

During the remainder of the act the lucky performers

were those whose parts required changes of dress;

the others were a soaked, bedraggled, and uncomfortable lot,

but in the last degree picturesque. The stage scenery

was ruined, trap-doors were so swollen that they wouldn’t

work for a week afterward, the fine costumes were spoiled,

and no end of minor damages were done by that remarkable storm.

It was royal idea–that storm–and royally carried out.

But observe the moderation of the King; he did not

insist upon his encore. If he had been a gladsome,

unreflecting American opera-audience, he probably would

have had his storm repeated and repeated until he drowned

all those people.


[I Paint a “Turner”]

The summer days passed pleasantly in Heidelberg.

We had a skilled trainer, and under his instructions we

were getting our legs in the right condition for the

contemplated pedestrian tours; we were well satisfied

with the progress which we had made in the German language,

[1. See Appendix D for information concerning this

fearful tongue.] and more than satisfied with what we had

accomplished in art. We had had the best instructors in

drawing and painting in Germany–Ha”mmerling, Vogel, Mu”ller,

Dietz, and Schumann. Ha”mmerling taught us landscape-painting.

Vogel taught us figure-drawing, Mu”ller taught us to do

still-life, and Dietz and Schumann gave us a finishing

course in two specialties–battle-pieces and shipwrecks.

Whatever I am in Art I owe to these men. I have something

of the manner of each and all of them; but they all said that I

had also a manner of my own, and that it was conspicuous.

They said there was a marked individuality about my

style–insomuch that if I ever painted the commonest

type of a dog, I should be sure to throw a something

into the aspect of that dog which would keep him from

being mistaken for the creation of any other artist.

Secretly I wanted to believe all these kind sayings,

but I could not; I was afraid that my masters’

partiality for me, and pride in me, biased their judgment.

So I resolved to make a test. Privately, and unknown

to any one, I painted my great picture, “Heidelberg Castle

Illuminated”–my first really important work in oils–and

had it hung up in the midst of a wilderness of oil-pictures

in the Art Exhibition, with no name attached to it. To my

great gratification it was instantly recognized as mine.

All the town flocked to see it, and people even came from

neighboring localities to visit it. It made more stir than

any other work in the Exhibition. But the most gratifying

thing of all was, that chance strangers, passing through,

who had not heard of my picture, were not only drawn to it,

as by a lodestone, the moment they entered the gallery,

but always took it for a “Turner.”

Apparently nobody had ever done that. There were ruined

castles on the overhanging cliffs and crags all the way;

these were said to have their legends, like those on the Rhine,

and what was better still, they had never been in print.

There was nothing in the books about that lovely region;

it had been neglected by the tourist, it was virgin soil for

the literary pioneer.

Meantime the knapsacks, the rough walking-suits and the stout

walking-shoes which we had ordered, were finished and brought

to us. A Mr. X and a young Mr. Z had agreed to go with us.

We went around one evening and bade good-by to our friends,

and afterward had a little farewell banquet at the hotel.

We got to bed early, for we wanted to make an early start,

so as to take advantage of the cool of the morning.

We were out of bed at break of day, feeling fresh

and vigorous, and took a hearty breakfast, then plunged

down through the leafy arcades of the Castle grounds,

toward the town. What a glorious summer morning it was,

and how the flowers did pour out their fragrance,

and how the birds did sing! It was just the time for a

tramp through the woods and mountains.

We were all dressed alike: broad slouch hats, to keep the

sun off; gray knapsacks; blue army shirts; blue overalls;

leathern gaiters buttoned tight from knee down to ankle;

high-quarter coarse shoes snugly laced. Each man had

an opera-glass, a canteen, and a guide-book case slung

over his shoulder, and carried an alpenstock in one hand

and a sun-umbrella in the other. Around our hats were

wound many folds of soft white muslin, with the ends

hanging and flapping down our backs–an idea brought

from the Orient and used by tourists all over Europe.

Harris carried the little watch-like machine called

a “pedometer,” whose office is to keep count of a man’s

steps and tell how far he has walked. Everybody stopped

to admire our costumes and give us a hearty “Pleasant march

to you!”

When we got downtown I found that we could go by rail to

within five miles of Heilbronn. The train was just starting,

so we jumped aboard and went tearing away in splendid spirits.

It was agreed all around that we had done wisely,

because it would be just as enjoyable to walk DOWN the Neckar

as up it, and it could not be needful to walk both ways.

There were some nice German people in our compartment.

I got to talking some pretty private matters presently,

and Harris became nervous; so he nudged me and said:

“Speak in German–these Germans may understand English.”

I did so, it was well I did; for it turned out that there

was not a German in that party who did not understand

English perfectly. It is curious how widespread our language

is in Germany. After a while some of those folks got out

and a German gentleman and his two young daughters got in.

I spoke in German of one of the latter several times,

but without result. Finally she said:


that effect. That is, “I don’t understand any language

but German and English.”

And sure enough, not only she but her father and sister

spoke English. So after that we had all the talk we wanted;

and we wanted a good deal, for they were agreeable people.

They were greatly interested in our customs; especially

the alpenstocks, for they had not seen any before.

They said that the Neckar road was perfectly level, so we

must be going to Switzerland or some other rugged country;

and asked us if we did not find the walking pretty fatiguing

in such warm weather. But we said no.

We reached Wimpfen–I think it was Wimpfen–in about

three hours, and got out, not the least tired; found a

good hotel and ordered beer and dinner–then took

a stroll through the venerable old village. It was very

picturesque and tumble-down, and dirty and interesting.

It had queer houses five hundred years old in it,

and a military tower 115 feet high, which had stood there

more than ten centuries. I made a little sketch of it.

I kept a copy, but gave the original to the Burgomaster.

I think the original was better than the copy, because it

had more windows in it and the grass stood up better and had

a brisker look. There was none around the tower, though;

I composed the grass myself, from studies I made in a field

by Heidelberg in Ha”mmerling’s time. The man on top,

looking at the view, is apparently too large, but I found

he could not be made smaller, conveniently. I wanted

him there, and I wanted him visible, so I thought out a

way to manage it; I composed the picture from two points

of view; the spectator is to observe the man from bout

where that flag is, and he must observe the tower itself

from the ground. This harmonizes the seeming discrepancy.

[Figure 2]

Near an old cathedral, under a shed, were three crosses

of stone–moldy and damaged things, bearing life-size

stone figures. The two thieves were dressed in the fanciful

court costumes of the middle of the sixteenth century,

while the Saviour was nude, with the exception of a cloth

around the loins.

We had dinner under the green trees in a garden belonging

to the hotel and overlooking the Neckar; then, after a smoke,

we went to bed. We had a refreshing nap, then got up

about three in the afternoon and put on our panoply.

As we tramped gaily out at the gate of the town,

we overtook a peasant’s cart, partly laden with odds and

ends of cabbages and similar vegetable rubbish, and drawn

by a small cow and a smaller donkey yoked together.

It was a pretty slow concern, but it got us into Heilbronn

before dark–five miles, or possibly it was seven.

We stopped at the very same inn which the famous old

robber-knight and rough fighter Go”tz von Berlichingen,

abode in after he got out of captivity in the Square Tower

of Heilbronn between three hundred and fifty and four hundred

years ago. Harris and I occupied the same room which he

had occupied and the same paper had not quite peeled off

the walls yet. The furniture was quaint old carved stuff,

full four hundred years old, and some of the smells

were over a thousand. There was a hook in the wall,

which the landlord said the terrific old Go”tz used to

hang his iron hand on when he took it off to go to bed.

This room was very large–it might be called immense–

and it was on the first floor; which means it was in

the second story, for in Europe the houses are so high

that they do not count the first story, else they

would get tired climbing before they got to the top.

The wallpaper was a fiery red, with huge gold figures in it,

well smirched by time, and it covered all the doors.

These doors fitted so snugly and continued the figures

of the paper so unbrokenly, that when they were closed

one had to go feeling and searching along the wall

to find them. There was a stove in the corner–one

of those tall, square, stately white porcelain things

that looks like a monument and keeps you thinking

of death when you ought to be enjoying your travels.

The windows looked out on a little alley, and over that

into a stable and some poultry and pig yards in the rear

of some tenement-houses. There were the customary two beds

in the room, one in one end, the other in the other,

about an old-fashioned brass-mounted, single-barreled

pistol-shot apart. They were fully as narrow as the usual

German bed, too, and had the German bed’s ineradicable

habit of spilling the blankets on the floor every time

you forgot yourself and went to sleep.

A round table as large as King Arthur’s stood in the

center of the room; while the waiters were getting

ready to serve our dinner on it we all went out to see

the renowned clock on the front of the municipal buildings.


[What the Wives Saved]

The RATHHAUS, or municipal building, is of the quaintest

and most picturesque Middle-Age architecture. It has a

massive portico and steps, before it, heavily balustraded,

and adorned with life-sized rusty iron knights in

complete armor. The clock-face on the front of the building

is very large and of curious pattern. Ordinarily, a gilded

angel strikes the hour on a big bell with a hammer;

as the striking ceases, a life-sized figure of Time raises

its hour-glass and turns it; two golden rams advance

and butt each other; a gilded cock lifts its wings;

but the main features are two great angels, who stand

on each side of the dial with long horns at their lips;

it was said that they blew melodious blasts on these

horns every hour–but they did not do it for us.

We were told, later, than they blew only at night,

when the town was still.

Within the RATHHAUS were a number of huge wild boars’

heads, preserved, and mounted on brackets along the wall;

they bore inscriptions telling who killed them and how many

hundred years ago it was done. One room in the building

was devoted to the preservation of ancient archives.

There they showed us no end of aged documents; some were

signed by Popes, some by Tilly and other great generals,

and one was a letter written and subscribed by Go”tz von

Berlichingen in Heilbronn in 1519 just after his release

from the Square Tower.

This fine old robber-knight was a devoutly and sincerely

religious man, hospitable, charitable to the poor,

fearless in fight, active, enterprising, and possessed

of a large and generous nature. He had in him a

quality of being able to overlook moderate injuries,

and being able to forgive and forget mortal ones as

soon as he had soundly trounced the authors of them.

He was prompt to take up any poor devil’s quarrel and risk

his neck to right him. The common folk held him dear,

and his memory is still green in ballad and tradition.

He used to go on the highway and rob rich wayfarers;

and other times he would swoop down from his high castle

on the hills of the Neckar and capture passing cargoes

of merchandise. In his memoirs he piously thanks the

Giver of all Good for remembering him in his needs and

delivering sundry such cargoes into his hands at times

when only special providences could have relieved him.

He was a doughty warrior and found a deep joy in battle.

In an assault upon a stronghold in Bavaria when he was

only twenty-three years old, his right hand was shot away,

but he was so interested in the fight that he did not

observe it for a while. He said that the iron hand

which was made for him afterward, and which he wore for

more than half a century, was nearly as clever a member

as the fleshy one had been. I was glad to get a facsimile

of the letter written by this fine old German Robin Hood,

though I was not able to read it. He was a better artist

with his sword than with his pen.

We went down by the river and saw the Square Tower.

It was a very venerable structure, very strong,

and very ornamental. There was no opening near the ground.

They had to use a ladder to get into it, no doubt.

We visited the principal church, also–a curious

old structure, with a towerlike spire adorned with all

sorts of grotesque images. The inner walls of the church

were placarded with large mural tablets of copper,

bearing engraved inscriptions celebrating the merits

of old Heilbronn worthies of two or three centuries ago,

and also bearing rudely painted effigies of themselves

and their families tricked out in the queer costumes of

those days. The head of the family sat in the foreground,

and beyond him extended a sharply receding and diminishing

row of sons; facing him sat his wife, and beyond

her extended a low row of diminishing daughters.

The family was usually large, but the perspective bad.

Then we hired the hack and the horse which Go”tz von

Berlichingen used to use, and drove several miles into

the country to visit the place called WEIBERTREU–Wife’s

Fidelity I suppose it means. It was a feudal castle

of the Middle Ages. When we reached its neighborhood we

found it was beautifully situated, but on top of a mound,

or hill, round and tolerably steep, and about two hundred

feet high. Therefore, as the sun was blazing hot,

we did not climb up there, but took the place on trust,

and observed it from a distance while the horse leaned up

against a fence and rested. The place has no interest

except that which is lent it by its legend, which is

a very pretty one–to this effect:


In the Middle Ages, a couple of young dukes, brothers,

took opposite sides in one of the wars, the one fighting

for the Emperor, the other against him. One of them

owned the castle and village on top of the mound which I

have been speaking of, and in his absence his brother

came with his knights and soldiers and began a siege.

It was a long and tedious business, for the people

made a stubborn and faithful defense. But at last

their supplies ran out and starvation began its work;

more fell by hunger than by the missiles of the enemy.

They by and by surrendered, and begged for charitable terms.

But the beleaguering prince was so incensed against them

for their long resistance that he said he would spare none

but the women and children–all men should be put to the

sword without exception, and all their goods destroyed.

Then the women came and fell on their knees and begged for

the lives of their husbands.

“No,” said the prince, “not a man of them shall escape alive;

you yourselves shall go with your children into houseless

and friendless banishment; but that you may not starve

I grant you this one grace, that each woman may bear

with her from this place as much of her most valuable

property as she is able to carry.”

Very well, presently the gates swung open and out filed

those women carrying their HUSBANDS on their shoulders.

The besiegers, furious at the trick, rushed forward

to slaughter the men, but the Duke stepped between and


“No, put up your swords–a prince’s word is inviolable.”

When we got back to the hotel, King Arthur’s Round Table

was ready for us in its white drapery, and the head waiter

and his first assistant, in swallow-tails and white cravats,

brought in the soup and the hot plates at once.

Mr. X had ordered the dinner, and when the wine came on,

he picked up a bottle, glanced at the label, and then turned

to the grave, the melancholy, the sepulchral head waiter

and said it was not the sort of wine he had asked for.

The head waiter picked up the bottle, cast his undertaker-eye

on it and said:

“It is true; I beg pardon.” Then he turned on his

subordinate and calmly said, “Bring another label.”

At the same time he slid the present label off with his hand

and laid it aside; it had been newly put on, its paste

was still wet. When the new label came, he put it on;

our French wine being now turned into German wine,

according to desire, the head waiter went blandly about his

other duties, as if the working of this sort of miracle

was a common and easy thing to him.

Mr. X said he had not known, before, that there were

people honest enough to do this miracle in public,

but he was aware that thousands upon thousands of labels

were imported into America from Europe every year,

to enable dealers to furnish to their customers in a quiet

and inexpensive way all the different kinds of foreign

wines they might require.

We took a turn around the town, after dinner, and found

it fully as interesting in the moonlight as it had been

in the daytime. The streets were narrow and roughly paved,

and there was not a sidewalk or a street-lamp anywhere.

The dwellings were centuries old, and vast enough for hotels.

They widened all the way up; the stories projected

further and further forward and aside as they ascended,

and the long rows of lighted windows, filled with little bits

of panes, curtained with figured white muslin and adorned

outside with boxes of flowers, made a pretty effect.

The moon was bright, and the light and shadow very strong;

and nothing could be more picturesque than those curving

streets, with their rows of huge high gables leaning

far over toward each other in a friendly gossiping way,

and the crowds below drifting through the alternating blots

of gloom and mellow bars of moonlight. Nearly everybody

was abroad, chatting, singing, romping, or massed in lazy

comfortable attitudes in the doorways.

In one place there was a public building which was

fenced about with a thick, rusty chain, which sagged

from post to post in a succession of low swings.

The pavement, here, was made of heavy blocks of stone.

In the glare of the moon a party of barefooted children

were swinging on those chains and having a noisy good time.

They were not the first ones who have done that;

even their great-great-grandfathers had not been the first

to do it when they were children. The strokes of the bare

feet had worn grooves inches deep in the stone flags;

it had taken many generations of swinging children to

accomplish that. Everywhere in the town were the mold

and decay that go with antiquity, and evidence of it;

but I do not know that anything else gave us so vivid

a sense of the old age of Heilbronn as those footworn

grooves in the paving-stones.


[My Long Crawl in the Dark]

When we got back to the hotel I wound and set the

pedometer and put it in my pocket, for I was to carry

it next day and keep record of the miles we made.

The work which we had given the instrument to do during

which had just closed had not fatigued it perceptibly.

We were in bed by ten, for we wanted to be up and away on

our tramp homeward with the dawn. I hung fire, but Harris

went to sleep at once. I hate a man who goes to sleep

at once; there is a sort of indefinable something about it

which is not exactly an insult, and yet is an insolence;

and one which is hard to bear, too. I lay there fretting

over this injury, and trying to go to sleep; but the harder

I tried, the wider awake I grew. I got to feeling very lonely

in the dark, ith no company but an undigested dinner.

My mind got a start by and by, and began to consider the

beginning of every subject which has ever been thought of;

but it never went further than the beginning; it was touch

and go; it fled from topic to topic with a frantic speed.

At the end of an hour my head was in a perfect whirl and I

was dead tired, fagged out.

The fatigue was so great that it presently began to make some

head against the nervous excitement; while imagining myself

wide awake, I would really doze into momentary unconsciousness,

and come suddenly out of it with a physical jerk which nearly

wrenched my joints apart–the delusion of the instant

being that I was tumbling backward over a precipice.

After I had fallen over eight or nine precipices and thus

found out that one half of my brain had been asleep eight

or nine times without the wide-awake, hard-working other

half suspecting it, the periodical unconsciousnesses

began to extend their spell gradually over more of my

brain-territory, and at last I sank into a drowse which

grew deeper and deeper and was doubtless just on the very

point of being a solid, blessed dreamless stupor, when–what was


My dulled faculties dragged themselves partly back to life

and took a receptive attitude. Now out of an immense,

a limitless distance, came a something which grew and grew,

and approached, and presently was recognizable as a sound–

it had rather seemed to be a feeling, before. This sound

was a mile away, now–perhaps it was the murmur of a storm;

and now it was nearer–not a quarter of a mile away;

was it the muffled rasping and grinding of distant

machinery? No, it came still nearer; was it the measured

tramp of a marching troop? But it came nearer still,

and still nearer–and at last it was right in the room: it

was merely a mouse gnawing the woodwork. So I had held my

breath all that time for such a trifle.

Well, what was done could not be helped; I would go

to sleep at once and make up the lost time. That was

a thoughtless thought. Without intending it–hardly

knowing it–I fell to listening intently to that sound,

and even unconsciously counting the strokes of the mouse’s

nutmeg-grater. Presently I was deriving exquisite suffering

from this employment, yet maybe I could have endured

it if the mouse had attended steadily to his work;

but he did not do that; he stopped every now and then,

and I suffered more while waiting and listening for

him to begin again than I did while he was gnawing.

Along at first I was mentally offering a reward

of five–six–seven–ten–dollars for that mouse;

but toward the last I was offering rewards which were

entirely beyond my means. I close-reefed my ears–

that is to say, I bent the flaps of them down and furled

them into five or six folds, and pressed them against

the hearing-orifice–but it did no good: the faculty

was so sharpened by nervous excitement that it was become

a microphone and could hear through the overlays without trouble.

My anger grew to a frenzy. I finally did what all persons

before me have done, clear back to Adam,–resolved to

throw something. I reached down and got my walking-shoes,

then sat up in bed and listened, in order to exactly locate

the noise. But I couldn’t do it; it was as unlocatable

as a cricket’s noise; and where one thinks that that is,

is always the very place where it isn’t. So I presently

hurled a shoe at random, and with a vicious vigor.

It struck the wall over Harris’s head and fell down on him;

I had not imagined I could throw so far. It woke Harris,

and I was glad of it until I found he was not angry;

then I was sorry. He soon went to sleep again,

which pleased me; but straightway the mouse began again,

which roused my temper once more. I did not want to wake

Harris a second time, but the gnawing continued until I

was compelled to throw the other shoe. This time I broke

a mirror–there were two in the room–I got the largest one,

of course. Harris woke again, but did not complain,

and I was sorrier than ever. I resolved that I would

suffer all possible torture before I would disturb him a

third time.

The mouse eventually retired, and by and by I was sinking

to sleep, when a clock began to strike; I counted till

it was done, and was about to drowse again when another

clock began; I counted; then the two great RATHHAUS clock

angels began to send forth soft, rich, melodious blasts

from their long trumpets. I had never heard anything

that was so lovely, or weird, or mysterious–but when they

got to blowing the quarter-hours, they seemed to me to be

overdoing the thing. Every time I dropped off for the moment,

a new noise woke me. Each time I woke I missed my coverlet,

and had to reach down to the floor and get it again.

At last all sleepiness forsook me. I recognized the fact

that I was hopelessly and permanently wide awake.

Wide awake, and feverish and thirsty. When I had lain

tossing there as long as I could endure it, it occurred

to me that it would be a good idea to dress and go out in

the great square and take a refreshing wash in the fountain,

and smoke and reflect there until the remnant of the night

was gone.

I believed I could dress in the dark without waking Harris.

I had banished my shoes after the mouse, but my slippers

would do for a summer night. So I rose softly, and gradually

got on everything–down to one sock. I couldn’t seem

to get on the track of that sock, any way I could fix it.

But I had to have it; so I went down on my hands and knees,

with one slipper on and the other in my hand, and began to

paw gently around and rake the floor, but with no success.

I enlarged my circle, and went on pawing and raking.

With every pressure of my knee, how the floor creaked!

and every time I chanced to rake against any article,

it seemed to give out thirty-five or thirty-six times

more noise than it would have done in the daytime.

In those cases I always stopped and held my breath till I

was sure Harris had not awakened–then I crept along again.

I moved on and on, but I could not find the sock;

I could not seem to find anything but furniture.

I could not remember that there was much furniture

in the room when I went to bed, but the place was alive

with it now –especially chairs–chairs everywhere–

had a couple of families moved in, in the mean time? And

I never could seem to GLANCE on one of those chairs,

but always struck it full and square with my head.

My temper rose, by steady and sure degrees, and as I

pawed on and on, I fell to making vicious comments under

my breath.

Finally, with a venomous access of irritation, I said I

would leave without the sock; so I rose up and made straight

for the door–as I supposed–and suddenly confronted my

dim spectral image in the unbroken mirror. It startled

the breath out of me, for an instant; it also showed me

that I was lost, and had no sort of idea where I was.

When I realized this, I was so angry that I had to sit

down on the floor and take hold of something to keep

from lifting the roof off with an explosion of opinion.

If there had been only one mirror, it might possibly have

helped to locate me; but there were two, and two were as

bad as a thousand; besides, these were on opposite sides

of the room. I could see the dim blur of the windows,

but in my turned-around condition they were exactly

where they ought not to be, and so they only confused me

instead of helping me.

I started to get up, and knocked down an umbrella;

it made a noise like a pistol-shot when it struck

that hard, slick, carpetless floor; I grated my teeth

and held my breath–Harris did not stir. I set the

umbrella slowly and carefully on end against the wall,

but as soon as I took my hand away, its heel slipped

from under it, and down it came again with another bang.

I shrunk together and listened a moment in silent fury–

no harm done, everything quiet. With the most painstaking

care and nicety, I stood the umbrella up once more,

took my hand away, and down it came again.

I have been strictly reared, but if it had not been

so dark and solemn and awful there in that lonely,

vast room, I do believe I should have said something

then which could not be put into a Sunday-school book

without injuring the sale of it. If my reasoning powers

had not been already sapped dry by my harassments,

I would have known better than to try to set an umbrella

on end on one of those glassy German floors in the dark;

it can’t be done in the daytime without four failures

to one success. I had one comfort, though–Harris was

yet still and silent–he had not stirred.

The umbrella could not locate me–there were four

standing around the room, and all alike. I thought I

would feel along the wall and find the door in that way.

I rose up and began this operation, but raked down

a picture. It was not a large one, but it made noise

enough for a panorama. Harris gave out no sound, but I

felt that if I experimented any further with the pictures

I should be sure to wake him. Better give up trying to

get out. Yes, I would find King Arthur’s Round Table once

more–I had already found it several times–and use it

for a base of departure on an exploring tour for my bed;

if I could find my bed I could then find my water pitcher;

I would quench my raging thirst and turn in. So I started

on my hands and knees, because I could go faster that way,

and with more confidence, too, and not knock down things.

By and by I found the table–with my head–rubbed the

bruise a little, then rose up and started, with hands

abroad and fingers spread, to balance myself. I found

a chair; then a wall; then another chair; then a sofa;

then an alpenstock, then another sofa; this confounded me,

for I had thought there was only one sofa. I hunted

up the table again and took a fresh start; found some

more chairs.

It occurred to me, now, as it ought to have done before,

that as the table was round, it was therefore of no

value as a base to aim from; so I moved off once more,

and at random among the wilderness of chairs and sofas–

wandering off into unfamiliar regions, and presently knocked

a candlestick and knocked off a lamp, grabbed at the lamp

and knocked off a water pitcher with a rattling crash,

and thought to myself, “I’ve found you at last–I

judged I was close upon you.” Harris shouted “murder,”

and “thieves,” and finished with “I’m absolutely drowned.”

The crash had roused the house. Mr. X pranced in,

in his long night-garment, with a candle, young Z after him

with another candle; a procession swept in at another door,

with candles and lanterns–landlord and two German guests

in their nightgowns and a chambermaid in hers.

I looked around; I was at Harris’s bed, a Sabbath-day’s

journey from my own. There was only one sofa; it was against

the wall; there was only one chair where a body could get

at it–I had been revolving around it like a planet,

and colliding with it like a comet half the night.

I explained how I had been employing myself, and why.

Then the landlord’s party left, and the rest of us set

about our preparations for breakfast, for the dawn was

ready to break. I glanced furtively at my pedometer,

and found I had made 47 miles. But I did not care, for I

had come out for a pedestrian tour anyway.


[Rafting Down the Neckar]

When the landlord learned that I and my agents were artists,

our party rose perceptibly in his esteem; we rose still

higher when he learned that we were making a pedestrian

tour of Europe.

He told us all about the Heidelberg road, and which

were the best places to avoid and which the best ones

to tarry at; he charged me less than cost for the things

I broke in the night; he put up a fine luncheon for us

and added to it a quantity of great light-green plums,

the pleasantest fruit in Germany; he was so anxious to do us

honor that he would not allow us to walk out of Heilbronn,

but called up Go”tz von Berlichingen’s horse and cab

and made us ride.

I made a sketch of the turnout. It is not a Work, it is only

what artists call a “study”–a thing to make a finished

picture from. This sketch has several blemishes in it;

for instance, the wagon is not traveling as fast as the

horse is. This is wrong. Again, the person trying to get

out of the way is too small; he is out of perspective,

as we say. The two upper lines are not the horse’s back,

they are the reigns; there seems to be a wheel missing–

this would be corrected in a finished Work, of course.

This thing flying out behind is not a flag, it is a curtain.

That other thing up there is the sun, but I didn’t get

enough distance on it. I do not remember, now, what that

thing is that is in front of the man who is running,

but I think it is a haystack or a woman. This study

was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1879, but did not

take any medal; they do not give medals for studies.

[Figure 3]

We discharged the carriage at the bridge. The river was

full of logs–long, slender, barkless pine logs–and we

leaned on the rails of the bridge, and watched the men put

them together into rafts. These rafts were of a shape

and construction to suit the crookedness and extreme

narrowness of the Neckar. They were from fifty to one

hundred yards long, and they gradually tapered from a

nine-log breadth at their sterns, to a three-log breadth

at their bow-ends. The main part of the steering is done

at the bow, with a pole; the three-log breadth there

furnishes room for only the steersman, for these little logs

are not larger around than an average young lady’s waist.

The connections of the several sections of the raft are

slack and pliant, so that the raft may be readily bent

into any sort of curve required by the shape of the river.

The Neckar is in many places so narrow that a person

can throw a dog across it, if he has one; when it is

also sharply curved in such places, the raftsman has

to do some pretty nice snug piloting to make the turns.

The river is not always allowed to spread over its whole

bed–which is as much as thirty, and sometimes forty yards

wide–but is split into three equal bodies of water,

by stone dikes which throw the main volume, depth, and current

into the central one. In low water these neat narrow-edged

dikes project four or five inches above the surface,

like the comb of a submerged roof, but in high water

they are overflowed. A hatful of rain makes high water

in the Neckar, and a basketful produces an overflow.

There are dikes abreast the Schloss Hotel, and the current

is violently swift at that point. I used to sit for hours

in my glass cage, watching the long, narrow rafts slip

along through the central channel, grazing the right-bank

dike and aiming carefully for the middle arch of the stone

bridge below; I watched them in this way, and lost all this

time hoping to see one of them hit the bridge-pier and wreck

itself sometime or other, but was always disappointed.

One was smashed there one morning, but I had just stepped

into my room a moment to light a pipe, so I lost it.

While I was looking down upon the rafts that morning

in Heilbronn, the daredevil spirit of adventure came

suddenly upon me, and I said to my comrades:

“_I_ am going to Heidelberg on a raft. Will you venture

with me?”

Their faces paled a little, but they assented with as

good a grace as they could. Harris wanted to cable his

mother–thought it his duty to do that, as he was all

she had in this world–so, while he attended to this,

I went down to the longest and finest raft and hailed

the captain with a hearty “Ahoy, shipmate!” which put us

upon pleasant terms at once, and we entered upon business.

I said we were on a pedestrian tour to Heidelberg,

and would like to take passage with him. I said this

partly through young Z, who spoke German very well,

and partly through Mr. X, who spoke it peculiarly. I can

UNDERSTAND German as well as the maniac that invented it,

but I TALK it best through an interpreter.

The captain hitched up his trousers, then shifted

his quid thoughtfully. Presently he said just what I

was expecting he would say–that he had no license

to carry passengers, and therefore was afraid the law

would be after him in case the matter got noised about

or any accident happened. So I CHARTERED the raft

and the crew and took all the responsibilities on myself.

With a rattling song the starboard watch bent to their

work and hove the cable short, then got the anchor home,

and our bark moved off with a stately stride, and soon

was bowling along at about two knots an hour.

Our party were grouped amidships. At first the talk was

a little gloomy, and ran mainly upon the shortness of life,

the uncertainty of it, the perils which beset it, and the

need and wisdom of being always prepared for the worst;

this shaded off into low-voiced references to the dangers

of the deep, and kindred matters; but as the gray east

began to redden and the mysterious solemnity and silence

of the dawn to give place to the joy-songs of the birds,

the talk took a cheerier tone, and our spirits began to

rise steadily.

Germany, in the summer, is the perfection of the beautiful,

but nobody has understood, and realized, and enjoyed

the utmost possibilities of this soft and peaceful

beauty unless he has voyaged down the Neckar on a raft.

The motion of a raft is the needful motion; it is gentle,

and gliding, and smooth, and noiseless; it calms down

all feverish activities, it soothes to sleep all nervous

hurry and impatience; under its restful influence all the

troubles and vexations and sorrows that harass the mind

vanish away, and existence becomes a dream, a charm,

a deep and tranquil ecstasy. How it contrasts with hot

and perspiring pedestrianism, and dusty and deafening

railroad rush, and tedious jolting behind tired horses

over blinding white roads!

We went slipping silently along, between the green and

fragrant banks, with a sense of pleasure and contentment

that grew, and grew, all the time. Sometimes the banks

were overhung with thick masses of willows that wholly

hid the ground behind; sometimes we had noble hills on

one hand, clothed densely with foliage to their tops,

and on the other hand open levels blazing with poppies,

or clothed in the rich blue of the corn-flower;

sometimes we drifted in the shadow of forests, and sometimes

along the margin of long stretches of velvety grass,

fresh and green and bright, a tireless charm to the eye.

And the birds!–they were everywhere; they swept back

and forth across the river constantly, and their jubilant

music was never stilled.

It was a deep and satisfying pleasure to see the sun

create the new morning, and gradually, patiently,

lovingly, clothe it on with splendor after splendor,

and glory after glory, till the miracle was complete.

How different is this marvel observed from a raft,

from what it is when one observes it through the dingy

windows of a railway-station in some wretched village

while he munches a petrified sandwich and waits for the train.


Down the River

[Charming Waterside Pictures]

Men and women and cattle were at work in the dewy fields

by this time. The people often stepped aboard the raft,

as we glided along the grassy shores, and gossiped with us

and with the crew for a hundred yards or so, then stepped

ashore again, refreshed by the ride.

Only the men did this; the women were too busy.

The women do all kinds of work on the continent. They dig,

they hoe, they reap, they sow, they bear monstrous burdens

on their backs, they shove similar ones long distances

on wheelbarrows, they drag the cart when there is no dog

or lean cow to drag it–and when there is, they assist

the dog or cow. Age is no matter–the older the woman

the stronger she is, apparently. On the farm a woman’s

duties are not defined–she does a little of everything;

but in the towns it is different, there she only does

certain things, the men do the rest. For instance,

a hotel chambermaid has nothing to do but make beds and

fires in fifty or sixty rooms, bring towels and candles,

and fetch several tons of water up several flights of stairs,

a hundred pounds at a time, in prodigious metal pitchers.

She does not have to work more than eighteen or twenty hours

a day, and she can always get down on her knees and scrub

the floors of halls and closets when she is tired and needs

a rest.

As the morning advanced and the weather grew hot, we took

off our outside clothing and sat in a row along the edge

of the raft and enjoyed the scenery, with our sun-umbrellas

over our heads and our legs dangling in the water.

Every now and then we plunged in and had a swim.

Every projecting grassy cape had its joyous group

of naked children, the boys to themselves and the girls

to themselves, the latter usually in care of some motherly

dame who sat in the shade of a tree with her knitting.

The little boys swam out to us, sometimes, but the little

maids stood knee-deep in the water and stopped their splashing

and frolicking to inspect the raft with their innocent

eyes as it drifted by. Once we turned a corner suddenly

and surprised a slender girl of twelve years or upward,

just stepping into the water. She had not time to run,

but she did what answered just as well; she promptly

drew a lithe young willow bough athwart her white body

with one hand, and then contemplated us with a simple and

untroubled interest. Thus she stood while we glided by.

She was a pretty creature, and she and her willow bough

made a very pretty picture, and one which could not

offend the modesty of the most fastidious spectator.

Her white skin had a low bank of fresh green willows for

background and effective contrast–for she stood against

them–and above and out of them projected the eager faces

and white shoulders of two smaller girls.

Toward noon we heard the inspiring cry:

“Sail ho!”

“Where away?” shouted the captain.

“Three points off the weather bow!”

We ran forward to see the vessel. It proved to be

a steamboat–for they had begun to run a steamer up

the Neckar, for the first time in May. She was a tug,

and one of a very peculiar build and aspect. I had

often watched her from the hotel, and wondered how she

propelled herself, for apparently she had no propeller

or paddles. She came churning along, now, making a deal

of noise of one kind or another, and aggravating it every

now and then by blowing a hoarse whistle. She had nine

keel-boats hitched on behind and following after her

in a long, slender rank. We met her in a narrow place,

between dikes, and there was hardly room for us both in the

cramped passage. As she went grinding and groaning by,

we perceived the secret of her moving impulse. She did

not drive herself up the river with paddles or propeller,

she pulled herself by hauling on a great chain.

This chain is laid in the bed of the river and is only

fastened at the two ends. It is seventy miles long.

It comes in over the boat’s bow, passes around a drum,

and is payed out astern. She pulls on that chain,

and so drags herself up the river or down it. She has

neither bow or stern, strictly speaking, for she has a

long-bladed rudder on each end and she never turns around.

She uses both rudders all the time, and they are powerful

enough to enable her to turn to the right or the left

and steer around curves, in spite of the strong resistance

of the chain. I would not have believed that that impossible

thing could be done; but I saw it done, and therefore I

know that there is one impossible thing which CAN be done.

What miracle will man attempt next?

We met many big keel-boats on their way up, using sails,

mule power, and profanity–a tedious and laborious business.

A wire rope led from the foretopmast to the file of mules

on the tow-path a hundred yards ahead, and by dint

of much banging and swearing and urging, the detachment

of drivers managed to get a speed of two or three miles

an hour out of the mules against the stiff current.

The Neckar has always been used as a canal, and thus

has given employment to a great many men and animals;

but now that this steamboat is able, with a small crew

and a bushel or so of coal, to take nine keel-boats farther

up the river in one hour than thirty men and thirty mules

can do it in two, it is believed that the old-fashioned

towing industry is on its death-bed. A second steamboat

began work in the Neckar three months after the first one

was put in service. [Figure 4]

At noon we stepped ashore and bought some bottled beer

and got some chickens cooked, while the raft waited;

then we immediately put to sea again, and had our

dinner while the beer was cold and the chickens hot.

There is no pleasanter place for such a meal than a raft

that is gliding down the winding Neckar past green meadows

and wooded hills, and slumbering villages, and craggy

heights graced with crumbling towers and battlements.

In one place we saw a nicely dressed German gentleman

without any spectacles. Before I could come to anchor

he had got underway. It was a great pity. I so wanted

to make a sketch of him. The captain comforted me

for my loss, however, by saying that the man was without

any doubt a fraud who had spectacles, but kept them

in his pocket in order to make himself conspicuous.

Below Hassmersheim we passed Hornberg, Go”tz von Berlichingen’s

old castle. It stands on a bold elevation two hundred feet

above the surface of the river; it has high vine-clad walls

enclosing trees, and a peaked tower about seventy-five

feet high. The steep hillside, from the castle clear

down to the water’s edge, is terraced, and clothed thick

with grape vines. This is like farming a mansard roof.

All the steeps along that part of the river which furnish

the proper exposure, are given up to the grape. That region

is a great producer of Rhine wines. The Germans are

exceedingly fond of Rhine wines; they are put up in tall,

slender bottles, and are considered a pleasant beverage.

One tells them from vinegar by the label.

The Hornberg hill is to be tunneled, and the new railway

will pass under the castle.


Two miles below Hornberg castle is a cave in a low cliff,

which the captain of the raft said had once been occupied

by a beautiful heiress of Hornberg–the Lady Gertrude–

in the old times. It was seven hundred years ago.

She had a number of rich and noble lovers and one poor

and obscure one, Sir Wendel Lobenfeld. With the native

chuckleheadedness of the heroine of romance, she preferred

the poor and obscure lover. With the native sound judgment

of the father of a heroine of romance, the von Berlichingen

of that day shut his daughter up in his donjon keep,

or his oubliette, or his culverin, or some such place,

and resolved that she should stay there until she selected

a husband from among her rich and noble lovers. The latter

visited her and persecuted her with their supplications,

but without effect, for her heart was true to her poor

despised Crusader, who was fighting in the Holy Land.

Finally, she resolved that she would endure the attentions

of the rich lovers no longer; so one stormy night she escaped

and went down the river and hid herself in the cave on

the other side. Her father ransacked the country for her,

but found not a trace of her. As the days went by,

and still no tidings of her came, his conscience began

to torture him, and he caused proclamation to be made

that if she were yet living and would return, he would

oppose her no longer, she might marry whom she would.

The months dragged on, all hope forsook the old man,

he ceased from his customary pursuits and pleasures,

he devoted himself to pious works, and longed for the

deliverance of death.

Now just at midnight, every night, the lost heiress stood

in the mouth of her cave, arrayed in white robes, and sang

a little love ballad which her Crusader had made for her.

She judged that if he came home alive the superstitious

peasants would tell him about the ghost that sang in the cave,

and that as soon as they described the ballad he would know

that none but he and she knew that song, therefore he would

suspect that she was alive, and would come and find her.

As time went on, the people of the region became sorely

distressed about the Specter of the Haunted Cave.

It was said that ill luck of one kind or another always

overtook any one who had the misfortune to hear that song.

Eventually, every calamity that happened thereabouts was

laid at the door of that music. Consequently, no boatmen

would consent to pass the cave at night; the peasants

shunned the place, even in the daytime.

But the faithful girl sang on, night after night,

month after month, and patiently waited; her reward

must come at last. Five years dragged by, and still,

every night at midnight, the plaintive tones floated out

over the silent land, while the distant boatmen and peasants

thrust their fingers into their ears and shuddered out a prayer.

And now came the Crusader home, bronzed and battle-scarred,

but bringing a great and splendid fame to lay at the feet

of his bride. The old lord of Hornberg received him as

his son, and wanted him to stay by him and be the comfort

and blessing of his age; but the tale of that young

girl’s devotion to him and its pathetic consequences

made a changed man of the knight. He could not enjoy

his well-earned rest. He said his heart was broken,

he would give the remnant of his life to high deeds

in the cause of humanity, and so find a worthy death

and a blessed reunion with the brave true heart whose

love had more honored him than all his victories in war.

When the people heard this resolve of his, they came and told

him there was a pitiless dragon in human disguise in the

Haunted Cave, a dread creature which no knight had yet been

bold enough to face, and begged him to rid the land of its

desolating presence. He said he would do it. They told

him about the song, and when he asked what song it was,

they said the memory of it was gone, for nobody had been

hardy enough to listen to it for the past four years and more.

Toward midnight the Crusader came floating down the river

in a boat, with his trusty cross-bow in his hands.

He drifted silently through the dim reflections of the

crags and trees, with his intent eyes fixed upon the low

cliff which he was approaching. As he drew nearer,

he discerned the black mouth of the cave. Now–is that

a white figure? Yes. The plaintive song begins to well

forth and float away over meadow and river–the cross-bow

is slowly raised to position, a steady aim is taken,

the bolt flies straight to the mark–the figure sinks down,

still singing, the knight takes the wool out of his ears,

and recognizes the old ballad–too late! Ah, if he had

only not put the wool in his ears!

The Crusader went away to the wars again, and presently

fell in battle, fighting for the Cross. Tradition says

that during several centuries the spirit of the unfortunate

girl sang nightly from the cave at midnight, but the music

carried no curse with it; and although many listened

for the mysterious sounds, few were favored, since only

those could hear them who had never failed in a trust.

It is believed that the singing still continues, but it is

known that nobody has heard it during the present century.


An Ancient Legend of the Rhine

[The Lorelei]

The last legend reminds one of the “Lorelei”–a legend

of the Rhine. There is a song called “The Lorelei.”

Germany is rich in folk-songs, and the words and airs of

several of them are peculiarly beautiful–but “The Lorelei”

is the people’s favorite. I could not endure it at first,

but by and by it began to take hold of me, and now there

is no tune which I like so well.

It is not possible that it is much known in America, else I

should have heard it there. The fact that I never heard

it there, is evidence that there are others in my country

who have fared likewise; therefore, for the sake of these,

I mean to print the words and music in this chapter.

And I will refresh the reader’s memory by printing the legend

of the Lorelei, too. I have it by me in the LEGENDS OF

THE RHINE, done into English by the wildly gifted Garnham,

Bachelor of Arts. I print the legend partly to refresh

my own memory, too, for I have never read it before.


Lore (two syllables) was a water nymph who used to sit

on a high rock called the Ley or Lei (pronounced like our

word LIE) in the Rhine, and lure boatmen to destruction

in a furious rapid which marred the channel at that spot.

She so bewitched them with her plaintive songs and her

wonderful beauty that they forgot everything else to gaze

up at her, and so they presently drifted among the broken

reefs and were lost.

In those old, old times, the Count Bruno lived in a great

castle near there with his son, the Count Hermann, a youth

of twenty. Hermann had heard a great deal about the

beautiful Lore, and had finally fallen very deeply in love

with her without having seen her. So he used to wander

to the neighborhood of the Lei, evenings, with his Zither

and “Express his Longing in low Singing,” as Garnham says.

On one of these occasions, “suddenly there hovered around

the top of the rock a brightness of unequaled clearness

and color, which, in increasingly smaller circles thickened,

was the enchanting figure of the beautiful Lore.

“An unintentional cry of Joy escaped the Youth, he let

his Zither fall, and with extended arms he called out

the name of the enigmatical Being, who seemed to stoop

lovingly to him and beckon to him in a friendly manner;

indeed, if his ear did not deceive him, she called his

name with unutterable sweet Whispers, proper to love.

Beside himself with delight the youth lost his Senses

and sank senseless to the earth.”

After that he was a changed person. He went dreaming about,

thinking only of his fairy and caring for naught else

in the world. “The old count saw with affliction this

changement in his son,” whose cause he could not divine,

and tried to divert his mind into cheerful channels,

but to no purpose. Then the old count used authority.

He commanded the youth to betake himself to the camp.

Obedience was promised. Garnham says:

“It was on the evening before his departure, as he

wished still once to visit the Lei and offer to the

Nymph of the Rhine his Sighs, the tones of his Zither,

and his Songs. He went, in his boat, this time accompanied

by a faithful squire, down the stream. The moon shed

her silvery light over the whole country; the steep

bank mountains appeared in the most fantastical shapes,

and the high oaks on either side bowed their Branches

on Hermann’s passing. As soon as he approached the Lei,

and was aware of the surf-waves, his attendant was seized

with an inexpressible Anxiety and he begged permission

to land; but the Knight swept the strings of his Guitar

and sang:

“Once I saw thee in dark night, In supernatural Beauty bright;

Of Light-rays, was the Figure wove, To share its light,

locked-hair strove.

“Thy Garment color wave-dove By thy hand the sign of love,

Thy eyes sweet enchantment, Raying to me, oh! enchantment.

“O, wert thou but my sweetheart, How willingly thy love

to part! With delight I should be bound To thy rocky

house in deep ground.”

That Hermann should have gone to that place at all,

was not wise; that he should have gone with such a song

as that in his mouth was a most serious mistake. The Lorelei

did not “call his name in unutterable sweet Whispers”

this time. No, that song naturally worked an instant

and thorough “changement” in her; and not only that,

but it stirred the bowels of the whole afflicted region

around about there–for–

“Scarcely had these tones sounded, everywhere there

began tumult and sound, as if voices above and below

the water. On the Lei rose flames, the Fairy stood above,

at that time, and beckoned with her right hand clearly

and urgently to the infatuated Knight, while with a staff

in her left hand she called the waves to her service.

They began to mount heavenward; the boat was upset,

mocking every exertion; the waves rose to the gunwale,

and splitting on the hard stones, the Boat broke into Pieces.

The youth sank into the depths, but the squire was thrown on

shore by a powerful wave.”

The bitterest things have been said about the Lorelei

during many centuries, but surely her conduct upon this

occasion entitles her to our respect. One feels drawn

tenderly toward her and is moved to forget her many crimes

and remember only the good deed that crowned and closed

her career.

“The Fairy was never more seen; but her enchanting tones have

often been heard. In the beautiful, refreshing, still nights

of spring, when the moon pours her silver light over the Country,

the listening shipper hears from the rushing of the waves,

the echoing Clang of a wonderfully charming voice,

which sings a song from the crystal castle, and with sorrow

and fear he thinks on the young Count Hermann, seduced by the


Here is the music, and the German words by Heinrich Heine.

This song has been a favorite in Germany for forty years,

and will remain a favorite always, maybe. [Figure 5]

I have a prejudice against people who print things

in a foreign language and add no translation.

When I am the reader, and the author considers me

able to do the translating myself, he pays me quite

a nice compliment–but if he would do the translating

for me I would try to get along without the compliment.

If I were at home, no doubt I could get a translation of

this poem, but I am abroad and can’t; therefore I will make

a translation myself. It may not be a good one, for poetry

is out of my line, but it will serve my purpose–which is,

to give the unGerman young girl a jingle of words to hang

the tune on until she can get hold of a good version,

made by some one who is a poet and knows how to convey

a poetical thought from one language to another.


I cannot divine what it meaneth, This haunting nameless

pain: A tale of the bygone ages Keeps brooding through

my brain:

The faint air cools in the glooming, And peaceful flows

the Rhine, The thirsty summits are drinking The sunset’s

flooding wine;

The loveliest maiden is sitting High-throned in yon blue air,

Her golden jewels are shining, She combs her golden hair;

She combs with a comb that is golden, And sings a weird

refrain That steeps in a deadly enchantment The list’ner’s

ravished brain:

The doomed in his drifting shallop, Is tranced with

the sad sweet tone, He sees not the yawning breakers,

He sees but the maid alone:

The pitiless billows engulf him!–So perish sailor and bark;

And this, with her baleful singing, Is the Lorelei’s

gruesome work.

I have a translation by Garnham, Bachelor of Arts,

in the LEGENDS OF THE RHINE, but it would not answer

the purpose I mentioned above, because the measure is too

nobly irregular; it don’t fit the tune snugly enough;

in places it hangs over at the ends too far, and in other

places one runs out of words before he gets to the end

of a bar. Still, Garnham’s translation has high merits,

and I am not dreaming of leaving it out of my book.

I believe this poet is wholly unknown in America and England;

I take peculiar pleasure in bringing him forward because I

consider that I discovered him:


Translated by L. W. Garnham, B.A.

I do not know what it signifies. That I am so sorrowful?

A fable of old Times so terrifies, Leaves my heart

so thoughtful.

The air is cool and it darkens, And calmly flows the Rhine;

The summit of the mountain hearkens In evening sunshine line.

The most beautiful Maiden entrances Above wonderfully there,

Her beautiful golden attire glances, She combs her

golden hair.

With golden comb so lustrous, And thereby a song sings,

It has a tone so wondrous, That powerful melody rings.

The shipper in the little ship It effects with woe sad might;

He does not see the rocky slip, He only regards dreaded height.

I believe the turbulent waves Swallow the last shipper

and boat; She with her singing craves All to visit her

magic moat.

No translation could be closer. He has got in all

the facts; and in their regular order, too. There is not

a statistic wanting. It is as succinct as an invoice.

That is what a translation ought to be; it should exactly

reflect the thought of the original. You can’t SING “Above

wonderfully there,” because it simply won’t go to the tune,

without damaging the singer; but it is a most clingingly exact

translation of DORT OBEN WUNDERBAR–fits it like a blister.

Mr. Garnham’s reproduction has other merits–a hundred

of them–but it is not necessary to point them out.

They will be detected.

No one with a specialty can hope to have a monopoly of it.

Even Garnham has a rival. Mr. X had a small pamphlet

with him which he had bought while on a visit to Munich.


and was written in a peculiar kind of English. Here are

a few extracts:

“It is not permitted to make use of the work

in question to a publication of the same contents

as well as to the pirated edition of it.”

“An evening landscape. In the foreground near a pond

and a group of white beeches is leading a footpath

animated by travelers.”

“A learned man in a cynical and torn dress holding an open

book in his hand.”

“St. Bartholomew and the Executioner with the knife

to fulfil the martyr.”

“Portrait of a young man. A long while this picture

was thought to be Bindi Altoviti’s portrait; now somebody

will again have it to be the self-portrait of Raphael.”

“Susan bathing, surprised by the two old man.

In the background the lapidation of the condemned.”

(“Lapidation” is good; it is much more elegant than


“St. Rochus sitting in a landscape with an angel who looks

at his plague-sore, whilst the dog the bread in his mouth

attents him.”

“Spring. The Goddess Flora, sitting. Behind her a fertile

valley perfused by a river.”

“A beautiful bouquet animated by May-bugs, etc.”

“A warrior in armor with a gypseous pipe in his hand leans

against a table and blows the smoke far away of himself.”

“A Dutch landscape along a navigable river which perfuses

it till to the background.”

“Some peasants singing in a cottage. A woman lets drink

a child out of a cup.”

“St. John’s head as a boy–painted in fresco on a brick.”

(Meaning a tile.)

“A young man of the Riccio family, his hair cut off

right at the end, dressed in black with the same cap.

Attributed to Raphael, but the signation is false.”

“The Virgin holding the Infant. It is very painted

in the manner of Sassoferrato.”

“A Larder with greens and dead game animated by a cook-maid

and two kitchen-boys.”

However, the English of this catalogue is at least

as happy as that which distinguishes an inscription

upon a certain picture in Rome–to wit:

“Revelations-View. St. John in Patterson’s Island.”

But meanwhile the raft is moving on.


[Why Germans Wear Spectacles]

A mile or two above Eberbach we saw a peculiar ruin projecting

above the foliage which clothed the peak of a high and

very steep hill. This ruin consisted of merely a couple

of crumbling masses of masonry which bore a rude resemblance

to human faces; they leaned forward and touched foreheads,

and had the look of being absorbed in conversation. This ruin

had nothing very imposing or picturesque about it, and there

was no great deal of it, yet it was called the “Spectacular



The captain of the raft, who was as full of history as he

could stick, said that in the Middle Ages a most prodigious

fire-breathing dragon used to live in that region,

and made more trouble than a tax-collector. He was as long

as a railway-train, and had the customary impenetrable

green scales all over him. His breath bred pestilence

and conflagration, and his appetite bred famine. He ate

men and cattle impartially, and was exceedingly unpopular.

The German emperor of that day made the usual offer:

he would grant to the destroyer of the dragon, any one

solitary thing he might ask for; for he had a surplusage

of daughters, and it was customary for dragon-killers

to take a daughter for pay.

So the most renowned knights came from the four corners

of the earth and retired down the dragon’s throat one after

the other. A panic arose and spread. Heroes grew cautious.

The procession ceased. The dragon became more destructive

than ever. The people lost all hope of succor, and fled

to the mountains for refuge.

At last Sir Wissenschaft, a poor and obscure knight,

out of a far country, arrived to do battle with the monster.

A pitiable object he was, with his armor hanging in rags

about him, and his strange-shaped knapsack strapped

upon his back. Everybody turned up their noses at him,

and some openly jeered him. But he was calm. He simply

inquired if the emperor’s offer was still in force.

The emperor said it was–but charitably advised him to go

and hunt hares and not endanger so precious a life as his

in an attempt which had brought death to so many of the

world’s most illustrious heroes.

But this tramp only asked–“Were any of these heroes

men of science?” This raised a laugh, of course,

for science was despised in those days. But the tramp

was not in the least ruffled. He said he might be a

little in advance of his age, but no matter–science

would come to be honored, some time or other. He said

he would march against the dragon in the morning.

Out of compassion, then, a decent spear was offered him,

but he declined, and said, “spears were useless to men

of science.” They allowed him to sup in the servants’

hall, and gave him a bed in the stables.

When he started forth in the morning, thousands were

gathered to see. The emperor said:

“Do not be rash, take a spear, and leave off your knapsack.”

But the tramp said:

“It is not a knapsack,” and moved straight on.

The dragon was waiting and ready. He was breathing forth

vast volumes of sulphurous smoke and lurid blasts of flame.

The ragged knight stole warily to a good position,

then he unslung his cylindrical knapsack–which was simply

the common fire-extinguisher known to modern times–

and the first chance he got he turned on his hose and shot

the dragon square in the center of his cavernous mouth.

Out went the fires in an instant, and the dragon curled up

and died.

This man had brought brains to his aid. He had reared

dragons from the egg, in his laboratory, he had watched

over them like a mother, and patiently studied them

and experimented upon them while they grew. Thus he had

found out that fire was the life principle of a dragon;

put out the dragon’s fires and it could make steam

no longer, and must die. He could not put out a fire

with a spear, therefore he invented the extinguisher.

The dragon being dead, the emperor fell on the hero’s neck

and said:

“Deliverer, name your request,” at the same time beckoning

out behind with his heel for a detachment of his daughters

to form and advance. But the tramp gave them no observance.

He simply said:

“My request is, that upon me be conferred the monopoly

of the manufacture and sale of spectacles in Germany.”

The emperor sprang aside and exclaimed:

“This transcends all the impudence I ever heard! A

modest demand, by my halidome! Why didn’t you ask

for the imperial revenues at once, and be done with it?”

But the monarch had given his word, and he kept it.

To everybody’s surprise, the unselfish monopolist immediately

reduced the price of spectacles to such a degree that a

great and crushing burden was removed from the nation.

The emperor, to commemorate this generous act, and to

testify his appreciation of it, issued a decree commanding

everybody to buy this benefactor’s spectacles and wear them,

whether they needed them or not.

So originated the wide-spread custom of wearing

spectacles in Germany; and as a custom once established

in these old lands is imperishable, this one remains

universal in the empire to this day. Such is the legend

of the monopolist’s once stately and sumptuous castle,

now called the “Spectacular Ruin.”

On the right bank, two or three miles below the Spectacular

Ruin, we passed by a noble pile of castellated buildings

overlooking the water from the crest of a lofty elevation.

A stretch of two hundred yards of the high front wall

was heavily draped with ivy, and out of the mass of

buildings within rose three picturesque old towers.

The place was in fine order, and was inhabited by a

family of princely rank. This castle had its legend,

too, but I should not feel justified in repeating

it because I doubted the truth of some of its minor details.

Along in this region a multitude of Italian laborers

were blasting away the frontage of the hills to make

room for the new railway. They were fifty or a hundred

feet above the river. As we turned a sharp corner they

began to wave signals and shout warnings to us to look

out for the explosions. It was all very well to warn us,

but what could WE do? You can’t back a raft upstream,

you can’t hurry it downstream, you can’t scatter out

to one side when you haven’t any room to speak of,

you won’t take to the perpendicular cliffs on the other

shore when they appear to be blasting there, too.

Your resources are limited, you see. There is simply

nothing for it but to watch and pray.

For some hours we had been making three and a half or four

miles an hour and we were still making that. We had been

dancing right along until those men began to shout;

then for the next ten minutes it seemed to me that I had

never seen a raft go so slowly. When the first blast went

off we raised our sun-umbrellas and waited for the result.

No harm done; none of the stones fell in the water.

Another blast followed, and another and another.

Some of the rubbish fell in the water just astern

of us.

We ran that whole battery of nine blasts in a row, and it

was certainly one of the most exciting and uncomfortable

weeks I ever spent, either aship or ashore. Of course

we frequently manned the poles and shoved earnestly

for a second or so, but every time one of those spurts

of dust and debris shot aloft every man dropped his pole

and looked up to get the bearings of his share of it.

It was very busy times along there for a while.

It appeared certain that we must perish, but even that was

not the bitterest thought; no, the abjectly unheroic nature

of the death–that was the sting–that and the bizarre

wording of the resulting obituary: “SHOT WITH A ROCK,

ON A RAFT.” There would be no poetry written about it.

None COULD be written about it. Example:

NOT by war’s shock, or war’s shaft,–SHOT, with a rock,

on a raft.

No poet who valued his reputation would touch such a

theme as that. I should be distinguished as the only

“distinguished dead” who went down to the grave unsonneted,

in 1878.

But we escaped, and I have never regretted it.

The last blast was peculiarly strong one, and after

the small rubbish was done raining around us and we

were just going to shake hands over our deliverance,

a later and larger stone came down amongst our little

group of pedestrians and wrecked an umbrella. It did

no other harm, but we took to the water just the same.

It seems that the heavy work in the quarries and the

new railway gradings is done mainly by Italians.

That was a revelation. We have the notion in our country

that Italians never do heavy work at all, but confine

themselves to the lighter arts, like organ-grinding,

operatic singing, and assassination. We have blundered,

that is plain.

All along the river, near every village, we saw little

station-houses for the future railway. They were

finished and waiting for the rails and business.

They were as trim and snug and pretty as they could be.

They were always of brick or stone; they were of graceful

shape, they had vines and flowers about them already,

and around them the grass was bright and green,

and showed that it was carefully looked after. They were

a decoration to the beautiful landscape, not an offense.

Wherever one saw a pile of gravel or a pile of broken stone,

it was always heaped as trimly and exactly as a new grave

or a stack of cannon-balls; nothing about those stations

or along the railroad or the wagon-road was allowed

to look shabby or be unornamental. The keeping a country

in such beautiful order as Germany exhibits, has a wise

practical side to it, too, for it keeps thousands of people

in work and bread who would otherwise be idle and mischievous.

As the night shut down, the captain wanted to tie up,

but I thought maybe we might make Hirschhorn, so we went on.

Presently the sky became overcast, and the captain came

aft looking uneasy. He cast his eye aloft, then shook

his head, and said it was coming on to blow. My party

wanted to land at once–therefore I wanted to go on.

The captain said we ought to shorten sail anyway,

out of common prudence. Consequently, the larboard watch

was ordered to lay in his pole. It grew quite dark,

now, and the wind began to rise. It wailed through

the swaying branches of the trees, and swept our decks

in fitful gusts. Things were taking on an ugly look.

The captain shouted to the steersman on the forward


“How’s she landing?”

The answer came faint and hoarse from far forward:

“Nor’-east-and-by-nor’–east-by-east, half-east, sir.”

“Let her go off a point!”

“Aye-aye, sir!”

“What water have you got?”

“Shoal, sir. Two foot large, on the stabboard,

two and a half scant on the labboard!”

“Let her go off another point!”

“Aye-aye, sir!”

“Forward, men, all of you! Lively, now! Stand by to crowd

her round the weather corner!”

“Aye-aye, sir!”

Then followed a wild running and trampling and hoarse shouting,

but the forms of the men were lost in the darkness and

the sounds were distorted and confused by the roaring

of the wind through the shingle-bundles. By this time

the sea was running inches high, and threatening every

moment to engulf the frail bark. Now came the mate,

hurrying aft, and said, close to the captain’s ear,

in a low, agitated voice:

“Prepare for the worst, sir–we have sprung a leak!”

“Heavens! where?”

“Right aft the second row of logs.”

“Nothing but a miracle can save us! Don’t let the men know,

or there will be a panic and mutiny! Lay her in shore

and stand by to jump with the stern-line the moment

she touches. Gentlemen, I must look to you to second

my endeavors in this hour of peril. You have hats–go

forward and bail for your lives!”

Down swept another mighty blast of wind, clothed in

spray and thick darkness. At such a moment as this,

came from away forward that most appalling of all cries

that are ever heard at sea:


The captain shouted:

“Hard a-port! Never mind the man! Let him climb aboard

or wade ashore!”

Another cry came down the wind:

“Breakers ahead!”

“Where away?”

“Not a log’s length off her port fore-foot!”

We had groped our slippery way forward, and were now

bailing with the frenzy of despair, when we heard

the mate’s terrified cry, from far aft:

“Stop that dashed bailing, or we shall be aground!”

But this was immediately followed by the glad shout:

“Land aboard the starboard transom!”

“Saved!” cried the captain. “Jump ashore and take a turn

around a tree and pass the bight aboard!”

The next moment we were all on shore weeping and embracing

for joy, while the rain poured down in torrents.

The captain said he had been a mariner for forty years

on the Neckar, and in that time had seen storms to make

a man’s cheek blanch and his pulses stop, but he had never,

never seen a storm that even approached this one.

How familiar that sounded! For I have been at sea a good

deal and have heard that remark from captains with a

frequency accordingly.

We framed in our minds the usual resolution of thanks

and admiration and gratitude, and took the first

opportunity to vote it, and put it in writing and

present it to the captain, with the customary speech.

We tramped through the darkness and the drenching summer

rain full three miles, and reached “The Naturalist Tavern”

in the village of Hirschhorn just an hour before midnight,

almost exhausted from hardship, fatigue, and terror.

I can never forget that night.

The landlord was rich, and therefore could afford to be

crusty and disobliging; he did not at all like being

turned out of his warm bed to open his house for us.

But no matter, his household got up and cooked a quick

supper for us, and we brewed a hot punch for ourselves,

to keep off consumption. After supper and punch we

had an hour’s soothing smoke while we fought the naval

battle over again and voted the resolutions; then we

retired to exceedingly neat and pretty chambers upstairs

that had clean, comfortable beds in them with heirloom

pillowcases most elaborately and tastefully embroidered

by hand.

Such rooms and beds and embroidered linen are as frequent

in German village inns as they are rare in ours.

Our villages are superior to German villages in

more merits, excellences, conveniences, and privileges

than I can enumerate, but the hotels do not belong in the list.

“The Naturalist Tavern” was not a meaningless name; for all

the halls and all the rooms were lined with large glass

cases which were filled with all sorts of birds and animals,

glass-eyed, ably stuffed, and set up in the most natural

eloquent and dramatic attitudes. The moment we were abed,

the rain cleared away and the moon came out. I dozed off

to sleep while contemplating a great white stuffed owl

which was looking intently down on me from a high perch

with the air of a person who thought he had met me before,

but could not make out for certain.

But young Z did not get off so easily. He said that as he was

sinking deliciously to sleep, the moon lifted away the shadows

and developed a huge cat, on a bracket, dead and stuffed,

but crouching, with every muscle tense, for a spring,

and with its glittering glass eyes aimed straight at him.

It made Z uncomfortable. He tried closing his own eyes,

but that did not answer, for a natural instinct kept

making him open them again to see if the cat was still

getting ready to launch at him–which she always was.

He tried turning his back, but that was a failure;

he knew the sinister eyes were on him still. So at

last he had to get up, after an hour or two of worry

and experiment, and set the cat out in the hall. So he won,

that time.


[The Kindly Courtesy of Germans]

In the morning we took breakfast in the garden,

under the trees, in the delightful German summer fashion.

The air was filled with the fragrance of flowers

and wild animals; the living portion of the menagerie

of the “Naturalist Tavern” was all about us. There were

great cages populous with fluttering and chattering

foreign birds, and other great cages and greater wire pens,

populous with quadrupeds, both native and foreign.

There were some free creatures, too, and quite sociable

ones they were. White rabbits went loping about the place,

and occasionally came and sniffed at our shoes and shins;

a fawn, with a red ribbon on its neck, walked up and

examined us fearlessly; rare breeds of chickens and

doves begged for crumbs, and a poor old tailless raven

hopped about with a humble, shamefaced mein which said,

“Please do not notice my exposure–think how you would

feel in my circumstances, and be charitable.” If he

was observed too much, he would retire behind something

and stay there until he judged the party’s interest had

found another object. I never have seen another dumb

creature that was so morbidly sensitive. Bayard Taylor,

who could interpret the dim reasonings of animals,

and understood their moral natures better than most men,

would have found some way to make this poor old chap forget

his troubles for a while, but we have not his kindly art,

and so had to leave the raven to his griefs.

After breakfast we climbed the hill and visited the ancient

castle of Hirschhorn, and the ruined church near it.

There were some curious old bas-reliefs leaning against

the inner walls of the church–sculptured lords of

Hirschhorn in complete armor, and ladies of Hirschhorn

in the picturesque court costumes of the Middle Ages.

These things are suffering damage and passing to decay,

for the last Hirschhorn has been dead two hundred years,

and there is nobody now who cares to preserve the family relics.

In the chancel was a twisted stone column, and the captain

told us a legend about it, of course, for in the matter

of legends he could not seem to restrain himself; but I

do not repeat his tale because there was nothing plausible

about it except that the Hero wrenched this column into its

present screw-shape with his hands –just one single wrench.

All the rest of the legend was doubtful.

But Hirschhorn is best seen from a distance, down the river.

Then the clustered brown towers perched on the green hilltop,

and the old battlemented stone wall, stretching up and over

the grassy ridge and disappearing in the leafy sea beyond,

make a picture whose grace and beauty entirely satisfy

the eye.

We descended from the church by steep stone stairways

which curved this way and that down narrow alleys

between the packed and dirty tenements of the village.

It was a quarter well stocked with deformed, leering,

unkempt and uncombed idiots, who held out hands or caps

and begged piteously. The people of the quarter were not

all idiots, of course, but all that begged seemed to be,

and were said to be.

I was thinking of going by skiff to the next town,

Necharsteinach; so I ran to the riverside in advance of

the party and asked a man there if he had a boat to hire.

I suppose I must have spoken High German–Court German–I

intended it for that, anyway–so he did not understand me.

I turned and twisted my question around and about,

trying to strike that man’s average, but failed.

He could not make out what I wanted. Now Mr. X arrived,

faced this same man, looked him in the eye, and emptied

this sentence on him, in the most glib and confident way:

“Can man boat get here?”

The mariner promptly understood and promptly answered.

I can comprehend why he was able to understand that

particular sentence, because by mere accident all the

words in it except “get” have the same sound and the same

meaning in German that they have in English; but how he

managed to understand Mr. X’s next remark puzzled me.

I will insert it, presently. X turned away a moment,

and I asked the mariner if he could not find a board,

and so construct an additional seat. I spoke in the

purest German, but I might as well have spoken in the

purest Choctaw for all the good it did. The man tried

his best to understand me; he tried, and kept on trying,

harder and harder, until I saw it was really of no use,

and said:

“There, don’t strain yourself–it is of no consequence.”

Then X turned to him and crisply said:

“MACHEN SIE a flat board.”

I wish my epitaph may tell the truth about me if the man

did not answer up at once, and say he would go and borrow

a board as soon as he had lit the pipe which he was filling.

We changed our mind about taking a boat, so we did not have

to go. I have given Mr. X’s two remarks just as he made them.

Four of the five words in the first one were English,

and that they were also German was only accidental,

not intentional; three out of the five words in the second

remark were English, and English only, and the two German

ones did not mean anything in particular, in such a connection.

X always spoke English to Germans, but his plan was

to turn the sentence wrong end first and upside down,

according to German construction, and sprinkle in a German

word without any essential meaning to it, here and there,

by way of flavor. Yet he always made himself understood.

He could make those dialect-speaking raftsmen understand

him, sometimes, when even young Z had failed with them;

and young Z was a pretty good German scholar. For one thing,

X always spoke with such confidence–perhaps that helped.

And possibly the raftsmen’s dialect was what is called

PLATT-DEUTSCH, and so they found his English more familiar

to their ears than another man’s German. Quite indifferent

students of German can read Fritz Reuter’s charming

platt-Deutch tales with some little facility because many

of the words are English. I suppose this is the tongue

which our Saxon ancestors carried to England with them.

By and by I will inquire of some other philologist.

However, in the mean time it had transpired that the men

employed to calk the raft had found that the leak was not

a leak at all, but only a crack between the logs–a crack

that belonged there, and was not dangerous, but had been

magnified into a leak by the disordered imagination of

the mate. Therefore we went aboard again with a good degree

of confidence, and presently got to sea without accident.

As we swam smoothly along between the enchanting shores,

we fell to swapping notes about manners and customs

in Germany and elsewhere.

As I write, now, many months later, I perceive that each of us,

by observing and noting and inquiring, diligently and day

by day, had managed to lay in a most varied and opulent

stock of misinformation. But this is not surprising;

it is very difficult to get accurate details in any country.

For example, I had the idea once, in Heidelberg,

to find out all about those five student-corps. I started

with the White Cap corps. I began to inquire of this

and that and the other citizen, and here is what I found


1. It is called the Prussian Corps, because none

but Prussians are admitted to it.

2. It is called the Prussian Corps for no particular reason.

It has simply pleased each corps to name itself after

some German state.

3. It is not named the Prussian Corps at all, but only

the White Cap Corps.

4. Any student can belong to it who is a German by birth.

5. Any student can belong to it who is European by birth.

6. Any European-born student can belong to it, except he

be a Frenchman.

7. Any student can belong to it, no matter where he

was born.

8. No student can belong to it who is not of noble blood.

9. No student can belong to it who cannot show three full

generations of noble descent.

10. Nobility is not a necessary qualification.

11. No moneyless student can belong to it.

12. Money qualification is nonsense–such a thing has

never been thought of.

I got some of this information from students themselves–

students who did not belong to the corps.

I finally went to headquarters–to the White Caps–where I

would have gone in the first place if I had been acquainted.

But even at headquarters I found difficulties; I perceived

that there were things about the White Cap Corps which

one member knew and another one didn’t. It was natural;

for very few members of any organization know ALL that can

be known about it. I doubt there is a man or a woman

in Heidelberg who would not answer promptly and confidently

three out of every five questions about the White Cap Corps

which a stranger might ask; yet it is a very safe bet

that two of the three answers would be incorrect every time.

There is one German custom which is universal–the bowing

courteously to strangers when sitting down at table or

rising up from it. This bow startles a stranger out of his

self-possession, the first time it occurs, and he is likely

to fall over a chair or something, in his embarrassment,

but it pleases him, nevertheless. One soon learns to expect

this bow and be on the lookout and ready to return it;

but to learn to lead off and make the initial bow

one’s self is a difficult matter for a diffident man.

One thinks, “If I rise to go, and tender my box,

and these ladies and gentlemen take it into their heads

to ignore the custom of their nation, and not return it,

how shall I feel, in case I survive to feel anything.”

Therefore he is afraid to venture. He sits out the dinner,

and makes the strangers rise first and originate the bowing.

A table d’ho^te dinner is a tedious affair for a man

who seldom touches anything after the three first courses;

therefore I used to do some pretty dreary waiting

because of my fears. It took me months to assure myself

that those fears were groundless, but I did assure myself

at last by experimenting diligently through my agent.

I made Harris get up and bow and leave; invariably his bow

was returned, then I got up and bowed myself and retired.

Thus my education proceeded easily and comfortably for me,

but not for Harris. Three courses of a table d’ho^te

dinner were enough for me, but Harris preferred thirteen.

Even after I had acquired full confidence, and no longer needed

the agent’s help, I sometimes encountered difficulties.

Once at Baden-Baden I nearly lost a train because I could

not be sure that three young ladies opposite me at table

were Germans, since I had not heard them speak; they might

be American, they might be English, it was not safe to venture

a bow; but just as I had got that far with my thought,

one of them began a German remark, to my great relief

and gratitude; and before she got out her third word,

our bows had been delivered and graciously returned,

and we were off.

There is a friendly something about the German character

which is very winning. When Harris and I were making

a pedestrian tour through the Black Forest, we stopped at

a little country inn for dinner one day; two young ladies

and a young gentleman entered and sat down opposite us.

They were pedestrians, too. Our knapsacks were strapped

upon our backs, but they had a sturdy youth along to carry

theirs for them. All parties were hungry, so there was

no talking. By and by the usual bows were exchanged,

and we separated.

As we sat at a late breakfast in the hotel at Allerheiligen,

next morning, these young people and took places

near us without observing us; but presently they saw

us and at once bowed and smiled; not ceremoniously,

but with the gratified look of people who have found

acquaintances where they were expecting strangers.

Then they spoke of the weather and the roads. We also

spoke of the weather and the roads. Next, they said they

had had an enjoyable walk, notwithstanding the weather.

We said that that had been our case, too. Then they said

they had walked thirty English miles the day before,

and asked how many we had walked. I could not lie, so I

told Harris to do it. Harris told them we had made thirty

English miles, too. That was true; we had “made” them,

though we had had a little assistance here and there.

After breakfast they found us trying to blast some

information out of the dumb hotel clerk about routes,

and observing that we were not succeeding pretty well,

they went and got their maps and things, and pointed

out and explained our course so clearly that even a New

York detective could have followed it. And when we

started they spoke out a hearty good-by and wished us

a pleasant journey. Perhaps they were more generous

with us than they might have been with native wayfarers

because we were a forlorn lot and in a strange land;

I don’t know; I only know it was lovely to be treated so.

Very well, I took an American young lady to one of the fine

balls in Baden-Baden, one night, and at the entrance-door

upstairs we were halted by an official–something about Miss

Jones’s dress was not according to rule; I don’t remember

what it was, now; something was wanting–her back hair,

or a shawl, or a fan, or a shovel, or something.

The official was ever so polite, and every so sorry,

but the rule was strict, and he could not let us in.

It was very embarrassing, for many eyes were on us.

But now a richly dressed girl stepped out of the ballroom,

inquired into the trouble, and said she could fix it in

a moment. She took Miss Jones to the robing-room, and soon

brought her back in regulation trim, and then we entered

the ballroom with this benefactress unchallenged.

Being safe, now, I began to puzzle through my sincere

but ungrammatical thanks, when there was a sudden mutual

recognition –the benefactress and I had met at Allerheiligen.

Two weeks had not altered her good face, and plainly

her heart was in the right place yet, but there was such

a difference between these clothes and the clothes I

had seen her in before, when she was walking thirty miles

a day in the Black Forest, that it was quite natural

that I had failed to recognize her sooner. I had on MY

other suit, too, but my German would betray me to a person

who had heard it once, anyway. She brought her brother

and sister, and they made our way smooth for that evening.

Well–months afterward, I was driving through the streets

of Munich in a cab with a German lady, one day, when she


“There, that is Prince Ludwig and his wife, walking along there.”

Everybody was bowing to them–cabmen, little children,

and everybody else–and they were returning all the bows

and overlooking nobody, when a young lady met them and made

a deep courtesy.

“That is probably one of the ladies of the court,”

said my German friend.

I said:

“She is an honor to it, then. I know her. I don’t know

her name, but I know HER. I have known her at Allerheiligen

and Baden-Baden. She ought to be an Empress, but she

may be only a Duchess; it is the way things go in this way.”

If one asks a German a civil question, he will be quite

sure to get a civil answer. If you stop a German in the

street and ask him to direct you to a certain place,

he shows no sign of feeling offended. If the place be

difficult to find, ten to one the man will drop his own

matters and go with you and show you.

In London, too, many a time, strangers have walked several

blocks with me to show me my way.

There is something very real about this sort of politeness.

Quite often, in Germany, shopkeepers who could not furnish

me the article I wanted have sent one of their employees

with me to show me a place where it could be had.


[The Deadly Jest of Dilsberg]

However, I wander from the raft. We made the port

of Necharsteinach in good season, and went to the hotel

and ordered a trout dinner, the same to be ready

against our return from a two-hour pedestrian excursion

to the village and castle of Dilsberg, a mile distant,

on the other side of the river. I do not mean that we

proposed to be two hours making two miles–no, we meant

to employ most of the time in inspecting Dilsberg.

For Dilsberg is a quaint place. It is most quaintly

and picturesquely situated, too. Imagine the beautiful

river before you; then a few rods of brilliant green sward

on its opposite shore; then a sudden hill–no preparatory

gently rising slopes, but a sort of instantaneous hill–

a hill two hundred and fifty or three hundred feet high,

as round as a bowl, with the same taper upward that an

inverted bowl has, and with about the same relation

of height to diameter that distinguishes a bowl of good

honest depth–a hill which is thickly clothed with

green bushes–a comely, shapely hill, rising abruptly

out of the dead level of the surrounding green plains,

visible from a great distance down the bends of the river,

and with just exactly room on the top of its head

for its steepled and turreted and roof-clustered cap

of architecture, which same is tightly jammed and compacted

within the perfectly round hoop of the ancient village wall.

There is no house outside the wall on the whole hill,

or any vestige of a former house; all the houses are

inside the wall, but there isn’t room for another one.

It is really a finished town, and has been finished

a very long time. There is no space between the wall

and the first circle of buildings; no, the village wall

is itself the rear wall of the first circle of buildings,

a nd the roofs jut a little over the wall a nd thus

furnish it with eaves. The general level of the massed

roofs is gracefully broken and relieved by the dominating

towers of the ruined castle and the tall spires of a

couple of churches; so, from a distance Dilsberg has

rather more the look of a king’s crown than a cap.

That lofty green eminence and its quaint coronet form

quite a striking picture, you may be sure, in the flush

of the evening sun.

We crossed over in a boat and began the ascent by a narrow,

steep path which plunged us at once into the leafy deeps

of the bushes. But they were not cool deeps by any means,

for the sun’s rays were weltering hot and there was

little or no breeze to temper them. As we panted up

the sharp ascent, we met brown, bareheaded and barefooted

boys and girls, occasionally, and sometimes men;

they came upon us without warning, they gave us good day,

flashed out of sight in the bushes, and were gone as

suddenly and mysteriously as they had come. They were

bound for the other side of the river to work. This path

had been traveled by many generations of these people.

They have always gone down to the valley to earn their bread,

but they have always climbed their hill again to eat it,

and to sleep in their snug town.

It is said the the Dilsbergers do not emigrate much;

they find that living up there above the world, in their

peaceful nest, is pleasanter than living down in the

troublous world. The seven hundred inhabitants are all

blood-kin to each other, too; they have always been blood-kin

to each other for fifteen hundred years; they are simply

one large family, and they like the home folks better than

they like strangers, hence they persistently stay at home.

It has been said that for ages Dilsberg has been merely

a thriving and diligent idiot-factory. I saw no idiots there,

but the captain said, “Because of late years the government

has taken to lugging them off to asylums and otherwheres;

and government wants to cripple the factory, too, and is

trying to get these Dilsbergers to marry out of the family,

but they don’t like to.”

The captain probably imagined all this, as modern science

denies that the intermarrying of relatives deteriorates

the stock.

Arrived within the wall, we found the usual village

sights and life. We moved along a narrow, crooked lane

which had been paved in the Middle Ages. A strapping,

ruddy girl was beating flax or some such stuff in a little

bit of a good-box of a barn, and she swung her flail

with a will–if it was a flail; I was not farmer enough

to know what she was at; a frowsy, barelegged girl was

herding half a dozen geese with a stick–driving them

along the lane and keeping them out of the dwellings;

a cooper was at work in a shop which I know he did not make

so large a thing as a hogshead in, for there was not room.

In the front rooms of dwellings girls and women were

cooking or spinning, and ducks and chickens were waddling

in and out, over the threshold, picking up chance crumbs

and holding pleasant converse; a very old and wrinkled man

sat asleep before his door, with his chin upon his breast

and his extinguished pipe in his lap; soiled children

were playing in the dirt everywhere along the lane,

unmindful of the sun.

Except the sleeping old man, everybody was at work,

but the place was very still and peaceful, nevertheless;

so still that the distant cackle of the successful hen smote

upon the ear but little dulled by intervening sounds.

That commonest of village sights was lacking here–the

public pump, with its great stone tank or trough of

limpid water, and its group of gossiping pitcher-bearers;

for there is no well or fountain or spring on this tall hill;

cisterns of rain-water are used.

Our alpenstocks and muslin tails compelled attention,

and as we moved through the village we gathered a considerable

procession of little boys and girls, and so went in some

state to the castle. It proved to be an extensive pile of

crumbling walls, arches, and towers, massive, properly grouped

for picturesque effect, weedy, grass-grown, and satisfactory.

The children acted as guides; they walked us along the top

of the highest walls, then took us up into a high tower

and showed us a wide and beautiful landscape, made up

of wavy distances of woody hills, and a nearer prospect

of undulating expanses of green lowlands, on the one hand,

and castle-graced crags and ridges on the other,

with the shining curves of the Neckar flowing between.

But the principal show, the chief pride of the children,

was the ancient and empty well in the grass-grown court

of the castle. Its massive stone curb stands up three

or four feet above-ground, and is whole and uninjured.

The children said that in the Middle Ages this well was

four hundred feet deep, and furnished all the village

with an abundant supply of water, in war and peace.

They said that in the old day its bottom was below the level

of the Neckar, hence the water-supply was inexhaustible.

But there were some who believed it had never been a well

at all, and was never deeper than it is now–eighty feet;

that at that depth a subterranean passage branched from it

and descended gradually to a remote place in the valley,

where it opened into somebody’s cellar or other hidden recess,

and that the secret of this locality is now lost.

Those who hold this belief say that herein lies the

explanation that Dilsberg, besieged by Tilly and many

a soldier before him, was never taken: after the longest

and closest sieges the besiegers were astonished to

perceive that the besieged were as fat and hearty as ever,

and were well furnished with munitions of war–therefore

it must be that the Dilsbergers had been bringing these

things in through the subterranean passage all the time.

The children said that there was in truth a subterranean

outlet down there, and they would prove it. So they set

a great truss of straw on fire and threw it down the well,

while we leaned on the curb and watched the glowing

mass descend. It struck bottom and gradually burned out.

No smoke came up. The children clapped their hands and


“You see! Nothing makes so much smoke as burning straw–now

where did the smoke go to, if there is no subterranean outlet?”

So it seemed quite evident that the subterranean outlet

indeed existed. But the finest thing within the ruin’s

limits was a noble linden, which the children said was

four hundred years old, and no doubt it was. It had

a mighty trunk and a mighty spread of limb and foliage.

The limbs near the ground were nearly the thickness

of a barrel.

That tree had witnessed the assaults of men in mail–

how remote such a time seems, and how ungraspable is the

fact that real men ever did fight in real armor!–and it

had seen the time when these broken arches and crumbling

battlements were a trim and strong and stately fortress,

fluttering its gay banners in the sun, and peopled with vigorous

humanity–how impossibly long ago that seems!–and here

it stands yet, and possibly may still be standing here,

sunning itself and dreaming its historical dreams,

when today shall have been joined to the days called “ancient.”

Well, we sat down under the tree to smoke, and the captain

delivered himself of his legend:


It was to this effect. In the old times there was once

a great company assembled at the castle, and festivity

ran high. Of course there was a haunted chamber

in the castle, and one day the talk fell upon that.

It was said that whoever slept in it would not wake again

for fifty years. Now when a young knight named Conrad

von Geisberg heard this, he said that if the castle were

his he would destroy that chamber, so that no foolish

person might have the chance to bring so dreadful

a misfortune upon himself and afflict such as loved

him with the memory of it. Straightway, the company

privately laid their heads together to contrive some

way to get this superstitious young man to sleep in that chamber.

And they succeeded–in this way. They persuaded

his betrothed, a lovely mischievous young creature,

niece of the lord of the castle, to help them in their plot.

She presently took him aside and had speech with him.

She used all her persuasions, but could not shake him;

he said his belief was firm, that if he should sleep

there he would wake no more for fifty years, and it made

him shudder to think of it. Catharina began to weep.

This was a better argument; Conrad could not out against it.

He yielded and said she should have her wish if she would only

smile and be happy again. She flung her arms about his neck,

and the kisses she gave him showed that her thankfulness

and her pleasure were very real. Then she flew to tell

the company her success, and the applause she received

made her glad and proud she had undertaken her mission,

since all alone she had accomplished what the multitude had

failed in.

At midnight, that night, after the usual feasting,

Conrad was taken to the haunted chamber and left there.

He fell asleep, by and by.

When he awoke again and looked about him, his heart

stood still with horror! The whole aspect of the chamber

was changed. The walls were moldy and hung with

ancient cobwebs; the curtains and beddings were rotten;

the furniture was rickety and ready to fall to pieces.

He sprang out of bed, but his quaking knees sunk under

him and he fell to the floor.

“This is the weakness of age,” he said.

He rose and sought his clothing. It was clothing no longer.

The colors were gone, the garments gave way in many places

while he was putting them on. He fled, shuddering,

into the corridor, and along it to the great hall. Here he

was met by a middle-aged stranger of a kind countenance,

who stopped and gazed at him with surprise. Conrad said:

“Good sir, will you send hither the lord Ulrich?”

The stranger looked puzzled a moment, then said:

“The lord Ulrich?”

“Yes–if you will be so good.”

The stranger called–“Wilhelm!” A young serving-man came,

and the stranger said to him:

“Is there a lord Ulrich among the guests?”

“I know none of the name, so please your honor.”

Conrad said, hesitatingly:

“I did not mean a guest, but the lord of the castle, sir.”

The stranger and the servant exchanged wondering glances.

Then the former said:

“I am the lord of the castle.”

“Since when, sir?”

“Since the death of my father, the good lord Ulrich

more than forty years ago.”

Conrad sank upon a bench and covered his face with his

hands while he rocked his body to and fro and moaned.

The stranger said in a low voice to the servant:

“I fear me this poor old creature is mad. Call some one.”

In a moment several people came, and grouped themselves about,

talking in whispers. Conrad looked up and scanned

the faces about him wistfully.

Then he shook his head and said, in a grieved voice:

“No, there is none among ye that I know. I am old and alone

in the world. They are dead and gone these many years

that cared for me. But sure, some of these aged ones I see

about me can tell me some little word or two concerning them.”

Several bent and tottering men and women came nearer

and answered his questions about each former friend

as he mentioned the names. This one they said had been

dead ten years, that one twenty, another thirty.

Each succeeding blow struck heavier and heavier.

At last the sufferer said:

“There is one more, but I have not the courage to–O

my lost Catharina!”

One of the old dames said:

“Ah, I knew her well, poor soul. A misfortune overtook

her lover, and she died of sorrow nearly fifty years ago.

She lieth under the linden tree without the court.”

Conrad bowed his head and said:

“Ah, why did I ever wake! And so she died of grief for me,

poor child. So young, so sweet, so good! She never wittingly

did a hurtful thing in all the little summer of her life.

Her loving debt shall be repaid–for I will die of grief

for her.”

His head drooped upon his breast. In the moment there

was a wild burst of joyous laughter, a pair of round

young arms were flung about Conrad’s neck and a sweet

voice cried:

“There, Conrad mine, thy kind words kill me–the farce

shall go no further! Look up, and laugh with us–’twas

all a jest!”

And he did look up, and gazed, in a dazed wonderment–

for the disguises were stripped away, and the aged

men and women were bright and young and gay again.

Catharina’s happy tongue ran on:

“‘Twas a marvelous jest, and bravely carried out.

They gave you a heavy sleeping-draught before you went

to bed, and in the night they bore you to a ruined chamber

where all had fallen to decay, and placed these rags

of clothing by you. And when your sleep was spent and you

came forth, two strangers, well instructed in their parts,

were here to meet you; and all we, your friends,

in our disguises, were close at hand, to see and hear,

you may be sure. Ah, ’twas a gallant jest! Come, now,

and make thee ready for the pleasures of the day.

How real was thy misery for the moment, thou poor lad!

Look up and have thy laugh, now!”

He looked up, searched the merry faces about him

in a dreamy way, then sighed and said:

“I am aweary, good strangers, I pray you lead me to her grave.”

All the smile vanished away, every cheek blanched,

Catharina sunk to the ground in a swoon.

All day the people went about the castle with troubled faces,

and communed together in undertones. A painful hush

pervaded the place which had lately been so full of

cheery life. Each in his turn tried to arouse Conrad

out of his hallucination and bring him to himself;

but all the answer any got was a meek, bewildered stare,

and then the words:

“Good stranger, I have no friends, all are at rest these

many years; ye speak me fair, ye mean me well, but I know

ye not; I am alone and forlorn in the world–prithee

lead me to her grave.”

During two years Conrad spent his days, from the

early morning till the night, under the linden tree,

mourning over the imaginary grave of his Catharina.

Catharina was the only company of the harmless madman.

He was very friendly toward her because, as he said,

in some ways she reminded him of his Catharina whom he had

lost “fifty years ago.” He often said:

“She was so gay, so happy-hearted–but you never smile;

and always when you think I am not looking, you cry.”

When Conrad died, they buried him under the linden,

according to his directions, so that he might rest

“near his poor Catharina.” Then Catharina sat under

the linden alone, every day and all day long, a great

many years, speaking to no one, and never smiling;

and at last her long repentance was rewarded with death,

and she was buried by Conrad’s side.

Harris pleased the captain by saying it was good legend;

and pleased him further by adding:

“Now that I have seen this mighty tree, vigorous with

its four hundred years, I feel a desire to believe

the legend for ITS sake; so I will humor the desire,

and consider that the tree really watches over those poor

hearts and feels a sort of human tenderness for them.”

We returned to Necharsteinach, plunged our hot heads

into the trough at the town pump, and then went to the

hotel and ate our trout dinner in leisurely comfort,

in the garden, with the beautiful Neckar flowing at our feet,

the quaint Dilsberg looming beyond, and the graceful

towers and battlements of a couple of medieval castles

(called the “Swallow’s Nest” [1] and “The Brothers.”)

assisting the rugged scenery of a bend of the river

down to our right. We got to sea in season to make the

eight-mile run to Heidelberg before the night shut down.

We sailed by the hotel in the mellow glow of sunset,

and came slashing down with the mad current into the narrow

passage between the dikes. I believed I could shoot the

bridge myself, and I went to the forward triplet of logs

and relieved the pilot of his pole and his responsibility.

1. The seeker after information is referred to Appendix

E for our captain’s legend of the “Swallow’s Nest”

and “The Brothers.”

We went tearing along in a most exhilarating way, and I

performed the delicate duties of my office very well indeed

for a first attempt; but perceiving, presently, that I

really was going to shoot the bridge itself instead

of the archway under it, I judiciously stepped ashore.

The next moment I had my long-coveted desire: I saw

a raft wrecked. It hit the pier in the center and went

all to smash and scatteration like a box of matches

struck by lightning.

I was the only one of our party who saw this grand sight;

the others were attitudinizing, for the benefit of the long

rank of young ladies who were promenading on the bank,

and so they lost it. But I helped to fish them out of

the river, down below the bridge, and then described it

to them as well as I could.

They were not interested, though. They said they were

wet and felt ridiculous and did not care anything for

descriptions of scenery. The young ladies, and other people,

crowded around and showed a great deal of sympathy,

but that did not help matters; for my friends said they

did not want sympathy, they wanted a back alley and solitude.


[My Precious, Priceless Tear-Jug]

Next morning brought good news–our trunks had arrived

from Hamburg at last. Let this be a warning to the reader.

The Germans are very conscientious, and this trait makes

them very particular. Therefore if you tell a German you

want a thing done immediately, he takes you at your word;

he thinks you mean what you say; so he does that thing

immediately–according to his idea of immediately–

which is about a week; that is, it is a week if it refers

to the building of a garment, or it is an hour and a half

if it refers to the cooking of a trout. Very well; if you

tell a German to send your trunk to you by “slow freight,”

he takes you at your word; he sends it by “slow freight,”

and you cannot imagine how long you will go on enlarging

your admiration of the expressiveness of that phrase

in the German tongue, before you get that trunk.

The hair on my trunk was soft and thick and youthful,

when I got it ready for shipment in Hamburg; it was baldheaded

when it reached Heidelberg. However, it was still sound,

that was a comfort, it was not battered in the least;

the baggagemen seemed to be conscientiously careful,

in Germany, of the baggage entrusted to their hands.

There was nothing now in the way of our departure, therefore we

set about our preparations.

Naturally my chief solicitude was about my collection

of Ceramics. Of course I could not take it with me,

that would be inconvenient, and dangerous besides.

I took advice, but the best brick-a-brackers were divided

as to the wisest course to pursue; some said pack the

collection and warehouse it; others said try to get it

into the Grand Ducal Museum at Mannheim for safe keeping.

So I divided the collection, and followed the advice of

both parties. I set aside, for the Museum, those articles

which were the most frail and precious.

Among these was my Etruscan tear-jug. I have made a little

sketch of it here; [Figure 6] that thing creeping up

the side is not a bug, it is a hole. I bought this

tear-jug of a dealer in antiquities for four hundred

and fifty dollars. It is very rare. The man said the

Etruscans used to keep tears or something in these things,

and that it was very hard to get hold of a broken one, now.

I also set aside my Henri II. plate. See sketch

from my pencil; [Figure 7] it is in the main correct,

though I think I have foreshortened one end of it a little

too much, perhaps. This is very fine and rare; the shape

is exceedingly beautiful and unusual. It has wonderful

decorations on it, but I am not able to reproduce them.

It cost more than the tear-jug, as the dealer said

there was not another plate just like it in the world.

He said there was much false Henri II ware around,

but that the genuineness of this piece was unquestionable.

He showed me its pedigree, or its history, if you please;

it was a document which traced this plate’s movements

all the way down from its birth–showed who bought it,

from whom, and what he paid for it–from the first buyer

down to me, whereby I saw that it had gone steadily up

from thirty-five cents to seven hundred dollars. He said

that the whole Ceramic world would be informed that it

was now in my possession and would make a note of it,

with the price paid. [Figure 8]

There were Masters in those days, but, alas–it is not so now.

Of course the main preciousness of this piece lies in its color;

it is that old sensuous, pervading, ramifying, interpolating,

transboreal blue which is the despair of modern art.

The little sketch which I have made of this gem cannot

and does not do it justice, since I have been obliged

to leave out the color. But I’ve got the expression, though.

However, I must not be frittering away the reader’s time

with these details. I did not intend to go into any

detail at all, at first, but it is the failing of the

true ceramiker, or the true devotee in any department

of brick-a-brackery, that once he gets his tongue or his

pen started on his darling theme, he cannot well stop

until he drops from exhaustion. He has no more sense

of the flight of time than has any other lover when talking

of his sweetheart. The very “marks” on the bottom

of a piece of rare crockery are able to throw me into

a gibbering ecstasy; and I could forsake a drowning

relative to help dispute about whether the stopple

of a departed Buon Retiro scent-bottle was genuine or spurious.

Many people say that for a male person, bric-a-brac hunting

is about as robust a business as making doll-clothes,

or decorating Japanese pots with decalcomanie butterflies

would be, and these people fling mud at the elegant Englishman,

Byng, who wrote a book called THE BRIC-A-BRAC HUNTER,

and make fun of him for chasing around after what they choose

to call “his despicable trifles”; and for “gushing” over

these trifles; and for exhibiting his “deep infantile delight”

in what they call his “tuppenny collection of beggarly

trivialities”; and for beginning his book with a picture

of himself seated, in a “sappy, self-complacent attitude,

in the midst of his poor little ridiculous bric-a-brac junk


It is easy to say these things; it is easy to revile us,

easy to despise us; therefore, let these people rail on;

they cannot feel as Byng and I feel–it is their loss,

not ours. For my part I am content to be a brick-a-bracker

and a ceramiker–more, I am proud to be so named.

I am proud to know that I lose my reason as immediately

in the presence of a rare jug with an illustrious mark

on the bottom of it, as if I had just emptied that jug.

Very well; I packed and stored a part of my collection,

and the rest of it I placed in the care of the Grand Ducal

Museum i n Mannheim, by permission. My Old Blue China

Cat remains there yet. I presented it to that excellent


I had but one misfortune with my things. An egg which I

had kept back from breakfast that morning, was broken

in packing. It was a great pity. I had shown it to the

best connoisseurs in Heidelberg, and they all said it

was an antique. We spent a day or two in farewell visits,

and then left for Baden-Baden. We had a pleasant

trip to it, for the Rhine valley is always lovely.

The only trouble was that the trip was too short.

If I remember rightly it only occupied a couple of hours,

therefore I judge that the distance was very little,

if any, over fifty miles. We quitted the train at Oos,

and walked the entire remaining distance to Baden-Baden,

with the exception of a lift of less than an hour which we

got on a passing wagon, the weather being exhaustingly warm.

We came into town on foot.

One of the first persons we encountered, as we walked

up the street, was the Rev. Mr. ——, an old friend

from America–a lucky encounter, indeed, for his is

a most gentle, refined, and sensitive nature, and his

company and companionship are a genuine refreshment.

We knew he had been in Europe some time, but were not

at all expecting to run across him. Both parties burst

forth into loving enthusiasms, and Rev. Mr. ——said:

“I have got a brimful reservoir of talk to pour out

on you, and an empty one ready and thirsting to receive

what you have got; we will sit up till midnight

and have a good satisfying interchange, for I leave

here early in the morning.” We agreed to that, of course.

I had been vaguely conscious, for a while, of a person

who was walking in the street abreast of us; I had glanced

furtively at him once or twice, and noticed that he

was a fine, large, vigorous young fellow, with an open,

independent countenance, faintly shaded with a pale

and even almost imperceptible crop of early down,

and that he was clothed from head to heel in cool and

enviable snow-white linen. I thought I had also noticed

that his head had a sort of listening tilt to it.

Now about this time the Rev. Mr. ——said:

“The sidewalk is hardly wide enough for three, so I will

walk behind; but keep the talk going, keep the talk going,

there’s no time to lose, and you may be sure I will do

my share.” He ranged himself behind us, and straightway that

stately snow-white young fellow closed up to the sidewalk

alongside him, fetched him a cordial slap on the shoulder

with his broad palm, and sung out with a hearty cheeriness:

“AMERICANS for two-and-a-half and the money up! HEY?”

The Reverend winced, but said mildly:

“Yes–we are Americans.”

“Lord love you, you can just bet that’s what _I_ am,

every time! Put it there!”

He held out his Sahara of his palm, and the Reverend laid

his diminutive hand in it, and got so cordial a shake

that we heard his glove burst under it.

“Say, didn’t I put you up right?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Sho! I spotted you for MY kind the minute I heard

your clack. You been over here long?”

“About four months. Have you been over long?”

“LONG? Well, I should say so! Going on two YEARS,

by geeminy! Say, are you homesick?”

“No, I can’t say that I am. Are you?”

“Oh, HELL, yes!” This with immense enthusiasm.

The Reverend shrunk a little, in his clothes, and we

were aware, rather by instinct than otherwise, that he

was throwing out signals of distress to us; but we did

not interfere or try to succor him, for we were quite happy.

The young fellow hooked his arm into the Reverend’s, now,

with the confiding and grateful air of a waif who has

been longing for a friend, and a sympathetic ear,

and a chance to lisp once more the sweet accents of the

mother-tongue–and then he limbered up the muscles

of his mouth and turned himself loose–and with such a

relish! Some of his words were not Sunday-school words,

so I am obliged to put blanks where they occur.

“Yes indeedy! If _I_ ain’t an American there AIN’T

any Americans, that’s all. And when I heard you fellows

gassing away in the good old American language, I’m ——

if it wasn’t all I could do to keep from hugging you! My

tongue’s all warped with trying to curl it around these

——forsaken wind-galled nine-jointed German words here;

now I TELL you it’s awful good to lay it over a Christian

word once more and kind of let the old taste soak it.

I’m from western New York. My name is Cholley Adams.

I’m a student, you know. Been here going on two years.

I’m learning to be a horse-doctor! I LIKE that part of it,

you know, but ——these people, they won’t learn a fellow

in his own language, they make him learn in German; so before

I could tackle the horse-doctoring I had to tackle this

miserable language.

“First off, I thought it would certainly give me

the botts, but I don’t mind now. I’ve got it where the

hair’s short, I think; and dontchuknow, they made me

learn Latin, too. Now between you and me, I wouldn’t

give a ——for all the Latin that was ever jabbered;

and the first thing _I_ calculate to do when I get through,

is to just sit down and forget it. ‘Twon’t take me long,

and I don’t mind the time, anyway. And I tell you what!

the difference between school-teaching over yonder and

school-teaching over here–sho! WE don’t know anything

about it! Here you’re got to peg and peg and peg and there

just ain’t any let-up–and what you learn here, you’ve got

to KNOW, dontchuknow –or else you’ll have one of these

——spavined, spectacles, ring-boned, knock-kneed old

professors in your hair. I’ve been here long ENOUGH,

and I’m getting blessed tired of it, mind I TELL you.

The old man wrote me that he was coming over in June,

and said he’d take me home in August, whether I was done

with my education or not, but durn him, he didn’t come;

never said why; just sent me a hamper of Sunday-school

books, and told me to be good, and hold on a while.

I don’t take to Sunday-school books, dontchuknow–I

don’t hanker after them when I can get pie–but I

READ them, anyway, because whatever the old man tells

me to do, that’s the thing that I’m a-going to DO,

or tear something, you know. I buckled in and read

all those books, because he wanted me to; but that kind

of thing don’t excite ME, I like something HEARTY.

But I’m awful homesick. I’m homesick from ear-socket

to crupper, and from crupper to hock-joint; but it ain’t

any use, I’ve got to stay here, till the old man drops

the rag and give the word–yes, SIR, right here in this

——country I’ve got to linger till the old man says

COME!–and you bet your bottom dollar, Johnny, it AIN’T

just as easy as it is for a cat to have twins!”

At the end of this profane and cordial explosion he

fetched a prodigious “WHOOSH!” to relieve his lungs

and make recognition of the heat, and then he straightway

dived into his narrative again for “Johnny’s” benefit,

beginning, “Well, ——it ain’t any use talking,

some of those old American words DO have a kind

of a bully swing to them; a man can EXPRESS himself

with ’em–a man can get at what he wants to SAY, dontchuknow.”

When we reached our hotel and it seemed that he was

about to lose the Reverend, he showed so much sorrow,

and begged so hard and so earnestly that the Reverend’s heart

was not hard enough to hold out against the pleadings–

so he went away with the parent-honoring student, like a

right Christian, and took supper with him in his lodgings,

and sat in the surf-beat of his slang and profanity

till near midnight, and then left him–left him pretty

well talked out, but grateful “clear down to his frogs,”

as he expressed it. The Reverend said it had transpired

during the interview that “Cholley” Adams’s father

was an extensive dealer in horses in western New York;

this accounted for Cholley’s choice of a profession.

The Reverend brought away a pretty high opinion of

Cholley as a manly young fellow, with stuff in him for

a useful citizen; he considered him rather a rough gem,

but a gem, nevertheless.


[Insolent Shopkeepers and Gabbling Americans]

Baden-Baden sits in the lap of the hills, and the natural

and artificial beauties of the surroundings are combined

effectively and charmingly. The level strip of ground

which stretches through and beyond the town is laid

out in handsome pleasure grounds, shaded by noble trees

and adorned at intervals with lofty and sparkling

fountain-jets. Thrice a day a fine band makes music

in the public promenade before the Conversation House,

and in the afternoon and evening that locality is populous

with fashionably dressed people of both sexes, who march

back and forth past the great music-stand and look very

much bored, though they make a show of feeling otherwise.

It seems like a rather aimless and stupid existence.

A good many of these people are there for a real

purpose, however; they are racked with rheumatism,

and they are there to stew it out in the hot baths.

These invalids looked melancholy enough, limping about on

their canes and crutches, and apparently brooding over

all sorts of cheerless things. People say that Germany,

with her damp stone houses, is the home of rheumatism.

If that is so, Providence must have foreseen that it

would be so, and therefore filled the land with the

healing baths. Perhaps no other country is so generously

supplied with medicinal springs as Germany. Some of

these baths are good for one ailment, some for another;

and again, peculiar ailments are conquered by combining

the individual virtues of several different baths.

For instance, for some forms of disease, the patient drinks

the native hot water of Baden-Baden, with a spoonful

of salt from the Carlsbad springs dissolved in it.

That is not a dose to be forgotten right away.

They don’t SELL this hot water; no, you go into the

great Trinkhalle, and stand around, first on one foot

and then on the other, while two or three young girls

sit pottering at some sort of ladylike sewing-work

in your neighborhood and can’t seem to see you –polite

as three-dollar clerks in government offices.

By and by one of these rises painfully, and


fists and body heavenward till she raises her heels from

the floor, at the same time refreshing herself with a yawn

of such comprehensiveness that the bulk of her face disappears

behind her upper lip and one is able to see how she is

constructed inside–then she slowly closes her cavern,

brings down her fists and her heels, comes languidly forward,

contemplates you contemptuously, draws you a glass of hot water

and sets it down where you can get it by reaching for it. You

take it and say:

“How much?”–and she returns you, with elaborate indifference,

a beggar’s answer:

“NACH BELIEBE” (what you please.)

This thing of using the common beggar’s trick and the common

beggar’s shibboleth to put you on your liberality when you

were expecting a simple straightforward commercial transaction,

adds a little to your prospering sense of irritation.

You ignore her reply, and ask again:

“How much?”

–and she calmly, indifferently, repeats:


You are getting angry, but you are trying not to show it;

you resolve to keep on asking your question till she changes

her answer, or at least her annoyingly indifferent manner.

Therefore, if your case be like mine, you two fools

stand there, and without perceptible emotion of any kind,

or any emphasis on any syllable, you look blandly into each

other’s eyes, and hold the following idiotic conversation:

“How much?”


“How much?”


“How much?”


“How much?”


“How much?”


“How much?”


I do not know what another person would have done,

but at this point I gave up; that cast-iron indifference,

that tranquil contemptuousness, conquered me, and I struck

my colors. Now I knew she was used to receiving about a

penny from manly people who care nothing about the opinions

of scullery-maids, and about tuppence from moral cowards;

but I laid a silver twenty-five cent piece within her

reach and tried to shrivel her up with this sarcastic


“If it isn’t enough, will you stoop sufficiently from

your official dignity to say so?”

She did not shrivel. Without deigning to look at me at all,

she languidly lifted the coin and bit it!–to see if it

was good. Then she turned her back and placidly waddled

to her former roost again, tossing the money into an open

till as she went along. She was victor to the last,

you see.

I have enlarged upon the ways of this girl because they

are typical; her manners are the manners of a goodly

number of the Baden-Baden shopkeepers. The shopkeeper

there swindles you if he can, and insults you whether

he succeeds in swindling you or not. The keepers of

baths also take great and patient pains to insult you.

The frowsy woman who sat at the desk in the lobby

of the great Friederichsbad and sold bath tickets,

not only insulted me twice every day, with rigid fidelity

to her great trust, but she took trouble enough to cheat

me out of a shilling, one day, to have fairly entitled

her to ten. Baden-Baden’s splendid gamblers are gone,

only her microscopic knaves remain.

An English gentleman who had been living there

several years, said:

“If you could disguise your nationality, you would not

find any insolence here. These shopkeepers detest the

English and despise the Americans; they are rude to both,

more especially to ladies of your nationality and mine.

If these go shopping without a gentleman or a man-servant,

they are tolerably sure to be subjected to petty insolences–

insolences of manner and tone, rather than word,

though words that are hard to bear are not always wanting.

I know of an instance where a shopkeeper tossed a coin back

to an American lady with the remark, snappishly uttered,

‘We don’t take French money here.’ And I know of a case

where an English lady said to one of these shopkeepers,

‘Don’t you think you ask too much for this article?’

and he replied with the question, ‘Do you think you are

obliged to buy it?’ However, these people are not impolite

to Russians or Germans. And as to rank, they worship that,

for they have long been used to generals and nobles.

If you wish to see what abysses servility can descend,

present yourself before a Baden-Baden shopkeeper in the

character of a Russian prince.”

It is an inane town, filled with sham, and petty fraud,

and snobbery, but the baths are good. I spoke with

many people, and they were all agreed in that. I had

the twinges of rheumatism unceasingly during three years,

but the last one departed after a fortnight’s bathing there,

and I have never had one since. I fully believe I left my

rheumatism in Baden-Baden. Baden-Baden is welcome to it.

It was little, but it was all I had to give. I would

have preferred to leave something that was catching,

but it was not in my power.

There are several hot springs there, and during two

thousand years they have poured forth a never-diminishing

abundance of the healing water. This water is conducted

in pipe to the numerous bath-houses, and is reduced to

an endurable temperature by the addition of cold water.

The new Friederichsbad is a very large and beautiful building,

and in it one may have any sort of bath that has ever

been invented, and with all the additions of herbs and

drugs that his ailment may need or that the physician

of the establishment may consider a useful thing to put

into the water. You go there, enter the great door,

get a bow graduated to your style and clothes from the

gorgeous portier, and a bath ticket and an insult from

the frowsy woman for a quarter; she strikes a bell and a

serving-man conducts you down a long hall and shuts you

into a commodious room which has a washstand, a mirror,

a bootjack, and a sofa in it, and there you undress

at your leisure.

The room is divided by a great curtain; you draw this

curtain aside, and find a large white marble bathtub,

with its rim sunk to the level of the floor,

and with three white marble steps leading down to it.

This tub is full of water which is as clear as crystal,

and is tempered to 28 degrees Re’aumur (about 95 degrees

Fahrenheit). Sunk into the floor, by the tub, is a covered

copper box which contains some warm towels and a sheet.

You look fully as white as an angel when you are stretched

out in that limpid bath. You remain in it ten minutes,

the first time, and afterward increase the duration from

day to day, till you reach twenty-five or thirty minutes.

There you stop. The appointments of the place are

so luxurious, the benefit so marked, the price so moderate,

and the insults so sure, that you very soon find yourself

adoring the Friederichsbad and infesting it.

We had a plain, simple, unpretending, good hotel,

in Baden-Baden–the Ho^tel de France–and alongside my room

I had a giggling, cackling, chattering family who always

went to bed just two hours after me and always got up two

hours ahead of me. But this is common in German hotels;

the people generally go to bed long after eleven and get

up long before eight. The partitions convey sound

like a drum-head, and everybody knows it; but no matter,

a German family who are all kindness and consideration

in the daytime make apparently no effort to moderate

their noises for your benefit at night. They will sing,

laugh, and talk loudly, and bang furniture around in a most

pitiless way. If you knock on your wall appealingly,

they will quiet down and discuss the matter softly among

themselves for a moment–then, like the mice, they fall

to persecuting you again, and as vigorously as before.

They keep cruelly late and early hours, for such noisy folk.

Of course, when one begins to find fault with foreign

people’s ways, he is very likely to get a reminder to look

nearer home, before he gets far with it. I open my note-book

to see if I can find some more information of a valuable

nature about Baden-Baden, and the first thing I fall upon is


“BADEN-BADEN (no date). Lot of vociferous Americans

at breakfast this morning. Talking AT everybody,

while pretending to talk among themselves. On their

first travels, manifestly. Showing off. The usual

signs–airy, easy-going references to grand distances

and foreign places. ‘Well GOOD-by, old fellow–

if I don’t run across you in Italy, you hunt me up in

London before you sail.'”

The next item which I find in my note-book is this one:

“The fact that a band of 6,000 Indians are now murdering

our frontiersmen at their impudent leisure, and that we

are only able to send 1,200 soldiers against them,

is utilized here to discourage emigration to America.

The common people think the Indians are in New Jersey.”

This is a new and peculiar argument against keeping our army

down to a ridiculous figure in the matter of numbers.

It is rather a striking one, too. I have not distorted

the truth in saying that the facts in the above item,

about the army and the Indians, are made use of to

discourage emigration to America. That the common

people should be rather foggy in their geography,

and foggy as to the location of the Indians, is a matter

for amusement, maybe, but not of surprise.

There is an interesting old cemetery in Baden-Baden, and

we spent several pleasant hours in wandering through it

and spelling out the inscriptions on the aged tombstones.

Apparently after a man has laid there a century or two,

and has had a good many people buried on top of him,

it is considered that his tombstone is not needed by him

any longer. I judge so from the fact that hundreds

of old gravestones have been removed from the graves

and placed against the inner walls of the cemetery.

What artists they had in the old times! They chiseled angels

and cherubs and devils and skeletons on the tombstones

in the most lavish and generous way–as to supply–but

curiously grotesque and outlandish as to form. It is not

always easy to tell which of the figures belong among

the blest and which of them among the opposite party.

But there was an inscription, in French, on one of those

old stones, which was quaint and pretty, and was plainly

not the work of any other than a poet. It was to this


Here Reposes in God, Caroline de Clery, a Religieuse

of St. Denis aged 83 years–and blind. The light

was restored to her in Baden the 5th of January, 1839

We made several excursions on foot to the neighboring villages,

over winding and beautiful roads and through enchanting

woodland scenery. The woods and roads were similar to those

at Heidelberg, but not so bewitching. I suppose that roads

and woods which are up to the Heidelberg mark are rare in the


Once we wandered clear away to La Favorita Palace,

which is several miles from Baden-Baden. The grounds

about the palace were fine; the palace was a curiosity.

It was built by a Margravine in 1725, and remains as she

left it at her death. We wandered through a great many

of its rooms, and they all had striking peculiarities

of decoration. For instance, the walls of one room were

pretty completely covered with small pictures of the

Margravine in all conceivable varieties of fanciful costumes,

some of them male.

The walls of another room were covered with grotesquely

and elaborately figured hand-wrought tapestry.

The musty ancient beds remained in the chambers,

and their quilts and curtains and canopies were decorated

with curious handwork, and the walls and ceilings frescoed

with historical and mythological scenes in glaring colors.

There was enough crazy and rotten rubbish in the building

to make a true brick-a-bracker green with envy.

A painting in the dining-hall verged upon the indelicate–

but then the Margravine was herself a trifle indelicate.

It is in every way a wildly and picturesquely decorated house,

and brimful of interest as a reflection of the character

and tastes of that rude bygone time.

In the grounds, a few rods from the palace, stands the

Margravine’s chapel, just as she left it–a coarse

wooden structure, wholly barren of ornament. It is said

that the Margravine would give herself up to debauchery

and exceedingly fast living for several months at a time,

and then retire to this miserable wooden den and spend

a few months in repenting and getting ready for another

good time. She was a devoted Catholic, and was perhaps

quite a model sort of a Christian as Christians went then,

in high life.

Tradition says she spent the last two years of her life in the

strange den I have been speaking of, after having indulged

herself in one final, triumphant, and satisfying spree.

She shut herself up there, without company, and without

even a servant, and so abjured and forsook the world.

In her little bit of a kitchen she did her own cooking;

she wore a hair shirt next the skin, and castigated herself

with whips–these aids to grace are exhibited there yet.

She prayed and told her beads, in another little room,

before a waxen Virgin niched in a little box against the wall;

she bedded herself like a slave.

In another small room is an unpainted wooden table,

and behind it sit half-life-size waxen figures of the

Holy Family, made by the very worst artist that ever

lived, perhaps, and clothed in gaudy, flimsy drapery.

[1] The margravine used to bring her meals to this table

and DINE WITH THE HOLY FAMILY. What an idea that was!

What a grisly spectacle it must have been! Imagine it:

Those rigid, shock-headed figures, with corpsy complexions

and fish glass eyes, occupying one side of the table

in the constrained attitudes and dead fixedness that

distinquish all men that are born of wax, and this wrinkled,

smoldering old fire-eater occupying the other side,

mumbling her prayers and munching her sausages in the ghostly

stillness and shadowy indistinctness of a winter twilight.

It makes one feel crawly even to think of it.

1. The Savior was represented as a lad of about fifteen

years of age. This figure had lost one eye.

In this sordid place, and clothed, bedded, and fed like

a pauper, this strange princess lived and worshiped during

two years, and in it she died. Two or three hundred

years ago, this would have made the poor den holy ground;

and the church would have set up a miracle-factory there

and made plenty of money out of it. The den could be moved

into some portions of France and made a good property even now.


[The Black Forest and Its Treasures]

From Baden-Baden we made the customary trip into the

Black Forest. We were on foot most of the time. One cannot

describe those noble woods, nor the feeling with which they

inspire him. A feature of the feeling, however, is a deep

sense of contentment; another feature of it is a buoyant,

boyish gladness; and a third and very conspicuous feature

of it is one’s sense of the remoteness of the work-day

world and his entire emancipation from it and its affairs.

Those woods stretch unbroken over a vast region;

and everywhere they are such dense woods, and so still,

and so piney and fragrant. The stems of the trees are trim

and straight, and in many places all the ground is hidden

for miles under a thick cushion of moss of a vivid green color,

with not a decayed or ragged spot in its surface, and not

a fallen leaf or twig to mar its immaculate tidiness.

A rich cathedral gloom pervades the pillared aisles;

so the stray flecks of sunlight that strike a trunk

here and a bough yonder are strongly accented,

and when they strike the moss they fairly seem to burn.

But the weirdest effect, and the most enchanting is that

produced by the diffused light of the low afternoon sun;

no single ray is able to pierce its way in, then, but the

diffused light takes color from moss and foliage,

and pervades the place like a faint, greet-tinted mist,

the theatrical fire of fairyland. The suggestion of mystery

and the supernatural which haunts the forest at all times

is intensified by this unearthly glow.

We found the Black Forest farmhouses and villages

all that the Black Forest stories have pictured them.

The first genuine specimen which we came upon was

the mansion of a rich farmer and member of the Common

Council of the parish or district. He was an important

personage in the land and so was his wife also,

of course. His daughter was the “catch” of the region,

and she may be already entering into immortality as the

heroine of one of Auerbach’s novels, for all I know.

We shall see, for if he puts her in I shall recognize her

by her Black Forest clothes, and her burned complexion,

her plump figure, her fat hands, her dull expression,

her gentle spirit, her generous feet, her bonnetless head,

and the plaited tails of hemp-colored hair hanging down

her back.

The house was big enough for a hotel; it was a hundred

feet long and fifty wide, and ten feet high, from ground

to eaves; but from the eaves to the comb of the mighty roof

was as much as forty feet, or maybe even more. This roof

was of ancient mud-colored straw thatch a foot thick,

and was covered all over, except in a few trifling spots,

with a thriving and luxurious growth of green vegetation,

mainly moss. The mossless spots were places where

repairs had been made by the insertion of bright new

masses of yellow straw. The eaves projected far down,

like sheltering, hospitable wings. Across the gable that

fronted the road, and about ten feet above the ground,

ran a narrow porch, with a wooden railing; a row of

small windows filled with very small panes looked upon

the porch. Above were two or three other little windows,

one clear up under the sharp apex of the roof.

Before the ground-floor door was a huge pile of manure.

The door of the second-story room on the side of the house

was open, and occupied by the rear elevation of a cow.

Was this probably the drawing-room? All of the front

half of the house from the ground up seemed to be

occupied by the people, the cows, and the chickens,

and all the rear half by draught-animals and hay.

But the chief feature, all around this house, was the big

heaps of manure.

We became very familiar with the fertilizer in the Forest.

We fell unconsciously into the habit of judging of a man’s

station in life by this outward and eloquent sign.

Sometimes we said, “Here is a poor devil, this is manifest.”

When we saw a stately accumulation, we said, “Here is

a banker.” When we encountered a country-seat surrounded

by an Alpine pomp of manure, we said, “Doubtless a duke

lives here.”

The importance of this feature has not been properly

magnified in the Black Forest stories. Manure is evidently

the Black-Forester’s main treasure–his coin, his jewel,

his pride, his Old Master, his ceramics, his bric-a-brac,

his darling, his title to public consideration,

envy, veneration, and his first solicitude when he gets

ready to make his will. The true Black Forest novel,

if it is ever written, will be skeletoned somewhat in this way:


Rich old farmer, named Huss. Has inherited great wealth

of manure, and by diligence has added to it. It is

double-starred in Baedeker. [1] The Black forest artist

paints it–his masterpiece. The king comes to see it.

Gretchen Huss, daughter and heiress. Paul Hoch,

young neighbor, suitor for Gretchen’s hand–ostensibly;

he really wants the manure. Hoch has a good many cart-loads

of the Black Forest currency himself, and therefore is a

good catch; but he is sordid, mean, and without sentiment,

whereas Gretchen is all sentiment and poetry.

Hans Schmidt, young neighbor, full of sentiment,

full of poetry, loves Gretchen, Gretchen loves him.

But he has no manure. Old Huss forbids him in the house.

His heart breaks, he goes away to die in the woods,

far from the cruel world–for he says, bitterly, “What is man,

without manure?”

1. When Baedeker’s guide-books mention a thing and put

two stars (**) after it, it means well worth visiting.


[Interval of six months.]

Paul Hoch comes to old Huss and says, “I am at last

as rich as you required–come and view the pile.”

Old Huss views it and says, “It is sufficient–take

her and be happy,”–meaning Gretchen.

[Interval of two weeks.]

Wedding party assembled in old Huss’s drawing-room. Hoch

placid and content, Gretchen weeping over her hard fate.

Enter old Huss’s head bookkeeper. Huss says fiercely,

“I gave you three weeks to find out why your books

don’t balance, and to prove that you are not a defaulter;

the time is up–find me the missing property or you go

to prison as a thief.” Bookkeeper: “I have found it.”

“Where?” Bookkeeper (sternly–tragically): “In the bridegroom’s

pile!–behold the thief–see him blench and tremble!”

[Sensation.] Paul Hoch: Lost, lost!”–falls over the cow

in a swoon and is handcuffed. Gretchen: “Saved!” Falls

over the calf in a swoon of joy, but is caught in the arms

of Hans Schmidt, who springs in at that moment. Old Huss:

“What, you here, varlet? Unhand the maid and quit the place.”

Hans (still supporting the insensible girl): “Never! Cruel

old man, know that I come with claims which even you

cannot despise.”

Huss: “What, YOU? name them.”

Hans: “Listen then. The world has forsaken me, I forsook

the world, I wandered in the solitude of the forest,

longing for death but finding none. I fed upon roots,

and in my bitterness I dug for the bitterest,

loathing the sweeter kind. Digging, three days agone,

I struck a manure mine!–a Golconda, a limitless Bonanza,

of solid manure! I can buy you ALL, and have mountain

ranges of manure left! Ha-ha, NOW thou smilest a smile!”

[Immense sensation.] Exhibition of specimens from the mine.

Old Huss (enthusiastically): “Wake her up, shake her up,

noble young man, she is yours!” Wedding takes place on

the spot; bookkeeper restored to his office and emoluments;

Paul Hoch led off to jail. The Bonanza king of the Black

Forest lives to a good old age, blessed with the love of his

wife and of his twenty-seven children, and the still sweeter

envy of everybody around.

We took our noon meal of fried trout one day at the Plow Inn,

in a very pretty village (Ottenho”fen), and then went into

the public room to rest and smoke. There we found nine

or ten Black Forest grandees assembled around a table.

They were the Common Council of the parish. They had

gathered there at eight o’clock that morning to elect

a new member, and they had now been drinking beer four

hours at the new member’s expense. They were men of fifty

or sixty years of age, with grave good-natures faces,

and were all dressed in the costume made familiar to us

by the Black Forest stories; broad, round-topped black felt

hats with the brims curled up all round; long red waistcoats

with large metal buttons, black alpaca coats with the

waists up between the shoulders. There were no speeches,

there was but little talk, there were no frivolities;

the Council filled themselves gradually, steadily, but surely,

with beer, and conducted themselves with sedate decorum,

as became men of position, men of influence, men of manure.

We had a hot afternoon tramp up the valley, along the grassy

bank of a rushing stream of clear water, past farmhouses,

water-mills, and no end of wayside crucifixes and saints

and Virgins. These crucifixes, etc., are set up in

memory of departed friends, by survivors, and are almost

as frequent as telegraph-poles are in other lands.

We followed the carriage-road, and had our usual luck;

we traveled under a beating sun, and always saw the shade

leave the shady places before we could get to them.

In all our wanderings we seldom managed to strike

a piece of road at its time for being shady. We had a

particularly hot time of it on that particular afternoon,

and with no comfort but what we could get out of the fact

that the peasants at work away up on the steep mountainsides

above our heads were even worse off than we were.

By and by it became impossible to endure the intolerable

glare and heat any longer; so we struck across the ravine

and entered the deep cool twilight of the forest, to hunt

for what the guide-book called the “old road.”

We found an old road, and it proved eventually to be the

right one, though we followed it at the time with the conviction

that it was the wrong one. If it was the wrong one there

could be no use in hurrying; therefore we did not hurry,

but sat down frequently on the soft moss and enjoyed

the restful quiet and shade of the forest solitudes.

There had been distractions in the carriage-road–

school-children, peasants, wagons, troops of

pedestrianizing students from all over Germany–

but we had the old road to ourselves.

Now and then, while we rested, we watched the laborious

ant at his work. I found nothing new in him–certainly

nothing to change my opinion of him. It seems to me that

in the matter of intellect the ant must be a strangely

overrated bird. During many summers, now, I have watched him,

when I ought to have been in better business, and I have

not yet come across a living ant that seemed to have any

more sense than a dead one. I refer to the ordinary ant,

of course; I have had no experience of those wonderful

Swiss and African ones which vote, keep drilled armies,

hold slaves, and dispute about religion. Those particular

ants may be all that the naturalist paints them,

but I am persuaded that the average ant is a sham.

I admit his industry, of course; he is the hardest-working

creature in the world–when anybody is looking–but his

leather-headedness is the point I make against him.

He goes out foraging, he makes a capture, and then what

does he do? Go home? No–he goes anywhere but home.

He doesn’t know where home is. His home may be only

three feet away–no matter, he can’t find it. He makes

his capture, as I have said; it is generally something

which can be of no sort of use to himself or anybody else;

it is usually seven times bigger than it ought to be;

he hunts out the awkwardest place to take hold of it;

he lifts it bodily up in the air by main force, and starts;

not toward home, but in the opposite direction; not calmly

and wisely, but with a frantic haste which is wasteful

of his strength; he fetches up against a pebble, and instead

of going around it, he climbs over it backward dragging

his booty after him, tumbles down on the other side,

jumps up in a passion, kicks the dust off his clothes,

moistens his hands, grabs his property viciously, yanks it

this way, then that, shoves it ahead of him a moment,

turns tail and lugs it after him another moment, gets madder

and madder, then presently hoists it into the air and goes

tearing away in an entirely new direction; comes to a weed;

it never occurs to him to go around it; no, he must climb it;

and he does climb it, dragging his worthless property

to the top–which is as bright a thing to do as it would

be for me to carry a sack of flour from Heidelberg to Paris

by way of Strasburg steeple; when he gets up there he

finds that that is not the place; takes a cursory glance

at the scenery and either climbs down again or tumbles down,

and starts off once more–as usual, in a new direction.

At the end of half an hour, he fetches up within six inches

of the place he started from and lays his burden down;

meantime he as been over all the ground for two yards around,

and climbed all the weeds and pebbles he came across.

Now he wipes the sweat from his brow, strokes his limbs,

and then marches aimlessly off, in as violently a hurry

as ever. He does not remember to have ever seen it before;

he looks around to see which is not the way home, grabs his

bundle and starts; he goes through the same adventures he

had before; finally stops to rest, and a friend comes along.

Evidently the friend remarks that a last year’s grasshopper

leg is a very noble acquisition, and inquires where he

got it. Evidently the proprietor does not remember

exactly where he did get it, but thinks he got it “around

here somewhere.” Evidently the friend contracts to help

him freight it home. Then, with a judgment peculiarly

antic (pun not intended), then take hold of opposite ends

of that grasshopper leg a nd begin to tug with all their

might in opposite directions. Presently they take a rest

and confer together. They decide that something is wrong,

they can’t make out what. Then they go at it again,

just as before. Same result. Mutual recriminations follow.

Evidently each accuses the other of being an obstructionist.

They lock themselves together and chew each other’s jaws

for a while; then they roll and tumble on the ground till

one loses a horn or a leg and has to haul off for repairs.

They make up and go to work again in the same old insane way,

but the crippled ant is at a disadvantage; tug as he may,

the other one drags off the booty and him at the end of it.

Instead of giving up, he hangs on, and gets his shins

bruised against every obstruction that comes in the way.

By and by, when that grasshopper leg has been dragged

all over the same old ground once more, it is finally

dumped at about the spot where it originally lay,

the two perspiring ants inspect it thoughtfully and decide

that dried grasshopper legs are a poor sort of property

after all, and then each starts off in a different

direction to see if he can’t find an old nail or something

else that is heavy enough to afford entertainment and at

the same time valueless enough to make an ant want to own it.

There in the Black Forest, on the mountainside,

I saw an ant go through with such a performance as this

with a dead spider of fully ten times his own weight.

The spider was not quite dead, but too far gone to resist.

He had a round body the size of a pea. The little ant–

observing that I was noticing–turned him on his back,

sunk his fangs into his throat, lifted him into the air and

started vigorously off with him, stumbling over little pebbles,

stepping on the spider’s legs and tripping himself up,

dragging him backward, shoving him bodily ahead, dragging him

up stones six inches high instead of going around them,

climbing weeds twenty times his own height and jumping

from their summits–and finally leaving him in the middle

of the road to be confiscated by any other fool of an

ant that wanted him. I measured the ground which this

ass traversed, and arrived at the conclusion that what he

had accomplished inside of twenty minutes would constitute

some such job as this–relatively speaking–for a man;

to wit: to strap two eight-hundred-pound horses together,

carry them eighteen hundred feet, mainly over (not around)

boulders averaging six feet high, and in the course

of the journey climb up and jump from the top of one

precipice like Niagara, and three steeples, each a hundred

and twenty feet high; and then put the horses down,

in an exposed place, without anybody to watch them,

and go off to indulge in some other idiotic miracle for

vanity’s sake.

Science has recently discovered that the ant does not

lay up anything for winter use. This will knock him

out of literature, to some extent. He does not work,

except when people are looking, and only then when the

observer has a green, naturalistic look, and seems to be

taking notes. This amounts to deception, and will injure

him for the Sunday-schools. He has not judgment enough

to know what is good to eat from what isn’t. This amounts

to ignorance, and will impair the world’s respect for him.

He cannot stroll around a stump and find his way home again.

This amounts to idiocy, and once the damaging fact

is established, thoughtful people will cease to look

up to him, the sentimental will cease to fondle him.

His vaunted industry is but a vanity and of no effect,

since he never gets home with anything he starts with.

This disposes of the last remnant of his reputation

and wholly destroys his main usefulness as a moral agent,

since it will make the sluggard hesitate to go to him

any more. It is strange, beyond comprehension, that so

manifest a humbug as the ant has been able to fool so

many nations and keep it up so many ages without being

found out.

The ant is strong, but we saw another strong thing,

where we had not suspected the presence of much muscular

power before. A toadstool–that vegetable which springs

to full growth in a single night–had torn loose and

lifted a matted mass of pine needles and dirt of twice

its own bulk into the air, and supported it there,

like a column supporting a shed. Ten thousand toadstools,

with the right purchase, could lift a man, I suppose.

But what good would it do?

All our afternoon’s progress had been uphill. About five

or half past we reached the summit, and all of a sudden

the dense curtain of the forest parted and we looked

down into a deep and beautiful gorge and out over a

wide panorama of wooded mountains with their summits

shining in the sun and their glade-furrowed sides dimmed

with purple shade. The gorge under our feet–called

Allerheiligen–afforded room in the grassy level at its

head for a cozy and delightful human nest, shut away

from the world and its botherations, and consequently

the monks of the old times had not failed to spy it out;

and here were the brown and comely ruins of their church

and convent to prove that priests had as fine an instinct

seven hundred years ago in ferreting out the choicest

nooks and corners in a land as priests have today.

A big hotel crowds the ruins a little, now, and drives

a brisk trade with summer tourists. We descended

into the gorge and had a supper which would have been

very satisfactory if the trout had not been boiled.

The Germans are pretty sure to boil a trout or anything

else if left to their own devices. This is an argument

of some value in support of the theory that they were

the original colonists of the wild islands of the coast

of Scotland. A schooner laden with oranges was wrecked

upon one of those islands a few years ago, and the gentle

savages rendered the captain such willing assistance

that he gave them as many oranges as they wanted.

Next day he asked them how they liked them. They shook

their heads and said:

“Baked, they were tough; and even boiled, they warn’t

things for a hungry man to hanker after.”

We went down the glen after supper. It is beautiful–a

mixture of sylvan loveliness and craggy wildness.

A limpid torrent goes whistling down the glen, and toward

the foot of it winds through a narrow cleft between lofty

precipices and hurls itself over a succession of falls.

After one passes the last of these he has a backward

glimpse at the falls which is very pleasing–they rise

in a seven-stepped stairway of foamy and glittering cascades,

and make a picture which is as charming as it is unusual.


[Nicodemus Dodge and the Skeleton]

We were satisfied that we could walk to Oppenau in

one day, now that we were in practice; so we set out

the next morning after breakfast determined to do it.

It was all the way downhill, and we had the loveliest

summer weather for it. So we set the pedometer and then

stretched away on an easy, regular stride, down through

the cloven forest, drawing in the fragrant breath

of the morning in deep refreshing draughts, and wishing

we might never have anything to do forever but walk

to Oppenau and keep on doing it and then doing it over again.

Now, the true charm of pedestrianism does not lie

in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking.

The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by,

and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active;

the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon

a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace

to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes

from the talk. It is no matter whether one talks wisdom

or nonsense, the case is the same, the bulk of the enjoyment

lies in the wagging of the gladsome jaw and the flapping

of the sympathetic ear.

And what motley variety of subjects a couple of people will

casually rake over in the course of a day’s tramp! There

being no constraint, a change of subject is always in order,

and so a body is not likely to keep pegging at a single

topic until it grows tiresome. We discussed everything

we knew, during the first fifteen or twenty minutes,

that morning, and then branched out into the glad, free,

boundless realm of the things we were not certain about.

Harris said that if the best writer in the world once got

the slovenly habit of doubling up his “haves” he could

never get rid of it while he lived. That is to say,

if a man gets the habit of saying “I should have liked

to have known more about it” instead of saying simply

and sensibly, “I should have liked to know more about it,”

that man’s disease is incurable. Harris said that his sort

of lapse is to be found in every copy of every newspaper

that has ever been printed in English, and in almost all

of our books. He said he had observed it in Kirkham’s

grammar and in Macaulay. Harris believed that milk-teeth

are commoner in men’s mouths than those “doubled-up haves.” [1]

1. I do not know that there have not been moments in the

course of the present session when I should have been

very glad to have accepted the proposal of my noble friend,

and to have exchanged parts in some of our evenings

of work.–[From a Speech of the English Chancellor

of the Exchequer, August, 1879.]

That changed the subject to dentistry. I said I believed

the average man dreaded tooth-pulling more than amputation,

and that he would yell quicker under the former operation

than he would under the latter. The philosopher Harris

said that the average man would not yell in either case

if he had an audience. Then he continued:

“When our brigade first went into camp on the Potomac,

we used to be brought up standing, occasionally, by an

ear-splitting howl of anguish. That meant that a soldier

was getting a tooth pulled in a tent. But the surgeons

soon changed that; they instituted open-air dentistry.

There never was a howl afterward–that is, from the man

who was having the tooth pulled. At the daily dental

hour there would always be about five hundred soldiers

gathered together in the neighborhood of that dental chair

waiting to see the performance–and help; and the moment

the surgeon took a grip on the candidate’s tooth and began

to lift, every one of those five hundred rascals would

clap his hand to his jaw and begin to hop around on one

leg and howl with all the lungs he had! It was enough

to raise your hair to hear that variegated and enormous

unanimous caterwaul burst out! With so big and so derisive

an audience as that, a suffer wouldn’t emit a sound though

you pulled his head off. The surgeons said that pretty

often a patient was compelled to laugh, in the midst

of his pangs, but that had never caught one crying out,

after the open-air exhibition was instituted.”

Dental surgeons suggested doctors, doctors suggested death,

death suggested skeletons–and so, by a logical process

the conversation melted out of one of these subjects

and into the next, until the topic of skeletons raised up

Nicodemus Dodge out of the deep grave in my memory where he

had lain buried and forgotten for twenty-five years.

When I was a boy in a printing-office in Missouri,

a loose-jointed, long-legged, tow-headed, jeans-clad

countrified cub of about sixteen lounged in one day,

and without removing his hands from the depths

of his trousers pockets or taking off his faded ruin

of a slouch hat, whose broken rim hung limp and ragged

about his eyes and ears like a bug-eaten cabbage leaf,

stared indifferently around, then leaned his hip

against the editor’s table, crossed his mighty brogans,

aimed at a distant fly from a crevice in his upper teeth,

laid him low, and said with composure:

“Whar’s the boss?”

“I am the boss,” said the editor, following this curious

bit of architecture wonderingly along up to its clock-face

with his eye.

“Don’t want anybody fur to learn the business, ’tain’t likely?”

“Well, I don’t know. Would you like to learn it?”

“Pap’s so po’ he cain’t run me no mo’, so I want to git

a show somers if I kin, ‘taint no diffunce what–I’m strong

and hearty, and I don’t turn my back on no kind of work,

hard nur soft.”

“Do you think you would like to learn the printing business?”

“Well, I don’t re’ly k’yer a durn what I DO learn,

so’s I git a chance fur to make my way. I’d jist as soon

learn print’n’s anything.”

“Can you read?”



“Well, I’ve seed people could lay over me thar.”


“Not good enough to keep store, I don’t reckon,

but up as fur as twelve-times-twelve I ain’t no slouch.

‘Tother side of that is what gits me.”

“Where is your home?”

“I’m f’m old Shelby.”

“What’s your father’s religious denomination?”

“Him? Oh, he’s a blacksmith.”

“No, no–I don’t mean his trade. What’s his RELIGIOUS


“OH–I didn’t understand you befo’. He’s a Freemason.”

“No, no, you don’t get my meaning yet. What I mean is,

does he belong to any CHURCH?”

“NOW you’re talkin’! Couldn’t make out what you was a-tryin’

to git through yo’ head no way. B’long to a CHURCH! Why,

boss, he’s ben the pizenest kind of Free-will Babtis’

for forty year. They ain’t no pizener ones ‘n what HE is.

Mighty good man, pap is. Everybody says that. If they

said any diffrunt they wouldn’t say it whar _I_ wuz–

not MUCH they wouldn’t.”

“What is your own religion?”

“Well, boss, you’ve kind o’ got me, there–and yit

you hain’t got me so mighty much, nuther. I think ‘t

if a feller he’ps another feller when he’s in trouble,

and don’t cuss, and don’t do no mean things, nur noth’n’

he ain’ no business to do, and don’t spell the Saviour’s

name with a little g, he ain’t runnin’ no resks–he’s

about as saift as he b’longed to a church.”

“But suppose he did spell it with a little g–what then?”

“Well, if he done it a-purpose, I reckon he wouldn’t

stand no chance–he OUGHTN’T to have no chance, anyway,

I’m most rotten certain ’bout that.”

“What is your name?”

“Nicodemus Dodge.”

“I think maybe you’ll do, Nicodemus. We’ll give you

a trial, anyway.”

“All right.”

“When would you like to begin?”


So, within ten minutes after we had first glimpsed this

nondescript he was one of us, and with his coat off

and hard at it.

Beyond that end of our establishment which was furthest

from the street, was a deserted garden, pathless,

and thickly grown with the bloomy and villainous “jimpson”

weed and its common friend the stately sunflower.

In the midst of this mournful spot was a decayed and aged

little “frame” house with but one room, one window, and no

ceiling–it had been a smoke-house a generation before.

Nicodemus was given this lonely and ghostly den as a bedchamber.

The village smarties recognized a treasure in Nicodemus,

right away–a butt to play jokes on. It was easy to see

that he was inconceivably green and confiding. George Jones

had the glory of perpetrating the first joke on him;

he gave him a cigar with a firecracker in it and winked

to the crowd to come; the thing exploded presently and swept

away the bulk of Nicodemus’s eyebrows and eyelashes.

He simply said:

“I consider them kind of seeg’yars dangersome,”–and

seemed to suspect nothing. The next evening Nicodemus

waylaid George and poured a bucket of ice-water over him.

One day, while Nicodemus was in swimming, Tom McElroy

“tied” his clothes. Nicodemus made a bonfire of Tom’s

by way of retaliation.

A third joke was played upon Nicodemus a day or two later–he

walked up the middle aisle of the village church, Sunday night,

with a staring handbill pinned between his shoulders.

The joker spent the remainder of the night, after church,

in the cellar of a deserted house, and Nicodemus sat on

the cellar door till toward breakfast-time to make sure

that the prisoner remembered that if any noise was made,

some rough treatment would be the consequence. The cellar

had two feet of stagnant water in it, and was bottomed

with six inches of soft mud.

But I wander from the point. It was the subject of

skeletons that brought this boy back to my recollection.

Before a very long time had elapsed, the village smarties

began to feel an uncomfortable consciousness of not having

made a very shining success out of their attempts on the

simpleton from “old Shelby.” Experimenters grew scarce

and chary. Now the young doctor came to the rescue.

There was delight and applause when he proposed to scare

Nicodemus to death, and explained how he was going to do it.

He had a noble new skeleton–the skeleton of the late

and only local celebrity, Jimmy Finn, the village

drunkard–a grisly piece of property which he had bought

of Jimmy Finn himself, at auction, for fifty dollars,

under great competition, when Jimmy lay very sick in

the tan-yard a fortnight before his death. The fifty

dollars had gone promptly for whiskey and had considerably

hurried up the change of ownership in the skeleton.

The doctor would put Jimmy Finn’s skeleton in Nicodemus’s


This was done–about half past ten in the evening.

About Nicodemus’s usual bedtime–midnight–the village

jokers came creeping stealthily through the jimpson

weeds and sunflowers toward the lonely frame den.

They reached the window and peeped in. There sat the

long-legged pauper, on his bed, in a very short shirt,

and nothing more; he was dangling his legs contentedly

back and forth, and wheezing the music of “Camptown Races”

out of a paper-overlaid comb which he was pressing

against his mouth; by him lay a new jewsharp, a new top,

and solid india-rubber ball, a handful of painted marbles,

five pounds of “store” candy, and a well-gnawed slab of

gingerbread as big and as thick as a volume of sheet-music.

He had sold the skeleton to a traveling quack for three

dollars and was enjoying the result!

Just as we had finished talking about skeletons and were

drifting into the subject of fossils, Harris and I heard

a shout, and glanced up the steep hillside. We saw men

and women standing away up there looking frightened,

and there was a bulky object tumbling and floundering

down the steep slope toward us. We got out of the way,

and when the object landed in the road it proved to be a boy.

He had tripped and fallen, and there was nothing for him

to do but trust to luck and take what might come.

When one starts to roll down a place like that, there is

no stopping till the bottom is reached. Think of people

FARMING on a slant which is so steep that the best you can

say of it–if you want to be fastidiously accurate–is,

that it is a little steeper than a ladder and not quite

so steep as a mansard roof. But that is what they do.

Some of the little farms on the hillside opposite Heidelberg

were stood up “edgeways.” The boy was wonderfully jolted up,

and his head was bleeding, from cuts which it had got from

small stones on the way.

Harris and I gathered him up and set him on a stone,

and by that time the men and women had scampered down

and brought his cap.

Men, women, and children flocked out from neighboring

cottages and joined the crowd; the pale boy was petted,

and stared at, and commiserated, and water was

brought for him to drink and bathe his bruises in.

And such another clatter of tongues! All who had seen

the catastrophe were describing it at once, and each

trying to talk louder than his neighbor; and one youth

of a superior genius ran a little way up the hill,

called attention, tripped, fell, rolled down among us,

and thus triumphantly showed exactly how the thing had been done.

Harris and I were included in all the descriptions;

how we were coming along; how Hans Gross shouted;

how we looked up startled; how we saw Peter coming like

a cannon-shot; how judiciously we got out of the way,

and let him come; and with what presence of mind we

picked him up and brushed him off and set him on a rock

when the performance was over. We were as much heroes

as anybody else, except Peter, and were so recognized;

we were taken with Peter and the populace to Peter’s

mother’s cottage, and there we ate bread and cheese,

and drank milk and beer with everybody, and had a most

sociable good time; and when we left we had a handshake

all around, and were receiving and shouting back LEB’

WOHL’s until a turn in the road separated us from our

cordial and kindly new friends forever.

We accomplished our undertaking. At half past eight

in the evening we stepped into Oppenau, just eleven

hours and a half out of Allerheiligen–one hundred

and forty-six miles. This is the distance by pedometer;

the guide-book and the Imperial Ordinance maps make

it only ten and a quarter–a surprising blunder,

for these two authorities are usually singularly accurate

in the matter of distances.


[I Protect the Empress of Germany]

That was a thoroughly satisfactory walk–and the only

one we were ever to have which was all the way downhill.

We took the train next morning and returned to Baden-Baden

through fearful fogs of dust. Every seat was crowded, too;

for it was Sunday, and consequently everybody was taking

a “pleasure” excursion. Hot! the sky was an oven–and

a sound one, too, with no cracks in it to let in any air.

An odd time for a pleasure excursion, certainly!

Sunday is the great day on the continent–the free day,

the happy day. One can break the Sabbath in a hundred

ways without committing any sin.

We do not work on Sunday, because the commandment forbids it;

the Germans do not work on Sunday, because the commandment

forbids it. We rest on Sunday, because the commandment

requires it; the Germans rest on Sunday because the

commandment requires it. But in the definition

of the word “rest” lies all the difference. With us,

its Sunday meaning is, stay in the house and keep still;

with the Germans its Sunday and week-day meanings seem

to be the same–rest the TIRED PART, and never mind the

other parts of the frame; rest the tired part, and use

the means best calculated to rest that particular part.

Thus: If one’s duties have kept him in the house all the week,

it will rest him to be out on Sunday; if his duties

have required him to read weighty and serious matter all

the week, it will rest him to read light matter on Sunday;

if his occupation has busied him with death and funerals

all the week, it will rest him to go to the theater Sunday

night and put in two or three hours laughing at a comedy;

if he is tired with digging ditches or felling trees

all the week, it will rest him to lie quiet in the house

on Sunday; if the hand, the arm, the brain, the tongue,

or any other member, is fatigued with inanition,

it is not to be rested by added a day’s inanition;

but if a member is fatigued with exertion, inanition is

the right rest for it. Such is the way in which the Germans

seem to define the word “rest”; that is to say, they rest

a member by recreating, recuperating, restore its forces.

But our definition is less broad. We all rest alike

on Sunday–by secluding ourselves and keeping still,

whether that is the surest way to rest the most of us

or not. The Germans make the actors, the preachers,

etc., work on Sunday. We encourage the preachers,

the editors, the printers, etc., to work on Sunday,

and imagine that none of the sin of it falls upon us;

but I do not know how we are going to get around the fact

that if it is wrong for the printer to work at his trade

on Sunday it must be equally wrong for the preacher to

work at his, since the commandment has made no exception

in his favor. We buy Monday morning’s paper and read it,

and thus encourage Sunday printing. But I shall never do

it again.

The Germans remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy,

by abstaining from work, as commanded; we keep it

holy by abstaining from work, as commanded, and by

also abstaining from play, which is not commanded.

Perhaps we constructively BREAK the command to rest,

because the resting we do is in most cases only a name,

and not a fact.

These reasonings have sufficed, in a measure, to mend

the rent in my conscience which I made by traveling to

Baden-Baden that Sunday. We arrived in time to furbish

up and get to the English church before services began.

We arrived in considerable style, too, for the landlord

had ordered the first carriage that could be found,

since there was no time to lose, and our coachman was

so splendidly liveried that we were probably mistaken

for a brace of stray dukes; why else were we honored

with a pew all to ourselves, away up among the very elect

at the left of the chancel? That was my first thought.

In the pew directly in front of us sat an elderly lady,

plainly and cheaply dressed; at her side sat a young

lady with a very sweet face, and she also was quite

simply dressed; but around us and about us were clothes

and jewels which it would do anybody’s heart good to

worship in.

I thought it was pretty manifest that the elderly lady

was embarrassed at finding herself in such a conspicuous

place arrayed in such cheap apparel; I began to feel sorry

for her and troubled about her. She tried to seem very busy

with her prayer-book and her responses, and unconscious

that she was out of place, but I said to myself, “She is

not succeeding–there is a distressed tremulousness

in her voice which betrays increasing embarrassment.”

Presently the Savior’s name was mentioned, and in her flurry

she lost her head completely, and rose and courtesied,

instead of making a slight nod as everybody else did.

The sympathetic blood surged to my temples and I turned and gave

those fine birds what I intended to be a beseeching look,

but my feelings got the better of me and changed it into

a look which said, “If any of you pets of fortune laugh

at this poor soul, you will deserve to be flayed for it.”

Things went from bad to worse, and I shortly found myself

mentally taking the unfriended lady under my protection.

My mind was wholly upon her. I forgot all about the sermon.

Her embarrassment took stronger and stronger hold upon her;

she got to snapping the lid of her smelling-bottle–it

made a loud, sharp sound, but in her trouble she snapped

and snapped away, unconscious of what she was doing.

The last extremity was reached when the collection-plate

began its rounds; the moderate people threw in pennies,

the nobles and the rich contributed silver, but she laid

a twenty-mark gold piece upon the book-rest before her

with a sounding slap! I said to myself, “She has parted

with all her little hoard to buy the consideration of these

unpitying people–it is a sorrowful spectacle.” I did not

venture to look around this time; but as the service closed,

I said to myself, “Let them laugh, it is their opportunity;

but at the door of this church they shall see her step

into our fine carriage with us, and our gaudy coachman

shall drive her home.”

Then she rose–and all the congregation stood while she

walked down the aisle. She was the Empress of Germany!

No–she had not been so much embarrassed as I had supposed.

My imagination had got started on the wrong scent, and that

is always hopeless; one is sure, then, to go straight

on misinterpreting everything, clear through to the end.

The young lady with her imperial Majesty was a maid of

honor–and I had been taking her for one of her boarders,

all the time.

This is the only time I have ever had an Empress under

my personal protection; and considering my inexperience,

I wonder I got through with it so well. I should have

been a little embarrassed myself if I had known earlier

what sort of a contract I had on my hands.

We found that the Empress had been in Baden-Baden

several days. It is said that she never attends

any but the English form of church service.

I lay abed and read and rested from my journey’s fatigues

the remainder of that Sunday, but I sent my agent to represent

me at the afternoon service, for I never allow anything

to interfere with my habit of attending church twice every


There was a vast crowd in the public grounds that night

to hear the band play the “Fremersberg.” This piece tells

one of the old legends of the region; how a great noble

of the Middle Ages got lost in the mountains, and wandered

about with his dogs in a violent storm, until at last

the faint tones of a monastery bell, calling the monks

to a midnight service, caught his ear, and he followed

the direction the sounds came from and was saved.

A beautiful air ran through the music, without ceasing,

sometimes loud and strong, sometimes so soft that it

could hardly be distinguished–but it was always there;

it swung grandly along through the shrill whistling

of the storm-wind, the rattling patter of the rain,

and the boom and crash of the thunder; it wound soft

and low through the lesser sounds, the distant ones,

such as the throbbing of the convent bell, the melodious

winding of the hunter’s horn, the distressed bayings

of his dogs, and the solemn chanting of the monks;

it rose again, with a jubilant ring, and mingled itself

with the country songs and dances of the peasants assembled

in the convent hall to cheer up the rescued huntsman

while he ate his supper. The instruments imitated all

these sounds with a marvelous exactness. More than one

man started to raise his umbrella when the storm burst

forth and the sheets of mimic rain came driving by;

it was hardly possible to keep from putting your hand

to your hat when the fierce wind began to rage and shriek;

and it was NOT possible to refrain from starting when

those sudden and charmingly real thunder-crashes were

let loose.

I suppose the “Fremersberg” is a very low-grade music;

I know, indeed, that it MUST be low-grade music, because it

delighted me, warmed me, moved me, stirred me, uplifted me,

enraptured me, that I was full of cry all the time,

and mad with enthusiasm. My soul had never had such a

scouring out since I was born. The solemn and majestic

chanting of the monks was not done by instruments,

but by men’s voices; and it rose and fell, and rose again

in that rich confusion of warring sounds, and pulsing bells,

and the stately swing of that ever-present enchanting air,

and it seemed to me that nothing but the very lowest

of low-grade music COULD be so divinely beautiful.

The great crowd which the “Fremersberg” had called out was

another evidence that it was low-grade music; for only

the few are educated up to a point where high-grade music

gives pleasure. I have never heard enough classic music

to be able to enjoy it. I dislike the opera because I want

to love it and can’t.

I suppose there are two kinds of music–one kind which

one feels, just as an oyster might, and another sort

which requires a higher faculty, a faculty which must

be assisted and developed by teaching. Yet if base music

gives certain of us wings, why should we want any other?

But we do. We want it because the higher and better

like it. We want it without giving it the necessary

time and trouble; so we climb into that upper tier,

that dress-circle, by a lie; we PRETEND we like it.

I know several of that sort of people–and I propose

to be one of them myself when I get home with my fine

European education.

And then there is painting. What a red rag is to a bull,

Turner’s “Slave Ship” was to me, before I studied art.

Mr. Ruskin is educated in art up to a point where that

picture throws him into as mad an ecstasy of pleasure

as it used to throw me into one of rage, last year,

when I was ignorant. His cultivation enables him–and me,

now–to see water in that glaring yellow mud, and natural

effects in those lurid explosions of mixed smoke and flame,

and crimson sunset glories; it reconciles him–and me,

now–to the floating of iron cable-chains and other

unfloatable things; it reconciles us to fishes swimming

around on top of the mud–I mean the water. The most of

the picture is a manifest impossibility–that is to say,

a lie; and only rigid cultivation can enable a man to find

truth in a lie. But it enabled Mr. Ruskin to do it,

and it has enabled me to do it, and I am thankful for it.

A Boston newspaper reporter went and took a look at the Slave

Ship floundering about in that fierce conflagration of reds

and yellows, and said it reminded him of a tortoise-shell

cat having a fit in a platter of tomatoes. In my then

uneducated state, that went home to my non-cultivation,

and I thought here is a man with an unobstructed eye.

Mr. Ruskin would have said: This person is an ass.

That is what I would say, now. [1]

1. Months after this was written, I happened into the National

Gallery in London, and soon became so fascinated with the

Turner pictures that I could hardly get away from the place.

I went there often, afterward, meaning to see the rest

of the gallery, but the Turner spell was too strong;

it could not be shaken off. However, the Turners

which attracted me most did not remind me of the Slave Ship.

However, our business in Baden-Baden this time,

was to join our courier. I had thought it best

to hire one, as we should be in Italy, by and by,

and we did not know the language. Neither did he.

We found him at the hotel, ready to take charge of us.

I asked him if he was “all fixed.” He said he was.

That was very true. He had a trunk, two small satchels,

and an umbrella. I was to pay him fifty-five dollars

a month and railway fares. On the continent the railway

fare on a trunk is about the same it is on a man.

Couriers do not have to pay any board and lodging.

This seems a great saving to the tourist–at first.

It does not occur to the tourist that SOMEBODY pays that

man’s board and lodging. It occurs to him by and by,

however, in one of his lucid moments.


[Hunted by the Little Chamois]

Next morning we left in the train for Switzerland,

and reached Lucerne about ten o’clock at night.

The first discovery I made was that the beauty of the lake

had not been exaggerated. Within a day or two I made

another discovery. This was, that the lauded chamois

is not a wild goat; that it is not a horned animal;

that it is not shy; that it does not avoid human society;

and that there is no peril in hunting it. The chamois is

a black or brown creature no bigger than a mustard seed;

you do not have to go after it, it comes after you;

it arrives in vast herds and skips and scampers all over

your body, inside your clothes; thus it is not shy,

but extremely sociable; it is not afraid of man, on the

contrary, it will attack him; its bite is not dangerous,

but neither is it pleasant; its activity has not been

overstated –if you try to put your finger on it,

it will skip a thousand times its own length at one jump,

and no eye is sharp enough to see where it lights.

A great deal of romantic nonsense has been written

about the Swiss chamois and the perils of hunting it,

whereas the truth is that even women and children

hunt it, and fearlessly; indeed, everybody hunts it;

the hunting is going on all the time, day and night,

in bed and out of it. It is poetic foolishness to hunt

it with a gun; very few people do that; there is not

one man in a million who can hit it with a gun.

It is much easier to catch it that it is to shoot it,

and only the experienced chamois-hunter can do either.

Another common piece of exaggeration is that about the

“scarcity” of the chamois. It is the reverse of scarce.

Droves of one hundred million chamois are not unusual

in the Swiss hotels. Indeed, they are so numerous

as to be a great pest. The romancers always dress up

the chamois-hunter in a fanciful and picturesque costume,

whereas the best way to hut this game is to do it without

any costume at all. The article of commerce called

chamois-skin is another fraud; nobody could skin a chamois,

it is too small. The creature is a humbug in every way,

and everything which has been written about it is

sentimental exaggeration. It was no pleasure to me to find

the chamois out, for he had been one of my pet illusions;

all my life it had been my dream to see him in his native

wilds some day, and engage in the adventurous sport

of chasing him from cliff to cliff. It is no pleasure

to me to expose him, now, and destroy the reader’s delight

in him and respect for him, but still it must be done,

for when an honest writer discovers an imposition it

is his simple duty to strip it bare and hurl it down

from its place of honor, no matter who suffers by it;

any other course would render him unworthy of the public


Lucerne is a charming place. It begins at the water’s edge,

with a fringe of hotels, and scrambles up and spreads

itself over two or three sharp hills in a crowded,

disorderly, but picturesque way, offering to the eye

a heaped-up confusion of red roofs, quaint gables,

dormer windows, toothpick steeples, with here and there

a bit of ancient embattled wall bending itself over

the ridges, worm-fashion, and here and there an old square

tower of heavy masonry. And also here and there a town

clock with only one hand–a hand which stretches across

the dial and has no joint in it; such a clock helps out

the picture, but you cannot tell the time of day by it.

Between the curving line of hotels and the lake is a broad

avenue with lamps and a double rank of low shade trees.

The lake-front is walled with masonry like a pier,

and has a railing, to keep people from walking overboard.

All day long the vehicles dash along the avenue, and nurses,

children, and tourists sit in the shade of the trees,

or lean on the railing and watch the schools of fishes

darting about in the clear water, or gaze out over the lake

at the stately border of snow-hooded mountains peaks.

Little pleasure steamers, black with people, are coming

and going all the time; and everywhere one sees young

girls and young men paddling about in fanciful rowboats,

or skimming along by the help of sails when there is any wind.

The front rooms of the hotels have little railed balconies,

where one may take his private luncheon in calm,

cool comfort and look down upon this busy and pretty

scene and enjoy it without having to do any of the work

connected with it.

Most of the people, both male and female, are in walking

costume, and carry alpenstocks. Evidently, it is not

considered safe to go about in Switzerland, even in town,

without an alpenstock. If the tourist forgets and

comes down to breakfast without his alpenstock he goes

back and gets it, and stands it up in the corner.

When his touring in Switzerland is finished, he does not

throw that broomstick away, but lugs it home with him,

to the far corners of the earth, although this costs him

more trouble and bother than a baby or a courier could.

You see, the alpenstock is his trophy; his name

is burned upon it; and if he has climbed a hill,

or jumped a brook, or traversed a brickyard with it,

he has the names of those places burned upon it, too.

Thus it is his regimental flag, so to speak, and bears

the record of his achievements. It is worth three francs

when he buys it, but a bonanza could not purchase it

after his great deeds have been inscribed upon it.

There are artisans all about Switzerland whose trade it is

to burn these things upon the alpenstock of the tourist.

And observe, a man is respected in Switzerland according

to his alpenstock. I found I could get no attention there,

while I carried an unbranded one. However, branding is

not expected, so I soon remedied that. The effect

upon the next detachment of tourists was very marked.

I felt repaid for my trouble.

Half of the summer horde in Switzerland is made up of

English people; the other half is made up of many nationalities,

the Germans leading and the Americans coming next.

The Americans were not as numerous as I had expected

they would be.

The seven-thirty table d’ho^te at the great Schweitzerhof

furnished a mighty array and variety of nationalities,

but it offered a better opportunity to observe costumes

than people, for the multitude sat at immensely long tables,

and therefore the faces were mainly seen in perspective;

but the breakfasts were served at small round tables,

and then if one had the fortune to get a table in the

midst of the assemblage he could have as many faces

to study as he could desire. We used to try to guess out

the nationalities, and generally succeeded tolerably well.

Sometimes we tried to guess people’s names; but that was

a failure; that is a thing which probably requires a good

deal of practice. We presently dropped it and gave our

efforts to less difficult particulars. One morning I


“There is an American party.”

Harris said:

“Yes–but name the state.”

I named one state, Harris named another. We agreed upon

one thing, however–that the young girl with the party

was very beautiful, and very tastefully dressed.

But we disagreed as to her age. I said she was eighteen,

Harris said she was twenty. The dispute between us

waxed warm, and I finally said, with a pretense of being

in earnest:

“Well, there is one way to settle the matter–I will go

and ask her.”

Harris said, sarcastically, “Certainly, that is the thing

to do. All you need to do is to use the common formula

over here: go and say, ‘I’m an American!’ Of course she

will be glad to see you.”

Then he hinted that perhaps there was no great danger

of my venturing to speak to her.

I said, “I was only talking–I didn’t intend to approach her,

but I see that you do not know what an intrepid person

I am. I am not afraid of any woman that walks.

I will go and speak to this young girl.”

The thing I had in my mind was not difficult.

I meant to address her in the most respectful way and ask

her to pardon me if her strong resemblance to a former

acquaintance of mine was deceiving me; and when she should

reply that the name I mentioned was not the name she bore,

I meant to beg pardon again, most respectfully, and retire.

There would be no harm done. I walked to her table,

bowed to the gentleman, then turned to her and was about

to begin my little speech when she exclaimed:

“I KNEW I wasn’t mistaken–I told John it was you!

John said it probably wasn’t, but I knew I was right.

I said you would recognize me presently and come over;

and I’m glad you did, for I shouldn’t have felt much flattered

if you had gone out of this room without recognizing me.

Sit down, sit down–how odd it is–you are the last person I

was ever expecting to see again.”

This was a stupefying surprise. It took my wits

clear away, for an instant. However, we shook hands

cordially all around, and I sat down. But truly this

was the tightest place I ever was in. I seemed to vaguely

remember the girl’s face, now, but I had no idea where I

had seen it before, or what named belonged with it.

I immediately tried to get up a diversion about Swiss scenery,

to keep her from launching into topics that might

betray that I did not know her, but it was of no use,

she went right along upon matters which interested her more:

“Oh dear, what a night that was, when the sea washed

the forward boats away–do you remember it?”

“Oh, DON’T I!” said I–but I didn’t. I wished the sea

had washed the rudder and the smoke-stack and the captain

away–then I could have located this questioner.

“And don’t you remember how frightened poor Mary was,

and how she cried?”

“Indeed I do!” said I. “Dear me, how it all comes back!”

I fervently wished it WOULD come back–but my memory was

a blank. The wise way would have been to frankly own up;

but I could not bring myself to do that, after the young

girl had praised me so for recognizing her; so I went on,

deeper and deeper into the mire, hoping for a chance clue

but never getting one. The Unrecognizable continued,

with vivacity:

“Do you know, George married Mary, after all?”

“Why, no! Did he?”

“Indeed he did. He said he did not believe she was half

as much to blame as her father was, and I thought he

was right. Didn’t you?”

“Of course he was. It was a perfectly plain case.

I always said so.”

“Why, no you didn’t!–at least that summer.”

“Oh, no, not that summer. No, you are perfectly right

about that. It was the following winter that I said it.”

“Well, as it turned out, Mary was not in the least

to blame –it was all her father’s fault–at least

his and old Darley’s.”

It was necessary to say something–so I said:

“I always regarded Darley as a troublesome old thing.”

“So he was, but then they always had a great affection

for him, although he had so many eccentricities.

You remember that when the weather was the least cold,

he would try to come into the house.”

I was rather afraid to proceed. Evidently Darley wa not

a man–he must be some other kind of animal–possibly

a dog, maybe an elephant. However, tails are common

to all animals, so I ventured to say:

“And what a tail he had!”

“ONE! He had a thousand!”

This was bewildering. I did not quite know what to say,

so I only said:

“Yes, he WAS rather well fixed in the matter of tails.”

“For a negro, and a crazy one at that, I should say he was,”

said she.

It was getting pretty sultry for me. I said to myself,

“Is it possible she is going to stop there, and wait for

me to speak? If she does, the conversation is blocked.

A negro with a thousand tails is a topic which a person

cannot talk upon fluently and instructively without more

or less preparation. As to diving rashly into such a

vast subject–”

But here, to my gratitude, she interrupted my thoughts

by saying:

“Yes, when it came to tales of his crazy woes, there was

simply no end to them if anybody would listen. His own

quarters were comfortable enough, but when the weather

was cold, the family were sure to have his company–nothing

could keep him out of the house. But they always bore it

kindly because he had saved Tom’s life, years before.

You remember Tom?

“Oh, perfectly. Fine fellow he was, too.”

“Yes he was. And what a pretty little thing his child was!”

“You may well say that. I never saw a prettier child.”

“I used to delight to pet it and dandle it and play

with it.”

“So did I.”

“You named it. What WAS that name? I can’t call it

to mind.”

It appeared to me that the ice was getting pretty

thin, here. I would have given something to know

what the child’s was. However, I had the good luck

to think of a name that would fit either sex–so I brought it


“I named it Frances.”

“From a relative, I suppose? But you named the one that died,

too–one that I never saw. What did you call that one?”

I was out of neutral names, but as the child was dead

and she had never seen it, I thought I might risk a name

for it and trust to luck. Therefore I said:

“I called that one Thomas Henry.”

She said, musingly:

“That is very singular … very singular.”

I sat still and let the cold sweat run down. I was

in a good deal of trouble, but I believed I could worry

through if she wouldn’t ask me to name any more children.

I wondered where the lightning was going to strike next.

She was still ruminating over that last child’s title,

but presently she said:

“I have always been sorry you were away at the time–I

would have had you name my child.”

“YOUR child! Are you married?”

“I have been married thirteen years.”

“Christened, you mean.”

`”No, married. The youth by your side is my son.”

“It seems incredible–even impossible. I do not mean

any harm by it, but would you mind telling me if you

are any over eighteen?–that is to say, will you tell

me how old you are?”

“I was just nineteen the day of the storm we were

talking about. That was my birthday.”

That did not help matters, much, as I did not know

the date of the storm. I tried to think of some

non-committal thing to say, to keep up my end of the talk,

and render my poverty in the matter of reminiscences

as little noticeable as possible, but I seemed to be

about out of non-committal things. I was about to say,

“You haven’t changed a bit since then”–but that was risky.

I thought of saying, “You have improved ever so much

since then”–but that wouldn’t answer, of course.

I was about to try a shy at the weather, for a saving change,

when the girl slipped in ahead of me and said:

“How I have enjoyed this talk over those happy old times–

haven’t you?”

“I never have spent such a half-hour in all my life before!”

said I, with emotion; and I could have added, with a

near approach to truth, “and I would rather be scalped

than spend another one like it.” I was holily grateful

to be through with the ordeal, and was about to make

my good-bys and get out, when the girl said:

“But there is one thing that is ever so puzzling to me.”

“Why, what is that?”

“That dead child’s name. What did you say it was?”

Here was another balmy place to be in: I had forgotten the

child’s name; I hadn’t imagined it would be needed again.

However, I had to pretend to know, anyway, so I said:

“Joseph William.”

The youth at my side corrected me, and said:

“No, Thomas Henry.”

I thanked him–in words–and said, with trepidation:

“O yes–I was thinking of another child that I named–I

have named a great many, and I get them confused–this

one was named Henry Thompson–”

“Thomas Henry,” calmly interposed the boy.

I thanked him again–strictly in words–and stammered


“Thomas Henry–yes, Thomas Henry was the poor child’s name.

I named him for Thomas–er–Thomas Carlyle, the great author,

you know–and Henry–er–er–Henry the Eight. The parents

were very grateful to have a child named Thomas Henry.”

“That makes it more singular than ever,” murmured my

beautiful friend.

“Does it? Why?”

“Because when the parents speak of that child now,

they always call it Susan Amelia.”

That spiked my gun. I could not say anything. I was entirely

out of verbal obliquities; to go further would be to lie,

and that I would not do; so I simply sat still and suffered

–sat mutely and resignedly there, and sizzled–for I

was being slowly fried to death in my own blushes.

Presently the enemy laughed a happy laugh and said:

“I HAVE enjoyed this talk over old times, but you have not.

I saw very soon that you were only pretending to know me,

and so as I had wasted a compliment on you in the beginning,

I made up my mind to punish you. And I have succeeded

pretty well. I was glad to see that you knew George and Tom

and Darley, for I had never heard of them before and therefore

could not be sure that you had; and I was glad to learn

the names of those imaginary children, too. One can get

quite a fund of information out of you if one goes at

it cleverly. Mary and the storm, and the sweeping away

of the forward boats, were facts–all the rest was fiction.

Mary was my sister; her full name was Mary ——. NOW

do you remember me?”

“Yes,” I said, “I do remember you now; and you are as

hard-headed as you were thirteen years ago in that ship,

else you wouldn’t have punished me so. You haven’t

change your nature nor your person, in any way at all;

you look as young as you did then, you are just as beautiful

as you were then, and you have transmitted a deal

of your comeliness to this fine boy. There–if that

speech moves you any, let’s fly the flag of truce,

with the understanding that I am conquered and confess it.”

All of which was agreed to and accomplished, on the spot.

When I went back to Harris, I said:

“Now you see what a person with talent and address can do.”

“Excuse me, I see what a person of colossal ignorance and

simplicity can do. The idea of your going and intruding

on a party of strangers, that way, and talking for half

an hour; why I never heard of a man in his right mind

doing such a thing before. What did you say to them?”

I never said any harm. I merely asked the girl what her

name was.”

“I don’t doubt it. Upon my word I don’t. I think you

were capable of it. It was stupid in me to let you go

over there and make such an exhibition of yourself.

But you know I couldn’t really believe you would do such

an inexcusable thing. What will those people think

of us? But how did you say it?–I mean the manner of it.

I hope you were not abrupt.”

“No, I was careful about that. I said, ‘My friend and I

would like to know what your name is, if you don’t mind.'”

“No, that was not abrupt. There is a polish about it that

does you infinite credit. And I am glad you put me in;

that was a delicate attention which I appreciate at its

full value. What did she do?”

“She didn’t do anything in particular. She told me

her name.”

“Simply told you her name. Do you mean to say she did

not show any surprise?”

“Well, now I come to think, she did show something;

maybe it was surprise; I hadn’t thought of that–I took

it for gratification.”

“Oh, undoubtedly you were right; it must have been gratification;

it could not be otherwise than gratifying to be assaulted

by a stranger with such a question as that. Then what did you


“I offered my hand and the party gave me a shake.”

“I saw it! I did not believe my own eyes, at the time.

Did the gentleman say anything about cutting your throat?”

“No, they all seemed glad to see me, as far as I could judge.”

“And do you know, I believe they were. I think they said

to themselves, ‘Doubtless this curiosity has got away from

his keeper–let us amuse ourselves with him.’ There is

no other way of accounting for their facile docility.

You sat down. Did they ASK you to sit down?”

“No, they did not ask me, but I suppose they did not think

of it.”

“You have an unerring instinct. What else did you do?

What did you talk about?”

“Well, I asked the girl how old she was.”

“UNdoubtedly. Your delicacy is beyond praise. Go on,

go on–don’t mind my apparent misery–I always look

so when I am steeped in a profound and reverent joy.

Go on–she told you her age?”

“Yes, she told me her age, and all about her mother,

and her grandmother, and her other relations, and all

about herself.”

“Did she volunteer these statistics?”

“No, not exactly that. I asked the questions and she

answered them.”

“This is divine. Go on–it is not possible that you

forgot to inquire into her politics?”

“No, I thought of that. She is a democrat, her husband

is a republican, and both of them are Baptists.”

“Her husband? Is that child married?”

“She is not a child. She is married, and that is her

husband who is there with her.”

“Has she any children.”

“Yes–seven and a half.”

“That is impossible.”

“No, she has them. She told me herself.”

“Well, but seven and a HALF? How do you make out the half?

Where does the half come in?”

“There is a child which she had by another husband–

not this one but another one–so it is a stepchild,

and they do not count in full measure.”

“Another husband? Has she another husband?”

“Yes, four. This one is number four.”

“I don’t believe a word of it. It is impossible,

upon its face. Is that boy there her brother?”

“No, that is her son. He is her youngest. He is not

as old as he looked; he is only eleven and a half.”

“These things are all manifestly impossible. This is a

wretched business. It is a plain case: they simply took

your measure, and concluded to fill you up. They seem

to have succeeded. I am glad I am not in the mess;

they may at least be charitable enough to think there

ain’t a pair of us. Are they going to stay here long?”

“No, they leave before noon.”

“There is one man who is deeply grateful for that.

How did you find out? You asked, I suppose?”

“No, along at first I inquired into their plans, in a

general way, and they said they were going to be here

a week, and make trips round about; but toward the end

of the interview, when I said you and I would tour around

with them with pleasure, and offered to bring you over

and introduce you, they hesitated a little, and asked

if you were from the same establishment that I was.

I said you were, and then they said they had changed

their mind and considered it necessary to start at once

and visit a sick relative in Siberia.”

“Ah, me, you struck the summit! You struck the loftiest

altitude of stupidity that human effort has ever reached.

You shall have a monument of jackasses’ skulls as high

as the Strasburg spire if you die before I do.

They wanted to know I was from the same ‘establishment’

that you hailed from, did they? What did they mean by


“I don’t know; it never occurred to me to ask.”

“Well _I_ know. they meant an asylum–an IDIOT asylum,

do you understand? So they DO think there’s a pair of us,

after all. Now what do you think of yourself?”

“Well, I don’t know. I didn’t know I was doing any harm;

I didn’t MEAN to do any harm. They were very nice people,

and they seemed to like me.”

Harris made some rude remarks and left for his bedroom–

to break some furniture, he said. He was a singularly

irascible man; any little thing would disturb his temper.

I had been well scorched by the young woman, but no matter,

I took it out on Harris. One should always “get even”

in some way, else the sore place will go on hurting.


[The Nest of the Cuckoo-clock]

The Hofkirche is celebrated for its organ concerts.

All summer long the tourists flock to that church about six

o’clock in the evening, and pay their franc, and listen

to the noise. They don’t stay to hear all of it, but get up

and tramp out over the sounding stone floor, meeting late

comers who tramp in in a sounding and vigorous way.

This tramping back and forth is kept up nearly all the time,

and is accented by the continuous slamming of the door,

and the coughing and barking and sneezing of the crowd.

Meantime, the big organ is booming and crashing and

thundering away, doing its best to prove that it is

the biggest and best organ in Europe, and that a tight

little box of a church is the most favorable place

to average and appreciate its powers in. It is true,

there were some soft and merciful passages occasionally,

but the tramp-tramp of the tourists only allowed one to get

fitful glimpses of them, so to speak. Then right away

the organist would let go another avalanche.

The commerce of Lucerne consists mainly in gimcrackery of the

souvenir sort; the shops are packed with Alpine crystals,

photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings.

I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the

Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them.

But they are libels upon him, every one of them.

There is a subtle something about the majestic pathos

of the original which the copyist cannot get. Even the sun

fails to get it; both the photographer and the carver give

you a dying lion, and that is all. The shape is right,

the attitude is right, the proportions are right, but that

indescribable something which makes the Lion of Lucerne

the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world,

is wanting.

The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low

cliff–for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff.

His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. How head

is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder,

his protecting paw rests upon the lilies of France.

Vines hang down the cliff and wave in the wind, and a clear

stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base,

and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored,

among the water-lilies.

Around about are green trees and grass. The place is

a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise

and stir and confusion–and all this is fitting, for lions

do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals

in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings.

The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere,

but nowhere so impressive as where he is.

Martyrdom is the luckiest fate that can befall some people.

Louis XVI did not die in his bed, consequently history is

very gentle with him; she is charitable toward his failings,

and she finds in him high virtues which are not usually

considered to be virtues when they are lodged in kings.

She makes him out to be a person with a meek and modest

spirit, the heart of a female saint, and a wrong head.

None of these qualities are kingly but the last.

Taken together they make a character which would have fared

harshly at the hands of history if its owner had had the ill

luck to miss martyrdom. With the best intentions to do

the right thing, he always managed to do the wrong one.

Moreover, nothing could get the female saint out of him.

He knew, well enough, that in national emergencies he must

not consider how he ought to act, as a man, but how he

ought to act as a king; so he honestly tried to sink

the man and be the king–but it was a failure, he only

succeeded in being the female saint. He was not instant

in season, but out of season. He could not be persuaded

to do a thing while it could do any good–he was iron,

he was adamant in his stubbornness then–but as soon as

the thing had reached a point where it would be positively

harmful to do it, do it he would, and nothing could

stop him. He did not do it because it would be harmful,

but because he hoped it was not yet too late to achieve

by it the good which it would have done if applied earlier.

His comprehension was always a train or two behindhand.

If a national toe required amputating, he could not see

that it needed anything more than poulticing; when others

saw that the mortification had reached the knee, he first

perceived that the toe needed cutting off–so he cut it off;

and he severed the leg at the knee when others saw that the

disease had reached the thigh. He was good, and honest,

and well meaning, in the matter of chasing national diseases,

but he never could overtake one. As a private man,

he would have been lovable; but viewed as a king, he was

strictly contemptible.

His was a most unroyal career, but the most pitiable

spectacle in it was his sentimental treachery to his

Swiss guard on that memorable 10th of August, when he

allowed those heroes to be massacred in his cause,

and forbade them to shed the “sacred French blood”

purporting to be flowing in the veins of the red-capped

mob of miscreants that was raging around the palace.

He meant to be kingly, but he was only the female saint

once more. Some of his biographers think that upon this

occasion the spirit of Saint Louis had descended upon him.

It must have found pretty cramped quarters. If Napoleon

the First had stood in the shoes of Louis XVI that day,

instead of being merely a casual and unknown looker-on,

there would be no Lion of Lucerne, now, but there would

be a well-stocked Communist graveyard in Paris which would

answer just as well to remember the 10th of August by.

Martyrdom made a saint of Mary Queen of Scots three

hundred years ago, and she has hardly lost all of her

saintship yet. Martyrdom made a saint of the trivial

and foolish Marie Antoinette, and her biographers still

keep her fragrant with the odor of sanctity to this day,

while unconsciously proving upon almost every page they write

that the only calamitous instinct which her husband lacked,

she supplied–the instinct to root out and get rid of

an honest, able, and loyal official, wherever she found him.

The hideous but beneficent French Revolution would have

been deferred, or would have fallen short of completeness,

or even might not have happened at all, if Marie

Antoinette had made the unwise mistake of not being born.

The world owes a great deal to the French Revolution,

and consequently to its two chief promoters, Louis the

Poor in Spirit and his queen.

We did not buy any wooden images of the Lion, nor any ivory

or ebony or marble or chalk or sugar or chocolate ones,

or even any photographic slanders of him. The truth is,

these copies were so common, so universal, in the shops

and everywhere, that they presently became as intolerable

to the wearied eye as the latest popular melody usually

becomes to the harassed ear. In Lucerne, too, the wood

carvings of other sorts, which had been so pleasant to look

upon when one saw them occasionally at home, soon began

to fatigue us. We grew very tired of seeing wooden quails

and chickens picking and struting around clock-faces,

and still more tired of seeing wooden images of the alleged

chamois skipping about wooden rocks, or lying upon them

in family groups, or peering alertly up from behind them.

The first day, I would have bought a hundred and fifty

of these clocks if I had the money–and I did buy three–

but on the third day the disease had run its course,

I had convalesced, and was in the market once more–trying

to sell. However, I had no luck; which was just as well,

for the things will be pretty enough, no doubt, when I get

them home.

For years my pet aversion had been the cuckoo clock;

now here I was, at last, right in the creature’s home;

so wherever I went that distressing “HOO’hoo! HOO’hoo!

HOO’hoo!” was always in my ears. For a nervous man,

this was a fine state of things. Some sounds are hatefuler

than others, but no sound is quite so inane, and silly,

and aggravating as the “HOO’hoo” of a cuckoo clock, I think.

I bought one, and am carrying it home to a certain person;

for I have always said that if the opportunity ever happened,

I would do that man an ill turn. What I meant, was, that I

would break one of his legs, or something of that sort;

but in Lucerne I instantly saw that I could impair his mind.

That would be more lasting, and more satisfactory every way.

So I bought the cuckoo clock; and if I ever get home

with it, he is “my meat,” as they say in the mines.

I thought of another candidate–a book-reviewer whom

I could name if I wanted to–but after thinking

it over, I didn’t buy him a clock. I couldn’t injure

his mind.

We visited the two long, covered wooden bridges which span

the green and brilliant Reuss just below where it goes

plunging and hurrahing out of the lake. These rambling,

sway-backed tunnels are very attractive things, with their

alcoved outlooks upon the lovely and inspiriting water.

They contain two or three hundred queer old pictures,

by old Swiss masters–old boss sign-painters, who flourished

before the decadence of art.

The lake is alive with fishes, plainly visible to the eye,

for the water is very clear. The parapets in front of the

hotels were usually fringed with fishers of all ages.

One day I thought I would stop and see a fish caught.

The result brought back to my mind, very forcibly,

a circumstance which I had not thought of before for

twelve years. This one:


When my odd friend Riley and I were newspaper correspondents

in Washington, in the winter of ’67, we were coming down

Pennsylvania Avenue one night, near midnight, in a driving

storm of snow, when the flash of a street-lamp fell upon a man

who was eagerly tearing along in the opposite direction.

This is lucky! You are Mr. Riley, ain’t you?”

Riley was the most self-possessed and solemnly deliberate

person in the republic. He stopped, looked his man

over from head to foot, and finally said:

“I am Mr. Riley. Did you happen to be looking for me?”

“That’s just what I was doing,” said the man, joyously,

“and it’s the biggest luck in the world that I’ve found you.

My name is Lykins. I’m one of the teachers of the high

school–San Francisco. As soon as I heard the San Francisco

postmastership was vacant, I made up my mind to get it–and here

I am.”

“Yes,” said Riley, slowly, “as you have remarked …

Mr. Lykins … here you are. And have you got it?”

“Well, not exactly GOT it, but the next thing to it.

I’ve brought a petition, signed by the Superintendent

of Public Instruction, and all the teachers, and by more

than two hundred other people. Now I want you, if you’ll

be so good, to go around with me to the Pacific delegation,

for I want to rush this thing through and get along home.”

“If the matter is so pressing, you will prefer that we

visit the delegation tonight,” said Riley, in a voice

which had nothing mocking in it–to an unaccustomed ear.

“Oh, tonight, by all means! I haven’t got any time to

fool around. I want their promise before I go to bed–

I ain’t the talking kind, I’m the DOING kind!”

“Yes … you’ve come to the right place for that.

When did you arrive?”

“Just an hour ago.”

“When are you intending to leave?”

“For New York tomorrow evening–for San Francisco

next morning.”

“Just so…. What are you going to do tomorrow?”

“DO! Why, I’ve got to go to the President with the petition

and the delegation, and get the appointment, haven’t I?”

“Yes … very true … that is correct. And then what?”

“Executive session of the Senate at 2 P.M.–got to get

the appointment confirmed–I reckon you’ll grant that?”

“Yes … yes,” said Riley, meditatively, “you are

right again. Then you take the train for New York in

the evening, and the steamer for San Francisco next morning?”

“That’s it–that’s the way I map it out!”

Riley considered a while, and then said:

“You couldn’t stay … a day … well, say two

days longer?”

“Bless your soul, no! It’s not my style. I ain’t a man

to go fooling around–I’m a man that DOES things,

I tell you.”

The storm was raging, the thick snow blowing in gusts.

Riley stood silent, apparently deep in a reverie,

during a minute or more, then he looked up and said:

“Have you ever heard about that man who put up at Gadsby’s,

once? … But I see you haven’t.”

He backed Mr. Lykins against an iron fence, buttonholed him,

fastened him with his eye, like the Ancient Mariner,

and proceeded to unfold his narrative as placidly

and peacefully as if we were all stretched comfortably

in a blossomy summer meadow instead of being persecuted

by a wintry midnight tempest:

“I will tell you about that man. It was in Jackson’s time.

Gadsby’s was the principal hotel, then. Well, this man

arrived from Tennessee about nine o’clock, one morning,

with a black coachman and a splendid four-horse carriage and

an elegant dog, which he was evidently fond of and proud of;

he drove up before Gadsby’s, and the clerk and the landlord

and everybody rushed out to take charge of him, but he said,

‘Never mind,’ and jumped out and told the coachman

to wait–said he hadn’t time to take anything to eat,

he only had a little claim against the government to collect,

would run across the way, to the Treasury, and fetch

the money, and then get right along back to Tennessee,

for he was in considerable of a hurry.

“Well, about eleven o’clock that night he came back

and ordered a bed and told them to put the horses

up–said he would collect the claim in the morning.

This was in January, you understand–January, 1834–

the 3d of January–Wednesday.

“Well, on the 5th of February, he sold the fine carriage,

and bought a cheap second-hand one–said it would answer

just as well to take the money home in, and he didn’t care

for style.

“On the 11th of August he sold a pair of the fine horses–

said he’d often thought a pair was better than four,

to go over the rough mountain roads with where a body

had to be careful about his driving–and there wasn’t

so much of his claim but he could lug the money home

with a pair easy enough.

“On the 13th of December he sold another horse–said

two warn’t necessary to drag that old light vehicle

with–in fact, one could snatch it along faster than

was absolutely necessary, now that it was good solid

winter weather and the roads in splendid condition.

“On the 17th of February, 1835, he sold the old carriage

and bought a cheap second-hand buggy–said a buggy

was just the trick to skim along mushy, slushy early

spring roads with, and he had always wanted to try

a buggy on those mountain roads, anyway.

“On the 1st August he sold the buggy and bought the

remains of an old sulky–said he just wanted to see

those green Tennesseans stare and gawk when they saw

him come a-ripping along in a sulky–didn’t believe

they’d ever heard of a sulky in their lives.

“Well, on the 29th of August he sold his colored

coachman–said he didn’t need a coachman for a sulky–

wouldn’t be room enough for two in it anyway–and,

besides, it wasn’t every day that Providence sent a man

a fool who was willing to pay nine hundred dollars for

such a third-rate negro as that–been wanting to get

rid of the creature for years, but didn’t like to THROW him away.

“Eighteen months later–that is to say, on the 15th

of February, 1837–he sold the sulky and bought

a saddle–said horseback-riding was what the doctor

had always recommended HIM to take, and dog’d if he

wanted to risk HIS neck going over those mountain roads

on wheels in the dead of winter, not if he knew himself.

“On the 9th of April he sold the saddle–said he wasn’t

going to risk HIS life with any perishable saddle-girth

that ever was made, over a rainy, miry April road,

while he could ride bareback and know and feel he was

safe–always HAD despised to ride on a saddle, anyway.

“On the 24th of April he sold his horse–said ‘I’m just

fifty-seven today, hale and hearty–it would be a PRETTY

howdy-do for me to be wasting such a trip as that and such

weather as this, on a horse, when there ain’t anything

in the world so splendid as a tramp on foot through

the fresh spring woods and over the cheery mountains,

to a man that IS a man–and I can make my dog carry my

claim in a little bundle, anyway, when it’s collected.

So tomorrow I’ll be up bright and early, make my little

old collection, and mosey off to Tennessee, on my own

hind legs, with a rousing good-by to Gadsby’s.’

“On the 22d of June he sold his dog–said ‘Dern a dog,

anyway, where you’re just starting off on a rattling bully

pleasure tramp through the summer woods and hills–perfect

nuisance–chases the squirrels, barks at everything,

goes a-capering and splattering around in the fords–

man can’t get any chance to reflect and enjoy nature–

and I’d a blamed sight ruther carry the claim myself,

it’s a mighty sight safer; a dog’s mighty uncertain

in a financial way- -always noticed it–well, GOOD-by,

boys–last call–I’m off for Tennessee with a good

leg and a gay heart, early in the morning.'”

There was a pause and a silence–except the noise

of the wind and the pelting snow. Mr. Lykins said,



Riley said:

“Well,–that was thirty years ago.”

“Very well, very well–what of it?”

“I’m great friends with that old patriarch. He comes

every evening to tell me good-by. I saw him an hour ago–

he’s off for Tennessee early tomorrow morning–as usual;

said he calculated to get his claim through and be off

before night-owls like me have turned out of bed.

The tears were in his eyes, he was so glad he was going

to see his old Tennessee and his friends once more.”

Another silent pause. The stranger broke it:

“Is that all?”

“That is all.”

“Well, for the TIME of night, and the KIND of night,

it seems to me the story was full long enough. But what’s

it all FOR?”

“Oh, nothing in particular.”

“Well, where’s the point of it?”

“Oh, there isn’t any particular point to it. Only, if you

are not in TOO much of a hurry to rush off to San Francisco

with that post-office appointment, Mr. Lykins, I’d advise

you to ‘PUT UP AT GADSBY’S’ for a spell, and take it easy.

Good-by. GOD bless you!”

So saying, Riley blandly turned on his heel and left

the astonished school-teacher standing there, a musing

and motionless snow image shining in the broad glow

of the street-lamp.

He never got that post-office.

To go back to Lucerne and its fishers, I concluded,

after about nine hours’ waiting, that the man who proposes

to tarry till he sees something hook one of those well-fed

and experienced fishes will find it wisdom to “put up

at Gadsby’s” and take it easy. It is likely that a fish

has not been caught on that lake pier for forty years;

but no matter, the patient fisher watches his cork there

all the day long, just the same, and seems to enjoy it.

One may see the fisher-loafers just as thick and contented

and happy and patient all along the Seine at Paris,

but tradition says that the only thing ever caught there

in modern times is a thing they don’t fish for at all–the

recent dog and the translated cat.


[I Spare an Awful Bore]

Close by the Lion of Lucerne is what they call the

“Glacier Garden”–and it is the only one in the world.

It is on high ground. Four or five years ago,

some workmen who were digging foundations for a house

came upon this interesting relic of a long-departed age.

Scientific men perceived in it a confirmation of their

theories concerning the glacial period; so through

their persuasions the little tract of ground was bought

and permanently protected against being built upon.

The soil was removed, and there lay the rasped and guttered

track which the ancient glacier had made as it moved

along upon its slow and tedious journey. This track

was perforated by huge pot-shaped holes in the bed-rock,

formed by the furious washing-around in them of boulders

by the turbulent torrent which flows beneath all glaciers.

These huge round boulders still remain in the holes;

they and the walls of the holes are worn smooth by

the long-continued chafing which they gave each other

in those old days. It took a mighty force to churn

these big lumps of stone around in that vigorous way.

The neighboring country had a very different shape,

at that time–the valleys have risen up and become hills,

since, and the hills have become valleys. The boulders

discovered in the pots had traveled a great distance,

for there is no rock like them nearer than the distant

Rhone Glacier.

For some days we were content to enjoy looking at the blue

lake Lucerne and at the piled-up masses of snow-mountains

that border it all around–an enticing spectacle,

this last, for there is a strange and fascinating beauty

and charm about a majestic snow-peak with the sun blazing

upon it or the moonlight softly enriching it–but finally

we concluded to try a bit of excursioning around on

a steamboat, and a dash on foot at the Rigi. Very well,

we had a delightful trip to Fluelen, on a breezy, sunny day.

Everybody sat on the upper deck, on benches, under an awning;

everybody talked, laughed, and exclaimed at the wonder scenery;

in truth, a trip on that lake is almost the perfection

of pleasuring. The mountains were a never-ceasing marvel.

Sometimes they rose straight up out of the lake,

and towered aloft and overshadowed our pygmy steamer

with their prodigious bulk in the most impressive way.

Not snow-clad mountains, these, yet they climbed high

enough toward the sky to meet the clouds and veil their

foreheads in them. They were not barren and repulsive,

but clothed in green, and restful and pleasant to the eye.

And they were so almost straight-up-and-down, sometimes,

that one could not imagine a man being able to keep

his footing upon such a surface, yet there are paths,

and the Swiss people go up and down them every day.

Sometimes one of these monster precipices had the slight

inclination of the huge ship-houses in dockyards–

then high aloft, toward the sky, it took a little

stronger inclination, like that of a mansard roof–and

perched on this dizzy mansard one’s eye detected little

things like martin boxes, and presently perceived that

these were the dwellings of peasants–an airy place

for a home, truly. And suppose a peasant should walk

in his sleep, or his child should fall out of the front

yard?–the friends would have a tedious long journey down

out of those cloud-heights before they found the remains.

And yet those far-away homes looked ever so seductive,

they were so remote from the troubled world, they dozed

in such an atmosphere of peace and dreams–surely no one

who has learned to live up there would ever want

to live on a meaner level.

We swept through the prettiest little curving arms

of the lake, among these colossal green walls,

enjoying new delights, always, as the stately panorama

unfolded itself before us and rerolled and hid itself

behind us; and now and then we had the thrilling surprise

of bursting suddenly upon a tremendous white mass like the

distant and dominating Jungfrau, or some kindred giant,

looming head and shoulders above a tumbled waste of lesser Alps.

Once, while I was hungrily taking in one of these surprises,

and doing my best to get all I possibly could of it while it

should last, I was interrupted by a young and care-free voice:

“You’re an American, I think–so’m I.”

He was about eighteen, or possibly nineteen; slender and

of medium height; open, frank, happy face; a restless

but independent eye; a snub nose, which had the air

of drawing back with a decent reserve from the silky

new-born mustache below it until it should be introduced;

a loosely hung jaw, calculated to work easily in the sockets.

He wore a low-crowned, narrow-brimmed straw hat,

with a broad blue ribbon around it which had a white

anchor embroidered on it in front; nobby short-tailed

coat, pantaloons, vest, all trim and neat and up with

the fashion; red-striped stockings, very low-quarter

patent-leather shoes, tied with black ribbon; blue ribbon

around his neck, wide-open collar; tiny diamond studs;

wrinkleless kids; projecting cuffs, fastened with large

oxidized silver sleeve-buttons, bearing the device

of a dog’s face–English pug. He carries a slim cane,

surmounted with an English pug’s head with red glass eyes.

Under his arm he carried a German grammar–Otto’s. His hair

was short, straight, and smooth, and presently when he turned

his head a moment, I saw that it was nicely parted behind.

He took a cigarette out of a dainty box, stuck it into

a meerschaum holder which he carried in a morocco case,

and reached for my cigar. While he was lighting, I said:

“Yes–I am an American.”

“I knew it–I can always tell them. What ship did you

come over in?”


“We came in the BATAVIA–Cunard, you know. What kind

of passage did you have?”

“Tolerably rough.”

“So did we. Captain said he’d hardly ever seen it rougher.

Where are you from?”

“New England.”

“So’m I. I’m from New Bloomfield. Anybody with you?”

“Yes–a friend.”

“Our whole family’s along. It’s awful slow, going around

alone–don’t you think so?”

“Rather slow.”

“Ever been over here before?”


“I haven’t. My first trip. But we’ve been all around–Paris

and everywhere. I’m to enter Harvard next year.

Studying German all the time, now. Can’t enter till I

know German. I know considerable French–I get along

pretty well in Paris, or anywhere where they speak French.

What hotel are you stopping at?”


“No! is that so? I never see you in the reception-room.

I go to the reception-room a good deal of the time,

because there’s so many Americans there. I make lots

of acquaintances. I know an American as soon as I see

him–and so I speak to him and make his acquaintance.

I like to be always making acquaintances–don’t you?”

“Lord, yes!”

“You see it breaks up a trip like this, first rate.

I never got bored on a trip like this, if I can

make acquaintances and have somebody to talk to.

But I think a trip like this would be an awful bore,

if a body couldn’t find anybody to get acquainted with

and talk to on a trip like this. I’m fond of talking,

ain’t you?


“Have you felt bored, on this trip?”

“Not all the time, part of it.”

“That’s it!–you see you ought to go around and get acquainted,

and talk. That’s my way. That’s the way I always do–I

just go ’round, ’round, ’round and talk, talk, talk–I

never get bored. You been up the Rigi yet?”



“I think so.”

“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“I don’t know. Is there more than one?”

“Three. You stop at the Schreiber–you’ll find it full

of Americans. What ship did you say you came over in?”


“German, I guess. You going to Geneva?”


“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“Hotel de l”Ecu de G’en`eve.”

“Don’t you do it! No Americans there! You stop at one

of those big hotels over the bridge–they’re packed

full of Americans.”

“But I want to practice my Arabic.”

“Good gracious, do you speak Arabic?”

“Yes–well enough to get along.”

“Why, hang it, you won’t get along in Geneva–THEY don’t

speak Arabic, they speak French. What hotel are you

stopping at here?”

“Hotel Pension-Beaurivage.”

“Sho, you ought to stop at the Schweitzerhof. Didn’t you

know the Schweitzerhof was the best hotel in Switzerland?–

look at your Baedeker.”

“Yes, I know–but I had an idea there warn’t any

Americans there.”

“No Americans! Why, bless your soul, it’s just alive with

them! I’m in the great reception-room most all the time.

I make lots of acquaintances there. Not as many as I did

at first, because now only the new ones stop in there–

the others go right along through. Where are you from?”


“Is that so? I’m from New England–New Bloomfield’s my town

when I’m at home. I’m having a mighty good time today,

ain’t you?”


“That’s what I call it. I like this knocking around,

loose and easy, and making acquaintances and talking.

I know an American, soon as I see him; so I go and speak

to him and make his acquaintance. I ain’t ever bored,

on a trip like this, if I can make new acquaintances and talk.

I’m awful fond of talking when I can get hold of the right

kind of a person, ain’t you?”

“I prefer it to any other dissipation.”

“That’s my notion, too. Now some people like to take

a book and sit down and read, and read, and read, or moon

around yawping at the lake or these mountains and things,

but that ain’t my way; no, sir, if they like it, let ’em do it,

I don’t object; but as for me, talking’s what _I_ like.

You been up the Rigi?”


“What hotel did you stop at?”


“That’s the place!–I stopped there too. FULL of Americans,

WASN’T it? It always is–always is. That’s what they say.

Everybody says that. What ship did you come over in?”


“French, I reckon. What kind of a passage did … excuse me

a minute, there’s some Americans I haven’t seen before.”

And away he went. He went uninjured, too–I had the murderous

impulse to harpoon him in the back with my alpenstock,

but as I raised the weapon the disposition left me;

I found I hadn’t the heart to kill him, he was such

a joyous, innocent, good-natured numbskull.

Half an hour later I was sitting on a bench inspecting,

with strong interest, a noble monolith which we were

skimming by–a monolith not shaped by man, but by Nature’s

free great hand–a massy pyramidal rock eighty feet high,

devised by Nature ten million years ago against the day

when a man worthy of it should need it for his monument.

The time came at last, and now this grand remembrancer

bears Schiller’s name in huge letters upon its face.

Curiously enough, this rock was not degraded or defiled

in any way. It is said that two years ago a stranger let

himself down from the top of it with ropes and pulleys,

and painted all over it, in blue letters bigger than those in

Schiller’s name, these words:

“Try Sozodont;” “Buy Sun Stove Polish;” “Helmbold’s Buchu;”

“Try Benzaline for the Blood.”

He was captured and it turned out that he was an American.

Upon his trial the judge said to him:

“You are from a land where any insolent that wants to is

privileged to profane and insult Nature, and, through her,

Nature’s God, if by so doing he can put a sordid penny

in his pocket. But here the case is different. Because you

are a foreigner and ignorant, I will make your sentence light;

if you were a native I would deal strenuously with you.

Hear and obey: –You will immediately remove every trace

of your offensive work from the Schiller monument; you pay

a fine of ten thousand francs; you will suffer two years’

imprisonment at hard labor; you will then be horsewhipped,

tarred and feathered, deprived of your ears, ridden on a

rail to the confines of the canton, and banished forever.

The severest penalties are omitted in your case–not as

a grace to you, but to that great republic which had the

misfortune to give you birth.”

The steamer’s benches were ranged back to back across

the deck. My back hair was mingling innocently with

the back hair of a couple of ladies. Presently they

were addressed by some one and I overheard this conversation:

“You are Americans, I think? So’m I.”

“Yes–we are Americans.”

“I knew it–I can always tell them. What ship did you

come over in?”


“Oh, yes–Inman line. We came in the BATAVIA–Cunard

you know. What kind of a passage did you have?”

“Pretty fair.”

“That was luck. We had it awful rough. Captain said

he’d hardly seen it rougher. Where are you from?”

“New Jersey.”

“So’m I. No–I didn’t mean that; I’m from New England.

New Bloomfield’s my place. These your children?–belong

to both of you?”

“Only to one of us; they are mine; my friend is not married.”

“Single, I reckon? So’m I. Are you two ladies traveling alone?”

“No–my husband is with us.”

“Our whole family’s along. It’s awful slow, going around

alone–don’t you think so?”

“I suppose it must be.”

“Hi, there’s Mount Pilatus coming in sight again.

Named after Pontius Pilate, you know, that shot the apple

off of William Tell’s head. Guide-book tells all about it,

they say. I didn’t read it–an American told me. I don’t

read when I’m knocking around like this, having a good time.

Did you ever see the chapel where William Tell used

to preach?”

“I did not know he ever preached there.”

“Oh, yes, he did. That American told me so. He don’t

ever shut up his guide-book. He knows more about this lake

than the fishes in it. Besides, they CALL it ‘Tell’s

Chapel’–you know that yourself. You ever been over here



“I haven’t. It’s my first trip. But we’ve been all around

–Paris and everywhere. I’m to enter Harvard next year.

Studying German all the time now. Can’t enter till I

know German. This book’s Otto’s grammar. It’s a mighty

good book to get the ICH HABE GEHABT HABEN’s out of.

But I don’t really study when I’m knocking around this way.

If the notion takes me, I just run over my little



–kind of ‘Now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep’ fashion, you know,

and after that, maybe I don’t buckle to it for three days.

It’s awful undermining to the intellect, German is;

you want to take it in small doses, or first you know

your brains all run together, and you feel them sloshing

around in your head same as so much drawn butter.

But French is different; FRENCH ain’t anything. I ain’t

any more afraid of French than a tramp’s afraid of pie; I can

rattle off my little J’AI, TU AS, IL A, and the rest of it,

just as easy as a-b-c. I get along pretty well in Paris,

or anywhere where they speak French. What hotel are you

stopping at?”

“The Schweitzerhof.”

“No! is that so? I never see you in the big reception-room.

I go in there a good deal of the time, because there’s

so many Americans there. I make lots of acquaintances.

You been up the Rigi yet?”



“We think of it.”

“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then you stop at the Schreiber–it’s full of Americans.

What ship did you come over in?”


“Oh, yes, I remember I asked you that before. But I

always ask everybody what ship they came over in, and so

sometimes I forget and ask again. You going to Geneva?”


“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“We expect to stop in a pension.”

“I don’t hardly believe you’ll like that; there’s very few

Americans in the pensions. What hotel are you stopping

at here?”

“The Schweitzerhof.”

“Oh, yes. I asked you that before, too. But I always

ask everybody what hotel they’re stopping at, and so I’ve

got my head all mixed up with hotels. But it makes talk,

and I love to talk. It refreshes me up so–don’t it

you–on a trip like this?”


“Well, it does me, too. As long as I’m talking I never

feel bored–ain’t that the way with you?”

“Yes–generally. But there are exception to the rule.”

“Oh, of course. _I_ don’t care to talk to everybody, MYSELF.

If a person starts in to jabber-jabber-jabber about scenery,

and history, and pictures, and all sorts of tiresome things,

I get the fan-tods mighty soon. I say ‘Well, I must be going

now–hope I’ll see you again’–and then I take a walk. Where you


“New Jersey.”

“Why, bother it all, I asked you THAT before, too.

Have you seen the Lion of Lucerne?”

“Not yet.”

“Nor I, either. But the man who told me about

Mount Pilatus says it’s one of the things to see.

It’s twenty-eight feet long. It don’t seem reasonable,

but he said so, anyway. He saw it yesterday; said it

was dying, then, so I reckon it’s dead by this time.

But that ain’t any matter, of course they’ll stuff it.

Did you say the children are yours–or HERS?”


“Oh, so you did. Are you going up the … no, I asked

you that. What ship … no, I asked you that, too.

What hotel are you … no, you told me that.

Let me see … um …. Oh, what kind of voy … no,

we’ve been over that ground, too. Um … um … well,

I believe that is all. BONJOUR–I am very glad to have

made your acquaintance, ladies. GUTEN TAG.”


[The Jodel and Its Native Wilds]

The Rigi-Kulm is an imposing Alpine mass, six thousand

feet high, which stands by itself, and commands a mighty

prospect of blue lakes, green valleys, and snowy mountains–

a compact and magnificent picture three hundred miles

in circumference. The ascent is made by rail, or horseback,

or on foot, as one may prefer. I and my agent panoplied

ourselves in walking-costume, one bright morning,

and started down the lake on the steamboat; we got ashore

at the village of Wa”ggis; three-quarters of an hour distant

from Lucerne. This village is at the foot of the mountain.

We were soon tramping leisurely up the leafy mule-path,

and then the talk began to flow, as usual. It was

twelve o’clock noon, and a breezy, cloudless day;

the ascent was gradual, and the glimpses, from under

the curtaining boughs, of blue water, and tiny sailboats,

and beetling cliffs, were as charming as glimpses of dreamland.

All the circumstances were perfect–and the anticipations,

too, for we should soon be enjoying, for the first time,

that wonderful spectacle, an Alpine sunrise–the object

of our journey. There was (apparently) no real need

for hurry, for the guide-book made the walking-distance

from Wa”ggis to the summit only three hours and a quarter.

I say “apparently,” because the guide-book had already

fooled us once–about the distance from Allerheiligen

to Oppenau–and for aught I knew it might be getting ready

to fool us again. We were only certain as to the altitudes–

we calculated to find out for ourselves how many hours

it is from the bottom to the top. The summit is six

thousand feet above the sea, but only forty-five hundred

feet above the lake. When we had walked half an hour,

we were fairly into the swing and humor of the undertaking,

so we cleared for action; that is to say, we got a boy whom

we met to carry our alpenstocks and satchels and overcoats

and things for us; that left us free for business.

I suppose we must have stopped oftener to stretch out

on the grass in the shade and take a bit of a smoke

than this boy was used to, for presently he asked if it

had been our idea to hire him by the job, or by the year?

We told him he could move along if he was in a hurry.

He said he wasn’t in such a very particular hurry,

but he wanted to get to the top while he was young.

We told him to clear out, then, and leave the things at

the uppermost hotel and say we should be along presently.

He said he would secure us a hotel if he could, but if they

were all full he would ask them to build another one

and hurry up and get the paint and plaster dry against

we arrived. Still gently chaffing us, he pushed ahead,

up the trail, and soon disappeared. By six o’clock we

were pretty high up in the air, and the view of lake

and mountains had greatly grown in breadth and interest.

We halted awhile at a little public house, where we

had bread and cheese and a quart or two of fresh milk,

out on the porch, with the big panorama all before us–and

then moved on again.

Ten minutes afterward we met a hot, red-faced man plunging

down the mountain, making mighty strides, swinging his

alpenstock ahead of him, and taking a grip on the ground

with its iron point to support these big strides.

He stopped, fanned himself with his hat, swabbed the

perspiration from his face and neck with a red handkerchief,

panted a moment or two, and asked how far to Wa”ggis.

I said three hours. He looked surprised, and said:

“Why, it seems as if I could toss a biscuit into the lake

from here, it’s so close by. Is that an inn, there?”

I said it was.

“Well,” said he, “I can’t stand another three hours,

I’ve had enough today; I’ll take a bed there.”

I asked:

“Are we nearly to the top?”

“Nearly to the TOP?” Why, bless your soul, you haven’t

really started, yet.”

I said we would put up at the inn, too. So we turned

back and ordered a hot supper, and had quite a jolly

evening of it with this Englishman.

The German landlady gave us neat rooms and nice beds,

and when I and my agent turned in, it was with the resolution

to be up early and make the utmost of our first Alpine sunrise.

But of course we were dead tired, and slept like policemen;

so when we awoke in the morning and ran to the window it

was already too late, because it was half past eleven.

It was a sharp disappointment. However, we ordered

breakfast and told the landlady to call the Englishman,

but she said he was already up and off at daybreak–and

swearing like mad about something or other. We could not

find out what the matter was. He had asked the landlady

the altitude of her place above the level of the lake,

and she told him fourteen hundred and ninety-five feet.

That was all that was said; then he lost his temper.

He said that between ——fools and guide-books, a man

could acquire ignorance enough in twenty-four hours in a

country like this to last him a year. Harris believed

our boy had been loading him up with misinformation;

and this was probably the case, for his epithet described

that boy to a dot.

We got under way about the turn of noon, and pulled out

for the summit again, with a fresh and vigorous step.

When we had gone about two hundred yards, and stopped

to rest, I glanced to the left while I was lighting my pipe,

and in the distance detected a long worm of black smoke

crawling lazily up the steep mountain. Of course that was

the locomotive. We propped ourselves on our elbows at once,

to gaze, for we had never seen a mountain railway yet.

Presently we could make out the train. It seemed incredible

that that thing should creep straight up a sharp slant

like the roof of a house–but there it was, and it was doing

that very miracle.

In the course of a couple hours we reached a fine breezy

altitude where the little shepherd huts had big stones

all over their roofs to hold them down to the earth when

the great storms rage. The country was wild and rocky

about here, but there were plenty of trees, plenty of moss,

and grass.

Away off on the opposite shore of the lake we could

see some villages, and now for the first time we could

observe the real difference between their proportions

and those of the giant mountains at whose feet they slept.

When one is in one of those villages it seems spacious,

and its houses seem high and not out of proportion to the

mountain that overhands them–but from our altitude,

what a change! The mountains were bigger and grander

than ever, as they stood there thinking their solemn

thoughts with their heads in the drifting clouds,

but the villages at their feet–when the painstaking

eye could trace them up and find them–were so reduced,

almost invisible, and lay so flat against the ground,

that the exactest simile I can devise is to compare

them to ant-deposits of granulated dirt overshadowed

by the huge bulk of a cathedral. The steamboats skimming

along under the stupendous precipices were diminished

by distance to the daintiest little toys, the sailboats

and rowboats to shallops proper for fairies that keep

house in the cups of lilies and ride to court on the backs

of bumblebees.

Presently we came upon half a dozen sheep nibbling grass

in the spray of a stream of clear water that sprang

from a rock wall a hundred feet high, and all at once

our ears were startled with a melodious “Lul …

l … l l l llul-lul-LAhee-o-o-o!” pealing joyously

from a near but invisible source, and recognized that we

were hearing for the first time the famous Alpine JODEL

in its own native wilds. And we recognized, also,

that it was that sort of quaint commingling of baritone

and falsetto which at home we call “Tyrolese warbling.”

The jodeling (pronounced yOdling–emphasis on the O)

continued, and was very pleasant and inspiriting to hear.

Now the jodeler appeared–a shepherd boy of sixteen–

and in our gladness and gratitude we gave him a franc

to jodel some more. So he jodeled and we listened.

We moved on, presently, and he generously jodeled us

out of sight. After about fifteen minutes we came across

another shepherd boy who was jodeling, and gave him half

a franc to keep it up. He also jodeled us out of sight.

After that, we found a jodeler every ten minutes;

we gave the first one eight cents, the second one

six cents, the third one four, the fourth one a penny,

contributed nothing to Nos. 5, 6, and 7, and during

the remainder of the day hired the rest of the jodelers,

at a franc apiece, not to jodel any more. There is somewhat

too much of the jodeling in the Alps.

About the middle of the afternoon we passed through

a prodigious natural gateway called the Felsenthor,

formed by two enormous upright rocks, with a third lying

across the top. There was a very attractive little

hotel close by, but our energies were not conquered yet,

so we went on.

Three hours afterward we came to the railway-track. It

was planted straight up the mountain with the slant

of a ladder that leans against a house, and it seemed

to us that man would need good nerves who proposed

to travel up it or down it either.

During the latter part of the afternoon we cooled our

roasting interiors with ice-cold water from clear streams,

the only really satisfying water we had tasted since we

left home, for at the hotels on the continent they

merely give you a tumbler of ice to soak your water in,

and that only modifies its hotness, doesn’t make it cold.

Water can only be made cold enough for summer comfort by

being prepared in a refrigerator or a closed ice-pitcher.

Europeans say ice-water impairs digestion. How do they

know?–they never drink any.

At ten minutes past six we reached the Kaltbad station,

where there is a spacious hotel with great verandas which

command a majestic expanse of lake and mountain scenery.

We were pretty well fagged out, now, but as we did

not wish to miss the Alpine sunrise, we got through our

dinner as quickly as possible and hurried off to bed.

It was unspeakably comfortable to stretch our weary limbs

between the cool, damp sheets. And how we did sleep!–for

there is no opiate like Alpine pedestrianism.

In the morning we both awoke and leaped out of bed at the

same instant and ran and stripped aside the window-curtains;

but we suffered a bitter disappointment again: it

was already half past three in the afternoon.

We dressed sullenly and in ill spirits, each accusing

the other of oversleeping. Harris said if we had brought

the courier along, as we ought to have done, we should

not have missed these sunrises. I said he knew very well

that one of us would have to sit up and wake the courier;

and I added that we were having trouble enough to take

care of ourselves, on this climb, without having to take

care of a courier besides.

During breakfast our spirits came up a little, since we

found by this guide-book that in the hotels on the summit

the tourist is not left to trust to luck for his sunrise,

but is roused betimes by a man who goes through the halls

with a great Alpine horn, blowing blasts that would

raise the dead. And there was another consoling thing:

the guide-book said that up there on the summit the guests

did not wait to dress much, but seized a red bed blanket

and sailed out arrayed like an Indian. This was good;

this would be romantic; two hundred and fifty people

grouped on the windy summit, with their hair flying and

their red blankets flapping, in the solemn presence of the

coming sun, would be a striking and memorable spectacle.

So it was good luck, not ill luck, that we had missed

those other sunrises.

We were informed by the guide-book that we were now

3,228 feet above the level of the lake–therefore

full two-thirds of our journey had been accomplished.

We got away at a quarter past four, P.M.; a hundred yards

above the hotel the railway divided; one track went

straight up the steep hill, the other one turned square

off to the right, with a very slight grade. We took

the latter, and followed it more than a mile, turned a

rocky corner, and came in sight of a handsome new hotel.

If we had gone on, we should have arrived at the summit,

but Harris preferred to ask a lot of questions–as usual,

of a man who didn’t know anything–and he told us to go

back and follow the other route. We did so. We could ill

afford this loss of time.

We climbed and climbed; and we kept on climbing; we reached about

forty summits, but there was always another one just ahead.

It came on to rain, and it rained in dead earnest.

We were soaked through and it was bitter cold. Next a

smoky fog of clouds covered the whole region densely,

and we took to the railway-ties to keep from getting lost.

Sometimes we slopped along in a narrow path on the left-hand

side of the track, but by and by when the fog blew as aside

a little and we saw that we were treading the rampart

of a precipice and that our left elbows were projecting

over a perfectly boundless and bottomless vacancy,

we gasped, and jumped for the ties again.

The night shut down, dark and drizzly and cold.

About eight in the evening the fog lifted and showed us

a well-worn path which led up a very steep rise to the left.

We took it, and as soon as we had got far enough from the

railway to render the finding it again an impossibility,

the fog shut down on us once more.

We were in a bleak, unsheltered place, now, and had

to trudge right along, in order to keep warm, though we

rather expected to go over a precipice, sooner or later.

About nine o’clock we made an important discovery–

that we were not in any path. We groped around a while

on our hands and knees, but we could not find it;

so we sat down in the mud and the wet scant grass to wait.

We were terrified into this by being suddenly confronted

with a vast body which showed itself vaguely for an instant

and in the next instant was smothered in the fog again.

It was really the hotel we were after, monstrously magnified

by the fog, but we took it for the face of a precipice,

and decided not to try to claw up it.

We sat there an hour, with chattering teeth and quivering bodies,

and quarreled over all sorts of trifles, but gave most

of our attention to abusing each other for the stupidity

of deserting the railway-track. We sat with our backs

to the precipice, because what little wind there was

came from that quarter. At some time or other the fog

thinned a little; we did not know when, for we were facing

the empty universe and the thinness could not show;

but at last Harris happened to look around, and there stood

a huge, dim, spectral hotel where the precipice had been.

One could faintly discern the windows and chimneys,

and a dull blur of lights. Our first emotion was deep,

unutterable gratitude, our next was a foolish rage,

born of the suspicion that possibly the hotel had been

visible three-quarters of an hour while we sat there

in those cold puddles quarreling.

Yes, it was the Rigi-Kulm hotel–the one that occupies

the extreme summit, and whose remote little sparkle

of lights we had often seen glinting high aloft among

the stars from our balcony away down yonder in Lucerne.

The crusty portier and the crusty clerks gave us the surly

reception which their kind deal out in prosperous times,

but by mollifying them with an extra display of obsequiousness

and servility we finally got them to show us to the room

which our boy had engaged for us.

We got into some dry clothing, and while our supper was

preparing we loafed forsakenly through a couple of vast

cavernous drawing-rooms, one of which had a stove in it.

This stove was in a corner, and densely walled around

with people. We could not get near the fire, so we moved

at large in the artic spaces, among a multitude of people

who sat silent, smileless, forlorn, and shivering–thinking

what fools they were to come, perhaps. There were some

Americans and some Germans, but one could see that the

great majority were English.

We lounged into an apartment where there was a great crowd,

to see what was going on. It was a memento-magazine.

The tourists were eagerly buying all sorts and styles of

paper-cutters, marked “Souvenir of the Rigi,” with handles

made of the little curved horn of the ostensible chamois;

there were all manner of wooden goblets and such things,

similarly marked. I was going to buy a paper-cutter, but I

believed I could remember the cold comfort of the Rigi-Kulm

without it, so I smothered the impulse.

Supper warmed us, and we went immediately to bed–but first,

as Mr. Baedeker requests all tourists to call his attention

to any errors which they may find in his guide-books, I

dropped him a line to inform him he missed it by just

about three days. I had previously informed him of his

mistake about the distance from Allerheiligen to Oppenau,

and had also informed the Ordnance Depart of the German

government of the same error in the imperial maps.

I will add, here, that I never got any answer to those letters,

or any thanks from either of those sources; and, what is still

more discourteous, these corrections have not been made,

either in the maps or the guide-books. But I will write

again when I get time, for my letters may have miscarried.

We curled up in the clammy beds, and went to sleep without


We were so sodden with fatigue that we never stirred nor

turned over till the blooming blasts of the Alpine horn

aroused us. It may well be imagined that we did not lose

any time. We snatched on a few odds and ends of clothing,

cocooned ourselves in the proper red blankets, and plunged

along the halls and out into the whistling wind bareheaded.

We saw a tall wooden scaffolding on the very peak

of the summit, a hundred yards away, and made for it.

We rushed up the stairs to the top of this scaffolding,

and stood there, above the vast outlying world, with hair

flying and ruddy blankets waving and cracking in the fierce


“Fifteen minutes too late, at last!” said Harris,

in a vexed voice. “The sun is clear above the horizon.”

“No matter,” I said, “it is a most magnificent spectacle,

and we will see it do the rest of its rising anyway.”

In a moment we were deeply absorbed in the marvel before us,

and dead to everything else. The great cloud-barred disk

of the sun stood just above a limitless expanse of tossing

white-caps–so to speak–a billowy chaos of massy mountain

domes and peaks draped in imperishable snow, and flooded

with an opaline glory of changing and dissolving splendors,

while through rifts in a black cloud-bank above the sun,

radiating lances of diamond dust shot to the zenith.

The cloven valleys of the lower world swam in a tinted

mist which veiled the ruggedness of their crags and ribs

and ragged forests, and turned all the forbidding region

into a soft and rich and sensuous paradise.

We could not speak. We could hardly breathe.

We could only gaze in drunken ecstasy and drink in it.

Presently Harris exclaimed:

“Why–nation, it’s going DOWN!”

Perfectly true. We had missed the MORNING hornblow,

and slept all day. This was stupefying.

Harris said:

“Look here, the sun isn’t the spectacle–it’s US–stacked

up here on top of this gallows, in these idiotic blankets,

and two hundred and fifty well-dressed men and women down

here gawking up at us and not caring a straw whether the sun

rises or sets, as long as they’ve got such a ridiculous

spectacle as this to set down in their memorandum-books.

They seem to be laughing their ribs loose, and there’s

one girl there at appears to be going all to pieces.

I never saw such a man as you before. I think you are

the very last possibility in the way of an ass.”

“What have _I_ done?” I answered, with heat.

“What have you done?” You’ve got up at half past seven

o’clock in the evening to see the sun rise, that’s what

you’ve done.”

“And have you done any better, I’d like to know? I’ve

always used to get up with the lark, till I came under

the petrifying influence of your turgid intellect.”

“YOU used to get up with the lark–Oh, no doubt–

you’ll get up with the hangman one of these days.

But you ought to be ashamed to be jawing here like this,

in a red blanket, on a forty-foot scaffold on top

of the Alps. And no end of people down here to boot;

this isn’t any place for an exhibition of temper.”

And so the customary quarrel went on. When the sun

was fairly down, we slipped back to the hotel in the

charitable gloaming, and went to bed again. We had

encountered the horn-blower on the way, and he had tried

to collect compensation, not only for announcing the sunset,

which we did see, but for the sunrise, which we had

totally missed; but we said no, we only took our solar

rations on the “European plan”–pay for what you get.

He promised to make us hear his horn in the morning,

if we were alive.


[Looking West for Sunrise]

He kept his word. We heard his horn and instantly got up.

It was dark and cold and wretched. As I fumbled around

for the matches, knocking things down with my quaking hands,

I wished the sun would rise in the middle of the day,

when it was warm and bright and cheerful, and one

wasn’t sleepy. We proceeded to dress by the gloom of a

couple sickly candles, but we could hardly button anything,

our hands shook so. I thought of how many happy people

there were in Europe, Asia, and America, and everywhere,

who were sleeping peacefully in their beds, and did not

have to get up and see the Rigi sunrise–people who did

not appreciate their advantage, as like as not, but would

get up in the morning wanting more boons of Providence.

While thinking these thoughts I yawned, in a rather ample way,

and my upper teeth got hitched on a nail over the door,

and while I was mounting a chair to free myself, Harris drew

the window-curtain, and said:

“Oh, this is luck! We shan’t have to go out at all–

yonder are the mountains, in full view.”

That was glad news, indeed. It made us cheerful right away.

One could see the grand Alpine masses dimly outlined

against the black firmament, and one or two faint stars

blinking through rifts in the night. Fully clothed,

and wrapped in blankets, and huddled ourselves up,

by the window, with lighted pipes, and fell into chat,

while we waited in exceeding comfort to see how an Alpine

sunrise was going to look by candlelight. By and by

a delicate, spiritual sort of effulgence spread itself

by imperceptible degrees over the loftiest altitudes of

the snowy wastes–but there the effort seemed to stop.

I said, presently:

“There is a hitch about this sunrise somewhere.

It doesn’t seem to go. What do you reckon is the matter

with it?”

“I don’t know. It appears to hang fire somewhere.

I never saw a sunrise act like that before. Can it be

that the hotel is playing anything on us?”

“Of course not. The hotel merely has a property interest

in the sun, it has nothing to do with the management of it.

It is a precarious kind of property, too; a succession

of total eclipses would probably ruin this tavern.

Now what can be the matter with this sunrise?”

Harris jumped up and said:

“I’ve got it! I know what’s the matter with it! We’ve

been looking at the place where the sun SET last night!”

“It is perfectly true! Why couldn’t you have thought of

that sooner? Now we’ve lost another one! And all through

your blundering. It was exactly like you to light a pipe

and sit down to wait for the sun to rise in the west.”

“It was exactly like me to find out the mistake, too.

You never would have found it out. I find out all the mistakes.”

“You make them all, too, else your most valuable faculty

would be wasted on you. But don’t stop to quarrel,

now–maybe we are not too late yet.”

But we were. The sun was well up when we got to the


On our way up we met the crowd returning–men and women

dressed in all sorts of queer costumes, and exhibiting

all degrees of cold and wretchedness in their gaits

and countenances. A dozen still remained on the ground

when we reached there, huddled together about the scaffold

with their backs to the bitter wind. They had their red

guide-books open at the diagram of the view, and were

painfully picking out the several mountains and trying

to impress their names and positions on their memories.

It was one of the saddest sights I ever saw.

Two sides of this place were guarded by railings,

to keep people from being blown over the precipices.

The view, looking sheer down into the broad valley,

eastward, from this great elevation–almost a perpendicular

mile–was very quaint and curious. Counties, towns,

hilly ribs and ridges, wide stretches of green meadow,

great forest tracts, winding streams, a dozen blue lakes,

a block of busy steamboats–we saw all this little

world in unique circumstantiality of detail–saw it

just as the birds see it–and all reduced to the smallest

of scales and as sharply worked out and finished as a

steel engraving. The numerous toy villages, with tiny

spires projecting out of them, were just as the children

might have left them when done with play the day before;

the forest tracts were diminished to cushions of moss;

one or two big lakes were dwarfed to ponds, the smaller

ones to puddles–though they did not look like puddles,

but like blue eardrops which had fallen and lodged

in slight depressions, conformable to their shapes,

among the moss-beds and the smooth levels of dainty

green farm-land; the microscopic steamboats glided along,

as in a city reservoir, taking a mighty time to cover

the distance between ports which seemed only a yard apart;

and the isthmus which separated two lakes looked as if

one might stretch out on it and lie with both elbows

in the water, yet we knew invisible wagons were toiling

across it and finding the distance a tedious one.

This beautiful miniature world had exactly the appearance

of those “relief maps” which reproduce nature precisely,

with the heights and depressions and other details graduated

to a reduced scale, and with the rocks, trees, lakes,

etc., colored after nature.

I believed we could walk down to Wa”ggis or Vitznau

in a day, but I knew we could go down by rail in about

an hour, so I chose the latter method. I wanted to see

what it was like, anyway. The train came along about

the middle of the afternoon, and an odd thing it was.

The locomotive-boiler stood on end, and it and the whole

locomotive-boiler stood on end, and it and the whole

locomotive were tiled sharply backward. There were

two passenger-cars, roofed, but wide open all around.

These cars were not tilted back, but the seats were;

this enables the passenger to sit level while going down a

steep incline.

There are three railway-tracks; the central one is cogged;

the “lantern wheel” of the engine grips its way along

these cogs, and pulls the train up the hill or retards its

motion on the down trip. About the same speed–three miles

an hour–is maintained both ways. Whether going up or down,

the locomotive is always at the lower end of the train.

It pushes in the one case, braces back in the other.

The passenger rides backward going up, and faces forward

going down.

We got front seats, and while the train moved along

about fifty yards on level ground, I was not the

least frightened; but now it started abruptly downstairs,

and I caught my breath. And I, like my neighbors,

unconsciously held back all I could, and threw my weight

to the rear, but, of course, that did no particular good.

I had slidden down the balusters when I was a boy,

and thought nothing of it, but to slide down the balusters

in a railway-train is a thing to make one’s flesh creep.

Sometimes we had as much as ten yards of almost level

ground, and this gave us a few full breaths in comfort;

but straightway we would turn a corner and see a long steep

line of rails stretching down below us, and the comfort

was at an end. One expected to see the locomotive pause,

or slack up a little, and approach this plunge cautiously,

but it did nothing of the kind; it went calmly on, and went

it reached the jumping-off place it made a sudden bow,

and went gliding smoothly downstairs, untroubled by

the circumstances.

It was wildly exhilarating to slide along the edge of

the precipices, after this grisly fashion, and look straight

down upon that far-off valley which I was describing a while ago.

There was no level ground at the Kaltbad station;

the railbed was as steep as a roof; I was curious

to see how the stop was going to be managed.

But it was very simple; the train came sliding down,

and when it reached the right spot it just stopped–that

was all there was “to it”–stopped on the steep incline,

and when the exchange of passengers and baggage had

been made, it moved off and went sliding down again.

The train can be stopped anywhere, at a moment’s notice.

There was one curious effect, which I need not take the

trouble to describe–because I can scissor a description

of it out of the railway company’s advertising pamphlet,

and say my ink:

“On the whole tour, particularly at the Descent, we undergo

an optical illusion which often seems to be incredible.

All the shrubs, fir trees, stables, houses, etc., seem to be bent

in a slanting direction, as by an immense pressure of air.

They are all standing awry, so much awry that the chalets

and cottages of the peasants seem to be tumbling down.

It is the consequence of the steep inclination of the line.

Those who are seated in the carriage do not observe that they

are doing down a declivity of twenty to twenty-five degrees

(their seats being adapted to this course of proceeding

and being bent down at their backs). They mistake their

carriage and its horizontal lines for a proper measure

of the normal plain, and therefore all the objects outside

which really are in a horizontal position must show a

disproportion of twenty to twenty-five degrees declivity,

in regard to the mountain.”

By the time one reaches Kaltbad, he has acquired confidence

in the railway, and he now ceases to try to ease the

locomotive by holding back. Thenceforth he smokes his

pipe in serenity, and gazes out upon the magnificent

picture below and about him with unfettered enjoyment.

There is nothing to interrupt the view or the breeze;

it is like inspecting the world on the wing. However–to be

exact–there is one place where the serenity lapses for a while;

this is while one is crossing the Schnurrtobel Bridge,

a frail structure which swings its gossamer frame down

through the dizzy air, over a gorge, like a vagrant


One has no difficulty in remembering his sins while

the train is creeping down this bridge; and he repents

of them, too; though he sees, when he gets to Vitznau,

that he need not have done it, the bridge was perfectly safe.

So ends the eventual trip which we made to the Rigi-Kulm

to see an Alpine sunrise.


[Harris Climbs Mountains for Me]

An hour’s sail brought us to Lucerne again. I judged

it best to go to bed and rest several days, for I knew

that the man who undertakes to make the tour of Europe

on foot must take care of himself.

Thinking over my plans, as mapped out, I perceived that

they did not take in the Furka Pass, the Rhone Glacier,

the Finsteraarhorn, the Wetterhorn, etc. I immediately

examined the guide-book to see if these were important,

and found they were; in fact, a pedestrian tour of Europe

could not be complete without them. Of course that decided

me at once to see them, for I never allow myself to do

things by halves, or in a slurring, slipshod way.

I called in my agent and instructed him to go without delay

and make a careful examination of these noted places,

on foot, and bring me back a written report of the result,

for insertion in my book. I instructed him to go to Hospenthal

as quickly as possible, and make his grand start from there;

to extend his foot expedition as far as the Giesbach fall,

and return to me from thence by diligence or mule.

I told him to take the courier with him.

He objected to the courier, and with some show of reason,

since he was about to venture upon new and untried ground;

but I thought he might as well learn how to take care of

the courier now as later, therefore I enforced my point.

I said that the trouble, delay, and inconvenience

of traveling with a courier were balanced by the deep

respect which a courier’s presence commands, and I must

insist that as much style be thrown into my journeys

as possible.

So the two assumed complete mountaineering costumes

and departed. A week later they returned, pretty well

used up, and my agent handed me the following

Official Report


About seven o’clock in the morning, with perfectly

fine weather, we started from Hospenthal, and arrived at

the MAISON on the Furka in a little under QUATRE hours.

The want of variety in the scenery from Hospenthal made

the KAHKAHPONEEKA wearisome; but let none be discouraged;

no one can fail to be completely R’ECOMPENS’EE for

his fatigue, when he sees, for the first time, the monarch

of the Oberland, the tremendous Finsteraarhorn. A moment

before all was dullness, but a PAS further has placed us

on the summit of the Furka; and exactly in front of us,

at a HOPOW of only fifteen miles, this magnificent mountain

lifts its snow-wreathed precipices into the deep blue sky.

The inferior mountains on each side of the pass form

a sort of frame for the picture of their dread lord,

and close in the view so completely that no other prominent

feature in the Oberland is visible from this BONG-A-BONG;

nothing withdraws the attention from the solitary grandeur

of the Finsteraarhorn and the dependent spurs which form

the abutments of the central peak.

With the addition of some others, who were also bound

for the Grimsel, we formed a large XHVLOJ as we descended

the STEG which winds round the shoulder of a mountain

toward the Rhone Glacier. We soon left the path and took

to the ice; and after wandering amongst the crevices UN PEU,

to admire the wonders of these deep blue caverns, and hear

the rushing of waters through their subglacial channels,

we struck out a course toward L’AUTRE CO^T’E and crossed

the glacier successfully, a little above the cave from

which the infant Rhone takes its first bound from under

the grand precipice of ice. Half a mile below this

we began to climb the flowery side of the Meienwand.

One of our party started before the rest, but the HITZE

was so great, that we found IHM quite exhausted,

and lying at full length in the shade of a large GESTEIN.

We sat down with him for a time, for all felt the heat

exceedingly in the climb up this very steep BOLWOGGOLY,

and then we set out again together, and arrived at last

near the Dead Man’s Lake, at the foot of the Sidelhorn.

This lonely spot, once used for an extempore burying-place,

after a sanguinary BATTUE between the French and Austrians,

is the perfection of desolation; there is nothing in sight

to mark the hand of man, except the line of weather-beaten

whitened posts, set up to indicate the direction of the pass

in the OWDAWAKK of winter. Near this point the footpath joins

the wider track, which connects the Grimsel with the head

of the Rhone SCHNAWP; this has been carefully constructed,

and leads with a tortuous course among and over LES PIERRES,

down to the bank of the gloomy little SWOSH-SWOSH, which

almost washes against the walls of the Grimsel Hospice.

We arrived a little before four o’clock at the end

of our day’s journey, hot enough to justify the step,

taking by most of the PARTIE, of plunging into the crystal

water of the snow-fed lake.

The next afternoon we started for a walk up the Unteraar glacier,

with the intention of, at all events, getting as far

as the HU”TTE which is used as a sleeping-place by most

of those who cross the Strahleck Pass to Grindelwald.

We got over the tedious collection of stones and DE’BRIS

which covers the PIED of the GLETCHER, and had walked

nearly three hours from the Grimsel, when, just as

we were thinking of crossing over to the right,

to climb the cliffs at the foot of the hut, the clouds,

which had for some time assumed a threatening appearance,

suddenly dropped, and a huge mass of them, driving toward

us from the Finsteraarhorn, poured down a deluge of

HABOOLONG and hail. Fortunately, we were not far from

a very large glacier-table; it was a huge rock balanced

on a pedestal of ice high enough to admit of our all

creeping under it for GOWKARAK. A stream of PUCKITTYPUKK

had furrowed a course for itself in the ice at its base,

and we were obliged to stand with one FUSS on each side

of this, and endeavor to keep ourselves CHAUD by cutting

steps in the steep bank of the pedestal, so as to get

a higher place for standing on, as the WASSER rose rapidly

in its trench. A very cold BZZZZZZZZEEE accompanied

the storm, and made our position far from pleasant;

and presently came a flash of BLITZEN, apparently in the

middle of our little party, with an instantaneous clap

of YOKKY, sounding like a large gun fired close to our ears;

the effect was startling; but in a few seconds our attention

was fixed by the roaring echoes of the thunder against

the tremendous mountains which completely surrounded us.

This was followed by many more bursts, none of WELCHE,

however, was so dangerously near; and after waiting a long

DEMI-hour in our icy prison, we sallied out to talk through

a HABOOLONG which, though not so heavy as before, was quite

enough to give us a thorough soaking before our arrival at the


The Grimsel is CERTAINEMENT a wonderful place; situated at

the bottom of a sort of huge crater, the sides of which

are utterly savage GEBIRGE, composed of barren rocks

which cannot even support a single pine ARBRE, and afford

only scanty food for a herd of GMWKWLLOLP, it looks as

if it must be completely BEGRABEN in the winter snows.

Enormous avalanches fall against it every spring,

sometimes covering everything to the depth of thirty

or forty feet; and, in spite of walls four feet thick,

and furnished with outside shutters, the two men who stay here

when the VOYAGEURS are snugly quartered in their distant homes

can tell you that the snow sometimes shakes the house to its


Next morning the HOGGLEBUMGULLUP still continued bad,

but we made up our minds to go on, and make the best of it.

Half an hour after we started, the REGEN thickened unpleasantly,

and we attempted to get shelter under a projecting rock,

but being far to NASS already to make standing at all

AGRE’ABLE, we pushed on for the Handeck, consoling ourselves

with the reflection that from the furious rushing

of the river Aar at our side, we should at all events


Nor were we NAPPERSOCKET in our expectation; the water

was roaring down its leap of two hundred and fifty feet

in a most magnificent frenzy, while the trees which cling

to its rocky sides swayed to and fro in the violence of the

hurricane which it brought down with it; even the stream,

which falls into the main cascade at right angles,

and TOUTEFOIS forms a beautiful feature in the scene,

was now swollen into a raging torrent; and the violence

of this “meeting of the waters,” about fifty feet below

the frail bridge where we stood, was fearfully grand.

While we were looking at it, GLU”CKLICHEWEISE a gleam

of sunshine came out, and instantly a beautiful rainbow

was formed by the spray, and hung in mid-air suspended over

the awful gorge.

On going into the CHALET above the fall, we were

informed that a BRU”CKE had broken down near Guttanen,

and that it would be impossible to proceed for some time;

accordingly we were kept in our drenched condition for

EIN STUNDE, when some VOYAGEURS arrived from Meiringen,

and told us that there had been a trifling accident,

ABER that we could now cross. On arriving at the spot,

I was much inclined to suspect that the whole story was a ruse

to make us SLOWWK and drink the more at the Handeck Inn,

for only a few planks had been carried away, and though

there might perhaps have been some difficulty with mules,

the gap was certainly not larger than a MMBGLX might cross

with a very slight leap. Near Guttanen the HABOOLONG

happily ceased, and we had time to walk ourselves tolerably

dry before arriving at Reichenback, WO we enjoyed a good DINE’

at the Hotel des Alps.

Next morning we walked to Rosenlaui, the BEAU ID’EAL

of Swiss scenery, where we spent the middle of the day

in an excursion to the glacier. This was more beautiful

than words can describe, for in the constant progress

of the ice it has changed the form of its extremity

and formed a vast cavern, as blue as the sky above,

and rippled like a frozen ocean. A few steps cut

in the WHOOPJAMBOREEHOO enabled us to walk completely

under this, and feast our eyes upon one of the loveliest

objects in creation. The glacier was all around divided

by numberless fissures of the same exquisite color,

and the finest wood-ERDBEEREN were growing in abundance

but a few yards from the ice. The inn stands in a CHARMANT

spot close to the C^OTE DE LA RIVIE`RE, which, lower down,

forms the Reichenbach fall, and embosomed in the richest

of pine woods, while the fine form of the Wellhorn

looking down upon it completes the enchanting BOPPLE.

In the afternoon we walked over the Great Scheideck

to Grindelwald, stopping to pay a visit to the Upper

glacier by the way; but we were again overtaken by bad

HOGGLEBUMGULLUP and arrived at the hotel in a SOLCHE

a state that the landlord’s wardrobe was in great request.

The clouds by this time seemed to have done their worst,

for a lovely day succeeded, which we determined to devote

to an ascent of the Faulhorn. We left Grindelwald just as

a thunder-storm was dying away, and we hoped to find GUTEN

WETTER up above; but the rain, which had nearly ceased,

began again, and we were struck by the rapidly increasing

FROID as we ascended. Two-thirds of the way up were

completed when the rain was exchanged for GNILLIC,

with which the BODEN was thickly covered, and before we

arrived at the top the GNILLIC and mist became so thick

that we could not see one another at more than twenty

POOPOO distance, and it became difficult to pick our way over

the rough and thickly covered ground. Shivering with cold,

we turned into bed with a double allowance of clothes,

and slept comfortably while the wind howled AUTOUR DE

LA MAISON; when I awoke, the wall and the window looked

equally dark, but in another hour I found I could just

see the form of the latter; so I jumped out of bed,

and forced it open, though with great difficulty from

the frost and the quantities of GNILLIC heaped up against it.

A row of huge icicles hung down from the edge of the roof,

and anything more wintry than the whole ANBLICK could

not well be imagined; but the sudden appearance of the

great mountains in front was so startling that I felt no

inclination to move toward bed again. The snow which had

collected upon LA FENE^TRE had increased the FINSTERNISS

ODER DER DUNKELHEIT, so that when I looked out I was

surprised to find that the daylight was considerable,

and that the BALRAGOOMAH would evidently rise before long.

Only the brightest of LES E’TOILES were still shining;

the sky was cloudless overhead, though small curling

mists lay thousands of feet below us in the valleys,

wreathed around the feet of the mountains, and adding

to the splendor of their lofty summits. We were soon

dressed and out of the house, watching the gradual approach

of dawn, thoroughly absorbed in the first near view

of the Oberland giants, which broke upon us unexpectedly

after the intense obscurity of the evening before.


as that grand summit gleamed with the first rose of dawn;

and in a few moments the double crest of the Schreckhorn

followed its example; peak after peak seemed warmed

with life, the Jungfrau blushed even more beautifully

than her neighbors, and soon, from the Wetterhorn in the

east to the Wildstrubel in the west, a long row of fires

glowed upon mighty altars, truly worthy of the gods.

The WLGW was very severe; our sleeping-place could

hardly be DISTINGUEE’ from the snow around it, which had

fallen to a depth of a FLIRK during the past evening,

and we heartily enjoyed a rough scramble EN BAS to the

Giesbach falls, where we soon found a warm climate.

At noon the day before Grindelwald the thermometer could

not have stood at less than 100 degrees Fahr. in the sun;

and in the evening, judging from the icicles formed,

and the state of the windows, there must have been at least

twelve DINGBLATTER of frost, thus giving a change of 80

degrees during a few hours.

I said:

“You have done well, Harris; this report is concise,

compact, well expressed; the language is crisp,

the descriptions are vivid and not needlessly elaborated;

your report goes straight to the point, attends strictly

to business, and doesn’t fool around. It is in many

ways an excellent document. But it has a fault–it

is too learned, it is much too learned. What is ‘DINGBLATTER’?

“‘DINGBLATTER’ is a Fiji word meaning ‘degrees.'”

“You knew the English of it, then?”

“Oh, yes.”

“What is ‘GNILLIC’?

“That is the Eskimo term for ‘snow.'”

“So you knew the English for that, too?”

“Why, certainly.”

“What does ‘MMBGLX’ stand for?”

“That is Zulu for ‘pedestrian.'”

“‘While the form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it

completes the enchanting BOPPLE.’ What is ‘BOPPLE’?”

“‘Picture.’ It’s Choctaw.”

“What is ‘SCHNAWP’?”

“‘Valley.’ That is Choctaw, also.”

“What is ‘BOLWOGGOLY’?”

“That is Chinese for ‘hill.'”


“‘Ascent.’ Choctaw.”

“‘But we were again overtaken by bad HOGGLEBUMGULLUP.’

What does ‘HOGGLEBUMGULLUP’ mean?”

“That is Chinese for ‘weather.'”

“Is ‘HOGGLEBUMGULLUP’ better than the English word? Is

it any more descriptive?”

“No, it means just the same.”


and ‘SCHNAWP’–are they better than the English words?”

“No, they mean just what the English ones do.”

“Then why do you use them? Why have you used all this

Chinese and Choctaw and Zulu rubbish?”

“Because I didn’t know any French but two or three words,

and I didn’t know any Latin or Greek at all.”

“That is nothing. Why should you want to use foreign words,


“They adorn my page. They all do it.”

“Who is ‘all’?”

“Everybody. Everybody that writes elegantly. Anybody has

a right to that wants to.”

“I think you are mistaken.” I then proceeded in the following

scathing manner. “When really learned men write books

for other learned men to read, they are justified in using

as many learned words as they please–their audience

will understand them; but a man who writes a book for the

general public to read is not justified in disfiguring

his pages with untranslated foreign expressions.

It is an insolence toward the majority of the purchasers,

for it is a very frank and impudent way of saying,

‘Get the translations made yourself if you want them,

this book is not written for the ignorant classes.’ There are

men who know a foreign language so well and have used it

so long in their daily life that they seem to discharge whole

volleys of it into their English writings unconsciously,

and so they omit to translate, as much as half the time.

That is a great cruelty to nine out of ten of the

man’s readers. What is the excuse for this? The writer

would say he only uses the foreign language where the

delicacy of his point cannot be conveyed in English.

Very well, then he writes his best things for the tenth man,

and he ought to warn the nine other not to buy his book.

However, the excuse he offers is at least an excuse;

but there is another set of men who are like YOU;

they know a WORD here and there, of a foreign language,

or a few beggarly little three-word phrases, filched from

the back of the Dictionary, and these are continually

peppering into their literature, with a pretense of

knowing that language–what excuse can they offer? The

foreign words and phrases which they use have their exact

equivalents in a nobler language–English; yet they think

they ‘adorn their page’ when they say STRASSE for street,

and BAHNHOF for railway-station, and so on–flaunting

these fluttering rags of poverty in the reader’s face

and imagining he will be ass enough to take them for the

sign of untold riches held in reserve. I will let your

‘learning’ remain in your report; you have as much right,

I suppose, to ‘adorn your page’ with Zulu and Chinese

and Choctaw rubbish as others of your sort have to adorn

theirs with insolent odds and ends smouched from half

a dozen learned tongues whose A-B ABS they don’t even know.”

When the musing spider steps upon the red-hot shovel,

he first exhibits a wild surprise, then he shrivels up.

Similar was the effect of these blistering words upon the

tranquil and unsuspecting Agent. I can be dreadfully rough

on a person when the mood takes me.


[Alp-scaling by Carriage]

We now prepared for a considerable walk–from Lucerne

to Interlaken, over the Bru”nig Pass. But at the last moment

the weather was so good that I changed my mind and hired

a four-horse carriage. It was a huge vehicle, roomy, as easy

in its motion as a palanquin, and exceedingly comfortable.

We got away pretty early in the morning, after a hot breakfast,

and went bowling over a hard, smooth road, through the summer

loveliness of Switzerland, with near and distant lakes

and mountains before and about us for the entertainment

of the eye, and the music of multitudinous birds to charm

the ear. Sometimes there was only the width of the road

between the imposing precipices on the right and the clear

cool water on the left with its shoals of uncatchable

fish skimming about through the bars of sun and shadow;

and sometimes, in place of the precipices, the grassy land

stretched away, in an apparently endless upward slant,

and was dotted everywhere with snug little chalets,

the peculiarly captivating cottage of Switzerland.

The ordinary chalet turns a broad, honest gable end

to the road, and its ample roof hovers over the home

in a protecting, caressing way, projecting its sheltering

eaves far outward. The quaint windows are filled with

little panes, and garnished with white muslin curtains,

and brightened with boxes of blooming flowers.

Across the front of the house, and up the spreading eaves

and along the fanciful railings of the shallow porch,

are elaborate carvings–wreaths, fruits, arabesques,

verses from Scripture, names, dates, etc. The building

is wholly of wood, reddish brown in tint, a very

pleasing color. It generally has vines climbing over it.

Set such a house against the fresh green of the hillside,

and it looks ever so cozy and inviting and picturesque,

and is a decidedly graceful addition to the landscape.

One does not find out what a hold the chalet has taken

upon him, until he presently comes upon a new house–

a house which is aping the town fashions of Germany

and France, a prim, hideous, straight-up-and-down thing,

plastered all over on the outside to look like stone,

and altogether so stiff, and formal, and ugly, and forbidding,

and so out of tune with the gracious landscape, and so deaf

and dumb and dead to the poetry of its surroundings,

that it suggests an undertaker at a picnic, a corpse at

a wedding, a puritan in Paradise.

In the course of the morning we passed the spot where Pontius

Pilate is said to have thrown himself into the lake.

The legend goes that after the Crucifixion his conscience

troubled him, and he fled from Jerusalem and wandered

about the earth, weary of life and a prey to tortures of

the mind. Eventually, he hid himself away, on the heights

of Mount Pilatus, and dwelt alone among the clouds and

crags for years; but rest and peace were still denied him,

so he finally put an end to his misery by drowning himself.

Presently we passed the place where a man of better odor

was born. This was the children’s friend, Santa Claus,

or St. Nicholas. There are some unaccountable reputations

in the world. This saint’s is an instance. He has

ranked for ages as the peculiar friend of children,

yet it appears he was not much of a friend to his own.

He had ten of them, and when fifty years old he left them,

and sought out as dismal a refuge from the world as possible,

and became a hermit in order that he might reflect upon

pious themes without being disturbed by the joyous and other

noises from the nursery, doubtless.

Judging by Pilate and St. Nicholas, there exists no rule

for the construction of hermits; they seem made out of all

kinds of material. But Pilate attended to the matter of

expiating his sin while he was alive, whereas St. Nicholas

will probably have to go on climbing down sooty chimneys,

Christmas eve, forever, and conferring kindness on other

people’s children, to make up for deserting his own.

His bones are kept in a church in a village (Sachseln)

which we visited, and are naturally held in great reverence.

His portrait is common in the farmhouses of the region,

but is believed by many to be but an indifferent likeness.

During his hermit life, according to legend, he partook

of the bread and wine of the communion once a month,

but all the rest of the month he fasted.

A constant marvel with us, as we sped along the bases

of the steep mountains on this journey, was, not that

avalanches occur, but that they are not occurring all

the time. One does not understand why rocks and landslides

do not plunge down these declivities daily. A landslip

occurred three quarters of a century ago, on the route

from Arth to Brunnen, which was a formidable thing.

A mass of conglomerate two miles long, a thousand feet broad,

and a hundred feet thick, broke away from a cliff three

thousand feet high and hurled itself into the valley below,

burying four villages and five hundred people, as in a grave.

We had such a beautiful day, and such endless pictures

of limpid lakes, and green hills and valleys,

and majestic mountains, and milky cataracts dancing

down the steeps and gleaming in the sun, that we could

not help feeling sweet toward all the world; so we tried

to drink all the milk, and eat all the grapes and apricots

and berries, and buy all the bouquets of wild flowers

which the little peasant boys and girls offered for sale;

but we had to retire from this contract, for it was too heavy.

At short distances–and they were entirely too short–all

along the road, were groups of neat and comely children,

with their wares nicely and temptingly set forth

in the grass under the shade trees, and as soon as we

approached they swarmed into the road, holding out their

baskets and milk bottles, and ran beside the carriage,

barefoot and bareheaded, and importuned us to buy.

They seldom desisted early, but continued to run and

insist–beside the wagon while they could, and behind

it until they lost breath. Then they turned and chased

a returning carriage back to their trading-post again.

After several hours of this, without any intermission,

it becomes almost annoying. I do not know what we

should have done without the returning carriages to draw

off the pursuit. However, there were plenty of these,

loaded with dusty tourists and piled high with luggage.

Indeed, from Lucerne to Interlaken we had the spectacle,

among other scenery, of an unbroken procession of

fruit-peddlers and tourists carriages.

Our talk was mostly anticipatory of what we should see

on the down-grade of the Bru”nig, by and by, after we

should pass the summit. All our friends in Lucerne had

said that to look down upon Meiringen, and the rushing

blue-gray river Aar, and the broad level green valley;

and across at the mighty Alpine precipices that rise

straight up to the clouds out of that valley; and up

at the microscopic chalets perched upon the dizzy eaves

of those precipices and winking dimly and fitfully

through the drifting veil of vapor; and still up and up,

at the superb Oltschiback and the other beautiful cascades

that leap from those rugged heights, robed in powdery spray,

ruffled with foam, and girdled with rainbows–to look upon

these things, they say, was to look upon the last possibility

of the sublime and the enchanting. Therefore, as I say,

we talked mainly of these coming wonders; if we were conscious

of any impatience, it was to get there in favorable season;

if we felt any anxiety, it was that the day might

remain perfect, and enable us to see those marvels at their best.

As we approached the Kaiserstuhl, a part of the harness gave way.

We were in distress for a moment, but only a moment.

It was the fore-and-aft gear that was broken–the thing

that leads aft from the forward part of the horse and is

made fast to the thing that pulls the wagon. In America

this would have been a heavy leathern strap; but, all over

the continent it is nothing but a piece of rope the size

of your little finger–clothes-line is what it is.

Cabs use it, private carriages, freight-carts and wagons,

all sorts of vehicles have it. In Munich I afterward saw

it used on a long wagon laden with fifty-four half-barrels

of beer; I had before noticed that the cabs in Heidelberg

used it–not new rope, but rope that had been in use

since Abraham’s time –and I had felt nervous, sometimes,

behind it when the cab was tearing down a hill. But I

had long been accustomed to it now, and had even become

afraid of the leather strap which belonged in its place.

Our driver got a fresh piece of clothes-line out of his

locker and repaired the break in two minutes.

So much for one European fashion. Every country has its

own ways. It may interest the reader to know how they “put

horses to” on the continent. The man stands up the horses

on each side of the thing that projects from the front end

of the wagon, and then throws the tangled mess of gear

forward through a ring, and hauls it aft, and passes the

other thing through the other ring and hauls it aft on the

other side of the other horse, opposite to the first one,

after crossing them and bringing the loose end back,

and then buckles the other thing underneath the horse,

and takes another thing and wraps it around the thing I spoke

of before, and puts another thing over each horse’s head,

with broad flappers to it to keep the dust out of his eyes,

and puts the iron thing in his mouth for him to grit his

teeth on, uphill, and brings the ends of these things aft

over his back, after buckling another one around under

his neck to hold his head up, and hitching another thing

on a thing that goes over his shoulders to keep his head

up when he is climbing a hill, and then takes the slack

of the thing which I mentioned a while ago, and fetches it

aft and makes it fast to the thing that pulls the wagon,

and hands the other things up to the driver to steer with.

I never have buckled up a horse myself, but I do not think

we do it that way.

We had four very handsome horses, and the driver was very proud

of his turnout. He would bowl along on a reasonable trot,

on the highway, but when he entered a village he did it on

a furious run, and accompanied it with a frenzy of ceaseless

whip-crackings that sounded like volleys of musketry.

He tore through the narrow streets and around the sharp

curves like a moving earthquake, showering his volleys

as he went, and before him swept a continuous tidal wave

of scampering children, ducks, cats, and mothers clasping

babies which they had snatched out of the way of the

coming destruction; and as this living wave washed aside,

along the walls, its elements, being safe, forgot their fears

and turned their admiring gaze upon that gallant driver

till he thundered around the next curve and was lost to sight.

He was a great man to those villagers, with his gaudy

clothes and his terrific ways. Whenever he stopped

to have his cattle watered and fed with loaves of bread,

the villagers stood around admiring him while he

swaggered about, the little boys gazed up at his face with

humble homage, and the landlord brought out foaming mugs

of beer and conversed proudly with him while he drank.

Then he mounted his lofty box, swung his explosive whip,

and away he went again, like a storm. I had not seen

anything like this before since I was a boy, and the

stage used to flourish the village with the dust flying

and the horn tooting.

When we reached the base of the Kaiserstuhl, we took

two more horses; we had to toil along with difficulty

for an hour and a half or two hours, for the ascent

was not very gradual, but when we passed the backbone

and approached the station, the driver surpassed all

his previous efforts in the way of rush and clatter.

He could not have six horses all the time, so he made

the most of his chance while he had it.

Up to this point we had been in the heart of the William

Tell region. The hero is not forgotten, by any means,

or held in doubtful veneration. His wooden image,

with his bow drawn, above the doors of taverns, was a

frequent feature of the scenery.

About noon we arrived at the foot of the Bru”nig Pass,

and made a two-hour stop at the village hotel, another of

those clean, pretty, and thoroughly well-kept inns which are

such an astonishment to people who are accustomed to hotels

of a dismally different pattern in remote country-towns.

There was a lake here, in the lap of the great mountains,

the green slopes that rose toward the lower crags

were graced with scattered Swiss cottages nestling

among miniature farms and gardens, and from out a leafy

ambuscade in the upper heights tumbled a brawling cataract.

Carriage after carriage, laden with tourists and trunks,

arrived, and the quiet hotel was soon populous.

We were early at the table d’ho^te and saw the people

all come in. There were twenty-five, perhaps. They were

of various nationalities, but we were the only Americans.

Next to me sat an English bride, and next to her sat her

new husband, whom she called “Neddy,” though he was big

enough and stalwart enough to be entitled to his full name.

They had a pretty little lovers’ quarrel over what wine

they should have. Neddy was for obeying the guide-book

and taking the wine of the country; but the bride said:

“What, that nahsty stuff!”

“It isn’t nahsty, pet, it’s quite good.”

“It IS nahsty.”

“No, it ISN’T nahsty.”

“It’s Oful nahsty, Neddy, and I shahn’t drink it.”

Then the question was, what she must have. She said he

knew very well that she never drank anything but champagne.

She added:

“You know very well papa always has champagne on his table,

and I’ve always been used to it.”

Neddy made a playful pretense of being distressed about

the expense, and this amused her so much that she nearly

exhausted herself with laughter–and this pleased HIM

so much that he repeated his jest a couple of times,

and added new and killing varieties to it. When the bride

finally recovered, she gave Neddy a love-box on the arm

with her fan, and said with arch severity:

“Well, you would HAVE me–nothing else would do–

so you’ll have to make the best of a bad bargain.

DO order the champagne, I’m Oful dry.”

So with a mock groan which made her laugh again,

Neddy ordered the champagne.

The fact that this young woman had never moistened

the selvedge edge of her soul with a less plebeian

tipple than champagne, had a marked and subduing effect

on Harris. He believed she belonged to the royal family.

But I had my doubts.

We heard two or three different languages spoken by

people at the table and guessed out the nationalities

of most of the guests to our satisfaction, but we

failed with an elderly gentleman and his wife and a

young girl who sat opposite us, and with a gentleman

of about thirty-five who sat three seats beyond Harris.

We did not hear any of these speak. But finally the

last-named gentleman left while we were not noticing,

but we looked up as he reached the far end of the table.

He stopped there a moment, and made his toilet with a

pocket comb. So he was a German; or else he had lived

in German hotels long enough to catch the fashion.

When the elderly couple and the young girl rose to leave,

they bowed respectfully to us. So they were Germans, too.

This national custom is worth six of the other one,

for export.

After dinner we talked with several Englishmen, and they

inflamed our desire to a hotter degree than ever,

to see the sights of Meiringen from the heights of

the Bru”nig Pass. They said the view was marvelous,

and that one who had seen it once could never forget it.

They also spoke of the romantic nature of the road over

the pass, and how in one place it had been cut through

a flank of the solid rock, in such a way that the mountain

overhung the tourist as he passed by; and they furthermore

said that the sharp turns in the road and the abruptness

of the descent would afford us a thrilling experience,

for we should go down in a flying gallop and seem to be

spinning around the rings of a whirlwind, like a drop

of whiskey descending the spirals of a corkscrew.

I got all the information out of these gentlemen that we

could need; and then, to make everything complete, I asked

them if a body could get hold of a little fruit and milk

here and there, in case of necessity. They threw up their

hands in speechless intimation that the road was simply paved

with refreshment-peddlers. We were impatient to get away,

now, and the rest of our two-hour stop rather dragged.

But finally the set time arrived and we began the ascent.

Indeed it was a wonderful road. It was smooth, and compact,

and clean, and the side next the precipices was guarded

all along by dressed stone posts about three feet high,

placed at short distances apart. The road could not have

been better built if Napoleon the First had built it.

He seems to have been the introducer of the sort of roads

which Europe now uses. All literature which describes

life as it existed in England, France, and Germany up

to the close of the last century, is filled with pictures

of coaches and carriages wallowing through these three

countries in mud and slush half-wheel deep; but after

Napoleon had floundered through a conquered kingdom he

generally arranged things so that the rest of the world

could follow dry-shod.

We went on climbing, higher and higher, and curving hither

and thither, in the shade of noble woods, and with a rich

variety and profusion of wild flowers all about us;

and glimpses of rounded grassy backbones below us occupied

by trim chalets and nibbling sheep, and other glimpses

of far lower altitudes, where distance diminished the

chalets to toys and obliterated the sheep altogether;

and every now and then some ermined monarch of the Alps

swung magnificently into view for a moment, then drifted

past an intervening spur and disappeared again.

It was an intoxicating trip altogether; the exceeding

sense of satisfaction that follows a good dinner added

largely to the enjoyment; the having something especial

to look forward to and muse about, like the approaching

grandeurs of Meiringen, sharpened the zest. Smoking was

never so good before, solid comfort was never solider;

we lay back against the thick cushions silent, meditative,

steeped in felicity.

I rubbed my eyes, opened them, and started. I had been

dreaming I was at sea, and it was a thrilling surprise to wake

up and find land all around me. It took me a couple seconds

to “come to,” as you may say; then I took in the situation.

The horses were drinking at a trough in the edge of a town,

the driver was taking beer, Harris was snoring at my side,

the courier, with folded arms and bowed head, was sleeping

on the box, two dozen barefooted and bareheaded children

were gathered about the carriage, with their hands

crossed behind, gazing up with serious and innocent

admiration at the dozing tourists baking there in the sun.

Several small girls held night-capped babies nearly

as big as themselves in their arms, and even these fat

babies seemed to take a sort of sluggish interest in us.

We had slept an hour and a half and missed all the scenery!

I did not need anybody to tell me that. If I had been

a girl, I could have cursed for vexation. As it was,

I woke up the agent and gave him a piece of my mind.

Instead of being humiliated, he only upbraided me for being

so wanting in vigilance. He said he had expected to improve

his mind by coming to Europe, but a man might travel to the

ends of the earth with me and never see anything, for I

was manifestly endowed with the very genius of ill luck.

He even tried to get up some emotion about that poor courier,

who never got a chance to see anything, on account of

my heedlessness. But when I thought I had borne about

enough of this kind of talk, I threatened to make Harris

tramp back to the summit and make a report on that scenery,

and this suggestion spiked his battery.

We drove sullenly through Brienz, dead to the seductions

of its bewildering array of Swiss carvings and the

clamorous HOO-hooing of its cuckoo clocks, and had not

entirely recovered our spirits when we rattled across

a bridge over the rushing blue river and entered the

pretty town of Interlaken. It was just about sunset,

and we had made the trip from Lucerne in ten hours.


[The Jungfrau, the Bride, and the Piano]

We located ourselves at the Jungfrau Hotel, one of those

huge establishments which the needs of modern travel

have created in every attractive spot on the continent.

There was a great gathering at dinner, and, as usual,

one heard all sorts of languages.

The table d’ho^te was served by waitresses dressed

in the quaint and comely costume of the Swiss peasants.

This consists of a simple gros de laine, trimmed with ashes

of roses, with overskirt of scare bleu ventre saint gris,

cut bias on the off-side, with facings of petit polonaise

and narrow insertions of pa^te de foie gras backstitched

to the mise en sce`ne in the form of a jeu d’esprit. It gives

to the wearer a singularly piquant and alluring aspect.

One of these waitresses, a woman of forty,

had side-whiskers reaching half-way down her jaws.

They were two fingers broad, dark in color, pretty thick,

and the hairs were an inch long. One sees many women on

the continent with quite conspicuous mustaches, but this

was the only woman I saw who had reached the dignity of whiskers.

After dinner the guests of both sexes distributed themselves

about the front porches and the ornamental grounds belonging

to the hotel, to enjoy the cool air; but, as the twilight

deepened toward darkness, they gathered themselves together

in that saddest and solemnest and most constrained of

all places, the great blank drawing-room which is the chief

feature of all continental summer hotels. There they

grouped themselves about, in couples and threes, and mumbled

in bated voices, and looked timid and homeless and forlorn.

There was a small piano in this room, a clattery, wheezy,

asthmatic thing, certainly the very worst miscarriage

in the way of a piano that the world has seen. In turn,

five or six dejected and homesick ladies approached

it doubtingly, gave it a single inquiring thump, and retired

with the lockjaw. But the boss of that instrument was

to come, nevertheless; and from my own country–from Arkansaw.

She was a brand-new bride, innocent, girlish, happy in herself

and her grave and worshiping stripling of a husband; she was

about eighteen, just out of school, free from affections,

unconscious of that passionless multitude around her;

and the very first time she smote that old wreck one

recognized that it had met its destiny. Her stripling

brought an armful of aged sheet-music from their room–

for this bride went “heeled,” as you might say–and bent

himself lovingly over and got ready to turn the pages.

The bride fetched a swoop with her fingers from one end

of the keyboard to the other, just to get her bearings,

as it were, and you could see the congregation set their teeth

with the agony of it. Then, without any more preliminaries,

she turned on all the horrors of the “Battle of Prague,”

that venerable shivaree, and waded chin-deep in the blood

of the slain. She made a fair and honorable average

of two false notes in every five, but her soul was in arms

and she never stopped to correct. The audience stood it

with pretty fair grit for a while, but when the cannonade

waxed hotter and fiercer, and the discord average

rose to four in five, the procession began to move.

A few stragglers held their ground ten minutes longer,

but when the girl began to wring the true inwardness out

of the “cries of the wounded,” they struck their colors

and retired in a kind of panic.

There never was a completer victory; I was the only

non-combatant left on the field. I would not have

deserted my countrywoman anyhow, but indeed I had no

desires in that direction. None of us like mediocrity,

but we all reverence perfection. This girl’s music

was perfection in its way; it was the worst music that

had ever been achieved on our planet by a mere human being.

I moved up close, and never lost a strain. When she

got through, I asked her to play it again. She did it

with a pleased alacrity and a heightened enthusiasm.

She made it ALL discords, this time. She got an amount

of anguish into the cries of the wounded that shed a new

light on human suffering. She was on the war-path all

the evening. All the time, crowds of people gathered on

the porches and pressed their noses against the windows

to look and marvel, but the bravest never ventured in.

The bride went off satisfied and happy with her young fellow,

when her appetite was finally gorged, and the tourists

swarmed in again.

What a change has come over Switzerland, and in fact

all Europe, during this century! Seventy or eighty years

ago Napoleon was the only man in Europe who could really

be called a traveler; he was the only man who had devoted

his attention to it and taken a powerful interest in it;

he was the only man who had traveled extensively;

but now everybody goes everywhere; and Switzerland,

and many other regions which were unvisited and unknown

remotenesses a hundred years ago, are in our days

a buzzing hive of restless strangers every summer.

But I digress.

In the morning, when we looked out of our windows,

we saw a wonderful sight. Across the valley,

and apparently quite neighborly and close at hand,

the giant form of the Jungfrau rose cold and white into

the clear sky, beyond a gateway in the nearer highlands.

It reminded me, somehow, of one of those colossal billows

which swells suddenly up beside one’s ship, at sea,

sometimes, with its crest and shoulders snowy white, and the

rest of its noble proportions streaked downward with creamy foam.

I took out my sketch-book and made a little picture

of the Jungfrau, merely to get the shape. [Figure 9]

I do not regard this as one of my finished works, in fact I

do not rank it among my Works at all; it is only a study;

it is hardly more than what one might call a sketch.

Other artists have done me the grace to admire it; but I

am severe in my judgments of my own pictures, and this

one does not move me.

It was hard to believe that that lofty wooded rampart on

the left which so overtops the Jungfrau was not actually

the higher of the two, but it was not, of course.

It is only two or three thousand feet high, and of course

has no snow upon it in summer, whereas the Jungfrau is not

much shorter of fourteen thousand feet high and therefore

that lowest verge of snow on her side, which seems nearly

down to the valley level, is really about seven thousand feet

higher up in the air than the summit of that wooded rampart.

It is the distance that makes the deception. The wooded

height is but four or five miles removed from us,

but the Jungfrau is four or five times that distance away.

Walking down the street of shops, in the fore-noon, I

was attracted by a large picture, carved, frame and all,

from a single block of chocolate-colored wood.

There are people who know everything. Some of these had

told us that continental shopkeepers always raise their

prices on English and Americans. Many people had told

us it was expensive to buy things through a courier,

whereas I had supposed it was just the reverse.

When I saw this picture, I conjectured that it was worth

more than the friend I proposed to buy it for would

like to pay, but still it was worth while to inquire;

so I told the courier to step in and ask the price, as if he

wanted it for himself; I told him not to speak in English,

and above all not to reveal the fact that he was a courier.

Then I moved on a few yards, and waited.

The courier came presently and reported the price.

I said to myself, “It is a hundred francs too much,”

and so dismissed the matter from my mind. But in

the afternoon I was passing that place with Harris,

and the picture attracted me again. We stepped in,

to see how much higher broken German would raise the price.

The shopwoman named a figure just a hundred francs lower

than the courier had named. This was a pleasant surprise.

I said I would take it. After I had given directions as to

where it was to be shipped, the shipped, the shopwoman said,


“If your please, do not let your courier know you bought it.”

This was an unexpected remark. I said:

“What makes you think I have a courier?”

“Ah, that is very simple; he told me himself.”

“He was very thoughtful. But tell me–why did you charge

him more than you are charging me?”

“That is very simple, also: I do not have to pay you

a percentage.”

“Oh, I begin to see. You would have had to pay the courier

a percentage.”

“Undoubtedly. The courier always has his percentage.

In this case it would have been a hundred francs.”

“Then the tradesman does not pay a part of it–

the purchaser pays all of it?”

“There are occasions when the tradesman and the courier

agree upon a price which is twice or thrice the value of

the article, then the two divide, and both get a percentage.”

“I see. But it seems to me that the purchaser does

all the paying, even then.”

“Oh, to be sure! It goes without saying.”

“But I have bought this picture myself; therefore why

shouldn’t the courier know it?”

The woman exclaimed, in distress:

“Ah, indeed it would take all my little profit! He would

come and demand his hundred francs, and I should have

to pay.”

“He has not done the buying. You could refuse.”

“I could not dare to refuse. He would never bring

travelers here again. More than that, he would denounce me

to the other couriers, they would divert custom from me,

and my business would be injured.”

I went away in a thoughtful frame of mind. I began to see why

a courier could afford to work for fifty-five dollars a month

and his fares. A month or two later I was able to understand

why a courier did not have to pay any board and lodging,

and why my hotel bills were always larger when I had him

with me than when I left him behind, somewhere, for a few days.

Another thing was also explained, now, apparently.

In one town I had taken the courier to the bank to do

the translating when I drew some money. I had sat

in the reading-room till the transaction was finished.

Then a clerk had brought the money to me in person,

and had been exceedingly polite, even going so far as to

precede me to the door and holding it open for me and bow

me out as if I had been a distinguished personage.

It was a new experience. Exchange had been in my favor

ever since I had been in Europe, but just that one time.

I got simply the face of my draft, and no extra francs,

whereas I had expected to get quite a number of them.

This was the first time I had ever used the courier at

the bank. I had suspected something then, and as long

as he remained with me afterward I managed bank matters

by myself.

Still, if I felt that I could afford the tax, I would

never travel without a courier, for a good courier is

a convenience whose value cannot be estimated in dollars

and cents. Without him, travel is a bitter harassment,

a purgatory of little exasperating annoyances, a ceaseless

and pitiless punishment–I mean to an irascible man

who has no business capacity and is confused by details.

Without a courier, travel hasn’t a ray of pleasure

in it, anywhere; but with him it is a continuous and

unruffled delight. He is always at hand, never has to be

sent for; if your bell is not answered promptly–and it

seldom is–you have only to open the door and speak,

the courier will hear, and he will have the order attended

to or raise an insurrection. You tell him what day

you will start, and whither you are going–leave all

the rest to him. You need not inquire about trains,

or fares, or car changes, or hotels, or anything else.

At the proper time he will put you in a cab or an omnibus,

and drive you to the train or the boat; he has packed your

luggage and transferred it, he has paid all the bills.

Other people have preceded you half an hour to scramble

for impossible places and lose their tempers, but you can

take your time; the courier has secured your seats for you,

and you can occupy them at your leisure.

At the station, the crowd mash one another to pulp in the

effort to get the weigher’s attention to their trunks;

they dispute hotly with these tyrants, who are cool

and indifferent; they get their baggage billets, at last,

and then have another squeeze and another rage over the

disheartening business of trying to get them recorded and

paid for, and still another over the equally disheartening

business of trying to get near enough to the ticket

office to buy a ticket; and now, with their tempers gone

to the dogs, they must stand penned up and packed together,

laden with wraps and satchels and shawl-straps, with the

weary wife and babies, in the waiting-room, till the doors

are thrown open–and then all hands make a grand final

rush to the train, find it full, and have to stand on

the platform and fret until some more cars are put on.

They are in a condition to kill somebody by this time.

Meantime, you have been sitting in your car, smoking,

and observing all this misery in the extremest comfort.

On the journey the guard is polite and watchful–won’t

allow anybody to get into your compartment–tells them

you are just recovering from the small-pox and do not

like to be disturbed. For the courier has made everything

right with the guard. At way-stations the courier comes

to your compartment to see if you want a glass of water,

or a newspaper, or anything; at eating-stations he sends

luncheon out to you, while the other people scramble

and worry in the dining-rooms. If anything breaks about

the car you are in, and a station-master proposes to pack

you and your agent into a compartment with strangers,

the courier reveals to him confidentially that you are

a French duke born deaf and dumb, and the official comes

and makes affable signs that he has ordered a choice car

to be added to the train for you.

At custom-houses the multitude file tediously through,

hot and irritated, and look on while the officers

burrow into the trunks and make a mess of everything;

but you hand your keys to the courier and sit still.

Perhaps you arrive at your destination in a rain-storm

at ten at night–you generally do. The multitude

spend half an hour verifying their baggage and getting

it transferred to the omnibuses; but the courier puts

you into a vehicle without a moment’s loss of time,

and when you reach your hotel you find your rooms have been

secured two or three days in advance, everything is ready,

you can go at once to bed. Some of those other people will

have to drift around to two or three hotels, in the rain,

before they find accommodations.

I have not set down half of the virtues that are

vested in a good courier, but I think I have set down

a sufficiency of them to show that an irritable man

who can afford one and does not employ him is not a

wise economist. My courier was the worst one in Europe,

yet he was a good deal better than none at all.

It could not pay him to be a better one than he was,

because I could not afford to buy things through him.

He was a good enough courier for the small amount he

got out of his service. Yes, to travel with a courier

is bliss, to travel without one is the reverse.

I have had dealings with some very bad couriers; but I have also

had dealings with one who might fairly be called perfection.

He was a young Polander, named Joseph N. Verey. He spoke

eight languages, and seemed to be equally at home in all

of them; he was shrewd, prompt, posted, and punctual;

he was fertile in resources, and singularly gifted in

the matter of overcoming difficulties; he not only knew

how to do everything in his line, but he knew the best ways

and the quickest; he was handy with children and invalids;

all his employer needed to do was to take life easy

and leave everything to the courier. His address is,

care of Messrs. Gay & Son, Strand, London; he was formerly

a conductor of Gay’s tourist parties. Excellent couriers

are somewhat rare; if the reader is about to travel,

he will find it to his advantage to make a note of this one.


[We Climb Far–by Buggy]

The beautiful Giesbach Fall is near Interlaken, on the

other side of the lake of Brienz, and is illuminated

every night with those gorgeous theatrical fires whose

name I cannot call just at this moment. This was said

to be a spectacle which the tourist ought by no means

to miss. I was strongly tempted, but I could not go

there with propriety, because one goes in a boat.

The task which I had set myself was to walk over Europe

on foot, not skim over it in a boat. I had made a tacit

contract with myself; it was my duty to abide by it.

I was willing to make boat trips for pleasure, but I could

not conscientiously make them in the way of business.

It cost me something of a pang to lose that fine sight,

but I lived down the desire, a nd gained in my self-respect

through the triumph. I had a finer and a grander sight,

however, where I was. This was the mighty dome of the Jungfrau

softly outlined against the sky and faintly silvered by

the starlight. There was something subduing in the influence

of that silent and solemn and awful presence; one seemed

to meet the immutable, the indestructible, the eternal,

face to face, and to feel the trivial and fleeting nature

of his own existence the more sharply by the contrast.

One had the sense of being under the brooding contemplation

of a spirit, not an inert mass of rocks and ice–a spirit

which had looked down, through the slow drift of the ages,

upon a million vanished races of men, and judged them;

and would judge a million more–and still be there,

watching, unchanged and unchangeable, after all life

should be gone and the earth have become a vacant desolation.

While I was feeling these things, I was groping,

without knowing it, toward an understanding of what the

spell is which people find in the Alps, and in no other

mountains–that strange, deep, nameless influence, which,

once felt, cannot be forgotten–once felt, leaves always

behind it a restless longing to feel it again–a longing

which is like homesickness; a grieving, haunting yearning

which will plead, implore, and persecute till it has its will.

I met dozens of people, imaginative and unimaginative,

cultivated and uncultivated, who had come from far countries

and roamed through the Swiss Alps year after year–they

could not explain why. They had come first, they said,

out of idle curiosity, because everybody talked about it;

they had come since because they could not help it, and they

should keep on coming, while they lived, for the same reason;

they had tried to break their chains and stay away,

but it was futile; now, they had no desire to break them.

Others came nearer formulating what they felt; they said they

could find perfect rest and peace nowhere else when they

were troubled: all frets and worries and chafings sank to

sleep in the presence of the benignant serenity of the Alps;

the Great Spirit of the Mountain breathed his own peace

upon their hurt minds and sore hearts, and healed them;

they could not think base thoughts or do mean and sordid

things here, before the visible throne of God.

Down the road a piece was a Kursaal–whatever that may be–

and we joined the human tide to see what sort of enjoyment

it might afford. It was the usual open-air concert,

in an ornamental garden, with wines, beer, milk, whey,

grapes, etc.–the whey and the grapes being necessaries

of life to certain invalids whom physicians cannot repair,

and who only continue to exist by the grace of whey

or grapes. One of these departed spirits told me,

in a sad and lifeless way, that there is no way for him

to live but by whey, and dearly, dearly loved whey,

he didn’t know whey he did, but he did. After making

this pun he died–that is the whey it served him.

Some other remains, preserved from decomposition

by the grape system, told me that the grapes were of

a peculiar breed, highly medicinal in their nature,

and that they were counted out and administered by the

grape-doctors as methodically as if they were pills.

The new patient, if very feeble, began with one grape

before breakfast, took three during breakfast, a couple

between meals, five at luncheon, three in the afternoon,

seven at dinner, four for supper, and part of a grape

just before going to bed, by way of a general regulator.

The quantity was gradually and regularly increased,

according to the needs and capacities of the patient,

until by and by you would find him disposing of his one

grape per second all the day long, and his regular barrel

per day.

He said that men cured in this way, and enabled to discard

the grape system, never afterward got over the habit

of talking as if they were dictating to a slow amanuensis,

because they always made a pause between each two words

while they sucked the substance out of an imaginary grape.

He said these were tedious people to talk with.

He said that men who had been cured by the other process

were easily distinguished from the rest of mankind

because they always tilted their heads back, between every

two words, and swallowed a swig of imaginary whey.

He said it was an impressive thing to observe two men,

who had been cured by the two processes, engaged in

conversation–said their pauses and accompanying movements

were so continuous and regular that a stranger would think

himself in the presence of a couple of automatic machines.

One finds out a great many wonderful things, by traveling,

if he stumbles upon the right person.

I did not remain long at the Kursaal; the music was

good enough, but it seemed rather tame after the cyclone

of that Arkansaw expert. Besides, my adventurous spirit

had conceived a formidable enterprise–nothing less

than a trip from Interlaken, by the Gemmi and Visp,

clear to Zermatt, on foot! So it was necessary to plan

the details, and get ready for an early start. The courier

(this was not the one I have just been speaking of)

thought that the portier of the hotel would be able

to tell us how to find our way. And so it turned out.

He showed us the whole thing, on a relief-map, and we could

see our route, with all its elevations and depressions,

its villages and its rivers, as clearly as if we were sailing

over it in a balloon. A relief-map is a great thing.

The portier also wrote down each day’s journey and the

nightly hotel on a piece of paper, and made our course

so plain that we should never be able to get lost without

high-priced outside help.

I put the courier in the care of a gentleman who was

going to Lausanne, and then we went to bed, after laying

out the walking-costumes and putting them into condition

for instant occupation in the morning.

However, when we came down to breakfast at 8 A.M., it

looked so much like rain that I hired a two-horse top-buggy

for the first third of the journey. For two or three hours

we jogged along the level road which skirts the beautiful

lake of Thun, with a dim and dreamlike picture of watery

expanses and spectral Alpine forms always before us,

veiled in a mellowing mist. Then a steady downpour

set in, and hid everything but the nearest objects.

We kept the rain out of our faces with umbrellas, and away

from our bodies with the leather apron of the buggy;

but the driver sat unsheltered and placidly soaked the weather

in and seemed to like it. We had the road to ourselves,

and I never had a pleasanter excursion.

The weather began to clear while we were driving up

a valley called the Kienthal, and presently a vast black

cloud-bank in front of us dissolved away and uncurtained

the grand proportions and the soaring loftiness of the

Blumis Alp. It was a sort of breath-taking surprise;

for we had not supposed there was anything behind

that low-hung blanket of sable cloud but level valley.

What we had been mistaking for fleeting glimpses of sky

away aloft there, were really patches of the Blumis’s

snowy crest caught through shredded rents in the drifting

pall of vapor.

We dined in the inn at Frutigen, and our driver ought

to have dined there, too, but he would not have had

time to dine and get drunk both, so he gave his mind

to making a masterpiece of the latter, and succeeded.

A German gentleman and his two young-lady daughters had

been taking their nooning at the inn, and when they left,

just ahead of us, it was plain that their driver was

as drunk as ours, and as happy and good-natured, too,

which was saying a good deal. These rascals overflowed

with attentions and information for their guests, and with

brotherly love for each other. They tied their reins,

and took off their coats and hats, so that they might

be able to give unencumbered attention to conversation

and to the gestures necessary for its illustration.

The road was smooth; it led up and over and down a continual

succession of hills; but it was narrow, the horses were

used to it, and could not well get out of it anyhow;

so why shouldn’t the drivers entertain themselves and us?

The noses of our horses projected sociably into the rear

of the forward carriage, and as we toiled up the long

hills our driver stood up and talked to his friend,

and his friend stood up and talked back to him, with his

rear to the scenery. When the top was reached and we

went flying down the other side, there was no change in

the program. I carry in my memory yet the picture of that

forward driver, on his knees on his high seat, resting his

elbows on its back, and beaming down on his passengers,

with happy eye, and flying hair, and jolly red face,

and offering his card to the old German gentleman while he

praised his hack and horses, and both teams were whizzing

down a long hill with nobody in a position to tell whether

we were bound to destruction or an undeserved safety.

Toward sunset we entered a beautiful green valley dotted

with chalets, a cozy little domain hidden away from the busy

world in a cloistered nook among giant precipices topped

with snowy peaks that seemed to float like islands above

the curling surf of the sea of vapor that severed them from

the lower world. Down from vague and vaporous heights,

little ruffled zigzag milky currents came crawling,

and found their way to the verge of one of those tremendous

overhanging walls, whence they plunged, a shaft of silver,

shivered to atoms in mid-descent and turned to an air puff

of luminous dust. Here and there, in grooved depressions

among the snowy desolations of the upper altitudes,

one glimpsed the extremity of a glacier, with its sea-green

and honeycombed battlements of ice.

Up the valley, under a dizzy precipice, nestled the

village of Kandersteg, our halting-place for the night.

We were soon there, and housed in the hotel. But the waning

day had such an inviting influence that we did not remain

housed many moments, but struck out and followed a roaring

torrent of ice-water up to its far source in a sort of

little grass-carpeted parlor, walled in all around by vast

precipices and overlooked by clustering summits of ice.

This was the snuggest little croquet-ground imaginable;

it was perfectly level, and not more than a mile long

by half a mile wide. The walls around it were so gigantic,

and everything about it was on so mighty a scale that it

was belittled, by contrast, to what I have likened it

to–a cozy and carpeted parlor. It was so high above

the Kandersteg valley that there was nothing between it

and the snowy-peaks. I had never been in such intimate

relations with the high altitudes before; the snow-peaks

had always been remote and unapproachable grandeurs,

hitherto, but now we were hob-a-nob–if one may use

such a seemingly irreverent expression about creations

so august as these.

We could see the streams which fed the torrent we

had followed issuing from under the greenish ramparts

of glaciers; but two or three of these, instead of flowing

over the precipices, sank down into the rock and sprang

in big jets out of holes in the mid-face of the walls.

The green nook which I have been describing is called

the Gasternthal. The glacier streams gather and flow through

it in a broad and rushing brook to a narrow cleft between

lofty precipices; here the rushing brook becomes a mad torrent

and goes booming and thundering down toward Kandersteg,

lashing and thrashing its way over and among monster boulders,

and hurling chance roots and logs about like straws.

There was no lack of cascades along this route.

The path by the side of the torrent was so narrow

that one had to look sharp, when he heard a cow-bell,

and hunt for a place that was wide enough to accommodate

a cow and a Christian side by side, and such places were

not always to be had at an instant’s notice. The cows

wear church-bells, and that is a good idea in the cows,

for where that torrent is, you couldn’t hear an ordinary

cow-bell any further than you could hear the ticking of a watch.

I needed exercise, so I employed my agent in setting

stranded logs and dead trees adrift, and I sat on a

boulder and watched them go whirling and leaping head

over heels down the boiling torrent. It was a wonderfully

exhilarating spectacle. When I had had enough exercise,

I made the agent take some, by running a race with one

of those logs. I made a trifle by betting on the log.

After dinner we had a walk up and down the Kandersteg valley,

in the soft gloaming, with the spectacle of the dying lights

of day playing about the crests and pinnacles of the still

and solemn upper realm for contrast, and text for talk.

There were no sounds but the dulled complaining of the

torrent and the occasional tinkling of a distant bell.

The spirit of the place was a sense of deep, pervading peace;

one might dream his life tranquilly away there, and not miss

it or mind it when it was gone.

The summer departed with the sun, and winter came with

the stars. It grew to be a bitter night in that little hotel,

backed up against a precipice that had no visible top to it,

but we kept warm, and woke in time in the morning to find

that everybody else had left for Gemmi three hours before–

so our little plan of helping that German family (principally

the old man) over the pass, was a blocked generosity.


[The World’s Highest Pig Farm]

We hired the only guide left, to lead us on our way.

He was over seventy, but he could have given me nine-tenths

of his strength and still had all his age entitled him to.

He shouldered our satchels, overcoats, and alpenstocks,

and we set out up the steep path. It was hot work.

The old man soon begged us to hand over our coats

and waistcoats to him to carry, too, and we did it;

one could not refuse so little a thing to a poor old man

like that; he should have had them if he had been a hundred

and fifty.

When we began that ascent, we could see a microscopic

chalet perched away up against heaven on what seemed

to be the highest mountain near us. It was on our right,

across the narrow head of the valley. But when we got

up abreast it on its own level, mountains were towering

high above on every hand, and we saw that its altitude

was just about that of the little Gasternthal which we had

visited the evening before. Still it seemed a long way up

in the air, in that waste and lonely wilderness of rocks.

It had an unfenced grass-plot in front of it which seemed

about as big as a billiard-table, and this grass-plot

slanted so sharply downward, and was so brief, and ended

so exceedingly soon at the verge of the absolute precipice,

that it was a shuddery thing to think of a person’s venturing

to trust his foot on an incline so situated at all.

Suppose a man stepped on an orange peel in that yard;

there would be nothing for him to seize; nothing could

keep him from rolling; five revolutions would bring him

to the edge, and over he would go. What a frightful distance

he would fall!–for there are very few birds that fly

as high as his starting-point. He would strike and bounce,

two or three times, on his way down, but this would be

no advantage to him. I would as soon taking an airing

on the slant of a rainbow as in such a front yard.

I would rather, in fact, for the distance down would be about

the same, and it is pleasanter to slide than to bounce.

I could not see how the peasants got up to that chalet–

the region seemed too steep for anything but a balloon.

As we strolled on, climbing up higher and higher, we were

continually bringing neighboring peaks into view and lofty

prominence which had been hidden behind lower peaks before;

so by and by, while standing before a group of these giants,

we looked around for the chalet again; there it was,

away down below us, apparently on an inconspicuous ridge

in the valley! It was as far below us, now, as it had been

above us when we were beginning the ascent.

After a while the path led us along a railed precipice,

and we looked over–far beneath us was the snug parlor again,

the little Gasternthal, with its water jets spouting

from the face of its rock walls. We could have dropped

a stone into it. We had been finding the top of the world

all along–and always finding a still higher top stealing

into view in a disappointing way just ahead; when we looked

down into the Gasternthal we felt pretty sure that we

had reached the genuine top at last, but it was not so;

there were much higher altitudes to be scaled yet.

We were still in the pleasant shade of forest trees,

we were still in a region which was cushioned with beautiful

mosses and aglow with the many-tinted luster of innumerable

wild flowers.

We found, indeed, more interest in the wild flowers

than in anything else. We gathered a specimen or two

of every kind which we were unacquainted with; so we

had sumptuous bouquets. But one of the chief interests

lay in chasing the seasons of the year up the mountain,

and determining them by the presence of flowers and

berries which we were acquainted with. For instance,

it was the end of August at the level of the sea;

in the Kandersteg valley at the base of the pass,

we found flowers which would not be due at the sea-level

for two or three weeks; higher up, we entered October,

and gathered fringed gentians. I made no notes, and have

forgotten the details, but the construction of the floral

calendar was very entertaining while it lasted.

In the high regions we found rich store of the splendid

red flower called the Alpine rose, but we did not find

any examples of the ugly Swiss favorite called Edelweiss.

Its name seems to indicate that it is a noble flower

and that it is white. It may be noble enough,

but it is not attractive, and it is not white.

The fuzzy blossom is the color of bad cigar ashes,

and appears to be made of a cheap quality of gray plush.

It has a noble and distant way of confining itself to the

high altitudes, but that is probably on account of its looks;

it apparently has no monopoly of those upper altitudes,

however, for they are sometimes intruded upon by some

of the loveliest of the valley families of wild flowers.

Everybody in the Alps wears a sprig of Edelweiss in his hat.

It is the native’s pet, and also the tourist’s.

All the morning, as we loafed along, having a good time,

other pedestrians went staving by us with vigorous strides,

and with the intent and determined look of men who were

walking for a wager. These wore loose knee-breeches, long

yarn stockings, and hobnailed high-laced walking-shoes.

They were gentlemen who would go home to England or Germany

and tell how many miles they had beaten the guide-book

every day. But I doubted if they ever had much real fun,

outside of the mere magnificent exhilaration of the

tramp through the green valleys and the breezy heights;

for they were almost always alone, and even the finest

scenery loses incalculably when there is no one to enjoy

it with.

All the morning an endless double procession of mule-mounted

tourists filed past us along the narrow path–the one

procession going, the other coming. We had taken

a good deal of trouble to teach ourselves the kindly

German custom of saluting all strangers with doffed hat,

and we resolutely clung to it, that morning, although it

kept us bareheaded most of the time a nd was not always

responded to. Still we found an interest in the thing,

because we naturally liked to know who were English

and Americans among the passers-by. All continental

natives responded of course; so did some of the English

and Americans, but, as a general thing, these two races

gave no sign. Whenever a man or a woman showed us

cold neglect, we spoke up confidently in our own tongue

and asked for such information as we happened to need,

and we always got a reply in the same language.

The English and American folk are not less kindly than

other races, they are only more reserved, and that comes

of habit and education. In one dreary, rocky waste,

away above the line of vegetation, we met a procession

of twenty-five mounted young men, all from America.

We got answering bows enough from these, of course,

for they were of an age to learn to do in Rome as Rome does,

without much effort.

At one extremity of this patch of desolation, overhung by bare

and forbidding crags which husbanded drifts of everlasting

snow in their shaded cavities, was a small stretch

of thin and discouraged grass, and a man and a family

of pigs were actually living here in some shanties.

Consequently this place could be really reckoned as

“property”; it had a money value, and was doubtless taxed.

I think it must have marked the limit of real estate

in this world. It would be hard to set a money value

upon any piece of earth that lies between that spot

and the empty realm of space. That man may claim the

distinction of owning the end of the world, for if there

is any definite end to the world he has certainly found it.

From here forward we moved through a storm-swept

and smileless desolation. All about us rose gigantic

masses, crags, and ramparts of bare and dreary rock,

with not a vestige or semblance of plant or tree or

flower anywhere, or glimpse of any creature that had life.

The frost and the tempests of unnumbered ages had battered

and hacked at these cliffs, with a deathless energy,

destroying them piecemeal; so all the region about

their bases was a tumbled chaos of great fragments

which had been split off and hurled to the ground.

Soiled and aged banks of snow lay close about our path.

The ghastly desolation of the place was as tremendously

complete as if Dor’e had furnished the working-plans

for it. But every now and then, through the stern

gateways around us we caught a view of some neighboring

majestic dome, sheathed with glittering ice, and displaying

its white purity at an elevation compared to which

ours was groveling and plebeian, and this spectacle

always chained one’s interest and admiration at once,

and made him forget there was anything ugly in the world.

I have just said that there was nothing but death

and desolation in these hideous places, but I forgot.

In the most forlorn and arid and dismal one of all,

where the racked and splintered debris was thickest,

where the ancient patches of snow lay against the very path,

where the winds blew bitterest and the general aspect was

mournfulest and dreariest, and furthest from any suggestion

of cheer or hope, I found a solitary wee forget-me-not

flourishing away, not a droop about it anywhere,

but holding its bright blue star up with the prettiest

and gallantest air in the world, the only happy spirit,

the only smiling thing, in all that grisly desert.

She seemed to say, “Cheer up!–as long as we are here,

let us make the best of it.” I judged she had earned

a right to a more hospitable place; so I plucked her up

and sent her to America to a friend who would respect

her for the fight she had made, all by her small self,

to make a whole vast despondent Alpine desolation stop

breaking its heart over the unalterable, and hold up its

head and look at the bright side of things for once.

We stopped for a nooning at a strongly built little inn

called the Schwarenbach. It sits in a lonely spot among

the peaks, where it is swept by the trailing fringes

of the cloud-rack, and is rained on, and snowed on,

and pelted and persecuted by the storms, nearly every day

of its life. It was the only habitation in the whole

Gemmi Pass.

Close at hand, now, was a chance for a blood-curdling

Alpine adventure. Close at hand was the snowy mass

of the Great Altels cooling its topknot in the sky

and daring us to an ascent. I was fired with the idea,

and immediately made up my mind to procure the necessary

guides, ropes, etc., and undertake it. I instructed

Harris to go to the landlord of the inn and set him

about our preparations. Meantime, I went diligently

to work to read up and find out what this much-talked-of

mountain-climbing was like, and how one should go about

it–for in these matters I was ignorant. I opened

Mr. Hinchliff’s SUMMER MONTHS AMONG THE ALPS (published

1857), and selected his account of his ascent of Monte Rosa.

It began:

“It is very difficult to free the mind from excitement

on the evening before a grand expedition–”

I saw that I was too calm; so I walked the room a while

and worked myself into a high excitement; but the book’s

next remark –that the adventurer must get up at two

in the morning–came as near as anything to flatting it

all out again. However, I reinforced it, and read on,

about how Mr. Hinchliff dressed by candle-light and was “soon

down among the guides, who were bustling about in the passage,

packing provisions, and making every preparation for the start”;

and how he glanced out into the cold clear night and saw that–

“The whole sky was blazing with stars, larger and brighter

than they appear through the dense atmosphere breathed

by inhabitants of the lower parts of the earth.

They seemed actually suspended from the dark vault

of heaven, and their gentle light shed a fairylike gleam

over the snow-fields around the foot of the Matterhorn,

which raised its stupendous pinnacle on high, penetrating to

the heart of the Great Bear, and crowning itself with a

diadem of his magnificent stars. Not a sound disturbed

the deep tranquillity of the night, except the distant

roar of streams which rush from the high plateau of the

St. Theodule glacier, and fall headlong over precipitous

rocks till they lose themselves in the mazes of

the Gorner glacier.”

He took his hot toast and coffee, and then about

half past three his caravan of ten men filed away

from the Riffel Hotel, and began the steep climb.

At half past five he happened to turn around, and “beheld

the glorious spectacle of the Matterhorn, just touched

by the rosy-fingered morning, and looking like a huge

pyramid of fire rising out of the barren ocean of ice

and rock around it.” Then the Breithorn and the Dent

Blanche caught the radiant glow; but “the intervening

mass of Monte Rosa made it necessary for us to climb many

long hours before we could hope to see the sun himself,

yet the whole air soon grew warmer after the splendid

birth of the day.”

He gazed at the lofty crown of Monte Rosa and the wastes

of snow that guarded its steep approaches, and the chief

guide delivered the opinion that no man could conquer

their awful heights and put his foot upon that summit.

But the adventurers moved steadily on, nevertheless.

They toiled up, and up, and still up; they passed

the Grand Plateau; then toiled up a steep shoulder

of the mountain, clinging like flies to its rugged face;

and now they were confronted by a tremendous wall from

which great blocks of ice and snow were evidently in the

habit of falling. They turned aside to skirt this wall,

and gradually ascended until their way was barred by a “maze

of gigantic snow crevices,”–so they turned aside again,

and “began a long climb of sufficient steepness to make

a zigzag course necessary.”

Fatigue compelled them to halt frequently, for a moment

or two. At one of these halts somebody called out,

“Look at Mont Blanc!” and “we were at once made aware

of the very great height we had attained by actually seeing

the monarch of the Alps and his attendant satellites

right over the top of the Breithorn, itself at least

14,000 feet high!”

These people moved in single file, and were all tied

to a strong rope, at regular distances apart, so that if

one of them slipped on those giddy heights, the others

could brace themselves on their alpenstocks and save him

from darting into the valley, thousands of feet below.

By and by they came to an ice-coated ridge which was tilted

up at a sharp angle, and had a precipice on one side of it.

They had to climb this, so the guide in the lead cut

steps in the ice with his hatchet, and as fast as he

took his toes out of one of these slight holes, the toes

of the man behind him occupied it.

“Slowly and steadily we kept on our way over this dangerous

part of the ascent, and I dare say it was fortunate for

some of us that attention was distracted from the head

by the paramount necessity of looking after the feet;







“Great caution, therefore, was absolutely necessary,

and in this exposed situation we were attacked by all

the fury of that grand enemy of aspirants to Monte

Rosa–a severe and bitterly cold wind from the north.

The fine powdery snow was driven past us in the clouds,

penetrating the interstices of our clothes, and the pieces

of ice which flew from the blows of Peter’s ax were

whisked into the air, and then dashed over the precipice.

We had quite enough to do to prevent ourselves from being

served in the same ruthless fashion, and now and then,

in the more violent gusts of wind, were glad to stick our

alpenstocks into the ice and hold on hard.”

Having surmounted this perilous steep, they sat down and

took a brief rest with their backs against a sheltering

rock and their heels dangling over a bottomless abyss;

then they climbed to the base of another ridge–a more

difficult and dangerous one still:

“The whole of the ridge was exceedingly narrow, and the

fall on each side desperately steep, but the ice in some

of these intervals between the masses of rock assumed

the form of a mere sharp edge, almost like a knife;

these places, though not more than three or four short

paces in length, looked uncommonly awkward; but, like the

sword leading true believers to the gates of Paradise,

they must needs be passed before we could attain to

the summit of our ambition. These were in one or two

places so narrow, that in stepping over them with toes

well turned out for greater security, ONE END OF THE




On these occasions Peter would take my hand, and each

of us stretching as far as we could, he was thus enabled

to get a firm footing two paces or rather more from me,

whence a spring would probably bring him to the rock

on the other side; then, turning around, he called

to me to come, and, taking a couple of steps carefully,

I was met at the third by his outstretched hand ready

to clasp mine, and in a moment stood by his side.

The others followed in much the same fashion. Once my

right foot slipped on the side toward the precipice,

but I threw out my left arm in a moment so that it caught

the icy edge under my armpit as I fell, and supported

me considerably; at the same instant I cast my eyes

down the side on which I had slipped, and contrived

to plant my right foot on a piece of rock as large as a

cricket-ball, which chanced to protrude through the ice,

on the very edge of the precipice. Being thus anchored

fore and aft, as it were, I believe I could easily have

recovered myself, even if I had been alone, though it must

be confessed the situation would have been an awful one;

as it was, however, a jerk from Peter settled the matter

very soon, and I was on my legs all right in an instant.

The rope is an immense help in places of this kind.”

Now they arrived at the base of a great knob or dome

veneered with ice and powdered with snow–the utmost,

summit, the last bit of solidity between them and the hollow

vault of heaven. They set to work with their hatchets,

and were soon creeping, insectlike, up its surface, with their

heels projecting over the thinnest kind of nothingness,

thickened up a little with a few wandering shreds and

films of cloud moving in a lazy procession far below.

Presently, one man’s toe-hold broke and he fell! There he

dangled in mid-air at the end of the rope, like a spider,

till his friends above hauled him into place again.

A little bit later, the party stood upon the wee pedestal

of the very summit, in a driving wind, and looked out

upon the vast green expanses of Italy and a shoreless

ocean of billowy Alps.

When I had read thus far, Harris broke into the room

in a noble excitement and said the ropes and the guides

were secured, and asked if I was ready. I said I

believed I wouldn’t ascend the Altels this time.

I said Alp-climbing was a different thing from what I had

supposed it was, and so I judged we had better study its

points a little more before we went definitely into it.

But I told him to retain the guides and order them to

follow us to Zermatt, because I meant to use them there.

I said I could feel the spirit of adventure beginning

to stir in me, and was sure that the fell fascination

of Alp-climbing would soon be upon me. I said he could

make up his mind to it that we would do a deed before we

were a week older which would make the hair of the timid

curl with fright.

This made Harris happy, and filled him with ambitious

anticipations. He went at once to tell the guides to

follow us to Zermatt and bring all their paraphernalia

with them.


[Swindling the Coroner]

A great and priceless thing is a new interest! How

it takes possession of a man! how it clings to him,

how it rides him! I strode onward from the Schwarenback

hostelry a changed man, a reorganized personality.

I walked into a new world, I saw with new eyes.

I had been looking aloft at the giant show-peaks only as

things to be worshiped for their grandeur and magnitude,

and their unspeakable grace of form; I looked up at

them now, as also things to be conquered and climbed.

My sense of their grandeur and their noble beauty

was neither lost nor impaired; I had gained a new

interest in the mountains without losing the old ones.

I followed the steep lines up, inch by inch, with my eye,

and noted the possibility or impossibility of following

them with my feet. When I saw a shining helmet of ice

projecting above the clouds, I tried to imagine I saw

files of black specks toiling up it roped together with a

gossamer thread.

We skirted the lonely little lake called the Daubensee,

and presently passed close by a glacier on the right–

a thing like a great river frozen solid in its flow

and broken square off like a wall at its mouth.

I had never been so near a glacier before.

Here we came upon a new board shanty, and found some men

engaged in building a stone house; so the Schwarenback was

soon to have a rival. We bought a bottle or so of beer here;

at any rate they called it beer, but I knew by the price

that it was dissolved jewelry, and I perceived by the

taste that dissolved jewelry is not good stuff to drink.

We were surrounded by a hideous desolation. We stepped

forward to a sort of jumping-off place, and were confronted

by a startling contrast: we seemed to look down into fairyland.

Two or three thousand feet below us was a bright green level,

with a pretty town in its midst, and a silvery stream

winding among the meadows; the charming spot was walled

in on all sides by gigantic precipices clothed with pines;

and over the pines, out of the softened distances,

rose the snowy domes and peaks of the Monte Rosa region.

How exquisitely green and beautiful that little valley

down there was! The distance was not great enough to

obliterate details, it only made them little, and mellow,

and dainty, like landscapes and towns seen through the

wrong end of a spy-glass.

Right under us a narrow ledge rose up out of the valley,

with a green, slanting, bench-shaped top, and grouped

about upon this green-baize bench were a lot of black

and white sheep which looked merely like oversized worms.

The bench seemed lifted well up into our neighborhood,

but that was a deception–it was a long way down to it.

We began our descent, now, by the most remarkable road I

have ever seen. It wound it corkscrew curves down the face

of the colossal precipice–a narrow way, with always

the solid rock wall at one elbow, and perpendicular

nothingness at the other. We met an everlasting procession

of guides, porters, mules, litters, and tourists climbing

up this steep and muddy path, and there was no room

to spare when you had to pass a tolerably fat mule.

I always took the inside, when I heard or saw the

mule coming, and flattened myself against the wall.

I preferred the inside, of course, but I should have had

to take it anyhow, because the mule prefers the outside.

A mule’s preference–on a precipice–is a thing to

be respected. Well, his choice is always the outside.

His life is mostly devoted to carrying bulky panniers

and packages which rest against his body–therefore he

is habituated to taking the outside edge of mountain paths,

to keep his bundles from rubbing against rocks or banks

on the other. When he goes into the passenger business he

absurdly clings to his old habit, and keeps one leg of his

passenger always dangling over the great deeps of the lower

world while that passenger’s heart is in the highlands,

so to speak. More than once I saw a mule’s hind foot

cave over the outer edge and send earth and rubbish into

the bottom abyss; and I noticed that upon these occasions

the rider, whether male or female, looked tolerably unwell.

There was one place where an eighteen-inch breadth of

light masonry had been added to the verge of the path,

and as there was a very sharp turn here, a panel of fencing

had been set up there at some time, as a protection.

This panel was old and gray and feeble, and the light

masonry had been loosened by recent rains. A young

American girl came along on a mule, and in making the turn

the mule’s hind foot caved all the loose masonry and one

of the fence-posts overboard; the mule gave a violent lurch

inboard to save himself, and succeeded in the effort,

but that girl turned as white as the snows of Mont Blanc

for a moment.

The path was simply a groove cut into the face of

the precipice; there was a four-foot breadth of solid rock

under the traveler, and four-foot breadth of solid rock

just above his head, like the roof of a narrow porch;

he could look out from this gallery and see a sheer

summitless and bottomless wall of rock before him,

across a gorge or crack a biscuit’s toss in width–

but he could not see the bottom of his own precipice

unless he lay down and projected his nose over the edge.

I did not do this, because I did not wish to soil my clothes.

Every few hundred yards, at particularly bad places,

one came across a panel or so of plank fencing; but they

were always old and weak, and they generally leaned

out over the chasm and did not make any rash promises

to hold up people who might need support. There was one

of these panels which had only its upper board left;

a pedestrianizing English youth came tearing down the path,

was seized with an impulse to look over the precipice,

and without an instant’s thought he threw his weight

upon that crazy board. It bent outward a foot! I never

made a gasp before that came so near suffocating me.

The English youth’s face simply showed a lively surprise,

but nothing more. He went swinging along valleyward again,

as if he did not know he had just swindled a coroner by the

closest kind of a shave.

The Alpine litter is sometimes like a cushioned box

made fast between the middles of two long poles,

and sometimes it is a chair with a back to it and a support

for the feet. It is carried by relays of strong porters.

The motion is easier than that of any other conveyance.

We met a few men and a great many ladies in litters;

it seemed to me that most of the ladies looked pale

and nauseated; their general aspect gave me the idea

that they were patiently enduring a horrible suffering.

As a rule, they looked at their laps, and left the scenery

to take care of itself.

But the most frightened creature I saw, was a led horse

that overtook us. Poor fellow, he had been born and reared

in the grassy levels of the Kandersteg valley and had

never seen anything like this hideous place before.

Every few steps he would stop short, glance wildly out from

the dizzy height, and then spread his red nostrils wide

and pant as violently as if he had been running a race;

and all the while he quaked from head to heel as with

a palsy. He was a handsome fellow, and he made a fine

statuesque picture of terror, but it was pitiful to see

him suffer so.

This dreadful path has had its tragedy. Baedeker, with his

customary overterseness, begins and ends the tale thus:

“The descent on horseback should be avoided.

In 1861 a Comtesse d’Herlincourt fell from her saddle

over the precipice and was killed on the spot.”

We looked over the precipice there, and saw the monument

which commemorates the event. It stands in the bottom

of the gorge, in a place which has been hollowed out of

the rock to protect it from the torrent and the storms.

Our old guide never spoke but when spoken to, and then

limited himself to a syllable or two, but when we asked

him about this tragedy he showed a strong interest

in the matter. He said the Countess was very pretty,

and very young–hardly out of her girlhood, in fact.

She was newly married, and was on her bridal tour.

The young husband was riding a little in advance; one guide

was leading the husband’s horse, another was leading the


The old man continued:

“The guide that was leading the husband’s horse happened

to glance back, and there was that poor young thing sitting

up staring out over the precipice; and her face began

to bend downward a little, and she put up her two hands

slowly and met it–so,–and put them flat against her

eyes–so–and then she sank out of the saddle, with a

sharp shriek, and one caught only the flash of a dress,

and it was all over.”

Then after a pause:

“Ah, yes, that guide saw these things–yes, he saw them all.

He saw them all, just as I have told you.”

After another pause:

“Ah, yes, he saw them all. My God, that was ME.

I was that guide!”

This had been the one event of the old man’s life; so one

may be sure he had forgotten no detail connected with it.

We listened to all he had to say about what was done and what

happened and what was said after the sorrowful occurrence,

and a painful story it was.

When we had wound down toward the valley until we were about

on the last spiral of the corkscrew, Harris’s hat blew

over the last remaining bit of precipice–a small cliff

a hundred or hundred and fifty feet high–and sailed down

toward a steep slant composed of rough chips and fragments

which the weather had flaked away from the precipices.

We went leisurely down there, expecting to find it without

any trouble, but we had made a mistake, as to that.

We hunted during a couple of hours–not because the old

straw hat was valuable, but out of curiosity to find out

how such a thing could manage to conceal itself in open

ground where there was nothing left for it to hide behind.

When one is reading in bed, and lays his paper-knife down,

he cannot find it again if it is smaller than a saber;

that hat was as stubborn as any paper-knife could have been,

and we finally had to give it up; but we found a fragment

that had once belonged to an opera-glass, and by digging

around and turning over the rocks we gradually collected

all the lenses and the cylinders and the various odds

and ends that go to making up a complete opera-glass.

We afterward had the thing reconstructed, and the owner

can have his adventurous lost-property by submitting

proofs and paying costs of rehabilitation. We had hopes

of finding the owner there, distributed around amongst

the rocks, for it would have made an elegant paragraph;

but we were disappointed. Still, we were far from

being disheartened, for there was a considerable area

which we had not thoroughly searched; we were satisfied he

was there, somewhere, so we resolved to wait over a day at

Leuk and come back and get him.

Then we sat down to polish off the perspiration and

arrange about what we would do with him when we got him.

Harris was for contributing him to the British Museum;

but I was for mailing him to his widow. That is the difference

between Harris and me: Harris is all for display, I am

all for the simple right, even though I lose money by it.

Harris argued in favor of his proposition against mine,

I argued in favor of mine and against his. The discussion

warmed into a dispute; the dispute warmed into a quarrel.

I finally said, very decidedly:

“My mind is made up. He goes to the widow.”

Harris answered sharply:

“And MY mind is made up. He goes to the Museum.”

I said, calmly:

“The museum may whistle when it gets him.”

Harris retorted:

“The widow may save herself the trouble of whistling,

for I will see that she never gets him.”

After some angry bandying of epithets, I said:

“It seems to me that you are taking on a good many airs

about these remains. I don’t quite see what YOU’VE got

to say about them?”

“I? I’ve got ALL to say about them. They’d never have

been thought of if I hadn’t found their opera-glass. The

corpse belongs to me, and I’ll do as I please with him.”

I was leader of the Expedition, and all discoveries

achieved by it naturally belonged to me. I was entitled

to these remains, and could have enforced my right;

but rather than have bad blood about the matter,

I said we would toss up for them. I threw heads and won,

but it was a barren victory, for although we spent all

the next day searching, we never found a bone. I cannot

imagine what could ever have become of that fellow.

The town in the valley is called Leuk or Leukerbad.

We pointed our course toward it, down a verdant slope

which was adorned with fringed gentians and other flowers,

and presently entered the narrow alleys of the outskirts

and waded toward the middle of the town through liquid

“fertilizer.” They ought to either pave that village or

organize a ferry.

Harris’s body was simply a chamois-pasture; his person

was populous with the little hungry pests; his skin,

when he stripped, was splotched like a scarlet-fever patient’s;

so, when we were about to enter one of the Leukerbad inns,

and he noticed its sign, “Chamois Hotel,” he refused

to stop there. He said the chamois was plentiful enough,

without hunting up hotels where they made a specialty of it.

I was indifferent, for the chamois is a creature that will

neither bite me nor abide with me; but to calm Harris,

we went to the Ho^tel des Alpes.

At the table d’ho^te, we had this, for an incident.

A very grave man–in fact his gravity amounted to solemnity,

and almost to austerity–sat opposite us and he was

“tight,” but doing his best to appear sober. He took up

a CORKED bottle of wine, tilted it over his glass awhile,

then set it out of the way, with a contented look, and went

on with his dinner.

Presently he put his glass to his mouth, and of course

found it empty. He looked puzzled, and glanced furtively

and suspiciously out of the corner of his eye at a

benignant and unconscious old lady who sat at his right.

Shook his head, as much as to say, “No, she couldn’t have

done it.” He tilted the corked bottle over his glass again,

meantime searching around with his watery eye to see

if anybody was watching him. He ate a few mouthfuls,

raised his glass to his lips, and of course it was

still empty. He bent an injured and accusing side-glance

upon that unconscious old lady, which was a study to see.

She went on eating and gave no sign. He took up his glass

and his bottle, with a wise private nod of his head,

and set them gravely on the left-hand side of his plate–

poured himself another imaginary drink–went to work

with his knife and fork once more–presently lifted

his glass with good confidence, and found it empty,

as usual.

This was almost a petrifying surprise. He straightened

himself up in his chair and deliberately and sorrowfully

inspected the busy old ladies at his elbows, first one and

then the other. At last he softly pushed his plate away,

set his glass directly in front of him, held on to it

with his left hand, and proceeded to pour with his right.

This time he observed that nothing came. He turned the

bottle clear upside down; still nothing issued from it;

a plaintive look came into his face, and he said, as if

to himself,

” ‘IC! THEY’VE GOT IT ALL!” Then he set the bottle down,

resignedly, and took the rest of his dinner dry.

It was at that table d’ho^te, too, that I had under inspection

the largest lady I have ever seen in private life.

She was over seven feet high, and magnificently proportioned.

What had first called my attention to her, was my stepping

on an outlying flange of her foot, and hearing, from up

toward the ceiling, a deep “Pardon, m’sieu, but you encroach!”

That was when we were coming through the hall, and the place

was dim, and I could see her only vaguely. The thing

which called my attention to her the second time was,

that at a table beyond ours were two very pretty girls,

and this great lady came in and sat down between them

and me and blotted out my view. She had a handsome face,

and she was very finely formed–perfected formed,

I should say. But she made everybody around her look trivial

and commonplace. Ladies near her looked like children,

and the men about her looked mean. They looked like failures;

and they looked as if they felt so, too. She sat with

her back to us. I never saw such a back in my life.

I would have so liked to see the moon rise over it.

The whole congregation waited, under one pretext or another,

till she finished her dinner and went out; they wanted to see

her at full altitude, and they found it worth tarrying for.

She filled one’s idea of what an empress ought to be,

when she rose up in her unapproachable grandeur and moved

superbly out of that place.

We were not at Leuk in time to see her at her heaviest weight.

She had suffered from corpulence and had come there to get

rid of her extra flesh in the baths. Five weeks of soaking–

five uninterrupted hours of it every day–had accomplished

her purpose and reduced her to the right proportions.

Those baths remove fat, and also skin-diseases. The

patients remain in the great tanks for hours at a time.

A dozen gentlemen and ladies occupy a tank together,

and amuse themselves with rompings and various games.

They have floating desks and tables, and they read or lunch

or play chess in water that is breast-deep. The tourist

can step in and view this novel spectacle if he chooses.

There’s a poor-box, and he will have to contribute.

There are several of these big bathing-houses, and you can

always tell when you are near one of them by the romping

noises and shouts of laughter that proceed from it.

The water is running water, and changes all the time,

else a patient with a ringworm might take the bath with only

a partial success, since, while he was ridding himself of

the ringworm, he might catch the itch.

The next morning we wandered back up the green valley,

leisurely, with the curving walls of those bare and

stupendous precipices rising into the clouds before us.

I had never seen a clean, bare precipice stretching up

five thousand feet above me before, and I never shall

expect to see another one. They exist, perhaps, but not

in places where one can easily get close to them.

This pile of stone is peculiar. From its base to the

soaring tops of its mighty towers, all its lines and

all its details vaguely suggest human architecture.

There are rudimentary bow-windows, cornices, chimneys,

demarcations of stories, etc. One could sit and stare up

there and study the features and exquisite graces of this

grand structure, bit by bit, and day after day, and never

weary his interest. The termination, toward the town,

observed in profile, is the perfection of shape.

It comes down out of the clouds in a succession of rounded,

colossal, terracelike projections–a stairway for the gods;

at its head spring several lofty storm-scarred towers,

one after another, with faint films of vapor curling

always about them like spectral banners. If there were

a king whose realms included the whole world, here would

be the place meet and proper for such a monarch. He would

only need to hollow it out and put in the electric light.

He could give audience to a nation at a time under its roof.

Our search for those remains having failed, we inspected with

a glass the dim and distant track of an old-time avalanche

that once swept down from some pine-grown summits behind

the town and swept away the houses and buried the people;

then we struck down the road that leads toward the Rhone,

to see the famous Ladders. These perilous things are

built against the perpendicular face of a cliff two or

three hundred feet high. The peasants, of both sexes,

were climbing up and down them, with heavy loads on

their backs. I ordered Harris to make the ascent, so I

could put the thrill and horror of it in my book, and he

accomplished the feat successfully, though a subagent,

for three francs, which I paid. It makes me shudder yet

when I think of what I felt when I was clinging there

between heaven and earth in the person of that proxy.

At times the world swam around me, and I could hardly keep

from letting go, so dizzying was the appalling danger.

Many a person would have given up and descended, but I stuck

to my task, and would not yield until I had accomplished it.

I felt a just pride in my exploit, but I would not

have repeated it for the wealth of the world. I shall

break my neck yet with some such foolhardy performance,

for warnings never seem to have any lasting effect on me.

When the people of the hotel found that I had been

climbing those crazy Ladders, it made me an object of

considerable attention.

Next morning, early, we drove to the Rhone valley and took

the train for Visp. There we shouldered our knapsacks

and things, and set out on foot, in a tremendous rain,

up the winding gorge, toward Zermatt. Hour after hour we

slopped along, by the roaring torrent, and under noble

Lesser Alps which were clothed in rich velvety green

all the way up and had little atomy Swiss homes perched

upon grassy benches along their mist-dimmed heights.

The rain continued to pour and the torrent to boom, and we

continued to enjoy both. At the one spot where this torrent

tossed its white mane highest, and thundered loudest,

and lashed the big boulders fiercest, the canton had done

itself the honor to build the flimsiest wooden bridge

that exists in the world. While we were walking over it,

along with a party of horsemen, I noticed that even

the larger raindrops made it shake. I called Harris’s

attention to it, and he noticed it, too. It seemed

to me that if I owned an elephant that was a keepsake,

and I thought a good deal of him, I would think twice

before I would ride him over that bridge.

We climbed up to the village of St. Nicholas, about half

past four in the afternoon, waded ankle-deep through

the fertilizer-juice, and stopped at a new and nice hotel

close by the little church. We stripped and went to bed,

and sent our clothes down to be baked. And the horde

of soaked tourists did the same. That chaos of clothing

got mixed in the kitchen, and there were consequences.

I did not get back the same drawers I sent down, when our

things came up at six-fifteen; I got a pair on a new plan.

They were merely a pair of white ruffle-cuffed absurdities,

hitched together at the top with a narrow band, and they did

not come quite down to my knees. They were pretty enough,

but they made me feel like two people, and disconnected

at that. The man must have been an idiot that got himself

up like that, to rough it in the Swiss mountains.

The shirt they brought me was shorter than the drawers,

and hadn’t any sleeves to it–at least it hadn’t anything

more than what Mr. Darwin would call “rudimentary” sleeves;

these had “edging” around them, but the bosom was

ridiculously plain. The knit silk undershirt they brought

me was on a new plan, and was really a sensible thing;

it opened behind, and had pockets in it to put your

shoulder-blades in; but they did not seem to fit mine,

and so I found it a sort of uncomfortable garment.

They gave my bobtail coat to somebody else, and sent me

an ulster suitable for a giraffe. I had to tie my collar on,

because there was no button behind on that foolish little shirt

which I described a while ago.

When I was dressed for dinner at six-thirty, I was too loose

in some places and too tight in others, and altogether I

felt slovenly and ill-conditioned. However, the people

at the table d’ho^te were no better off than I was;

they had everybody’s clothes but their own on. A long

stranger recognized his ulster as soon as he saw the tail

of it following me in, but nobody claimed my shirt or

my drawers, though I described them as well as I was able.

I gave them to the chambermaid that night when I went

to bed, and she probably found the owner, for my own

things were on a chair outside my door in the morning.

There was a lovable English clergyman who did

not get to the table d’ho^te at all. His breeches

had turned up missing, and without any equivalent.

He said he was not more particular than other people,

but he had noticed that a clergyman at dinner without

any breeches was almost sure to excite remark.


[The Fiendish Fun of Alp-climbing]

We did not oversleep at St. Nicholas. The church-bell

began to ring at four-thirty in the morning, and from

the length of time it continued to ring I judged that it

takes the Swiss sinner a good while to get the invitation

through his head. Most church-bells in the world

are of poor quality, and have a harsh and rasping

sound which upsets the temper and produces much sin,

but the St. Nicholas bell is a good deal the worst one

that has been contrived yet, and is peculiarly maddening

in its operation. Still, it may have its right and its

excuse to exist, for the community is poor and not every

citizen can afford a clock, perhaps; but there cannot be

any excuse for our church-bells at home, for their is no

family in America without a clock, and consequently there

is no fair pretext for the usual Sunday medley of dreadful

sounds that issues from our steeples. There is much more

profanity in America on Sunday than is all in the other six

days of the week put together, and it is of a more bitter

and malignant character than the week-day profanity, too.

It is produced by the cracked-pot clangor of the cheap


We build our churches almost without regard to cost;

we rear an edifice which is an adornment to the town, and we

gild it, and fresco it, and mortgage it, and do everything

we can think of to perfect it, and then spoil it all by

putting a bell on it which afflicts everybody who hears it,

giving some the headache, others St. Vitus’s dance,

and the rest the blind staggers.

An American village at ten o’clock on a summer Sunday is

the quietest and peacefulest and holiest thing in nature;

but it is a pretty different thing half an hour later.

Mr. Poe’s poem of the “Bells” stands incomplete to this day;

but it is well enough that it is so, for the public reciter

or “reader” who goes around trying to imitate the sounds

of the various sorts of bells with his voice would find

himself “up a stump” when he got to the church-bell–

as Joseph Addison would say. The church is always trying

to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea

to reform itself a little, by way of example. It is still

clinging to one or two things which were useful once,

but which are not useful now, neither are they ornamental.

One is the bell-ringing to remind a clock-caked town

that it is church-time, and another is the reading from

the pulpit of a tedious list of “notices” which everybody

who is interested has already read in the newspaper.

The clergyman even reads the hymn through–a relic

of an ancient time when hymn-books are scarce and costly;

but everybody has a hymn-book, now, and so the public reading

is no longer necessary. It is not merely unnecessary,

it is generally painful; for the average clergyman could

not fire into his congregation with a shotgun and hit a worse

reader than himself, unless the weapon scattered shamefully.

I am not meaning to be flippant and irreverent, I am only

meaning to be truthful. The average clergyman, in all

countries and of all denominations, is a very bad reader.

One would think he would at least learn how to read

the Lord’s Prayer, by and by, but it is not so. He races

through it as if he thought the quicker he got it in,

the sooner it would be answered. A person who does not

appreciate the exceeding value of pauses, and does not know

how to measure their duration judiciously, cannot render

the grand simplicity and dignity of a composition like

that effectively.

We took a tolerably early breakfast, and tramped off

toward Zermatt through the reeking lanes of the village,

glad to get away from that bell. By and by we had a fine

spectacle on our right. It was the wall-like butt end of a

huge glacier, which looked down on us from an Alpine height

which was well up in the blue sky. It was an astonishing

amount of ice to be compacted together in one mass.

We ciphered upon it and decided that it was not less than

several hundred feet from the base of the wall of solid

ice to the top of it–Harris believed it was really

twice that. We judged that if St. Paul’s, St. Peter’s,

the Great Pyramid, the Strasburg Cathedral and the Capitol

in Washington were clustered against that wall, a man

sitting on its upper edge could not hang his hat on the top

of any one of them without reaching down three or four

hundred feet–a thing which, of course, no man could do.

To me, that mighty glacier was very beautiful. I did

not imagine that anybody could find fault with it; but I

was mistaken. Harris had been snarling for several days.

He was a rabid Protestant, and he was always saying:

“In the Protestant cantons you never see such poverty

and dirt and squalor as you do in this Catholic one;

you never see the lanes and alleys flowing with foulness;

you never see such wretched little sties of houses;

you never see an inverted tin turnip on top of a church

for a dome; and as for a church-bell, why, you never hear

a church-bell at all.”

All this morning he had been finding fault, straight along.

First it was with the mud. He said, “It ain’t muddy in a

Protestant canton when it rains.” Then it was with the dogs:

“They don’t have those lop-eared dogs in a Protestant canton.”

Then it was with the roads: “They don’t leave the roads

to make themselves in a Protestant canton, the people make

them–and they make a road that IS a road, too.” Next it

was the goats: “You never see a goat shedding tears

in a Protestant canton–a goat, there, is one of the

cheerfulest objects in nature.” Next it was the chamois:

“You never see a Protestant chamois act like one of these–

they take a bite or two and go; but these fellows camp

with you and stay.” Then it was the guide-boards: “In

a Protestant canton you couldn’t get lost if you wanted to,

but you never see a guide-board in a Catholic canton.”

Next, “You never see any flower-boxes in the windows,

here–never anything but now and then a cat–a torpid one;

but you take a Protestant canton: windows perfectly lovely

with flowers–and as for cats, there’s just acres of them.

These folks in this canton leave a road to make itself,

and then fine you three francs if you ‘trot’ over it–

as if a horse could trot over such a sarcasm of a road.”

Next about the goiter: “THEY talk about goiter!–I haven’t

seen a goiter in this whole canton that I couldn’t put

in a hat.”

He had growled at everything, but I judged it would puzzle

him to find anything the matter with this majestic glacier.

I intimated as much; but he was ready, and said with surly

discontent: “You ought to see them in the Protestant cantons.”

This irritated me. But I concealed the feeling, and asked:

“What is the matter with this one?”

“Matter? Why, it ain’t in any kind of condition.

They never take any care of a glacier here. The moraine

has been spilling gravel around it, and got it all dirty.”

“Why, man, THEY can’t help that.”

“THEY? You’re right. That is, they WON’T. They could

if they wanted to. You never see a speck of dirt

on a Protestant glacier. Look at the Rhone glacier.

It is fifteen miles long, and seven hundred feet think.

If this was a Protestant glacier you wouldn’t see it looking

like this, I can tell you.”

“That is nonsense. What would they do with it?”

“They would whitewash it. They always do.”

I did not believe a word of this, but rather than have

trouble I let it go; for it is a waste of breath to argue

with a bigot. I even doubted if the Rhone glacier WAS

in a Protestant canton; but I did not know, so I could

not make anything by contradicting a man who would

probably put me down at once with manufactured evidence.

About nine miles from St. Nicholas we crossed a bridge

over the raging torrent of the Visp, and came to a log

strip of flimsy fencing which was pretending to secure

people from tumbling over a perpendicular wall forty feet

high and into the river. Three children were approaching;

one of them, a little girl, about eight years old,

was running; when pretty close to us she stumbled and fell,

and her feet shot under the rail of the fence and for a

moment projected over the stream. It gave us a sharp shock,

for we thought she was gone, sure, for the ground slanted

steeply, and to save herself seemed a sheer impossibility;

but she managed to scramble up, and ran by us laughing.

We went forward and examined the place and saw the long

tracks which her feet had made in the dirt when they

darted over the verge. If she had finished her trip she

would have struck some big rocks in the edge of the water,

and then the torrent would have snatched her downstream

among the half-covered boulders and she would have been

pounded to pulp in two minutes. We had come exceedingly

near witnessing her death.

And now Harris’s contrary nature and inborn selfishness

were striking manifested. He has no spirit of self-denial.

He began straight off, and continued for an hour,

to express his gratitude that the child was not destroyed.

I never saw such a man. That was the kind of person he was;

just so HE was gratified, he never cared anything about

anybody else. I had noticed that trait in him, over and

over again. Often, of course, it was mere heedlessness,

mere want of reflection. Doubtless this may have been

the case in most instances, but it was not the less hard

to bar on that account–and after all, its bottom,

its groundwork, was selfishness. There is no avoiding

that conclusion. In the instance under consideration,

I did think the indecency of running on in that way might

occur to him; but no, the child was saved and he was glad,

that was sufficient–he cared not a straw for MY feelings,

or my loss of such a literary plum, snatched from my

very mouth at the instant it was ready to drop into it.

His selfishness was sufficient to place his own gratification

in being spared suffering clear before all concern for me,

his friend. Apparently, he did not once reflect upon the

valuable details which would have fallen like a windfall

to me: fishing the child out–witnessing the surprise of

the family and the stir the thing would have made among the

peasants–then a Swiss funeral–then the roadside monument,

to be paid for by us and have our names mentioned in it.

And we should have gone into Baedeker and been immortal.

I was silent. I was too much hurt to complain. If he could

act so, and be so heedless and so frivolous at such a time,

and actually seem to glory in it, after all I had done for him,

I would have cut my hand off before I would let him see

that I was wounded.

We were approaching Zermatt; consequently, we were

approaching the renowned Matterhorn. A month before,

this mountain had been only a name to us, but latterly

we had been moving through a steadily thickening double

row of pictures of it, done in oil, water, chromo, wood,

steel, copper, crayon, and photography, and so it had at

length become a shape to us–and a very distinct, decided,

and familiar one, too. We were expecting to recognize

that mountain whenever or wherever we should run across it.

We were not deceived. The monarch was far away when we

first saw him, but there was no such thing as mistaking him.

He has the rare peculiarity of standing by himself;

he is peculiarly steep, too, and is also most oddly shaped.

He towers into the sky like a colossal wedge, with the

upper third of its blade bent a little to the left.

The broad base of this monster wedge is planted upon

a grand glacier-paved Alpine platform whose elevation

is ten thousand feet above sea-level; as the wedge itself

is some five thousand feet high, it follows that its

apex is about fifteen thousand feet above sea-level.

So the whole bulk of this stately piece of rock, this

sky-cleaving monolith, is above the line of eternal snow.

Yet while all its giant neighbors have the look of being

built of solid snow, from their waists up, the Matterhorn

stands black and naked and forbidding, the year round,

or merely powdered or streaked with white in places,

for its sides are so steep that the snow cannot stay there.

Its strange form, its august isolation, and its majestic

unkinship with its own kind, make it–so to speak–the Napoleon

of the mountain world. “Grand, gloomy, and peculiar,”

is a phrase which fits it as aptly as it fitted the great


Think of a monument a mile high, standing on a pedestal

two miles high! This is what the Matterhorn is–a monument.

Its office, henceforth, for all time, will be to keep

watch and ward over the secret resting-place of the young

Lord Douglas, who, in 1865, was precipitated from the

summit over a precipice four thousand feet high, and never

seen again. No man ever had such a monument as this before;

the most imposing of the world’s other monuments are

but atoms compared to it; and they will perish, and their

places will pass from memory, but this will remain. [1]

1. The accident which cost Lord Douglas his life (see

Chapter xii) also cost the lives of three other men.

These three fell four-fifths of a mile, and their bodies

were afterward found, lying side by side, upon a glacier,

whence they were borne to Zermatt and buried in the


The remains of Lord Douglas have never been found.

The secret of his sepulture, like that of Moses, must remain

a mystery always.

A walk from St. Nicholas to Zermatt is a wonderful experience.

Nature is built on a stupendous plan in that region.

One marches continually between walls that are piled

into the skies, with their upper heights broken into

a confusion of sublime shapes that gleam white and cold

against the background of blue; and here and there one

sees a big glacier displaying its grandeurs on the top

of a precipice, or a graceful cascade leaping and flashing

down the green declivities. There is nothing tame,

or cheap, or trivial–it is all magnificent. That short

valley is a picture-gallery of a notable kind, for it

contains no mediocrities; from end to end the Creator

has hung it with His masterpieces.

We made Zermatt at three in the afternoon, nine hours out

from St. Nicholas. Distance, by guide-book, twelve miles;

by pedometer seventy-two. We were in the heart and home

of the mountain-climbers, now, as all visible things

testified. The snow-peaks did not hold themselves aloof,

in aristocratic reserve; they nestled close around,

in a friendly, sociable way; guides, with the ropes and

axes and other implements of their fearful calling slung

about their persons, roosted in a long line upon a stone

wall in front of the hotel, and waited for customers;

sun-burnt climbers, in mountaineering costume, and followed

by their guides and porters, arrived from time to time,

from breakneck expeditions among the peaks and glaciers

of the High Alps; male and female tourists, on mules,

filed by, in a continuous procession, hotelward-bound from

wild adventures which would grow in grandeur very time

they were described at the English or American fireside,

and at last outgrow the possible itself.

We were not dreaming; this was not a make-believe home

of the Alp-climber, created by our heated imaginations;

no, for here was Mr. Girdlestone himself, the famous

Englishman who hunts his way to the most formidable Alpine

summits without a guide. I was not equal to imagining

a Girdlestone; it was all I could do to even realize him,

while looking straight at him at short range. I would rather

face whole Hyde Parks of artillery than the ghastly forms

of death which he has faced among the peaks and precipices

of the mountains. There is probably no pleasure equal

to the pleasure of climbing a dangerous Alp; but it is

a pleasure which is confined strictly to people who can

find pleasure in it. I have not jumped to this conclusion;

I have traveled to it per gravel-train, so to speak.

I have thought the thing all out, and am quite sure I

am right. A born climber’s appetite for climbing is hard

to satisfy; when it comes upon him he is like a starving

man with a feast before him; he may have other business

on hand, but it must wait. Mr. Girdlestone had had

his usual summer holiday in the Alps, and had spent it

in his usual way, hunting for unique chances to break

his neck; his vacation was over, and his luggage packed

for England, but all of a sudden a hunger had come upon

him to climb the tremendous Weisshorn once more, for he

had heard of a new and utterly impossible route up it.

His baggage was unpacked at once, and now he and a friend,

laden with knapsacks, ice-axes, coils of rope, and canteens

of milk, were just setting out. They would spend

the night high up among the snows, somewhere, and get

up at two in the morning and finish the enterprise.

I had a strong desire to go with them, but forced it down–

a feat which Mr. Girdlestone, with all his fortitude,

could not do.

Even ladies catch the climbing mania, and are unable to

throw it off. A famous climber, of that sex, had attempted

the Weisshorn a few days before our arrival, and she

and her guides had lost their way in a snow-storm high up

among the peaks and glaciers and been forced to wander

around a good while before they could find a way down.

When this lady reached the bottom, she had been on her

feet twenty-three hours!

Our guides, hired on the Gemmi, were already at Zermatt

when we reached there. So there was nothing to interfere

with our getting up an adventure whenever we should

choose the time and the object. I resolved to devote

my first evening in Zermatt to studying up the subject

of Alpine climbing, by way of preparation.

I read several books, and here are some of the things

I found out. One’s shoes must be strong and heavy,

and have pointed hobnails in them. The alpenstock

must be of the best wood, for if it should break,

loss of life might be the result. One should carry an ax,

to cut steps in the ice with, on the great heights.

There must be a ladder, for there are steep bits of rock

which can be surmounted with this instrument–or this

utensil–but could not be surmounted without it;

such an obstruction has compelled the tourist to waste

hours hunting another route, when a ladder would have

saved him all trouble. One must have from one hundred

and fifty to five hundred feet of strong rope, to be used

in lowering the party down steep declivities which are

too steep and smooth to be traversed in any other way.

One must have a steel hook, on another rope–a very

useful thing; for when one is ascending and comes to a low

bluff which is yet too high for the ladder, he swings

this rope aloft like a lasso, the hook catches at the top

of the bluff, and then the tourist climbs the rope,

hand over hand–being always particular to try and forget

that if the hook gives way he will never stop falling

till he arrives in some part of Switzerland where they

are not expecting him. Another important thing–there

must be a rope to tie the whole party together with,

so that if one falls from a mountain or down a bottomless

chasm in a glacier, the others may brace back on the rope

and save him. One must have a silk veil, to protect

his face from snow, sleet, hail and gale, and colored

goggles to protect his eyes from that dangerous enemy,

snow-blindness. Finally, there must be some porters,

to carry provisions, wine and scientific instruments,

and also blanket bags for the party to sleep in.

I closed my readings with a fearful adventure which

Mr. Whymper once had on the Matterhorn when he was prowling

around alone, five thousand feet above the town of Breil.

He was edging his way gingerly around the corner of a

precipice where the upper edge of a sharp declivity

of ice-glazed snow joined it. This declivity swept

down a couple of hundred feet, into a gully which curved

around and ended at a precipice eight hundred feet high,

overlooking a glacier. His foot slipped, and he fell.

He says:

“My knapsack brought my head down first, and I pitched into

some rocks about a dozen feet below; they caught something,

and tumbled me off the edge, head over heels, into the gully;

the baton was dashed from my hands, and I whirled downward

in a series of bounds, each longer than the last; now over ice,

now into rocks, striking my head four or five times,

each time with increased force. The last bound sent me

spinning through the air in a leap of fifty or sixty feet,

from one side of the gully to the other, and I struck

the rocks, luckily, with the whole of my left side.

They caught my clothes for a moment, and I fell back on

to the snow with motion arrested. My head fortunately

came the right side up, and a few frantic catches brought

me to a halt, in the neck of the gully and on the verge

of the precipice. Baton, hat, and veil skimmed by

and disappeared, and the crash of the rocks–which I had

started–as they fell on to the glacier, told how narrow

had been the escape from utter destruction. As it was,

I fell nearly two hundred feet in seven or eight bounds.

Ten feet more would have taken me in one gigantic leaps

of eight hundred feet on to the glacier below.

“The situation was sufficiently serious. The rocks could

not be let go for a moment, and the blood was spurting

out of more than twenty cuts. The most serious ones were

in the head, and I vainly tried to close them with one hand,

while holding on with the other. It was useless;

the blood gushed out in blinding jets at each pulsation.

At last, in a moment of inspiration, I kicked out a big

lump of snow and struck it as plaster on my head.

The idea was a happy one, and the flow of blood diminished.

Then, scrambling up, I got, not a moment too soon, to a

place of safety, and fainted away. The sun was setting

when consciousness returned, and it was pitch-dark before

the Great Staircase was descended; but by a combination

of luck and care, the whole four thousand seven hundred

feet of descent to Breil was accomplished without a slip,

or once missing the way.”

His wounds kept him abed some days. Then he got up

and climbed that mountain again. That is the way with

a true Alp-climber; the more fun he has, the more he wants.


[Our Imposing Column Starts Upward]

After I had finished my readings, I was no longer myself;

I was tranced, uplifted, intoxicated, by the almost

incredible perils and adventures I had been following

my authors through, and the triumphs I had been sharing

with them. I sat silent some time, then turned to Harris

and said:

“My mind is made up.”

Something in my tone struck him: and when he glanced

at my eye and read what was written there, his face

paled perceptibly. He hesitated a moment, then said:


I answered, with perfect calmness:

“I will ascend the Riffelberg.”

If I had shot my poor friend he could not have fallen from

his chair more suddenly. If I had been his father he could

not have pleaded harder to get me to give up my purpose.

But I turned a deaf ear to all he said. When he perceived

at last that nothing could alter my determination,

he ceased to urge, and for a while the deep silence was

broken only by his sobs. I sat in marble resolution,

with my eyes fixed upon vacancy, for in spirit I was already

wrestling with the perils of the mountains, and my friend

sat gazing at me in adoring admiration through his tears.

At last he threw himself upon me in a loving embrace and

exclaimed in broken tones:

“Your Harris will never desert you. We will die together.”

I cheered the noble fellow with praises, and soon his

fears were forgotten and he was eager for the adventure.

He wanted to summon the guides at once and leave at

two in the morning, as he supposed the custom was;

but I explained that nobody was looking at that hour;

and that the start in the dark was not usually made from

the village but from the first night’s resting-place

on the mountain side. I said we would leave the village

at 3 or 4 P.M. on the morrow; meantime he could notify

the guides, and also let the public know of the attempt

which we proposed to make.

I went to bed, but not to sleep. No man can sleep when he

is about to undertake one of these Alpine exploits.

I tossed feverishly all night long, and was glad enough

when I heard the clock strike half past eleven and knew it

was time to get up for dinner. I rose, jaded and rusty,

and went to the noon meal, where I found myself the center

of interest and curiosity; for the news was already abroad.

It is not easy to eat calmly when you are a lion; but it is

very pleasant, nevertheless.

As usual, at Zermatt, when a great ascent is about to

be undertaken, everybody, native and foreign, laid aside

his own projects and took up a good position to observe

the start. The expedition consisted of 198 persons,

including the mules; or 205, including the cows.

As follows:


Myself 1 Veterinary Surgeon Mr. Harris 1 Butler 17

Guides 12 Waiters 4 Surgeons 1 Footman 1 Geologist 1

Barber 1 Botanist 1 Head Cook 3 Chaplains 9 Assistants

15 Barkeepers 1 Confectionery Artist 1 Latinist


27 Porters 3 Coarse Washers and Ironers 44 Mules 1 Fine

ditto 44 Muleteers 7 Cows 2 Milkers

Total, 154 men, 51 animals. Grand Total, 205.


16 Cases Hams 25 Spring Mattresses 2 Barrels Flour 2

Hair ditto 22 Barrels Whiskey Bedding for same 1 Barrel

Sugar 2 Mosquito-nets 1 Keg Lemons 29 Tents 2,000 Cigars

Scientific Instruments 1 Barrel Pies 97 Ice-axes 1 Ton

of Pemmican 5 Cases Dynamite 143 Pair Crutches 7 Cans

Nitroglycerin 2 Barrels Arnica 22 40-foot Ladders 1 Bale

of Lint 2 Miles of Rope 27 Kegs Paregoric 154 Umbrellas

It was full four o’clock in the afternoon before my cavalcade

was entirely ready. At that hour it began to move.

In point of numbers and spectacular effect, it was the most

imposing expedition that had ever marched from Zermatt.

I commanded the chief guide to arrange the men and animals

in single file, twelve feet apart, and lash them all

together on a strong rope. He objected that the first

two miles was a dead level, with plenty of room, and that

the rope was never used except in very dangerous places.

But I would not listen to that. My reading had taught

me that many serious accidents had happened in the Alps

simply from not having the people tied up soon enough;

I was not going to add one to the list. The guide then

obeyed my order.

When the procession stood at ease, roped together,

and ready to move, I never saw a finer sight. It was 3,122

feet long–over half a mile; every man and me was on foot,

and had on his green veil and his blue goggles, and his

white rag around his hat, and his coil of rope over one

shoulder and under the other, and his ice-ax in his belt,

and carried his alpenstock in his left hand, his umbrella

(closed) in his right, and his crutches slung at his back.

The burdens of the pack-mules and the horns of the cows

were decked with the Edelweiss and the Alpine rose.

I and my agent were the only persons mounted. We were

in the post of danger in the extreme rear, and tied

securely to five guides apiece. Our armor-bearers carried

our ice-axes, alpenstocks, and other implements for us.

We were mounted upon very small donkeys, as a measure

of safety; in time of peril we could straighten our legs

and stand up, and let the donkey walk from under.

Still, I cannot recommend this sort of animal–at least

for excursions of mere pleasure–because his ears interrupt

the view. I and my agent possessed the regulation

mountaineering costumes, but concluded to leave them behind.

Out of respect for the great numbers of tourists of both

sexes who would be assembled in front of the hotels

to see us pass, and also out of respect for the many

tourists whom we expected to encounter on our expedition,

we decided to make the ascent in evening dress.

We watered the caravan at the cold stream which rushes

down a trough near the end of the village, and soon

afterward left the haunts of civilization behind us.

About half past five o’clock we arrived at a bridge which

spans the Visp, and after throwing over a detachment to see

if it was safe, the caravan crossed without accident.

The way now led, by a gentle ascent, carpeted with

fresh green grass, to the church at Winkelmatten.

Without stopping to examine this edifice, I executed

a flank movement to the right and crossed the bridge

over the Findelenbach, after first testing its strength.

Here I deployed to the right again, and presently entered

an inviting stretch of meadowland which was unoccupied save

by a couple of deserted huts toward the furthest extremity.

These meadows offered an excellent camping-place. We

pitched our tents, supped, established a proper grade,

recorded the events of the day, and then went to bed.

We rose at two in the morning and dressed by candle-light. It

was a dismal and chilly business. A few stars were shining,

but the general heavens were overcast, and the great shaft

of the Matterhorn was draped in a cable pall of clouds.

The chief guide advised a delay; he said he feared it

was going to rain. We waited until nine o’clock, and then

got away in tolerably clear weather.

Our course led up some terrific steeps, densely wooded with

larches and cedars, and traversed by paths which the rains

had guttered and which were obstructed by loose stones.

To add to the danger and inconvenience, we were constantly

meeting returning tourists on foot and horseback,

and as constantly being crowded and battered by ascending

tourists who were in a hurry and wanted to get by.

Our troubles thickened. About the middle of the afternoon

the seventeen guides called a halt and held a consultation.

After consulting an hour they said their first suspicion

remained intact–that is to say, they believed they

were lost. I asked if they did not KNOW it? No, they said,

they COULDN’T absolutely know whether they were lost or not,

because none of them had ever been in that part of the

country before. They had a strong instinct that they

were lost, but they had no proofs–except that they

did not know where they were. They had met no tourists

for some time, and they considered that a suspicious sign.

Plainly we were in an ugly fix. The guides were naturally

unwilling to go alone and seek a way out of the difficulty;

so we all went together. For better security we moved

slow and cautiously, for the forest was very dense.

We did not move up the mountain, but around it, hoping to

strike across the old trail. Toward nightfall, when we

were about tired out, we came up against a rock as big

as a cottage. This barrier took all the remaining spirit

out of the men, and a panic of fear and despair ensued.

They moaned and wept, and said they should never see

their homes and their dear ones again. Then they began

to upbraid me for bringing them upon this fatal expedition.

Some even muttered threats against me.

Clearly it was no time to show weakness. So I made

a speech in which I said that other Alp-climbers had been

in as perilous a position as this, and yet by courage

and perseverance had escaped. I promised to stand by them,

I promised to rescue them. I closed by saying we had plenty

of provisions to maintain us for quite a siege–and did they

suppose Zermatt would allow half a mile of men and mules

to mysteriously disappear during any considerable time,

right above their noses, and make no inquiries? No,

Zermatt would send out searching-expeditions and we should be


This speech had a great effect. The men pitched the tents

with some little show of cheerfulness, and we were snugly

under cover when the night shut down. I now reaped

the reward of my wisdom in providing one article which is

not mentioned in any book of Alpine adventure but this.

I refer to the paregoric. But for that beneficent drug,

would have not one of those men slept a moment during that

fearful night. But for that gentle persuader they must

have tossed, unsoothed, the night through; for the whiskey

was for me. Yes, they would have risen in the morning

unfitted for their heavy task. As it was, everybody slept

but my agent and me–only we and the barkeepers.

I would not permit myself to sleep at such a time.

I considered myself responsible for all those lives.

I meant to be on hand and ready, in case of avalanches

up there, but I did not know it then.

We watched the weather all through that awful night,

and kept an eye on the barometer, to be prepared for

the least change. There was not the slightest change

recorded by the instrument, during the whole time.

Words cannot describe the comfort that that friendly,

hopeful, steadfast thing was to me in that season

of trouble. It was a defective barometer, and had no hand

but the stationary brass pointer, but I did not know that

until afterward. If I should be in such a situation again,

I should not wish for any barometer but that one.

All hands rose at two in the morning and took breakfast,

and as soon as it was light we roped ourselves together

and went at that rock. For some time we tried the hook-rope

and other means of scaling it, but without success–that is,

without perfect success. The hook caught once, and Harris

started up it hand over hand, but the hold broke and if

there had not happened to be a chaplain sitting underneath

at the time, Harris would certainly have been crippled.

As it was, it was the chaplain. He took to his crutches,

and I ordered the hook-rope to be laid aside.

It was too dangerous an implement where so many people

are standing around.

We were puzzled for a while; then somebody thought of

the ladders. One of these was leaned against the rock,

and the men went up it tied together in couples.

Another ladder was sent up for use in descending.

At the end of half an hour everybody was over, and that rock

was conquered. We gave our first grand shout of triumph.

But the joy was short-lived, for somebody asked how we were

going to get the animals over.

This was a serious difficulty; in fact, it was an impossibility.

The courage of the men began to waver immediately; once more

we were threatened with a panic. But when the danger

was most imminent, we were saved in a mysterious way.

A mule which had attracted attention from the beginning

by its disposition to experiment, tried to eat a five-pound

can of nitroglycerin. This happened right alongside

the rock. The explosion threw us all to the ground,

and covered us with dirt and debris; it frightened

us extremely, too, for the crash it made was deafening,

and the violence of the shock made the ground tremble.

However, we were grateful, for the rock was gone.

Its place was occupied by a new cellar, about thirty

feet across, by fifteen feet deep. The explosion was

heard as far as Zermatt; and an hour and a half afterward,

many citizens of that town were knocked down and quite

seriously injured by descending portions of mule meat,

frozen solid. This shows, better than any estimate

in figures, how high the experimenter went.

We had nothing to do, now, but bridge the cellar and proceed

on our way. With a cheer the men went at their work.

I attended to the engineering, myself. I appointed a strong

detail to cut down trees with ice-axes and trim them for

piers to support the bridge. This was a slow business,

for ice-axes are not good to cut wood with. I caused

my piers to be firmly set up in ranks in the cellar,

and upon them I laid six of my forty-foot ladders,

side by side, and laid six more on top of them.

Upon this bridge I caused a bed of boughs to be spread,

and on top of the boughs a bed of earth six inches deep.

I stretched ropes upon either side to serve as railings,

and then my bridge was complete. A train of elephants

could have crossed it in safety and comfort. By nightfall

the caravan was on the other side and the ladders were

taken up.

Next morning we went on in good spirits for a while,

though our way was slow and difficult, by reason of the

steep and rocky nature of the ground and the thickness

of the forest; but at last a dull despondency crept into

the men’s faces and it was apparent that not only they,

but even the guides, were now convinced that we were lost.

The fact that we still met no tourists was a circumstance

that was but too significant. Another thing seemed to

suggest that we were not only lost, but very badly lost;

for there must surely be searching-parties on the road

before this time, yet we had seen no sign of them.

Demoralization was spreading; something must be done,

and done quickly, too. Fortunately, I am not unfertile

in expedients. I contrived one now which commended itself

to all, for it promised well. I took three-quarters

of a mile of rope and fastened one end of it around

the waist of a guide, and told him to go find the road,

while the caravan waited. I instructed him to guide himself

back by the rope, in case of failure; in case of success,

he was to give the rope a series of violent jerks,

whereupon the Expedition would go to him at once.

He departed, and in two minutes had disappeared among

the trees. I payed out the rope myself, while everybody

watched the crawling thing with eager eyes. The rope

crept away quite slowly, at times, at other times with

some briskness. Twice or thrice we seemed to get the signal,

and a shout was just ready to break from the men’s lips

when they perceived it was a false alarm. But at last,

when over half a mile of rope had slidden away, it stopped

gliding and stood absolutely still–one minute–two

minutes–three–while we held our breath and watched.

Was the guide resting? Was he scanning the country from

some high point? Was he inquiring of a chance mountaineer?

Stop,–had he fainted from excess of fatigue and anxiety?

This thought gave us a shock. I was in the very first act

of detailing an Expedition to succor him, when the cord

was assailed with a series of such frantic jerks that I

could hardly keep hold of it. The huzza that went up,

then, was good to hear. “Saved! saved!” was the word

that rang out, all down the long rank of the caravan.

We rose up and started at once. We found the route to be

good enough for a while, but it began to grow difficult,

by and by, and this feature steadily increased. When we

judged we had gone half a mile, we momently expected

to see the guide; but no, he was not visible anywhere;

neither was he waiting, for the rope was still moving,

consequently he was doing the same. This argued that he

had not found the road, yet, but was marching to it

with some peasant. There was nothing for us to do but

plod along–and this we did. At the end of three hours

we were still plodding. This was not only mysterious,

but exasperating. And very fatiguing, too; for we had

tried hard, along at first, to catch up with the guide,

but had only fagged ourselves, in vain; for although he

was traveling slowly he was yet able to go faster than the

hampered caravan over such ground.

At three in the afternoon we were nearly dead with

exhaustion–and still the rope was slowly gliding out.

The murmurs against the guide had been growing steadily,

and at last they were become loud and savage.

A mutiny ensued. The men refused to proceed. They declared

that we had been traveling over and over the same ground

all day, in a kind of circle. They demanded that our

end of the rope be made fast to a tree, so as to halt

the guide until we could overtake him and kill him.

This was not an unreasonable requirement, so I gave the order.

As soon as the rope was tied, the Expedition moved

forward with that alacrity which the thirst for

vengeance usually inspires. But after a tiresome march

of almost half a mile, we came to a hill covered thick

with a crumbly rubbish of stones, and so steep that no

man of us all was now in a condition to climb it.

Every attempt failed, and ended in crippling somebody.

Within twenty minutes I had five men on crutches.

Whenever a climber tried to assist himself by the rope,

it yielded and let him tumble backward. The frequency

of this result suggested an idea to me. I ordered

the caravan to ’bout face and form in marching order;

I then made the tow-rope fast to the rear mule, and gave

the command:

“Mark time–by the right flank–forward–march!”

The procession began to move, to the impressive strains

of a battle-chant, and I said to myself, “Now, if the rope

don’t break I judge THIS will fetch that guide into the camp.”

I watched the rope gliding down the hill, and presently

when I was all fixed for triumph I was confronted

by a bitter disappointment; there was no guide tied

to the rope, it was only a very indignant old black ram.

The fury of the baffled Expedition exceeded all bounds.

They even wanted to wreak their unreasoning vengeance on this

innocent dumb brute. But I stood between them and their prey,

menaced by a bristling wall of ice-axes and alpenstocks,

and proclaimed that there was but one road to this murder,

and it was directly over my corpse. Even as I spoke I

saw that my doom was sealed, except a miracle supervened

to divert these madmen from their fell purpose. I see

the sickening wall of weapons now; I see that advancing

host as I saw it then, I see the hate in those cruel eyes;

I remember how I drooped my head upon my breast,

I feel again the sudden earthquake shock in my rear,

administered by the very ram I was sacrificing myself to save;

I hear once more the typhoon of laughter that burst from

the assaulting column as I clove it from van to rear

like a Sepoy shot from a Rodman gun.

I was saved. Yes, I was saved, and by the merciful instinct

of ingratitude which nature had planted in the breast

of that treacherous beast. The grace which eloquence

had failed to work in those men’s hearts, had been wrought

by a laugh. The ram was set free and my life was spared.

We lived to find out that that guide had deserted us as soon

as he had placed a half-mile between himself and us.

To avert suspicion, he had judged it best that the line

should continue to move; so he caught that ram, and at

the time that he was sitting on it making the rope fast

to it, we were imagining that he was lying in a swoon,

overcome by fatigue and distress. When he allowed the ram

to get up it fell to plunging around, trying to rid itself

of the rope, and this was the signal which we had risen

up with glad shouts to obey. We had followed this ram

round and round in a circle all day–a thing which was

proven by the discovery that we had watered the Expedition

seven times at one and same spring in seven hours.

As expert a woodman as I am, I had somehow failed to notice

this until my attention was called to it by a hog.

This hog was always wallowing there, and as he was the

only hog we saw, his frequent repetition, together with

his unvarying similarity to himself, finally caused me

to reflect that he must be the same hog, and this led

me to the deduction that this must be the same spring,

also–which indeed it was.

I made a note of this curious thing, as showing

in a striking manner the relative difference between

glacial action and the action of the hog. It is now

a well-established fact that glaciers move; I consider

that my observations go to show, with equal conclusiveness,

that a hog in a spring does not move. I shall be glad

to receive the opinions of other observers upon this point.

To return, for an explanatory moment, to that guide,

and then I shall be done with him. After leaving the ram

tied to the rope, he had wandered at large a while,

and then happened to run across a cow. Judging that

a cow would naturally know more than a guide, he took

her by the tail, and the result justified his judgment.

She nibbled her leisurely way downhill till it was near

milking-time, then she struck for home and towed him

into Zermatt.


[I Conquer the Gorner Grat]

We went into camp on that wild spot to which that ram

had brought us. The men were greatly fatigued.

Their conviction that we were lost was forgotten in the cheer

of a good supper, and before the reaction had a chance

to set in, I loaded them up with paregoric and put them to bed.

Next morning I was considering in my mind our desperate

situation and trying to think of a remedy, when Harris

came to me with a Baedeker map which showed conclusively

that the mountain we were on was still in Switzerland–yes,

every part of it was in Switzerland. So we were not lost,

after all. This was an immense relief; it lifted the weight

of two such mountains from my breast. I immediately

had the news disseminated and the map was exhibited.

The effect was wonderful. As soon as the men saw with

their own eyes that they knew where they were, and that it

was only the summit that was lost and not themselves,

they cheered up instantly and said with one accord,

let the summit take care of itself.

Our distresses being at an end, I now determined to rest

the men in camp and give the scientific department of the

Expedition a chance. First, I made a barometric observation,

to get our altitude, but I could not perceive that there

was any result. I knew, by my scientific reading,

that either thermometers or barometers ought to be boiled,

to make them accurate; I did not know which it was,

so I boiled them both. There was still no result;

so I examined these instruments and discovered that they

possessed radical blemishes: the barometer had no hand

but the brass pointer and the ball of the thermometer was

stuffed with tin-foil. I might have boiled those things

to rags, and never found out anything.

I hunted up another barometer; it was new and perfect.

I boiled it half an hour in a pot of bean soup which

the cooks were making. The result was unexpected: the

instrument was not affecting at all, but there was such

a strong barometer taste to the soup that the head cook,

who was a most conscientious person, changed its name

in the bill of fare. The dish was so greatly liked by all,

that I ordered the cook to have barometer soup every day.

It was believed that the barometer might eventually

be injured, but I did not care for that. I had demonstrated

to my satisfaction that it could not tell how high

a mountain was, therefore I had no real use for it.

Changes in the weather I could take care of without it;

I did not wish to know when the weather was going to be good,

what I wanted to know was when it was going to be bad,

and this I could find out from Harris’s corns. Harris had

had his corns tested and regulated at the government

observatory in Heidelberg, and one could depend upon them

with confidence. So I transferred the new barometer to

the cooking department, to be used for the official mess.

It was found that even a pretty fair article of soup could

be made from the defective barometer; so I allowed that one

to be transferred to the subordinate mess.

I next boiled the thermometer, and got a most excellent result;

the mercury went up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the opinion of the other scientists of the Expedition,

this seemed to indicate that we had attained the extraordinary

altitude of two hundred thousand feet above sea-level.

Science places the line of eternal snow at about ten thousand

feet above sea-level. There was no snow where we were,

consequently it was proven that the eternal snow-line

ceases somewhere above the ten-thousand-foot level and

does not begin any more. This was an interesting fact,

and one which had not been observed by any observer before.

It was as valuable as interesting, too, since it would open

up the deserted summits of the highest Alps to population

and agriculture. It was a proud thing to be where we were,

yet it caused us a pang to reflect that but for that ram we

might just as well been two hundred thousand feet higher.

The success of my last experiment induced me to try an

experiment with my photographic apparatus. I got it out,

and boiled one of my cameras, but the thing was a failure;

it made the wood swell up and burst, and I could not see

that the lenses were any better than they were before.

I now concluded to boil a guide. It might improve him,

it could not impair his usefulness. But I was not

allowed to proceed. Guides have no feeling for science,

and this one would not consent to be made uncomfortable

in its interest.

In the midst of my scientific work, one of those

needless accidents happened which are always occurring

among the ignorant and thoughtless. A porter shot

at a chamois and missed it and crippled the Latinist.

This was not a serious matter to me, for a Latinist’s

duties are as well performed on crutches as otherwise–

but the fact remained that if the Latinist had not

happened to be in the way a mule would have got

that load. That would have been quite another matter,

for when it comes down to a question of value there is

a palpable difference between a Latinist and a mule.

I could not depend on having a Latinist in the right

place every time; so, to make things safe, I ordered

that in the future the chamois must not be hunted within

limits of the camp with any other weapon than the forefinger.

My nerves had hardly grown quiet after this affair when

they got another shake-up–one which utterly unmanned

me for a moment: a rumor swept suddenly through the camp

that one of the barkeepers had fallen over a precipice!

However, it turned out that it was only a chaplain.

I had laid in an extra force of chaplains, purposely to

be prepared for emergencies like this, but by some

unaccountable oversight had come away rather short-handed

in the matter of barkeepers.

On the following morning we moved on, well refreshed and in

good spirits. I remember this day with peculiar pleasure,

because it saw our road restored to us. Yes, we found

our road again, and in quite an extraordinary way.

We had plodded along some two hours and a half, when we came

up against a solid mass of rock about twenty feet high.

I did not need to be instructed by a mule this time.

I was already beginning to know more than any mule in

the Expedition. I at once put in a blast of dynamite,

and lifted that rock out of the way. But to my surprise

and mortification, I found that there had been a chalet

on top of it.

I picked up such members of the family as fell in my vicinity,

and subordinates of my corps collected the rest.

None of these poor people were injured, happily, but they

were much annoyed. I explained to the head chaleteer

just how the thing happened, and that I was only searching

for the road, and would certainly have given him timely

notice if I had known he was up there. I said I had

meant no harm, and hoped I had not lowered myself in

his estimation by raising him a few rods in the air.

I said many other judicious things, and finally when I

offered to rebuild his chalet, and pay for the breakages,

and throw in the cellar, he was mollified and satisfied.

He hadn’t any cellar at all, before; he would not have

as good a view, now, as formerly, but what he had lost

in view he had gained in cellar, by exact measurement.

He said there wasn’t another hole like that in the mountains–

and he would have been right if the late mule had not tried

to eat up the nitroglycerin.

I put a hundred and sixteen men at work, and they rebuilt

the chalet from its own debris in fifteen minutes.

It was a good deal more picturesque than it was before,

too. The man said we were now on the Feil-Stutz, above

the Schwegmatt–information which I was glad to get,

since it gave us our position to a degree of particularity

which we had not been accustomed to for a day or so.

We also learned that we were standing at the foot

of the Riffelberg proper, and that the initial chapter

of our work was completed.

We had a fine view, from here, of the energetic Visp,

as it makes its first plunge into the world from under a huge

arch of solid ice, worn through the foot-wall of the great

Gorner Glacier; and we could also see the Furggenbach,

which is the outlet of the Furggen Glacier.

The mule-road to the summit of the Riffelberg passed right

in front of the chalet, a circumstance which we almost

immediately noticed, because a procession of tourists was

filing along it pretty much all the time. [1] The chaleteer’s

business consisted in furnishing refreshments to tourists.

My blast had interrupted this trade for a few minutes,

by breaking all the bottles on the place; but I gave

the man a lot of whiskey to sell for Alpine champagne,

and a lot of vinegar which would answer for Rhine wine,

consequently trade was soon as brisk as ever.

1. “Pretty much” may not be elegant English, but it is

high time it was. There is no elegant word or phrase

which means just what it means.–M.T.

Leaving the Expedition outside to rest, I quartered myself

in the chalet, with Harris, proposing to correct my journals

and scientific observations before continuing the ascent.

I had hardly begun my work when a tall, slender, vigorous

American youth of about twenty-three, who was on his

way down the mountain, entered and came toward me with

that breeze self-complacency which is the adolescent’s

idea of the well-bred ease of the man of the world.

His hair was short and parted accurately in the middle,

and he had all the look of an American person who would

be likely to begin his signature with an initial,

and spell his middle name out. He introduced himself,

smiling a smirky smile borrowed from the courtiers

of the stage, extended a fair-skinned talon, and while

he gripped my hand in it he bent his body forward

three times at the hips, as the stage courtier does,

and said in the airiest and most condescending

and patronizing way–I quite remember his exact language:

“Very glad to make your acquaintance, ‘m sure; very glad indeed,

assure you. I’ve read all your little efforts and greatly

admired them, and when I heard you were here, I …”

I indicated a chair, and he sat down. This grandee was

the grandson of an American of considerable note in his day,

and not wholly forgotten yet–a man who came so near

being a great man that he was quite generally accounted

one while he lived.

I slowly paced the floor, pondering scientific problems,

and heard this conversation:

GRANDSON. First visit to Europe?

HARRIS. Mine? Yes.

G.S. (With a soft reminiscent sigh suggestive of bygone

joys that may be tasted in their freshness but once.)

Ah, I know what it is to you. A first visit!–ah,

the romance of it! I wish I could feel it again.

H. Yes, I find it exceeds all my dreams. It is enchantment.

I go…

G.S. (With a dainty gesture of the hand signifying “Spare

me your callow enthusiasms, good friend.”) Yes, _I_ know,

I know; you go to cathedrals, and exclaim; and you drag

through league-long picture-galleries and exclaim; and you

stand here, and there, and yonder, upon historic ground,

and continue to exclaim; and you are permeated with

your first crude conceptions of Art, and are proud

and happy. Ah, yes, proud and happy–that expresses it.

Yes-yes, enjoy it–it is right–it is an innocent revel.

H. And you? Don’t you do these things now?

G.S. I! Oh, that is VERY good! My dear sir, when you

are as old a traveler as I am, you will not ask such

a question as that. _I_ visit the regulation gallery,

moon around the regulation cathedral, do the worn round

of the regulation sights, YET?–Excuse me!

H. Well, what DO you do, then?

G.S. Do? I flit–and flit–for I am ever on the wing–but I

avoid the herd. Today I am in Paris, tomorrow in Berlin,

anon in Rome; but you would look for me in vain in the

galleries of the Louvre or the common resorts of the

gazers in those other capitals. If you would find me,

you must look in the unvisited nooks and corners where

others never think of going. One day you will find me

making myself at home in some obscure peasant’s cabin,

another day you will find me in some forgotten castle

worshiping some little gem or art which the careless eye

has overlooked and which the unexperienced would despise;

again you will find me as guest in the inner sanctuaries

of palaces while the herd is content to get a hurried

glimpse of the unused chambers by feeing a servant.

H. You are a GUEST in such places?

G.S. And a welcoming one.

H. It is surprising. How does it come?

G.S. My grandfather’s name is a passport to all the courts

in Europe. I have only to utter that name and every

door is open to me. I flit from court to court at my

own free will and pleasure, and am always welcome.

I am as much at home in the palaces of Europe as you are

among your relatives. I know every titled person in Europe,

I think. I have my pockets full of invitations all the time.

I am under promise to go to Italy, where I am to be the

guest of a succession of the noblest houses in the land.

In Berlin my life is a continued round of gaiety in the

imperial palace. It is the same, wherever I go.

H. It must be very pleasant. But it must make Boston

seem a little slow when you are at home.

G.S. Yes, of course it does. But I don’t go home much.

There’s no life there–little to feed a man’s higher nature.

Boston’s very narrow, you know. She doesn’t know it, and you

couldn’t convince her of it–so I say nothing when I’m

there: where’s the use? Yes, Boston is very narrow, but she

has such a good opinion of herself that she can’t see it.

A man who has traveled as much as I have, and seen as much

of the world, sees it plain enough, but he can’t cure it,

you know, so the best is to leave it and seek a sphere

which is more in harmony with his tastes and culture.

I run across there, one a year, perhaps, when I have

nothing important on hand, but I’m very soon back again.

I spend my time in Europe.

H. I see. You map out your plans and …

G.S. No, excuse me. I don’t map out any plans. I simply

follow the inclination of the day. I am limited by no ties,

no requirements, I am not bound in any way. I am too old

a traveler to hamper myself with deliberate purposes.

I am simply a traveler–an inveterate traveler–a man of

the world, in a word–I can call myself by no other name.

I do not say, “I am going here, or I am going there”–I

say nothing at all, I only act. For instance, next week

you may find me the guest of a grandee of Spain, or you

may find me off for Venice, or flitting toward Dresden.

I shall probably go to Egypt presently; friends will say

to friends, “He is at the Nile cataracts”–and at that

very moment they will be surprised to learn that I’m away

off yonder in India somewhere. I am a constant surprise

to people. They are always saying, “Yes, he was in Jerusalem

when we heard of him last, but goodness knows where he

is now.”

Presently the Grandson rose to leave–discovered he

had an appointment with some Emperor, perhaps. He did

his graces over again: gripped me with one talon,

at arm’s-length, pressed his hat against his stomach

with the other, bent his body in the middle three times,


“Pleasure, ‘m sure; great pleasure, ‘m sure. Wish you

much success.”

Then he removed his gracious presence. It is a great

and solemn thing to have a grandfather.

I have not purposed to misrepresent this boy in any way,

for what little indignation he excited in me soon

passed and left nothing behind it but compassion.

One cannot keep up a grudge against a vacuum.

I have tried to repeat this lad’s very words;

if I have failed anywhere I have at least not failed

to reproduce the marrow and meaning of what he said.

He and the innocent chatterbox whom I met on the Swiss

lake are the most unique and interesting specimens of

Young America I came across during my foreign tramping.

I have made honest portraits of them, not caricatures.

The Grandson of twenty-three referred to himself five

or six times as an “old traveler,”and as many as three

times (with a serene complacency which was maddening)

as a “man of the world.” There was something very delicious

about his leaving Boston to her “narrowness,” unreproved

and uninstructed.

I formed the caravan in marching order, presently,

and after riding down the line to see that it was

properly roped together, gave the command to proceed.

In a little while the road carried us to open, grassy land.

We were above the troublesome forest, now, and had an

uninterrupted view, straight before us, of our summit–

the summit of the Riffelberg.

We followed the mule-road, a zigzag course, now to the right,

now to the left, but always up, and always crowded and

incommoded by going and coming files of reckless tourists

who were never, in a single instance, tied together.

I was obliged to exert the utmost care and caution,

for in many places the road was not two yards wide,

and often the lower side of it sloped away in slanting

precipices eight and even nine feet deep. I had to

encourage the men constantly, to keep them from giving

way to their unmanly fears.

We might have made the summit before night, but for a

delay caused by the loss of an umbrella. I was allowing

the umbrella to remain lost, but the men murmured,

and with reason, for in this exposed region we stood

in peculiar need of protection against avalanches;

so I went into camp and detached a strong party to go

after the missing article.

The difficulties of the next morning were severe,

but our courage was high, for our goal was near.

At noon we conquered the last impediment–we stood

at last upon the summit, and without the loss of a

single man except the mule that ate the glycerin.

Our great achievement was achieved–the possibility of

the impossible was demonstrated, and Harris and I walked

proudly into the great dining-room of the Riffelberg

Hotel and stood our alpenstocks up in the corner.

Yes, I had made the grand ascent; but it was a mistake

to do it in evening dress. The plug hats were battered,

the swallow-tails were fluttering rags, mud added no grace,

the general effect was unpleasant and even disreputable.

There were about seventy-five tourists at the hotel–

mainly ladies and little children–and they gave us

an admiring welcome which paid us for all our privations

and sufferings. The ascent had been made, and the names

and dates now stand recorded on a stone monument there

to prove it to all future tourists.

I boiled a thermometer and took an altitude, with a most



Suspecting that I had made an important discovery,

I prepared to verify it. There happened to be a still

higher summit (called the Gorner Grat), above the hotel,

and notwithstanding the fact that it overlooks a glacier

from a dizzy height, and that the ascent is difficult

and dangerous, I resolved to venture up there and boil

a thermometer. So I sent a strong party, with some

borrowed hoes, in charge of two chiefs of service, to dig

a stairway in the soil all the way up, and this I ascended,

roped to the guides. This breezy height was the summit

proper–so I accomplished even more than I had originally

purposed to do. This foolhardy exploit is recorded on

another stone monument.

I boiled my thermometer, and sure enough, this spot,

which purported to be two thousand feet higher than the

locality of the hotel, turned out to be nine thousand

feet LOWER. Thus the fact was clearly demonstrated that,


THE LOWER IT ACTUALLY IS. Our ascent itself was a

great achievement, but this contribution to science was

an inconceivably greater matter.

Cavilers object that water boils at a lower and lower

temperature the higher and higher you go, and hence the

apparent anomaly. I answer that I do not base my theory

upon what the boiling water does, but upon what a boiled

thermometer says. You can’t go behind the thermometer.

I had a magnificent view of Monte Rosa, and apparently

all the rest of the Alpine world, from that high place.

All the circling horizon was piled high with a mighty

tumult of snowy crests. One might have imagined he

saw before him the tented camps of a beleaguering host

of Brobdingnagians.

But lonely, conspicuous, and superb, rose that wonderful

upright wedge, the Matterhorn. Its precipitous sides were

powdered over with snow, and the upper half hidden in thick

clouds which now and then dissolved to cobweb films and gave

brief glimpses of the imposing tower as through a veil.

[2] A little later the Matterhorn took to himself the

semblance of a volcano; he was stripped naked to his apex–

around this circled vast wreaths of white cloud which strung

slowly out and streamed away slantwise toward the sun,

a twenty-mile stretch of rolling and tumbling vapor,

and looking just as if it were pouring out of a crater.

Later again, one of the mountain’s sides was clean and clear,

and another side densely clothed from base to summit in

thick smokelike cloud which feathered off and flew around

the shaft’s sharp edge like the smoke around the corners of

a burning building. The Matterhorn is always experimenting,

and always gets up fine effects, too. In the sunset,

when all the lower world is palled in gloom, it points

toward heaven out of the pervading blackness like a finger

of fire. In the sunrise–well, they say it is very fine

in the sunrise.

2. NOTE.–I had the very unusual luck to catch one little

momentary glimpse of the Matterhorn wholly unencumbered

by clouds. I leveled my photographic apparatus at it

without the loss of an instant, and should have got

an elegant picture if my donkey had not interfered.

It was my purpose to draw this photograph all by myself

for my book, but was obliged to put the mountain part

of it into the hands of the professional artist because

I found I could not do landscape well.

Authorities agree that there is no such tremendous “layout”

of snowy Alpine magnitude, grandeur, and sublimity to be

seen from any other accessible point as the tourist may see

from the summit of the Riffelberg. Therefore, let the

tourist rope himself up and go there; for I have shown

that with nerve, caution, and judgment, the thing can be done.

I wish to add one remark, here–in parentheses, so to speak

–suggested by the word “snowy,” which I have just used.

We have all seen hills and mountains and levels with snow

on them, and so we think we know all the aspects and

effects produced by snow. But indeed we do not until

we have seen the Alps. Possibly mass and distance add

something–at any rate, something IS added. Among other

noticeable things, there is a dazzling, intense whiteness

about the distant Alpine snow, when the sun is on it,

which one recognizes as peculiar, and not familiar to

the eye. The snow which one is accustomed to has a tint

to it–painters usually give it a bluish cast–but there

is no perceptible tint to the distant Alpine snow when it

is trying to look its whitest. As to the unimaginable

splendor of it when the sun is blazing down on it–well,

it simply IS unimaginable.


[We Travel by Glacier]

A guide-book is a queer thing. The reader has just seen

what a man who undertakes the great ascent from Zermatt

to the Riffelberg Hotel must experience. Yet Baedeker

makes these strange statements concerning this matter:

1. Distance–3 hours.

2. The road cannot be mistaken.

3. Guide unnecessary.

4. Distance from Riffelberg Hotel to the Gorner Grat,

one hour and a half.

5. Ascent simple and easy. Guide unnecessary.

6. Elevation of Zermatt above sea-level, 5,315 feet.

7. Elevation of Riffelberg Hotel above sea-level,

8,429 feet.

8. Elevation of the Gorner Grat above sea-level, 10,289 feet.

I have pretty effectually throttled these errors by sending

him the following demonstrated facts:

1. Distance from Zermatt to Riffelberg Hotel, 7 days.

2. The road CAN be mistaken. If I am the first that did it,

I want the credit of it, too.

3. Guides ARE necessary, for none but a native can read

those finger-boards.

4. The estimate of the elevation of the several localities

above sea-level is pretty correct–for Baedeker.

He only misses it about a hundred and eighty or ninety

thousand feet.

I found my arnica invaluable. My men were suffering

excruciatingly, from the friction of sitting down so much.

During two or three days, not one of them was able to do

more than lie down or walk about; yet so effective was

the arnica, that on the fourth all were able to sit up.

I consider that, more than to anything else, I owe the

success of our great undertaking to arnica and paregoric.

My men are being restored to health and strength,

my main perplexity, now, was how to get them down

the mountain again. I was not willing to expose the

brave fellows to the perils, fatigues, and hardships

of that fearful route again if it could be helped.

First I thought of balloons; but, of course, I had to

give that idea up, for balloons were not procurable.

I thought of several other expedients, but upon

consideration discarded them, for cause. But at last

I hit it. I was aware that the movement of glaciers

is an established fact, for I had read it in Baedeker;

so I resolved to take passage for Zermatt on the great

Gorner Glacier.

Very good. The next thing was, how to get down the

glacier comfortably–for the mule-road to it was long,

and winding, and wearisome. I set my mind at work,

and soon thought out a plan. One looks straight down

upon the vast frozen river called the Gorner Glacier,

from the Gorner Grat, a sheer precipice twelve hundred

feet high. We had one hundred and fifty-four umbrellas–

and what is an umbrella but a parachute?

I mentioned this noble idea to Harris, with enthusiasm,

and was about to order the Expedition to form on the

Gorner Grat, with their umbrellas, and prepare for

flight by platoons, each platoon in command of a guide,

when Harris stopped me and urged me not to be too hasty.

He asked me if this method of descending the Alps had

ever been tried before. I said no, I had not heard

of an instance. Then, in his opinion, it was a matter

of considerable gravity; in his opinion it would not be

well to send the whole command over the cliff at once;

a better way would be to send down a single individual,

first, and see how he fared.

I saw the wisdom in this idea instantly. I said as much,

and thanked my agent cordially, and told him to take

his umbrella and try the thing right away, and wave

his hat when he got down, if he struck in a soft place,

and then I would ship the rest right along.

Harris was greatly touched with this mark of confidence,

and said so, in a voice that had a perceptible tremble in it;

but at the same time he said he did not feel himself worthy

of so conspicuous a favor; that it might cause jealousy

in the command, for there were plenty who would not hesitate

to say he had used underhanded means to get the appointment,

whereas his conscience would bear him witness that he

had not sought it at all, nor even, in his secret heart,

desired it.

I said these words did him extreme credit, but that he must not

throw away the imperishable distinction of being the first man

to descend an Alp per parachute, simply to save the feelings

of some envious underlings. No, I said, he MUST accept

the appointment–it was no longer an invitation, it was a


He thanked me with effusion, and said that putting

the thing in this form removed every objection.

He retired, and soon returned with his umbrella, his eye

flaming with gratitude and his cheeks pallid with joy.

Just then the head guide passed along. Harris’s expression

changed to one of infinite tenderness, and he said:

“That man did me a cruel injury four days ago, and I

said in my heart he should live to perceive and confess

that the only noble revenge a man can take upon his enemy

is to return good for evil. I resign in his favor.

Appoint him.”

I threw my arms around the generous fellow and said:

“Harris, you are the noblest soul that lives. You shall

not regret this sublime act, neither shall the world

fail to know of it. You shall have opportunity far

transcending this one, too, if I live–remember that.”

I called the head guide to me and appointed him on

the spot. But the thing aroused no enthusiasm in him.

He did not take to the idea at all.

He said:

“Tie myself to an umbrella and jump over the Gorner

Grat! Excuse me, there are a great many pleasanter roads

to the devil than that.”

Upon a discussion of the subject with him, it appeared that he

considered the project distinctly and decidedly dangerous.

I was not convinced, yet I was not willing to try the

experiment in any risky way–that is, in a way that might

cripple the strength and efficiency of the Expedition.

I was about at my wits’ end when it occurred to me to try

it on the Latinist.

He was called in. But he declined, on the plea

of inexperience, diffidence in public, lack of curiosity,

and I didn’t know what all. Another man declined

on account of a cold in the head; thought he ought

to avoid exposure. Another could not jump well–never

COULD jump well–did not believe he could jump so far

without long and patient practice. Another was afraid it

was going to rain, and his umbrella had a hole in it.

Everybody had an excuse. The result was what the reader

has by this time guessed: the most magnificent idea

that was ever conceived had to be abandoned, from sheer

lack of a person with enterprise enough to carry it out.

Yes, I actually had to give that thing up–while doubtless

I should live to see somebody use it and take all the credit from


Well, I had to go overland–there was no other way.

I marched the Expedition down the steep and tedious mule-path

and took up as good a position as I could upon the middle

of the glacier–because Baedeker said the middle part

travels the fastest. As a measure of economy, however,

I put some of the heavier baggage on the shoreward parts,

to go as slow freight.

I waited and waited, but the glacier did not move.

Night was coming on, the darkness began to gather–still we

did not budge. It occurred to me then, that there might

be a time-table in Baedeker; it would be well to find out

the hours of starting. I called for the book–it could not

be found. Bradshaw would certainly contain a time-table;

but no Bradshaw could be found.

Very well, I must make the best of the situation. So I

pitched the tents, picketed the animals, milked the cows,

had supper, paregoricked the men, established the watch,

and went to bed–with orders to call me as soon as we came

in sight of Zermatt.

I awoke about half past ten next morning, and looked around.

We hadn’t budged a peg! At first I could not understand it;

then it occurred to me that the old thing must be aground.

So I cut down some trees and rigged a spar on the starboard

and another on the port side, and fooled away upward of

three hours trying to spar her off. But it was no use.

She was half a mile wide and fifteen or twenty miles long,

and there was no telling just whereabouts she WAS aground.

The men began to show uneasiness, too, and presently they

came flying to me with ashy faces, saying she had sprung

a leak.

Nothing but my cool behavior at this critical time saved us

from another panic. I order them to show me the place.

They led me to a spot where a huge boulder lay in a deep

pool of clear and brilliant water. It did look like

a pretty bad leak, but I kept that to myself. I made

a pump and set the men to work to pump out the glacier.

We made a success of it. I perceived, then, that it was not

a leak at all. This boulder had descended from a precipice

and stopped on the ice in the middle of the glacier,

and the sun had warmed it up, every day, and consequently

it had melted its way deeper and deeper into the ice,

until at last it reposed, as we had found it, in a deep

pool of the clearest and coldest water.

Presently Baedeker was found again, and I hunted eagerly

for the time-table. There was none. The book simply said

the glacier was moving all the time. This was satisfactory,

so I shut up the book and chose a good position to view

the scenery as we passed along. I stood there some time

enjoying the trip, but at last it occurred to me that we did

not seem to be gaining any on the scenery. I said to myself,

“This confounded old thing’s aground again, sure,”–and

opened Baedeker to see if I could run across any remedy

for these annoying interruptions. I soon found a sentence

which threw a dazzling light upon the matter. It said,

“The Gorner Glacier travels at an average rate of a little

less than an inch a day.” I have seldom felt so outraged.

I have seldom had my confidence so wantonly betrayed.

I made a small calculation: One inch a day, say thirty

feet a year; estimated distance to Zermatt, three and

one-eighteenth miles. Time required to go by glacier,

A LITTLE OVER FIVE HUNDRED YEARS! I said to myself, “I can

WALK it quicker–and before I will patronize such a fraud

as this, I will do it.”

When I revealed to Harris the fact that the passenger part

of this glacier–the central part–the lightning-express part,

so to speak–was not due in Zermatt till the summer

of 2378, and that the baggage, coming along the slow edge,

would not arrive until some generations later, he burst

out with:

“That is European management, all over! An inch a day–think

of that! Five hundred years to go a trifle over three miles!

But I am not a bit surprised. It’s a Catholic glacier.

You can tell by the look of it. And the management.”

I said, no, I believed nothing but the extreme end of it

was in a Catholic canton.

“Well, then, it’s a government glacier,” said Harris.

“It’s all the same. Over here the government runs

everything–so everything’s slow; slow, and ill-managed. But

with us, everything’s done by private enterprise–and then

there ain’t much lolling around, you can depend on it.

I wish Tom Scott could get his hands on this torpid old

slab once–you’d see it take a different gait from this.”

I said I was sure he would increase the speed, if there

was trade enough to justify it.

“He’d MAKE trade,” said Harris. “That’s the difference

between governments and individuals. Governments don’t care,

individuals do. Tom Scott would take all the trade;

in two years Gorner stock would go to two hundred,

and inside of two more you would see all the other glaciers

under the hammer for taxes.” After a reflective pause,

Harris added, “A little less than an inch a day; a little

less than an INCH, mind you. Well, I’m losing my reverence

for glaciers.”

I was feeling much the same way myself. I have traveled

by canal-boat, ox-wagon, raft, and by the Ephesus and

Smyrna railway; but when it comes down to good solid

honest slow motion, I bet my money on the glacier.

As a means of passenger transportation, I consider

the glacier a failure; but as a vehicle of slow freight,

I think she fills the bill. In the matter of putting

the fine shades on that line of business, I judge she

could teach the Germans something.

I ordered the men to break camp and prepare for the land

journey to Zermatt. At this moment a most interesting

find was made; a dark object, bedded in the glacial ice,

was cut out with the ice-axes, and it proved to be a piece

of the undressed skin of some animal–a hair trunk, perhaps;

but a close inspection disabled the hair-trunk theory,

and further discussion and examination exploded it

entirely–that is, in the opinion of all the scientists

except the one who had advanced it. This one clung

to his theory with affectionate fidelity characteristic

of originators of scientific theories, and afterward won

many of the first scientists of the age to his view,

by a very able pamphlet which he wrote, entitled, “Evidences

going to show that the hair trunk, in a wild state,

belonged to the early glacial period, and roamed the wastes

of chaos in the company with the cave-bear, primeval man,

and the other Oo”litics of the Old Silurian family.”

Each of our scientists had a theory of his own, and put

forward an animal of his own as a candidate for the skin.

I sided with the geologist of the Expedition in the

belief that this patch of skin had once helped to cover

a Siberian elephant, in some old forgotten age–but we

divided there, the geologist believing that this discovery

proved that Siberia had formerly been located where

Switzerland is now, whereas I held the opinion that it

merely proved that the primeval Swiss was not the dull

savage he is represented to have been, but was a being

of high intellectual development, who liked to go to the


We arrived that evening, after many hardships and adventures,

in some fields close to the great ice-arch where the mad

Visp boils and surges out from under the foot of the

great Gorner Glacier, and here we camped, our perils over

and our magnificent undertaking successfully completed.

We marched into Zermatt the next day, and were received

with the most lavish honors and applause. A document,

signed and sealed by the authorities, was given to me

which established and endorsed the fact that I had made

the ascent of the Riffelberg. This I wear around my neck,

and it will be buried with me when I am no more.


[Piteous Relics at Chamonix]

I am not so ignorant about glacial movement, now, as I

was when I took passage on the Gorner Glacier.

I have “read up” since. I am aware that these vast

bodies of ice do not travel at the same rate of speed;

while the Gorner Glacier makes less than an inch a day,

the Unter-Aar Glacier makes as much as eight; and still

other glaciers are said to go twelve, sixteen, and even

twenty inches a day. One writer says that the slowest

glacier travels twenty-give feet a year, and the fastest

four hundred.

What is a glacier? It is easy to say it looks like a

frozen river which occupies the bed of a winding gorge

or gully between mountains. But that gives no notion

of its vastness. For it is sometimes six hundred

feet thick, and we are not accustomed to rivers six hundred

feet deep; no, our rivers are six feet, twenty feet,

and sometimes fifty feet deep; we are not quite able

to grasp so large a fact as an ice-river six hundred feet deep.

The glacier’s surface is not smooth and level, but has

deep swales and swelling elevations, and sometimes has

the look of a tossing sea whose turbulent billows were

frozen hard in the instant of their most violent motion;

the glacier’s surface is not a flawless mass, but is a river

with cracks or crevices, some narrow, some gaping wide.

Many a man, the victim of a slip or a misstep, has plunged

down on of these and met his death. Men have been

fished out of them alive; but it was when they did not

go to a great depth; the cold of the great depths would

quickly stupefy a man, whether he was hurt or unhurt.

These cracks do not go straight down; one can seldom see

more than twenty to forty feet down them; consequently men

who have disappeared in them have been sought for,

in the hope that they had stopped within helping distance,

whereas their case, in most instances, had really been

hopeless from the beginning.

In 1864 a party of tourists was descending Mont Blanc,

and while picking their way over one of the mighty glaciers

of that lofty region, roped together, as was proper,

a young porter disengaged himself from the line and

started across an ice-bridge which spanned a crevice.

It broke under him with a crash, and he disappeared.

The others could not see how deep he had gone, so it might

be worthwhile to try and rescue him. A brave young guide

named Michel Payot volunteered.

Two ropes were made fast to his leather belt and he bore

the end of a third one in his hand to tie to the victim

in case he found him. He was lowered into the crevice,

he descended deeper and deeper between the clear blue

walls of solid ice, he approached a bend in the crack

and disappeared under it. Down, and still down, he went,

into this profound grave; when he had reached a depth

of eighty feet he passed under another bend in the crack,

and thence descended eighty feet lower, as between

perpendicular precipices. Arrived at this stage of one

hundred and sixty feet below the surface of the glacier,

he peered through the twilight dimness and perceived

that the chasm took another turn and stretched away at

a steep slant to unknown deeps, for its course was lost

in darkness. What a place that was to be in–especially

if that leather belt should break! The compression

of the belt threatened to suffocate the intrepid fellow;

he called to his friends to draw him up, but could not make

them hear. They still lowered him, deeper and deeper.

Then he jerked his third cord as vigorously as he could;

his friends understood, and dragged him out of those icy jaws

of death.

Then they attached a bottle to a cord and sent it down

two hundred feet, but it found no bottom. It came up

covered with congelations–evidence enough that even if

the poor porter reached the bottom with unbroken bones,

a swift death from cold was sure, anyway.

A glacier is a stupendous, ever-progressing, resistless plow.

It pushes ahead of its masses of boulders which are

packed together, and they stretch across the gorge,

right in front of it, like a long grave or a long,

sharp roof. This is called a moraine. It also shoves

out a moraine along each side of its course.

Imposing as the modern glaciers are, they are not so

huge as were some that once existed. For instance,

Mr. Whymper says:

“At some very remote period the Valley of Aosta was occupied

by a vast glacier, which flowed down its entire length from

Mont Blanc to the plain of Piedmont, remained stationary,

or nearly so, at its mouth for many centuries, and deposited

there enormous masses of debris. The length of this

glacier exceeded EIGHTY MILES, and it drained a basin

twenty-five to thirty-five miles across, bounded by the

highest mountains in the Alps. The great peaks rose

several thousand feet above the glaciers, and then, as now,

shattered by sun and frost, poured down their showers of

rocks and stones, in witness of which there are the immense

piles of angular fragments that constitute the moraines of Ivrea.

“The moraines around Ivrea are of extraordinary dimensions.

That which was on the left bank of the glacier is

about THIRTEEN MILES long, and in some places rises


above the floor of the valley! The terminal moraines

(those which are pushed in front of the glaciers)

cover something like twenty square miles of country.

At the mouth of the Valley of Aosta, the thickness of

the glacier must have been at least TWO THOUSAND feet,

and its width, at that part, FIVE MILES AND A QUARTER.”

It is not easy to get at a comprehension of a mass of ice

like that. If one could cleave off the butt end of such

a glacier–an oblong block two or three miles wide

by five and a quarter long and two thousand feet thick–

he could completely hide the city of New York under it,

and Trinity steeple would only stick up into it relatively

as far as a shingle-nail would stick up into the bottom

of a Saratoga trunk.

“The boulders from Mont Blanc, upon the plain below Ivrea,

assure us that the glacier which transported them existed

for a prodigious length of time. Their present distance from

the cliffs from which they were derived is about 420,000 feet,

and if we assume that they traveled at the rate of 400 feet

per annum, their journey must have occupied them no less

than 1,055 years! In all probability they did not travel so


Glaciers are sometimes hurried out of their characteristic

snail-pace. A marvelous spectacle is presented then.

Mr. Whymper refers to a case which occurred in Iceland

in 1721:

“It seems that in the neighborhood of the mountain Kotlugja,

large bodies of water formed underneath, or within

the glaciers (either on account of the interior heat of

the earth, or from other causes), and at length acquired

irresistible power, tore the glaciers from their mooring on

the land, and swept them over every obstacle into the sea.

Prodigious masses of ice were thus borne for a distance

of about ten miles over land in the space of a few hours;

and their bulk was so enormous that they covered the sea

for seven miles from the shore, and remained aground

in six hundred feet of water! The denudation of the land

was upon a grand scale. All superficial accumulations were

swept away, and the bedrock was exposed. It was described,

in graphic language, how all irregularities and depressions

were obliterated, and a smooth surface of several miles’

area laid bare, and that this area had the appearance

of having been PLANED BY A PLANE.”

The account translated from the Icelandic says that the

mountainlike ruins of this majestic glacier so covered

the sea that as far as the eye could reach no open water

was discoverable, even from the highest peaks. A monster

wall or barrier of ice was built across a considerable

stretch of land, too, by this strange irruption:

“One can form some idea of the altitude of this barrier

of ice when it is mentioned that from Hofdabrekka farm,

which lies high up on a fjeld, one could not see

Hjorleifshofdi opposite, which is a fell six hundred and

forty feet in height; but in order to do so had to clamber

up a mountain slope east of Hofdabrekka twelve hundred feet


These things will help the reader to understand why it is

that a man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel

tolerably insignificant by and by. The Alps and the glaciers

together are able to take every bit of conceit out of a man

and reduce his self-importance to zero if he will only

remain within the influence of their sublime presence long

enough to give it a fair and reasonable chance to do its work.

The Alpine glaciers move–that is granted, now, by everybody.

But there was a time when people scoffed at the idea;

they said you might as well expect leagues of solid rock

to crawl along the ground as expect leagues of ice to do it.

But proof after proof as furnished, and the finally the

world had to believe.

The wise men not only said the glacier moved, but they

timed its movement. They ciphered out a glacier’s gait,

and then said confidently that it would travel just

so far in so many years. There is record of a striking

and curious example of the accuracy which may be attained

in these reckonings.

In 1820 the ascent of Mont Blanc was attempted by a Russian

and two Englishmen, with seven guides. They had reached

a prodigious altitude, and were approaching the summit,

when an avalanche swept several of the party down a

sharp slope of two hundred feet and hurled five of them

(all guides) into one of the crevices of a glacier.

The life of one of the five was saved by a long barometer

which was strapped to his back–it bridged the crevice

and suspended him until help came. The alpenstock

or baton of another saved its owner in a similar way.

Three men were lost–Pierre Balmat, Pierre Carrier,

and Auguste Tairraz. They had been hurled down into the

fathomless great deeps of the crevice.

Dr. Forbes, the English geologist, had made frequent visits

to the Mont Blanc region, and had given much attention

to the disputed question of the movement of glaciers.

During one of these visits he completed his estimates

of the rate of movement of the glacier which had swallowed

up the three guides, and uttered the prediction that the

glacier would deliver up its dead at the foot of the

mountain thirty-five years from the time of the accident,

or possibly forty.

A dull, slow journey–a movement imperceptible to any eye–

but it was proceeding, nevertheless, and without cessation.

It was a journey which a rolling stone would make in a

few seconds–the lofty point of departure was visible

from the village below in the valley.

The prediction cut curiously close to the truth;

forty-one years after the catastrophe, the remains

were cast forth at the foot of the glacier.

I find an interesting account of the matter in the

HISTOIRE DU MONT BLANC, by Stephen d’Arve. I will

condense this account, as follows:

On the 12th of August, 1861, at the hour of the close of mass,

a guide arrived out of breath at the mairie of Chamonix,

and bearing on his shoulders a very lugubrious burden.

It was a sack filled with human remains which he had gathered

from the orifice of a crevice in the Glacier des Bossons.

He conjectured that these were remains of the victims

of the catastrophe of 1820, and a minute inquest,

immediately instituted by the local authorities,

soon demonstrated the correctness of his supposition.

The contents of the sack were spread upon a long table,

and officially inventoried, as follows:

Portions of three human skulls. Several tufts of black and

blonde hair. A human jaw, furnished with fine white teeth.

A forearm and hand, all the fingers of the latter intact.

The flesh was white and fresh, and both the arm and hand

preserved a degree of flexibility in the articulations.

The ring-finger had suffered a slight abrasion, and the

stain of the blood was still visible and unchanged after

forty-one years. A left foot, the flesh white and fresh.

Along with these fragments were portions of waistcoats, hats,

hobnailed shoes, and other clothing; a wing of a pigeon,

with black feathers; a fragment of an alpenstock;

a tin lantern; and lastly, a boiled leg of mutton,

the only flesh among all the remains that exhaled an

unpleasant odor. The guide said that the mutton had no

odor when he took it from the glacier; an hour’s exposure

to the sun had already begun the work of decomposition upon it.

Persons were called for, to identify these poor pathetic relics,

and a touching scene ensured. Two men were still living

who had witnessed the grim catastrophe of nearly half

a century before–Marie Couttet (saved by his baton)

and Julien Davouassoux (saved by the barometer). These aged

men entered and approached the table. Davouassoux, more than

eighty years old, contemplated the mournful remains mutely

and with a vacant eye, for his intelligence and his memory

were torpid with age; but Couttet’s faculties were still

perfect at seventy-two, and he exhibited strong emotion. He


“Pierre Balmat was fair; he wore a straw hat. This bit of skull,

with the tuft of blond hair, was his; this is his hat.

Pierre Carrier was very dark; this skull was his, and this

felt hat. This is Balmat’s hand, I remember it so well!”

and the old man bent down and kissed it reverently,

then closed his fingers upon it in an affectionate grasp,

crying out, “I could never have dared to believe that

before quitting this world it would be granted me to

press once more the hand of one of those brave comrades,

the hand of my good friend Balmat.”

There is something weirdly pathetic about the picture

of that white-haired veteran greeting with his loving

handshake this friend who had been dead forty years.

When these hands had met last, they were alike in the

softness and freshness of youth; now, one was brown and

wrinkled and horny with age, while the other was still

as young and fair and blemishless as if those forty years

had come and gone in a single moment, leaving no mark

of their passage. Time had gone on, in the one case;

it had stood still in the other. A man who has not seen

a friend for a generation, keeps him in mind always as he

saw him last, and is somehow surprised, and is also shocked,

to see the aging change the years have wrought when he

sees him again. Marie Couttet’s experience, in finding

his friend’s hand unaltered from the image of it which he

had carried in his memory for forty years, is an experience

which stands alone in the history of man, perhaps.

Couttet identified other relics:

“This hat belonged to Auguste Tairraz. He carried

the cage of pigeons which we proposed to set free upon

the summit. Here is the wing of one of those pigeons.

And here is the fragment of my broken baton; it was by

grace of that baton that my life was saved. Who could

have told me that I should one day have the satisfaction

to look again upon this bit of wood that supported me above

the grave that swallowed up my unfortunate companions!”

No portions of the body of Tairraz, other than a piece

of the skull, had been found. A diligent search was made,

but without result. However, another search was

instituted a year later, and this had better success.

Many fragments of clothing which had belonged to the lost

guides were discovered; also, part of a lantern, and a

green veil with blood-stains on it. But the interesting

feature was this:

One of the searchers came suddenly upon a sleeved arm

projecting from a crevice in the ice-wall, with the hand

outstretched as if offering greeting! “The nails of this white

hand were still rosy, and the pose of the extended fingers

seemed to express an eloquent welcome to the long-lost light of


The hand and arm were alone; there was no trunk.

After being removed from the ice the flesh-tints quickly

faded out and the rosy nails took on the alabaster

hue of death. This was the third RIGHT hand found;

therefore, all three of the lost men were accounted for,

beyond cavil or question.

Dr. Hamel was the Russian gentleman of the party which

made the ascent at the time of the famous disaster.

He left Chamonix as soon as he conveniently could after

the descent; and as he had shown a chilly indifference

about the calamity, and offered neither sympathy nor

assistance to the widows and orphans, he carried with

him the cordial execrations of the whole community.

Four months before the first remains were found,

a Chamonix guide named Balmat–a relative of one of

the lost men–was in London, and one day encountered

a hale old gentleman in the British Museum, who said:

“I overheard your name. Are you from Chamonix,

Monsieur Balmat?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Haven’t they found the bodies of my three guides,

yet? I am Dr. Hamel.”

“Alas, no, monsieur.”

“Well, you’ll find them, sooner or later.”

“Yes, it is the opinion of Dr. Forbes and Mr. Tyndall,

that the glacier will sooner or later restore to us the

remains of the unfortunate victims.”

“Without a doubt, without a doubt. And it will be a great

thing for Chamonix, in the matter of attracting tourists.

You can get up a museum with those remains that will draw!”

This savage idea has not improved the odor of Dr. Hamel’s

name in Chamonix by any means. But after all, the man

was sound on human nature. His idea was conveyed

to the public officials of Chamonix, and they gravely

discussed it around the official council-table. They

were only prevented from carrying it into execution by

the determined opposition of the friends and descendants

of the lost guides, who insisted on giving the remains

Christian burial, and succeeded in their purpose.

A close watch had to be kept upon all the poor remnants

and fragments, to prevent embezzlement. A few accessory

odds and ends were sold. Rags and scraps of the coarse

clothing were parted with at the rate equal to about

twenty dollars a yard; a piece of a lantern and one or

two other trifles brought nearly their weight in gold;

and an Englishman offered a pound sterling for a single



[The Fearful Disaster of 1865]

One of the most memorable of all the Alpine catastrophes

was that of July, 1865, on the Matterhorn–already

sighted referred to, a few pages back. The details

of it are scarcely known in America. To the vast

majority of readers they are not known at all.

Mr. Whymper’s account is the only authentic one.

I will import the chief portion of it into this book,

partly because of its intrinsic interest, and partly

because it gives such a vivid idea of what the perilous

pastime of Alp-climbing is. This was Mr. Whymper’s

NINTH attempt during a series of years, to vanquish

that steep and stubborn pillar or rock; it succeeded,

the other eight were failures. No man had ever accomplished

the ascent before, though the attempts had been numerous.


We started from Zermatt on the 13th of July, at half

past five, on a brilliant and perfectly cloudless morning.

We were eight in number–Croz (guide), old Peter

Taugwalder (guide) and his two sons; Lord F. Douglas,

Mr. Hadow, Rev. Mr. Hudson, and I. To insure steady

motion, one tourist and one native walked together.

The youngest Taugwalder fell to my share. The wine-bags

also fell to my lot to carry, and throughout the day,

after each drink, I replenished them secretly with water,

so that at the next halt they were found fuller than

before! This was considered a good omen, and little short

of miraculous.

On the first day we did not intend to ascend to any

great height, and we mounted, accordingly, very leisurely.

Before twelve o’clock we had found a good position

for the tent, at a height of eleven thousand feet.

We passed the remaining hours of daylight–some basking

in the sunshine, some sketching, some collecting;

Hudson made tea, I coffee, and at length we retired,

each one to his blanket bag.

We assembled together before dawn on the 14th

and started directly it was light enough to move.

One of the young Taugwalders returned to Zermatt.

In a few minutes we turned the rib which had intercepted

the view of the eastern face from our tent platform.

The whole of this great slope was now revealed, rising for

three thousand feet like a huge natural staircase.

Some parts were more, and others were less easy, but we

were not once brought to a halt by any serious impediment,

for when an obstruction was met in front it could always

be turned to the right or to the left. For the greater part

of the way there was no occasion, indeed, for the rope,

and sometimes Hudson led, sometimes myself. At six-twenty we

had attained a height of twelve thousand eight hundred feet,

and halted for half an hour; we then continued the ascent

without a break until nine-fifty-five, when we stopped

for fifty minutes, at a height of fourteen thousand feet.

We had now arrived at the foot of that part which, seen from

the Riffelberg, seems perpendicular or overhanging.

We could no longer continue on the eastern side. For a little

distance we ascended by snow upon the ARE^TE–that is,

the ridge–then turned over to the right, or northern side.

The work became difficult, and required caution. In some places

there was little to hold; the general slope of the mountain

was LESS than forty degrees, and snow had accumulated in,

and had filled up, the interstices of the rock-face, leaving

only occasional fragments projecting here and there.

These were at times covered with a thin film of ice.

It was a place which any fair mountaineer might pass

in safety. We bore away nearly horizontally for about four

hundred feet, then ascended directly toward the summit

for about sixty feet, then doubled back to the ridge

which descends toward Zermatt. A long stride round

a rather awkward corner brought us to snow once more.

That last doubt vanished! The Matterhorn was ours! Nothing

but two hundred feet of easy snow remained to be surmounted.

The higher we rose, the more intense became the excitement.

The slope eased off, at length we could be detached,

and Croz and I, dashed away, ran a neck-and-neck race,

which ended in a dead heat. At 1:40 P.M., the world was at

our feet, and the Matterhorn was conquered!

The others arrived. Croz now took the tent-pole, and

planted it in the highest snow. “Yes,” we said, “there is

the flag-staff, but where is the flag?” “Here it is,”

he answered, pulling off his blouse and fixing it to the stick.

It made a poor flag, and there was no wind to float it out,

yet it was seen all around. They saw it at Zermatt–at

the Riffel–in the Val Tournanche… .

We remained on the summit for one hour–

One crowded hour of glorious life.

It passed away too quickly, and we began to prepare

for the descent.

Hudson and I consulted as to the best and safest arrangement

of the party. We agreed that it was best for Croz

to go first, and Hadow second; Hudson, who was almost

equal to a guide in sureness of foot, wished to be third;

Lord Douglas was placed next, and old Peter, the strongest

of the remainder, after him. I suggested to Hudson

that we should attach a rope to the rocks on our arrival

at the difficult bit, and hold it as we descended,

as an additional protection. He approved the idea,

but it was not definitely decided that it should be done.

The party was being arranged in the above order while I

was sketching the summit, and they had finished,

and were waiting for me to be tied in line, when some one

remembered that our names had not been left in a bottle.

They requested me to write them down, and moved off

while it was being done.

A few minutes afterward I tied myself to young Peter,

ran down after the others, and caught them just as they

were commencing the descent of the difficult part.

Great care was being taken. Only one man was moving at a time;

when he was firmly planted the next advanced, and so on.

They had not, however, attached the additional rope

to rocks, and nothing was said about it. The suggestion

was not made for my own sake, and I am not sure that it

ever occurred to me again. For some little distance we

two followed the others, detached from them, and should

have continued so had not Lord Douglas asked me, about 3

P.M., to tie on to old Peter, as he feared, he said,

that Taugwalder would not be able to hold his ground if a

slip occurred.

A few minutes later, a sharp-eyed lad ran into the Monte

Rosa Hotel, at Zermatt, saying that he had seen an avalanche

fall from the summit of the Matterhorn onto the Matterhorn

glacier. The boy was reproved for telling idle stories;

he was right, nevertheless, and this was what he saw.

Michel Croz had laid aside his ax, and in order to give

Mr. Hadow greater security, was absolutely taking

hold of his legs, and putting his feet, one by one,

into their proper positions. As far as I know, no one

was actually descending. I cannot speak with certainty,

because the two leading men were partially hidden

from my sight by an intervening mass of rock, but it

is my belief, from the movements of their shoulders,

that Croz, having done as I said, was in the act

of turning round to go down a step or two himself;

at this moment Mr. Hadow slipped, fell against him,

and knocked him over. I heard one startled exclamation

from Croz, then saw him and Mr. Hadow flying downward;

in another moment Hudson was dragged from his steps,

and Lord Douglas immediately after him. All this was the

work of a moment. Immediately we heard Croz’s exclamation,

old Peter and I planted ourselves as firmly as the rocks

would permit; the rope was taut between us, and the jerk

came on us both as on one man. We held; but the rope

broke midway between Taugwalder and Lord Francis Douglas.

For a few seconds we saw our unfortunate companions sliding

downward on their backs, and spreading out their hands,

endeavoring to save themselves. They passed from our

sight uninjured, disappeared one by one, and fell from the

precipice to precipice onto the Matterhorn glacier below,

a distance of nearly four thousand feet in height.

From the moment the rope broke it was impossible to help them.

So perished our comrades!

For more than two hours afterward I thought almost every

moment that the next would be my last; for the Taugwalders,

utterly unnerved, were not only incapable of giving assistance,

but were in such a state that a slip might have been

expected from them at any moment. After a time we were able

to do that which should have been done at first, and fixed

rope to firm rocks, in addition to being tied together.

These ropes were cut from time to time, and were left behind.

Even with their assurance the men were afraid to proceed,

and several times old Peter turned, with ashy face

and faltering limbs, and said, with terrible emphasis,


About 6 P.M., we arrived at the snow upon the ridge

descending toward Zermatt, and all peril was over.

We frequently looked, but in vain, for traces of our

unfortunate companions; we bent over the ridge and cried

to them, but no sound returned. Convinced at last that

they were neither within sight nor hearing, we ceased

from our useless efforts; and, too cast down for speech,

silently gathered up our things, and the little effects

of those who were lost, and then completed the descent.


Such is Mr. Whymper’s graphic and thrilling narrative.

Zermatt gossip darkly hints that the elder Taugwalder

cut the rope, when the accident occurred, in order

to preserve himself from being dragged into the abyss;

but Mr. Whymper says that the ends of the rope showed

no evidence of cutting, but only of breaking. He adds

that if Taugwalder had had the disposition to cut the rope,

he would not have had time to do it, the accident was so

sudden and unexpected.

Lord Douglas’ body has never been found. It probably

lodged upon some inaccessible shelf in the face of the

mighty precipice. Lord Douglas was a youth of nineteen.

The three other victims fell nearly four thousand feet,

and their bodies lay together upon the glacier when found

by Mr. Whymper and the other searchers the next morning.

Their graves are beside the little church in Zermatt.


[Chillon has a Nice, Roomy Dungeon]

Switzerland is simply a large, humpy, solid rock,

with a thin skin of grass stretched over it. Consequently,

they do not dig graves, they blast them out with power

and fuse. They cannot afford to have large graveyards,

the grass skin is too circumscribed and too valuable.

It is all required for the support of the living.

The graveyard in Zermatt occupies only about one-eighth

of an acre. The graves are sunk in the living rock, and are

very permanent; but occupation of them is only temporary;

the occupant can only stay till his grave is needed

by a later subject, he is removed, then, for they do not

bury one body on top of another. As I understand it,

a family owns a grave, just as it owns a house. A man dies

and leaves his house to his son–and at the same time,

this dead father succeeds to his own father’s grave.

He moves out of the house and into the grave, and his

predecessor moves out of the grave and into the cellar

of the chapel. I saw a black box lying in the churchyard,

with skull and cross-bones painted on it, and was told that

this was used in transferring remains to the cellar.

In that cellar the bones and skulls of several hundred of

former citizens were compactly corded up. They made a pile

eighteen feet long, seven feet high, and eight feet wide.

I was told that in some of the receptacles of this kind

in the Swiss villages, the skulls were all marked,

and if a man wished to find the skulls of his ancestors

for several generations back, he could do it by these marks,

preserved in the family records.

An English gentleman who had lived some years in this region,

said it was the cradle of compulsory education.

But he said that the English idea that compulsory

education would reduce bastardy and intemperance was an

error–it has not that effect. He said there was more

seduction in the Protestant than in the Catholic cantons,

because the confessional protected the girls. I wonder

why it doesn’t protect married women in France and Spain?

This gentleman said that among the poorer peasants in the Valais,

it was common for the brothers in a family to cast lots

to determine which of them should have the coveted privilege

of marrying, and his brethren–doomed bachelors–heroically

banded themselves together to help support the new family.

We left Zermatt in a wagon–and in a rain-storm, too–

for St. Nicholas about ten o’clock one morning.

Again we passed between those grass-clad prodigious cliffs,

specked with wee dwellings peeping over at us from

velvety green walls ten and twelve hundred feet high.

It did not seem possible that the imaginary chamois

even could climb those precipices. Lovers on opposite

cliffs probably kiss through a spy-glass, and correspond

with a rifle.

In Switzerland the farmer’s plow is a wide shovel,

which scrapes up and turns over the thin earthy skin of his

native rock–and there the man of the plow is a hero.

Now here, by our St. Nicholas road, was a grave, and it

had a tragic story. A plowman was skinning his farm

one morning–not the steepest part of it, but still

a steep part–that is, he was not skinning the front

of his farm, but the roof of it, near the eaves–when he

absent-mindedly let go of the plow-handles to moisten

his hands, in the usual way; he lost his balance and fell

out of his farm backward; poor fellow, he never touched

anything till he struck bottom, fifteen hundred feet below.

[1] We throw a halo of heroism around the life of the

soldier and the sailor, because of the deadly dangers they

are facing all the time. But we are not used to looking

upon farming as a heroic occupation. This is because we

have not lived in Switzerland.

1. This was on a Sunday.–M.T.

From St. Nicholas we struck out for Visp–or Vispach–on foot.

The rain-storms had been at work during several days,

and had done a deal of damage in Switzerland and Savoy.

We came to one place where a stream had changed its

course and plunged down a mountain in a new place,

sweeping everything before it. Two poor but precious farms

by the roadside were ruined. One was washed clear away,

and the bed-rock exposed; the other was buried out of sight

under a tumbled chaos of rocks, gravel, mud, and rubbish.

The resistless might of water was well exemplified.

Some saplings which had stood in the way were bent to the ground,

stripped clean of their bark, and buried under rocky debris.

The road had been swept away, too.

In another place, where the road was high up on the mountain’s

face, and its outside edge protected by flimsy masonry,

we frequently came across spots where this masonry had

carved off and left dangerous gaps for mules to get over;

and with still more frequency we found the masonry

slightly crumbled, and marked by mule-hoofs, thus showing

that there had been danger of an accident to somebody.

When at last we came to a badly ruptured bit of masonry,

with hoof-prints evidencing a desperate struggle

to regain the lost foothold, I looked quite hopefully

over the dizzy precipice. But there was nobody down there.

They take exceedingly good care of their rivers in Switzerland

and other portions of Europe. They wall up both banks

with slanting solid stone masonry–so that from end

to end of these rivers the banks look like the wharves

at St. Louis and other towns on the Mississippi River.

It was during this walk from St. Nicholas, in the shadow

of the majestic Alps, that we came across some little

children amusing themselves in what seemed, at first,

a most odd and original way–but it wasn’t; it was in

simply a natural and characteristic way. They were roped

together with a string, they had mimic alpenstocks and

ice-axes, and were climbing a meek and lowly manure-pile

with a most blood-curdling amount of care and caution.

The “guide” at the head of the line cut imaginary steps,

in a laborious and painstaking way, and not a monkey

budged till the step above was vacated. If we had waited

we should have witnessed an imaginary accident, no doubt;

and we should have heard the intrepid band hurrah when they

made the summit and looked around upon the “magnificent view,”

and seen them throw themselves down in exhausted attitudes

for a rest in that commanding situation.

In Nevada I used to see the children play at silver-mining.

Of course, the great thing was an accident in a mine,

and there were two “star” parts; that of the man

who fell down the mimic shaft, and that of the daring

hero who was lowered into the depths to bring him up.

I knew one small chap who always insisted on playing

BOTH of these parts–and he carried his point.

He would tumble into the shaft and die, and then come

to the surface and go back after his own remains.

It is the smartest boy that gets the hero part everywhere;

he is head guide in Switzerland, head miner in Nevada,

head bull-fighter in Spain, etc.; but I knew a preacher’s son,

seven years old, who once selected a part for himself compared

to which those just mentioned are tame and unimpressive.

Jimmy’s father stopped him from driving imaginary

horse-cars one Sunday–stopped him from playing captain

of an imaginary steamboat next Sunday–stopped him

from leading an imaginary army to battle the following

Sunday–and so on. Finally the little fellow said:

“I’ve tried everything, and they won’t any of them do.

What CAN I play?”

“I hardly know, Jimmy; but you MUST play only things

that are suitable to the Sabbath-day.”

Next Sunday the preacher stepped softly to a back-room

door to see if the children were rightly employed.

He peeped in. A chair occupied the middle of the room,

and on the back of it hung Jimmy’s cap; one of his little

sisters took the cap down, nibbled at it, then passed it

to another small sister and said, “Eat of this fruit,

for it is good.” The Reverend took in the situation–alas,

they were playing the Expulsion from Eden! Yet he found

one little crumb of comfort. He said to himself, “For once

Jimmy has yielded the chief role–I have been wronging him,

I did not believe there was so much modesty in him;

I should have expected him to be either Adam or Eve.”

This crumb of comfort lasted but a very little while;

he glanced around and discovered Jimmy standing in an

imposing attitude in a corner, with a dark and deadly frown

on his face. What that meant was very plain–HE WAS

IMPERSONATING THE DEITY! Think of the guileless sublimity of

that idea.

We reached Vispach at 8 P.M., only about seven hours

out from St. Nicholas. So we must have made fully

a mile and a half an hour, and it was all downhill,

too, and very muddy at that. We stayed all night at

the Ho^tel de Soleil; I remember it because the landlady,

the portier, the waitress, and the chambermaid were not

separate persons, but were all contained in one neat and

chipper suit of spotless muslin, and she was the prettiest

young creature I saw in all that region. She was the

landlord’s daughter. And I remember that the only native

match to her I saw in all Europe was the young daughter

of the landlord of a village inn in the Black Forest.

Why don’t more people in Europe marry and keep hotel?

Next morning we left with a family of English friends

and went by train to Brevet, and thence by boat across

the lake to Ouchy (Lausanne).

Ouchy is memorable to me, not on account of its beautiful

situation and lovely surroundings–although these would

make it stick long in one’s memory–but as the place

where _I_ caught the London TIMES dropping into humor.

It was NOT aware of it, though. It did not do it on purpose.

An English friend called my attention to this lapse,

and cut out the reprehensible paragraph for me. Think of

encountering a grin like this on the face of that grim


ERRATUM.–We are requested by Reuter’s Telegram Company

to correct an erroneous announcement made in their Brisbane

telegram of the 2d inst., published in our impression of the 5th

inst., stating that “Lady Kennedy had given birth to twins,

the eldest being a son.” The Company explain that the message

they received contained the words “Governor of Queensland,

TWINS FIRST SON.” Being, however, subsequently informed

that Sir Arthur Kennedy was unmarried and that there

must be some mistake, a telegraphic repetition was at

once demanded. It has been received today (11th inst.)

and shows that the words really telegraphed by Reuter’s

agent were “Governor Queensland TURNS FIRST SOD,”

alluding to the Maryborough-Gympic Railway in course

of construction. The words in italics were mutilated by

the telegraph in transmission from Australia, and reaching

the company in the form mentioned above gave rise to the mistake.

I had always had a deep and reverent compassion

for the sufferings of the “prisoner of Chillon,”

whose story Byron had told in such moving verse; so I took

the steamer and made pilgrimage to the dungeons of the

Castle of Chillon, to see the place where poor Bonnivard

endured his dreary captivity three hundred years ago.

I am glad I did that, for it took away some of the pain

I was feeling on the prisoner’s account. His dungeon

was a nice, cool, roomy place, and I cannot see why he

should have been dissatisfied with it. If he had been

imprisoned in a St. Nicholas private dwelling, where the

fertilizer prevails, and the goat sleeps with the guest,

and the chickens roost on him and the cow comes in and

bothers him when he wants to muse, it would have been

another matter altogether; but he surely could not have

had a very cheerless time of it in that pretty dungeon.

It has romantic window-slits that let in generous bars

of light, and it has tall, noble columns, carved apparently

from the living rock; and what is more, they are written

all over with thousands of names; some of them–like

Byron’s and Victor Hugo’s–of the first celebrity.

Why didn’t he amuse himself reading these names? Then

there are the couriers and tourists–swarms of them every

day–what was to hinder him from having a good time

with them? I think Bonnivard’s sufferings have been overrated.

Next, we took the train and went to Martigny, on the way

to Mont Blanc. Next morning we started, about eight

o’clock, on foot. We had plenty of company, in the way

of wagon-loads and mule-loads of tourists–and dust.

This scattering procession of travelers was perhaps a

mile long. The road was uphill–interminable uphill–and

tolerably steep. The weather was blisteringly hot,

and the man or woman who had to sit on a creeping mule,

or in a crawling wagon, and broil in the beating sun,

was an object to be pitied. We could dodge among the bushes,

and have the relief of shade, but those people could not.

They paid for a conveyance, and to get their money’s worth

they rode.

We went by the way of the Te^te Noir, and after we

reached high ground there was no lack of fine scenery.

In one place the road was tunneled through a shoulder

of the mountain; from there one looked down into a gorge

with a rushing torrent in it, and on every hand was a

charming view of rocky buttresses and wooded heights.

There was a liberal allowance of pretty waterfalls, too,

on the Te^te Noir route.

About half an hour before we reached the village of

Argentie`re a vast dome of snow with the sun blazing on it

drifted into view and framed itself in a strong V-shaped

gateway of the mountains, and we recognized Mont Blanc,

the “monarch of the Alps.” With every step, after that,

this stately dome rose higher and higher into the blue sky,

and at last seemed to occupy the zenith.

Some of Mont Blanc’s neighbors–bare, light-brown, steeplelike

rocks–were very peculiarly shaped. Some were whittled

to a sharp point, and slightly bent at the upper end,

like a lady’s finger; one monster sugar-loaf resembled

a bishop’s hat; it was too steep to hold snow on its sides,

but had some in the division.

While we were still on very high ground, and before

the descent toward Argentie`re began, we looked up

toward a neighboring mountain-top, and saw exquisite

prismatic colors playing about some white clouds which

were so delicate as to almost resemble gossamer webs.

The faint pinks and greens were peculiarly beautiful;

none of the colors were deep, they were the lightest shades.

They were bewitching commingled. We sat down to study and

enjoy this singular spectacle. The tints remained during

several minutes–fitting, changing, melting into each other;

paling almost away for a moment, then reflushing–a shifting,

restless, unstable succession of soft opaline gleams,

shimmering over that air film of white cloud, and turning

it into a fabric dainty enough to clothe an angel with.

By and by we perceived what those super-delicate colors,

and their continuous play and movement, reminded us of;

it is what one sees in a soap-bubble that is drifting along,

catching changes of tint from the objects it passes.

A soap-bubble is the most beautiful thing, and the

most exquisite, in nature; that lovely phantom fabric

in the sky was suggestive of a soap-bubble split open,

and spread out in the sun. I wonder how much it would take

to buy a soap-bubble, if there was only one in the world?

One could buy a hatful of Koh-i-Noors with the same money,

no doubt.

We made the tramp from Martigny to Argentie`re in eight hours.

We beat all the mules and wagons; we didn’t usually do that.

We hired a sort of open baggage-wagon for the trip down

the valley to Chamonix, and then devoted an hour to dining.

This gave the driver time to get drunk. He had a friend

with him, and this friend also had had time to get drunk.

When we drove off, the driver said all the tourists had

arrived and gone by while we were at dinner; “but,” said he,

impressively, “be not disturbed by that–remain tranquil–give

yourselves no uneasiness–their dust rises far before us–

rest you tranquil, leave all to me–I am the king of drivers.


Down came his whip, and away we clattered. I never had such

a shaking up in my life. The recent flooding rains had

washed the road clear away in places, but we never stopped,

we never slowed down for anything. We tore right along,

over rocks, rubbish, gullies, open fields–sometimes with

one or two wheels on the ground, but generally with none.

Every now and then that calm, good-natured madman would

bend a majestic look over his shoulder at us and say,

“Ah, you perceive? It is as I have said –I am the

king of drivers.” Every time we just missed going

to destruction, he would say, with tranquil happiness,

“Enjoy it, gentlemen, it is very rare, it is very unusual–

it is given to few to ride with the king of drivers–

and observe, it is as I have said, _I_ am he.”

He spoke in French, and punctuated with hiccoughs.

His friend was French, too, but spoke in German–using

the same system of punctuation, however. The friend

called himself the “Captain of Mont Blanc,” and wanted us

to make the ascent with him. He said he had made more

ascents than any other man–forty seven–and his brother

had made thirty-seven. His brother was the best guide

in the world, except himself–but he, yes, observe him

well–he was the “Captain of Mont Blanc”–that title

belonged to none other.

The “king” was as good as his word–he overtook that long

procession of tourists and went by it like a hurricane.

The result was that we got choicer rooms at the hotel

in Chamonix than we should have done if his majesty

had been a slower artist–or rather, if he hadn’t most

providentially got drunk before he left Argentie`re.


[My Poor Sick Friend Disappointed]

Everybody was out-of-doors; everybody was in the

principal street of the village–not on the sidewalks,

but all over the street; everybody was lounging, loafing,

chatting, waiting, alert, expectant, interested–for it

was train-time. That is to say, it was diligence-time–

the half-dozen big diligences would soon be arriving

from Geneva, and the village was interested, in many ways,

in knowing how many people were coming and what sort of

folk they might be. It was altogether the livest-looking

street we had seen in any village on the continent.

The hotel was by the side of a booming torrent, whose music

was loud and strong; we could not see this torrent, for it

was dark, now, but one could locate it without a light.

There was a large enclosed yard in front of the hotel,

and this was filled with groups of villagers waiting to see

the diligences arrive, or to hire themselves to excursionists

for the morrow. A telescope stood in the yard, with its

huge barrel canted up toward the lustrous evening star.

The long porch of the hotel was populous with tourists,

who sat in shawls and wraps under the vast overshadowing

bulk of Mont Blanc, and gossiped or meditated.

Never did a mountain seem so close; its big sides seemed

at one’s very elbow, and its majestic dome, and the lofty

cluster of slender minarets that were its neighbors,

seemed to be almost over one’s head. It was night

in the streets, and the lamps were sparkling everywhere;

the broad bases and shoulders of the mountains were in

a deep gloom, but their summits swam in a strange rich

glow which was really daylight, and yet had a mellow

something about it which was very different from the hard

white glare of the kind of daylight I was used to.

Its radiance was strong and clear, but at the same time

it was singularly soft, and spiritual, and benignant.

No, it was not our harsh, aggressive, realistic daylight;

it seemed properer to an enchanted land–or to heaven.

I had seen moonlight and daylight together before, but I

had not seen daylight and black night elbow to elbow before.

At least I had not seen the daylight resting upon an object

sufficiently close at hand, before, to make the contrast

startling and at war with nature.

The daylight passed away. Presently the moon rose up

behind some of those sky-piercing fingers or pinnacles

of bare rock of which I have spoken–they were a little

to the left of the crest of Mont Blanc, and right over

our heads–but she couldn’t manage to climb high

enough toward heaven to get entirely above them.

She would show the glittering arch of her upper third,

occasionally, and scrape it along behind the comblike row;

sometimes a pinnacle stood straight up, like a statuette

of ebony, against that glittering white shield, then seemed

to glide out of it by its own volition and power,

and become a dim specter, while the next pinnacle glided

into its place and blotted the spotless disk with the black

exclamation-point of its presence. The top of one pinnacle

took the shapely, clean-cut form of a rabbit’s head,

in the inkiest silhouette, while it rested against the moon.

The unillumined peaks and minarets, hovering vague and

phantom-like above us while the others were painfully

white and strong with snow and moonlight, made a peculiar effect.

But when the moon, having passed the line of pinnacles,

was hidden behind the stupendous white swell of Mont Blanc,

the masterpiece of the evening was flung on the canvas.

A rich greenish radiance sprang into the sky from behind

the mountain, and in this same airy shreds and ribbons of vapor

floated about, and being flushed with that strange tint,

went waving to and fro like pale green flames. After a while,

radiating bars–vast broadening fan-shaped shadows–grew up

and stretched away to the zenith from behind the mountain.

It was a spectacle to take one’s breath, for the wonder of it,

and the sublimity.

Indeed, those mighty bars of alternate light and shadow

streaming up from behind that dark and prodigious form

and occupying the half of the dull and opaque heavens,

was the most imposing and impressive marvel I had ever

looked upon. There is no simile for it, for nothing

is like it. If a child had asked me what it was,

I should have said, “Humble yourself, in this presence,

it is the glory flowing from the hidden head of the Creator.”

One falls shorter of the truth than that, sometimes,

in trying to explain mysteries to the little people.

I could have found out the cause of this awe-compelling

miracle by inquiring, for it is not infrequent at Mont

Blanc,–but I did not wish to know. We have not the

reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has,

because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we

gained by prying into the matter.

We took a walk down street, a block or two, and a

place where four streets met and the principal shops

were clustered, found the groups of men in the roadway

thicker than ever–for this was the Exchange of Chamonix.

These men were in the costumes of guides and porters,

and were there to be hired.

The office of that great personage, the Guide-in-Chief

of the Chamonix Guild of Guides, was near by. This guild

is a close corporation, and is governed by strict laws.

There are many excursion routes, some dangerous and

some not, some that can be made safely without a guide,

and some that cannot. The bureau determines these things.

Where it decides that a guide is necessary, you are

forbidden to go without one. Neither are you allowed to be

a victim of extortion: the law states what you are to pay.

The guides serve in rotation; you cannot select the man

who is to take your life into his hands, you must take

the worst in the lot, if it is his turn. A guide’s fee

ranges all the way up from a half-dollar (for some trifling

excursion of a few rods) to twenty dollars, according to

the distance traversed and the nature of the ground.

A guide’s fee for taking a person to the summit of Mont

Blanc and back, is twenty dollars–and he earns it.

The time employed is usually three days, and there is

enough early rising in it to make a man far more “healthy

and wealthy and wise” than any one man has any right to be.

The porter’s fee for the same trip is ten dollars.

Several fools–no, I mean several tourists–usually go together,

and divide up the expense, and thus make it light;

for if only one f–tourist, I mean–went, he would have

to have several guides and porters, and that would make the

matter costly.

We went into the Chief’s office. There were maps

of mountains on the walls; also one or two lithographs

of celebrated guides, and a portrait of the scientist

De Saussure.

In glass cases were some labeled fragments of boots

and batons, and other suggestive relics and remembrances

of casualties on Mount Blanc. In a book was a record of all

the ascents which have ever been made, beginning with Nos.

1 and 2–being those of Jacques Balmat and De Saussure,

in 1787, and ending with No. 685, which wasn’t cold yet.

In fact No. 685 was standing by the official table waiting

to receive the precious official diploma which should prove

to his German household and to his descendants that he had once

been indiscreet enough to climb to the top of Mont Blanc.

He looked very happy when he got his document; in fact,

he spoke up and said he WAS happy.

I tried to buy a diploma for an invalid friend at home

who had never traveled, and whose desire all his life has

been to ascend Mont Blanc, but the Guide-in-Chief rather

insolently refused to sell me one. I was very much offended.

I said I did not propose to be discriminated against on

the account of my nationality; that he had just sold

a diploma to this German gentleman, and my money was

a good as his; I would see to it that he couldn’t keep

his shop for Germans and deny his produce to Americans;

I would have his license taken away from him at the dropping

of a handkerchief; if France refused to break him, I would

make an international matter of it and bring on a war;

the soil should be drenched with blood; and not only that,

but I would set up an opposition show and sell diplomas

at half price.

For two cents I would have done these things, too;

but nobody offered me two cents. I tried to move that

German’s feelings, but it could not be done; he would

not give me his diploma, neither would he sell it to me.

I TOLD him my friend was sick and could not come himself,

but he said he did not care a VERDAMMTES PFENNIG,

he wanted his diploma for himself–did I suppose he was

going to risk his neck for that thing and then give it

to a sick stranger? Indeed he wouldn’t, so he wouldn’t.

I resolved, then, that I would do all I could to injure

Mont Blanc.

In the record-book was a list of all the fatal accidents

which happened on the mountain. It began with the one

in 1820 when the Russian Dr. Hamel’s three guides were

lost in a crevice of the glacier, and it recorded the

delivery of the remains in the valley by the slow-moving

glacier forty-one years later. The latest catastrophe

bore the date 1877.

We stepped out and roved about the village awhile.

In front of the little church was a monument to the memory

of the bold guide Jacques Balmat, the first man who ever

stood upon the summit of Mont Blanc. He made that wild

trip solitary and alone. He accomplished the ascent

a number of times afterward. A stretch of nearly half

a century lay between his first ascent and his last one.

At the ripe old age of seventy-two he was climbing

around a corner of a lofty precipice of the Pic du

Midi–nobody with him–when he slipped and fell.

So he died in the harness.

He had grown very avaricious in his old age, and used to go

off stealthily to hunt for non-existent and impossible

gold among those perilous peaks and precipices.

He was on a quest of that kind when he lost his life.

There was a statue to him, and another to De Saussure,

in the hall of our hotel, and a metal plate on the door

of a room upstairs bore an inscription to the effect

that that room had been occupied by Albert Smith.

Balmat and De Saussure discovered Mont Blanc–so to

speak–but it was Smith who made it a paying property.

His articles in BLACKWOOD and his lectures on Mont Blanc

in London advertised it and made people as anxious to see it

as if it owed them money.

As we strolled along the road we looked up and saw a red

signal-light glowing in the darkness of the mountainside.

It seemed but a trifling way up–perhaps a hundred yards,

a climb of ten minutes. It was a lucky piece of sagacity

in us that we concluded to stop a man whom we met and get

a light for our pipes from him instead of continuing the climb

to that lantern to get a light, as had been our purpose.

The man said that that lantern was on the Grands Mulets,

some sixty-five hundred feet above the valley! I know

by our Riffelberg experience, that it would have taken us

a good part of a week to go up there. I would sooner not

smoke at all, than take all that trouble for a light.

Even in the daytime the foreshadowing effect of this

mountain’s close proximity creates curious deceptions.

For instance, one sees with the naked eye a cabin up

there beside the glacier, and a little above and beyond

he sees the spot where that red light was located;

he thinks he could throw a stone from the one place to

the other. But he couldn’t, for the difference between

the two altitudes is more than three thousand feet.

It looks impossible, from below, that this can be true,

but it is true, nevertheless.

While strolling around, we kept the run of the moon all

the time, and we still kept an eye on her after we got back

to the hotel portico. I had a theory that the gravitation

of refraction, being subsidiary to atmospheric compensation,

the refrangibility of the earth’s surface would emphasize

this effect in regions where great mountain ranges occur,

and possibly so even-handed impact the odic and idyllic

forces together, the one upon the other, as to prevent

the moon from rising higher than 12,200 feet above

sea-level. This daring theory had been received with frantic

scorn by some of my fellow-scientists, and with an eager

silence by others. Among the former I may mention

Prof. H—-y; and among the latter Prof. T—-l. Such

is professional jealousy; a scientist will never show

any kindness for a theory which he did not start himself.

There is no feeling of brotherhood among these people.

Indeed, they always resent it when I call them brother.

To show how far their ungenerosity can carry them, I will

state that I offered to let Prof. H—-y publish my great

theory as his own discovery; I even begged him to do it;

I even proposed to print it myself as his theory.

Instead of thanking me, he said that if I tried to

fasten that theory on him he would sue me for slander.

I was going to offer it to Mr. Darwin, whom I understood

to be a man without prejudices, but it occurred to me

that perhaps he would not be interested in it since it did

not concern heraldry.

But I am glad now, that I was forced to father my intrepid

theory myself, for, on the night of which I am writing,

it was triumphantly justified and established. Mont Blanc

is nearly sixteen thousand feet high; he hid the moon utterly;

near him is a peak which is 12,216 feet high; the moon slid

along behind the pinnacles, and when she approached that

one I watched her with intense interest, for my reputation

as a scientist must stand or fall by its decision.

I cannot describe the emotions which surged like tidal

waves through my breast when I saw the moon glide behind

that lofty needle and pass it by without exposing more

than two feet four inches of her upper rim above it;

I was secure, then. I knew she could rise no higher,

and I was right. She sailed behind all the peaks and

never succeeded in hoisting her disk above a single one

of them.

While the moon was behind one of those sharp fingers,

its shadow was flung athwart the vacant heavens–

a long, slanting, clean-cut, dark ray–with a streaming

and energetic suggestion of FORCE about it, such as the

ascending jet of water from a powerful fire-engine affords.

It was curious to see a good strong shadow of an earthly

object cast upon so intangible a field as the atmosphere.

We went to bed, at last, and went quickly to sleep, but I

woke up, after about three hours, with throbbing temples,

and a head which was physically sore, outside and in.

I was dazed, dreamy, wretched, seedy, unrefreshed.

I recognized the occasion of all this: it was that torrent.

In the mountain villages of Switzerland, and along the roads,

one has always the roar of the torrent in his ears.

He imagines it is music, and he thinks poetic things

about it; he lies in his comfortable bed and is lulled

to sleep by it. But by and by he begins to notice

that his head is very sore–he cannot account for it;

in solitudes where the profoundest silence reigns,

he notices a sullen, distant, continuous roar in his ears,

which is like what he would experience if he had sea-shells

pressed against them–he cannot account for it; he is

drowsy and absent-minded; there is no tenacity to his mind,

he cannot keep hold of a thought and follow it out;

i f he sits down to write, his vocabulary is empty,

no suitable words will come, he forgets what he started to do,

and remains there, pen in hand, head tilted up, eyes closed,

listening painfully to the muffled roar of a distant train

in his ears; in his soundest sleep the strain continues,

he goes on listening, always listening intently, anxiously,

and wakes at last, harassed, irritable, unrefreshed.

He cannot manage to account for these things.

Day after day he feels as if he had spent his nights

in a sleeping-car. It actually takes him weeks to find

out that it is those persecuting torrents that have been

making all the mischief. It is time for him to get out

of Switzerland, then, for as soon as he has discovered

the cause, the misery is magnified several fold. The roar

of the torrent is maddening, then, for his imagination

is assisting; the physical pain it inflicts is exquisite.

When he finds he is approaching one of those streams,

his dread is so lively that he is disposed to fly the track

and avoid the implacable foe.

Eight or nine months after the distress of the torrents

had departed from me, the roar and thunder of the

streets of Paris brought it all back again. I moved

to the sixth story of the hotel to hunt for peace.

About midnight the noises dulled away, and I was

sinking to sleep, when I heard a new and curious sound;

I listened: evidently some joyous lunatic was softly

dancing a “double shuffle” in the room over my head.

I had to wait for him to get through, of course. Five long,

long minutes he smoothly shuffled away–a pause followed,

then something fell with a thump on the floor.

I said to myself “There–he is pulling off his boots–

thank heavens he is done.” Another slight pause–he went

to shuffling again! I said to myself, “Is he trying to see

what he can do with only one boot on?” Presently came

another pause and another thump on the floor. I said

“Good, he has pulled off his other boot–NOW he is done.”

But he wasn’t. The next moment he was shuffling again.

I said, “Confound him, he is at it in his slippers!”

After a little came that same old pause, and right after

it that thump on the floor once more. I said, “Hang him,

he had on TWO pair of boots!” For an hour that magician

went on shuffling and pulling off boots till he had shed

as many as twenty-five pair, and I was hovering on the verge

of lunacy. I got my gun and stole up there. The fellow

was in the midst of an acre of sprawling boots, and he had

a boot in his hand, shuffling it–no, I mean POLISHING it.

The mystery was explained. He hadn’t been dancing.

He was the “Boots” of the hotel, and was attending

to business.


[I Scale Mont Blanc–by Telescope]

After breakfast, that next morning in Chamonix, we went

out in the yard and watched the gangs of excursioning

tourists arriving and departing with their mules and guides

and porters; they we took a look through the telescope

at the snowy hump of Mont Blanc. It was brilliant

with sunshine, and the vast smooth bulge seemed hardly

five hundred yards away. With the naked eye we could

dimly make out the house at the Pierre Pointue, which is

located by the side of the great glacier, and is more

than three thousand feet above the level of the valley;

but with the telescope we could see all its details.

While I looked, a woman rode by the house on a mule, and I

saw her with sharp distinctness; I could have described

her dress. I saw her nod to the people of the house,

and rein up her mule, and put her hand up to shield

her eyes from the sun. I was not used to telescopes;

in fact, I had never looked through a good one before;

it seemed incredible to me that this woman could be

so far away. I was satisfied that I could see all

these details with my naked eye; but when I tried it,

that mule and those vivid people had wholly vanished,

and the house itself was become small and vague. I tried

the telescope again, and again everything was vivid.

The strong black shadows of the mule and the woman were

flung against the side of the house, and I saw the mule’s

silhouette wave its ears.

The telescopulist–or the telescopulariat–I do not know

which is right–said a party were making a grand ascent,

and would come in sight on the remote upper heights,

presently; so we waited to observe this performance.

Presently I had a superb idea. I wanted to stand with

a party on the summit of Mont Blanc, merely to be able

to say I had done it, and I believed the telescope

could set me within seven feet of the uppermost man.

The telescoper assured me that it could. I then asked

him how much I owed him for as far as I had got? He said,

one franc. I asked him how much it would cost to make

the entire ascent? Three francs. I at once determined

to make the entire ascent. But first I inquired

if there was any danger? He said no–not by telescope;

said he had taken a great many parties to the summit,

and never lost a man. I asked what he would charge to let

my agent go with me, together with such guides and porters

as might be necessary. He said he would let Harris go

for two francs; and that unless we were unusually timid,

he should consider guides and porters unnecessary;

it was not customary to take them, when going by telescope,

for they were rather an encumbrance than a help.

He said that the party now on the mountain were approaching

the most difficult part, and if we hurried we should

overtake them within ten minutes, and could then join them

and have the benefit of their guides and porters without

their knowledge, and without expense to us.

I then said we would start immediately. I believe I

said it calmly, though I was conscious of a shudder

and of a paling cheek, in view of the nature of the

exploit I was so unreflectingly engaged in. But the old

daredevil spirit was upon me, and I said that as I

had committed myself I would not back down; I would

ascend Mont Blanc if it cost me my life. I told the man

to slant his machine in the proper direction and let us be off.

Harris was afraid and did not want to go, but I heartened

him up and said I would hold his hand all the way; so he

gave his consent, though he trembled a little at first.

I took a last pathetic look upon the pleasant summer scene

about me, then boldly put my eye to the glass and prepared

to mount among the grim glaciers and the everlasting snows.

We took our way carefully and cautiously across the great

Glacier des Bossons, over yawning and terrific crevices

and among imposing crags and buttresses of ice which were

fringed with icicles of gigantic proportions. The desert

of ice that stretched far and wide about us was wild and

desolate beyond description, and the perils which beset us

were so great that at times I was minded to turn back.

But I pulled my pluck together and pushed on.

We passed the glacier safely and began to mount

the steeps beyond, with great alacrity. When we

were seven minutes out from the starting-point, we

reached an altitude where the scene took a new aspect;

an apparently limitless continent of gleaming snow was

tilted heavenward before our faces. As my eye followed

that awful acclivity far away up into the remote skies,

it seemed to me that all I had ever seen before of sublimity

and magnitude was small and insignificant compared to this.

We rested a moment, and then began to mount with speed.

Within three minutes we caught sight of the party ahead of us,

and stopped to observe them. They were toiling up a long,

slanting ridge of snow–twelve persons, roped together some

fifteen feet apart, marching in single file, and strongly

marked against the clear blue sky. One was a woman.

We could see them lift their feet and put them down;

we saw them swing their alpenstocks forward in unison,

like so many pendulums, and then bear their weight

upon them; we saw the lady wave her handkerchief.

They dragged themselves upward in a worn and weary way,

for they had been climbing steadily from the Grand Mulets,

on the Glacier des Dossons, since three in the morning,

and it was eleven, now. We saw them sink down in the

snow and rest, and drink something from a bottle.

After a while they moved on, and as they approached the final

short dash of the home-stretch we closed up on them and

joined them.

Presently we all stood together on the summit! What a view

was spread out below! Away off under the northwestern horizon

rolled the silent billows of the Farnese Oberland, their snowy

crests glinting softly in the subdued lights of distance;

in the north rose the giant form of the Wobblehorn,

draped from peak to shoulder in sable thunder-clouds;

beyond him, to the right, stretched the grand processional

summits of the Cisalpine Cordillera, drowned in a

sensuous haze; to the east loomed the colossal masses

of the Yodelhorn, the Fuddelhorn, and the Dinnerhorn,

their cloudless summits flashing white and cold in the sun;

beyond them shimmered the faint far line of the Ghauts

of Jubbelpore and the Aigulles des Alleghenies; in the

south towered the smoking peak of Popocatapetl and the

unapproachable altitudes of the peerless Scrabblehorn;

in the west-south the stately range of the Himalayas

lay dreaming in a purple gloom; and thence all around

the curving horizon the eye roved over a troubled sea

of sun-kissed Alps, and noted, here and there, the noble

proportions and the soaring domes of the Bottlehorn,

and the Saddlehorn, and the Shovelhorn, and the Powderhorn,

all bathed in the glory of noon and mottled with softly

gliding blots, the shadows flung from drifting clouds.

Overcome by the scene, we all raised a triumphant,

tremendous shout, in unison. A startled man at my elbow


“Confound you, what do you yell like that for, right here

in the street?”

That brought me down to Chamonix, like a flirt.

I gave that man some spiritual advice and disposed of him,

and then paid the telescope man his full fee, and said

that we were charmed with the trip and would remain down,

and not reascend and require him to fetch us down by telescope.

This pleased him very much, for of course we could have

stepped back to the summit and put him to the trouble

of bringing us home if we wanted to.

I judged we could get diplomas, now, anyhow; so we

went after them, but the Chief Guide put us off,

with one pretext or another, during all the time we stayed

in Chamonix, and we ended by never getting them at all.

So much for his prejudice against people’s nationality.

However, we worried him enough to make him remember

us and our ascent for some time. He even said, once,

that he wished there was a lunatic asylum in Chamonix.

This shows that he really had fears that we were going

to drive him mad. It was what we intended to do,

but lack of time defeated it.

I cannot venture to advise the reader one way or the other,

as to ascending Mont Blanc. I say only this: if he is at

all timid, the enjoyments of the trip will hardly make up

for the hardships and sufferings he will have to endure.

But, if he has good nerve, youth, health, and a bold,

firm will, and could leave his family comfortably provided

for in case the worst happened, he would find the ascent

a wonderful experience, and the view from the top a vision

to dream about, and tell about, and recall with exultation

all the days of his life.

While I do not advise such a person to attempt the ascent,

I do not advise him against it. But if he elects to attempt it,

let him be warily careful of two things: chose a calm,

clear day; and do not pay the telescope man in advance.

There are dark stories of his getting advance payers on

the summit and then leaving them there to rot.

A frightful tragedy was once witnessed through the

Chamonix telescopes. Think of questions and answers

like these, on an inquest:

CORONER. You saw deceased lose his life?


C. Where was he, at the time?

W. Close to the summit of Mont Blanc.

C. Where were you?

W. In the main street of Chamonix.

C. What was the distance between you?

W. A LITTLE OVER FIVE MILES, as the bird flies.

This accident occurred in 1866, a year and a month after the

disaster on the Matterhorn. Three adventurous English gentlemen,

[1] of great experience in mountain-climbing, made up their

minds to ascend Mont Blanc without guides or porters.

All endeavors to dissuade them from their project failed.

Powerful telescopes are numerous in Chamonix. These huge

brass tubes, mounted on their scaffoldings and pointed

skyward from every choice vantage-ground, have the

formidable look of artillery, and give the town the general

aspect of getting ready to repel a charge of angels.

The reader may easily believe that the telescopes

had plenty of custom on that August morning in 1866,

for everybody knew of the dangerous undertaking which was

on foot, and all had fears that misfortune would result.

All the morning the tubes remained directed toward the

mountain heights, each with its anxious group around it;

but the white deserts were vacant.

1. Sir George Young and his brothers James and Albert.

At last, toward eleven o’clock, the people who were

looking through the telescopes cried out “There they

are!”–and sure enough, far up, on the loftiest terraces

of the Grand Plateau, the three pygmies appeared,

climbing with remarkable vigor and spirit. They disappeared

in the “Corridor,” and were lost to sight during an hour.

Then they reappeared, and were presently seen standing together

upon the extreme summit of Mont Blanc. So, all was well.

They remained a few minutes on that highest point of land

in Europe, a target for all the telescopes, and were then

seen to begin descent. Suddenly all three vanished.

An instant after, they appeared again, TWO THOUSAND FEET


Evidently, they had tripped and been shot down an almost

perpendicular slope of ice to a point where it joined

the border of the upper glacier. Naturally, the distant

witness supposed they were now looking upon three corpses;

so they could hardly believe their eyes when they presently saw

two of the men rise to their feet and bend over the third.

During two hours and a half they watched the two busying

themselves over the extended form of their brother,

who seemed entirely inert. Chamonix’s affairs stood still;

everybody was in the street, all interest was centered

upon what was going on upon that lofty and isolated stage

five miles away. Finally the two–one of them walking

with great difficulty–were seen to begin descent,

abandoning the third, who was no doubt lifeless.

Their movements were followed, step by step, until they

reached the “Corridor” and disappeared behind its ridge.

Before they had had time to traverse the “Corridor”

and reappear, twilight was come, and the power of the

telescope was at an end.

The survivors had a most perilous journey before

them in the gathering darkness, for they must get

down to the Grands Mulets before they would find

a safe stopping-place–a long and tedious descent,

and perilous enough even in good daylight. The oldest

guides expressed the opinion that they could not succeed;

that all the chances were that they would lose their lives.

Yet those brave men did succeed. They reached the Grands

Mulets in safety. Even the fearful shock which their nerves

had sustained was not sufficient to overcome their coolness

and courage. It would appear from the official account

that they were threading their way down through those

dangers from the closing in of twilight until two o’clock

in the morning, or later, because the rescuing party from

Chamonix reached the Grand Mulets about three in the morning

and moved thence toward the scene of the disaster under

the leadership of Sir George Young, “who had only just arrived.”

After having been on his feet twenty-four hours,

in the exhausting work of mountain-climbing, Sir George

began the reascent at the head of the relief party

of six guides, to recover the corpse of his brother.

This was considered a new imprudence, as the number

was too few for the service required. Another relief

party presently arrived at the cabin on the Grands

Mulets and quartered themselves there to await events.

Ten hours after Sir George’s departure toward the summit,

this new relief were still scanning the snowy altitudes

above them from their own high perch among the ice

deserts ten thousand feet above the level of the sea,

but the whole forenoon had passed without a glimpse of any

living thing appearing up there.

This was alarming. Half a dozen of their number set out,

then early in the afternoon, to seek and succor Sir George

and his guides. The persons remaining at the cabin saw

these disappear, and then ensued another distressing wait.

Four hours passed, without tidings. Then at five

o’clock another relief, consisting of three guides,

set forward from the cabin. They carried food and

cordials for the refreshment of their predecessors;

they took lanterns with them, too; night was coming on,

and to make matters worse, a fine, cold rain had begun

to fall.

At the same hour that these three began their dangerous ascent,

the official Guide-in-Chief of the Mont Blanc region

undertook the dangerous descent to Chamonix, all alone,

to get reinforcements. However, a couple of hours later,

at 7 P.M., the anxious solicitude came to an end,

and happily. A bugle note was heard, and a cluster

of black specks was distinguishable against the snows

of the upper heights. The watchers counted these specks

eagerly–fourteen–nobody was missing. An hour and a half

later they were all safe under the roof of the cabin.

They had brought the corpse with them. Sir George Young

tarried there but a few minutes, and then began the long

and troublesome descent from the cabin to Chamonix.

He probably reached there about two or three o’clock

in the morning, after having been afoot among the rocks

and glaciers during two days and two nights. His endurance

was equal to his daring.

The cause of the unaccountable delay of Sir George and

the relief parties among the heights where the disaster

had happened was a thick fog–or, partly that and partly

the slow and difficult work of conveying the dead body

down the perilous steeps.

The corpse, upon being viewed at the inquest, showed

no bruises, and it was some time before the surgeons

discovered that the neck was broken. One of the surviving

brothers had sustained some unimportant injuries,

but the other had suffered no hurt at all. How these men

could fall two thousand feet, almost perpendicularly,

and live afterward, is a most strange and unaccountable thing.

A great many women have made the ascent of Mont Blanc.

An English girl, Miss Stratton, conceived the daring idea,

two or three years ago, of attempting the ascent in the

middle of winter. She tried it–and she succeeded.

Moreover, she froze two of her fingers on the way up,

she fell in love with her guide on the summit,

and she married him when she got to the bottom again.

There is nothing in romance, in the way of a striking

“situation,” which can beat this love scene in midheaven

on an isolated ice-crest with the thermometer at zero

and an Artic gale blowing.

The first woman who ascended Mont Blanc was a girl aged

twenty-two–Mlle. Maria Paradis–1809. Nobody was

with her but her sweetheart, and he was not a guide.

The sex then took a rest for about thirty years,

when a Mlle. d’Angeville made the ascent –1838. In

Chamonix I picked up a rude old lithograph of that day

which pictured her “in the act.”

However, I value it less as a work of art than as a

fashion-plate. Miss d’Angeville put on a pair of men’s

pantaloons to climb it, which was wise; but she cramped

their utility by adding her petticoat, which was idiotic.

One of the mournfulest calamities which men’s disposition

to climb dangerous mountains has resulted in,

happened on Mont Blanc in September 1870. M. D’Arve

tells the story briefly in his HISTOIRE DU MONT BLANC.

In the next chapter I will copy its chief features.


A Catastrophe Which Cost Eleven Lives

[Perished at the Verge of Safety]

On the 5th of September, 1870, a caravan of eleven persons

departed from Chamonix to make the ascent of Mont Blanc.

Three of the party were tourists; Messrs. Randall and Bean,

Americans, and Mr. George Corkindale, a Scotch gentleman;

there were three guides and five porters. The cabin

on the Grands Mulets was reached that day; the ascent

was resumed early the next morning, September 6th.

The day was fine and clear, and the movements of the party

were observed through the telescopes of Chamonix; at two

o’clock in the afternoon they were seen to reach the summit.

A few minutes later they were seen making the first steps

of the descent; then a cloud closed around them and hid

them from view.

Eight hours passed, the cloud still remained, night came,

no one had returned to the Grands Mulets. Sylvain Couttet,

keeper of the cabin there, suspected a misfortune,

and sent down to the valley for help. A detachment of

guides went up, but by the time they had made the tedious

trip and reached the cabin, a raging storm had set in.

They had to wait; nothing could be attempted in such

a tempest.

The wild storm lasted MORE THAN A WEEK, without ceasing;

but on the 17th, Couttet, with several guides, left the

cabin and succeeded in making the ascent. In the snowy

wastes near the summit they came upon five bodies,

lying upon their sides in a reposeful attitude which

suggested that possibly they had fallen asleep there,

while exhausted with fatigue and hunger and benumbed with cold,

and never knew when death stole upon them. Couttet moved

a few steps further and discovered five more bodies.

The eleventh corpse–that of a porter–was not found,

although diligent search was made for it.

In the pocket of Mr. Bean, one of the Americans, was found

a note-book in which had been penciled some sentences

which admit us, in flesh and spirit, as it were, to the

presence of these men during their last hours of life,

and to the grisly horrors which their fading vision looked

upon and their failing consciousness took cognizance of:

TUESDAY, SEPT. 6. I have made the ascent of Mont Blanc,

with ten persons–eight guides, and Mr. Corkindale

and Mr. Randall. We reached the summit at half past 2.

Immediately after quitting it, we were enveloped in clouds

of snow. We passed the night in a grotto hollowed

in the snow, which afforded us but poor shelter, and I

was ill all night.

SEPT. 7–MORNING. The cold is excessive. The snow falls

heavily and without interruption. The guides take no rest.

EVENING. My Dear Hessie, we have been two days on

Mont Blanc, in the midst of a terrible hurricane of snow,

we have lost our way, and are in a hole scooped in the snow,

at an altitude of 15,000 feet. I have no longer any hope

of descending.

They had wandered around, and around, in the blinding

snow-storm, hopelessly lost, in a space only a hundred

yards square; and when cold and fatigue vanquished them

at last, they scooped their cave and lay down there



to life and safety as that, and did not suspect it.

The thought of this gives the sharpest pang that the tragic

story conveys.

The author of the HISTOIRE DU MONT BLANC introduced

the closing sentences of Mr. Bean’s pathetic record thus:

“Here the characters are large and unsteady; the hand

which traces them is become chilled and torpid;

but the spirit survives, and the faith and resignation

of the dying man are expressed with a sublime simplicity.”

Perhaps this note-book will be found and sent to you.

We have nothing to eat, my feet are already frozen,

and I am exhausted; I have strength to write only a few

words more. I have left means for C’s education; I know

you will employ them wisely. I die with faith in God,

and with loving thoughts of you. Farewell to all.

We shall meet again, in Heaven. … I think of

you always.

It is the way of the Alps to deliver death to their victims

with a merciful swiftness, but here the rule failed.

These men suffered the bitterest death that has been

recorded in the history of those mountains, freighted as

that history is with grisly tragedies.


[Meeting a Hog on a Precipice]

Mr. Harris and I took some guides and porters and ascended

to the Ho^tel des Pyramides, which is perched on the

high moraine which borders the Glacier des Bossons.

The road led sharply uphill, all the way, through grass

and flowers and woods, and was a pleasant walk,

barring the fatigue of the climb.

From the hotel we could view the huge glacier at very

close range. After a rest we followed down a path

which had been made in the steep inner frontage

of the moraine, and stepped upon the glacier itself.

One of the shows of the place was a tunnel-like cavern,

which had been hewn in the glacier. The proprietor

of this tunnel took candles and conducted us into it.

It was three or four feet wide and about six feet high.

Its walls of pure and solid ice emitted a soft and rich

blue light that produced a lovely effect, and suggested

enchanted caves, and that sort of thing. When we had

proceeded some yards and were entering darkness, we turned

about and had a dainty sunlit picture of distant woods

and heights framed in the strong arch of the tunnel and seen

through the tender blue radiance of the tunnel’s atmosphere.

The cavern was nearly a hundred yards long, and when we

reached its inner limit the proprietor stepped into a branch

tunnel with his candles and left us buried in the bowels

of the glacier, and in pitch-darkness. We judged his

purpose was murder and robbery; so we got out our matches

and prepared to sell our lives as dearly as possible

by setting the glacier on fire if the worst came to the

worst–but we soon perceived that this man had changed

his mind; he began to sing, in a deep, melodious voice,

and woke some curious and pleasing echoes. By and by he

came back and pretended that that was what he had gone

behind there for. We believed as much of that as we wanted to.

Thus our lives had been once more in imminent peril,

but by the exercise of the swift sagacity and cool courage

which had saved us so often, we had added another escape

to the long list. The tourist should visit that ice-cavern,

by all means, for it is well worth the trouble; but I would

advise him to go only with a strong and well-armed force.

I do not consider artillery necessary, yet it would not be

unadvisable to take it along, if convenient. The journey,

going and coming, is about three miles and a half, three of

which are on level ground. We made it in less than a day,

but I would counsel the unpracticed–if not pressed

for time–to allow themselves two. Nothing is gained

in the Alps by over-exertion; nothing is gained by crowding

two days’ work into one for the poor sake of being able

to boast of the exploit afterward. It will be found

much better, in the long run, to do the thing in two days,

and then subtract one of them from the narrative.

This saves fatigue, and does not injure the narrative.

All the more thoughtful among the Alpine tourists

do this.

We now called upon the Guide-in-Chief, and asked for a squadron

of guides and porters for the ascent of the Montanvert.

This idiot glared at us, and said:

“You don’t need guides and porters to go to the Montanvert.”

“What do we need, then?”

“Such as YOU?–an ambulance!”

I was so stung by this brutal remark that I took

my custom elsewhere.

Betimes, next morning, we had reached an altitude of five

thousand feet above the level of the sea. Here we camped

and breakfasted. There was a cabin there–the spot is

called the Caillet–and a spring of ice-cold water.

On the door of the cabin was a sign, in French, to the effect

that “One may here see a living chamois for fifty centimes.”

We did not invest; what we wanted was to see a dead one.

A little after noon we ended the ascent and arrived at the

new hotel on the Montanvert, and had a view of six miles,

right up the great glacier, the famous Mer de Glace.

At this point it is like a sea whose deep swales and long,

rolling swells have been caught in mid-movement and

frozen solid; but further up it is broken up into wildly

tossing billows of ice.

We descended a ticklish path in the steep side of the moraine,

and invaded the glacier. There were tourists of both

sexes scattered far and wide over it, everywhere, and it

had the festive look of a skating-rink.

The Empress Josephine came this far, once. She ascended

the Montanvert in 1810–but not alone; a small army

of men preceded her to clear the path–and carpet it,

perhaps–and she followed, under the protection

of SIXTY-EIGHT guides.

Her successor visited Chamonix later, but in far different style.

It was seven weeks after the first fall of the Empire,

and poor Marie Louise, ex-Empress was a fugitive.

She came at night, and in a storm, with only two attendants,

and stood before a peasant’s hut, tired, bedraggled,

soaked with rain, “the red print of her lost crown still

girdling her brow, ” and implored admittance–and was

refused! A few days before, the adulations and applauses

of a nation were sounding in her ears, and now she was come to


We crossed the Mer de Glace in safety, but we had misgivings.

The crevices in the ice yawned deep and blue and mysterious,

and it made one nervous to traverse them. The huge

round waves of ice were slippery and difficult to climb,

and the chances of tripping and sliding down them and

darting into a crevice were too many to be comfortable.

In the bottom of a deep swale between two of the biggest

of the ice-waves, we found a fraud who pretended

to be cutting steps to insure the safety of tourists.

He was “soldiering” when we came upon him, but he hopped

up and chipped out a couple of steps about big enough

for a cat, and charged us a franc or two for it.

Then he sat down again, to doze till the next party

should come along. He had collected blackmail from two

or three hundred people already, that day, but had not

chipped out ice enough to impair the glacier perceptibly.

I have heard of a good many soft sinecures, but it seems

to me that keeping toll-bridge on a glacier is the softest

one I have encountered yet.

That was a blazing hot day, and it brought a persistent

and persecuting thirst with it. What an unspeakable luxury

it was to slake that thirst with the pure and limpid

ice-water of the glacier! Down the sides of every great rib

of pure ice poured limpid rills in gutters carved by their

own attrition; better still, wherever a rock had lain,

there was now a bowl-shaped hole, with smooth white sides

and bottom of ice, and this bowl was brimming with water

of such absolute clearness that the careless observer would

not see it at all, but would think the bowl was empty.

These fountains had such an alluring look that I often

stretched myself out when I was not thirsty and dipped my

face in and drank till my teeth ached. Everywhere among

the Swiss mountains we had at hand the blessing–not

to be found in Europe EXCEPT in the mountains–of water

capable of quenching thirst. Everywhere in the Swiss

highlands brilliant little rills of exquisitely cold water

went dancing along by the roadsides, and my comrade and I

were always drinking and always delivering our deep gratitude.

But in Europe everywhere except in the mountains, the water

is flat and insipid beyond the power of words to describe.

It is served lukewarm; but no matter, ice could not help it;

it is incurably flat, incurably insipid. It is only good

to wash with; I wonder it doesn’t occur to the average

inhabitant to try it for that. In Europe the people

say contemptuously, “Nobody drinks water here.” Indeed,

they have a sound and sufficient reason. In many places

they even have what may be called prohibitory reasons.

In Paris and Munich, for instance, they say, “Don’t drink

the water, it is simply poison.”

Either America is healthier than Europe, notwithstanding her

“deadly” indulgence in ice-water, or she does not keep

the run of her death-rate as sharply as Europe does.

I think we do keep up the death statistics accurately;

and if we do, our cities are healthier than the cities

of Europe. Every month the German government tabulates

the death-rate of the world and publishes it. I scrap-booked

these reports during several months, and it was curious

to see how regular and persistently each city repeated

its same death-rate month after month. The tables might

as well have been stereotyped, they varied so little.

These tables were based upon weekly reports showing the

average of deaths in each 1,000 population for a year.

Munich was always present with her 33 deaths in each

1,000 of her population (yearly average), Chicago was

as constant with her 15 or 17, Dublin with her 48–and

so on.

Only a few American cities appear in these tables, but they

are scattered so widely over the country that they furnish

a good general average of CITY health in the United States;

and I think it will be granted that our towns and villages

are healthier than our cities.

Here is the average of the only American cities reported

in the German tables:

Chicago, deaths in 1,000 population annually,

16; Philadelphia, 18; St. Louis, 18; San Francisco,

19; New York (the Dublin of America), 23.

See how the figures jump up, as soon as one arrives

at the transatlantic list:

Paris, 27; Glasgow, 27; London, 28; Vienna, 28;

Augsburg, 28; Braunschweig, 28; K:onigsberg, 29;

Cologne, 29; Dresden, 29; Hamburg, 29; Berlin, 30;

Bombay, 30; Warsaw, 31; Breslau, 31; Odessa, 32;

Munich, 33; Strasburg, 33, Pesth, 35; Cassel, 35;

Lisbon, 36; Liverpool, 36; Prague, 37; Madras, 37;

Bucharest, 39; St. Petersburg, 40; Trieste, 40;

Alexandria (Egypt), 43; Dublin, 48; Calcutta, 55.

Edinburgh is as healthy as New York–23; but there

is no CITY in the entire list which is healthier,

except Frankfort-on-the-Main–20. But Frankfort is not

as healthy as Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, or Philadelphia.

Perhaps a strict average of the world might develop the fact

that where one in 1,000 of America’s population dies,

two in 1,000 of the other populations of the earth succumb.

I do not like to make insinuations, but I do think

the above statistics darkly suggest that these people

over here drink this detestable water “on the sly.”

We climbed the moraine on the opposite side of the glacier,

and then crept along its sharp ridge a hundred yards or so,

in pretty constant danger of a tumble to the glacier below.

The fall would have been only one hundred feet, but it

would have closed me out as effectually as one thousand,

therefore I respected the distance accordingly, and was

glad when the trip was done. A moraine is an ugly thing

to assault head-first. At a distance it looks like an endless

grave of fine sand, accurately shaped and nicely smoothed;

but close by, it is found to be made mainly of rough

boulders of all sizes, from that of a man’s head to that of

a cottage.

By and by we came to the Mauvais Pas, or the Villainous Road,

to translate it feelingly. It was a breakneck path

around the face of a precipice forth or fifty feet high,

and nothing to hang on to but some iron railings.

I got along, slowly, safely, and uncomfortably, and finally

reached the middle. My hopes began to rise a little,

but they were quickly blighted; for there I met a hog–a

long-nosed, bristly fellow, that held up his snout

and worked his nostrils at me inquiringly. A hog on

a pleasure excursion in Switzerland–think of it! It is

striking and unusual; a body might write a poem about it.

He could not retreat, if he had been disposed to do it.

It would have been foolish to stand upon our dignity

in a place where there was hardly room to stand upon

our feet, so we did nothing of the sort. There were

twenty or thirty ladies and gentlemen behind us; we all

turned about and went back, and the hog followed behind.

The creature did not seem set up by what he had done;

he had probably done it before.

We reached the restaurant on the height called the Chapeau

at four in the afternoon. It was a memento-factory, and

the stock was large, cheap, and varied. I bought the usual

paper-cutter to remember the place by, and had Mont Blanc,

the Mauvais Pas, and the rest of the region branded on

my alpenstock; then we descended to the valley and walked

home without being tied together. This was not dangerous,

for the valley was five miles wide, and quite level.

We reached the hotel before nine o’clock. Next

morning we left for Geneva on top of the diligence,

under shelter of a gay awning. If I remember rightly,

there were more than twenty people up there.

It was so high that the ascent was made by ladder.

The huge vehicle was full everywhere, inside and out.

Five other diligences left at the same time, all full.

We had engaged our seats two days beforehand, to make sure,

and paid the regulation price, five dollars each; but the

rest of the company were wiser; they had trusted Baedeker,

and waited; consequently some of them got their seats

for one or two dollars. Baedeker knows all about hotels,

railway and diligence companies, and speaks his mind freely.

He is a trustworthy friend of the traveler.

We never saw Mont Blanc at his best until we were many

miles away; then he lifted his majestic proportions

high into the heavens, all white and cold and solemn,

and made the rest of the world seem little and plebeian,

and cheap and trivial.

As he passed out of sight at last, an old Englishman

settled himself in his seat and said:

“Well, I am satisfied, I have seen the principal features

of Swiss scenery–Mont Blanc and the goiter–now for home!”


[Queer European Manners]

We spent a few pleasant restful days at Geneva,

that delightful city where accurate time-pieces are made

for all the rest of the world, but whose own clocks

never give the correct time of day by any accident.

Geneva is filled with pretty shops, and the shops are

filled with the most enticing gimacrackery, but if one

enters one of these places he is at once pounced upon,

and followed up, and so persecuted to buy this, that,

and the other thing, that he is very grateful to get

out again, and is not at all apt to repeat his experiment.

The shopkeepers of the smaller sort, in Geneva,

are as troublesome and persistent as are the salesmen

of that monster hive in Paris, the Grands Magasins du

Louvre–an establishment where ill-mannered pestering,

pursuing, and insistence have been reduced to a science.

In Geneva, prices in the smaller shops are very elastic–

that is another bad feature. I was looking in at a window

at a very pretty string of beads, suitable for a child.

I was only admiring them; I had no use for them; I hardly

ever wear beads. The shopwoman came out and offered

them to me for thirty-five francs. I said it was cheap,

but I did not need them.

“Ah, but monsieur, they are so beautiful!”

I confessed it, but said they were not suitable for one

of my age and simplicity of character. She darted in and

brought them out and tried to force them into my hands,


“Ah, but only see how lovely they are! Surely monsieur will

take them; monsieur shall have them for thirty francs.

There, I have said it–it is a loss, but one must live.”

I dropped my hands, and tried to move her to respect

my unprotected situation. But no, she dangled the beads

in the sun before my face, exclaiming, “Ah, monsieur

CANNOT resist them!” She hung them on my coat button,

folded her hand resignedly, and said: “Gone,–and for

thirty francs, the lovely things–it is incredible!–but

the good God will sanctify the sacrifice to me.”

I removed them gently, returned them, and walked away,

shaking my head and smiling a smile of silly embarrassment

while the passers-by halted to observe. The woman leaned

out of her door, shook the beads, and screamed after me:

“Monsieur shall have them for twenty-eight!”

I shook my head.

“Twenty-seven! It is a cruel loss, it is ruin–

but take them, only take them.”

I still retreated, still wagging my head.

“MON DIEU, they shall even go for twenty-six! There,

I have said it. Come!”

I wagged another negative. A nurse and a little English girl

had been near me, and were following me, now. The shopwoman

ran to the nurse, thrust the beads into her hands, and said:

“Monsieur shall have them for twenty-five! Take them

to the hotel–he shall send me the money tomorrow–

next day–when he likes.” Then to the child: “When thy

father sends me the money, come thou also, my angel,

and thou shall have something oh so pretty!”

I was thus providentially saved. The nurse refused

the beads squarely and firmly, and that ended the matter.

The “sights” of Geneva are not numerous. I made one

attempt to hunt up the houses once inhabited by those

two disagreeable people, Rousseau and Calvin, but I had

no success. Then I concluded to go home. I found it was

easier to propose to do that than to do it; for that town

is a bewildering place. I got lost in a tangle of narrow

and crooked streets, and stayed lost for an hour or two.

Finally I found a street which looked somewhat familiar,

and said to myself, “Now I am at home, I judge.” But I

was wrong; this was “HELL street.” Presently I found

another place which had a familiar look, and said to myself,

“Now I am at home, sure.” It was another error. This was

“PURGATORY street.” After a little I said, “NOW I’ve got the

right place, anyway … no, this is ‘PARADISE street’;

I’m further from home than I was in the beginning.”

Those were queer names–Calvin was the author of them,

likely. “Hell” and “Purgatory” fitted those two streets

like a glove, but the “Paradise” appeared to be sarcastic.

I came out on the lake-front, at last, and then I knew

where I was. I was walking along before the glittering

jewelry shops when I saw a curious performance.

A lady passed by, and a trim dandy lounged across the walk

in such an apparently carefully timed way as to bring

himself exactly in front of her when she got to him;

he made no offer to step out of the way; he did not apologize;

he did not even notice her. She had to stop still and let

him lounge by. I wondered if he had done that piece

of brutality purposely. He strolled to a chair and seated

himself at a small table; two or three other males were

sitting at similar tables sipping sweetened water.

I waited; presently a youth came by, and this fellow got

up and served him the same trick. Still, it did not seem

possible that any one could do such a thing deliberately.

To satisfy my curiosity I went around the block, and,

sure enough, as I approached, at a good round speed, he got

up and lounged lazily across my path, fouling my course

exactly at the right moment to receive all my weight.

This proved that his previous performances had not

been accidental, but intentional.

I saw that dandy’s curious game played afterward, in Paris,

but not for amusement; not with a motive of any sort, indeed,

but simply from a selfish indifference to other people’s

comfort and rights. One does not see it as frequently

in Paris as he might expect to, for there the law says,

in effect, “It is the business of the weak to get out of

the way of the strong.” We fine a cabman if he runs over

a citizen; Paris fines the citizen for being run over.

At least so everybody says–but I saw something which

caused me to doubt; I saw a horseman run over an old woman

one day–the police arrested him and took him away.

That looked as if they meant to punish him.

It will not do for me to find merit in American manners–

for are they not the standing butt for the jests

of critical and polished Europe? Still, I must venture

to claim one little matter of superiority in our manners;

a lady may traverse our streets all day, going and coming

as she chooses, and she will never be molested by any man;

but if a lady, unattended, walks abroad in the streets

of London, even at noonday, she will be pretty likely

to be accosted and insulted–and not by drunken sailors,

but by men who carry the look and wear the dress of gentlemen.

It is maintained that these people are not gentlemen,

but are a lower sort, disguised as gentlemen. The case

of Colonel Valentine Baker obstructs that argument,

for a man cannot become an officer in the British army

except he hold the rank of gentleman. This person,

finding himself alone in a railway compartment with

an unprotected girl–but it is an atrocious story,

and doubtless the reader remembers it well enough.

London must have been more or less accustomed to Bakers,

and the ways of Bakers, else London would have been

offended and excited. Baker was “imprisoned”–in a parlor;

and he could not have been more visited, or more overwhelmed

with attentions, if he had committed six murders and then–

while the gallows was preparing–“got religion”–after

the manner of the holy Charles Peace, of saintly memory.

Arkansaw–it seems a little indelicate to be trumpeting forth

our own superiorities, and comparisons are always odious,

but still–Arkansaw would certainly have hanged Baker.

I do not say she would have tried him first, but she would have

hanged him, anyway.

Even the most degraded woman can walk our streets unmolested,

her sex and her weakness being her sufficient protection.

She will encounter less polish than she would in the

old world, but she will run across enough humanity to make

up for it.

The music of a donkey awoke us early in the morning,

and we rose up and made ready for a pretty formidable

walk–to Italy; but the road was so level that we took

the train.. We lost a good deal of time by this, but it

was no matter, we were not in a hurry. We were four

hours going to Chamb`ery. The Swiss trains go upward

of three miles an hour, in places, but they are quite safe.

That aged French town of Chamb`ery was as quaint and crooked

as Heilbronn. A drowsy reposeful quiet reigned in the back

streets which made strolling through them very pleasant,

barring the almost unbearable heat of the sun.

In one of these streets, which was eight feet wide,

gracefully curved, and built up with small antiquated houses,

I saw three fat hogs lying asleep, and a boy (also asleep)

taking care of them. From queer old-fashioned windows

along the curve projected boxes of bright flowers, and over

the edge of one of these boxes hung the head and shoulders

of a cat–asleep. The five sleeping creatures were the

only living things visible in that street. There was not

a sound; absolute stillness prevailed. It was Sunday;

one is not used to such dreamy Sundays on the continent.

In our part of the town it was different that night.

A regiment of brown and battered soldiers had arrived home

from Algiers, and I judged they got thirsty on the way.

They sang and drank till dawn, in the pleasant open air.

We left for Turin at ten the next morning by a railway which

was profusely decorated with tunnels. We forgot to take

a lantern along, consequently we missed all the scenery.

Our compartment was full. A ponderous tow-headed Swiss woman,

who put on many fine-lady airs, but was evidently more

used to washing linen than wearing it, sat in a corner

seat and put her legs across into the opposite one,

propping them intermediately with her up-ended valise.

In the seat thus pirated, sat two Americans, greatly incommoded

by that woman’s majestic coffin-clad feet. One of them

begged, politely, to remove them. She opened her wide eyes

and gave him a stare, but answered nothing. By and by he

preferred his request again, with great respectfulness.

She said, in good English, and in a deeply offended tone,

that she had paid her passage and was not going to be

bullied out of her “rights” by ill-bred foreigners,

even if she was alone and unprotected.

“But I have rights, also, madam. My ticket entitles me

to a seat, but you are occupying half of it.”

“I will not talk with you, sir. What right have you

to speak to me? I do not know you. One would know

you came from a land where there are no gentlemen.

No GENTLEMAN would treat a lady as you have treated me.”

“I come from a region where a lady would hardly give me

the same provocation.”

“You have insulted me, sir! You have intimated that I am

not a lady–and I hope I am NOT one, after the pattern

of your country.”

“I beg that you will give yourself no alarm on that head,

madam; but at the same time I must insist–always

respectfully–that you let me have my seat.”

Here the fragile laundress burst into tears and sobs.

“I never was so insulted before! Never, never! It

is shameful, it is brutal, it is base, to bully and abuse

an unprotected lady who has lost the use of her limbs

and cannot put her feet to the floor without agony!”

“Good heavens, madam, why didn’t you say that at first! I

offer a thousand pardons. And I offer them most sincerely.

I did not know–I COULD not know–anything was the matter.

You are most welcome to the seat, and would have been

from the first if I had only known. I am truly sorry it

all happened, I do assure you.”

But he couldn’t get a word of forgiveness out of her.

She simply sobbed and sniffed in a subdued but wholly

unappeasable way for two long hours, meantime crowding

the man more than ever with her undertaker-furniture

and paying no sort of attention to his frequent and

humble little efforts to do something for her comfort.

Then the train halted at the Italian line and she hopped

up and marched out of the car with as firm a leg as any

washerwoman of all her tribe! And how sick I was, to see

how she had fooled me.

Turin is a very fine city. In the matter of roominess

it transcends anything that was ever dreamed of before,

I fancy. It sits in the midst of a vast dead-level, and one

is obliged to imagine that land may be had for the asking,

and no taxes to pay, so lavishly do they use it.

The streets are extravagantly wide, the paved squares

are prodigious, the houses are huge and handsome,

and compacted into uniform blocks that stretch away as

straight as an arrow, into the distance. The sidewalks

are about as wide as ordinary European STREETS, and are

covered over with a double arcade supported on great stone

piers or columns. One walks from one end to the other

of these spacious streets, under shelter all the time,

and all his course is lined with the prettiest of shops

and the most inviting dining-houses.

There is a wide and lengthy court, glittering with the

most wickedly enticing shops, which is roofed with glass,

high aloft overhead, and paved with soft-toned marbles

laid in graceful figures; and at night when the place

is brilliant with gas and populous with a sauntering

and chatting and laughing multitude of pleasure-seekers,

it is a spectacle worth seeing.

Everything is on a large scale; the public buildings,

for instance–and they are architecturally imposing,

too, as well as large. The big squares have big bronze

monuments in them. At the hotel they gave us rooms

that were alarming, for size, and parlor to match.

It was well the weather required no fire in the parlor,

for I think one might as well have tried to warm a park.

The place would have a warm look, though, in any weather,

for the window-curtains were of red silk damask,

and the walls were covered with the same fire-hued

goods–so, also, were the four sofas and the brigade

of chairs. The furniture, the ornaments, the chandeliers,

the carpets, were all new and bright and costly.

We did not need a parlor at all, but they said it belonged

to the two bedrooms and we might use it if we chose.

Since it was to cost nothing, we were not averse to using it,

of course.

Turin must surely read a good deal, for it has more

book-stores to the square rod than any other town I

know of. And it has its own share of military folk.

The Italian officers’ uniforms are very much the most

beautiful I have ever seen; and, as a general thing,

the men in them were as handsome as the clothes. They were

not large men, but they had fine forms, fine features,

rich olive complexions, and lustrous black eyes.

For several weeks I had been culling all the information

I could about Italy, from tourists. The tourists were

all agreed upon one thing–one must expect to be cheated

at every turn by the Italians. I took an evening walk

in Turin, and presently came across a little Punch and Judy

show in one of the great squares. Twelve or fifteen

people constituted the audience. This miniature theater

was not much bigger than a man’s coffin stood on end;

the upper part was open and displayed a tinseled

parlor–a good-sized handkerchief would have answered

for a drop-curtain; the footlights consisted of a couple

of candle-ends an inch long; various manikins the size

of dolls appeared on the stage and made long speeches at

each other, gesticulating a good deal, and they generally

had a fight before they got through. They were worked

by strings from above, and the illusion was not perfect,

for one saw not only the strings but the brawny hand

that manipulated them–and the actors and actresses all

talked in the same voice, too. The audience stood in front

of the theater, and seemed to enjoy the performance heartily.

When the play was done, a youth in his shirt-sleeves started

around with a small copper saucer to make a collection.

I did not know how much to put in, but thought I would

be guided by my predecessors. Unluckily, I only had two

of these, and they did not help me much because they

did not put in anything. I had no Italian money,

so I put in a small Swiss coin worth about ten cents.

The youth finished his collection trip and emptied

the result on the stage; he had some very animated talk

with the concealed manager, then he came working his

way through the little crowd–seeking me, I thought.

I had a mind to slip away, but concluded I wouldn’t;

I would stand my ground, and confront the villainy,

whatever it was. The youth stood before me and held

up that Swiss coin, sure enough, and said something.

I did not understand him, but I judged he was requiring

Italian money of me. The crowd gathered close,

to listen. I was irritated, and said–in English,

of course:

“I know it’s Swiss, but you’ll take that or none.

I haven’t any other.”

He tried to put the coin in my hand, and spoke again.

I drew my hand away, and said:

“NO, sir. I know all about you people. You can’t play

any of your fraudful tricks on me. If there is a discount

on that coin, I am sorry, but I am not going to make

it good. I noticed that some of the audience didn’t pay

you anything at all. You let them go, without a word,

but you come after me because you think I’m a stranger

and will put up with an extortion rather than have a scene.

But you are mistaken this time–you’ll take that Swiss

money or none.”

The youth stood there with the coin in his fingers,

nonplused and bewildered; of course he had not understood

a word. An English-speaking Italian spoke up, now, and said:

“You are misunderstanding the boy. He does not mean any harm.

He did not suppose you gave him so much money purposely,

so he hurried back to return you the coin lest you

might get away before you discovered your mistake.

Take it, and give him a penny–that will make everything

smooth again.”

I probably blushed, then, for there was occasion.

Through the interpreter I begged the boy’s pardon,

but I nobly refused to take back the ten cents. I said

I was accustomed to squandering large sums in that way–

it was the kind of person I was. Then I retired to make

a note to the effect that in Italy persons connected

with the drama do not cheat.

The episode with the showman reminds me of a dark chapter

in my history. I once robbed an aged and blind beggar-woman

of four dollars–in a church. It happened this way.

When I was out with the Innocents Abroad, the ship

stopped in the Russian port of Odessa and I went ashore,

with others, to view the town. I got separated from the rest,

and wandered about alone, until late in the afternoon,

when I entered a Greek church to see what it was like.

When I was ready to leave, I observed two wrinkled old

women standing stiffly upright against the inner wall,

near the door, with their brown palms open to receive alms.

I contributed to the nearer one, and passed out.

I had gone fifty yards, perhaps, when it occurred to me

that I must remain ashore all night, as I had heard

that the ship’s business would carry her away at four

o’clock and keep her away until morning. It was a little

after four now. I had come ashore with only two pieces

of money, both about the same size, but differing largely

in value–one was a French gold piece worth four dollars,

the other a Turkish coin worth two cents and a half.

With a sudden and horrified misgiving, I put my hand in

my pocket, now, and sure enough, I fetched out that Turkish


Here was a situation. A hotel would require pay in

advance –I must walk the street all night, and perhaps

be arrested as a suspicious character. There was but one

way out of the difficulty–I flew back to the church,

and softly entered. There stood the old woman yet,

and in the palm of the nearest one still lay my gold piece.

I was grateful. I crept close, feeling unspeakably mean;

I got my Turkish penny ready, and was extending a trembling

hand to make the nefarious exchange, when I heard a cough

behind me. I jumped back as if I had been accused,

and stood quaking while a worshiper entered and passed up

the aisle.

I was there a year trying to steal that money; that is,

it seemed a year, though, of course, it must have been

much less. The worshipers went and came; there were hardly

ever three in the church at once, but there was always one

or more. Every time I tried to commit my crime somebody

came in or somebody started out, and I was prevented;

but at last my opportunity came; for one moment there

was nobody in the church but the two beggar-women and me.

I whipped the gold piece out of the poor old pauper’s palm

and dropped my Turkish penny in its place. Poor old thing,

she murmured her thanks–they smote me to the heart.

Then I sped away in a guilty hurry, and even when I was a mile

from the church I was still glancing back, every moment,

to see if I was being pursued.

That experience has been of priceless value and benefit

to me; for I resolved then, that as long as I lived I

would never again rob a blind beggar-woman in a church;

and I have always kept my word. The most permanent lessons

in morals are those which come, not of booky teaching,

but of experience.


[Beauty of Women–and of Old Masters]

In Milan we spent most of our time in the vast and

beautiful Arcade or Gallery, or whatever it is called.

Blocks of tall new buildings of the most sumptuous sort,

rich with decoration and graced with statues, the streets

between these blocks roofed over with glass at a great height,

the pavements all of smooth and variegated marble,

arranged in tasteful patterns–little tables all over these

marble streets, people sitting at them, eating, drinking,

or smoking–crowds of other people strolling by–such

is the Arcade. I should like to live in it all the time.

The windows of the sumptuous restaurants stand open,

and one breakfasts there and enjoys the passing show.

We wandered all over the town, enjoying whatever was going

on in the streets. We took one omnibus ride, and as I

did not speak Italian and could not ask the price, I held

out some copper coins to the conductor, and he took two.

Then he went and got his tariff card and showed me that he

had taken only the right sum. So I made a note–Italian

omnibus conductors do not cheat.

Near the Cathedral I saw another instance of probity.

An old man was peddling dolls and toy fans. Two small

American children and one gave the old man a franc

and three copper coins, and both started away; but they

were called back, and the franc and one of the coppers

were restored to them. Hence it is plain that in Italy,

parties connected with the drama and the omnibus and the toy

interests do not cheat.

The stocks of goods in the shops were not extensive, generally.

In the vestibule of what seemed to be a clothing store,

we saw eight or ten wooden dummies grouped together,

clothed in woolen business suits and each marked with its price.

One suit was marked forty-five francs–nine dollars.

Harris stepped in and said he wanted a suit like that.

Nothing easier: the old merchant dragged in the dummy,

brushed him off with a broom, stripped him, and shipped

the clothes to the hotel. He said he did not keep two

suits of the same kind in stock, but manufactured a second

when it was needed to reclothe the dummy.

In another quarter we found six Italians engaged

in a violent quarrel. They danced fiercely about,

gesticulating with their heads, their arms, their legs,

their whole bodies; they would rush forward occasionally

with a sudden access of passion and shake their fists

in each other’s very faces. We lost half an hour there,

waiting to help cord up the dead, but they finally embraced

each other affectionately, and the trouble was over.

The episode was interesting, but we could not have afforded

all the time to it if we had known nothing was going

to come of it but a reconciliation. Note made–in Italy,

people who quarrel cheat the spectator.

We had another disappointment afterward. We approached

a deeply interested crowd, and in the midst of it

found a fellow wildly chattering and gesticulating

over a box on the ground which was covered with a piece

of old blanket. Every little while he would bend down

and take hold of the edge of the blanket with the extreme

tips of his fingertips, as if to show there was no

deception–chattering away all the while–but always,

just as I was expecting to see a wonder feat of legerdemain,

he would let go the blanket and rise to explain further.

However, at last he uncovered the box and got out a spoon

with a liquid in it, and held it fair and frankly around,

for people to see that it was all right and he was taking

no advantage–his chatter became more excited than ever.

I supposed he was going to set fire to the liquid and

swallow it, so I was greatly wrought up and interested.

I got a cent ready in one hand and a florin in the other,

intending to give him the former if he survived and the

latter if he killed himself–for his loss would be my gain

in a literary way, and I was willing to pay a fair price

for the item –but this impostor ended his intensely

moving performance by simply adding some powder to the

liquid and polishing the spoon! Then he held it aloft,

and he could not have shown a wilder exultation if he

had achieved an immortal miracle. The crowd applauded

in a gratified way, and it seemed to me that history

speaks the truth when it says these children of the south

are easily entertained.

We spent an impressive hour in the noble cathedral, where long

shafts of tinted light were cleaving through the solemn

dimness from the lofty windows and falling on a pillar here,

a picture there, and a kneeling worshiper yonder.

The organ was muttering, censers were swinging, candles were

glinting on the distant altar and robed priests were

filing silently past them; the scene was one to sweep all

frivolous thoughts away and steep the soul in a holy calm.

A trim young American lady paused a yard or two from me,

fixed her eyes on the mellow sparks flecking the far-off altar,

bent her head reverently a moment, then straightened up,

kicked her train into the air with her heel, caught it

deftly in her hand, and marched briskly out.

We visited the picture-galleries and the other regulation


of Milan–not because I wanted to write about them again,

but to see if I had learned anything in twelve years.

I afterward visited the great galleries of Rome and

Florence for the same purpose. I found I had learned

one thing. When I wrote about the Old Masters before,

I said the copies were better than the originals.

That was a mistake of large dimensions. The Old Masters

were still unpleasing to me, but they were truly divine

contrasted with the copies. The copy is to the original

as the pallid, smart, inane new wax-work group is to

the vigorous, earnest, dignified group of living men

and women whom it professes to duplicate. There is a

mellow richness, a subdued color, in the old pictures,

which is to the eye what muffled and mellowed sound

is to the ear. That is the merit which is most loudly

praised in the old picture, and is the one which the copy

most conspicuously lacks, and which the copyist must

not hope to compass. It was generally conceded by the

artists with whom I talked, that that subdued splendor,

that mellow richness, is imparted to the picture by AGE.

Then why should we worship the Old Master for it,

who didn’t impart it, instead of worshiping Old Time,

who did? Perhaps the picture was a clanging bell,

until Time muffled it and sweetened it.

In conversation with an artist in Venice, I asked: “What

is it that people see in the Old Masters? I have been in the

Doge’s palace and I saw several acres of very bad drawing,

very bad perspective, and very incorrect proportions.

Paul Veronese’s dogs to not resemble dogs; all the horses

look like bladders on legs; one man had a RIGHT leg on

the left side of his body; in the large picture where

the Emperor (Barbarossa?) is prostrate before the Pope,

there are three men in the foreground who are over

thirty feet high, if one may judge by the size of a

kneeling little boy in the center of the foreground;

and according to the same scale, the Pope is seven feet

high and the Doge is a shriveled dwarf of four feet.”

The artist said:

“Yes, the Old Masters often drew badly; they did not

care much for truth and exactness in minor details;

but after all, in spite of bad drawing, bad perspective,

bad proportions, and a choice of subjects which no longer

appeal to people as strongly as they did three hundred

years ago, there is a SOMETHING about their pictures

which is divine–a something which is above and beyond

the art of any epoch since–a something which would be

the despair of artists but that they never hope or expect

to attain it, and therefore do not worry about it.”

That is what he said–and he said what he believed;

and not only believed, but felt.

Reasoning–especially reasoning, without technical

knowledge–must be put aside, in cases of this kind.

It cannot assist the inquirer. It will lead him,

in the most logical progression, to what, in the eyes

of artists, would be a most illogical conclusion.

Thus: bad drawing, bad proportion, bad perspective,

indifference to truthful detail, color which gets its

merit from time, and not from the artist–these things

constitute the Old Master; conclusion, the Old Master

was a bad painter, the Old Master was not an Old Master

at all, but an Old Apprentice. Your friend the artist

will grant your premises, but deny your conclusion;

he will maintain that notwithstanding this formidable

list of confessed defects, there is still a something

that is divine and unapproachable about the Old Master,

and that there is no arguing the fact away by any system of

reasoning whatsoever.

I can believe that. There are women who have an

indefinable charm in their faces which makes them

beautiful to their intimates, but a cold stranger

who tried to reason the matter out and find this beauty

would fail. He would say to one of these women: This

chin is too short, this nose is too long, this forehead

is too high, this hair is too red, this complexion is

too pallid, the perspective of the entire composition

is incorrect; conclusion, the woman is not beautiful.

But her nearest friend might say, and say truly,

“Your premises are right, your logic is faultless,

but your conclusion is wrong, nevertheless; she is an Old

Master–she is beautiful, but only to such as know her;

it is a beauty which cannot be formulated, but it is there, just

the same.”

I found more pleasure in contemplating the Old Masters

this time than I did when I was in Europe in former years,

but still it was a calm pleasure; there was nothing

overheated about it. When I was in Venice before,

I think I found no picture which stirred me much,

but this time there were two which enticed me to the Doge’s

palace day after day, and kept me there hours at a time.

One of these was Tintoretto’s three-acre picture in the

Great Council Chamber. When I saw it twelve years ago I

was not strongly attracted to it–the guide told me it

was an insurrection in heaven–but this was an error.

The movement of this great work is very fine. There are

ten thousand figures, and they are all doing something.

There is a wonderful “go” to the whole composition.

Some of the figures are driving headlong downward,

with clasped hands, others are swimming through the

cloud-shoals–some on their faces, some on their backs–great

processions of bishops, martyrs, and angels are pouring swiftly

centerward from various outlying directions–everywhere

is enthusiastic joy, there is rushing movement everywhere.

There are fifteen or twenty figures scattered here and there,

with books, but they cannot keep their attention on

their reading–they offer the books to others, but no

one wishes to read, now. The Lion of St. Mark is there

with his book; St. Mark is there with his pen uplifted;

he and the Lion are looking each other earnestly in the face,

disputing about the way to spell a word–the Lion

looks up in rapt admiration while St. Mark spells.

This is wonderfully interpreted by the artist.

It is the master-stroke of this imcomparable painting.

[Figure 10]

I visited the place daily, and never grew tired of

looking at that grand picture. As I have intimated,

the movement is almost unimaginable vigorous; the figures

are singing, hosannahing, and many are blowing trumpets.

So vividly is noise suggested, that spectators who become

absorbed in the picture almost always fall to shouting

comments in each other’s ears, making ear-trumpets of their

curved hands, fearing they may not otherwise be heard.

One often sees a tourist, with the eloquent tears pouring

down his cheeks, funnel his hands at his wife’s ear,

and hears him roar through them, “OH, TO BE THERE AND


None but the supremely great in art can produce effects

like these with the silent brush.

Twelve years ago I could not have appreciated this picture.

One year ago I could not have appreciated it. My study

of Art in Heidelberg has been a noble education to me.

All that I am today in Art, I owe to that.

The other great work which fascinated me was Bassano’s

immortal Hair Trunk. This is in the Chamber of the Council

of Ten. It is in one of the three forty-foot pictures

which decorate the walls of the room. The composition

of this picture is beyond praise. The Hair Trunk is not

hurled at the stranger’s head–so to speak–as the chief

feature of an immortal work so often is; no, it is

carefully guarded from prominence, it is subordinated,

it is restrained, it is most deftly and cleverly held

in reserve, it is most cautiously and ingeniously led up to,

by the master, and consequently when the spectator reaches

it at last, he is taken unawares, he is unprepared,

and it bursts upon him with a stupefying surprise.

One is lost in wonder at all the thought and care which

this elaborate planning must have cost. A general glance

at the picture could never suggest that there was a hair

trunk in it; the Hair Trunk is not mentioned in the title

even–which is, “Pope Alexander III. and the Doge Ziani,

the Conqueror of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa”;

you see, the title is actually utilized to help

divert attention from the Trunk; thus, as I say,

nothing suggests the presence of the Trunk, by any hint,

yet everything studiedly leads up to it, step by step.

Let us examine into this, and observe the exquisitely

artful artlessness of the plan.

At the extreme left end of the picture are a couple of women,

one of them with a child looking over her shoulder at

a wounded man sitting with bandaged head on the ground.

These people seem needless, but no, they are there

for a purpose; one cannot look at them without seeing

the gorgeous procession of grandees, bishops, halberdiers,

and banner-bearers which is passing along behind them;

one cannot see the procession without feeling the curiosity

to follow it and learn whither it is going; it leads him

to the Pope, in the center of the picture, who is talking

with the bonnetless Doge–talking tranquilly, too,

although within twelve feet of them a man is beating a drum,

and not far from the drummer two persons are blowing horns,

and many horsemen are plunging and rioting about–indeed,

twenty-two feet of this great work is all a deep and

happy holiday serenity and Sunday-school procession,

and then we come suddenly upon eleven and one-half feet

of turmoil and racket and insubordination. This latter

state of things is not an accident, it has its purpose.

But for it, one would linger upon the Pope and the Doge,

thinking them to be the motive and supreme feature of

the picture; whereas one is drawn along, almost unconsciously,

to see what the trouble is about. Now at the very END

of this riot, within four feet of the end of the picture,

and full thirty-six feet from the beginning of it,

the Hair Trunk bursts with an electrifying suddenness

upon the spectator, in all its matchless perfection,

and the great master’s triumph is sweeping and complete.

From that moment no other thing in those forty feet of canvas

has any charm; one sees the Hair Trunk, and the Hair Trunk

only–and to see it is to worship it. Bassano even placed

objects in the immediate vicinity of the Supreme Feature

whose pretended purpose was to divert attention from it yet

a little longer and thus delay and augment the surprise;

for instance, to the right of it he has placed a stooping

man with a cap so red that it is sure to hold the eye

for a moment–to the left of it, some six feet away,

he has placed a red-coated man on an inflated horse,

and that coat plucks your eye to that locality the next

moment–then, between the Trunk and the red horseman he

has intruded a man, naked to his waist, who is carrying

a fancy flour-sack on the middle of his back instead

of on his shoulder–this admirable feat interests you,

of course–keeps you at bay a little longer, like a sock

or a jacket thrown to the pursuing wolf–but at last,

in spite of all distractions and detentions, the eye

of even the most dull and heedless spectator is sure

to fall upon the World’s Masterpiece, and in that

moment he totters to his chair or leans upon his guide

for support.

Descriptions of such a work as this must necessarily

be imperfect, yet they are of value. The top of the Trunk

is arched; the arch is a perfect half-circle, in the Roman

style of architecture, for in the then rapid decadence

of Greek art, the rising influence of Rome was already

beginning to be felt in the art of the Republic.

The Trunk is bound or bordered with leather all around

where the lid joins the main body. Many critics consider

this leather too cold in tone; but I consider this

its highest merit, since it was evidently made so to

emphasize by contrast the impassioned fervor of the hasp.

The highlights in this part of the work are cleverly managed,

the MOTIF is admirably subordinated to the ground tints,

and the technique is very fine. The brass nail-heads

are in the purest style of the early Renaissance.

The strokes, here, are very firm and bold–every nail-head

is a portrait. The handle on the end of the Trunk has

evidently been retouched–I think, with a piece of chalk–

but one can still see the inspiration of the Old Master

in the tranquil, almost too tranquil, hang of it. The hair

of this Trunk is REAL hair–so to speak–white in patched,

brown in patches. The details are finely worked out;

the repose proper to hair in a recumbent and inactive

attitude is charmingly expressed. There is a feeling

about this part of the work which lifts it to the highest

altitudes of art; the sense of sordid realism vanishes

away–one recognizes that there is SOUL here.

View this Trunk as you will, it is a gem, it is a marvel,

it is a miracle. Some of the effects are very daring,

approaching even to the boldest flights of the rococo,

the sirocco, and the Byzantine schools–yet the master’s hand

never falters–it moves on, calm, majestic, confident–and,

with that art which conceals art, it finally casts over

the TOUT ENSEMBLE, by mysterious methods of its own,

a subtle something which refines, subdues, etherealizes the

arid components and endures them with the deep charm

and gracious witchery of poesy.

Among the art-treasures of Europe there are pictures

which approach the Hair Trunk–there are two which may

be said to equal it, possibly–but there is none that

surpasses it. So perfect is the Hair Trunk that it moves

even persons who ordinarily have no feeling for art.

When an Erie baggagemaster saw it two years ago, he could

hardly keep from checking it; and once when a customs

inspector was brought into its presence, he gazed upon

it in silent rapture for some moments, then slowly

and unconsciously placed one hand behind him with the

palm uppermost, and got out his chalk with the other.

These facts speak for themselves.


[Hanged with a Golden Rope]

One lingers about the Cathedral a good deal, in Venice.

There is a strong fascination about it–partly because

it is so old, and partly because it is so ugly.

Too many of the world’s famous buildings fail of one

chief virtue–harmony; they are made up of a methodless

mixture of the ugly and the beautiful; this is bad;

it is confusing, it is unrestful. One has a sense

of uneasiness, of distress, without knowing why. But one

is calm before St. Mark’s, one is calm in the cellar;

for its details are masterfully ugly, no misplaced

and impertinent beauties are intruded anywhere; and the

consequent result is a grand harmonious whole, of soothing,

entrancing, tranquilizing, soul-satisfying ugliness.

One’s admiration of a perfect thing always grows,

never declines; and this is the surest evidence to him

that it IS perfect. St. Mark’s is perfect. To me it

soon grew to be so nobly, so augustly ugly, that it was

difficult to stay away from it, even for a little while.

Every time its squat domes disappeared from my view,

I had a despondent feeling; whenever they reappeared,

I felt an honest rapture–I have not known any happier hours

than those I daily spent in front of Florian’s, looking

across the Great Square at it. Propped on its long row

of low thick-legged columns, its back knobbed with domes,

it seemed like a vast warty bug taking a meditative walk.

St. Mark’s is not the oldest building in the world, of course,

but it seems the oldest, and looks the oldest–especially inside.

When the ancient mosaics in its walls become damaged,

they are repaired but not altered; the grotesque old

pattern is preserved. Antiquity has a charm of its own,

and to smarten it up would only damage it. One day I

was sitting on a red marble bench in the vestibule looking

up at an ancient piece of apprentice-work, in mosaic,

illustrative of the command to “multiply and replenish

the earth.” The Cathedral itself had seemed very old;

but this picture was illustrating a period in history

which made the building seem young by comparison.

But I presently found an antique which was older than either

the battered Cathedral or the date assigned to the piece

of history; it was a spiral-shaped fossil as large as

the crown of a hat; it was embedded in the marble bench,

and had been sat upon by tourists until it was worn smooth.

Contrasted with the inconceivable antiquity of this

modest fossil, those other things were flippantly

modern–jejune–mere matters of day-before-yesterday.

The sense of the oldness of the Cathedral vanished away

under the influence of this truly venerable presence.

St. Mark’s is monumental; it is an imperishable remembrancer

of the profound and simply piety of the Middle Ages.

Whoever could ravish a column from a pagan temple,

did it and contributed his swag to this Christian one.

So this fane is upheld by several hundred acquisitions

procured in that peculiar way. In our day it would be

immoral to go on the highway to get bricks for a church,

but it was no sin in the old times. St. Mark’s was itself

the victim of a curious robbery once. The thing is set

down in the history of Venice, but it might be smuggled

into the Arabian Nights and not seem out of place


Nearly four hundred and fifty years ago, a Candian

named Stammato, in the suite of a prince of the house

of Este, was allowed to view the riches of St. Mark’s.

His sinful eye was dazzled and he hid himself behind

an altar, with an evil purpose in his heart, but a priest

discovered him and turned him out. Afterward he got

in again–by false keys, this time. He went there,

night after night, and worked hard and patiently, all alone,

overcoming difficulty after difficulty with his toil,

and at last succeeded in removing a great brick of the marble

paneling which walled the lower part of the treasury;

this block he fixed so that he could take it out and put

it in at will. After that, for weeks, he spent all

his midnights in his magnificent mine, inspecting it

in security, gloating over its marvels at his leisure,

and always slipping back to his obscure lodgings before dawn,

with a duke’s ransom under his cloak. He did not need

to grab, haphazard, and run–there was no hurry.

He could make deliberate and well-considered selections;

he could consult his esthetic tastes. One comprehends

how undisturbed he was, and how safe from any danger

of interruption, when it is stated that he even carried off

a unicorn’s horn–a mere curiosity–which would not pass

through the egress entire, but had to be sawn in two–

a bit of work which cost him hours of tedious labor.

He continued to store up his treasures at home until his

occupation lost the charm of novelty and became monotonous;

then he ceased from it, contented. Well he might be;

for his collection, raised to modern values, represented nearly

fifty million dollars!

He could have gone home much the richest citizen of his country,

and it might have been years before the plunder was missed;

but he was human–he could not enjoy his delight alone,

he must have somebody to talk about it with. So he

exacted a solemn oath from a Candian noble named Crioni,

then led him to his lodgings and nearly took his breath

away with a sight of his glittering hoard. He detected

a look in his friend’s face which excited his suspicion,

and was about to slip a stiletto into him when Crioni

saved himself by explaining that that look was only

an expression of supreme and happy astonishment.

Stammato made Crioni a present of one of the state’s

principal jewels–a huge carbuncle, which afterward

figured in the Ducal cap of state–and the pair parted.

Crioni went at once to the palace, denounced the criminal,

and handed over the carbuncle as evidence.

Stammato was arrested, tried, and condemned, with the

old-time Venetian promptness. He was hanged between

the two great columns in the Piazza–with a gilded rope,

out of compliment to his love of gold, perhaps. He got

no good of his booty at all–it was ALL recovered.

In Venice we had a luxury which very seldom fell to our lot

on the continent–a home dinner with a private family.

If one could always stop with private families,

when traveling, Europe would have a charm which it

now lacks. As it is, one must live in the hotels,

of course, and that is a sorrowful business.

A man accustomed to American food and American domestic

cookery would not starve to death suddenly in Europe;

but I think he would gradually waste away, and eventually die.

He would have to do without his accustomed morning meal.

That is too formidable a change altogether; he would

necessarily suffer from it. He could get the shadow,

the sham, the base counterfeit of that meal; but it would

do him no good, and money could not buy the reality.

To particularize: the average American’s simplest and

commonest form of breakfast consists of coffee and beefsteak;

well, in Europe, coffee is an unknown beverage. You can

get what the European hotel-keeper thinks is coffee, but it

resembles the real thing as hypocrisy resembles holiness.

It is a feeble, characterless, uninspiring sort of stuff,

and almost as undrinkable as if it had been made in an

American hotel. The milk used for it is what the French

call “Christian” milk–milk which has been baptized.

After a few months’ acquaintance with European “coffee,”

one’s mind weakens, and his faith with it, and he begins

to wonder if the rich beverage of home, with its clotted

layer of yellow cream on top of it, is not a mere dream,

after all, and a thing which never existed.

Next comes the European bread–fair enough, good enough,

after a fashion, but cold; cold and tough, and unsympathetic;

and never any change, never any variety–always the same

tiresome thing.

Next, the butter–the sham and tasteless butter; no salt

in it, and made of goodness knows what.

Then there is the beefsteak. They have it in Europe, but they

don’t know how to cook it. Neither will they cut it right.

It comes on the table in a small, round pewter platter.

It lies in the center of this platter, in a bordering

bed of grease-soaked potatoes; it is the size, shape,

and thickness of a man’s hand with the thumb and fingers

cut off. It is a little overdone, is rather dry,

it tastes pretty insipidly, it rouses no enthusiasm.

Imagine a poor exile contemplating that inert thing;

and imagine an angel suddenly sweeping down out of a better

land and setting before him a mighty porterhouse steak an

inch and a half thick, hot and sputtering from the griddle;

dusted with a fragrant pepper; enriched with little

melting bits of butter of the most unimpeachable freshness

and genuineness; the precious juices of the meat trickling

out and joining the gravy, archipelagoed with mushrooms;

a township or two of tender, yellowish fat gracing

an outlying district of this ample county of beefsteak;

the long white bone which divides the sirloin from the

tenderloin still in its place; and imagine that the angel

also adds a great cup of American home-made coffee,

with a cream a-froth on top, some real butter, firm and

yellow and fresh, some smoking hot-biscuits, a plate

of hot buckwheat cakes, with transparent syrup–could

words describe the gratitude of this exile?

The European dinner is better than the European breakfast,

but it has its faults and inferiorities; it does not satisfy.

He comes to the table eager and hungry; he swallows his

soup–there is an undefinable lack about it somewhere;

thinks the fish is going to be the thing he wants–

eats it and isn’t sure; thinks the next dish is perhaps

the one that will hit the hungry place–tries it,

and is conscious that there was a something wanting

about it, also. And thus he goes on, from dish to dish,

like a boy after a butterfly which just misses getting

caught every time it alights, but somehow doesn’t get caught

after all; and at the end the exile and the boy have fared

about alike; the one is full, but grievously unsatisfied,

the other has had plenty of exercise, plenty of interest,

and a fine lot of hopes, but he hasn’t got any butterfly.

There is here and there an American who will say he can remember

rising from a European table d’ho^te perfectly satisfied;

but we must not overlook the fact that there is also here

and there an American who will lie.

The number of dishes is sufficient; but then it is such

a monotonous variety of UNSTRIKING dishes. It is an inane

dead-level of “fair-to-middling.” There is nothing to

ACCENT it. Perhaps if the roast of mutton or of beef–a big,

generous one–were brought on the table and carved in full

view of the client, that might give the right sense of

earnestness and reality to the thing; but they don’t do that,

they pass the sliced meat around on a dish, and so you

are perfectly calm, it does not stir you in the least.

Now a vast roast turkey, stretched on the broad of his back,

with his heels in the air and the rich juices oozing

from his fat sides … but I may as well stop there,

for they would not know how to cook him. They can’t

even cook a chicken respectably; and as for carving it,

they do that with a hatchet.

This is about the customary table d’ho^te bill in summer:

Soup (characterless).

Fish–sole, salmon, or whiting–usually tolerably good.

Roast–mutton or beef–tasteless–and some last year’s potatoes.

A pa^te, or some other made dish–usually good–“considering.”

One vegetable–brought on in state, and all alone–usually

insipid lentils, or string-beans, or indifferent asparagus.

Roast chicken, as tasteless as paper.

Lettuce-salad–tolerably good.

Decayed strawberries or cherries.

Sometimes the apricots and figs are fresh, but this is

no advantage, as these fruits are of no account anyway.

The grapes are generally good, and sometimes there

is a tolerably good peach, by mistake.

The variations of the above bill are trifling. After a

fortnight one discovers that the variations are only apparent,

not real; in the third week you get what you had the first,

and in the fourth the week you get what you had the second.

Three or four months of this weary sameness will kill

the robustest appetite.

It has now been many months, at the present writing,

since I have had a nourishing meal, but I shall soon

have one–a modest, private affair, all to myself.

I have selected a few dishes, and made out a little bill

of fare, which will go home in the steamer that precedes me,

and be hot when I arrive–as follows:

Radishes. Baked apples, with Brook-trout, from

Sierra cream. Nevadas. Fried oysters; stewed oysters.

Lake-trout, from Tahoe. Frogs. Sheepshead and croakers

from American coffee, with real cream. New Orleans.

American butter. Black-bass from the Mississippi.

Fried chicken, Southern style. American roast beef.

Porterhouse steak. Roast turkey, Thanksgiving Saratoga

potatoes. style. Broiled chicken, American style.

Cranberry sauce. Celery. Hot biscuits, Southern style.

Roast wild turkey. Woodcock. Hot wheat-bread, Southern

Canvasback-duck, from style. Baltimore. Hot buckwheat cakes.

Prairie-hens, from Illinois. American toast. Clear maple

Missouri partridges, broiled. syrup. Possum. Coon.

Virginia bacon, broiled. Boston bacon and beans.

Blue points, on the half shell. Bacon and greens,

Southern style. Cherry-stone clams. Hominy. Boiled onions.

San Francisco mussels, steamed. Turnips. Oyster soup.

Clam soup. Pumpkin. Squash. Asparagus. Philadelphia

Terrapin soup. Butter-beans. Sweet-potatoes. Oysters

roasted in shell–Lettuce. Succotash. Northern style.

String-beans. Soft-shell crabs. Connecticut Mashed potatoes.

Catsup. shad. Boiled potatoes, in their skins.

Baltimore perch. New potatoes, minus the skins.

Early Rose potatoes, roasted in Hot egg-bread, Southern style.

the ashes, Southern style, Hot light-bread, Southern style.

served hot. Buttermilk. Iced sweet milk. Sliced tomatoes,

with sugar or Apple dumplings, with real vinegar.

Stewed tomatoes. cream. Green corn, cut from the ear and

Apple pie. Apple fritters. served with butter and pepper.

Apple puffs, Southern style. Green corn, on the ear.

Peach cobbler, Southern style. Hot corn-pone, with chitlings,

Peach pie. American mince pie. Southern style.

Pumpkin pie. Squash pie. Hot hoe-cake, Southern style.

All sorts of American pastry.

Fresh American fruits of all sorts, including strawberries,

which are not to be doled out as if they were jewelry,

but in a more liberal way.

Ice-water–not prepared in the ineffectual goblet,

but in the sincere and capable refrigerator.

Americans intending to spend a year or so in European hotels,

will do well to copy this bill and carry it along. They will

find it an excellent thing to get up an appetite with,

in the dispiriting presence of the squalid table d’ho^te.

Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, I suppose, any more than we

can enjoy theirs. It is not strange; for tastes are made,

not born. I might glorify my bill of fare until I was tired;

but after all, the Scotchman would shake his head and say,

“Where’s your haggis?” and the Fijian would sigh and say,

“Where’s your missionary?”

I have a neat talent in matters pertaining to nourishment.

This has met with professional recognition. I have often

furnished recipes for cook-books. Here are some designs

for pies and things, which I recently prepared for a

friend’s projected cook-book, but as I forgot to furnish

diagrams and perspectives, they had to be left out,

of course.


Take a lot of water and add to it a lot of coarse

Indian-meal and about a quarter of a lot of salt.

Mix well together, knead into the form of a “pone,” and let

the pone stand awhile–not on its edge, but the other way.

Rake away a place among the embers, lay it there,

and cover it an inch deep with hot ashes. When it

is done, remove it; blow off all the ashes but one layer;

butter that one and eat.

N.B.–No household should ever be without this talisman.

It has been noticed that tramps never return for another




To make this excellent breakfast dish, proceed as

follows: Take a sufficiency of water and a sufficiency

of flour, and construct a bullet-proof dough.

Work this into the form of a disk, with the edges turned

up some three-fourths of an inch. Toughen and kiln-dry

in a couple days in a mild but unvarying temperature.

Construct a cover for this redoubt in the same way and

of the same material. Fill with stewed dried apples;

aggravate with cloves, lemon-peel, and slabs of citron;

add two portions of New Orleans sugars, then solder

on the lid and set in a safe place till it petrifies.

Serve cold at breakfast and invite your enemy.



Take a barrel of water and bring it to a boil; rub a chicory

berry against a coffee berry, then convey the former

into the water. Continue the boiling and evaporation

until the intensity of the flavor and aroma of the coffee

and chicory has been diminished to a proper degree;

then set aside to cool. Now unharness the remains of a

once cow from the plow, insert them in a hydraulic press,

and when you shall have acquired a teaspoon of that

pale-blue juice which a German superstition regards

as milk, modify the malignity of its strength in a bucket

of tepid water and ring up the breakfast. Mix the

beverage in a cold cup, partake with moderation, and keep

a wet rag around your head to guard against over-excitement.



Use a club, and avoid the joints.


[Titian Bad and Titian Good]

I wonder why some things are? For instance, Art is allowed

as much indecent license today as in earlier times–

but the privileges of Literature in this respect have been

sharply curtailed within the past eighty or ninety years.

Fielding and Smollett could portray the beastliness

of their day in the beastliest language; we have plenty

of foul subjects to deal with in our day, but we are

not allowed to approach them very near, even with nice

and guarded forms of speech. But not so with Art.

The brush may still deal freely with any subject,

however revolting or indelicate. It makes a body ooze

sarcasm at every pore, to go about Rome and Florence and see

what this last generation has been doing with the statues.

These works, which had stood in innocent nakedness for ages,

are all fig-leaved now. Yes, every one of them.

Nobody noticed their nakedness before, perhaps; nobody can

help noticing it now, the fig-leaf makes it so conspicuous.

But the comical thing about it all, is, that the fig-leaf

is confined to cold and pallid marble, which would be still

cold and unsuggestive without this sham and ostentatious

symbol of modesty, whereas warm-blood paintings which do

really need it have in no case been furnished with it.

At the door of the Uffizzi, in Florence, one is confronted

by statues of a man and a woman, noseless, battered, black with

accumulated grime–they hardly suggest human beings–

yet these ridiculous creatures have been thoughtfully and

conscientiously fig-leaved by this fastidious generation.

You enter, and proceed to that most-visited little

gallery that exists in the world–the Tribune–and there,

against the wall, without obstructing rag or leaf,

you may look your fill upon the foulest, the vilest,

the obscenest picture the world possesses–Titian’s Venus.

It isn’t that she is naked and stretched out on a bed–no,

it is the attitude of one of her arms and hand. If I

ventured to describe that attitude, there would be a fine

howl–but there the Venus lies, for anybody to gloat

over that wants to–and there she has a right to lie,

for she is a work of art, and Art has its privileges.

I saw young girls stealing furtive glances at her; I saw

young men gaze long and absorbedly at her; I saw aged,

infirm men hang upon her charms with a pathetic interest.

How I should like to describe her–just to see what a holy

indignation I could stir up in the world–just to hear

the unreflecting average man deliver himself about my

grossness and coarseness, and all that. The world says

that no worded description of a moving spectacle is

a hundredth part as moving as the same spectacle seen

with one’s own eyes–yet the world is willing to let its

son and its daughter and itself look at Titian’s beast,

but won’t stand a description of it in words.

Which shows that the world is not as consistent as it

might be.

There are pictures of nude women which suggest no impure

thought–I am well aware of that. I am not railing

at such. What I am trying to emphasize is the fact that

Titian’s Venus is very far from being one of that sort.

Without any question it was painted for a bagnio and it

was probably refused because it was a trifle too strong.

In truth, it is too strong for any place but a public

Art Gallery. Titian has two Venuses in the Tribune;

persons who have seen them will easily remember which one I am

referring to.

In every gallery in Europe there are hideous pictures

of blood, carnage, oozing brains, putrefaction–pictures

portraying intolerable suffering–pictures alive

with every conceivable horror, wrought out in dreadful

detail–and similar pictures are being put on the canvas

every day and publicly exhibited–without a growl from

anybody–for they are innocent, they are inoffensive,

being works of art. But suppose a literary artist ventured

to go into a painstaking and elaborate description

of one of these grisly things–the critics would skin

him alive. Well, let it go, it cannot be helped;

Art retains her privileges, Literature has lost hers.

Somebody else may cipher out the whys and the wherefores

and the consistencies of it–I haven’t got time.

Titian’s Venus defiles and disgraces the Tribune, there is

no softening that fact, but his “Moses” glorifies it.

The simple truthfulness of its noble work wins the heart

and the applause of every visitor, be he learned or ignorant.

After wearying one’s self with the acres of stuffy,

sappy, expressionless babies that populate the canvases

of the Old Masters of Italy, it is refreshing to stand

before this peerless child and feel that thrill which tells

you you are at last in the presence of the real thing.

This is a human child, this is genuine. You have seen him

a thousand times–you have seen him just as he is here–

and you confess, without reserve, that Titian WAS a Master.

The doll-faces of other painted babes may mean one thing,

they may mean another, but with the “Moses” the case

is different. The most famous of all the art-critics

has said, “There is no room for doubt, here–plainly this

child is in trouble.”

I consider that the “Moses” has no equal among the works

of the Old Masters, except it be the divine Hair Trunk

of Bassano. I feel sure that if all the other Old Masters

were lost and only these two preserved, the world would

be the gainer by it.

My sole purpose in going to Florence was to see this

immortal “Moses,” and by good fortune I was just in time,

for they were already preparing to remove it to a more

private and better-protected place because a fashion

of robbing the great galleries was prevailing in Europe

at the time.

I got a capable artist to copy the picture; Pannemaker,

the engraver of Dor’e’s books, engraved it for me,

and I have the pleasure of laying it before the reader

in this volume.

We took a turn to Rome and some other Italian cities–

then to Munich, and thence to Paris–partly for exercise,

but mainly because these things were in our projected program,

and it was only right that we should be faithful to it.

From Paris I branched out and walked through Holland and Belgium,

procuring an occasional lift by rail or canal when tired,

and I had a tolerably good time of it “by and large.”

I worked Spain and other regions through agents to save

time and shoe-leather.

We crossed to England, and then made the homeward

passage in the Cunarder GALLIA, a very fine ship.

I was glad to get home–immeasurably glad; so glad,

in fact, that it did not seem possible that anything

could ever get me out of the country again. I had not

enjoyed a pleasure abroad which seemed to me to compare

with the pleasure I felt in seeing New York harbor again.

Europe has many advantages which we have not, but they

do not compensate for a good many still more valuable

ones which exist nowhere but in our own country.

Then we are such a homeless lot when we are over

there! So are Europeans themselves, for the matter.

They live in dark and chilly vast tombs–costly enough,

maybe, but without conveniences. To be condemned to live

as the average European family lives would make life

a pretty heavy burden to the average American family.

On the whole, I think that short visits to Europe are

better for us than long ones. The former preserve us from

becoming Europeanized; they keep our pride of country intact,

and at the same time they intensify our affection for our

country and our people; whereas long visits have the effect

of dulling those feelings–at least in the majority

of cases. I think that one who mixes much with Americans

long resident abroad must arrive at this conclusion.


Nothing gives such weight and dignity to a book

as an Appendix. HERODOTUS


The Portier

Omar Khay’am, the poet-prophet of Persia, writing more

than eight hundred years ago, has said:

“In the four parts of the earth are many that are able

to write learned books, many that are able to lead armies,

and many also that are able to govern kingdoms and empires;

but few there be that can keep a hotel.”

A word about the European hotel PORTIER. He is a most

admirable invention, a most valuable convenience.

He always wears a conspicuous uniform; he can always

be found when he is wanted, for he sticks closely to

his post at the front door; he is as polite as a duke;

he speaks from four to ten languages; he is your surest

help and refuge in time of trouble or perplexity.

He is not the clerk, he is not the landlord; he ranks above

the clerk, and represents the landlord, who is seldom seen.

Instead of going to the clerk for information, as we do at home,

you go to the portier. It is the pride of our average

hotel clerk to know nothing whatever; it is the pride

of the portier to know everything. You ask the portier

at what hours the trains leave–he tells you instantly;

or you ask him who is the best physician in town; or what

is the hack tariff; or how many children the mayor has;

or what days the galleries are open, and whether a permit

is required, and where you are to get it, and what you

must pay for it; or when the theaters open and close,

what the plays are to be, and the price of seats;

or what is the newest thing in hats; or how the bills

of mortality average; or “who struck Billy Patterson.”

It does not matter what you ask him: in nine cases

out of ten he knows, and in the tenth case he will find

out for you before you can turn around three times.

There is nothing he will not put his hand to. Suppose you

tell him you wish to go from Hamburg to Peking by the way

of Jericho, and are ignorant of routes and prices–

the next morning he will hand you a piece of paper with

the whole thing worked out on it to the last detail.

Before you have been long on European soil, you find

yourself still SAYING you are relying on Providence,

but when you come to look closer you will see that in reality

you are relying on the portier. He discovers what is

puzzling you, or what is troubling you, or what your need is,

before you can get the half of it out, and he promptly says,

“Leave that to me.” Consequently, you easily drift into

the habit of leaving everything to him. There is a certain

embarrassment about applying to the average American

hotel clerk, a certain hesitancy, a sense of insecurity

against rebuff; but you feel no embarrassment in your

intercourse with the portier; he receives your propositions

with an enthusiasm which cheers, and plunges into their

accomplishment with an alacrity which almost inebriates.

The more requirements you can pile upon him, the better he

likes it. Of course the result is that you cease from doing

anything for yourself. He calls a hack when you want one;

puts you into it; tells the driver whither to take you;

receives you like a long-lost child when you return;

sends you about your business, does all the quarreling

with the hackman himself, and pays him his money out

of his own pocket. He sends for your theater tickets,

and pays for them; he sends for any possible article

you can require, be it a doctor, an elephant, or a

postage stamp; and when you leave, at last, you will

find a subordinate seated with the cab-driver who will

put you in your railway compartment, buy your tickets,

have your baggage weighed, bring you the printed tags,

and tell you everything is in your bill and paid for.

At home you get such elaborate, excellent, and willing

service as this only in the best hotels of our large cities;

but in Europe you get it in the mere back country-towns just

as well.

What is the secret of the portier’s devotion? It is

very simple: he gets FEES, AND NO SALARY. His fee

is pretty closely regulated, too. If you stay a week,

you give him five marks–a dollar and a quarter, or about

eighteen cents a day. If you stay a month, you reduce

this average somewhat. If you stay two or three months

or longer, you cut it down half, or even more than half.

If you stay only one day, you give the portier a mark.

The head waiter’s fee is a shade less than the portier’s;

the Boots, who not only blacks your boots and brushes

your clothes, but is usually the porter and handles your

baggage, gets a somewhat smaller fee than the head waiter;

the chambermaid’s fee ranks below that of the Boots.

You fee only these four, and no one else. A German

gentleman told me that when he remained a week in a hotel,

he gave the portier five marks, the head waiter four,

the Boots three, and the chambermaid two; and if he

stayed three months he divided ninety marks among them,

in about the above proportions. Ninety marks make


None of these fees are ever paid until you leave the hotel,

though it be a year–except one of these four servants

should go away in the mean time; in that case he will

be sure to come and bid you good-by and give you the

opportunity to pay him what is fairly coming to him.

It is considered very bad policy to fee a servant while you

are still to remain longer in the hotel, because if you

gave him too little he might neglect you afterward,

and if you gave him too much he might neglect somebody

else to attend to you. It is considered best to keep his

expectations “on a string” until your stay in concluded.

I do not know whether hotel servants in New York get any

wages or not, but I do know that in some of the hotels there

the feeing system in vogue is a heavy burden. The waiter

expects a quarter at breakfast–and gets it. You have

a different waiter at luncheon, and so he gets a quarter.

Your waiter at dinner is another stranger–consequently

he gets a quarter. The boy who carries your satchel

to your room and lights your gas fumbles around and hangs

around significantly, and you fee him to get rid of him.

Now you may ring for ice-water; and ten minutes later

for a lemonade; and ten minutes afterward, for a cigar;

and by and by for a newspaper–and what is the result? Why,

a new boy has appeared every time and fooled and fumbled

around until you have paid him something. Suppose you

boldly put your foot down, and say it is the hotel’s

business to pay its servants? You will have to ring your

bell ten or fifteen times before you get a servant there;

and when he goes off to fill your order you will grow old

and infirm before you see him again. You may struggle nobly

for twenty-four hours, maybe, if you are an adamantine

sort of person, but in the mean time you will have been

so wretchedly served, and so insolently, that you will

haul down your colors, and go to impoverishing yourself

with fees.

It seems to me that it would be a happy idea to import

the European feeing system into America. I believe it

would result in getting even the bells of the Philadelphia

hotels answered, and cheerful service rendered.

The greatest American hotels keep a number of clerks

and a cashier, and pay them salaries which mount up

to a considerable total in the course of a year.

The great continental hotels keep a cashier on a trifling

salary, and a portier WHO PAYS THE HOTEL A SALARY.

By the latter system both the hotel and the public

save money and are better served than by our system.

One of our consuls told me that a portier of a great Berlin

hotel paid five thousand dollars a year for his position,

and yet cleared six thousand dollars for himself.

The position of portier in the chief hotels of Saratoga,

Long Branch, New York, and similar centers of resort,

would be one which the holder could afford to pay even more

than five thousand dollars for, perhaps.

When we borrowed the feeing fashion from Europe a dozen

years ago, the salary system ought to have been discontinued,

of course. We might make this correction now, I should think.

And we might add the portier, too. Since I first began

to study the portier, I have had opportunities to observe

him in the chief cities of Germany, Switzerland, and Italy;

and the more I have seen of him the more I have wished

that he might be adopted in America, and become there,

as he is in Europe, the stranger’s guardian angel.

Yes, what was true eight hundred years ago, is just

as true today: “Few there be that can keep a hotel.”

Perhaps it is because the landlords and their subordinates

have in too many cases taken up their trade without first

learning it. In Europe the trade of hotel-keeper is taught.

The apprentice begins at the bottom of the ladder

and masters the several grades one after the other.

Just as in our country printing-offices the apprentice

first learns how to sweep out and bring water;

then learns to “roll”; then to sort “pi”; then to set type;

and finally rounds and completes his education with

job-work and press-work; so the landlord-apprentice serves

as call-boy; then as under-waiter; then as a parlor waiter;

then as head waiter, in which position he often has

to make out all the bills; then as clerk or cashier;

then as portier. His trade is learned now, and by and

by he will assume the style and dignity of landlord,

and be found conducting a hotel of his own.

Now in Europe, the same as in America, when a man has

kept a hotel so thoroughly well during a number of years

as to give it a great reputation, he has his reward.

He can live prosperously on that reputation. He can let

his hotel run down to the last degree of shabbiness and

yet have it full of people all the time. For instance,

there is the Ho^tel de Ville, in Milan. It swarms with mice

and fleas, and if the rest of the world were destroyed

it could furnish dirt enough to start another one with.

The food would create an insurrection in a poorhouse;

and yet if you go outside to get your meals that hotel

makes up its loss by overcharging you on all sorts

of trifles–and without making any denials or excuses

about it, either. But the Ho^tel de Ville’s old excellent

reputation still keeps its dreary rooms crowded with travelers

who would be elsewhere if they had only some wise friend

to warn them.


Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle must have been very beautiful before

the French battered and bruised and scorched it two hundred

years ago. The stone is brown, with a pinkish tint,

and does not seem to stain easily. The dainty and elaborate

ornamentation upon its two chief fronts is as delicately

carved as if it had been intended for the interior of a

drawing-room rather than for the outside of a house.

Many fruit and flower clusters, human heads and grim

projecting lions’ heads are still as perfect in every detail

as if they were new. But the statues which are ranked

between the windows have suffered. These are life-size

statues of old-time emperors, electors, and similar

grandees, clad in mail and bearing ponderous swords.

Some have lost an arm, some a head, and one poor fellow

is chopped off at the middle. There is a saying that if

a stranger will pass over the drawbridge and walk across

the court to the castle front without saying anything,

he can made a wish and it will be fulfilled. But they

say that the truth of this thing has never had a chance

to be proved, for the reason that before any stranger can

walk from the drawbridge to the appointed place, the beauty

of the palace front will extort an exclamation of delight from


A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective.

This one could not have been better placed. It stands

upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green words,

there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary,

there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks

down through shining leaves into profound chasms and

abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude.

Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect.

One of these old towers is split down the middle, and one

half has tumbled aside. It tumbled in such a way as to

establish itself in a picturesque attitude. Then all it

lacked was a fitting drapery, and Nature has furnished that;

she has robed the rugged mass in flowers and verdure,

and made it a charm to the eye. The standing half

exposes its arched and cavernous rooms to you, like open,

toothless mouths; there, too, the vines and flowers have

done their work of grace. The rear portion of the tower

has not been neglected, either, but is clothed with a

clinging garment of polished ivy which hides the wounds

and stains of time. Even the top is not left bare, but is

crowned with a flourishing group of trees and shrubs.

Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done

for the human character sometimes–improved it.

A gentleman remarked, one day, that it might have been

fine to live in the castle in the day of its prime,

but that we had one advantage which its vanished

inhabitants lacked–the advantage of having a charming

ruin to visit and muse over. But that was a hasty idea.

Those people had the advantage of US. They had the fine

castle to live in, and they could cross the Rhine valley

and muse over the stately ruin of Trifels besides.

The Trifels people, in their day, five hundred years ago,

could go and muse over majestic ruins that have vanished,

now, to the last stone. There have always been ruins,

no doubt; and there have always been pensive people to sigh

over them, and asses to scratch upon them their names

and the important date of their visit. Within a hundred

years after Adam left Eden, the guide probably gave

the usual general flourish with his hand and said: “Place

where the animals were named, ladies and gentlemen;

place where the tree of the forbidden fruit stood;

exact spot where Adam and Eve first met; and here,

ladies and gentlemen, adorned and hallowed by the names

and addresses of three generations of tourists, we have

the crumbling remains of Cain’s altar–fine old ruin!”

Then, no doubt, he taxed them a shekel apiece and let

them go.

An illumination of Heidelberg Castle is one of the

sights of Europe. The Castle’s picturesque shape;

its commanding situation, midway up the steep and

wooded mountainside; its vast size–these features combine

to make an illumination a most effective spectacle.

It is necessarily an expensive show, and consequently

rather infrequent. Therefore whenever one of these exhibitions

is to take place, the news goes about in the papers and

Heidelberg is sure to be full of people on that night.

I and my agent had one of these opportunities, and improved it.

About half past seven on the appointed evening we

crossed the lower bridge, with some American students,

in a pouring rain, and started up the road which borders

the Neunheim side of the river. This roadway was densely

packed with carriages and foot-passengers; the former

of all ages, and the latter of all ages and both sexes.

This black and solid mass was struggling painfully onward,

through the slop, the darkness, and the deluge.

We waded along for three-quarters of a mile, and finally

took up a position in an unsheltered beer-garden directly

opposite the Castle. We could not SEE the Castle–or

anything else, for that matter–but we could dimly

discern the outlines of the mountain over the way,

through the pervading blackness, and knew whereabouts

the Castle was located. We stood on one of the hundred

benches in the garden, under our umbrellas; the other

ninety-nine were occupied by standing men and women,

and they also had umbrellas. All the region round about,

and up and down the river-road, was a dense wilderness of

humanity hidden under an unbroken pavement of carriage tops

and umbrellas. Thus we stood during two drenching hours.

No rain fell on my head, but the converging whalebone

points of a dozen neighboring umbrellas poured little

cooling steams of water down my neck, and sometimes into

my ears, and thus kept me from getting hot and impatient.

I had the rheumatism, too, and had heard that this was

good for it. Afterward, however, I was led to believe

that the water treatment is NOT good for rheumatism.

There were even little girls in that dreadful place.

A men held one in his arms, just in front of me, for as much

as an hour, with umbrella-drippings soaking into her clothing

all the time.

In the circumstances, two hours was a good while for us

to have to wait, but when the illumination did at last come,

we felt repaid. It came unexpectedly, of course–things

always do, that have been long looked and longed for.

With a perfectly breath-taking suddenness several mast

sheaves of varicolored rockets were vomited skyward out

of the black throats of the Castle towers, accompanied by

a thundering crash of sound, and instantly every detail of

the prodigious ruin stood revealed against the mountainside

and glowing with an almost intolerable splendor of fire

and color. For some little time the whole building was

a blinding crimson mass, the towers continued to spout

thick columns of rockets aloft, and overhead the sky

was radiant with arrowy bolts which clove their way to

the zenith, paused, curved gracefully downward, then burst

into brilliant fountain-sprays of richly colored sparks.

The red fires died slowly down, within the Castle,

and presently the shell grew nearly black outside;

the angry glare that shone out through the broken arches

and innumerable sashless windows, now, reproduced the

aspect which the Castle must have borne in the old time

when the French spoilers saw the monster bonfire which

they had made there fading and spoiling toward extinction.

While we still gazed and enjoyed, the ruin was suddenly

enveloped in rolling and rumbling volumes of vaporous

green fire; then in dazzling purple ones; then a mixture

of many colors followed, then drowned the great fabric

in its blended splendors. Meantime the nearest bridge

had been illuminated, and from several rafts anchored

in the river, meteor showers of rockets, Roman candles,

bombs, serpents, and Catharine wheels were being discharged

in wasteful profusion into the sky–a marvelous sight indeed

to a person as little used to such spectacles as I was.

For a while the whole region about us seemed as bright as day,

and yet the rain was falling in torrents all the time.

The evening’s entertainment presently closed, and we

joined the innumerable caravan of half-drowned strangers,

and waded home again.

The Castle grounds are very ample and very beautiful;

and as they joined the Hotel grounds, with no fences

to climb, but only some nobly shaded stone stairways

to descend, we spent a part of nearly every day in

idling through their smooth walks and leafy groves.

There was an attractive spot among the trees where were

a great many wooden tables and benches; and there one could

sit in the shade and pretend to sip at his foamy beaker

of beer while he inspected the crowd. I say pretend,

because I only pretended to sip, without really sipping.

That is the polite way; but when you are ready to go,

you empty the beaker at a draught. There was a brass band,

and it furnished excellent music every afternoon.

Sometimes so many people came that every seat was occupied,

every table filled. And never a rough in the assemblace–all

nicely dressed fathers and mothers, young gentlemen

and ladies and children; and plenty of university

students and glittering officers; with here and there

a gray professor, or a peaceful old lady with her knitting;

and always a sprinkling of gawky foreigners.

Everybody had his glass of beer before him, or his cup

of coffee, or his bottle of wine, or his hot cutlet

and potatoes; young ladies chatted, or fanned themselves,

or wrought at their crocheting or embroidering;

the students fed sugar to their dogs, or discussed duels,

or illustrated new fencing tricks with their little canes;

and everywhere was comfort and enjoyment, and everywhere

peace and good-will to men. The trees were jubilant

with birds, and the paths with rollicking children.

One could have a seat in that place and plenty of music,

any afternoon, for about eight cents, or a family ticket

for the season for two dollars.

For a change, when you wanted one, you could stroll

to the Castle, and burrow among its dungeons, or climb

about its ruined towers, or visit its interior shows–the

great Heidelberg Tun, for instance. Everybody has heard

of the great Heidelberg Tun, and most people have seen it,

no doubt. It is a wine-cask as big as a cottage, and some

traditions say it holds eighteen thousand bottles, and other

traditions say it holds eighteen hundred million barrels.

I think it likely that one of these statements is

a mistake, and the other is a lie. However, the mere

matter of capacity is a thing of no sort of consequence,

since the cask is empty, and indeed has always been empty,

history says. An empty cask the size of a cathedral could

excite but little emotion in me. I do not see any wisdom

in building a monster cask to hoard up emptiness in,

when you can get a better quality, outside, any day,

free of expense. What could this cask have been

built for? The more one studies over that, the more

uncertain and unhappy he becomes. Some historians say

that thirty couples, some say thirty thousand couples,

can dance on the head of this cask at the same time.

Even this does not seem to me to account for the building

of it. It does not even throw light on it. A profound

and scholarly Englishman–a specialist–who had made

the great Heidelberg Tun his sole study for fifteen years,

told me he had at last satisfied himself that the ancients

built it to make German cream in. He said that the average

German cow yielded from one to two and half teaspoons of milk,

when she was not worked in the plow or the hay-wagon

more than eighteen or nineteen hours a day. This milk

was very sweet and good, and a beautiful transparent

bluish tint; but in order to get cream from it in the

most economical way, a peculiar process was necessary.

Now he believed that the habit of the ancients was to collect

several milkings in a teacup, pour it into the Great Tun,

fill up with water, and then skim off the cream from

time to time as the needs of the German Empire demanded.

This began to look reasonable. It certainly began

to account for the German cream which I had encountered

and marveled over in so many hotels and restaurants.

But a thought struck me–

“Why did not each ancient dairyman take his own teacup

of milk and his own cask of water, and mix them,

without making a government matter of it?’

“Where could he get a cask large enough to contain

the right proportion of water?”

Very true. It was plain that the Englishman had studied

the matter from all sides. Still I thought I might catch

him on one point; so I asked him why the modern empire

did not make the nation’s cream in the Heidelberg Tun,

instead of leaving it to rot away unused. But he answered

as one prepared–

“A patient and diligent examination of the modern German cream

had satisfied me that they do not use the Great Tun now,

because they have got a BIGGER one hid away somewhere.

Either that is the case or they empty the spring milkings

into the mountain torrents and then skim the Rhine

all summer.”

There is a museum of antiquities in the Castle, and among

its most treasured relics are ancient manuscripts connected

with German history. There are hundreds of these,

and their dates stretch back through many centuries.

One of them is a decree signed and sealed by the hand

of a successor of Charlemagne, in the year 896.

A signature made by a hand which vanished out of this life

near a thousand years ago, is a more impressive thing than

even a ruined castle. Luther’s wedding-ring was shown me;

also a fork belonging to a time anterior to our era,

and an early bookjack. And there was a plaster cast

of the head of a man who was assassinated about sixty

years ago. The stab-wounds in the face were duplicated

with unpleasant fidelity. One or two real hairs

still remained sticking in the eyebrows of the cast.

That trifle seemed to almost change the counterfeit into

a corpse.

There are many aged portraits–some valuable, some worthless;

some of great interest, some of none at all. I bought a

couple–one a gorgeous duke of the olden time, and the other

a comely blue-eyed damsel, a princess, maybe. I bought

them to start a portrait-gallery of my ancestors with.

I paid a dollar and a half for the duke and a half

for the princess. One can lay in ancestors at even

cheaper rates than these, in Europe, if he will mouse

among old picture shops and look out for chances.


The College Prison

It seems that the student may break a good many of the public

laws without having to answer to the public authorities.

His case must come before the University for trial

and punishment. If a policeman catches him in an unlawful

act and proceeds to arrest him, the offender proclaims that

he is a student, and perhaps shows his matriculation card,

whereupon the officer asks for his address, then goes

his way, and reports the matter at headquarters. If the

offense is one over which the city has no jurisdiction,

the authorities report the case officially to the University,

and give themselves no further concern about it.

The University court send for the student, listen to

the evidence, and pronounce judgment. The punishment

usually inflicted is imprisonment in the University prison.

As I understand it, a student’s case is often tried

without his being present at all. Then something

like this happens: A constable in the service of the

University visits the lodgings of the said student,

knocks, is invited to come in, does so, and says politely–

“If you please, I am here to conduct you to prison.”

“Ah,” says the student, “I was not expecting it.

What have I been doing?”

“Two weeks ago the public peace had the honor to be

disturbed by you.”

“It is true; I had forgotten it. Very well: I have been

complained of, tried, and found guilty–is that it?”

“Exactly. You are sentenced to two days’ solitary confinement

in the College prison, and I am sent to fetch you.”

STUDENT. “O, I can’t go today.”

OFFICER. “If you please–why?”

STUDENT. “Because I’ve got an engagement.”

OFFICER. “Tomorrow, then, perhaps?”

STUDENT. “No, I am going to the opera, tomorrow.”

OFFICER. “Could you come Friday?”

STUDENT. (Reflectively.) “Let me see–Friday–Friday.

I don’t seem to have anything on hand Friday.”

OFFICER. “Then, if you please, I will expect you on Friday.”

STUDENT. “All right, I’ll come around Friday.”

OFFICER. “Thank you. Good day, sir.”

STUDENT. “Good day.”

So on Friday the student goes to the prison of his

own accord, and is admitted.

It is questionable if the world’s criminal history can

show a custom more odd than this. Nobody knows, now,

how it originated. There have always been many noblemen

among the students, and it is presumed that all students

are gentlemen; in the old times it was usual to mar

the convenience of such folk as little as possible;

perhaps this indulgent custom owes its origin to this.

One day I was listening to some conversation upon this

subject when an American student said that for some time he

had been under sentence for a slight breach of the peace

and had promised the constable that he would presently

find an unoccupied day and betake himself to prison.

I asked the young gentleman to do me the kindness to go

to jail as soon as he conveniently could, so that I might

try to get in there and visit him, and see what college

captivity was like. He said he would appoint the very

first day he could spare.

His confinement was to endure twenty-four hours. He shortly

chose his day, and sent me word. I started immediately.

When I reached the University Place, I saw two gentlemen

talking together, and, as they had portfolios under

their arms, I judged they were tutors or elderly students;

so I asked them in English to show me the college jail.

I had learned to take it for granted that anybody in Germany

who knows anything, knows English, so I had stopped

afflicting people with my German. These gentlemen seemed

a trifle amused–and a trifle confused, too–but one

of them said he would walk around the corner with me

and show me the place. He asked me why I wanted to get

in there, and I said to see a friend–and for curiosity.

He doubted if I would be admitted, but volunteered to put

in a word or two for me with the custodian.

He rang the bell, a door opened, and we stepped into a paved

way and then up into a small living-room, where we were

received by a hearty and good-natured German woman of fifty.

She threw up her hands with a surprised “ACH GOTT,

HERR PROFESSOR!” and exhibited a mighty deference for my

new acquaintance. By the sparkle in her eye I judged

she was a good deal amused, too. The “Herr Professor”

talked to her in German, and I understood enough of it

to know that he was bringing very plausible reasons to bear

for admitting me. They were successful. So the Herr

Professor received my earnest thanks and departed.

The old dame got her keys, took me up two or three flights

of stairs, unlocked a door, and we stood in the presence

of the criminal. Then she went into a jolly and eager

description of all that had occurred downstairs, and what

the Herr Professor had said, and so forth and so on.

Plainly, she regarded it as quite a superior joke that I had

waylaid a Professor and employed him in so odd a service.

But I wouldn’t have done it if I had known he was a Professor;

therefore my conscience was not disturbed.

Now the dame left us to ourselves. The cell was not a roomy one;

still it was a little larger than an ordinary prison cell.

It had a window of good size, iron-grated; a small stove;

two wooden chairs; two oaken tables, very old and

most elaborately carved with names, mottoes, faces,

armorial bearings, etc.–the work of several generations

of imprisoned students; and a narrow wooden bedstead

with a villainous straw mattress, but no sheets, pillows,

blankets, or coverlets–for these the student must furnish

at his own cost if he wants them. There was no carpet, of


The ceiling was completely covered with names, dates,

and monograms, done with candle-smoke. The walls were

thickly covered with pictures and portraits (in profile),

some done with ink, some with soot, some with a pencil,

and some with red, blue, and green chalks; and whenever

an inch or two of space had remained between the pictures,

the captives had written plaintive verses, or names

and dates. I do not think I was ever in a more elaborately

frescoed apartment.

Against the wall hung a placard containing the prison laws.

I made a note of one or two of these. For instance:

The prisoner must pay, for the “privilege” of entering,

a sum equivalent to 20 cents of our money; for the privilege

of leaving, when his term had expired, 20 cents; for every

day spent in the prison, 12 cents; for fire and light,

12 cents a day. The jailer furnishes coffee, mornings,

for a small sum; dinners and suppers may be ordered

from outside if the prisoner chooses–and he is allowed

to pay for them, too.

Here and there, on the walls, appeared the names

of American students, and in one place the American

arms and motto were displayed in colored chalks.

With the help of my friend I translated many of the inscriptions.

Some of them were cheerful, others the reverse.

I will give the reader a few specimens:

“In my tenth semester (my best one), I am cast here

through the complaints of others. Let those who follow

me take warning.”


he had a curiosity to know what prison life was like;

so he made a breach in some law and got three days for it.

It is more than likely that he never had the same

curiosity again.

(TRANSLATION.) “E. Glinicke, four days for being too eager

a spectator of a row.”

“F. Graf Bismarck–27-29, II, ’74.” Which means that

Count Bismarck, son of the great statesman, was a prisoner

two days in 1874.

(TRANSLATION.) “R. Diergandt–for Love–4 days.”

Many people in this world have caught it heavier than

for the same indiscretion.

This one is terse. I translate:


the sufferer had explained a little more fully.

A four-week term is a rather serious matter.

There were many uncomplimentary references, on the walls,

to a certain unpopular dignitary. One sufferer had got

three days for not saluting him. Another had “here two days

slept and three nights lain awake,” on account of this

same “Dr. K.” In one place was a picture of Dr. K. hanging

on a gallows.

Here and there, lonesome prisoners had eased the heavy time

by altering the records left by predecessors. Leaving the

name standing, and the date and length of the captivity,

they had erased the description of the misdemeanor,

and written in its place, in staring capitals, “FOR THEFT!”

or “FOR MURDER!” or some other gaudy crime. In one place,

all by itself, stood this blood-curdling word:

“Rache!” [1]

1. “Revenge!”

There was no name signed, and no date. It was an

inscription well calculated to pique curiosity.

One would greatly like to know the nature of the wrong

that had been done, and what sort of vengeance was wanted,

and whether the prisoner ever achieved it or not.

But there was no way of finding out these things.

Occasionally, a name was followed simply by the remark,

“II days, for disturbing the peace,” and without comment

upon the justice or injustice of the sentence.

In one place was a hilarious picture of a student of the

green cap corps with a bottle of champagne in each hand;

and below was the legend: “These make an evil fate endurable.”

There were two prison cells, and neither had space left on

walls or ceiling for another name or portrait or picture.

The inside surfaces of the two doors were completely

covered with CARTES DE VISITE of former prisoners,

ingeniously let into the wood and protected from dirt

and injury by glass.

I very much wanted one of the sorry old tables which

the prisoners had spent so many years in ornamenting

with their pocket-knives, but red tape was in the way.

The custodian could not sell one without an order from

a superior; and that superior would have to get it from

HIS superior; and this one would have to get it from

a higher one–and so on up and up until the faculty

should sit on the matter and deliver final judgment.

The system was right, and nobody could find fault with it;

but it did not seem justifiable to bother so many people,

so I proceeded no further. It might have cost me more than

I could afford, anyway; for one of those prison tables,

which was at the time in a private museum in Heidelberg,

was afterward sold at auction for two hundred and fifty dollars.

It was not worth more than a dollar, or possibly a dollar

and half, before the captive students began their work

on it. Persons who saw it at the auction said it was

so curiously and wonderfully carved that it was worth

the money that was paid for it.

Among them many who have tasted the college prison’s

dreary hospitality was a lively young fellow from one

of the Southern states of America, whose first year’s

experience of German university life was rather peculiar.

The day he arrived in Heidelberg he enrolled his name

on the college books, and was so elated with the fact

that his dearest hope had found fruition and he was

actually a student of the old and renowned university,

that he set to work that very night to celebrate the event

by a grand lark in company with some other students.

In the course of his lark he managed to make a wide

breach in one of the university’s most stringent laws.

Sequel: before noon, next day, he was in the college

prison–booked for three months. The twelve long weeks

dragged slowly by, and the day of deliverance came at last.

A great crowd of sympathizing fellow-students received

him with a rousing demonstration as he came forth,

and of course there was another grand lark–in the course

of which he managed to make a wide breach of the CITY’S

most stringent laws. Sequel: before noon, next day,

he was safe in the city lockup–booked for three months.

This second tedious captivity drew to an end in the course

of time, and again a great crowd of sympathizing fellow

students gave him a rousing reception as he came forth;

but his delight in his freedom was so boundless that he

could not proceed soberly and calmly, but must go hopping

and skipping and jumping down the sleety street from sheer

excess of joy. Sequel: he slipped and broke his leg,

and actually lay in the hospital during the next three


When he at last became a free man again, he said he believed

he would hunt up a brisker seat of learning; the Heidelberg

lectures might be good, but the opportunities of attending

them were too rare, the educational process too slow;

he said he had come to Europe with the idea that the

acquirement of an education was only a matter of time,

but if he had averaged the Heidelberg system correctly,

it was rather a matter of eternity.


The Awful German Language

A little learning makes the whole world kin.

–Proverbs xxxii, 7.

I went often to look at the collection of curiosities

in Heidelberg Castle, and one day I surprised the keeper

of it with my German. I spoke entirely in that language.

He was greatly interested; and after I had talked a while

he said my German was very rare, possibly a “unique”;

and wanted to add it to his museum.

If he had known what it had cost me to acquire my art,

he would also have known that it would break any

collector to buy it. Harris and I had been hard at

work on our German during several weeks at that time,

and although we had made good progress, it had been

accomplished under great difficulty and annoyance,

for three of our teachers had died in the mean time.

A person who has not studied German can form no idea

of what a perplexing language it is.

Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod

and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.

One is washed about in it, hither and thither, in the most

helpless way; and when at last he thinks he has captured

a rule which offers firm ground to take a rest on amid

the general rage and turmoil of the ten parts of speech,

he turns over the page and reads, “Let the pupil make

careful note of the following EXCEPTIONS.” He runs his

eye down and finds that there are more exceptions to the

rule than instances of it. So overboard he goes again,

to hunt for another Ararat and find another quicksand.

Such has been, and continues to be, my experience.

Every time I think I have got one of these four confusing

“cases” where I am master of it, a seemingly insignificant

preposition intrudes itself into my sentence, clothed with

an awful and unsuspected power, and crumbles the ground

from under me. For instance, my book inquires after

a certain bird–(it is always inquiring after things

which are of no sort of no consequence to anybody): “Where

is the bird?” Now the answer to this question–according

to the book–is that the bird is waiting in the blacksmith

shop on account of the rain. Of course no bird would

do that, but then you must stick to the book. Very well,

I begin to cipher out the German for that answer. I begin

at the wrong end, necessarily, for that is the German idea.

I say to myself, “REGEN (rain) is masculine–or maybe it

is feminine–or possibly neuter–it is too much trouble

to look now. Therefore, it is either DER (the) Regen,

or DIE (the) Regen, or DAS (the) Regen, according to which

gender it may turn out to be when I look. In the interest

of science, I will cipher it out on the hypothesis that it

is masculine. Very well–then THE rain is DER Regen,

if it is simply in the quiescent state of being MENTIONED,

without enlargement or discussion–Nominative case;

but if this rain is lying around, in a kind of a general

way on the ground, it is then definitely located,

it is DOING SOMETHING–that is, RESTING (which is one

of the German grammar’s ideas of doing something), and

this throws the rain into the Dative case, and makes it

DEM Regen. However, this rain is not resting, but is

doing something ACTIVELY,–it is falling–to interfere

with the bird, likely–and this indicates MOVEMENT,

which has the effect of sliding it into the Accusative case

and changing DEM Regen into DEN Regen.” Having completed

the grammatical horoscope of this matter, I answer up

confidently and state in German that the bird is staying

in the blacksmith shop “wegen (on account of) DEN Regen.”

Then the teacher lets me softly down with the remark

that whenever the word “wegen” drops into a sentence,

it ALWAYS throws that subject into the GENITIVE case,

regardless of consequences–and therefore this bird stayed in

the blacksmith shop “wegen DES Regens.”

N.B.–I was informed, later, by a higher authority,

that there was an “exception” which permits one to say “wegen

DEN Regen” in certain peculiar and complex circumstances,

but that this exception is not extended to anything

BUT rain.

There are ten parts of speech, and they are all troublesome.

An average sentence, in a German newspaper, is a sublime

and impressive curiosity; it occupies a quarter of a column;

it contains all the ten parts of speech–not in regular order,

but mixed; it is built mainly of compound words constructed

by the writer on the spot, and not to be found in any

dictionary–six or seven words compacted into one,

without joint or seam–that is, without hyphens;

it treats of fourteen or fifteen different subjects,

each enclosed in a parenthesis of its own, with here and

there extra parentheses, making pens with pens: finally,

all the parentheses and reparentheses are massed together

between a couple of king-parentheses, one of which is placed

in the first line of the majestic sentence and the other

in the middle of the last line of it–AFTER WHICH COMES

THE VERB, and you find out for the first time what the man

has been talking about; and after the verb–merely by way

of ornament, as far as I can make out–the writer shovels


or words to that effect, and the monument is finished.

I suppose that this closing hurrah is in the nature of the

flourish to a man’s signature–not necessary, but pretty.

German books are easy enough to read when you hold them

before the looking-glass or stand on your head–so as

to reverse the construction–but I think that to learn

to read and understand a German newspaper is a thing

which must always remain an impossibility to a foreigner.

Yet even the German books are not entirely free from attacks

of the Parenthesis distemper–though they are usually so mild

as to cover only a few lines, and therefore when you at

last get down to the verb it carries some meaning to your

mind because you are able to remember a good deal of what

has gone before. Now here is a sentence from a popular

and excellent German novel–which a slight parenthesis

in it. I will make a perfectly literal translation,

and throw in the parenthesis-marks and some hyphens

for the assistance of the reader–though in the original

there are no parenthesis-marks or hyphens, and the reader

is left to flounder through to the remote verb the best way he


“But when he, upon the street, the (in-satin-and-silk-covered-


government counselor’s wife MET,” etc., etc. [1]

1. Wenn er aber auf der Strasse der in Sammt und Seide

gehu”llten jetz sehr ungenirt nach der neusten mode

gekleideten Regierungsrathin begegnet.

That is from THE OLD MAMSELLE’S SECRET, by Mrs. Marlitt.

And that sentence is constructed upon the most approved

German model. You observe how far that verb is from

the reader’s base of operations; well, in a German

newspaper they put their verb away over on the next page;

and I have heard that sometimes after stringing along the

exciting preliminaries and parentheses for a column or two,

they get in a hurry and have to go to press without getting

to the verb at all. Of course, then, the reader is left

in a very exhausted and ignorant state.

We have the Parenthesis disease in our literature, too; and one

may see cases of it every day in our books and newspapers:

but with us it is the mark and sign of an unpracticed

writer or a cloudy intellect, whereas with the Germans

it is doubtless the mark and sign of a practiced pen

and of the presence of that sort of luminous intellectual

fog which stands for clearness among these people.

For surely it is NOT clearness–it necessarily can’t

be clearness. Even a jury would have penetration enough

to discover that. A writer’s ideas must be a good

deal confused, a good deal out of line and sequence,

when he starts out to say that a man met a counselor’s

wife in the street, and then right in the midst of this

so simple undertaking halts these approaching people

and makes them stand still until he jots down an inventory

of the woman’s dress. That is manifestly absurd.

It reminds a person of those dentists who secure your instant

and breathless interest in a tooth by taking a grip on it

with the forceps, and then stand there and drawl through

a tedious anecdote before they give the dreaded jerk.

Parentheses in literature and dentistry are in bad taste.

The Germans have another kind of parenthesis, which they

make by splitting a verb in two and putting half of it

at the beginning of an exciting chapter and the OTHER

HALF at the end of it. Can any one conceive of anything

more confusing than that? These things are called

“separable verbs.” The German grammar is blistered

all over with separable verbs; and the wider the two

portions of one of them are spread apart, the better

the author of the crime is pleased with his performance.

A favorite one is REISTE AB–which means departed.

Here is an example which I culled from a novel and reduced

to English:

“The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his

mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom

his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin,

with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich

brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale

from the terror and excitement of the past evening,

but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again

upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than

life itself, PARTED.”

However, it is not well to dwell too much on the

separable verbs. One is sure to lose his temper early;

and if he sticks to the subject, and will not be warned,

it will at last either soften his brain or petrify it.

Personal pronouns and adjectives are a fruitful nuisance

in this language, and should have been left out.

For instance, the same sound, SIE, means YOU, and it means SHE,

and it means HER, and it means IT, and it means THEY,

and it means THEM. Think of the ragged poverty of a

language which has to make one word do the work of six–and

a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that.

But mainly, think of the exasperation of never knowing

which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey.

This explains why, whenever a person says SIE to me,

I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.

Now observe the Adjective. Here was a case where simplicity

would have been an advantage; therefore, for no other reason,

the inventor of this language complicated it all he could.

When we wish to speak of our “good friend or friends,”

in our enlightened tongue, we stick to the one form and have

no trouble or hard feeling about it; but with the German

tongue it is different. When a German gets his hands

on an adjective, he declines it, and keeps on declining

it until the common sense is all declined out of it.

It is as bad as Latin. He says, for instance:


Nominative–Mein gutER Freund, my good friend.

Genitives–MeinES GutEN FreundES, of my good friend.

Dative–MeinEM gutEN Freund, to my good friend.

Accusative–MeinEN gutEN Freund, my good friend.


N.–MeinE gutEN FreundE, my good friends. G.–MeinER gutEN

FreundE, of my good friends. D.–MeinEN gutEN FreundEN,

to my good friends. A.–MeinE gutEN FreundE, my good friends.

Now let the candidate for the asylum try to memorize

those variations, and see how soon he will be elected.

One might better go without friends in Germany than take

all this trouble about them. I have shown what a bother

it is to decline a good (male) friend; well this is

only a third of the work, for there is a variety of new

distortions of the adjective to be learned when the object

is feminine, and still another when the object is neuter.

Now there are more adjectives in this language than there

are black cats in Switzerland, and they must all be as

elaborately declined as the examples above suggested.

Difficult?–troublesome?–these words cannot describe it.

I heard a Californian student in Heidelberg say, in one of

his calmest moods, that he would rather decline two drinks

than one German adjective.

The inventor of the language seems to have taken pleasure

in complicating it in every way he could think of.

For instance, if one is casually referring to a house,

HAUS, or a horse, PFERD, or a dog, HUND, he spells these

words as I have indicated; but if he is referring to them

in the Dative case, he sticks on a foolish and unnecessary

E and spells them HAUSE, PFERDE, HUNDE. So, as an added

E often signifies the plural, as the S does with us,

the new student is likely to go on for a month making

twins out of a Dative dog before he discovers his mistake;

and on the other hand, many a new student who could ill

afford loss, has bought and paid for two dogs and only

got one of them, because he ignorantly bought that dog

in the Dative singular when he really supposed he was

talking plural–which left the law on the seller’s side,

of course, by the strict rules of grammar, and therefore

a suit for recovery could not lie.

In German, all the Nouns begin with a capital letter.

Now that is a good idea; and a good idea, in this language,

is necessarily conspicuous from its lonesomeness. I consider

this capitalizing of nouns a good idea, because by reason

of it you are almost always able to tell a noun the minute

you see it. You fall into error occasionally, because you

mistake the name of a person for the name of a thing,

and waste a good deal of time trying to dig a meaning

out of it. German names almost always do mean something,

and this helps to deceive the student. I translated

a passage one day, which said that “the infuriated tigress

broke loose and utterly ate up the unfortunate fir forest”

(Tannenwald). When I was girding up my loins to doubt this,

I found out that Tannenwald in this instance was a

man’s name.

Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system

in the distribution; so the gender of each must be

learned separately and by heart. There is no other way.

To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book.

In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has.

Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip,

and what callous disrespect for the girl. See how it

looks in print–I translate this from a conversation

in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books:

“Gretchen. Wilhelm, where is the turnip?

“Wilhelm. She has gone to the kitchen.

“Gretchen. Where is the accomplished and beautiful English


Wilhelm. It has gone to the opera.”

To continue with the German genders: a tree is male, its buds

are female, its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless,

dogs are male, cats are female–tomcats included, of course;

a person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet,

and body are of the male sex, and his head is male

or neuter according to the word selected to signify it,

and NOT according to the sex of the individual who wears

it–for in Germany all the women either male heads or

sexless ones; a person’s nose, lips, shoulders, breast,

hands, and toes are of the female sex; and his hair,

ears, eyes, chin, legs, knees, heart, and conscience

haven’t any sex at all. The inventor of the language

probably got what he knew about a conscience from hearsay.

Now, by the above dissection, the reader will see that in

Germany a man may THINK he is a man, but when he comes to look

into the matter closely, he is bound to have his doubts;

he finds that in sober truth he is a most ridiculous mixture;

and if he ends by trying to comfort himself with the

thought that he can at least depend on a third of this

mess as being manly and masculine, the humiliating second

thought will quickly remind him that in this respect

he is no better off than any woman or cow in the land.

In the German it is true that by some oversight of the inventor

of the language, a Woman is a female; but a Wife (Weib)

is not–which is unfortunate. A Wife, here, has no sex;

she is neuter; so, according to the grammar, a fish

is HE, his scales are SHE, but a fishwife is neither.

To describe a wife as sexless may be called under-description;

that is bad enough, but over-description is surely worse.

A German speaks of an Englishman as the ENGLA”NDER; to change

the sex, he adds INN, and that stands for Englishwoman–

ENGLA”NDERINN. That seems descriptive enough, but still

it is not exact enough for a German; so he precedes the

word with that article which indicates that the creature

to follow is feminine, and writes it down thus: “die

Engla”nderinn,”–which means “the she-Englishwoman.”

I consider that that person is over-described.

Well, after the student has learned the sex of a great

number of nouns, he is still in a difficulty, because he

finds it impossible to persuade his tongue to refer

to things as “he” and “she,” and “him” and “her,” which

it has been always accustomed to refer to it as “it.”

When he even frames a German sentence in his mind,

with the hims and hers in the right places, and then works

up his courage to the utterance-point, it is no use–

the moment he begins to speak his tongue files the track

and all those labored males and females come out as “its.”

And even when he is reading German to himself, he always

calls those things “it,” where as he ought to read in this way:


2. I capitalize the nouns, in the German (and

ancient English) fashion.

It is a bleak Day. Hear the Rain, how he pours, and the Hail,

how he rattles; and see the Snow, how he drifts along,

and of the Mud, how deep he is! Ah the poor Fishwife,

it is stuck fast in the Mire; it has dropped its Basket

of Fishes; and its Hands have been cut by the Scales

as it seized some of the falling Creatures; and one Scale

has even got into its Eye. and it cannot get her out.

It opens its Mouth to cry for Help; but if any Sound comes

out of him, alas he is drowned by the raging of the Storm.

And now a Tomcat has got one of the Fishes and she

will surely escape with him. No, she bites off a Fin,

she holds her in her Mouth–will she swallow her? No,

the Fishwife’s brave Mother-dog deserts his Puppies and

rescues the Fin–which he eats, himself, as his Reward.

O, horror, the Lightning has struck the Fish-basket;

he sets him on Fire; see the Flame, how she licks the

doomed Utensil with her red and angry Tongue; now she

attacks the helpless Fishwife’s Foot–she burns him up,

all but the big Toe, and even SHE is partly consumed;

and still she spreads, still she waves her fiery Tongues;

she attacks the Fishwife’s Leg and destroys IT; she attacks

its Hand and destroys HER also; she attacks the Fishwife’s Leg

and destroys HER also; she attacks its Body and consumes HIM;

she wreathes herself about its Heart and IT is consumed;

next about its Breast, and in a Moment SHE is a Cinder;

now she reaches its Neck–He goes; now its Chin–

IT goes; now its Nose–SHE goes. In another Moment,

except Help come, the Fishwife will be no more.

Time presses–is there none to succor and save? Yes! Joy,

joy, with flying Feet the she-Englishwoman comes! But alas,

the generous she-Female is too late: where now is

the fated Fishwife? It has ceased from its Sufferings,

it has gone to a better Land; all that is left of it

for its loved Ones to lament over, is this poor smoldering

Ash-heap. Ah, woeful, woeful Ash-heap! Let us take him

up tenderly, reverently, upon the lowly Shovel, and bear

him to his long Rest, with the Prayer that when he rises

again it will be a Realm where he will have one good square

responsible Sex, and have it all to himself, instead of

having a mangy lot of assorted Sexes scattered all over him

in Spots.


There, now, the reader can see for himself that this pronoun

business is a very awkward thing for the unaccustomed tongue.

I suppose that in all languages the similarities of look

and sound between words which have no similarity in meaning

are a fruitful source of perplexity to the foreigner.

It is so in our tongue, and it is notably the case in

the German. Now there is that troublesome word VERMA”HLT:

to me it has so close a resemblance–either real or

fancied–to three or four other words, that I never know

whether it means despised, painted, suspected, or married;

until I look in the dictionary, and then I find it means

the latter. There are lots of such words and they are

a great torment. To increase the difficulty there are

words which SEEM to resemble each other, and yet do not;

but they make just as much trouble as if they did.

For instance, there is the word VERMIETHEN (to let,

to lease, to hire); and the word VERHEIRATHEN (another way

of saying to marry). I heard of an Englishman who knocked

at a man’s door in Heidelberg and proposed, in the best

German he could command, to “verheirathen” that house.

Then there are some words which mean one thing when you

emphasize the first syllable, but mean something very

different if you throw the emphasis on the last syllable.

For instance, there is a word which means a runaway,

or the act of glancing through a book, according to the

placing of the emphasis; and another word which signifies

to ASSOCIATE with a man, or to AVOID him, according to

where you put the emphasis–and you can generally depend

on putting it in the wrong place and getting into trouble.

There are some exceedingly useful words in this language.

SCHLAG, for example; and ZUG. There are three-quarters

of a column of SCHLAGS in the dictonary, and a column

and a half of ZUGS. The word SCHLAG means Blow, Stroke,

Dash, Hit, Shock, Clap, Slap, Time, Bar, Coin, Stamp, Kind,

Sort, Manner, Way, Apoplexy, Wood-cutting, Enclosure,

Field, Forest-clearing. This is its simple and EXACT

meaning–that is to say, its restricted, its fettered meaning;

but there are ways by which you can set it free,

so that it can soar away, as on the wings of the morning,

and never be at rest. You can hang any word you please

to its tail, and make it mean anything you want to.

You can begin with SCHLAG-ADER, which means artery,

and you can hang on the whole dictionary, word by word,

clear through the alphabet to SCHLAG-WASSER, which means

bilge-water–and including SCHLAG-MUTTER, which means


Just the same with ZUG. Strictly speaking, ZUG means Pull,

Tug, Draught, Procession, March, Progress, Flight, Direction,

Expedition, Train, Caravan, Passage, Stroke, Touch, Line,

Flourish, Trait of Character, Feature, Lineament, Chess-move,

Organ-stop, Team, Whiff, Bias, Drawer, Propensity, Inhalation,

Disposition: but that thing which it does NOT mean–when

all its legitimate pennants have been hung on, has not been

discovered yet.

One cannot overestimate the usefulness of SCHLAG and ZUG.

Armed just with these two, and the word ALSO, what cannot

the foreigner on German soil accomplish? The German word

ALSO is the equivalent of the English phrase “You know,”

and does not mean anything at all–in TALK, though it

sometimes does in print. Every time a German opens his

mouth an ALSO falls out; and every time he shuts it he bites

one in two that was trying to GET out.

Now, the foreigner, equipped with these three noble words,

is master of the situation. Let him talk right along,

fearlessly; let him pour his indifferent German forth,

and when he lacks for a word, let him heave a SCHLAG into

the vacuum; all the chances are that it fits it like a plug,

but if it doesn’t let him promptly heave a ZUG after it;

the two together can hardly fail to bung the hole; but if,

by a miracle, they SHOULD fail, let him simply say ALSO!

and this will give him a moment’s chance to think of the

needful word. In Germany, when you load your conversational

gun it is always best to throw in a SCHLAG or two and a ZUG

or two, because it doesn’t make any difference how much

the rest of the charge may scatter, you are bound to bag

something with THEM. Then you blandly say ALSO, and load

up again. Nothing gives such an air of grace and elegance

and unconstraint to a German or an English conversation

as to scatter it full of “Also’s” or “You knows.”

In my note-book I find this entry:

July 1.–In the hospital yesterday, a word of thirteen

syllables was successfully removed from a patient–a

North German from near Hamburg; but as most unfortunately

the surgeons had opened him in the wrong place, under the

impression that he contained a panorama, he died.

The sad event has cast a gloom over the whole community.

That paragraph furnishes a text for a few remarks about

one of the most curious and notable features of my

subject–the length of German words. Some German words

are so long that they have a perspective. Observe these





These things are not words, they are alphabetical processions.

And they are not rare; one can open a German newspaper

at any time and see them marching majestically across

the page–and if he has any imagination he can see

the banners and hear the music, too. They impart

a martial thrill to the meekest subject. I take a

great interest in these curiosities. Whenever I come

across a good one, I stuff it and put it in my museum.

In this way I have made quite a valuable collection.

When I get duplicates, I exchange with other collectors,

and thus increase the variety of my stock. Here rare

some specimens which I lately bought at an auction sale

of the effects of a bankrupt bric-a-brac hunter:







Of course when one of these grand mountain ranges goes

stretching across the printed page, it adorns and ennobles

that literary landscape–but at the same time it is a great

distress to the new student, for it blocks up his way;

he cannot crawl under it, or climb over it, or tunnel

through it. So he resorts to the dictionary for help,

but there is no help there. The dictionary must draw

the line somewhere–so it leaves this sort of words out.

And it is right, because these long things are hardly

legitimate words, but are rather combinations of words,

and the inventor of them ought to have been killed.

They are compound words with the hyphens left out.

The various words used in building them are in the dictionary,

but in a very scattered condition; so you can hunt

the materials out, one by one, and get at the meaning

at last, but it is a tedious and harassing business.

I have tried this process upon some of the above examples.

“Freundshaftsbezeigungen” seems to be “Friendship


which is only a foolish and clumsy way of saying “demonstrations

of friendship.” “Unabhaengigkeitserklaerungen” seems

to be “Independencedeclarations,” which is no improvement

upon “Declarations of Independence,” so far as I can see.

“Generalstaatsverordnetenversammlungen” seems to be

“General-statesrepresentativesmeetings,” as nearly as I

can get at it–a mere rhythmical, gushy euphuism for

“meetings of the legislature,” I judge. We used to have

a good deal of this sort of crime in our literature,

but it has gone out now. We used to speak of a things as a

“never-to-be-forgotten” circumstance, instead of cramping

it into the simple and sufficient word “memorable” and then

going calmly about our business as if nothing had happened.

In those days we were not content to embalm the thing

and bury it decently, we wanted to build a monument over it.

But in our newspapers the compounding-disease lingers

a little to the present day, but with the hyphens left out,

in the German fashion. This is the shape it takes:

instead of saying “Mr. Simmons, clerk of the county and

district courts, was in town yesterday,” the new form put

it thus: “Clerk of the County and District Courts Simmons

was in town yesterday.” This saves neither time nor ink,

and has an awkward sound besides. One often sees a remark

like this in our papers: “MRS. Assistant District Attorney

Johnson returned to her city residence yesterday for the season.”

That is a case of really unjustifiable compounding;

because it not only saves no time or trouble, but confers

a title on Mrs. Johnson which she has no right to.

But these little instances are trifles indeed, contrasted

with the ponderous and dismal German system of piling

jumbled compounds together. I wish to submit the following

local item, from a Mannheim journal, by way of illustration:

“In the daybeforeyesterdayshortlyaftereleveno’clock Night,

the inthistownstandingtavern called ‘The Wagoner’ was downburnt.

When the fire to the onthedownburninghouseresting Stork’s

Nest reached, flew the parent Storks away. But when

the bytheraging, firesurrounded Nest ITSELF caught Fire,

straightway plunged the quickreturning Mother-Stork into

the Flames and died, her Wings over her young ones outspread.”

Even the cumbersome German construction is not able to

take the pathos out of that picture–indeed, it somehow

seems to strengthen it. This item is dated away back

yonder months ago. I could have used it sooner, but I

was waiting to hear from the Father-stork. I am still waiting.

“ALSO!” If I had not shown that the German is a

difficult language, I have at least intended to do so.

I have heard of an American student who was asked how he

was getting along with his German, and who answered

promptly: “I am not getting along at all. I have worked

at it hard for three level months, and all I have got

to show for it is one solitary German phrase–‘ZWEI GLAS'”

(two glasses of beer). He paused for a moment, reflectively;

then added with feeling: “But I’ve got that SOLID!”

And if I have not also shown that German is a harassing

and infuriating study, my execution has been at fault,

and not my intent. I heard lately of a worn and sorely

tried American student who used to fly to a certain German

word for relief when he could bear up under his aggravations

no longer–the only word whose sound was sweet and

precious to his ear and healing to his lacerated spirit.

This was the word DAMIT. It was only the SOUND that

helped him, not the meaning; [3] and so, at last, when he

learned that the emphasis was not on the first syllable,

his only stay and support was gone, and he faded away

and died.

3. It merely means, in its general sense, “herewith.”

I think that a description of any loud, stirring,

tumultuous episode must be tamer in German than in English.

Our descriptive words of this character have such

a deep, strong, resonant sound, while their German

equivalents do seem so thin and mild and energyless.

Boom, burst, crash, roar, storm, bellow, blow, thunder,

explosion; howl, cry, shout, yell, groan; battle, hell.

These are magnificent words; the have a force and magnitude

of sound befitting the things which they describe.

But their German equivalents would be ever so nice to sing

the children to sleep with, or else my awe-inspiring ears

were made for display and not for superior usefulness

in analyzing sounds. Would any man want to die in a

battle which was called by so tame a term as a SCHLACHT?

Or would not a comsumptive feel too much bundled up,

who was about to go out, in a shirt-collar and a seal-ring,

into a storm which the bird-song word GEWITTER was employed

to describe? And observe the strongest of the several

German equivalents for explosion–AUSBRUCH. Our word

Toothbrush is more powerful than that. It seems to me

that the Germans could do worse than import it into their

language to describe particularly tremendous explosions with.

The German word for hell–Ho”lle–sounds more like HELLY

than anything else; therefore, how necessary chipper,

frivolous, and unimpressive it is. If a man were told

in German to go there, could he really rise to thee

dignity of feeling insulted?

Having pointed out, in detail, the several vices of

this language, I now come to the brief and pleasant task

of pointing out its virtues. The capitalizing of the nouns

I have already mentioned. But far before this virtue stands

another–that of spelling a word according to the sound of it.

After one short lesson in the alphabet, the student can tell

how any German word is pronounced without having to ask;

whereas in our language if a student should inquire of us,

“What does B, O, W, spell?” we should be obliged to reply,

“Nobody can tell what it spells when you set if off by itself;

you can only tell by referring to the context and finding

out what it signifies–whether it is a thing to shoot

arrows with, or a nod of one’s head, or the forward end of a


There are some German words which are singularly

and powerfully effective. For instance, those which

describe lowly, peaceful, and affectionate home life;

those which deal with love, in any and all forms,

from mere kindly feeling and honest good will toward

the passing stranger, clear up to courtship; those which

deal with outdoor Nature, in its softest and loveliest

aspects–with meadows and forests, and birds and flowers,

the fragrance and sunshine of summer, and the moonlight

of peaceful winter nights; in a word, those which deal with

any and all forms of rest, respose, and peace; those also

which deal with the creatures and marvels of fairyland;

and lastly and chiefly, in those words which express pathos,

is the language surpassingly rich and affective. There are

German songs which can make a stranger to the language cry.

That shows that the SOUND of the words is correct–it

interprets the meanings with truth and with exactness;

and so the ear is informed, and through the ear, the heart.

The Germans do not seem to be afraid to repeat a word

when it is the right one. they repeat it several times,

if they choose. That is wise. But in English, when we

have used a word a couple of times in a paragraph,

we imagine we are growing tautological, and so we are weak

enough to exchange it for some other word which only

approximates exactness, to escape what we wrongly fancy

is a greater blemish. Repetition may be bad, but surely

inexactness is worse.


There are people in the world who will take a great

deal of trouble to point out the faults in a religion

or a language, and then go blandly about their business

without suggesting any remedy. I am not that kind

of person. I have shown that the German language

needs reforming. Very well, I am ready to reform it.

At least I am ready to make the proper suggestions.

Such a course as this might be immodest in another; but I

have devoted upward of nine full weeks, first and last,

to a careful and critical study of this tongue, and thus

have acquired a confidence in my ability to reform it

which no mere superficial culture could have conferred

upon me.

In the first place, I would leave out the Dative case.

It confuses the plurals; and, besides, nobody ever knows

when he is in the Dative case, except he discover it

by accident–and then he does not know when or where it

was that he got into it, or how long he has been in it,

or how he is going to get out of it again. The Dative case

is but an ornamental folly–it is better to discard it.

In the next place, I would move the Verb further up

to the front. You may load up with ever so good a Verb,

but I notice that you never really bring down a subject

with it at the present German range–you only cripple it.

So I insist that this important part of speech should be

brought forward to a position where it may be easily seen

with the naked eye.

Thirdly, I would import some strong words from the English

tongue–to swear with, and also to use in describing

all sorts of vigorous things in a vigorous ways. [4]

4. “Verdammt,” and its variations and enlargements,

are words which have plenty of meaning, but the SOUNDS

are so mild and ineffectual that German ladies can use

them without sin. German ladies who could not be induced

to commit a sin by any persuasion or compulsion, promptly rip

out one of these harmless little words when they tear their

dresses or don’t like the soup. It sounds about as wicked

as our “My gracious.” German ladies are constantly saying,

“Ach! Gott!” “Mein Gott!” “Gott in Himmel!” “Herr Gott”

“Der Herr Jesus!” etc. They think our ladies have the

same custom, perhaps; for I once heard a gentle and lovely

old German lady say to a sweet young American girl:

“The two languages are so alike–how pleasant that is;

we say ‘Ach! Gott!’ you say ‘Goddamn.'”

Fourthly, I would reorganizes the sexes, and distribute

them accordingly to the will of the creator. This as

a tribute of respect, if nothing else.

Fifthly, I would do away with those great long

compounded words; or require the speaker to deliver

them in sections, with intermissions for refreshments.

To wholly do away with them would be best, for ideas are

more easily received and digested when they come one at

a time than when they come in bulk. Intellectual food

is like any other; it is pleasanter and more beneficial

to take it with a spoon than with a shovel.

Sixthly, I would require a speaker to stop when he is done,

and not hang a string of those useless “haven sind gewesen

gehabt haben geworden seins” to the end of his oration.

This sort of gewgaws undignify a speech, instead of adding

a grace. They are, therefore, an offense, and should

be discarded.

Seventhly, I would discard the Parenthesis. Also the


the re-reparenthesis, and the re-re-re-re-re-reparentheses,

and likewise the final wide-reaching all-enclosing

king-parenthesis. I would require every individual,

be he high or low, to unfold a plain straightforward tale,

or else coil it and sit on it and hold his peace.

Infractions of this law should be punishable with death.

And eighthly, and last, I would retain ZUG and SCHLAG,

with their pendants, and discard the rest of the vocabulary.

This would simplify the language.

I have now named what I regard as the most necessary

and important changes. These are perhaps all I could

be expected to name for nothing; but there are other

suggestions which I can and will make in case my proposed

application shall result in my being formally employed

by the government in the work of reforming the language.

My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person

ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing)

in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German

in thirty years. It seems manifest, then, that the

latter tongue ought to be trimmed down and repaired.

If it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently

and reverently set aside among the dead languages,

for only the dead have time to learn it.




Gentlemen: Since I arrived, a month ago, in this

old wonderland, this vast garden of Germany, my English

tongue has so often proved a useless piece of baggage

to me, and so troublesome to carry around, in a country

where they haven’t the checking system for luggage, that I

finally set to work, and learned the German language.

Also! Es freut mich dass dies so ist, denn es muss,

in ein haupts:achlich degree, h:oflich sein, dass man

auf ein occasion like this, sein Rede in die Sprache des

Landes worin he boards, aussprechen soll. Daf:ur habe ich,

aus reinische Verlegenheit–no, Vergangenheit–no, I

mean Hoflichkeit–aus reinishe Hoflichkeit habe ich

resolved to tackle this business in the German language,

um Gottes willen! Also! Sie mu”ssen so freundlich sein,

und verzeih mich die interlarding von ein oder zwei

Englischer Worte, hie und da, denn ich finde dass die

deutsche is not a very copious language, and so when

you’ve really got anything to say, you’ve got to draw

on a language that can stand the strain.

Wenn haber man kann nicht meinem Rede Verstehen, so werde

ich ihm sp:ater dasselbe :ubersetz, wenn er solche Dienst

verlangen wollen haben werden sollen sein h:atte. (I don’t

know what wollen haben werden sollen sein ha”tte means,

but I notice they always put it at the end of a German

sentence–merely for general literary gorgeousness,

I suppose.)

This is a great and justly honored day–a day which is

worthy of the veneration in which it is held by the true

patriots of all climes and nationalities–a day which

offers a fruitful theme for thought and speech; und meinem

Freunde–no, meinEN FreundEN–meinES FreundES–well,

take your choice, they’re all the same price; I don’t

know which one is right–also! ich habe gehabt haben

worden gewesen sein, as Goethe says in his Paradise

Lost–ich–ich–that is to say–ich–but let us change cars.

Also! Die Anblich so viele Grossbrittanischer und Amerikanischer

hier zusammengetroffen in Bruderliche concord, ist zwar

a welcome and inspiriting spectacle. And what has moved you

to it? Can the terse German tongue rise to the expression of

this impulse? Is it Freundschaftsbezeigungenstadtverordneten-

versammlungenfamilieneigenth:umlichkeiten? Nein,

o nein! This is a crisp and noble word, but it fails

to pierce the marrow of the impulse which has gathered

this friendly meeting and produced diese Anblick–eine

Anblich welche ist gut zu sehen–gut fu”r die Augen

in a foreign land and a far country–eine Anblick solche

als in die gew:ohnliche Heidelberger phrase nennt man ein

“scho”nes Aussicht!” Ja, freilich natu”rlich wahrscheinlich

ebensowohl! Also! Die Aussicht auf dem K:onigsstuhl

mehr gr:osser ist, aber geistlische sprechend nicht so

scho”n, lob’ Gott! Because sie sind hier zusammengetroffen,

in Bruderlichem concord, ein grossen Tag zu feirn,

whose high benefits were not for one land and one locality,

but have conferred a measure of good upon all lands

that know liberty today, and love it. Hundert Jahre

voru”ber, waren die Engla”nder und die Amerikaner Feinde;

aber heut sind sie herzlichen Freunde, Gott sei Dank!

May this good-fellowship endure; may these banners here

blended in amity so remain; may they never any more wave

over opposing hosts, or be stained with blood which

was kindred, is kindred, and always will be kindred,

until a line drawn upon a map shall be able to say:

“THIS bars the ancestral blood from flowing in the veins

of the descendant!”


Legend of the Castles

Called the “Swallow’s Nest” and “The Brothers,”

as Condensed from the Captain’s Tale

In the neighborhood of three hundred years ago the Swallow’s

Nest and the larger castle between it and Neckarsteinach

were owned and occupied by two old knights who were

twin brothers, and bachelors. They had no relatives.

They were very rich. They had fought through the wars

and retired to private life–covered with honorable scars.

They were honest, honorable men in their dealings,

but the people had given them a couple of nicknames which

were very suggestive–Herr Givenaught and Herr Heartless.

The old knights were so proud of these names that if

a burgher called them by their right ones they would

correct them.

The most renowned scholar in Europe, at the time, was the

Herr Doctor Franz Reikmann, who lived in Heidelberg.

All Germany was proud of the venerable scholar, who lived

in the simplest way, for great scholars are always poor.

He was poor, as to money, but very rich in his sweet

young daughter Hildegarde and his library. He had been

all his life collecting his library, book and book,

and he lived it as a miser loves his hoarded gold.

He said the two strings of his heart were rooted,

the one in his daughter, the other in his books; and that

if either were severed he must die. Now in an evil hour,

hoping to win a marriage portion for his child, this simple

old man had entrusted his small savings to a sharper to be

ventured in a glittering speculation. But that was not

the worst of it: he signed a paper–without reading it.

That is the way with poets and scholars; they always sign

without reading. This cunning paper made him responsible

for heaps of things. The rest was that one night he

found himself in debt to the sharper eight thousand

pieces of gold!–an amount so prodigious that it simply

stupefied him to think of it. It was a night of woe in

that house.

“I must part with my library–I have nothing else.

So perishes one heartstring,” said the old man.

“What will it bring, father?” asked the girl.

“Nothing! It is worth seven hundred pieces of gold;

but by auction it will go for little or nothing.”

“Then you will have parted with the half of your heart

and the joy of your life to no purpose, since so mighty

of burden of debt will remain behind.”

“There is no help for it, my child. Our darlings must

pass under the hammer. We must pay what we can.”

“My father, I have a feeling that the dear Virgin will

come to our help. Let us not lose heart.”

“She cannot devise a miracle that will turn NOTHING into

eight thousand gold pieces, and lesser help will bring

us little peace.”

“She can do even greater things, my father. She will

save us, I know she will.”

Toward morning, while the old man sat exhausted and asleep

in his chair where he had been sitting before his books

as one who watches by his beloved dead and prints the

features on his memory for a solace in the aftertime

of empty desolation, his daughter sprang into the room

and gently woke him, saying–

“My presentiment was true! She will save us.

Three times has she appeared to me in my dreams, and said,

‘Go to the Herr Givenaught, go to the Herr Heartless,

ask them to come and bid.’ There, did I not tell you she

would save us, the thrice blessed Virgin!”

Sad as the old man was, he was obliged to laugh.

“Thou mightest as well appeal to the rocks their

castles stand upon as to the harder ones that lie

in those men’s breasts, my child. THEY bid on books

writ in the learned tongues!–they can scarce read their own.”

But Hildegarde’s faith was in no wise shaken.

Bright and early she was on her way up the Neckar road,

as joyous as a bird.

Meantime Herr Givenaught and Herr Heartless were having

an early breakfast in the former’s castle–the Sparrow’s

Nest–and flavoring it with a quarrel; for although

these twins bore a love for each other which almost

amounted to worship, there was one subject upon which they

could not touch without calling each other hard names–

and yet it was the subject which they oftenest touched upon.

“I tell you,” said Givenaught, “you will beggar yourself

yet with your insane squanderings of money upon

what you choose to consider poor and worthy objects.

All these years I have implored you to stop this foolish

custom and husband your means, but all in vain.

You are always lying to me about these secret benevolences,

but you never have managed to deceive me yet. Every time

a poor devil has been set upon his feet I have detected

your hand in it–incorrigible ass!”

“Every time you didn’t set him on his feet yourself,

you mean. Where I give one unfortunate a little private lift,

you do the same for a dozen. The idea of YOUR swelling

around the country and petting yourself with the nickname

of Givenaught–intolerable humbug! Before I would be

such a fraud as that, I would cut my right hand off.

Your life is a continual lie. But go on, I have tried MY

best to save you from beggaring yourself by your riotous

charities–now for the thousandth time I wash my hands

of the consequences. A maundering old fool! that’s

what you are.”

“And you a blethering old idiot!” roared Givenaught,

springing up.

“I won’t stay in the presence of a man who has no more

delicacy than to call me such names. Mannerless swine!”

So saying, Herr Heartless sprang up in a passion.

But some lucky accident intervened, as usual, to change

the subject, and the daily quarrel ended in the customary

daily living reconciliation. The gray-headed old

eccentrics parted, and Herr Heartless walked off to his

own castle.

Half an hour later, Hildegarde was standing in the presence

of Herr Givenaught. He heard her story, and said–

“I am sorry for you, my child, but I am very poor,

I care nothing for bookish rubbish, I shall not be there.”

He said the hard words kindly, but they nearly broke poor

Hildegarde’s heart, nevertheless. When she was gone

the old heartbreaker muttered, rubbing his hands–

“It was a good stroke. I have saved my brother’s pocket

this time, in spite of him. Nothing else would have

prevented his rushing off to rescue the old scholar,

the pride of Germany, from his trouble. The poor child

won’t venture near HIM after the rebuff she has received

from his brother the Givenaught.”

But he was mistaken. The Virgin had commanded,

and Hildegarde would obey. She went to Herr Heartless

and told her story. But he said coldly–

“I am very poor, my child, and books are nothing to me.

I wish you well, but I shall not come.”

When Hildegarde was gone, he chuckled and said–

“How my fool of a soft-headed soft-hearted brother would

rage if he knew how cunningly I have saved his pocket.

How he would have flown to the old man’s rescue! But the

girl won’t venture near him now.”

When Hildegarde reached home, her father asked her how she

had prospered. She said–

“The Virgin has promised, and she will keep her word;

but not in the way I thought. She knows her own ways,

and they are best.”

The old man patted her on the head, and smiled a doubting

smile, but he honored her for her brave faith, nevertheless.


Next day the people assembled in the great hall

of the Ritter tavern, to witness the auction–for

the proprietor had said the treasure of Germany’s most

honored son should be bartered away in no meaner place.

Hildegarde and her father sat close to the books,

silent and sorrowful, and holding each other’s hands.

There was a great crowd of people present. The bidding began–

“How much for this precious library, just as it stands,

all complete?” called the auctioneer.

“Fifty pieces of gold!”

“A hundred!”

“Two hundred.”



“Five hundred!”

“Five twenty-five.”

A brief pause.

“Five forty!”

A longer pause, while the auctioneer redoubled his persuasions.


A heavy drag–the auctioneer persuaded, pleaded,

implored–it was useless, everybody remained silent–

“Well, then–going, going–one–two–”

“Five hundred and fifty!”

This in a shrill voice, from a bent old man, all hung

with rags, and with a green patch over his left eye.

Everybody in his vicinity turned and gazed at him.

It was Givenaught in disguise. He was using a disguised

voice, too.

“Good!” cried the auctioneer. “Going, going–one–two–”

“Five hundred and sixty!”

This, in a deep, harsh voice, from the midst of the

crowd at the other end of the room. The people near

by turned, and saw an old man, in a strange costume,

supporting himself on crutches. He wore a long white beard,

and blue spectacles. It was Herr Heartless, in disguise,

and using a disguised voice.

“Good again! Going, going–one–”

“Six hundred!”

Sensation. The crowd raised a cheer, and some one

cried out, “Go it, Green-patch!” This tickled the audience

and a score of voices shouted, “Go it, Green-patch!”

“Going–going–going–third and last call–one–two–”

“Seven hundred!”

“Huzzah!–well done, Crutches!” cried a voice. The crowd

took it up, and shouted altogether, “Well done, Crutches!”

“Splendid, gentlemen! you are doing magnificently.

Going, going–”

“A thousand!”

“Three cheers for Green-patch! Up and at him, Crutches!”


“Two thousand!”

And while the people cheered and shouted, “Crutches” muttered,

“Who can this devil be that is fighting so to get these

useless books?–But no matter, he sha’n’t have them.

The pride of Germany shall have his books if it beggars

me to buy them for him.”

“Going, going, going–”

“Three thousand!”

“Come, everybody–give a rouser for Green-patch!”

And while they did it, “Green-patch” muttered, “This cripple

is plainly a lunatic; but the old scholar shall have

his books, nevertheless, though my pocket sweat for it.”


“Four thousand!”


“Five thousand!”


“Six thousand!”


“Seven thousand!”


“EIGHT thousand!”

“We are saved, father! I told you the Holy Virgin

would keep her word!” “Blessed be her sacred name!”

said the old scholar, with emotion. The crowd roared,

“Huzza, huzza, huzza–at him again, Green-patch!”


“TEN thousand!” As Givenaught shouted this, his excitement

was so great that he forgot himself and used his

natural voice. He brother recognized it, and muttered,

under cover of the storm of cheers–

“Aha, you are there, are you, besotted old fool? Take

the books, I know what you’ll do with them!”

So saying, he slipped out of the place and the auction was

at an end. Givenaught shouldered his way to Hildegarde,

whispered a word in her ear, and then he also vanished.

The old scholar and his daughter embraced, and the former said,

“Truly the Holy Mother has done more than she promised,

child, for she has give you a splendid marriage portion–

think of it, two thousand pieces of gold!”

“And more still,” cried Hildegarde, “for she has give

you back your books; the stranger whispered me that he

would none of them–‘the honored son of Germany must

keep them,’ so he said. I would I might have asked

his name and kissed his hand and begged his blessing;

but he was Our Lady’s angel, and it is not meet that we

of earth should venture speech with them that dwell above.”


German Journals

The daily journals of Hamburg, Frankfort, Baden, Munich,

and Augsburg are all constructed on the same general plan.

I speak of these because I am more familiar with them

than with any other German papers. They contain no

“editorials” whatever; no “personals”–and this is rather

a merit than a demerit, perhaps; no funny-paragraph column;

no police-court reports; no reports of proceedings

of higher courts; no information about prize-fights

or other dog-fights, horse-races, walking-machines,

yachting-contents, rifle-matches, or other sporting

matters of any sort; no reports of banquet speeches;

no department of curious odds and ends of floating fact

and gossip; no “rumors” about anything or anybody;

no prognostications or prophecies about anything or anybody;

no lists of patents granted or sought, or any reference

to such things; no abuse of public officials, big or little,

or complaints against them, or praises of them; no religious

columns Saturdays, no rehash of cold sermons Mondays;

no “weather indications”; no “local item” unveiling of

what is happening in town–nothing of a local nature,

indeed, is mentioned, beyond the movements of some prince,

or the proposed meeting of some deliberative body.

After so formidable a list of what one can’t find

in a German daily, the question may well be asked,

What CAN be found in it? It is easily answered: A child’s

handful of telegrams, mainly about European national and

international political movements; letter-correspondence about

the same things; market reports. There you have it.

That is what a German daily is made of. A German

daily is the slowest and saddest and dreariest of the

inventions of man. Our own dailies infuriate the reader,

pretty often; the German daily only stupefies him.

Once a week the German daily of the highest class lightens

up its heavy columns–that is, it thinks it lightens

them up–with a profound, an abysmal, book criticism;

a criticism which carries you down, down, down into

the scientific bowels of the subject–for the German

critic is nothing if not scientific–and when you come

up at last and scent the fresh air and see the bonny

daylight once more, you resolve without a dissenting voice

that a book criticism is a mistaken way to lighten up

a German daily. Sometimes, in place of the criticism,

the first-class daily gives you what it thinks is a gay

and chipper essay–about ancient Grecian funeral customs,

or the ancient Egyptian method of tarring a mummy,

or the reasons for believing that some of the peoples

who existed before the flood did not approve of cats.

These are not unpleasant subjects; they are not

uninteresting subjects; they are even exciting subjects–

until one of these massive scientists gets hold of them.

He soon convinces you that even these matters can

be handled in such a way as to make a person low-spirited.

As I have said, the average German daily is made up

solely of correspondences–a trifle of it by telegraph,

the rest of it by mail. Every paragraph has the side-head,

“London,” “Vienna,” or some other town, and a date.

And always, before the name of the town, is placed a letter

or a sign, to indicate who the correspondent is, so that

the authorities can find him when they want to hang him.

Stars, crosses, triangles, squares, half-moons, suns–

such are some of the signs used by correspondents.

Some of the dailies move too fast, others too slowly.

For instance, my Heidelberg daily was always twenty-four

hours old when it arrived at the hotel; but one of my

Munich evening papers used to come a full twenty-four hours

before it was due.

Some of the less important dailies give one a tablespoonful

of a continued story every day; it is strung across

the bottom of the page, in the French fashion.

By subscribing for the paper for five years I judge that

a man might succeed in getting pretty much all of the story.

If you ask a citizen of Munich which is the best Munich

daily journal, he will always tell you that there is

only one good Munich daily, and that it is published

in Augsburg, forty or fifty miles away. It is like saying

that the best daily paper in New York is published out

in New Jersey somewhere. Yes, the Augsburg ALLGEMEINE

ZEITUNG is “the best Munich paper,” and it is the one I

had in my mind when I was describing a “first-class

German daily” above. The entire paper, opened out, is not

quite as large as a single page of the New York HERALD.

It is printed on both sides, of course; but in such large

type that its entire contents could be put, in HERALD type,

upon a single page of the HERALD–and there would still

be room enough on the page for the ZEITUNG’s “supplement”

and some portion of the ZEITUNG’s next day’s contents.

Such is the first-class daily. The dailies actually printed

in Munich are all called second-class by the public.

If you ask which is the best of these second-class

papers they say there is no difference; one is as good

as another. I have preserved a copy of one of them;

it is called the MU”NCHENER TAGES-ANZEIGER, and bears

date January 25, 1879. Comparisons are odious,

but they need not be malicious; and without any malice

I wish to compare this journals of other countries.

I know of no other way to enable the reader to “size”

the thing.

A column of an average daily paper in America contains

from 1,800 to 2,500 words; the reading-matter in a

single issue consists of from 25,000 to 50,000 words.

The reading-matter in my copy of the Munich journal

consists of a total of 1,654 words –for I counted them.

That would be nearly a column of one of our dailies.

A single issue of the bulkiest daily newspaper in the

world–the London TIMES–often contains 100,000 words

of reading-matter. Considering that the DAILY ANZEIGER

issues the usual twenty-six numbers per month, the reading

matter in a single number of the London TIMES would keep it

in “copy” two months and a half.

The ANZEIGER is an eight-page paper; its page is one

inch wider and one inch longer than a foolscap page;

that is to say, the dimensions of its page are somewhere

between those of a schoolboy’s slate and a lady’s

pocket handkerchief. One-fourth of the first page is

taken up with the heading of the journal; this gives it

a rather top-heavy appearance; the rest of the first page

is reading-matter; all of the second page is reading-matter;

the other six pages are devoted to advertisements.

The reading-matter is compressed into two hundred

and five small-pica lines, and is lighted up with eight

pica headlines. The bill of fare is as follows: First,

under a pica headline, to enforce attention and respect,

is a four-line sermon urging mankind to remember that,

although they are pilgrims here below, they are yet heirs

of heaven; and that “When they depart from earth they soar

to heaven.” Perhaps a four-line sermon in a Saturday paper

is the sufficient German equivalent of the eight or ten

columns of sermons which the New-Yorkers get in their

Monday morning papers. The latest news (two days old)

follows the four-line sermon, under the pica headline

“Telegrams”–these are “telegraphed” with a pair of

scissors out of the AUGSBURGER ZEITUNG of the day before.

These telegrams consist of fourteen and two-thirds lines

from Berlin, fifteen lines from Vienna, and two and five-eights

lines from Calcutta. Thirty-three small-pica lines news

in a daily journal in a King’s Capital of one hundred and

seventy thousand inhabitants is surely not an overdose.

Next we have the pica heading, “News of the Day,”

under which the following facts are set forth: Prince

Leopold is going on a visit to Vienna, six lines;

Prince Arnulph is coming back from Russia, two lines;

the Landtag will meet at ten o’clock in the morning and

consider an election law, three lines and one word over;

a city government item, five and one-half lines;

prices of tickets to the proposed grand Charity Ball,

twenty-three lines–for this one item occupies almost

one-fourth of the entire first page; there is to be

a wonderful Wagner concert in Frankfurt-on-the-Main,

with an orchestra of one hundred and eight instruments,

seven and one-half lines. That concludes the first page.

Eighty-five lines, altogether, on that page,

including three headlines. About fifty of those lines,

as one perceives, deal with local matters; so the reporters

are not overworked.

Exactly one-half of the second page is occupied with

an opera criticism, fifty-three lines (three of them

being headlines), and “Death Notices,” ten lines.

The other half of the second page is made up of two

paragraphs under the head of “Miscellaneous News.”

One of these paragraphs tells about a quarrel between the Czar

of Russia and his eldest son, twenty-one and a half lines;

and the other tells about the atrocious destruction of a

peasant child by its parents, forty lines, or one-fifth

of the total of the reading-matter contained in the paper.

Consider what a fifth part of the reading-matter of an American

daily paper issued in a city of one hundred and seventy

thousand inhabitants amounts to! Think what a mass it is.

Would any one suppose I could so snugly tuck away such a

mass in a chapter of this book that it would be difficult

to find it again in the reader lost his place? Surely not.

I will translate that child-murder word for word,

to give the reader a realizing sense of what a fifth

part of the reading-matter of a Munich daily actually

is when it comes under measurement of the eye:

“From Oberkreuzberg, January 21st, the DONAU ZEITUNG

receives a long account of a crime, which we shortened

as follows: In Rametuach, a village near Eppenschlag,

lived a young married couple with two children, one of which,

a boy aged five, was born three years before the marriage.

For this reason, and also because a relative at Iggensbach

had bequeathed M400 ($100) to the boy, the heartless

father considered him in the way; so the unnatural

parents determined to sacrifice him in the cruelest

possible manner. They proceeded to starve him slowly

to death, meantime frightfully maltreating him–as the

village people now make known, when it is too late.

The boy was shut in a hole, and when people passed

by he cried, and implored them to give him bread.

His long-continued tortures and deprivations destroyed

him at last, on the third of January. The sudden (sic)

death of the child created suspicion, the more so as the

body was immediately clothed and laid upon the bier.

Therefore the coroner gave notice, and an inquest was held

on the 6th. What a pitiful spectacle was disclosed then!

The body was a complete skeleton. The stomach and intestines

were utterly empty; they contained nothing whatsoever.

The flesh on the corpse was not as thick as the back of

a knife, and incisions in it brought not one drop of blood.

There was not a piece of sound skin the size of a dollar

on the whole body; wounds, scars, bruises, discolored

extravasated blood, everywhere–even on the soles of

the feet there were wounds. The cruel parents asserted

that the boy had been so bad that they had been obliged

to use severe punishments, and that he finally fell over

a bench and broke his neck. However, they were arrested

two weeks after the inquest and put in the prison at Deggendorf.”

Yes, they were arrested “two weeks after the inquest.”

What a home sound that has. That kind of police briskness

rather more reminds me of my native land than German

journalism does.

I think a German daily journal doesn’t do any good to

speak of, but at the same time it doesn’t do any harm.

That is a very large merit, and should not be lightly

weighted nor lightly thought of.

The German humorous papers are beautifully printed upon

fine paper, and the illustrations are finely drawn,

finely engraved, and are not vapidly funny, but deliciously so.

So also, generally speaking, are the two or three terse

sentences which accompany the pictures. I remember one

of these pictures: A most dilapidated tramp is ruefully

contemplating some coins which lie in his open palm.

He says: “Well, begging is getting played out. Only about

five marks ($1.25) for the whole day; many an official

makes more!” And I call to mind a picture of a commercial

traveler who is about to unroll his samples:

MERCHANT (pettishly).–NO, don’t. I don’t want to buy anything!

DRUMMER.–If you please, I was only going to show you–

MERCHANT.–But I don’t wish to see them!

DRUMMER (after a pause, pleadingly).–But do you you mind

letting ME look at them! I haven’t seen them for three weeks!

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