Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 15,

Part 2 out of 5

and the street-sweepers. At first thought it seems improbable that the
squalid wretches who can barely earn sous enough to live on, to whom
fifty cents a day are fine wages, should have a ball. But all things
are possible in Paris in the way of popular amusements. In the Rue
Mouffetard, then, near the Rue Pot de Fer, we read on the wall of a
gloomy building a yellow advertisement which is translatable thus,



_All the Sundays, departing from the first January, up till
Fat Tuesday_.



A Grand Orchestra, composed of Artists of Talent, will be
conducted by G. Maurage, who will have performed a Repertory
entirely new, composed of Quadrilles, Valses, Polkas,
Schottisches, Varsoviennes, Mazurkas, Redowas, Lancers, etc.

ENTRANCE--On the Sundays, five cents; at ordinary times, four
cents. One commences at 8 o'clock.

Although one commences at eight o'clock on the bills, one does not
commence in reality at any such unfashionable hour. If we are so
innocent as to go to the ball-room before ten o'clock, we shall find
only a crowd of boys and girls gathered about the entrance of the
hall, waiting to see the guests arrive. Needless to say, no carriages
roll up to this door. The revelers come on foot, emerging from dark
alleyways, descending from garrets by creaking old staircases,
filtering out one by one into the street, and making their way to the
ball-room in couples or alone. To find the ball in the full tide of
successful operation we should arrive about half-past ten in the
evening. Entering then through a long, broad passage, midway of which
we deposit five sous each with the Cerberus on guard, we pass into a
hall crowded with people. The hall is not larger than that of an
average country-tavern ball-room in New England: the space occupied by
the dancers will accommodate perhaps fifty quadrille sets. (There are
no "side couples" in the quadrilles of Paris popular balls; hence a
set consists of but four persons.) This would indicate a pretty large
ball-room to most minds, but the dancers here are crowded so close
upon each other that they really occupy a surprisingly small space.

Up and down the two sides of the long hall are ranged coarse wooden
tables, with the narrowest benches at them for use as seats that I
think ever served that purpose. Sitting on a Virginia fence is the
only exercise I remember that suggests the exceeding narrowness of the
benches at the ragpickers' ball. On the side of the tables nearest the
wall runs a narrow alley, down which we walk in search of a seat. On
the other side the tables are protected from the dancers--who might
otherwise bang destructively against them, to the detriment of
wine-bottles and glasses--by a stout wooden railing. Reaching the
lower end of the hall, we find an unoccupied seat, and are able to
survey the scene at our leisure.

The hall is lighted by no fewer than six chandeliers, with numerous
burners, and between the chandeliers depend from the ceiling large
glass balls, coated inside with quicksilver, which serve to reflect
the light and add something of brilliancy. There are two round holes
for ventilation in the ceiling: the only windows are two which are at
the lower end of the hall, and look out on a gloomy courtyard
surrounded by a high wall, on whose ridged top is a forbidding array
of broken bottles imbedded in the mortar. On an elevated platform at
one side, as high as the dancers' heads, sits the orchestra "composed
of artists of talent," thirteen in number; and it is but justice to
say that they make excellent music--far better than that we commonly
hear at home in theatres and at dancing-assemblies. Blouses are
abundant on the floor, in spite of the fact that the ball is
advertised to be "dress, mask, disguise." Near us is a dusty blousard
in huge wooden shoes, who dances no less vigorously with his head and
arms than with his legs; and how earnestly he does bend to his work!
He is one incessant teeter. While the music sounds he never flags. He
spins, he whirls, he balances: he stands upon the toes of his wooden
sabots and pirouettes with clumsy ease, like one on stilts. He claps
his hands smartly together, flings them wildly above his head, and
pounds away with his feet as if it were his firm intention to go
through into the cellar. But, though our attention is centred on him,
he is by no means alone or peculiar. Around and around whirl others
and others, under the gleaming chandeliers, in the clouds of tobacco
smoke, dancing as vigorously, flinging their hands above their heads
as wildly, as he. Here and there handsome costumes are seen, but the
majority are in Cardigan jackets or blouses: many are in their
shirt-sleeves. All wear their hats and caps. Women in male attire and
men in women's frocks and ribbons are a favorite form of disguise:
occasionally there is one of an elaborately grotesque character. The
spectators, sitting at the tables or strolling down the narrow aisles,
look on with applause and laughter at the boisterous scene.
Occasionally one jumps upon a table and flings up his arms with a
hilarious yell, but he is promptly tumbled down again. When the
quadrille is over many of the dancers go on jumping and skipping,
loath to have done; but the floor is promptly cleared by two men in
authority, the proprietors of the place, for there is rigid discipline

In the interval, while the music is silent, three or four policemen
armed to the teeth, with swords at their sides and glittering
uniforms, saunter in an idle, unconcerned manner up and down the
cleared floor, with the air of men who have no earthly use for their
time, and are walking thus merely to stretch their legs a bit. But
they are keenly on the alert, these gendarmes. They cast their eyes on
us where we sit with a sidelong glance which seems to say, "We see
you, you two men in tall hats," for we presently find we are
conspicuous in this crowd by the hats we wear. A ragamuffin Pierrot in
a white nightcap is seen to touch a trousered female on the arm and
look leeringly at us, and is overheard to say, "Vois donc, Delphine,
those aristos there--have they hats?--quoi?" Whereupon I nod
good-naturedly to them, and Delphine comes up to us with a smile. "One
sees easily thou art not Parisian, little father _(p'tit pere_)" she
says to me. "Rest tranquil, then--thou shalt see dancing--rest
tranquil." And with a flirt of her heel she bounds into the middle of
the floor with her cavalier as the orchestra sounds the preliminary
strain of a waltz.

It is the custom here for the orchestra to sound this preliminary
note as a foretaste to the dancers of the coming piece. Then the
musicians rest on their instruments while the two men in authority on
the floor set up a stentorian call of "Advance, mesdames and
messieurs: one is about to begin the waltz," or the polka, as the name
of the coming dance may be. At this cry, through the little gates
which open here and there in the wooden railing a crowd of eager
clients pour upon the floor and range themselves in place. The men in
authority coolly proceed to collect a tax of two sous from each
couple, and then the music and the dance begin. In waltzing the
dancers simply put their arms around each other's necks, and thus
embracing vigorously, face to face, they spin about the room, bumping
against each other, laughing, shouting and chaffing. Waiters in white
aprons dodge about among the dancers, taking orders for wine, beer and
punch, and exciting our constant amazement that they do not get
knocked down and trampled on. One of them approaches us and asks what
we will take. Observe, he does not ask if we will take anything, for
if you sit you must "consume" either drink or cigars. Your five cents
paid at the door, you perceive, entitle you to neither a seat nor a
dance. The constant drinking which goes on is the heaviest source of
income of the establishment, after all. Yet nobody is drunk. In New
York a like amount of guzzling would have put half the men under the
table by this time. It is a popular notion that Frenchmen _never_ get
drunk, but this exaggerates the truth. One sees almost as much
drunkenness among the lower classes in Paris as in New York, but the
amount of drunkenness is so trifling in proportion to the enormous
amount of tippling that goes on among Frenchmen that the matter is a
cause of constant wonderment to visitors from other lands.

At the end of the waltz the floor is promptly cleared again. One woman
puts her hand on the rail-fence and leaps over unconcernedly, rather
than take her turn at the gate. Then the band strikes up the opening
strain of the popular opera-bouffe quadrille of the hour, and the air
echoes with the shout on every side, "C'est Angot! C'est Angot!" and
the struggle for places is furious. "Madame Angot," the heroine of a
fashionable opera-bouffe, is a market-woman, and a sort of goddess
among the blousards, who are eager to dance to the inspiring melody of
her song. The men in authority have little need to persuade the
dancers with their cry of "Avancez! avancez!" this time: they have
only to collect the sous, and the wild revelry begins. The tallest man
in the room leads on to the floor the shortest woman--a little
humpbacked dwarf: he is smoking a cigar, and she a cigarette, and they
dance with fury while puffing clouds of smoke. The man jumps in the
air with wondrous pigeon-wings, slaps his heels with his hands, shouts
and twists his lank body into grotesque shapes. The little dwarf,
madly hilarious, rushes about with her head down, swings her long
dress in the air, whirls and "makes cheeses," and in the climax of her
efforts kicks her partner squarely in the back amid roars of laughter.

Across the way from this ball-room there is a large "brewery," as it
is called--a combination of beer-hall, wineshop, cafe and
billiard-room--where for eight cents you may play a game of billiards,
or for twelve cents may play an hour. Beer is four cents the glass,
and wine two cents, for in Paris wine is cheaper than beer. Blousards
crowd this place at all hours of the night.

Near by is a cafe concert. A "Grande Soiree Lyrique" is the
entertainment offered us at the Maison Doucieux, as we learn from the
rudely-written handbill which hangs at the entrance. Through a long,
winding, narrow, dark and dirty passage, up a rickety stone staircase,
through another passage, and we stand in a crowded hall, at whose
lower end a rude stage is erected, on which a ragged man is bawling a
comic song. In the midst of it there is a disturbance: a drunken man
has climbed upon the back of a seat to light his pipe at the
chandelier, and falling thence has enraged the fallen-upon to that
extent that a fight ensues. In a twinkling the tipsy man is dragged
out of the door, to the delight of the audience, who shout "Bravo!"
as he disappears. The concert is not entertaining, and we follow him
out. He is carefully propped up against a wall by those who put him
into the street, and when we come upon him is growling maledictions
upon his enemies, with his hair about his eyes and his hands clawing
the air. Four bareheaded women, roaring with laughter, come marching
abreast along the middle of the street, and picking up the drunkard's
battered hat disappear in the gloomy distance, boisterously thrusting
the hat upon each other's heads in turn.

A cafe chantant of a more pretentious sort than the Maison Doucieux,
but still the peculiar resort of the blousard--for there are cafe
chantants of many grades in Paris--may be found in one of the back
streets near the Boulevard St. Martin. Some of the cafes chantants are
patronized by the well-dressed class, and a blousard is no more likely
to be seen in their orchestra fauteuils than in the same division of
the regular theatres. The El Dorado, for example, in the Boulevard
Strasbourg, is as large and almost as elegant as Booth's Theatre in
New York, but it is a cafe chantant. Keeping still to the favorite
haunts of the blousard, we enter the showiest of the cafes chantants
peculiar to him--as free-and-easy a _beuglant_ as one could wish.
Beuglant, by the way, is the argot name of this sort of place; and as
the word comes from _beugler_, to "bellow," it may easily be seen how
flattering it is as a definite noun for a place where the chief
attraction is the singing.

It is late when we enter the beuglant, and the place is crowded to
suffocation and thick with tobacco smoke. The hall is an immensely
large one, with gleaming chandeliers, frescoed nymphs and cupids on
the walls, a regular stage and a regular orchestra. A venerable man in
gray hair and spectacles saws away at the big bass; a long-haired,
professor-looking person struggles laboriously with the piano; there
are two violinists, a horn, a trombone, a flute and a flageolet. On
the wall is a placard where we read that the price for the first
_consommation_ is fifteen sous, but that subsequent consommations will
be furnished at the ordinary price. Consommation is the convenient
word of cafes chantants for food or drink of any kind, and every
visitor is forced by the rules of the place to "consume" something as
his title to a seat. Nothing is furnished more nearly approaching food
than brandied cherries, but the drinks include all the noxious and
innoxious beverages known to the French--from coffee, sugar-water or
tea to brandy, rum and absinthe. In the list of the stronger drinks, a
compound of sugar, lemon, hot water and whisky (which I believe I have
heard mentioned under the name of punch in remote towns of Arkansas
and Minnesota) is here known as "an American." The first time one
hears the order, "Bring me an American, waiter, and let him be hot,
mind you--as hot as one can swallow him," it is a little surprising.

Waiters move laboriously about among the legs of the audience, bearing
salvers laden with wine, beer, Americans and bottles of water. The
audience is rough and ready; hats and caps are worn habitually; pipes
are diligently smoked--cigars are rare. Women are seldom seen here,
except upon the stage, where they sit in a semicircle in a somewhat
formal manner, each holding a bouquet in her lap carefully wrapped
round with white paper, each wearing flowers in her elaborately coiffe
hair and in the folds of her silken skirts, and each with arms and
shoulders bare. From time to time these women come forward and
_sing_--songs not always strictly adapted to the family circle,
perhaps. But the favorite vocalist is a comic man, who emerges from
behind the scenes in a grotesquely exaggerated costume--an
ill-fitting, long, green calico tail-coat, with a huge yellow bandana
dangling from a rear pocket; a red cotton umbrella with a brass ring
on one end and a glass hook on the other; light blue shapeless
trousers; a flaming orange--colored vest; a huge standing collar, and
in his buttonhole a ridiculous artificial flower. This type of comic
singer is unknown in American concert-halls of any grade, though he
is sometimes seen at the German concerts in the Bowery of the lowest
class. Here he is very cordially esteemed. The ladies behind him yawn
in a furtive manner under cover of their bouquets, but the audience is
hilarious over him as he sings about his friend Thomas from the
country, who came up to Paris to see the sights and shocked everybody
by his dreadful manners. He put his muddy boots on the fauteuils, did
mon ami Thomas; he fell in love with a gay woman of the Boulevards
whose skin was all plastered up like an old cathedral; he ate oysters
with a hair-pin at dinner; he offered his toothpick to his vis-a-vis,
and altogether conducted himself in such a manner that one was forced
to say to him (_chorus_), Ah, my friend Thomas! at Paris that's hardly
done. Ah, mon ami Thomas! at Paris that is not done at all. The
audience is in ecstasies of delight at this ill-bred conduct on the
part of the cousin from the provinces--secretly conscious as they are,
even though they be blousards, that they are Parisians, and know how
to behave themselves in a polite manner; and the vocalist, recovering
from his last grimace, gives them another dose. He relates that his
friend Thomas wanted to go to the grand opera; so he took him to the
Funambules: the fool swallowed that--il a gobe ca!--and when the tenor
began to sing Thomas roared out, "Tais-toi donc!" and began to bellow
a comic song, whereupon I dragged him out, protesting (_Chorus_), Ah,
mon ami Thomas! a Paris ca n'se fait guere. Ah, mon ami Thomas! a
Paris ca n'se fait pas!

When a sentimental song is sung the audience pay little attention. To
patriotic songs they listen respectfully. A song which breathes the
glories of literature as represented by Montaigne, Jean Jacques
Rousseau, and Moliere is tolerated idly. But when the stage is
presently cleared for a ballet the young blousards--for they are
mostly young men who gather here--are all attention. What is their
disgust at perceiving that the dancers are men in ancient Greek
costumes, who do a sword-fight to music, with periods of sudden
tableau-attitude striking! They are a bit ridiculous, these Greeks,
flopping about the stage in tights and tunics, and presently three or
four blousards near me begin to guy the performance. "Ah-h-h!" they
cry, grinning broadly; "ah, ah, ha! ha-a-a-a!"--putting into this
utterance a world of amused scorn. The "regulator" of the
establishment--a solemn man in a tail-coat who walks about the hall
preserving order--gets angry at this. "Restez tranquilles," he says to
the jeerers, with expressive and emphatic forefinger leveled at the
group. Whereupon one of them, a handsome chap in a soft hat, leans his
elbows squarely on the table in front of him, wags his head saucily
and openly chaffs the solemn regulator. "Ah, bah!" he says, "do we
come _here_ to keep still?" The superintendent threatens to call the
police: the blousards laugh him to scorn. "You would make a fine
figure of yourself bringing here the police, wouldn't you? Look then
at what we have consumed!" pointing to the empty glasses before him on
the table. "Go along, then, do--go quickly--and bring here the police,
old wag that you are!" The regulator perceives the force of this
argument. "But they should be more respectful," he says, appealing to
me: "n'est ce pas, m'sieu?" and with this walks away. The hall is so
large, and the noise which fills it so prodigious, that this little
altercation has attracted no general attention, as it must have done
in a quieter place.

The theatre named by the beuglant's funny singer the "Funambules," to
which he took his friend Thomas under pretence that it was the opera,
is one of the queerest of the blousard's places of resort. It is a
droll little underground theatre--literally underground, with no
windows, no opening of any kind to the light of day, and no
ventilation. We reach it by a long winding way of pleasantly-lighted
stairs and corridors, and find ourselves in a room incredibly small
for a theatre--a mere little box of a place, not wider, I should
judge, than sixteen feet, nor more than fifty feet deep, but so
curiously and ingeniously arranged with seats in tiers upon an
inclined plane that quite a numerous audience can find room within it.
The "fauteuils d'orchestre," or orchestra-chairs, are the front row of
benches, nearest the stage. The "parterre" is the back rows. There is
a little bird's nest of a gallery at the rear of the room, where the
spectators cannot stand up without striking the ceiling with their
heads. At the sides of the space set apart for the musicians are two
queer little private boxes, perched up against the wall like
old-fashioned pulpits, and reached by a narrow flight of steps like a
ladder. The aristocratic seats (after the boxes) are the fauteuils
d'orchestre, for which we pay the ruinous sum of twenty-five sous
each. Here we are in an atmosphere utterly unlike that of the beuglant
just described, for this is a place where the honest blousard comes
with his wife and children for an evening of innocent amusement.
Directly behind us sits a family of three generations--a bent old man
of seventy-five or eighty years, gray-haired and venerable; a
round-faced, middle-aged blousard with his dark-eyed wife; and their
two little babies, scarcely old enough to prattle, and who lisp their
delight with beaming eyes to "dan'pere." Next me is a bright-eyed boy
of four years, with clustering curls about his fair forehead, who sits
bolt upright in his mother's lap and comments in subdued but earnest
tones on the performers on the stage. "Pou'quoi fait-on ca?" ("What
are they doing that for?") is his favorite question during the
evening, varied by the frequent and anxious remark, "Mais, c'n'est pa'
encore fini?" ("But it is not yet finished?"). A cat is asleep on the
steps of the private box at the left. Neither of the boxes is
tenanted, by the way, as they are inordinately expensive--fifty sous
each occupant, or some such heavy sum of money. Under one of them
there is a cozy cupboard, where the woman-usher (in a neat muslin cap
with pink ribbons) keeps the candies and cakes she sells to the
audience between the acts. Upon the poor little profits of her office
here this honest woman lives, and keeps herself as tidy as if she had
ample pin-money. She thrusts a little wooden footstool under the feet
of each woman in the audience, and is amply repaid with a sou at the
end of the evening. The footstool is welcome, for a Frenchwoman is ill
at ease at a place of amusement without her little "bench" under her
foot: it is invariably brought her at theatres or cafes, as a rule;
and each of the larger theatres in Paris has a dozen or so of these
"ouvreuses," as they are called, who are paid usually two sous by each
lady who accepts a little bench. In the present instance the fee is as
small as it possibly could be, and the bench-woman ekes out her income
by selling cakes, oranges and candies. Curiosity to know her earnings
elicits the frank reply that she often makes as much as thirty sous a
night in her sphere of labor.

The Funambules orchestra is composed of three instruments--a big bass,
played by a tall, genial-looking man who wears a flannel shirt and a
paper collar, and has a bald head; and a piano and violin, played by
two handsome, dark-haired, romantic-looking young men, apparently
brothers. The music is excellent. The performance lasts from seven
till twelve, five hours, and includes three pieces. The first is a
farce, in which the orthodox stage papa looks over the top of a screen
in a fury at the orthodox stage-lovers, and ends the piece by joining
their hands with the orthodox "Take her, you young rascal!" The second
piece is a nautical, black-eyed-Susan sort of drama, with the genteel
young navy lieutenant who sings like a siren; the jolly old tar who
swaggers like a ship in the trough of the sea; the comic servant who
is in love with the heroine, and whose passion brings him droll
burdens of woe; and so on. Both these pieces are interspersed with
songs, duets, quartets, after the manner of the old-fashioned Dibdin
"Jolly Waterman" style of pieces, never seen on our stage now-a-days,
nor on the French stage except at minor theatres. Follows a
pantomime--_Monsieur Goosequill's Troubles_--the only pantomime of the
kind introduced in America by the Ravels that I have ever seen in
Paris, this style of entertainment having gone completely out of
fashion in France. The papa of the farce (who was also the Jack Tar of
the drama) reappears in the pantomime as Pierrot, the white-faced
clown; and tremendously funny is he. There is a weird, elastic
harlequin in a ghastly mask which he never lifts; and an amazing
notary in an astounding nose, who proves to be Monsieur Goosequill.
There is a humpback of hideous deformity and a Columbine of seraphic
loveliness; and all Monsieur Goosequill's troubles come out of the
fact that he endeavors to marry the humpback to the Columbine, who
prefers to marry the harlequin. And so the notary's quill sets fire to
the inkstand: the table is bewitched and treads on his corns; and
indeed he suffers terribly and turns somersaults of agony. Peace
arrives at last through the humpback giving up his suit; the curtain
falls on Columbine and harlequin bowing and backing, hand in hand;
gran'pere and the babies are all three fast asleep; but the
bright-eyed boy in his mother's lap asks with unabated interest,
"Pou'quoi fait-on ca?"

In the Boulevard Beaumarchais, close by the old Place of the Bastile,
stands the grandest of the theatres habitually visited by the
blousard. Its most constant patrons are the furniture-makers of the
Faubourg St. Antoine, who bring to the theatre a decided perfume of
mahogany and rosewood, and suggest the varnish of newness which the
place would otherwise sadly lack. The quarter in which it stands is
not a specially suspicious one by day, but at night it is ill
calculated to inspire confidence. There are villainous-looking,
slouching wretches about, who eye you curiously and not too amiably.
The theatre has had its day of splendor, but is now a frowzy-looking
concern--very roomy, somewhat suggesting the Old Bowery Theatre, but
lacking its cheerful aspect. The audience is without exception of the
blousard class: the patrons of the Old Bowery, even in its latest
years, were almost millionaires in comparison. The highest-priced
seats (excepting the proscenium-boxes, which are never occupied) cost
forty sous. You can sit in the gallery for five sous if you like the
company of the Paris gamin. At the entrance of the theatre there is a
placard which reads thus: "By paying twenty-five centimes one enters
immediately without making queue." The ticket-seller is a
prosperous-looking old woman of fifty or there-about, who wears a
beribboned cap and side-curls, and has a mouth which tells of years
spent in the authoritative position she occupies. She is stern to a
terrible degree with the average blousard who approaches the round
hole whereat she reigns; but to us, who indulge in the extravagance of
paying the extra five sous for the privilege of entering without
taking our place in the queue at the door, she relaxes visibly.

The curtain rises at seven o'clock, here as at all the theatres where
the blousard pays his money, and the amusement continues until after
midnight. But it is not amusing. There are several pieces on the bill,
but' the chief one, a drama in five acts, is a poor thing, played by
mediocre actors in the most dismal manner possible. The scenery is
worn and dilapidated and wretched; the play turns on the sufferings of
the poor; there are two or three murders, a suicide, a death from
starvation, and such a glut of horrors that the whole entertertainment
is dismal and depressing to the last degree. Yet the theatre is
usually well patronized, and the audience seems intensely interested.
The blousard loves to see depicted on the stage a degree of misery
more terrible than that which is his daily lot. For the dramas which
depict high life--unless it be the high life of the old days of
beruffled and silk-stockinged cavaliers--he cares very little. And in
his serious modern dramas the hero must be a blousard, the villain a
fine gentleman, the blousard to marry the heroine in the last act, and
the fine gentleman to be sent to the galleys.




The United States is the only country in the world that has its
frontier in the middle. The Great American Desert, stretching from the
Canadas to the Gulf in a belt nearly a thousand miles in breadth, is
now the true divide between the East and the West; and as if that were
not enough, it is backed by the long ranges of the Rockies, which,
though they flatten out and break down here and there, have yet quite
enough of "sassy country" to make a very respectable barrier. A
century ago the Alleghanies were the boundaries--now we look upon them
as molehills; then the vast prairies lay in the way, like an endless
sea; then the Mississippi, like Jordan, rolled between. But all this
is now as nothing. We have jumped the old claim of the Alleghanies, we
have crossed the prairies, we have spanned the Mississippi with a
dozen splendid bridges, and now the great lines of railroad make but a
mouthful of the desert, and digest the Rockies as easily as an ostrich
his pebbles and tenpennies. The old fables of magic cars, in which
magicians could annihilate space and time, are now dull and tame. Like
a dream the desert glides by while a sunrise, a sunset, lights up the
measureless waste; we pass some low hills, and the Rockies that loomed
before us are circumvented and flanked; we whirl through a wild canon,
and they are left behind. Have we seen the desert, the mountains? No.
It is but a glimpse--a flat space blackened with prairie-fires, a
distant view of purple peaks. Few become intimate with this our
wonderful frontier, and most people scorn it as an empty, useless,
monotonous space, barren as the sea.

We left Cheyenne early in July, under the care of a paymaster of the
U.S.A., to visit with him some of the forts and Indian agencies of
Wyoming Territory and beyond. Our party consisted of twelve persons,
including six ladies and three children. There were two ambulances for
us, and three wagons containing all the comforts necessary in camping
out for some weeks. It was promised that we should see wonders, and
should go where no white women had ever been before. At 6.45 on a
beautiful morning, with a fresh breeze blowing over the desert, the
party set forth, looking forward with delight to a continuous picnic a
month long. Soon every vestige of human habitation disappeared, and we
were alone in the midst of one of the loneliest lands in the world.
Sahara itself, that bugbear of childhood, could not be much more
desert than this. Fort Laramie, distant nearly one hundred miles, two
long days' journey toward the north, was our first point of
destination. Over ridge after ridge of the vast rolling plains,
clothed with thin brown grass, we rode: no other vegetation was
visible but the prickly pear, white thistle and yucca, or Spanish
bayonet--stiff, gray, stern plants, suited to the stony, arid soil.
The road was good, the vehicle comfortable, the air sweet and cool:
along the many ruts in the sand grew long rows of sunflowers, which
fill every trail on the plains for hundreds of miles, and give a
little color to the colorless scene. The season of flowers was nearly
over in that rainless country, but a few still lingered, and among
them was the familiar larkspur, growing wild. At first, the long low
hills seemed lonely as graves, but we soon found there was not a rod
of ground but had its inhabitants. Everywhere something was moving,
some little beast, bird or insect: larks sang and perked about on the
stones; prairie-birds twittered; gophers (pretty creatures with
feathery tails and leopard spots) slid rapidly to their holes;
prairie-dogs sat like sentinels upon their mounds and barked like
angry puppies; great pink-and-gray grasshoppers, so fat that they
could hardly waddle, indulged their voracity; and brown crickets and
butterflies were seen on every side. An antelope disappears in the
distance: a brigand-like horseman rides up and asks the way. He is a
suspicious-looking character, and pistols are cocked. We have not our
full escort, and are there not greenbacks among us? But he too
disappears in the distance. Is his band lurking among those hills? We
like to think so.

About fifteen miles up and down brought us to our first ranch, on Pole
Creek, a dry stream, with osiers, shrubs and weeds in its bed. It was
pleasant to see something green, even so little, and something human,
though only a long, low whitewashed cabin; but this touch of life did
not make much impression upon the wilderness, save to make it seem
wilder. A plover was flying about, "crying and calling:" a large flock
of cow-buntings, our old acquaintances, followed the cattle that
grazed in the bed of the stream. We gathered twenty species of flowers
here, among them a tiny scarlet mallow and a white oenothera or
evening primrose. In the three rooms of the ranch there was
refreshment to be found, doubtless of a spirituous nature, but we
watered our mules and went on. It was ten miles farther before we came
to our next ranch, so thinly settled is the country. Being time for
our noonday rest, we took refuge from the fierce heat and glare of the
desert in the clean rooms of Mrs. Fagin, dined on our own provisions
and drank the excellent milk she brought us.

Still on the ambulances rolled, over the hot, high table-land, till
about five o'clock we saw some strange yellow bluffs before us, and
descended into the valley of the Chug, a clear stream flowing through
a fringe of willow, box-elder (a species of maple) and the cottonwood
poplar. Here was Kelly's Ranch, a large one, close by which we were to
camp for the night. We found there Lieutenant F---- and an escort of
twenty horse, which had been sent to meet us from Fort Laramie. They
had our tents pitched for us, and everything ready. A wild, lonely
place was this green valley, with its fantastic waterworn bluffs that
bore a grotesque resemblance to turtles, seals and other great
sea-beasts, and it was delightful to see trees again and to hear the
sound of running water. The children at once pulled off shoes and
stockings and began to paddle in the stream, and some of the elders
followed. It was arranged that we should have supper and breakfast in
the ranch, which was a sort of tavern, and we found the supper quite
good enough for hungry people, despite the odor of onions that
pervades the hearths and homes of this region.

Kelly was a tall, dark, slender man, with large melancholy eyes, soft,
but never meeting you quite frankly--eyes into which you could not
look very far. It is not easy for us to understand the life of this
man and his "pard," with their Indian wives and half-breed children,
fifty miles from anywhere; yet they seemed very busy and comfortable.
He was asked how he liked it. "It's rather lonesome," he replied. He
was a man of few words, and went about silently in carpet slippers,
waiting on us at table. No one else appeared, but we had glimpses of
the Indian women in the kitchen preparing the meal. After supper we
all sat down on buffalo robes spread upon the dewless grass, while the
sun went down in glory and the twilight gathered in the sky, realizing
that we were camping out for the first time in our lives, and having a
delicious sense of adventure, a first sip of the wine of the wilds.
"Early to bed and early to rise" is the rule in camp, and so when the
stars came out we turned in. As soon as the sun set another climate
reigned over the Plains. The nights are always cool, dry and
delicious, and fifty miles of ambulance-traveling is a good
preparation for sleep. Yet when all was still I came out to look at
the night, for everything was so strange and new that sleep at first
would not come. The scene was wild enough. The twilight still
glimmered faintly; the sky was thick with stars of a brightness never
seen in more humid air; the Milky Way was like a fair white cloud; the
fantastic bluffs looked stranger than ever against the pale green
west; and the splendid comet was plunging straight down into; the
Turtle's mouth. A light from the blacksmith's forge glowed upon the
buildings, tents and low trees: in the stillness the hammer rang out
loud, and there was a low murmur of voices from the officers' tent. In
the middle of the night we were wakened by hearing the galloping of a
horse, perhaps a passing traveler, and when it ceased a new sound came
to our ears, the barking and whining of wolves.

The next morning we were off at six. Our road lay in the green valley
of the Chugwater, under the pale bluffs, channeled and seamed by the
rains into strange shapes. We never tired of watching our train as it
wound up and down, the white-covered wagons with red wheels and blue
bodies, the horsemen loping along, picturesquely dressed, with broad
hats, large boots, blue trousers and shirts of every color. Their
riding was admirable, and as they appeared and disappeared among the
trees or behind some rising ground the effect was always picturesque.
The valley was charming after so much desert, for it was long since we
had seen a good tree. The principal one in Cheyenne was not larger
than a lilac-bush, and had to be kept wrapped in wet towels. The light
vivid tints of the box-elder contrasted well with the silvery willows
and cottonwoods, and still better with the long rows of sage-brush in
the foreground and the yellowish cliffs behind. A high, singular butte
called Chimney Rock was conspicuous for many miles; also a long one
called the Table. There were several ranches in the valley, and many
splendid cattle.

About ten o'clock we stopped at Colonel Bullock's ranch. Not a soul
within: all hands were gone off to a "rounding out," or branding of
cattle--a wild scene, they say, and worth seeing. The herders, rough
men with shaggy hair and wild, staring eyes, in butternut trousers
stuffed into great rough boots, drive the cattle together, a mass of
tossing horns and hoofs, and brand the names of their several owners
upon them--a work full of excitement and not unattended with peril.
We looked curiously about the ranch, which resembled others we had
seen: a log house, furnished with the necessaries of life, with
buffalo skins and arms in plenty lying about, and some hanging
shelves, containing a number of very good books, including a classical
dictionary. About the middle of the day we rested a few minutes at
Owen's Ranch, where lived a handsome blond young man with a nice white
wife. His corral was surrounded with a wall of neat masonry, instead
of the usual crooked posts. Here were Chug Springs, the head of a
branch stream, and from thence we went over what we were told was the
toughest divide in the whole country. The heat was scorching over the
dreary, dusty wastes of sand and alkali, where hardly the cactus could
find sustenance. This was our first glimpse of the Mauvaises Terres,
the alkali-lands, which turn up their white linings here and there,
but do not quite prevail on this side the Platte. The Black Hills of
Wyoming, with their dark jagged outlines, gave life to the backward
view, and when they were concealed Laramie Peak appeared on the
left--a mountain of noble form and color. At Eagle's Nest the yellow
bluffs again started up, opening with a striking gateway, through
which a fine picture of the blue peak showed itself down a dry valley,
a chimney rock in the foreground giving emphasis to the view. The
bluffs disappeared, and there was again the desert, and always the
desert, with its heat and dust. Our four shining black mules went
bravely on, however, and at five o'clock we came in sight of Fort
Laramie, a little brown spot far away over the plain. In less than an
hour we arrived at the post in a whirlwind of dust.

We were expected, for had we not followed the telegraph-wires? Utter
strangers as we were, at once we were made to feel at home, and
everything was done for the comfort of the weary travelers. A
description of this fort will do for all the rest, though this is one
of the oldest, largest and most important posts. There is no sort of
fortification whatever: a large parade-ground, nearly destitute of
grass and planted with half-dead trees, is surrounded by the barracks
and quarters, neat, low buildings, and beyond, at one end, are the
ordnance and sutler's stores. A hospital and a large old barrack
called Bedlam tower above the rest: more buildings straggle away
toward the Laramie River, where there is a bridge. The position
commands the river and bluffs. No grass, no gardens, no irrigation, no
vegetables nor anything green is here. One good-sized cottonwood,
perhaps coeval with the post, seemed as much of a veteran as the old
artilleryman, a character always pointed out to strangers, who has
lived at the post ever since it was a post, and is distinguished as
the ugliest man there. His seamed and scarred face looks as if it had
been through many storms and many Indian fights. Another distinguished
character is the pet elk, a privileged person, who abuses his
privileges by walking into houses and eating up hats, shoes,
window-curtains, toys--anything to satisfy his voracious appetite.

On the 14th of July we were off for Fort Fetterman. To our surprise,
the morning was delicious, though the mercury at noon the day before
had ranged at over 100 deg. in the shade. Laramie Peak was still in sight,
and was so, in fact, for weeks, till upon nearer acquaintance the fine
old mountain became a friend for life. The country was still wilder
and lonelier than that we had seen, and not a single habitation lay
upon our route. All had been burnt by the Indians. We followed at some
distance the right bank of the North Platte, all day over a barren
country of low hills and scattered pines, bounded by a range of
whitish bluffs beyond the river. We halted a few moments at Warm
Spring, where a clear basin of tepid water bubbled and boiled and
overflowed into a good-sized brook. Then on to Big Bitter Cottonwood,
where we had our nooning among the trees on the wide sandy bed of the
stream, which had sunk under ground for many miles, as is the custom
of rivers here. It gushed forth near by, however, in copious springs,
which gave us abundance of water and supported quite a luxuriant
growth of vegetation. Wild currants delighted the children, clematis
twined its white blossoms among the scarlet buffalo-berries, graceful
osiers waved in the wind, and wild flowers were plentiful. It was a
pleasant place among the wilds, and had perhaps been a happy home, for
here were the ruins of a ranch burnt by the Indians. Here, too, were
other ruins--of beaver-dams, built by the first settlers of all.

Leaving this creek, we went on to Little Bitter Cottonwood, a similar
dry creek, but smaller and more lightly timbered. Then passing some
more low hills with a few pines, always with the Platte on the right
and Laramie Peak on the left, we crossed a long hill or divide called
Bull Bend, and descended into the fine valley of Horseshoe Creek. We
were now upon the old Overland Route to California, once so much
traveled, but now deserted for the railroad. Here was the abode of
Jack Slade, one of the station-masters on that famous stage-road--a
man of bad reputation, and more than suspected of having been a
freebooter, and even a murderer. This did not prevent his station from
being one of the best on the road, his horses always good, his meals
easily bolted. Of him and of his band you may read the history in Mark
Twain's _Roughing It_. After the railroad was finished the Indians
descended upon these lonely ranches in the valley of the Platte, now
left out in the cold: they attacked Slade's house one morning in
force, and there was a savage fight. Jack and his band succeeded in
driving them off, but the next day the Indians returned in larger
numbers, killed some of the whites and burnt the ranch. We next hear
of Jack Slade in Montana, where he took to his old trade again. The
Vigilants thought they must "draw the line somewhere," so they drew it
at Jack Slade. He escaped several times the threatened vengeance,
saved by the intercession of his wife, a faithful and determined
woman, but he did not mend his ways. One day, when she was absent,
they took him and hung him to a tree. Strange to say, he did not "die
game." His wife came galloping in on the scene, but it was too late:
all was over for Jack Slade. It was strange and interesting to hear
this wild story in the very spot where it happened--to see the
blackened ruins and the graves of those who fell in that long day's
struggle, the lonely bluffs that once looked down on Jack Slade's
ranch and echoed to the trot of his famous teams. The creek here makes
a wide bend, leaving a fertile intervale where thousands of cattle
could graze: the trees are always green, the river never dry. About
three o'clock we came to our camping-ground among the timber on the
clear stream, over against the inevitable bluffs. Fire had destroyed
some of the finest trees, and on the great black trunks sat flocks of
chattering blackbirds, the little chickadee's familiar note was heard,
and a crane flew away with his long legs behind him, just as he looks
on a Japanese tray. The scene of encamping is ever new and delightful.
The soldiers are busy in pitching tents, unloading wagons and
gathering wood; horses and mules are whinnying, rolling and drinking;
Jeff, the black cook, is kindling a fire in his stove; children are
running about, and groups in bright colors are making, unconsciously,
all sorts of charming effects among the white wagons and green trees.

We spread our blankets in the shade and dream. The children's voices
sound pleasantly. They are bathing in a still pool which the eddy
makes behind the bushes, though the cool clear water is rushing down
fast from Laramie Peak. It seems as if we were almost at the world's
end, so lonely is the place, but there is nothing to fear. Indians
will not attack so large a party as ours. A strong wind rises and
sways the willows, making the wild scene wilder than ever; a blood-red
sunset flames from the horizon to the upper sky: and as it darkens,
and the wolves begin to howl, we think of Jack Slade and all the wild
stories we have heard of robbers and fights and Indian massacres.

At reveille we all started up. It was 4-1/2 A.M. Had we slept? We knew
not. All had been blankets and--blank. A pail of water and a tin
basin, a little "Colgate" for cosmetic, on went the warm flannels, and
we were ready by five o'clock for breakfast in the dining-tent. Here
we had camp-stools and tables, and upon the latter coffee,
beef-steaks, fried potatoes, preserves and olives. Though all our
meals had to be very much alike, they were always excellent and did
credit to the commissariat. As Carlyle remarks, "Honor be to the man
who cans! He is Canning, Koenig, or King!" How people lived here before
the days of canned vegetables it is hard to imagine. Before six we
were packed and off again. The morning ride in the cool invigorating
air, before the heat of the day came on, was the most delightful of
our experiences.

Winding first through a pass between hills of sandstone and rubble,
where moss-agates are found (an excellent place for an ambush), we
followed the same sort of country as before over a succession of small
creeks and divides. These table-lands were always barren, and covered
with the same thin gray vegetation, but sometimes adorned with a few
flowers--the beautiful agemone or prickly poppy, with its blue-green
leaves, large white petals and crown of golden stamens; the pretty
fragrant abronia, and the white oenothera. A deep pink convolvulus was
common, which grew upon a bush, not on a vine, and was a large and
thrifty plant. Sage and wormwood were seen everywhere, and on the
streams we found larkspur, aconite, little white daisies and lungwort,
lupines and the ever-present sunflower. But usually all was
barren--barren hills, barren valleys, barren plains. Sometimes we came
upon tracts of buffalo-grass, a thin, low, wiry grass that grows in
small tufts, and does not look as if there were any nourishment in it,
but is said to be more fattening than corn. Our animals ate it with
avidity. Was not all this dreary waste wearily monotonous and tame?
Monotonous, yes; but no more tame than the sea is tame. We sailed
along day after day over the land-waves as on a voyage. To ride over
those lonely divides in the fresh morning air made us feel as if we
had breakfasted on flying-fish. We felt what Shelley sings of the
power of "all waste and solitary places;" we felt their boundlessness,
their freedom, their wild flavor; we were penetrated with their solemn
beauty. Here the eyesight is clearer, the mind is brighter, the
observation is quickened: every animal, insect and bird makes its
distinct impression, every object its mark. There is something on the
Plains that cannot be found elsewhere--something which can be felt
better than described--something you must go there to find.

Under the superb blue sky we went on and on, over a country all tops
and bottoms, some of the bottoms with wet creeks, most of them with
dry. We lunched at a pretty creek, a wet one, called La Bonte (it is
charming to find the soft French and Spanish names so common here), a
pleasant timbered stream, and a great place for Indian massacres. The
ruins of the ranches once standing in this valley are still to be
seen, and the graves of a lieutenant and twenty-four soldiers killed
by the Indians many years ago.

The afternoon sun blazed upon the low hills, mere heaps of rubble like
old moraines, where sometimes a little red sandstone cropped out and
gave the wearied eyes a change of color. Always the noble vault of
sky, the flying cloud-shadows, the Laramie range with its torn
outlines softened by distance, which looked so near, yet was so far.
Constantly we said, "How like to Arabia or Palestine!" We only asked
for camels to make the resemblance perfect. The gray sage-brush tinted
the long low solemn hills like the olives of Judaea; the distant
bluffs looked like ruined cities; the mirage was our Dead Sea. The
cattle-and sheep-farmers follow the same business as Abraham and
Isaac, and are as sharp in their dealings as Jacob of old. The Indians
are our Bedouins, and like them they "fold their tents and silently
steal." Once in looking back the illusion was perfect. The Sea of
Galilee was behind us, and upon its banks stood the old cities of
Capernaum and Nazareth towered and walled and gray. We had not then
seen the verses of Joaquin Miller, in which he expresses the same idea
in better words--in words of prophecy.

After a long hot ride we were glad to see the flag waving over Fort
Fetterman, though the signs of human habitation did not seem to belong
there. The post is not as large as Fort Laramie, but otherwise as like
it as one pea to another, and stands in the same way at the junction
of a stream (La Prele) with the Platte, upon a bluff that commands the
two rivers. The view from thence at the moment of sunset was
impressive--of the two streams, bordered with green, and the vast
country beyond the Platte, more barren and alkaline even than the
nearer side.

At the fort we found the same kindness and hospitality as at Laramie.
Our quarters were in a large empty house, the abode of the commanding
officer of the post, then absent with his family, where we were made
very comfortable. Our meals were provided at other officers' quarters,
and everything was done for our entertainment. Our rooms were on the
ground floor, and we were startled at reveille to see five or six dogs
leap in at the open windows and run about the floor. Just awakened, we
hardly knew in the dim light what manner of wild beasts they might be.
Afterward, we heard that this was the custom in the family. A pet
porcupine in the house amused us very much. He was a grotesque little
creature, and very tame and affectionate, following the servant about
like a little dog, and fondling her feet. His quills had been drawn or
shed, but they were beginning to grow again, like pin-feathers.

In this quiet, kindly little post nothing seems ever to happen, but
the air is full of Indian rumors. A Gatling gun, pointed at the
universe, seemed to promise the enemy a sharp reception if a scare
ever came. This diabolical little mitrailleuse would not be pleasant
to look upon as it ground out grim death in such a matter-of-fact way.
A few days were very agreeably spent at Fetterman (of which the very
name tells of Indian murders), and there we found courteous, educated
men and gracious, lovely women. It was wonderful what elegant little
entertainments they managed to give us in this far-away outpost of

On Saturday, July 18, we set out to return to Fort Laramie. The route
was the same, and nothing occurred to vary it save the little
incidents, not worth telling, which yet give the real charm to a
journey. Our party was made still larger by the addition of some
mounted traders and their train of wagons. It was always pleasant to
see them, for there are no such riders as upon the frontier, where
every one sits easily and perfectly, and the large boots and the
sombreros make every man a picture. Again we were on La Bonte at noon,
on Horseshoe at night. We begin to feel at home here, and it is truly
a place to like, with its many bird-voices and rushing breezes. We
encamp; the soldiers laugh and sing; a simple joke seems to go a great
way; one lassos another, and all roar when he misses. The steam of
cooking rises on the air: we feel again the charm of camp-life, and
our sleep is sweet in the night. Once more the morning red flashes
upon the sky, then changes to yellow and to gray. Clouds come over,
the roaring wind that always blows at Horseshoe scatters the limbs
from the burnt trees, but it will not rain. No such luck, but it will
be cool and pleasant for our journey. Passing by the ruins of Jack
Slade's ranch, the long curve of the Horseshoe, the bluffs and the
plains, we are once more at Fort Laramie, and sitting in the cool
evening air upon the friendly verandah of Major W----, hearing the
band play.

Our stay at the post was short, but we had time to attend a charming
little ball given us by the officers, and to drive along the really
pretty banks of the Laramie. And now we were to leave them once more
for a wilder country still, the Indian Territory itself, and to visit
Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies, the names of which alone gave us
a sense of adventure and of nearness to savage life. Our escort was
increased to fifty men, under command of Captain S---- and two
lieutenants, and we took along with us a large supply-train for the
agencies of about thirty wagons, so that, numbering the teamsters and
drivers, our party was at least one hundred strong.

Fording the Platte, a large deep stream, was a little unpleasant to us
novices, for we tumbled about a great deal over the stones in the
river-bed, and felt as if an upset was quite possible. The crossing is
sometimes dangerous, and there is a rope-ferry, but to-day the water
was low and fordable with ease. We are now no longer in the United
States, but in the Indian country. No ladies have ever taken this
journey before except the wives of the agents, who have been there but
a few weeks. In fact, these agencies were only established a short
time ago and the Indians are not yet very friendly to them. The
country was wilder, vaster and more barren than ever, with fewer
streams and broader divides. Tantalizing showers flying across the
distant mountains did not cool the dry, hot air. At noon we began to
see a long detached ridge, an advanced post of the Rockies, called
Rawhide Peak, and at night we camped on Rawhide Creek, a rather
desolate stream, without timber, bordered only with shrubs and weeds.
It seemed cheerful, however, upon its stony banks with such a gay
crowd as we had, so many soldiers and other people about, with their
wagons, horses, mules, tents and mess-chests. But a great black cloud
was rising over Rawhide Peak, and just as we were seated comfortably
at dinner down came the whirlwind upon us, nearly blew over our tent,
and covered our dinner with a thick coating of the dust of the Plains.
Beds, clothing, hair, mouths, noses, were full of the fine gray
powder. What if our dinner was spoiled? 'Twas but the fortune of war.
The blow was soon over, and we managed to dine off the scraps, so as
not to go quite hungry to bed. The rain poured down for five minutes,
and laid the dust when too late, the sky cleared, and a wonderful
rainbow, three deep, appeared in the east. The sunset was one not to
be forgotten. The deep blue-black of Rawhide Peak, cut sharp by the
clear gleaming apricot sky, and above the flying clouds, wavered and
pulsed with color and flame. We watched them by the camp-fire till
twilight faded and moon and stars shone with desert brilliancy.
Shaking the dust from our beds as a testimony against the spiteful
spirits of Rawhide Peak, we slept with our usual profundity. Always,
however, before bedtime we had to go through the little ceremony of
removing the burs from our clothing, for every plant in this country
seems to have a bur or a tick-seed, and we found a new one in every
camp. Sometimes they were arrows or needles an inch long, sometimes
triangles with sharp corners, sometimes little spiked balls, sometimes
long bags with prongs. There was no end to their number and variety,
and they grew to be one of our studies.

After the first wrench of waking, the morning, from dawn to sunrise,
was always beautiful. It amused us while dressing to watch the ears of
the mules moving against the pale yellow sky, and the men, like black
ghosts, stealing about. We crossed a wide, noble mesa clothed with
buffalo-grass: there was no heat, no dust, and the long caravan before
us made, as usual, a moving picture. The desert looked more like
Palestine than ever, with the low buttes and sandhills yellow in the
distance. "Towered cities called us then," yet when we reached them we
found but desolation, "and the fox looked out of the window." The
queer little horned frogs, lizards, rattlesnakes and coyotes were the
sole inhabitants. "Them sandhills," we were told, "tracks across the
country for a thousand mile."

Our next halt was at Niobrara Creek, called also L'eau qui court and
Running Water, These three names (all with the same meaning) are far
prettier than the place. Not a stick of timber, not a shrub, can be
seen upon its banks. There was a flowing stream, a wide meadow, full
of what looked like pink clover, but was only a bitter weed, and
behind and before us the desert, in which our lively little camp was
the only life to be seen. We soon found that we were not beyond the
power of the spirits of Rawhide Peak. "O'er the far blue mountain"
came the whirlwind punctually at dinner-time, but, fortunately, we had
been somewhat beforehand with it, and had already stowed away our soup
safely. The dust could not get at the champagne which we drank in
honor of a wedding anniversary. Lighting our camp-fire, we forgot all
else in listening to stories of the war and its heroic life; of Indian
scares and massacres; of handfuls of men defending themselves behind
their dead horses and driving back the foe; of brave young fellows
lying cold and mutilated upon the Plains; of freezing storms of snow
and hail; and of the many hair-breadth 'scapes and perils of the
wilderness, till we all became Desdemonas of the hour. We felt that
though we were probably as safe as ever in our lives, yet there were
possibilities that gave our position just enough spice of danger to be

Looking out during the night, I saw a misshapen gibbous moon, of a
strange green-cheese color, setting between the four legs of a mule,
whose body made an arched frame for it. The effect was most grotesque.
A ride on horseback next morning over the fresh breezy divide was a
charming change from the monotonous 'bus. How the larks sang for us on
that bright morning! and coyotes and blackbirds with white wings fled
away before us. A little after noon we struck the sources of the White
River, pleasant springs on a hillside, bubbling forth among the first
trees we had seen since we left the Laramie. Then we descended into a
fine shady valley: all our old friends were there in thickets--the
box-elder, willow, birch and cottonwood, the alder, osier and wild
cherry, currant, gooseberry, buffalo-berry and clematis. As we went
on, brushing through the thick foliage, the hills on either side
became higher, and grew into bastions, castles, donjon-keeps and
fantastic clustered chimneys, like Scott's description of the valley
of St. John. The river went circling about through the intervale, so
that we had to cross it constantly upon the little bridges made
during the White River expedition in the February before. It was
pleasant thus to wind along under the overarching boughs, coming
frequently upon some pretty reach of the stream, where we could watch
the cavalcade crossing, dashing out from under the bushes or watering
the horses, while the heavy white-topped wagons plunged into the water
and slowly mounted the opposite bank. In the distance the men were
scouring the hillsides for deer, and perhaps looking out a little for
Indians also. We went on in military order, with mounted pickets in
advance, in the rear and on both sides; not that there was any danger,
but an Indian is an inscrutable mystery, a wolf on two legs, and it is
not easy to know what he may do.

The valley grew wider and spread into a great bare plain, still
bordered with pine-sprinkled bluffs, through which the river dodged
about without any apparent reason, and wherever it went the trees
followed. Before we came in sight of the agency we were met by several
officers and traders, glad of a little change of society. They
conducted us to our camp on a pleasant rising ground about a mile from
the agency, overlooking the cavalry and infantry camps in front and
rear. It is a wild, lonely, fascinating place, this White River
Valley, shut out from the world by its castled bluffs, though should
we climb them we should only find another desert. We dined under a
bower of pine boughs beside our tents, that served for a parlor. In
the evening everybody called to see us, including the only two ladies
in the place, wives of the traders, who looked too delicate to bear
the hardships of the wilderness. Perhaps the hardships are not great,
but the loneliness must be terrible in the long, long winters.

The next day we drove over to the agency, eager to see the Indian dance
that had been promised us. The place consists of several government and
private buildings surrounded by a stockade. When we arrived a large
number of Indians were already there, mostly squaws and children,
mounted on ponies and dressed in their gayest blankets and
embroideries. Their ponies are very pretty, small, gracefully-formed
horses, not clumsy as we had expected. The mantles of the squaws were
of deer-skin, but covered entirely with beads, the groundwork of deep
sky-blue ones, with gay stiff figures in brilliant colors. They were
gracefully cut, somewhat like a "dolman," and had a rich, gorgeous
effect in the crowd. Most of them wore necklaces of "thaqua"--the
quill-like white shell which is brought from the Pacific, and serves
them for small change--and heavy earrings of the same shells, a quarter
of a yard long. Their ears were slit from top to bottom to hold these
great earrings: sometimes they wore two pairs, with heavy
mother-of-pearl shells at the end of each. The necklaces covered the
whole chest, like a bib or a breastplate. The parting of their long
black hair was painted red, and their cheeks daubed with red, yellow
and blue. Most of them had flat faces and flat noses: very few were in
the least good-looking. Hundreds were waiting outside the gates, among
them some half-breed boys.

Soon the braves began to come in. With a glass we could see great
numbers of them winding out of the hills from their hidden camps, well
mounted and flashing with bright arms and gay trappings. It was a
strange, wonderful scene of motion and color, with the gray,
unchangeable desert and the pale walls of the buttes for a background.
The men came crowding, tearing in at a great pace, and soon we could
see the dancing-party dashing along in all their feathers and
war-paint, an inconceivably wild, savage cavalcade. On they rushed,
beating a great drum in solemn cadence, shouting, blowing fifes, and
firing their pieces into the air. There was as much noise as on a
Fourth of July. We had to stand back to let them pass, for there was a
scene of the wildest confusion as they all, horse and foot, rushed
pell-mell into the stockade, followed closely by the squaws and
children on their spirited ponies. It was a piece of _real_ savage
life. Following after them, we went up into the second story of the
agent's house, where we could look down upon the barbaric crowd. The
squaws made a brilliant circle all round the inside of the enclosure,
gay as a terrace of flowers. About fifteen men squatted round the big
drum, which must have been five or six feet in diameter, and began a
weird song, interspersed with grunts and yells. It had a measured
cadence, but not a semblance of music. Meanwhile the braves who were
to join in the dance formed themselves into two circles of about
thirty men each, and the rest sat upon their horses, looking
imperturbable. The principal chiefs did not join in the dance, and two
or three came up into the room where we were.

The dresses of the dancers were varied and splendid. Most of them wore
the usual trousers or Indian leggings of blue cloth, cut off below the
hips, with another cloth for the loins, and those that had no trousers
had their legs painted. Embroidered blankets of blue or red cloth,
moccasins, belts, tobacco-pouches, and cases for scalping-knives, all
beaded, with glittering arms and tomahawks, hung about them
everywhere, but the chief piece of finery was the war-bonnet; and a
tremendous show it made. A turban of fur or scarlet cloth went round
the head, adorned with tall eagles' feathers in a crown, such as we
see upon the wooden figures before cigar-shops, and from this hung
down a long piece of scarlet cloth, about a quarter of a yard wide,
and long enough to trail on the ground a yard or two behind. This was
ornamented with a fringe of eagles' feathers on each edge, like the
backbone of a fish, and as it waved about nothing could be more
superb. The savage dandies were evidently proud of their appearance,
and to say that they were "got up regardless of expense" was simply a
fact, for their wardrobes must have cost considerable sums--half a
dozen ponies at least. Standing in a circle, they danced, shouting and
singing. It was a slow measured step, but no more like dancing than
their singing was like singing. Another gorgeous circle was formed on
the other side of the stockade, and both parties kept up this weird
dance with great gravity. One young fellow laughed, twisted about,
and conducted himself a little like a harlequin. All held the hands
upon the haunches and bent forward. This was called an Omaha dance.
After a while all stopped dancing, and one of the squad of chiefs rode
into the circle and began to relate his experience, while at every
pause the emphasis was given by a strange roll of the drum. He was
telling some savage exploit, the interpreter said, against the
Pawnees. The crowd applauded with wild grunts and savage cries. Then
the circle rose and danced again, then another chief spoke, and so on,
some on foot and some on horseback, till one whom we had selected as
the most grotesque horror of the whole came into the circle. He was
painted all over a greenish-rhubarb color, like a stagnant pool: his
chin was blue, his face was streaked with red. He wore a very short
shirt of deer-skin, with a very deep fringe of black horsehair. Though
sansculotte, his legs were painted with red and blue hands on the
rhubarb ground: all over his horse were these red and blue hands and
red stripes, and the beast had a red mane and tail. This villain, who
had a most appropriate name, unmentionable to ears polite, completed
his charms with a great pair of blue goggles. The red stripes upon his
horse signified how many horses he had taken--the red hands, the
number of prisoners.

The names of these fellows, as translated for us by the interpreter,
were odd enough. Besides the great chiefs, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail,
there were Red Dog, Red Leaf, Red Horse, Little Wound, White Crane
Walking, Man Afraid of (Losing) his Horses, Crow that don't like
Water, Man who Sings in the Long Grass, Turkey Legs, Lone Horn,
Sitting Bull, Spider, Yellow Bear, Blue Horse, Two Strike, White Crow,
Long John, Friday, Face, Hand, Man that Sleeps under the Water, Man
that Looks the Sun blind, Wish, Three Bears, Blue Tomahawk, White
Thunder, etc., etc. These Indians were Sioux of the wildest kind,
about as savage as any there are. Our lives were in their hands, and
they were well mounted and well armed. Still, we were safe enough so
near the camp, for they are very prudent, and never attack unless they
are five to one. Besides, they have rations given them every ten days
by government, and they don't quarrel much with their bread and
butter. In fact, they are paupers, and we are all taxed to support
them and the army which is more than necessary as a police to keep
them in order. When the dance was half over about twenty soldiers came
into the gate and produced quite a panic among the squaws and
children, who shrieked with terror and rushed toward the larger gate.
The braves did not think it the correct thing to show any fear.

One might live a thousand years at the East and never see anything so
wonderful as this dance: it is impossible to give a true idea of its
life and color. It was the real thing, not a theatrical or Cooperesque
imitation. All was new to us, and we were probably as new and strange
to most of our entertainers. Many crowded round us with evident
curiosity, desiring to shake hands with us and to say, "How? Kola!
(friend)." Those who could speak a few words of English plied us with
questions as to our ages, the relationships that existed between us,
whose squaws the ladies were, and whose were the little blond-haired
children. Certain articles of finery seemed to be greatly valued among
them, such as red, white and blue umbrellas, like those used as signs
in our cities; patchwork and Marseilles quilts; orange shirts and
green dresses; pink and pearl shells; little bells; small mirrors; and
beads about four inches long made of fine pipeclay. These beads cost a
dollar and a half each, and are made especially for them in one place
in Massachusetts. They wear them in rows of twenty or thirty on the
breast, making quite an expensive necklace.

The dance lasted, perhaps, two hours. After all were tired presents
were brought and laid upon the ground, consisting of hard-tack,
calico, etc. All through the dance the wind was blowing the dust about
in clouds, and the Indians held their blankets and fans of eagles'
feathers to their eyes. Several wore blue goggles--we knew not whether
for use or beauty.



It seems like a long, long while ago since Uncle Joseph told it to me
as a recollection of his youthful days; and as Uncle Joseph was then
no longer young, it must have been long, long ago that it happened. It
was dull work sitting day after day on the hard benches and listening
to lectures on therapeutics and anatomy which I had already heard
twice _verbatim_--for I was a third-course student--and it was
scarcely more entertaining to sit alone in my cozy little chamber and
pore over the dry details of my medical textbooks. How often would my
gaze wander through the attic-window to rest upon the broad blue bosom
of the Ashley, and watch the course of the rippling current which
flashed and glistened in the October sunlight! It was very hard to fix
my mind upon the contra-indications of calomel and the bromides while
the snowy gulls were circling gracefully over the gliding waters, and
the noisy crows were leading my thoughts across the stream to the
island thickets where I knew the wild-deer lay. I remember how I used
to interpret their cawing into mocking laughter because I had no wings
to follow them into those shady fastnessess, which were filled by my
hunter's fancy with all kinds of temptations to manly sport. And
then, just as I was about to turn; with a great effort from the
alluring scene, there would be a sudden commotion among the distant
wavelets, and a huge white mass would flash for a moment in the
sunshine as the enormous devil-fish of the Carolina waters would
spring into the air in his unwieldy gambols, and fall again with a
mighty splash into his native element.

"Then you had better have had your study-hours at night." I am sure
that's what you are thinking. I thought so too, and put the thought
into practice; but then it _would_ be moonlight sometimes, and the
white beams would shimmer on the water, and the regular beat and dash
of the oars would come to my ears in time with the wild, chanting
melody of the boatmen's song. That was just the way of it on the night
when I heard this story; and when my cigar had burned out and the
autumn air had begun to chill me with its fresh, crisp breath, I said
to myself, "It's of no use. I'll shut the old book and spend an hour
with Uncle Joseph."

The moon did not have it all her own way that night, notwithstanding
her tempting brightness. There was a threatening scud over the harbor
to the eastward, and the freshening sea-breeze brought an occasional
warning murmur from the breakers on the distant bar. By the time I had
made all my little arrangements and stepped out on the quiet street, I
found my light waterproof quite comfortable, and prudently went back
for a moment to exchange my night-cane for an umbrella. When I reached
the end of my walk the cold rain was already beginning to fall, and
the wind was gustily hurrying round the corners of the streets and
rattling the loose tin upon the housetops. A very few minutes elapsed
between my three raps with the old-fashioned brass knocker and the
appearance of the neat-looking servant who opened the door. But I may
as well use the brief opportunity to tell you that Uncle Joseph was
not my uncle at all, and that my habit of calling him so had grown out
of a long intimacy with certain nephews and nieces who were very dear
to the old gentleman's heart. They were all scattered now--the older
girls married and gone, the younger away at school, and the two boys,
my childhood and boyhood friends, completing their professional
education at a foreign university. But still I loved to visit Uncle
Joseph, and he always had a warm and kindly welcome for me. None knew
better than he the kind of entertainment most likely to please a young
friend and attract him from places of idle amusement; and I knew that
a well-timed evening-call at his bachelor home meant a dozen or two of
oysters, a glass of old brown sherry, a fragrant cigar and an hour's
chat which was often instructive and never prosy.

On that particular night the oysters were fried to exactly the right
shade of brown, and the delicate "mill-pond" flavor, so well known to
every Charleston taste, was especially fine; the old sherry--just two
glasses of it apiece-seemed milder and warmer and richer than ever
before; and the havanas never seemed so fragrant. These were not
limited, for Uncle Joseph smoked only in the evening, and he liked to
keep an open box within reach of his hand. A little fire would have
been more cheerful, but it was hardly late enough in the season, and
we made out very well for a cozy evening by drawing our easy-chairs to
the sides of the little centre-table, and getting the cigar-box and
ash-holder at a convenient distance between us.

Uncle Joseph was not eccentric, nor was there anything extravagant in
the general style of his housekeeping; but the furniture of this
little sitting-room was unique, and could not have been duplicated for
a very large sum of money. It required a close degree of observation
to discover that several articles in common use were really specimens
of rare _virtu_, and everything indicated that the owner had been a
traveler, fond of collecting mementos of the distant lands which he
had visited; but whether his travels had been those of a mercantile
sea-captain or of a wandering gentleman of leisure would have been
hard to determine. There was a neat walnut bookcase with well-filled
shelves, on the top of which stood a large glass case containing a
huge stuffed albatross, and just opposite was a small but
exquisitely-carved Venetian cabinet adorned with grotesque heads of
men and animals, and surmounted by a small square case in which was a
beautifully-mounted specimen of the little spotted brown owl of
Greece, the species so common among the ruins of the Acropolis. On the
mantelpiece were a small bronze clock, a quaint Chinese teapot and a
pair of delicately-flowered Sevres vases. On the table the engraved
tooth of a sperm whale did duty as a paper-weight, a miniature gondola
held an inkstand and pens, and a sprig of red coral with a
sabre-shaped ivory blade formed the most beautiful paper-knife I ever
saw. A single oil-painting hung on the wall--a finely-executed marine
representing two stately ships becalmed near each other on a glassy
sea under the glare of a tropical sun--and in a corner, resting upon a
light stand, the top of which was a charming Florentine mosaic, was a
polished brass box containing a ship's compass. I had been from
boyhood familiar with all these things, but I never tired of looking
at them, especially at the albatross and the owl--the former so
suggestive of Coleridge and the unfathomable depths of the far-away
Indian Ocean, and the latter always leading my thoughts away back to
the fierce-eyed Athene and her Homeric compeers.

Uncle Joseph got up and unlocked the Venetian cabinet to put away the
decanter, his invariable habit as soon as the second glass was filled.
As he did so there was a clink as of glass against glass, and the old
gentleman hastily took out a small, dusty black bottle, examined it
with great care and returned it with evident relief: "I was afraid I
had carelessly broken the last bottle of that precious Constantia
which I brought with me from the Cape of Good Hope. It is strange that
no soil will grow that wine but that of one little vineyard under the
South African sun."

"Uncle Joseph, you never told me anything about your voyages. But what
are you keeping that wine for?" "To drink a welcome home to Joe when
he returns from Europe next month. You must dine with us the day after
he gets back. Will has still another year at Goettingen."

"Nothing would give me more pleasure."

"You spoke of my voyages just now: have you never heard the story of
my early life?"

"Never, Uncle Joseph," I answered eagerly. "Can't you tell me all
about it to-night?"

"Well, perhaps I may. That bottle of wine suggested memories of a
singular and sad incident, and the sound of that storm without recalls
it all as if it were yesterday. It happened on the homeward passage
when I made my last voyage to the Cape, and I have never since looked
at that Constantia without thinking of it."

The old gentleman walked across the room and gazed long and earnestly
at the picture of the ships; then he seemed to find something very
interesting in the compass-box on the stand; then he locked the
cabinet, and lighting a cigar stretched himself back in his
easy-chair, and smoked for a while with closed eyes. I sat thoughtful
and silent until he roused himself with a slight effort: "Draw a chair
for your feet, Frank, and take a fresh cigar: you'll find them very
mild. Go to sleep if I get prosy when fairly wound off on my yarn. I
am going to begin at the very starting-place.

"Of course you know I am an Englishman, for you were quite old enough,
when you first knew us all at Stewart's hotel on Broad street, to
remember now all about it. The children were then in mourning for
their dear mother, but lately dead, and had just come over to make
their home with me. My father was a clergyman, possessed of an
independent fortune and holding a comfortable living in a sea-coast
town some twenty miles from Liverpool, where I was born four years
after my only brother. There were only the two of us, and my earliest
recollections are connected with the dangerous and mischievous pranks
which John and I used to play in and upon the waters of the Irish
Sea. I always was fond of John, as I believe he was of me, but he was
a domineering fellow, never satisfied unless he had the lead in
everything: very dull at his books, but quite handsome, even when a
lad, and having a certain smartness about him which was very taking.
He was the elder son, and the favorite of my father, though my mother
never showed any partiality between us. John never treated me well.
Heaven knows, I have no unkind thoughts of him for it now, poor
fellow! but I wish to tell you the whole story exactly as it was. I
was a fair scholar, and generally had my own tasks to do, and John's
also. I worked out all his hard sums and problems, construed his
Virgil while I was only reading Caesar, and often wrote his Greek
exercise when I was almost too sleepy to keep my eyes open. The
consequence was that my own lessons were often neglected, and if I got
a caning for my failure, I had no sympathy from John, although it was
the price I paid for his good mark."

"It was confoundedly mean of him," I remarked, knocking the ashes from
my cigar. But Uncle Joseph did not notice the interruption.

"In short, I was John's fag at school, though not at all a willing
one, and the situation was quietly accepted for me at home. My father
was singularly blind to my brother's faults. His ambition was to
purchase the patronage of his living and have John succeed to it; but
we both preferred paddling about in the salt water, and holding a
sheet in the fishermen's smacks with a stiff norther after us, to
studying our catechism or making Hebrew letters. We were both expert
and fearless swimmers, with good wind and strong limbs. In after years
I remember well a wager which I lost at Honolulu to remain under water
as long as a famous Kanacka diver: I rose just four seconds before
him. When I was thirteen I could cast a line, manage a spritsail, pull
an oar or handle a tiller as well as any boy on the north coast of
England. John was equally fond of the water, but his constant habit of
putting the heavy work on me prevented his becoming as good a
practical sailor as I was. No man can make a good sea-captain who has
not had plenty of experience in splicing sheet-ropes and climbing
shrouds. In our vacations we had plenty of pocket-money and went about
pretty much as we pleased; and we frequently ran down the coast to
Liverpool on board some of the small vessels which sailed from our
bay. On these trips we often amused ourselves with the masters'
instruments, which were rough and simple enough. John had a good
weather-eye, and could take an observation as well as any old salt,
but he never had patience to use a logarithm table, and I always did
the calculations. It was only amusement for me then, but served me
many a good turn afterward. Well, things went on in this way for
several years, and meantime my home was not pleasant to me. I grew
restless and dissatisfied under the restraints and mortifications of
my secondary position; and, besides, as the younger son I knew I
should have to make my own way in the world. Our mother had gone to
her rest, John's domineering ways had grown on him, and my father,
absorbed in his parochial and literary work, and more wrapped up in
his eldest son than ever, seemed to have no definite plans for my

Uncle Joseph's cigar had gone out, and he had not noticed it until
now. He struck a match and relit it, and smoked thoughtfully and in
silence for several minutes. The wind had fallen, and the rain, which
had been driving against the windows, was now coming down heavily with
a steady, monotonous splash.

"About this time an event took place which has left a lasting
impression upon my life. The old physician who had held the village
practice for forty years died suddenly of apoplexy, and his successor
was a gentleman of high culture--an Oxford wrangler, it was
said--about forty years of age, with a daughter of sixteen, an only
child. Of course the first time I saw her at church I fell desperately
in love: boys always do that with a new face. She was a sprightly
girl, with soft blue eyes, dark hair, fair complexion, white teeth, a
lithe figure and a smiling, roguish mouth."

Uncle Joseph seemed to be talking to himself, not to me, and I thought
he started when I exclaimed, "Why, Jane might have sat for that
picture! You describe her exactly as she was when I saw her last, just
before she left home for St. Mary's Hall."

"So she might, Frank, but I was not thinking of _her_ then. The
doctor's daughter was not a bit romantic, and her name was just plain
Ellen Jones. But boys will be boys. It was not a week before I found
that John was as much in love as I was, and he was soon paying marked
attentions to the young lady. I knew at once, from long experience,
that my chance was gone; and indeed it was only a boyish fancy with
me, after all, for I was too young to think of marrying.

"One day we had an adventure which I often think of now when I look at
that picture hanging there. Two of the fishermen had bought new boats,
about the same size, but differing somewhat in rig and model, and
there was much talk about their respective sailing qualities. A stiff
breeze was blowing and some ugly clouds were gathering to seaward, but
John proposed that we should try the boats for a short sail, and with
the owners' consent we pushed off to round the outer buoy and back as
a test of speed. The boats had each a single spritsail, but I felt
sure that John's carried too much canvas and would not behave well in
a gale. We soon got them on the wind, and were sailing pretty evenly
together when I heard the muttering of distant thunder. A moment more
and the sails were flapping heavily, everything was still as death,
but the white-caps were plain enough to what had been the leeward a
short time before. We were a good mile from shore, and I called out to
John to look out for flaws, and put my boat about on a homeward tack.
Without a moment's warning the gale burst upon us, and as my own boat
bowed gracefully to the wind and threw the water from her bows, I saw
John's mast quiver and bend as a large sea swept over the gunwale and
drenched him from head to foot. 'Let go your sheet!' I shouted, 'and
luff her up into the wind.' But instead of doing so, he hauled
powerfully upon the swelling sail, put his helm hard down, and the
next moment the boat was tossing bottom up, and John was struggling in
the seething waters. I had no fears for his life, for he was a
powerful and skillful swimmer, and this was not the first upset for
either of us; but I never was so deeply impressed before by John's bad
seamanship. He gained the boat without difficulty, and clambered on to
the upturned bottom, so that I had time to let go my sheet and
double-reef my sail. I then bore down on him and took him aboard, and
the two of us had little trouble in righting his boat and towing her
ashore. I have mentioned the incident only because I always connect it
in my mind with what happened long years afterward.

"Six months after this our father died, and John wished to be married
at once. But Ellen, although she could not hide her attachment to him,
steadily refused to engage herself on account of her invalid mother,
whose only and devoted attendant she was. Fickleness was not one of my
brother's faults, and he was true and steady in his love for the
girl--how true and steady I never knew until I learned it from himself
in my ship's cabin on the broad Atlantic. I found myself with a few
thousand pounds and a careless guardian, from whom it was not
difficult to get the money into my own hands. In a few weeks I left
home for Liverpool, and I have never seen my native town since that

Uncle Joseph paused to light a fresh cigar, and then opened the
cabinet and filled the two glasses again. It was the only time I ever
knew him to do such a thing.

"Of course I looked naturally to the water, and saw for the first time
a prospect of gratifying my boyish longing for the sea. My funds were
sufficient to enable me to purchase a pretty staunch little barque and
part interest in her cargo of Wedgwood and Sheffield ware, and I
sailed in her as a passenger for Naples and a market. It was a
foolish venture, but my friends cared just enough about me to assist
me in carrying out my plans, while none gave me serious advice. It
turned out well, however, and my profits were quite large. Two other
voyages, one to New York and the other to Valparaiso, turned out
equally well, and meantime I was using my opportunities to study
navigation practically under the direction of my master, an old and
able seaman. My ambition was to command my own ship and carry my own
cargo, a common thing in those days, when the merchant marine of
England was generally officered by men who were the peers in every
respect of those who held her naval commissions. I had some prudence,
however, and therefore chartered my barque and sailed her as master
two short voyages to Bremen and Amsterdam with the best under-officers
I could secure. Having now full confidence in myself, I sold out,
bought a fine new American ship, filled her with an assorted cargo,
and cleared for Rio and the South Pacific. I was now twenty-six years
old, and it was eight years since I had been at Liverpool, and ten
since I had heard anything of John. After my father's death his old
spirit had shown itself very offensively toward me, and we had parted
in anger."

I saw that my old friend was deeply moved by the memories recalled by
this part of his story, and partly as a relief to him and partly to
gratify my curiosity, I asked him if any of the articles which adorned
the room were mementoes of these voyages.

"Every one of them has a story," he replied. "I myself caught that
albatross in the Straits of Magellan with a dolphin-line trolling
astern. I should have let him go again, but he beat himself to death
before we could get out the hook, and I amused myself by preparing and
mounting the skin. That paper-knife has a sad history. I had it made
in London. The blade is cut from a walrus's tooth given to me by a
whaling-captain at Hawaii, and I bought the coral which forms the
handle from a diver whom I saw bring it up on the Corsican coast. He
made a wager with one of my crew that he could bring up another piece
of equal value by diving from the ship, went over, and was seized by a
shark as he reached the surface. I heard the cry of horror from the
men, and rushed to the ship's side just in time to see the water
crimson with his blood.

"In the spring of 1832 I accepted a very advantageous offer for
charter, and with several passengers sailed for Cape Town on what
proved to be my last voyage (excepting the return trip) as a
ship-master. We had rough weather most of the way out, and a long
passage, but nothing occurred which would interest you now. The season
was a disastrous one to shipping on that route, and before leaving the
Cape I had the vessel thoroughly overhauled, and was fortunate enough
to secure three or four good seamen to make up a full crew. My first
officer was an old salt, a strict disciplinarian, but kind to the men
and a favorite with them all. Like most of his class, he was given to
profanity in private conversation, but he never swore at the men, and
always encouraged them at their work with cheery words. The weather
was lovely when we sailed for home, and continued so until we were
four days out. The ordinary routine of a master's duty was simple
enough, and I had plenty of leisure for watching the beautiful Cape
pigeons which followed the ship's wake, my favorite amusement when
tired of reading. We were a little out of the common track of vessels
in those seas, and sighted very few sail, none of which passed within
hail. On the morning of the fifth day out I indulged myself a little,
having been up quite late the night before studying the charts, and it
being the first mate's watch, a man in whom I had great confidence.
When I turned out I found the ship becalmed. We were not yet in the
calm latitudes, and I did not altogether like the looks of the
weather. The sea was as smooth as an immense expanse of blue steel;
there was a long, low swell, like the memory of yesterday's breeze,
but not a ripple could be detected by the glass in any quarter; the
sky had an almost coppery glow, and the sun blazed down with a force
which made all the seams of the deck-planks sticky with melting pitch.
Still, the barometer was rising, and there was nothing to indicate
danger. Although competent to perform skillfully all the duties of my
profession, I had not, as you know, that long experience which alone
can give a seaman thorough knowledge of all his perils even before
they are apparent. I felt no apprehensions, therefore; and when I saw
how Mr. Kelson was overhauling every rope and sail and spar, and
making everything snug alow and aloft, I only congratulated myself on
having an officer who kept the men too busy to get into mischief, and
lost no opportunity for putting and keeping everything in order."

I now knew that Uncle Joseph was "fairly wound off" on his yarn, for I
never before had heard him use so many sea-phrases. All of them I did
not fully understand, but he was evidently thinking very little of me,
and did not stop to explain.

"It was about four bells when the lookout in the cross-trees sung out,
'Sail ho!'

"'Where away?' I asked.

"'Broad on the port-beam," was the answer.

"I made out the vessel with my glass very easily from the deck, but
paid no more attention to the matter until I came up from breakfast,
an hour later. Not a ripple was stirring, nor a ghost of a breath of
wind, but the two ships were several miles nearer, and evidently
approaching, though their relative position was somewhat different.
She was slowly drifting on one current, and we as slowly on another
diagonally across her track. The stranger was a large Clyde-built
ship, and carried far more canvas than was necessary in a calm, but I
thought she might be drying her sails. I was waiting for her to get
within hail, but her captain anticipated me and hailed first.

"'Ship ahoy!' came over the water, 'What ship is that?'

"The Ariadne, Alford master, from Cape Town for Portsmouth. What ship
is that?' I replied.

"'The Ellen, Alford master, from Liverpool for Cape Town. Will send a
boat aboard with letters for home.'

"The coincidence of names had evidently not been noticed, or produced
no impression. But I saw it all in a moment, and I had to grasp the
mizzen-backstay to keep from falling. My brother John, whom I had not
seen or heard from for nearly fifteen years, had drifted across my way
on the vast and pathless ocean! Ah, how often since have I asked
myself if a Providence _could_ be clearer--if this, with all its
consequences to my after-life, could have been had not He who keepeth
the winds as His treasures and measures the oceans in the hollow of
His hand so ordered it for the furtherance of His own wise and
beneficent will! Not a thought of anger toward my brother crossed my
mind--not a solitary harsh memory of the past. My heart yearned to him
with a tender and womanly love, and the only shade on the brightness
of my joy was the slight doubt whether he would feel thus toward me.
The order had already been passed on the Ellen to lower away a boat,
and my voice sounded husky and unnatural as I shouted back an
invitation to her master to board me in person. I recognized John with
the aid of my glass as he returned a hearty 'Ay, ay!' and dropped
lightly from the futtock-shrouds into the boat. In ten minutes he lay
alongside of my vessel, and in two more stood upon the deck. I
remember well how my heart beat and my tongue refused its office as he
stepped forward to greet his stranger host; how he stopped suddenly as
if frozen to the deck when he looked full in my face; how his whole
frame trembled and his cheeks grew ashy pale as he almost whispered,


"And then we were clasped in each other's arms and sobbed like
children, while each hid his face on his brother's shoulder.

"Kelson told me afterward how the rough seamen gazed at us for a while
in astonishment, and then, with a delicacy of feeling which even such
unrefined natures can sometimes exhibit, moved quietly off and left
us unobserved; but I forgot for a while that there was any one else on
the ship besides my new-found brother and myself. It was full five
minutes before either of us could utter a word, and then, after a few
brief expressions of surprise and pleasure, John sent word to his
first officer that he would spend the day on the Ariadne, and giving
our orders to keep the ships together, which was easy enough now that
both were in the same current, we retired together to my cabin.

"That day was, I honestly believe, the brightest and happiest of my
life. Not a word was said by either of us in reference to any jar or
unpleasantness in the past--not a reproach for long and unfraternal
negligence through all these years of separation. Each listened
eagerly to the story of the other's life, questioned closely for every
minute detail, sympathized with every slight misfortune, and expressed
a hearty pleasure in every incident of happiness or success. I learned
how John had passed a year after my departure in uncertainty as to his
plans for the future, and in the vain effort to break the resolution
of Ellen Jones. Then he purchased a vessel, as I had done, and
crossing the ocean ran for two years between New York and the West
Indian ports. His career was not as fortunate as mine had been, and
when, after eight years of a seaman's adventurous life, he was
rewarded for his faithful devotion by the hand of the woman whom he
loved, he was no richer than my father had left him. Ellen had made
two voyages with him--one just after their marriage, and one two years
later, after their baby died. John lost money on this last trip, but
was steadily repairing his fortunes when, about a year before our
meeting, he lost his ship and cargo off the coast of Newfoundland,
barely escaping with his crew by the assistance of a fishing-vessel
which had answered their signal of distress. This misfortune had
reduced him to very straitened circumstances, and he had left his wife
with five little ones at home, hoping for a successful venture in this
voyage to the Cape, every guinea of his capital having been invested
in a half interest in the Ellen and her cargo. There was nothing to
require our attention, as our ships were lying as still and
motionless, but for the drift, as if riding at anchor in a road-stead;
so we talked together until the steward announced dinner, and after
that adjourned to the after-deck with a box of cigars and a bottle of
wine, where we resumed our conversation. The weather continued
unchanged, and I shall never forget the quiet happiness of those hours
as we sat under the awning looking at the Cape pigeons and schools of
flying-fish, and chatting about the pleasant memories of our boyish
days. It was near sunset when John Alford asked me to signal his boat,
and soon afterward he left the Ariadne. We both expected the wind to
rise during the night, but intended keeping our ships together until
next day, and so made all our arrangements for signaling, so that we
might not part company in the darkness.

"When I went below I met Kelson at the cabin door. 'The barometer's
taken a start downward, sir,' said he: 'we shall have nasty weather
before morning.'

"'It is very likely,' I answered, 'but I think the old ship can stand
some weather. Set the watches with two good men in each, and have
everything snug for a blow.'

"'Ay, ay, sir!' answered the careful fellow: 'all that's done already.
I've seen these South Atlantic calms before now. The sails are all
clewed up and the useless spars sent down: the boats are secured, the
movables all double lashed, and the storm-staysails made ready to bend

"'Then we shall only have to keep a good lookout, and if it blows, let
it blow. Give the watches strict orders not to lose the Ellen, Mr.

"'Ay, ay, sir! The Lord grant it isn't a cyclone! I don't like 'em.'

"It was about nine o'clock that night that I heard a light ripple
against the ship's side, and a moment after the creaking of the yards
as the rising breeze moved them slightly. I at once went on deck, and
my first glance showed me how fortunate I was in having such a first
officer as Kelson. The night was as black as pitch: the wind came in
little puffs and flaws, and then for a moment would die away
altogether. There was a low, ominous murmur in the distance like the
sighing of a pine forest, and now and then the faint muttering of
thunder. Suddenly there was a sharp, jagged flash which seemed to run
halfway round the horizon, followed instantly by a rattling peal like
a running fire of field-pieces. A silence and a stillness followed
this opening overture like that of the valley of death. I sprang to
the pilot-house and seized the wheel, for I knew everything would
depend upon _that_, but as yet there was neither lee nor weather side,
for it was impossible to guess from what quarter the wind would strike
us. There was a brief period of suspense, which seemed to me an hour
long, the dead silence broken only by the cheery ring of Kelson's
voice giving his orders with a promptness and decision which was sweet
music to my ears. A moment more and the whole sky was one blaze of
dazzling light; in a second of time I saw with almost supernatural
distinctness every rope and spar, every brace and shroud of the ship;
I saw the illimitable black expanse of water on the port side, and the
Ellen, a mile distant on the starboard bow, her outlines as sharply
defined as in a silhouette; I saw the figures of men ascending her
shrouds, and with utter amazement I saw that her topsails were set.
But as I glanced away from her I saw a dark wall of water on our
starboard beam, crested with glittering foam and twenty feet or more
in height, bearing right down upon us.

"'Hard a-lee!' came the voice of Kelson, drowned in a crash of thunder
which words are powerless to describe, and as the good ship swung
round responsive to the touch of her helm, all was again Egyptian
darkness, and the wind rushed upon us with the howl and roar of a
thousand hungry wild beasts. The Ariadne answered her helm like a
tender-mouthed colt, but she was not quick enough for the enormous sea
which the next moment broke on her starboard quarter. The decks were
deluged with water, which must have swamped the ship had not every
hatch been securely battened; the starboard quarter-boat was crushed
like an egg-shell, and swept from her davits with the wreck of the
bulwarks, which were stove in like a cigar-box; the masts bent like
reeds and quivered to the keelson, and the strong mizzen
storm-staysails burst with the report of a twelve-pounder. The Ariadne
careened until her lee-earrings dipped into the sea, but righted
herself as she came before the wind, and rose like a duck on the back
of the angry swells. It was a fearful night, and every incident of it
is photographed indelibly on my memory. There was not a rag of canvas
on the ship except her heavy main-staysail, and yet one after another
the topmasts splintered and fell, hampering the lower rigging and
littering the deck with the wreck, the broken royals making terrible
work as they whipped about in the storm; but it was utterly impossible
to cut them loose. Well, it's getting late, and I must hurry to the
end of my story. The storm lasted about three hours, and then the wind
fell almost as suddenly as it rose.

"When daylight came there was no trace of the tremendous commotion of
the night except the heavy swell of the wearied sea. We had weathered
the gale in safety, and although the Ariadne was dreadfully battered
and her rigging badly cut up, there was no damage which we were not
able to repair sufficiently well to continue our voyage."

Uncle Joseph paused as if he had no more to say. I waited a moment,
and then ventured to ask, "How did the Ellen get through it?"

"When the sun rose clear I swept the horizon with my glass, but she
was not in sight. She has never been heard of since."

Again the old gentleman paused, but this time I dared not break the
silence. At last he dropped the stump of his cigar into the ash-holder
and said, "I never made but one more voyage after that, and that was
to bring John's orphans to Charleston after their mother's death."



When I remember my first visits to the picture-galleries of Europe, I
am filled with compassion for the multitudes of my country-folk who
yearly undergo the same misery. I hope they do not all know how
miserable they are, and fancy that they enjoy themselves; but with
many the suffering is too great for self-deception, and they come home
to look back upon those long halls, filled with the masterpieces of
ancient and modern art, as mere torture-chambers, whence nothing is
brought away but backache, headache, weary feet and an agonizing
confusion of ideas. Some of them avenge themselves by making fun of
the whole matter: they tell you that there is a great deal of humbug
about your great pictures and statues; that Raphael is nearly as much
overrated as Shakespeare; that it is all nonsense for people to
pretend to admire headless trunks and dingy canvases. To them I have
nothing to say: they find consolation in their own cleverness. But a
great many are left with a mingled sense of disappointment and
yearning: they cannot get rid of the thought that they have missed a
great pleasure--that a precious secret has remained hidden from them,
and that through no fault of theirs. It is to these, who have my
sincere sympathy, and to those who have the same trials before them,
that I offer the result of three years' acquaintance with the great
galleries of Europe, premising that I have no technical knowledge of
art: I have only learned to enjoy it.

We Americans generally bring total want of preparation with us from
home: pictures and statues, their subjects and their authors, except a
few of the most famous, are equally unknown to us. This is to some
degree our own fault. All that we can learn by reading is valuable. I
do not refer to criticism or descriptions, but what may be called the
general literature of art--the lives of artists, the history of the
various schools, even mythology and the lives of the saints; which
last were the favorite theme during the best period everywhere except
in England, whose native art is not much over a century old. This is
within the reach of every one on this side the Atlantic, and to know
what a picture is about is to have one source of confusion removed.
Besides which, all accessory information adds much to the general
interest and is a help in the first stages. Criticism is to be
excepted, as tending to disturb the integrity of one's individual
impressions, difficult enough to keep independent under the influence
of a great name. The beginner ought not to seek the opinion of
others--except in devoting his attention to the works of highest fame,
which is following the verdict of the world, and not of a person or
set--until he has one of his own, always bearing in mind that his is
probably wrong, and keeping his conceit down and his mind open to
conviction. The study of works of art with the handbooks of
connoisseurs belongs to the higher branches of aesthetic education, of
which I have naught to tell.

Besides reading, of course all opportunities of seeing good specimens
at home should be made the most of. These are far from so rare as ten
years ago. In Boston the Athenaeum, in New York the Metropolitan Art
Museum, and both in the latter city and Philadelphia the private
collections--which the kindness of their owners makes almost as
accessible as public ones--afford us examples of most contemporary
painters and of some of the older masters; while our schools of design
are provided with casts from the most celebrated antique statues, and
many of the best modern ones come to our shores. The Arundel Society
of London publishes chromo-lithographs of uncommon merit after the
finest and most curious paintings of the Old World. But the best
preparation of all is a knowledge of drawing: even if nothing is
acquired beyond the ability to copy a cast correctly or sketch a
landscape roughly but faithfully, it is a long step over the primary
difficulties of the path.

The very first of these difficulties is to know what we really like.
It is probably impossible to look at a famous work with eyes clear
from preconceived impressions: copies, engravings, photographs, have
familiarized us in some measure with the finest things in the world.
However imperfect an idea may be given by reproductions of great
pictures--great in size as well as merit--whether we have seen a
Marcantonio or a Raphael Morghen or only a _carte de visite_--a notion
of their chief features is acquired: we recognize them from the
farther end of the gallery, whither indeed we have generally come in
quest of them, and the results are very like those of a first sight of
Niagara. Everybody knows how that looks--the huge downpour of the
American Fall, the graceful rush of the slenderer stream formed by
Goat Island, the mighty curve and tremendous placidity of the
Horseshoe Fall, the clouds of spray, the lightly poised rainbow. But
all this does not give us the feeling of Niagara: one person is
overwhelmed, another enraptured, very many are disappointed. Besides,
we are bothered by notions of how we ought to feel at such a moment.
All these hinderances the majority of us will meet at the outset.
After seeing a few masterpieces, a superficial acquaintance with the
characteristics of the most elaborated painters is soon acquired, and
then comes the difficulty of judging honestly of the effect upon one's
self of a picture which bears so great a name. Yet all Tintoretto's
paintings are no more equal than Sir Walter Scott's novels or Byron's
poems: Titian trips as Homer nods. Of course we cannot expect to
distinguish between the good and the bad of a great master, but there
is no reason for our admiring everything from his hand. A great step
is gained when we know whether we are pleased or not.

All our familiarity with the composition of great pictures does not
prevent our becoming bewildered by their size and color on first
beholding them. The number of canvases and conflict of hues in a
gallery confuse the eye and irritate the nerves. One looks down the
interminable corridors, the immense halls, the endless suites of
rooms, with growing dismay: as one succeeds another, and the inmost
chamber seems farther off as we advance, the nightmare sense of
something which is impossible, yet must be done, begins to weigh upon
us. And this goes on day after day with a protracted strain upon the
limbs, the senses and the brain, until real injury sometimes ensues.
After traversing almost without a pause the great art-palaces of
Munich, Brussels, Antwerp, The Hague and all the minor ones on the
route, on reaching Amsterdam, with its inexhaustible picture-shows, I
had got to the point where I sat down amidst the Rembrandts, forced to
declare that I would rather look at so much wall-paper of a good
pattern. This is utter folly. One cardinal rule in seeking either
pleasure or profit is not to tire one's self. When time is limited and
the opportunity may never recur, the temptation is almost
overpowering: this is our only chance--we must not lose it. But it
_is_ lost if we overtask the perceptions and carry away no idea with
us: there is no gain, and positive harm. No one new to galleries
should look at pictures for more than an hour together, and I think
that one who knows and cares much about them will not wish to do so
for more than double that time. We learn by degrees to go through a
gallery much more rapidly than at first, for unless we have adopted
some plan of selection we begin by looking at every picture. After a
while we merely glance at the greater number, and get over the ground
much more quickly, though we spend a long time before the rest. If in
this cursory survey a picture strikes and pleases you, look at it by
all means, return to it again and again, and see whether the charm
works or wears out: it may be the starting-point of your whole career
of enjoyment. Do not run counter to your natural impulse if you have
any: no matter whether you suspect the picture to be bad or by an
inferior master, look at it and enjoy it as much as you can. If you
are only honest with yourself, you will not care for it long if it be

A good plan for getting our ideas into order on going into a gallery
is to take one master and look only at his works for a day or two, and
then at the others of his school, else there is a terrible confusion
of names, dates, periods, manners and subjects in our heads. This
cannot always be accomplished, for in some choice collections there
are but a few specimens of each master, though in the large ones there
are always more than enough for a beginner's first day. It is best to
begin with a comparatively modern master, and work back gradually,
otherwise the eye is puzzled by inaccuracies of drawing, perspective,
color. The early painters can hardly be expected to delight us at
first: we are shocked by the unnatural proportions, the grotesque
countenances. To cite an extreme case, the first view of Giotto's
frescoes, where men and women with bodies of board, long jointless
fingers, rigid plastered hair, and dark-rimmed slits for eyes whose
oblique glance imparts an air of suspicion to the whole assembly, will
suggest merely a notion of their grotesqueness. By and by we shall
grow used to the deformities, and recognize the primitive truthfulness
of attitude and expression, the spirit which animates these ungainly
forms and faces, until at length we look at the painter with the eyes
of his contemporaries, and judge him by the standards of his own time,
on which his claims rest. Then we shall admire him. The Venetians of
the sixteenth century are the easiest to look at, however much of
their genius and wonderful skill be lost on a novice, for they knew as
much about anatomy and perspective as any painter of to-day, and their
men and women are such glorious creatures, with backgrounds of such
stately architecture or such magnificent scenery, all displayed in a
revel of color, that pleasure outruns comprehension in the beholder.

The subject of a work of art exercises a great influence at first.
Some subjects naturally attract, others awe, others repel, and some
have no interest for us whatever: this, of course, is entirely apart
from the intrinsic sources of enjoyment. Next we are affected by the
way in which the subject is treated; and this, too, is a moral or
intellectual appreciation, rather than an aesthetic one. Perhaps, as a
general rule, the enjoyment of landscapes precedes that of figures,
and expression strikes us sooner than form, while color comes last of
all; but this differs with different temperaments. I suppose there are
few who do not feel a little stupid amusement at first at inaccuracies
of costume and accessories in the older pictures, but we soon become
as indifferent to them as the painters were themselves. One grows so
accustomed to see scriptural personages presented in the dress and
surrounded by the architecture or landscape of Southern Europe of
three centuries ago that the anachronism or inconsistency ceases to
strike one. Perhaps it is because armor and flowing robes, colonnades
and branching trees, never seem out of keeping with events of a
certain dignity. I am not sure that the traveler ever becomes quite
unconscious of the incongruity of the old Flemish dress and
decorations, in most cases strongly enhanced by the prim composure
which is the elementary expression of the earlier Netherlandish faces:
this is still discernible through all transitory emotions of fear,
hate, love or anguish, and does not fail to produce very tragi-comic
combinations. I remember a group of a man in the dress of an Antwerp
burgher sitting on a three-legged stool, with his head on the knee of
a discreet-looking woman in a long-waisted, plain-skirted gown, with a
high square bodice closed by a plaited neckerchief, her hair drawn
tightly back under a close round cap, her pocket hanging from her
girdle on one side, and on the other a small array of housewifery
implements, among others a pair of scissors, with which she is
clipping his locks: her expression is so placid and thrifty withal
that it seemed clear she was saving a penny for her goodman instead
of sending him to the barber. But this was not the painter's idea: the
two were Samson and Delilah. Better than this was a painting of
Susannah and the elders, where the chaste Susannah is depicted clothed
to the throat like a Dutch burgomaster's wife, with a close cap and
long veil, while her perilous ablutions are typified by a small
wash-basin on the ground beside her. Another almost as grotesque was a
Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Breughel the Elder--a snow-scene in
the wide street of a red brick, high-gabled village--soldiers,
parents, children, all in the stiff, ungraceful Flemish dress of the
sixteenth century, the poor little children, in square trousers and
pinafores, clinging to their mothers' narrow skirts. Oddly enough, it
made the story more real to me than it had ever seemed before, quite
painfully and terribly so, indeed: dispoiled of its usual conventional
character, it became definite, and the very historical inaccuracy
which destroyed the traditional conception made it an historical fact.
We have only to go to Ghent and Bruges to see how the genius and
devout earnestness of the Van Eycks, Van der Heyden and Hemling raise
their pictures above trifling absurdities. It is undeniable that with
many of us the constant presentation to our eyes of the incidents of
our Saviour's life, especially His passion, gives them more reality
than even the most frequent reading of the Bible. This renders the
crucifixion extremely painful, intolerable in powerful pictures. I
knew of an intelligent, sensitive little child who burst into
convulsive sobbing before Tintoretto's great Crucifixion in the Scuola
San Rocco at Venice. In the Belvedere at Vienna there is a picture by
Rubens of the dead Christ in the arms of the usual small group: His
mother is removing with a light, tender touch a thorn which is still
piercing the cold brow. The whole picture is in the same spirit, and I
never could look at it with dry eyes. Yet in Rubens's hands this and
all kindred subjects are generally repulsive. The very early masters
are prone to fix the attention upon some revolting detail of torture
or too material and agonizing exhibition of physical suffering, but
their stiff, hard outlines, absence of perspective and childishness of
composition, with the element of the grotesque which is seldom absent,
take the edge off their effect. Later, when art has advanced, and is
capable of affecting us more deeply, refinement too has advanced:
there is less simplicity, but merely painful detail is subordinated to
general expression and skill of drawing and color. It is where the two
meet, as in Rubens, that the result is most harrowing: the picture I
have just spoken of is the only one of his in which I ever saw any
sign of delicacy or tenderness, any appeal to the deeper and more
exquisite emotions. Nevertheless, by degrees his genius helps one to
surmount his realism. On my first visit to Antwerp I looked for a few
minutes--which was as long, as I could bear it--at the great Descent
from the Cross in the cathedral, and turned away with the conviction
that I could never have anything but distressing and disagreeable
impressions from that picture. Six months afterward I was in Antwerp
again: I could not see the Descent often enough, and spent my last
hour in the place before it. Yet he is a brutal painter withal, and
such subjects, however magnificently treated by him, could never give
me the same unmixed enjoyment as in the hands of the gentle and
pensive Vandyke.

Some people maintain that all great works of art speak for themselves,
and will make their appeal at once to a person capable of appreciating
them, without any previous experience or education. This is
impossible, for were it so the fine arts would be an exception to the
rules which govern everything else in life--music, literature, moral
beauty and the beauties of Nature. It must be with them as with other
things: knowledge, cultivation, practice enhance the power of
enjoyment. Of course, in this, as in all matters, individual
organization will tell powerfully; but take an intelligent, educated
person of average perceptions, who has never seen a single good
picture, and set him before one of the greatest in the world, and I
doubt if he would receive any genuine pleasure from it. _A fortiori_,
an uneducated person, one who could appreciate the first masterpiece
he ever saw the first time he ever saw it, would be a prodigy only
second to him who could produce one without preliminary study. The
picture which I think calculated to appeal most powerfully and
universally is Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, where the grouping of
the figures and the expression of each head, as well as the
disposition of the whole, can hardly fail to produce a deep impression
on any one of thought and feeling; yet even here there would be a
first shock, to any untrained eye, from the faded colors, the defaced
and spotted surface; and this must be got over before the fresco can
be even seen. Moreover, in my experience, there is no pleasure
connected with the whole business of seeing galleries like that of
revisiting them: not only should we return to them daily on first
acquaintance, but we should make a practice of seeing them again after
an interval of months whenever it can be done: it is surprising what a
comprehension and enjoyment of their chief treasures grows up during

Little by little, through divers probations, we begin to feel ground
under our feet. We have our likes and dislikes, our favorite masters,
pictures and statues, which are like old friends. Instead of
weariness, vexation and a vain effort to comprehend, a delightful
sense of repose and coming pleasure steals over us as we enter a
gallery. The lovely forms, the noble composition, the delicious color
minister to us, mind and body, and soothe us like music or the smile
of Nature; and the plastic arts have this advantage over music, that
they are impersonal. We cannot identify ourselves with what moves us
in painting or sculpture or architecture: on the contrary, it lifts us
out of ourselves, away from our griefs and cares, instead of giving
them a more intense and poignant expression, which at some moments is
all the divinest music seems to do. Their influence is always benign
and serene, and we may always have recourse to it, while the secrets
of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann lie hidden between leaves,
in the keeping of crabbed little hieroglyphs, and a voice, an


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