Round the World in Ten Months
MATURIN M. BALLOU
Plus je vis l'etranger, plus j'aimai ma patrie. DE BELLOY
Boston Houghton, Mifflin and Company New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1885
Copyright, 1884, by Maturin M. Ballou. All rights reserved.
Riverside, Cambridge: Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton and Company.
I rather would entreat thy company To see the wonders of the world abroad, Than, living dully sluggardized at home, Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.— Two Gentlemen of Verona.
To circumnavigate the globe in our day is only a question of time and money, the facilities being ample, and the inducements abundant. Intelligently and successfully to consummate such a purpose is an education in itself. The tourist will find all previous study enhanced in value by ocular demonstration, which imparts life and warmth to the cold facts of the chroniclers, besides which a vast store-house of positive information is created which time cannot exhaust. Perhaps the majority of travelers see only that which comes clearly before them; but this they do most faithfully, being possessed of a stronger sense of duty than of imagination. The clear, direct vision of such people has its merit. There are others who both see and feel, to whom the simplest object in its suggestiveness may be full of beauty. It is the latter who pluck delightful mysteries out of travel; and who, after viewing nature, it may be in her calmest moods, bring away with them upon the tablets of memory a Claude Lorraine. The eyes will operate automatically, but it is of little avail unless one exercises the observing power; then they become luminous. You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some with you, says Joubert. If the author succeeds in imparting to the reader but a share of the great and varied pleasure he realized in the ten months of travel herein recorded, his object in transcribing these experiences will have been fully consummated.
M. M. B.
CHAPTER I. PAGE Synopsis of the Journey.—Crossing the Continent.—A Great Midland City.—Utah and the Mormons.—The Sierra Nevada.—San Francisco.—A Herd of Sea-Lions.—Possibilities of California.—The Love of Flowers.—Public School System.—Excursion to the Yosemite.—An Indian Stronghold.—Description of the Valley.—Passage of the Mountains.—Caught in a Snow-Storm.—A Forest of Feathers.—The Mammoth Trees of California.—Passing the Golden Gate.—Voyage across the Pacific.—A Lost Day 1
Landing in Japan.—Characteristic Street Scenes.—Native Bazars.—Women of Yokohama.—Excursion into the Country.—Visit to Kamakura.—Peculiar Scenes on the Road.—A Wonderful Bronze Statue.—Popular Religions of the Country.—The Hakone Pass.—A Youthful Mother.—Native Jugglers.—Temple of Shiba.—Review of the Soldiery.—Ludicrous Sights.—A Native Fair at Tokio.—A Poor Japanese Woman's Prayer 30
Foreign Influence in Japan.—Progress of the People.—Traveling Inland.—Fertility of the Soil.—Grand Temples and Shrines at Nikko.—The Left-Handed Artist.—Japanese Art.—City of Kobe.—Kioto and its Temples.—Idol Worship.—Native Amusements.—Morals in Japan.—Lake Biwa.—Osaka on a Gala Day.—The Inland Sea.—Island of Pappenburg.—The Tarpeian Rock of Japan.—Nagasaki.—Girls Coaling a Ship.—National Products 55
Sail for Hong Kong.—Ocean Storms.—Sunset at Sea.—A Water-Spout.—Arrival in China.—Typhoon Bay.—Manners and Customs.—In and about Hong Kong.—Public Buildings.—Voyage up the Pearl River.—City of Canton.—Strangest of Strange Cities.—Opium Dens.—Temple of Honan.—The Worship of Swine.—Praying with a Fan.—Local Peculiarities.—Half Round the World.—Singapore.—A Tiger Hunt.—Burial at Sea.—Penang.—The Wonderful Palm 81
Sailing Due West.—The Indian Ocean.—Strange Sights at Sea.—Island of Ceylon.—Singhalese Canoes.—Colombo.—A Land of Slaves.—Native Town.—Singhalese Women.—Fantastic Nurses.—Local Pictures.—Cinnamon Gardens.—Wild Elephants.—Lavishness of Tropical Nature.—Curious Birds and their Nests.—Ancient Kandy.—Temple of Maligawan.—Religious Ceremonies.—Life of the Natives.—Inland Scenery.—Fruits.—Precious Stones.—Coffee Plantations.—Great Antiquity of Ceylon 125
Arrival in India.—Tuticorin.—Madura.—Bungalows.—Reptiles and Insects.—Wonderful Pagoda.—Sacred Elephants.—Trichinopoly and its Temples.—Bishop Heber.—Native Silversmiths.—Tanjore.—The Rajah's Palace.—Pagoda and an Immense Stone Idol.—Southern India.—City of Madras.—Want of a Harbor.—In and about the Capital.—Voyage through the Bay of Bengal.—The Hoogly River.—Political Capital of India.—A Crazy King.—The Himalayas.—Sunset and Sunrise at Darjeeling 150
From Calcutta to Benares.—Miles of Poppy Fields.—Ruined Temples.—The Mecca of Hindostan.—Banks of the Sacred Ganges.—Idolatry at its Height.—Monkey Temple.—The Famous River Front of the Holy City.—Fanaticism.—Cremating the Dead.—A Pestilential City.—Visit to a Native Palace.—From Benares to Cawnpore.—A Beautiful Statue.—English Rule in India.—Delhi.—The Mogul Dynasty.—Lahore.—Umritsar.—Agra.— The Taj Mahal.—Royal Palace and Fort.—The Famous Pearl Mosque 187
From Agra to Jeypore.—An Independent Province.—A Unique Indian City.—Wild Animals.—Elephant Traveling.—Trapping Tigers.—A Royal Palace.—The Harem.—Native Rule.—Wild Monkeys and Peacocks.—Long Journey across Country.—Bombay.—The Rival of Calcutta.—The Parsees.—Towers of Silence.—Feeding the Vultures.—A Remarkable Institution.—Island of Elephanta.—Street Jugglers.—Crossing the Sea of Arabia.—The Southern Cross.—Aden.—Passage up the Red Sea.—Landing at Suez.—Traveling in Egypt 223
Cairo and the Arabian Nights.—Street Scenes and Cries.—Camels and Donkeys.—Turkish Bazars in Old Cairo.—Water-Carriers.—The Pyramids of Gizeh.—The Sphinx.—Interesting Visit to a Native House.—Mosque of Mehemet Ali.—The Rotten Row of Cairo.—The Khedive's Palace.—Egyptian Museum.—Mosque of Amer.—Whirling and Howling Dervishes.—Suez Canal.—Ismailia and Port Said.—Island of Malta.—City of Valetta.—Palace of the Knights.—Bird's-eye View 259
Voyage through the Mediterranean.—Gibraltar on Sunday.—Beautiful Alameda.—Visit to the Famous Fortress.—Wild Monkeys.—Cannon and Flowers.—Tangier.—Morocco.—Straits of Gibraltar.—A Moorish City of To-day.—Local Scenes.—A Private Museum.—The Governor's Palace.—Rusty Keys.—The Typical Moor.—The Slave Market.—Oriental Tableaux.—Visit to Washington Mount.—A Cup of Moorish Coffee.—From Gibraltar to Malaga.—Spain.—The City of Raisins and Sweet Wine 288
From Malaga to Granada.—Military Escort—A Beautiful Valley.—A Dream Realized in the Alhambra.—The Moor in his Glory.—Tangible Poetry.—A Brief Legend.—The Generalife.—The Moor's Seat.—The Home of the Gypsies.—A Gold Bearing River.—A Beautiful Residence.—Early Home of the Ex-Empress Eugenie.—City of Granada.—Spanish Beggars.—The Remarkable Tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella.—French Vandals.—The Cathedral.—Precious Relic.—The Cartuja.—Love of Music 311
Granada to Cordova.—An Antique City.—The Guadalquivir.—Old Roman Bridge.—The Grand Mosque-Cathedral of Cordova.—Court of Orange-Trees.—Army of Beggars.—From Cordova to Madrid.—Local Characteristics of the Capital.—The Gate of the Sun.—The King and Queen in Public.—The Royal Palace.—Spanish Ladies and Gentlemen.—The Fan.—The Picture-Gallery of Madrid.—National Sport of the Bull-Fight.—Cowardice!—Interesting Visit to the City of Toledo.—The Escurial 331
From Madrid to Burgos.—Through a Barren Country.—The Cathedral of Burgos.—Monastery of Miraflores.—Local Pictures.—A Spanish Inn.—Convent of Las Huelgas.—From Burgos to San Sebastian.—Northern Spain.—A Spanish Watering Place.—Bayonne.—Lower Pyrenees.—Biarritz.—A Basque Postilion.—A Pleasant Drive.—On Leaving Spain.—Sunday and Balloons at Bordeaux.—On to Paris.—Antwerp and its Art Treasures.—Embarking for America.—End of the Long Journey 365
Synopsis of the Journey.—Crossing the Continent.—A Great Midland City.—Utah and the Mormons.—The Sierra Nevada.—San Francisco.—A Herd of Sea-Lions.—Possibilities of California.—The Love of Flowers.—Public School System.—Excursion to the Yosemite.—An Indian Stronghold.—Description of the Valley.—Passage of the Mountains.—Caught in a Snow-Storm.—A Forest of Feathers.—The Mammoth Trees of California.—Passing the Golden Gate.—Voyage across the Pacific.—A Lost Day.
On the morning of September 16, 1882, four individuals, two of whom were ladies and two gentlemen, comparative strangers to each other, met at the Fitchburg depot in Boston, drawn together by the common purpose of a trip round the world. Adding the conductor, Mr. Gno. Dattari, an intelligent and experienced courier, the little party numbered five persons. The latter individual is attached to the traveling agency of Thomas Cook & Son, London, the house undertaking, for the sum of two thousand dollars each, to pay all transportation and board bills in accordance with a very comprehensive itinerary. This embraced the passage across the continent of America and the Pacific Ocean to Japan, with a month of residence and travel in that country; thence to China and up the Pearl River to Canton; a week in Hong Kong; a thousand-mile voyage down the China Sea to the chief ports of the Malacca Straits; across the Indian Ocean to the Island of Ceylon, with a week for excursions therein; thence to India, with a liberal exploration of its principal cities, including a visit to the Himalayas in the extreme north; through the Sea of Arabia, the Straits of Babelmandeb, and the Red Sea to Egypt, Cairo, and Alexandria; through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean to Italy, Malta, Gibraltar, France, and England. A reasonable length of time was allowed for each section of the route, including a voyage across the Atlantic to the starting-point.
Any divergence from the prescribed route was to be at an additional charge, according to expenses incurred. The money was paid at the outset, and the agreement on both sides fulfilled to the entire satisfaction of all concerned. Thus much it has seemed well to premise for the information of the reader who proposes to follow our course due west, as presented in these pen-and-ink sketches of many lands. It should also be mentioned that the season of the year had been judiciously chosen, so as to bring us into each country at the most favorable period for its healthful and agreeable enjoyment, a calculation which is imperative for any one contemplating a journey of this character. Otherwise, the intense heat of the tropics, as well as the Arctic chills of the north, may render such a trip a hardship rather than a season of pleasure.
The first day's experience served to acquaint the little party with each other, and no possible association can effect this so rapidly as traveling together, where individuals necessarily become inseparable, and where fixed traits of character must inevitably exhibit themselves. Mr. M—— and his daughter, as also the author of these notes, were Bostonians; the fourth person being a Miss D——, of Yorkshire, England, who came hither to make the long circuit of the globe. Even American parlor-cars, which embrace as much of domestic comfort as is compatible with their legitimate purpose, could not prevent our being somewhat fatigued by an unbroken journey of over five hundred miles, when we reached Niagara Falls at two o'clock in the morning. And yet the day seemed short by reason of the varied and beautiful scenery of the Hoosac Tunnel route, particularly in the region of the Deerfield Valley, and also west of the Massachusetts state line. The abundant foliage was in its autumnal prime, not yet having been touched by the wand of the Frost King, while the teeming fields gave evidence both of fertility of soil and skilled cultivation. The neat farm-houses were ornamented by creeping vines, and tiny flower-gardens in their fronts. Tall conical haystacks flanked the spacious, well-filled barns; big yellow pumpkins dotted the half-cleared cornfields; and handsome groups of cattle quietly ruminated in the pastures. A picturesque line of beehives, half a dozen happy children at play before the house door, and the sturdy master of the thrifty scene, leaning over the fence to exchange pleasant words with a passing neighbor on horseback, were frequent rural pictures, which were afterwards contrasted with those of other countries.
A quiet Sabbath was passed at the Clifton House, on the Canada side, where an excellent opportunity is afforded for viewing the falls in their various aspects. It was a still, clear day, bright and sunny. A column of vapor rose many hundred feet above the falls, white as snow where it was absorbed into the skies, and iridescent at the base, which was wreathed in ceaseless rainbows. A practical eye could not fail to observe that a portion of the enormous force here running to waste has been utilized by means of a canal, dug from a point above the falls to a plateau two miles below them, whereby some large grist-mills and paper-manufacturing establishments are operated with never-failing power. The usual round of sightseeing was performed on the following day. When we remember that there is conclusive evidence of these falls having been at a former period fully six miles nearer to Lake Ontario, and consequently that there is a daily though infinitesimal wear going on, it leads one to speculate as to what will be the probable result when the great falls shall have receded so far as to open, at one terrific plunge, the eastern end of Lake Erie.
Another day and night in the cars over the Great Western and Michigan Railroad brought us to Chicago. Fifty years ago only a scattered tribe of the Pottawatomies inhabited this spot on the shore of Lake Michigan, where is now located the most important capital of the Northwestern States. The commercial growth of Chicago is the natural sequence of its situation at the head of the great chain of lakes, which form a medium of unequaled inland navigation, supplemented by a railroad system of nearly a score of trunk lines which centre within its limits. A drive about the town served to impress us with a due appreciation of its business enterprise and rapid growth in all the departments of education and of art, which characterize a prosperous American community; especially was a spirit of intense activity observable, entering into every element of trade and business. The private houses of wealthy merchants adorn the environs, while Lincoln and South Park, lying on either side of the city, rival anything of the kind in Europe or America. Chicago is the natural centre of the grain trade of our continent, and we had almost said of the food-supply of the world, a statement exemplified in the fact that, during the last year, one hundred and fifty millions of bushels of grain passed through its elevators.
The next objective point was Salt Lake City, the distance being over sixteen hundred miles, to accomplish which we passed four days and nights in sleeping-cars. Two days' rest at this point afforded an opportunity to look about us, and to gather some information touching the singular people who make it their home. The capital of Utah, so well chosen for its special purpose, was an unbroken wilderness forty years ago, but can now boast a population of twenty-five thousand. Under the hands of its present occupants, the whole surrounding valley has been cultivated to a degree of fertility scarcely equaled by the same number of square miles on the continent. The city proper is laid out in broad streets intersecting each other at right angles, and which are bordered with cottonwood trees, forming a pleasant shade; while in every gutter a stream of water runs swiftly along, with a rippling sound, fresh from the neighboring mountains. Great attention has evidently been paid to sanitary matters, and everything looks neat and clean. The visible marvel of the city is the great Mormon temple, or Tabernacle, a building capable of holding and seating over twelve thousand people, the roof of which is self-supporting, and is believed to be the largest one of its character extant. The acoustic properties of this immense structure are also remarkably perfect, which was proven to us by some curious experiments. As to general effect, however, there is no more architectural character to the Mormon Tabernacle than to a prairie dog's hole. Its roof resembles nothing so much as a huge metallic dish cover, forming an awkward and prominent feature of the city.
It is not within our province to discuss in detail the peculiar and abhorrent domestic life of this people, no visible evidence of which meets the eye of the casual visitor; though in scanning the features of the large audience assembled in the Tabernacle on Sunday, the obvious want of intelligence in the faces of the women, compared with the men, was certainly striking. One seemed also to read a spirit of discontent or of calloused resignation in some of the better female countenances. Of the thrift, industry, and material success of this community there can be but one opinion. An important statistical item occurs to us in this connection which is highly significant. It appears that while Colorado and Kansas spend each one dollar and a tenth, and Nebraska two dollars and a tenth per head on the education of their school population, Utah expends but nine-tenths of a dollar for the same purpose. Upon inquiry it was discovered that polygamy did not at first form any part of the faith of Mormonism. The originator of the creed, Joseph Smith, never promulgated such doctrine, and possessed but one wife. The "celestial marriage" humbug was first preached by Brigham Young, in 1852, when he produced a document bearing the above title, pretending that it was revealed to Joseph Smith a year before his death. Smith's widow and son, both surviving, pronounced this to be a falsehood, a pure invention, but Young was too strongly seated in his chair of authority not to be able to carry his point. This "revelation" was incorporated into the Mormon faith by a meeting of the assembled deacons of the church, and has since become its most prominent feature. Mormon missionaries seek proselytes mostly in Brittany, Scandinavia, Denmark, and Wales, addressing themselves to the most ignorant classes. These poor, half-starved creatures are helped pecuniarily to emigrate, believing that they are coming to a land flowing with milk and honey. In most cases any change with them would be for the better; and so the ranks of Mormonism are numerically recruited, not from any religious impulse in the new disciples, but through the simple desire to better their physical condition in life. No portrait of Mormonism will prove to be a true likeness which does not depict its twofold features, its iniquity and its thrift. The conclusion forces itself upon the visitor that railroads and contact with the world will gradually obliterate the institution of polygamy.
Two days and one night of additional travel brought us to San Francisco, a distance of six hundred miles. We passed through the grandest portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains between midnight and dawn, but the moon was near its full, and the sky radiant with starlight; so that, by placing seats upon the platform of the cars, a fine view of this remarkable passage was obtained, characterized by deep canyons, wild gorges, lofty wooded peaks, and precipitous declivities, under a most impressive aspect. A few specimens of native Indians were seen at Salt Lake City, who had come in from the hills to purchase trifles; but after leaving Ogden more or less of the Shoshones and Piute tribes were to be seen lounging in picturesque groups at nearly every railroad station. A few also traveled with us short distances in the baggage car, which is made free to them. The men were dirty, uncouth specimens of humanity, besmeared with yellow ochre and vermilion, dressed in red blankets, and bearing a hatchet in their hands, their only visible weapon. The women were dressed in tawdry colors,—striped government blankets and red flannel leggins, with a profusion of colored beads about their necks, and cheap jewelry on fingers and wrists; each one with an infant strapped in a flat basket to her back. They did not beg ostensibly, but were ready to receive trinkets, tobacco, pennies, or food. The women were very uncleanly in their appearance, their coarse long hair entirely uncared for, but they were good-natured and smiling, while the men wore a morose and frowning expression upon their countenances. War, whiskey, and exposure are gradually but surely blotting out the aborigines.
We were thus, without any special haste, but twelve days in crossing the American continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, on about the fortieth parallel of latitude, the trip having afforded us much quiet enjoyment and a great variety of bold and beautiful scenery, too near home and too familiar to our readers to dilate upon in these pages.
San Francisco, with its population of three hundred thousand, is a city of great commercial wealth, much architectural pretension, and progressive ideas, affording the traveler the best and cheapest hotel accommodations in the world. As is well known, it owes its early impetus to the discovery of gold in 1848, but the product of the precious metal has long since been exceeded more than tenfold in intrinsic value by the agricultural development of the great Pacific region, which finds its shipping point through the Golden Gate. Though California still produces and sends out into the world at large an average of two millions of gold each month, still the shining ore is but a secondary consideration in her productiveness, and is also surpassed by her export of wine and fruit. Men who came here with the gold fever, between twenty and thirty years ago, gradually recovered from their unwholesome Aladdin-like dreams, and settled down to reap from agriculture and legitimate business surer and more permanent fortunes. The population which sought its gains in wild and lawless adventure, characterized by all the objectionable features of rude pioneer life, has gradually given place to one of a more stable nature, governed by a respect for the laws and the wise conventionalities of society. There lies a brilliant future before this section of the country, which in grand possibilities defies calculation; it has passed through its baptism of fire, and, let it be hoped, has burned out the dross which is incident to the too rapid growth of large communities.
The territorial importance of California will be most readily presented by a statement of the facts that, if it lay on the Atlantic shore, it would extend from Massachusetts to South Carolina; that it is about five times as large as the combined New England States; and that it absolutely teems with gardens, vineyards, orange, apple, pear, and peach orchards, and vast grain fields. The climate presents most of the advantages of the tropics, with few of the drawbacks. Hot-houses for delicate plants are hardly needed in winter, and the fan-palm flourishes as it does at Singapore.
A visit to that part of San Francisco known as China Town revealed the fact that twenty thousand Chinese were here living in tenements which would be insufficient for three or four thousand Americans. They are clearly actuated by the same purpose as that indicated by the motto of the home Spaniard who leaves Madrid for Cuba: "Seven years of starvation and a fortune." The Chinaman hoards nearly all he receives, and in four or five years can return to his native land with a sum of money which, to him, is an assured independence. They are extremely unpopular with the citizens of all classes, and not without some good reasons, being naturally a filthy race, and in many ways specially offensive. It must not be understood that there are only Chinese washermen, laborers, and artisans in the city; there are also responsible merchants, brokers, and manufacturers belonging to that nationality, wielding considerable influence, both among their own people and the citizens at large. Every street in China Town has its joss-house or temple, and however low these Mongols are as a race, they never fail to give heed to their professed religion and its various forms. It is also a fact that crime is less frequent in China Town than it is in other parts of the city; and drunkenness, except insensibility from opium, is scarcely known among the Chinese in California.
Driving in and about the city, one is impressed by the manifest love of flowers exhibited in the front yards of the dwelling-houses, and in the pleasant gardens attached to suburban villas, as well as by the blooming plants displayed on the window-sills of the homes of all classes. The admirably chosen spot for a cemetery, on the rising ground behind the city, is also finely ornamented with choice trees and flowering shrubs, among which are pines, cypresses, Australian gum trees (evergreen), mimosas, and many other blooming plants, well arranged for good effect. The scarlet geranium here grows six and eight feet high, producing with its brilliant bloom a dazzling effect. The same drive which conducts to the cemetery, a little further on brought us to a most delightful public garden and park combined. Here were broad roads, as smooth and perfect as roads can be made; footpaths leading into inviting groves, beautiful lawns relieved by groups of graceful trees, lakes, and fountains, with several large ornamental conservatories for the most delicate exotics. The whole formed an exposition of landscape gardening of which any city might be proud.
A couple of miles beyond this noble park brought us to the Cliff House, a favorite resort of the people, situated on a high bluff of the Pacific coast and affording an ocean view only limited by the powers of the human vision. Looking due west, no land intervenes between this shore and the far-off coast of Japan, a distance of five thousand miles, which we were destined soon to traverse. Two hundred yards off the shore, just opposite the Cliff, a large rock rises from the sea some hundred feet or more, upon which scores of sea-lions come out of the water at all hours of the day to sun themselves, affording a very peculiar and amusing sight. They are of all sizes, weighing from fifty to one thousand pounds, some of the old ones even exceeding this estimate, yet possessing a muscular power which enables them easily to climb the rough side of the precipitous rock. The half roar, half bark of the herd comes with harsh discordance upon the ear of the listener at the Cliff. The law of the State protects these sea-lions from all sorts of molestation; so here they quarrel among themselves furiously, suckle their young, tumble into the sea, and thrive and multiply.
In many respects San Francisco resembles a New England capital,—a very natural result when we remember that a large percentage of her people are natives of these Eastern States. She has copied the Boston school system almost exactly, and there are few of our oldest cities so well organized in this department of progress, though the city is but little over twenty years of age, dating from the time when she first came prominently into public notice. Girls and boys are not only afforded the most excellent educational advantages, but a spirit of emulation is successfully fostered among them, especially encouraging to the observant visitor. There is a high school for boys and one for girls, also a Normal school for the education of teachers. San Francisco has from the outset established a fixed reputation, by employing and liberally compensating the best pulpit talent to be had in the country.
Finding that the steamship in which we were to sail for Japan would be detained for the period of ten days, it was resolved to improve the time by a visit to the Yosemite Valley, involving a journey, in the round trip, of over six hundred miles, a large portion of which is performed by coach. The time, trouble, and expense were, however, abundantly repaid by the experience gained among the wonderful developments of nature, as exhibited in Alpine scenery and the grandeur of forests which produce giant trees over three hundred feet in height and forty in diameter, and which are proven to be over thirteen centuries old. The cars took us to Madeira, a frontier station to which the broad grain fields of California already extend. From here, early next morning, we took a four-horse covered wagon to Coarse Gold Gulch to dine, and here we passed the night on our return, it being a ranch kept by a worthy German family. Though the accommodations were rather crude, ample satisfaction was assured by the cheerful service rendered and the cleanliness which characterized everything.
We reached Clark's Hotel, located at the foot of the mountains where the abrupt ascent begins, on the evening of the second day after leaving San Francisco. Early the next morning the journey was renewed, six horses now taking the place of four, which number, with frequent changes, had been quite sufficient on the previous day. The driver who now took us in charge was a large, fine specimen of the mulatto race, and certainly a very excellent whip, steady, and as strong as a Hercules. There are few positions which require more skill and vigilance than to safely drive a team of six horses and a coach full of passengers by the precipitous, winding road over the mountains intervening between Clark's and the level of the valley, to enter which a rise of over seven thousand feet must be achieved. Scarcely had we fairly commenced the upward climb, when it was observed that we had left all signs of human habitation behind; and soon even fences disappeared, except about the coach company's ranches, where we stopped to change horses, in groves of sugar pine and yellow pine trees of great size and beauty. Here we were literally surrounded by Nature, which some quaint writer denominates God's Old Testament.
An austere and almost mournful air of loneliness surrounded us, as we crept higher and higher towards that ethereal blue canopy which hung over the loftiest peaks. All was silence save the rumbling noise of our conveyance; and when, as was the case at a sudden angle of the winding road, a large black bear was seen coolly sitting on his haunches, with listless hanging paws, looking at the stage and its contents, it did not seem at all strange, but quite in keeping with the solitary surroundings, though some of our horses did exhibit a little restlessness. The pistol-like crack of the driver's whip was an intimation to Bruin which he understood, for he slowly dropped into the thick brush and rolled awkwardly away from the roadside. The eye was never weary in detecting the natural architecture of the mountain acclivities, which, in the constantly varying scenery, formed amphitheatres like old Roman circuses, and now square battlemented crags, like crumbling castles on the Rhine, and again a deep, shady ravine of unknown depth, where lonely mist-wreaths rested like snowdrifts. In the far background were cliffs like oriental minarets, and balled rocks capped like the dome of St. Peter's.
There were often seen nestling beside the road, struggling for a precarious existence, frail wild flowers of delicate shades, surrounded by vigorous ferns and creeping vines, showing that Nature has her poetic moods even among these deserted regions. Now we came upon a crystal stream of water, winding and fretting over a narrow bed of rocks on the mountain side, sparkling in the sunshine, as it formed tiny cascades, until presently it lost itself by an artificial culvert under the roadway; but even then it could be heard leaping and tumbling down the deep abyss on the other side. The horses were familiar with the road, and had confidence in the stout hand that guided them, or they would not have gone on at such a quiet, unconcerned, uniform gait, close beside abrupt gorges that would have destroyed us all as instantly as a stroke of lightning, were the wheels to diverge but a few inches from the track.
It was interesting to observe the species of trees which characterized the several elevations. At one thousand feet nut pines and oaks mingled gracefully together, but at another thousand gradually disappeared, giving place to the lofty yellow pines, added to which the sugar pine was found at three thousand feet, that in turn dying out at seven thousand feet. Next came the spruce, superbly developed, growing to a height of two hundred feet; then the white pine, the silver fir, and the arbor vitae, all thriving luxuriously after their kind. Birds almost entirely disappeared at these altitudes, preferring the more genial warmth and life of the plains; but now and then an eagle, with broad spread pinions, swooped gracefully from the top of some lonely pine, and sailed, without a flutter of his wings, far away across the depth of the valley, and was soon lost to sight by the winding of the gorge. Even the presence of this proud and peculiar bird but emphasized the loneliness of these silent heights.
After hours of upward struggle the crowning point was reached. The driver remarked, with a flourish of his whip: "It's all down hill from here;" soon after which we emerged from the forest road and came to the open plateau known to tourists as Inspiration Point. Here the first comprehensive view of the valley is obtained. We paused briefly to behold and to realize, as far as possible, such a scene as might never again be afforded us. Though we were now at an elevation of over seven thousand feet above the plains, the Yosemite Valley itself, from this point, was but about three thousand five hundred feet below us, into which we gazed with uninterrupted view. Running nearly due east and west, it looked small and circumscribed from this great height, but was really a gorge of about eight miles in length by two miles in width. On either side rose vertical cliffs of granite, varying from four to five thousand feet in height, the lofty gorges here and there discharging waterfalls of transparent beauty.
The precipitous mountains which wall in the valley are composed of seventeen distinctive formations, the loftiest of which is Mount Starr King, 5,600 feet in height; but the Three Brothers, with an average height of less than 4,000 feet, and Sentinel Dome, 4,500 feet, are quite as prominent, so far as the ordinary power of vision goes; while El Capitan, which is but 3,300 feet high, seems, from its special position, more striking and effective than the other three. From the gorges above and between the precipitous cliffs, eleven falls, of greater or less magnitude, come tumbling into the valley, the loftiest of which is Sentinel Fall, 3,000 feet high. To our taste, the fall known as the Bridal Veil was the finest of them all in effect, though but a little over 600 feet in height, or say four times as high as Niagara. The lofty Yosemite Fall, over 2,600 feet, can be seen from the piazza of the hotel to good effect, where one can sit and watch the current of air, which sweeps up the valley, play fantastic tricks with the broad glittering sheet of flying water. No pen can adequately describe this scene, and no American who can possibly do so should fail to visit the spot. The abundant moisture of the locality and the vertical rays of the sun carpet the valley with a bright and uniform verdure, through the midst of which winds the swift flowing Merced River, altogether forming a scene of most entrancing beauty.
It was not until so late as 1851 that the feet of a white man ever trod the valley, which for years had proven the secure hiding-place of marauding Indians. In their early battles with the savages, the whites were often nonplussed by the sudden disappearance of their foes, who left no trace behind them, on which occasions, as was afterwards discovered, they fled to the nearly inaccessible Yosemite Valley. Betrayed at last by a treacherous Indian, the tribe was here surprised and nearly all destroyed; the few remaining warriors were only too glad to make terms at any sacrifice. The name Yosemite, in the native tongue, signifies "Great Grizzly Bear." There are few residents in the valley, except those connected with the stages that run hither during the summer months, and with the hotel kept for the accommodation of visitors. The vegetation is remarkable for its profuseness and almost tropical luxuriance. A few domestic cattle find rich browsing and good winter quarters, but provisions must be laid in before the fall is over, the place being inaccessible in winter.
Our last view, on leaving the valley, was at the sheet of water already mentioned as the Bridal Veil, falling from such an immense height that it becomes in its course gauze-like, almost as thin as lace in appearance, notwithstanding its large body, which is evident enough when it reaches the rocky bed and joins the Merced, not far away. Around the base of the cliffs, promoted by the constant moisture, there was an abundant growth of vegetation and especially of ferns, of such size and variety as is seldom seen out of the tropics. An encampment of native Indians was located on the river's bank, under the shade of a grove of trees, adding to the picturesqueness of the scene during our visit. The fish and forest game close at hand afforded these aborigines ample food, besides which they had stored for winter use the acorn crop about them, which when ground makes good bread. They were sad looking creatures, far worse than the Spanish gypsies we afterwards saw in Andalusia. The Merced River, which winds through the valley, rises some twenty miles away towards the north, fed by the Yosemite Fall, a cataract unsurpassed in height by any other upon the globe. The vertical height of the fall is set down at 2,550 feet, though it is not composed of one perpendicular sheet of water. The reader will remember that the lands coming under the general term of the Yosemite Valley have been ceded by the National Government to the State of California, to be kept in its present wild and natural condition for all time. It must not be considered anticipatory, in the course of these notes, to say that in no other part of the world have we seen the natural beauty and grandeur of the Yosemite Valley surpassed.
When we commenced our return from the valley, early in the morning, heavy clouds hung over the mountain tops, but there was no other indication of bad weather; so we started off and struggled upwards with a stout team of six horses, the gentlemen walking to lighten the load and expedite the ascent. At the close of the first hour's progress a chilliness in the atmosphere called for extra clothing for those who remained in the coach, and presently a thin mist enshrouded us, cutting off all distant view. Up, up we plodded, steadily but slowly, until the mist turned to rain and then to hail, sharp and cutting. By the time we had reached Inspiration Point we were in the midst of a lively snow-storm. This was not only disagreeable, but dangerous, as it rendered the road slippery and obliterated the wheel tracks; unless these were carefully adhered to, we might at any moment be launched into the ever-threatening abyss. It was late in the season to attempt the passage, and our party was cautioned as to the risk which was connected with the expedition. The regular stages having been taken off for the season, ours was an extra, improvised for the occasion. Suddenly it began to grow lighter; the dark clouds, like the Arabs, folded their tents, and silently stole away. The sun, the warm, bright, morning sun, shone forth in marvelous splendor.
What a scene then burst upon our vision!
Pine, and fir, and tall spruce, every tree and shrub, in place of leaves, had assumed a dress of milk white feathers. How dazzling it was. The eye could hardly bear the strong reflected light. A forest of feathers! We had never seen this effect in such perfection before. And now the sun, kissing these feathery sprays with warmth and burning ardor, made them blush rosy red, like the cheeks of a young maiden pressed by amorous lips. The feathery robe of the branches was as frail as false modesty, and melted away like good resolutions under strong temptation, so that in half an hour the snow had entirely disappeared wherever the sun had discovered and visited it. The deep green of the uncovered foliage only sparkled with the dewy moisture that was left, as though dropping tears of shame at being thus denuded of their gauzy veil. Never shall we forget the varied and beautiful appearance of the foliage under these rapid changes. It was like a theatrical exhibition, where a nearly transparent scene dissolves before the eyes of the audience. The sky, before so dark and brooding, was now all smiles; the sun, after its dalliance with the foliage, seemed to have taken new life; and the atmosphere even became clear and transparent, as it had hardly been when we came up the other side of the mountain to enter the valley.
For a brief time the views were grand and far-reaching as we sped rapidly on our way, descending towards the plain. Undoubtedly it was safe enough, since accidents seldom happen; but it looked a little careless, to one not accustomed to the road, to come down its narrow winding course, just clearing such frightful chasms, drawn by a team of six horses at the full gallop. By degrees the weather changed again into a sombre mood; the clouds gathered in close array, and began to pelt us, first with hailstones, but, having apparently soon exhausted the supply, were content to soak us with a deluge of water. But we only laughed at this, for had we not accomplished the Yosemite in spite of prognostications to the contrary, and the assurance that it was too late in the season to attempt it? We were rejoiced now that we had not heeded the stories about people who had, in former seasons, been "snowed in" for weeks. It was nearly night when we reached Clark's, and we were in just the condition to appreciate the big fireplace of the sitting-room piled with unsawed cordwood, by which we dried our dripping clothes and rehearsed our experiences.
It not only rained that night, but it poured so that on the following morning, when we started for the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, twelve miles off our regular route, the query arose whether a boat or a wheeled vehicle was the best conveyance for the purpose. We will not attempt to give a detailed account of what has been so often and so well described. Suffice it to say we visited the locality famous for its forest monarchs, in a quiet glade, thousands of feet up the slopes of the Sierra, and viewed those marvels with none the less interest because we were already familiar with their actual measurement. Our entire team, stage, driver, passengers, and horses, passed through the upright hollow trunk of one of the mammoth trees, which, though sufficiently decayed to admit of this, was still possessed of such vitality as to cause it to bear leaves to the topmost branches, three hundred feet above the ground. Our attention was called to the curious fact, that although these are the largest known trees in the world, yet their cones are no bigger than walnuts, and their seeds hardly a quarter of an inch in length. There are trees lying upon the ground in the immediate neighborhood, thrown down by tempests, which are believed to have been growing on the spot long before Christ first came upon earth, and others which are satisfactorily proven to have had thirteen hundred years' growth, by their clearly defined annual rings. How immense must have been the power required to uproot the huge trunks that lie here and there, like prostrate giants fallen in a confused fight. There are others, white with age, and bearing no leaves, but which still firmly retain their upright position, with outstretched skeleton arms defying the tempest.
We embarked on board the steamship Belgic, of the Occidental and Oriental line, from San Francisco, October 10, in a heavy rain storm, amid the usual bustle and commotion attendant upon the departure of a large passenger ship for a long voyage. Everything looked very cold, very dreary, and very damp, causing our spirits to partake of the same nature, when we realized that for three weeks or more this was to be our floating home. With space so circumscribed, ventilation was inadequate, and the cook's galley pungent. Finally the United States mail was passed on deck, the last loiterer was on board, the gangway was hauled on to the wharf by the stevedores; the engine gave three distressing whistles, not clear and sharp, but asthmatic ones, as though not having clearly made up its mind to whistle at all; the pilot took his station on the bridge, and the screw began to revolve. The bow-line was let go, so that the ship might swing by her stern hawser well clear of the wharf, then the order to let go the stern line was shouted, and we had literally bidden good-by to America for many a long month.
Presently, when we passed through the narrow strait known as the Golden Gate, and laid our course westward, we began to realize that five thousand miles of ocean flowed between us and the shore towards which we were steering. One is apt to have some serious reflections on such an occasion. What lay before us in the many thousand miles of land and ocean travel? What perils and experiences were to be encountered? Who could say that we should all, or indeed any of us, live to return to our several homes? At San Francisco our company was augmented by the addition of an Englishman, Mr. D——, of London, a stranger to us, but who came thither to join the party, making our number six in all.
Hundreds of large white sea-gulls hovered over and about the ship, as we lay our course due west. The harbor of Sail Francisco swarms with these marine birds, and a score of them followed the ship after the pilot left us. As we were watching them, an officer of the Belgic remarked: "They will follow us across the Pacific;" and certainly that number of sea-gulls actually appeared to do so, though whether they were always the same birds, it would be impossible to say. The flight of a sea-gull at times exceeds twenty miles an hour, while the Belgic, at her maximum speed, scarcely exceeded half that; and thus these swift-winged creatures often flew far ahead of the ship, but soon settled back again to watch our wake, from whence they got their food supply.
There were twenty-five cabin passengers, and about three hundred Chinese in the steerage. The latter were returning home after some years of labor and saving in this country, for few if any of them emigrate except with a fixed purpose of returning to the Celestial Empire sooner or later. The purser of the ship informed us that there was not one of them who had not at least a thousand dollars in specie with him, and many had three times that amount, which would be sufficient to support them for life and without labor in their native land. The same authority assured us that it did not cost over ten cents a day each to feed these men, they being quite content with boiled rice, three times a day, seasoned with a little dried fish or curry. Their passage money costs them forty-five dollars each, including food, so there is a liberal margin for profit to the ship. A careful estimate was made which showed that these passengers were taking out of the country over half a million of dollars in specie, though they had landed on our shores without a dollar in their pockets, and the number returning by the Belgic was below the general average. This proved the complaint of the people of San Francisco to be correct so far as figures went, namely, that the Chinese came to take away what they earned, and that they do not spend any of their wages in this country, living on almost nothing and hoarding what they receive. Still, there is another side to this case. We must remember that they leave behind them the result of their labor at least, which in fact represents just so much capital. It is Chinese labor which has built the railroads of California, dug her canals, forwarded her public works, erected the houses of San Francisco, discharged and loaded her shipping, until she has grown up to her present high position in the political and commercial world.
Six of our cabin passengers were missionaries, four ladies and two gentlemen, bound to Japan and China; the rest were travelers intent upon business or pleasure. Of these some were seriously prostrated by seasickness, and especially the ladies; but this finally passed away, the greatest sufferers being exempt from it during the last half of the voyage. The inevitable monotony of our daily life was somewhat oppressive, there being few events to vary it. Occasionally a whale was sighted, throwing up a small column of water, as it rose at intervals to the surface, and thus marking its course, leading the passengers to some discussion as to the nature of this monster of the deep, whether it was properly a fish at all. A whale can be as surely drowned in the water as a man, but this cannot be said of a fish. A whale differs also in many other respects from the finny tribe proper. They bring forth living young, they breathe atmospheric air through their lungs, in place of water through the gills, having a double heart and warm blood, like land animals. Their blow-holes on the top of the head answer to the nostrils of terrestrial animals. Many of these simple facts were quite new to some of our intelligent companions.
Flying-fish were frequently seen, queer little creatures with the nature of a fish and the ambition of a bird. Dolphins sometimes played round the ship for hours together, and a few hideous man-eating sharks kept in our wake day after day, as if they hoped for a stray victim to tumble from the decks and appease their cannibal appetites. The sea-gulls, already mentioned, with tireless pinions followed the ship thousands of miles to pick up the refuse from the cook's galley,—the mystery being how they could sustain such continuous flight, for though they were seen to light upon the water it was but for a moment, and they did not fail to keep up with the Belgic in her steady headway. Save the objects named there was nothing to engage the eye except the endless expanse of waters, which seemed to typify infinite space. Our course did not lie in the track of commerce, nor did we sight ship or land from the hour we sank the shores of America until just three weeks later, when the picturesque coast-line of Japan appeared upon the horizon. It was a voyage of storms and calms combined, sometimes the ocean for days being like a small inland lake, and then again in its rage tossing our ship about as though she were a mere fishing skiff,—the waves often making a clean breach over the hull, thoroughly drenching everything and everybody who happened to be on deck.
Persons who have only witnessed a storm in narrow seas, or near the coast, would be surprised to realize the difference in the waves on the broad Pacific. The short, chopping sea is changed into long, heavy swells, covering the expanse of waters with vast parallels separated by deep valleys, the distance from crest to crest being from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet, when a heavy gale prevails. The height of the waves is measured from the trough to the crest, and is of course conjecture, but in a continuous storm which we realized on board the Belgic was certainly some thirty feet. One aspect was to us an unsolved problem: the storm being on our starboard quarter was so nearly aft as to give us some idea of the velocity of the waves, which was clearly much greater than that of the ship's progress, and yet they increased the speed of the Belgic scarcely at all. That is to say, these waves exercised little if any propelling force, but seemed to pass under our keel, causing the hull to pitch and roll so that it was quite impossible to stand without holding on to some substantial fixture. Old George Herbert, in his quaint way, advises people to praise the sea, but to keep on dry land.
Life on shipboard, as has been intimated, becomes a little trying after a week or ten days' experience. Tedium and monotony have a tendency to bring out the less amiable characteristics of passengers who are thus crowded together under peculiar circumstances. Even the most equable disposition is liable sometimes to exhibit weakness. Where there are many passengers thorough agreement becomes hardly possible. Hasty confidences and abrupt prejudices are both the outgrowth of such enforced association. Reading is a great and intelligent resort at sea, but do not let the student flatter himself that he will find time and opportunity for study. Sea-life is antagonistic to such an idea, and the best resolves in that direction will end in idleness and disappointment.
The crew, the waiters, and the cooks of the Belgic were all Chinamen, and it must be admitted that in each capacity the service rendered was excellent. It seems to be generally acknowledged that when a Chinaman knows what is required of him, he will faithfully perform the duty, and, entirely unlike most employees, does not need the watchful eye of a master constantly over him. The ship was well officered by Englishmen, was scrupulously neat and clean; there was no loud talk or reiterated orders in its management; the effective arm of discipline was felt but not seen. To observe the Chinese passengers was a source of some amusement. In fine weather they crowded the forward and lower deck aft, not being permitted to infringe upon the cabin-passengers' deck. They squatted in picturesque groups round the hatchways much of the time, playing cards and dominoes for very small stakes of money. John is by nature a gambler, and cannot resist its fascination. The dull noxious smell that permeated their quarters at all times, in spite of enforced ventilation and the well-observed rules of the ship, was often wafted unpleasantly towards our cabins and deck, telling a significant story of the opium-pipe, and a certain uncleanliness of person peculiar to Africans and Mongolians. When the sea became rough and the ship labored with the storm, a visible anxiety was depicted on the Mongol faces as they gathered in groups and gave up all attempts at amusement. On such occasions they prepared pieces of joss-paper, bearing some Chinese characters, and cast them overboard to appease the presumed anger of the special gods who control the sea.
As we were losing one hour in each fifteen degrees of our course, or, to state it perhaps more clearly, in each thousand miles of progress westward, when half round the world from Greenwich twelve hours would be lost. It is therefore customary to drop a day in mid-ocean, which we did on crossing the hundred and eightieth degree of longitude west and east of Greenwich. When the traveler shall have reached Greenwich again on this course, the remaining twelve hours will be exhausted, and his time will agree with that of the starting-point. During the voyage two of the Chinese passengers died, and were embalmed by the surgeon of the ship. It is a conviction of these people that their soul cannot rest in peace unless their ashes be buried in their native land. When a Chinaman dies in a foreign country, sooner or later his remains are carried home for interment. If only the bones are left, they are finally dug up and thus disposed of by surviving friends. This sort of cargo has formed no small source of profit to ships sailing west from San Francisco, bones and bodies being shipped like merchandise.
As we crept slowly at half speed into the harbor of Yokohama, among the merchant shipping, surrounded by a myriad of little shore-boats, steering in and out through the Russian, English, and Japanese men-of-war, the twilight was gradually approaching; and when we rounded to, three hundred yards from the shore, under the lee of the United States sloop-of-war Richmond and let go our anchor, she fired her evening gun. At the same moment her band, in recognition of the flag that floated from our topmast head, as we carried the American mail, poured forth the strains of the "Star-Spangled Banner" with a thrilling spirit which caused a quick and hearty cheer fore and aft the Belgic. Perhaps it is necessary for one to be thousands of miles from home, and to have just arrived in a foreign port from a long sea voyage, to fully appreciate this little incident.
Landing in Japan.—Characteristic Street Scenes.—Native Bazars.—Women of Yokohama.—Excursion into the Country.—Visit to Kamakura.—Peculiar Scenes on the Road.—A Wonderful Bronze Statue.—Popular Religions of the Country.—The Hakone Pass.—A Youthful Mother.—Native Jugglers.—Temple of Shiba.—Review of the Soldiery.—Ludicrous Sights.—A Native Fair at Tokio.—A Poor Japanese Woman's Prayer.
Passengers arriving at Yokohama are obliged to land in small boats, as there are no wharfs; and vessels, on account of shallow water, anchor half a mile off shore. A small steam-tug came for us, and we found very comfortable quarters at the Windsor Hotel, kept by an American,—a large, well-organized establishment. The housemaids were little Japanese men dressed in black tights, but very quick, intelligent, and desirous to please. The servants all spoke English; indeed it is the commercial language of the world, and there are few ports open to commerce where it does not form the basis of all business transactions. French is the polite or court language of many countries, and with these two tongues at command, one can get along easily in nearly any populous region of the globe.
When Commodore Perry, in 1854, cast anchor with his little fleet of American men-of-war in the harbor of Yokohama, it was scarcely more than a fishing village, but the population to-day must exceed a hundred and thirty thousand. The space formerly covered by rice fields and vegetable gardens is now laid out in well-built, wide thoroughfares, smoothly macadamized and faultlessly clean and neat. The town extends along the shore, which is level, but is backed by a half-moon of low, well-wooded hills, among which are the private dwellings of the foreign residents, built after the European style, on the location known as the Bluff. The two principal hotels, the club-houses, and some consular business residences, are located on the water-front, a wide thoroughfare known as the Bund. A deep, broad canal surrounds the city, passing by the large warehouses and connecting with the bay at each end, is crossed in its course by half a dozen handsome bridges.
Ascending the bluff one gets a fine and extended view, embracing the city on one side and Jeddo Bay on the other, with a foreground composed of the harbor of Yokohama, where more or less shipping, representing foreign nations, is always to be seen. In the distant west, over seventy miles away, the white, cloud-like cone of Fujiyama can be clearly discerned, while close at hand are the charming, villa-like residences of the European settlers. Towards Mississippi Bay, as it is called, numerous native gardens are to be seen, with cultivated fields of millet, cotton, rice, and buckwheat. On getting nearer to them, one discovers sweet potatoes, egg-plants, and a queer vegetable called the daicum, of which great use is made by the people. It resembles an elongated turnip, is about as large round as one's wrist, and milk white. On the path leading round the base of the bluff were many pretty wild-flowers, among which the blooming trefoil and the harebell were seen intermingled with a large and handsome species of daisy. The starwort, a great favorite with the Japanese, was met in abundance. It will be remembered that this flower forms part of the Mikado's arms. It was November, but the winter sleep of the flowers is brief here, and there are said to be no days in the year when a pretty bouquet may not be gathered in the open air. Ferns burst forth in abundance about the bluff, and so great is the variety, that of this special plant, one is constantly tempted to form a collection. Here and there among the undergrowth were patches of soft, pea-green moss, of a velvety texture, that no cunning of the loom can equal.
There is a smart, business-like aspect to everything in Yokohama; the impression upon the stranger is that he is in a wide-awake community. The first business of a traveler upon arriving in a new country is not to look up its history, nor to study its geography or political economy. He should be at least grounded in these already; he follows his natural instincts, guided by curiosity, shrewdly watching the out-door life about him, the dress of the people, the architecture of the houses, modes of conveyance, mechanical operations, the fruits, flowers, and shop-windows, and especially the manners of the women, their status as it regards treatment, occupation, and the respect accorded to them. Nothing is so sure a keynote or test of civilization and progress as this. We do not look to see women receive, even in Europe, much less in the East, such chivalric deference and respect as are shown to them in America, but the nearer any people imitate us in this respect, the more advanced will they be found in the other refined amenities of social life.
In this commercial capital of Japan everything struck us as curious, every fresh step afforded increased novelty, every new sight was a revelation, while all about us were tangible representations of the impossible pictures of the cheap fans, the lacquered ware of commerce, and the school books. The partial nudity of men, women, and children, the extremely simple architecture of the dwelling-houses, the vegetation, the extraordinary salutations between the common people who met each other upon the streets, the trading booths or bazars, and the queer, toy-like articles which filled them, children flying kites in the shape of hideous yellow monsters, each subject became a fresh study. Men propelling vehicles like horses between the shafts, and trotting off at a six-mile pony gait while drawing after them one or two persons with ease, was at first a singular aspect to a stranger. So were the naked coolies, by fours, bearing heavy loads of merchandise swung from their shoulders upon stout bamboo poles, while they shouted a measured chant by which to keep step. No beggars were seen on the public streets, the people without exception seeming neat and clean in their remarkably scanty covering.
The houses were special examples of neatness and of toy-like size, being seldom more than twenty feet square. All persons, foreigners or natives, took off their shoes before entering upon their delicately-lacquered or polished floors. This we not only did out of respect to the universal custom of the country, but because one did not feel like treading upon those floors with nailed heels or soiled leather soles. The conviction was forced upon us that such universal neatness and cleanliness must extend even to the moral character of the people. A spirit of gentleness, industry, and thrift was observable everywhere, imparting an Arcadian atmosphere. We saw at first no domestic animals except a tailless cat, with an attempt at that appendage, which was a decided and ignominious failure. These creatures were frequently tied to the house door like a dog, but for what purpose who can say? A cat confined after that fashion elsewhere would strangle itself directly. Later on we saw specimens of the curious lap-dogs of the country, so diminutive as to be quite remarkable, and which were highly prized, though one could see no beauty or attraction in their snub noses and big, bulging eyes. Great care is taken in the breeding of these oddities, which at their perfection are thoroughly useless. Some dwarfing process is employed, as they do not exceed ten inches in length when full grown.
Cows' milk is unknown among the natives, though the universal drink is tea without sugar, and by no means strong. The general food is rice and vegetables seasoned with dried fish, but no meats. Some domestic fowls were seen, not in abundance, and the eggs are used for domestic purposes. Doubtless the fowls are also eaten, but the average Japanese is satisfied with rice and vegetables, adding the inevitable cup of tea three or four times a day. Women carry their children lashed to their backs like American Indians, and thus encumbered perform field labor or domestic work, without seeming in the least to realize their double task. The elder children carry the younger ones in the same manner, going about their play with a load on their backs that would stagger a Yankee child. This we found to be a universal custom both in town and country, while the great multiplicity of young children was a constant subject of surprise. The married women shave off their eyebrows and blacken their teeth as evidences of wifehood, the effect being hideous, which indeed is the wife's professed object; and, like the ancient Grecian ladies, they count their age from the time of marriage, not from the time of birth. The ideas of strangers as to the proprieties are sometimes severely outraged; but habit and custom make law, and men and women bathe promiscuously in the public baths,—notwithstanding which there is a spirit of delicacy and good breeding among them, in itself a species of Christianity. Windows are glazed with rice paper in place of glass, and the light is really but little impeded, though one cannot see through the paper, all of which circumstances fix themselves on the memory.
The pictures and authorities relative to Japanese life which one has accepted as authentic have not quite prepared the traveler for the facts and experiences which crowd upon him, when among this very interesting race. The actual embodiment of the people, their manners and customs, together with the local surroundings, are all so different from the preconceived ideal, that everything comes with the force of a surprise. Figure, physiognomy, costume, nudity,—one is not quite prepared for anything; all is like a fresh revelation. Once brought face to face with Japanese life, our fabric of anticipation tumbles to pieces like a house of cards. Everything is unique. There is no criterion for comparison. Nothing but personal observation quite reconciles one with the manners and customs of a race, powerfully individualized by the isolation of centuries. The generally accepted idea that the Japanese resemble the Chinese in their lives and habits is entirely erroneous, the marked differences between them extend into all the relations of life. Especially is this the case as to courtesy and civility, qualities which cost nothing, but which buy everything.
A visit to the curiosity bazars, or curio-shops, as they are called, is one of the first excursions of the newly-arrived tourist. The Japanese have quickly discovered to what European and American tastes run, and they can manufacture antiquities as rapidly as purchasers can be found. In the line of antique bronzes they especially excel; and as to old china, from four to five centuries of age, it is now turned out by the wheelbarrow load daily at Yokohama, from half-a-dozen establishments. Of course there are some genuine pieces, though rare, and the prices charged for such are almost prohibitory. Well made, substantial lacquered ware takes the place of nearly all other for domestic utensils. China and glass are far too brittle and perishable for common use among the people. When strangers appear, the china is produced, and the universal tea served in it.
There are two streets in Yokohama known as Honcho-dori and Benten-dori, where the stranger will find an extensive collection of bricabrac, as well as other fine goods. It is amusing to examine the old spears, swords, daggers, bronzes, and astoundingly ugly carved idols. There are stores also devoted to lacquer, china, porcelain, and satsuma ware, not ancient, but choice, elegant and new patterns, far more desirable to our taste than the cracked and awkward specimens held at prices equal to their weight in gold. The former speak for themselves, the latter can be and are constantly imitated. The reason that so many swords and daggers are for sale, and at prices for which it would be impossible to manufacture them, is because the army has discarded the native weapons and adopted European arms. So the junk-dealers and curio-shops have the former supply of the army. The Japanese sword is remarkably well tempered, and will cut through a copper penny without turning its keen edge, this being the usual test of its quality. In these streets there are also some fine silk and lace stores, with many choice articles of ladies' wear, embracing very fine specimens of native silk industry. The Japanese trader has got the trick of asking twice as much as he is willing finally to take for his goods, but there are also some of these establishments where the one price system is honestly observed. As a rule, however, all through the cities, the price at first asked for an article need not be taken by the purchaser as any real criterion of its value. Strangers would do well to engage the services of a resident whom they can trust, when they go upon a shopping expedition; otherwise the result of their bargains will probably be anything but satisfactory, when the goods are received at home and prices considered. All buying and selling in the East seems to be a sort of warfare, where each party endeavors to take advantage of the other. In China it is much more so than in Japan. Main Street, as the name indicates, is the principal thoroughfare, quite Europeanized, mostly improved for stores and offices, and containing at the northwest end the town hall, telegraph and post offices.
A ride in a jinrikisha, a small man-propelled chaise, afforded us other agreeable surprises. The loveliness of the hills and valleys, so delicate and diminutive compared with our late Yosemite experience, seemed more like fairy land than reality, making one crave the pencil of an artist to depict them. In little plots adjoining the small, frail native houses, various cultivated flowers were observed, among which chrysanthemums and occasionally roses were to be seen; also a species of fuchsia, bearing a bell-like blue and scarlet flower. The foliage of the trees, and especially of the feathery bamboo groves, was very beautiful, while the specimens of the various pines, yews, and arbor vitae were many of them odd and new to us. The leaves and minor branches of the pines seemed to emulate the alphabetical characters of the Japanese language, growing up, down, and inward, after their own eccentric will. The tea fields, mostly located upon side hills with favorable exposures, were in full bloom, looking as though there had been a fall of snow, and the flakes still rested on the delicate tips and branches. Far away and all around were yellow rice fields, heavy with the milk-white grain, the broad acres undulating gracefully beneath the pressure of the passing breezes. The abundant wild flowers were vivid in color and fantastic in shape, nearly all unknown to us, save now and then an azalea, an iris, or some single-leaved representative of the rose family.
In the houses which we entered—all are open; there are no fastenings upon dwelling-houses in Japan—we found neither chairs nor tables, the people all sitting, eating, and sleeping upon the floors, which were as neat and clean as a newly-laid table-cloth. The humility and deference of all classes was quite disconcerting, for when we entered or departed from a house, the host, hostess, and children bowed their heads until their foreheads touched the floor. Japanese women, both in features and general appearance, are far from prepossessing, but we were told there were marked exceptions among the people of rank. The exclusiveness and debased condition of the sex produces a shyness and diffidence very prejudicial to their appreciation by strangers. The eyes of the women, though elongated, are not nearly so much so as those of the Chinese, the features being more open in expression, and devoid of a certain cunning almost always observable in the face of a Chinese woman.
Japanese women give the greatest attention to dressing their ebon-black hair. None are so poor or humble as to forget this inexpensive ornamentation. Nature has endowed them with a profusion of covering for the head, and they wear no other. It is not very fine, to be sure, but always black as ink, long and heavy, and when arranged in their peculiar style, with broad-spread puffs, like old-fashioned bow-knots, it forms a very striking exhibition of head-gear, shining with oil and sparkling with flashy hair-pins. When once disposed to the wearer's satisfaction, the hair is not disturbed for several days, and is almost the only evidence of personal vanity which they exhibit, as they wear no other ornaments in the form of jewelry. The pillow of which they make use at night, when sleeping, is calculated to preserve the well-greased and plastered tresses in good order, being nothing more nor less than a curved piece of wood upon which the neck rests rather than the head and frightfully suggestive of an execution block.
Here and there, upon the roadside, shrines and holy niches were often observed, approached generally by a flight of stone steps, on a hill-side, looking very old and moss-grown. Upon these were placed consecrated idols, or religious emblems of peculiar character, calculated in our uninitiated eyes to provoke mirth rather than reverence. The principal object was usually a sitting figure in stone, wood, or metal, gilded, and more remarkable for contortion of features, multiplicity of arms, and obesity of body, than for any other characteristic, visible or symbolical. Fertility of soil was manifest everywhere, each square foot of earth bearing its tribute of rice, millet, or vegetables, the rice crop predominating. The fertilizing process is strictly observed and appreciated here, being the enrichment of the soil almost universally applied in liquid form.
A trip to Kamakura, fifteen or eighteen miles from Yokohama, and near where is located the wonderful statue of Dai-Butsu, was one affording much satisfaction. We traveled by jinrikishas, the men drawing us thither, one passenger in each vehicle, in three hours and a half, and back again towards night in the same length of time. The road is mostly located along the sea-coast, or rather in sight of it, so that in many places the ocean comes in to give additional interest and beauty to the scenery of green valleys, well-wooded hills, and richly tilled land, Fujiyama, the one volcanic mountain of Japan, nearly always in sight. Rarely is such rich and varied vegetation to be seen, combined with beautiful outlines of hill-side and mountain top, here covered with an infinite variety of firs. The ancient town of Kamakura was once the political capital of the country, but is now composed of only a few straggling tea-houses or small inns, and half a dozen native dwellings. Here is the famous and deeply interesting Shinto temple of Hachiman, one of the deified heroes of Japan. Some of the trees which cluster about it are a thousand years old; while within the structure are historical emblems, rich, rare, and equally old, composed of warlike implements, sovereign's gifts, ecclesiastical relics, bronzes of priceless value, and the like. Time consecrates; and what is gray with age becomes religious, says Schiller. The temple is built upon a lofty plateau, reached by climbing many broad stone steps, slippery, moss-grown, and of centuries in age. Here was pointed out a fine, lofty specimen of the umbrella tree, of the pine family, with broad leaves of a deep green. The general form was conical, with branches and leaves so dense as to hide the stem.
Less than two miles from this temple is situated the great Buddha image, composed of gold, silver, and copper, forming a bronze figure of great size, nearly sixty feet in height, within which a hundred persons may stand together, the interior being fitted as a small chapel. A vast number of little scraps of paper, bearing Japanese characters, fluttered from the interior walls of the image, plastered there by pious pilgrims as prayers to the presiding deity. As the door was opened for us to enter and was closed again, these scraps rustled in the agitated atmosphere like an army of white bats, producing a puzzling effect until our eyes became accustomed to the dim light, and the cause was apparent.
This famous and sacred figure is certainly as remarkable as the Sphinx, which so gloomily presides over the sandy desert lying at the feet of the great Pyramids. As a work of art, perhaps its only merit consists in the calm dignity of expression and repose of features which are so colossal. It is many centuries old,—certainly six hundred years; and how such an enormous amount of bronze metal was ever cast, or how set up in such perfect shape when finished, no one can say. We are told that it was formerly covered by a temple, long since mouldered to dust; but it is certainly none the less effective and impressive, as it now sits surrounded by the natural scenery and the thick woods. Were not the groves God's first temples? Guide-books have not yet invaded the far East, or we should be told how many square inches of bronze is contained in the Dai-Butsu figure, and how many ounces it weighs; statistics concerning which we felt a most sublime indifference, while we gazed upon its combined and wonderful effect.
The glorious old temple of Hachiman, already spoken of, is a sort of Japanese Mecca for pilgrims from all parts of the country; though when we were there, wandering among its lofty and sacred groves, wending our way over its well-worn stone steps and causeways, by its lotus-ponds and heavy-eaved shrines, there were no other visitors. A strangely solemn silence impressed us, until our very voices seemed to be echoed back with a mysterious significance. The shaded and pleasant paths are kept in perfect order, swept clear of every falling leaf or broken twig, showing that care and a sense of responsibility is not wanting. Although these temples are built of wood, so carefully have they been kept, they appear as fresh and bright to-day as though a single decade only had passed since they were finished, instead of a thousand years. A large body of priests reside upon the spot, and are in constant attendance, supported by the offerings of the semi-annual pilgrims who come from the south in large bodies, as well as by the contributions of devout visitors from neighboring cities.
It is well to mention in this connection that the prevailing religions of Japan are Shinto and Buddhism, each, however, being sub-divided into many sects. The Shinto may be said to be indigenous to the country, and is also the official religion, being largely a form of hero worship; successful warriors are canonized as martyrs are in the Roman Catholic church. The Buddhist faith is borrowed from the Chinese, and was introduced about the sixth century. There may be any diversity of creeds among a people, extending even to idolatry. Creeds never came from heaven, but morality is the same in Christian or heathen lands, because it is of God. It is singular that two nations located so near to each other, both of Asiatic race, and with so many important features in common, should have for two thousand years maintained a policy of entire isolation towards each other, though they are now good friends as well as neighbors. This is more remarkable when we remember that a thousand years before the Japanese borrowed from China their written characters, religion, and philosophy. As to the language of Japan, it is composed, as popularly written, of the Chinese and Japanese combined,—the fifty Chinese characters being so intimately interwoven with the original Japanese as to form a medley of the two. Modern authors freely use both in the same sentences, and indeed the characters of both languages often appear in the same line.
It is rather deductions than detail which we propose to record in these pages, and though many excursions were made, a minute description of them would prove tedious. Places were pointed out to us here and there, where large and populous cities once stood in eligible spots, but where no ruins marked the place. A dead and buried city in Europe, or even in India, leaves rude but almost indestructible remains to mark where great communities once built temples and monuments, and lived and thrived, like those examples of mutability, Memphis, Paestum, Cumae, or Delhi, but not so in Japan. At first it seemed strange that a locality where half a million of people had made their homes within the period of a century should now present the aspect only of fertile fields of grain. But when it is remembered of what ephemeral material the natives build their dwellings, namely, of light, thin wood and paper, utter disappearance ceases to be a surprise. It is a curious fact that this people, contemporary with Greece and Rome at their zenith, who have only reared cities of wood and temples of lacquer, have outlived the classic nations whose half-ruined monuments are our choicest models. The Hellenic and Latin races have passed away, but Japan still remains without a dynastic change and with an inviolate country.
One of our excursions carried us to the Hakone Pass. Miyanoshita is a little hamlet, lost as it were among the hills, yet famous for its beautiful scenery and natural hot-baths, accessible only by a difficult mountain-pass which, having become belated, we ascended by torch-light. It proved to be quite a climb, especially under the adverse circumstances of a heavy rain, which impeded the narrow path with miniature torrents; but with the advent of a clear, bright morning which followed, we looked back upon the long, laborious, and even painful struggle up the steep and narrow defile, as a mere episode to heighten after enjoyment, and so it seems now in the memory. Happy the provision of nature which leads us to recall more vividly the sunshine than the shadows of our experience!
Miyanoshita is a very lovely spot, a picture of complete isolation and repose. Here a good hotel, almost American in its excellence and comfort, is to be found, replete with cleanliness, and surrounded by ornamental grounds after the Japanese style. There were rockeries, over which tumbled mountain rivulets; ponds with gigantic gold and silver fish, which seemed to be always hungry and inclined to breed a famine by eating any amount of bread; pretty miniature bridges spanned water-ways and formed foot-paths about the grounds. There were novel flowering plants, and some remarkable specimens of dwarf trees, over which the natives expend endless care and labor, together with examples of curious variegated leaves, one of which had zigzag golden stripes upon a dark green base. This hotel among the mountains was two stories high, an unusual thing for a Japanese house; but it had only rice-paper windows, and thin sliding panels in place of doors or partitions. If desired, a whole story could be thrown into one apartment, or subdivided at pleasure into cozy little sleeping-rooms. All material, all food, was brought hither up that pitiless path on the backs of mountaineers. People who do not feel able, or who are not inclined to go up the pass on foot, are carried up in kagos, as was the case with two of our little party. The kago is a sort of palanquin borne on the shoulders of four stout men, the path being impracticable even for mules; but were it less steep and wider, the Japanese have no mules.
When we came down that five-mile reach by daylight, we saw and realized all the beauties which had been hidden from us under the inky cloak of night during the toiling ascent. The scenery was lovely, sometimes grand, often fantastic; and for the first time we heard the clear ringing notes of the little Japanese nightingale. Watching the exquisitely feathered bamboos in green clusters, camellias on trees thirty feet high, the tall, slim, but graceful pines, the rocks fringed with lichens and mosses, mingled with the rarest of ferns, fresh and bright after the rain, kept the eye busy with delight. Now and then we gathered the delicate maiden-hair ferns for a backing, and made bouquets from the white, blue, and pink wild flowers that bloomed by the wayside. They were not fragrant, though among them were blue-eyed violets, but they were beautiful as they were frail. Deep gorges lined the way, here and there relieved by sunny slopes of soft, bright green; while the music of a tumbling cascade, hidden by the dense wood, occasionally fell upon the ear. The sweet morning air was both a physical and mental tonic. All was so enjoyable, so inspiring, that the ladies broke forth in carols like the very birds among the branches.
After reaching the foot of the mountain we found our jinrikisha men, each with his little chaise, ready to trot off for Yokohama, about thirty-five miles distant. Along the road, as we progressed, evidences met the eye of fine agricultural results; the fields and meadows were cultivated to the highest point, entirely by hand. No plows are used; every foot of the soil is spaded by men and women. We were told that it was rather late in the season for the cotton to remain unharvested, but the thrifty fields showed us an abundant crop of the yellow-white vegetable fleece, in little balls like Marshal Niel roses. The absence of domestic cattle was conspicuous. A few cows and sheep, browsing here and there, would have completed a delightful picture of rural life. Occasionally, when the men stopped at a wayside tea-house for a cup of their simple beverage, the only stimulant or refreshment they desired, we walked on in advance of them, observing the snowy head of Fujiyama, the pride of Japan, and which every native artist is sure to introduce into his pictures, no matter where located.
As we passed near a humble cottage, a youthful mother was observed at play with her little nude, brown baby. It lay upon its back on the green sward with wild flowers clutched in either tiny fist, itself only a blossom of humanity, crowing and laughing at its mother's pranks, as she kneeled over it. It was difficult to say which exhibited the more pleasure in the occupation. The Japanese become mothers frequently at fourteen, and here was one who was certainly no older, as brown and nearly as naked as her baby. We had surprised her at this maternal game, and she rose to her feet folding her hands before her, while looking half abashed at the passing strangers. It was a pretty tableau.
As we dashed over the smooth road at a lively pace the glowing sunset painted scarlet the white turbaned head of the distant mountain, while it bronzed and gilded the clouds in the west. Opal fires burned all over the sky, as the twilight threw its amber hues about us, and presently the men halted, each taking out a funny little painted paper lantern from under the seat, and lighted a candle inside of it, which they hung on the end of the shafts. We went on then along the narrow way in a procession of six jinrikishas, the men on the full jump; for the approaching lights of the city inspired them to extra exertion, and they shouted cries of encouragement and emulation to each other, and pressed forward with increased speed. Altogether it was a very characteristic scene, as we rolled into Yokohama at a mad gallop that night, returning from the Hakone Pass.
As a rule, one has little patience with the foreign jugglers who annoy and importune travelers to witness performances of snake-charming, sleight of hand, and deceptive tricks generally, to the sound of a fife and drum, but we witnessed one exhibition at Yokohama in the open air, which was remarkable, not for any mystery about it, but as showing to what degree of adroitness and skill the human hands may be trained by patient practice. The performer was a middle-aged man who had just closed a series of the stereotyped tricks before the British Consulate. It was a new exhibition to us, though one that is well known, and which we saw indifferently imitated afterwards in China. As has been said it was out-of-doors, but the air was perfectly still. The performer took a sheet of thin white paper, and tearing it so as to obtain two small square bits, each an inch and a half in size, he rapidly twisted them so as to rudely represent butterflies, and tossed them into the air. Instantly drawing a fan from his girdle and spreading it, he kept them suspended by its action in so remarkable a manner that it seemed as though they must possess individual vitality. They were not permitted to separate any great distance from each other, but the delicate force of the fan was so scientifically applied as to guide them sometimes from, and sometimes towards each other, now fluttering aloft as though pursuing some object, then turning together as in a loving embrace, and again separating, so that it was a marvel how the same hand could impart the dual motion. Presently they were made to light upon an object close at hand, the arm of one of the group of spectators, then dexterously to rise again. But, most difficult of all, they would rest for an instant on the tip of the fan itself, until promptly aided by the performer's breath, the bits of paper were again launched into the air to go on with their gyrations. The adroit performer never for one moment took his eyes off the artificial insects: it would have broken the charm at once. In using the fan, the juggler seemed scarcely to exert the muscles of the arm at all. The effort came from the wrist, as an adroit swordsman handles his weapon. Years of patient practice must have been required to enable that man to impart vitality to bits of paper in such an extraordinary manner.