[Note: The Table of Contents and the list of illustrations were added by the transcriber.]
LIPPINCOTT'S MAGAZINE OF POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE
Vol. XVII, No. 99.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE CENTURY—ITS FRUITS AND ITS FESTIVAL.
SKETCHES OF INDIA. III.
LIFE-SAVING STATIONS by REBECCA HARDING DAVIS.
THE EUTAW FLAG. II. III.
CONVENT LIFE AND WORK by LADY BLANCHE MURPHY.
THE ATONEMENT OF LEAM DUNDAS. BY MRS. E. LYNN LINTON, AUTHOR OF "PATRICIA KEMBALL."
CHAPTER XXV. SMALL CAUSES.
CHAPTER XXVI. THE GREEN YULE.
CHAPTER XXVII. IN THE BALANCE.
CHAPTER XXVIII. ONLY A DREAM.
LOVE'S SEPULCHRE by KATE HILLARD.
LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA by LADY BARKER.
A SYLVAN SEARCH by MARY B. DODGE.
THE SONGS OF MIRZA-SCHAFFY by AUBER FORESTIER.
TO CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN by SIDNEY LANIER.
CHARLES KINGSLEY: A REMINISCENCE by ELLIS YARNALL.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
A WOMAN'S OPINION OF PARIS AND THE PARISIANS by L.H.H.
THE COLLEGIO ROMANO by T.A.T.
TRADES UNIONISM IN ITS INFANCY.
MORAL TRAINING IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
THE EARLIEST PRINTED BOOKS by M.H.
FLOWERS VS. FLIES.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
THE GREAT ANNUAL FAIR AT NIZHNEE-NOVGOROD.
CRYSTAL PALACE—LONDON EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1851.
INTERIOR VIEW OF THE TRANSEPT OF CRYSTAL PALACE.
NEW YORK EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1853.
CORK EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1853.
DUBLIN EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1853.
MUNICH EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1854.
MANCHESTER EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1857.
FLORENCE EXHIBITION BUILDING, 1861
PARIS EXPOSITION BUILDING AND GROUNDS, 1867.
GRAND VESTIBULE OF THE PARIS EXPOSITION BUILDING, 1867.
VIENNA EXPOSITION BUILDING AND GROUNDS, 1873.
ROTUNDA OF THE VIENNA EXPOSITION BUILDING, 1873.
MUSSULMAN WOMAN OF BHOPAL.
A NAUTCH-GIRL (OR BAYADERE) OF ULWUR.
A NAUTCHNI (OR BAYADERE) OF BARODA.
THE CATHACKS (OR DANCING MEN) OF BHOPAL.
BURIAL PLACE OF THE RAJAHS OF JHANSI.
TOMB OF ALLUM SAYED.
PEASANTS OF THE DOUAB.
HINDU BANKERS OF DELHI.
THE GRAND HALL OF THE DEWANI KHAS IN THE PALACE OF DELHI.
THE JAMMAH MASJID AT DELHI.
POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
Vol. XVII, No. 99.
THE CENTURY—ITS FRUITS AND ITS FESTIVAL.
We have presented a feeble sketch of a century that stands out from its fellows, not as a mere continuation, or even intensification, of them—a hundred annual circuits of the earth in its orbit as little distinguished by intellectual or material achievement as those repetitions of the old beaten track through space are by astronomical incident—but as an epoch sui generis, a century d'elite, picked out from the long ranks of time for special service, charged by Fate with an extraordinary duty, and decorated for its successful performance. Those of its historic comrades even partially so honored are few indeed. They will not make a platoon—scarce a corporal's guard. We should seek them, for instance, in the Periclean age, when eternal beauty, and something very like eternal truth, gained a habitation upon earth through the chisel and the pen; in the first years of the Roman empire, when the whole temperate zone west of China found itself politically and socially a unit, at rest but for the labors of peace; and in the sixteenth century, when the area fit for the support of man was suddenly doubled, when the nominal value of his possessions was additionally doubled by the mines of Mexico and Peru, and when his mental implements were in a far greater proportion multiplied by the press.
The last of these periods comes nearest to our standard. The first had undying brilliance in certain fields, but the scope of its influence was geographically narrow, and its excessively active thought was not what we are wont to consider practically productive, its conquests in the domain of physical science being but slender. The second was in no sense originative, mankind being occupied, quietly and industriously, in making themselves comfortable in the pleasant hush after the secular rattle of spear and shield. The third was certainly full of results in art, science and the diffusion of intelligence through the upper and middle strata of society. It might well have celebrated the first centennial of the discovery of printing or of the discovery of America by assembling the fresh triumphs of European art, so wonderful to us in their decay, with the still more novel productions of Portuguese India and Spanish America. But the length of sea—voyages prosecuted in small vessels with imperfect knowledge of winds and currents, and the difficulties of land-transportation when roads were almost unknown, would have restricted the display to meagre proportions, particularly had Vienna been the site selected. Few visitors could have attended from distant countries, and the masses of the vicinage could only have stared. The idea, indeed, of getting up an exhibition to be chiefly supported by the intelligent curiosity of the bulk of the people would not have been apt to occur to any one. The political and educational condition of these was at the end of the century much what it had been at the beginning. Labor and the laborer had gained little.
The weapon-show, depicted in Old Mortality, and the market-fair, as vivid in the Vicar of Wakefield, exemplify the expositions of those days. To them were added a variety of church festivals, or "functions," still a great feature of the life of Catholic countries. Trade and frolic divided these among themselves in infinite gradation of respective share, now the ell-wand, and now the quarter-staff or the fiddler's bow, representing the sceptre of the Lord of Misrule. "At Christe's Kirk on the Grene that day" the Donnybrook element would appear to have predominated. The mercantile feature was naturally preferred by gentle Goldy, and the hapless investor in green spectacles may be counted the first dissatisfied exhibitor on record at a modern exposition, for he skirts the century.
Looking eastward, we find these rallies of the people, the time-honored stalking-grounds of tale-writers and students of character generally, swell into more imposing proportions. The sea dwindles and the land broadens. Transportation and travel become difficult and hazardous. Merchant and customer, running alike a labyrinthine gauntlet of taxes, tolls and arbitrary exactions by the wolves of schloss and chateau, found it safest to make fewer trips and concentrate their transactions. The great nations, with many secondary trade-tournaments, as they may be termed, had each a principal one. From the great fair of Leipsic, with the intellectual but very bulky commodity of books for its specialty to-day, we pass to the two Novgorods—one of them no more than a tradition, having been annihilated by Peter the Great when, with the instinct of great rulers for deep water, he located the new capital of his vast interior empire on the only available harbor it possessed. Its successor, known from its numerous namesakes by the designation of "New," draws convoys of merchandise from a vast tributary belt bounded by the Arctic and North Pacific oceans and the deserts of Khiva. This traffic exceeds a hundred millions of dollars annually. The medley of tongues and products due to the united contributions of Northern Siberia, China and Turkestan is hardly to be paralleled elsewhere on the globe. Was, insists the all-conquering railway as it moves inexorably eastward, and relegates the New Novgorod, with its modern fairs, to the stranded condition of the old one, with its traditional expositions. As, however, the rail must have a terminus somewhere, if only temporary, the caravans of camels, oxen, horses, boats and sledges will converge to a movable entrepot that will assume more and more an inter-Asiatic instead of an inter-national character. The furs, fossil ivory, sheepskins and brick tea brought by them after voyages often reaching a year and eighteen months, come, strictly enough, under the head of raw products. Still, it is the best they can bring; which cannot be said of what Europe offers in exchange—articles mostly of the class and quality succinctly described as "Brummagem." It is obvious that prizes, diplomas, medals, commissioners and juries would be thrown away here. The palace of glass and iron can only loom in the distant future, like the cloud-castle in Cole's Voyage of Life. It may possibly be essayed in a generation or two, when Ekaterinenborg, built up into a great city by the copper, iron, gold, and, above all, the lately-opened coal-mines of the Ural, shall have become the focus of the Yenisei, Amour, Yang-tse and Indus system of railways. But here, again, we are overstepping our century.
To us it seems odd that in the days when an autocratic decree could summarily call up "all the world" to be taxed, and when, in prompt obedience to it, the people of all the regions gathered to a thousand cities, the idea of numbering and comparing, side by side, goods, handicrafts, arts, skill, faculties and energies, as well as heads, never occurred to rulers or their counselors. If it did, it was never put in practice. The difficulties to which we have before adverted stood in the way of that combination of individual effort to which the great displays of our day are mainly indebted for their success; but what the government might have accomplished toward overcoming distance and defective means of transport is evidenced by the mighty current of objects of art, luxury and curiosity which flowed toward the metropolis. Obelisks, colossal statues, and elephants and giraffes by the score are articles of traffic not particularly easy to handle even now.
At the annual exposition of the Olympic games we have the feature of a distribution of prizes. They were conferred, however, only on horses, poets and athletes—a conjunction certainly in advance of the asses and savants that constituted the especial care of the French army in Egypt, but not up to the modern idea of the comprehensiveness of human effort. While our artists confess it almost a vain hope to rival the cameo brooch that fastened the scanty garment of the Argive charioteer, or the statue spattered with the foam of his horses and shrouded in the dust of his furious wheel—while they are content to be teachable, moreover, by the exquisite embroidery and lacework in gold and cotton thread displayed at another semi-religious and similarly ancient reunion at Benares,—they claim the alliance and support of many classes of craftsmen unrepresented on the Ganges or Ilissus. These were, in the old days, ranked with slaves, many of whom were merchants and tradesmen; and they labor yet in some countries under the social ban of courts, no British merchant or cotton-lord, though the master of millions, being presentable at Buckingham Palace, itself the product of the counting-room and the loom. Little, however, does this slight appear to affect the sensibilities of the noble army of producers, who loyally rejoice to elevate their constitutional sovereign on their implements as the Frankish proletaries did upon their shields.
The family of expositions with which we are directly concerned is, like others of plebeian origin, at some loss as to the roots of its ancestral tree. We may venture to locate them in the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1756-57 the London Society of Arts offered prizes for specimens of decorative manufactures, such as tapestry, carpets and porcelain. This was part of the same movement with that which brought into being the Royal Academy, with infinitely less success in the promotion of high art than has attended the development of taste, ingenuity and economy in the wider if less pretentious field.
France's first exhibition of industry took place in 1798. It was followed by others under the Consulate and Empire in 1801, 1802, 1806. In 1819 the French expositions became regular. Each year attested an advance, and drew more and more the attention of adjacent countries. The international idea had not yet suggested itself. The tendency was rather to the less than the more comprehensive, geographically speaking. Cities took the cue from the central power, and got up each its own show, of course inviting outside competition. The nearest resemblance to the grand displays of the past quarter of a century was perhaps that of Birmingham in 1849, which had yet no government recognition; but the French exposition of five years earlier had a leading influence in bringing on the London Fair of 1851, which had its inception as early as 1848—one year before the Birmingham display.
The getting up of a World's Fair was an afterthought; the original design having been simply an illustration of British industrial advancement, in friendly rivalry with that which was becoming, across the Channel, too brilliant to be ignored. The government's contribution, in the first instance, was meagre enough—merely the use of a site. Rough discipline in youth is England's system with all her bantlings. She is but a frosty parent if at bottom kindly, and, when she has a shadow of justification, proud. In the present instance she stands excused by the sore shock caused her conservatism by the conceit of a building of glass and iron four times as long as St. Paul's, high enough to accommodate comfortably one of her ancestral elms, and capacious enough to sustain a general invitation to all mankind to exhibit and admire.
Novelty and innovation attended the first step of the great movement. The design of the structure made architects rub their eyes, and yet its origin was humble and practical enough. The Adam of crystal palaces, like him of Eden, was a gardener. When Joseph Paxton raised the palm-house at Chatsworth he little suspected that he was building for the world—that, to borrow a simile from his own vocation, he was setting a bulb which would expand into a shape of as wide note as the domes of Florence and St. Sophia. And the cost of his new production was so absurdly low—eighty thousand pounds by the contract. The cheapness of his plan was its great merit in the eyes of the committee, and that which chiefly determined its selection over two hundred and forty-four competitors. This new cathedral for the apotheosis of industry resembled those of the old worship in the attributes of nave, aisles and transepts; and these features have been, by reason in great degree of the requirements of construction, continued in its successors. Galleries were added to the original design to secure space additional to what was naturally deemed at first an ample allowance for all comers. Before ground had been well broken the demands of British exhibitors alone ran up to four hundred and seventeen thousand superficial feet instead of the two hundred and ten thousand—half the whole area—allotted them. The United States were offered forty thousand feet; France, fifty thousand, afterward increased to sixty-five; the Zollverein, thirty thousand, and India the same. A comparison of the whole number of exhibitors, as distributed between Great Britain and other countries, indicates that the equal division of the superficial space was a tolerably accurate guess. They numbered 7381 from the mother-country and her colonies, and 6556 from the rest of the world. Certainly, a change this from the first French exhibition, held in the dark days of the Directory, when the list reached but 110 names. We shall dismiss the statistics of this exhibition with the remark that it has precedence of its fellows in financial success as well as in time, having cleared a hundred and seventy-odd thousand pounds, and left the Kensington Museum as a memorial of that creditable feat, besides sending its cast-off but still serviceable induviae to Sydenham, where it enshrines another museum, chiefly of architectural reproductions in plaster, in a sempiternal coruscation of fountains, fireworks and fiddle-bows. The palace of industry has become the palace of the industrial—abundantly useful still if it lure him from the palace of gin. The chrism of Thackeray's inaugural ode will not have been dishonored.
The first of the great fairs, in so many respects a model to all that came after, was beset at the outset by the same difficulty in arrangement encountered by them. How to reconcile the two headings of subjects and nations, groups of objects and groups of exhibitors, the endowments and progress of different races and the advance of mankind generally in the various fields of effort, was, and is, a problem only approximately to be solved. It was yet more complicated in 1851 from the compression of the entire display into one building of simple and symmetrical form, instead of dispersing certain classes of objects, bulky and requiring special appliances for their proper display, into subsidiary structures—the plan so effectively employed in Fairmount Park. A sort of compromise was arrived at which rendered possible the mapping of both countries and subjects, especially in the reports, and to some extent in the exhibition itself, without making the spectacle one of confusion. The visitor was enabled to accomplish his double voyage through the depths of the sea of glass without a great deal of backing and filling, and to find his log, after it was over, reasonably coherent.
The articles displayed were ranged under thirty heads. The preponderance of matter of fact was shown in the concession of four of these to raw material, nineteen to manufactures, and one to the fine arts. Twenty-nine atoms of earth to one of heaven! Of course the one-thirtieth whereinto the multiform and elastic shape of genius was invited, like the afreet into his chest, to condense itself, had to be subdivided—an intaglio and a temple, a scarabaeus and a French battle-picture, being very different things. This was accomplished, and the Muses made as comfortable as could be expected. They soon asserted the pre-eminence theirs by right divine, and came to be the leading attraction of the affair, next to the Koh-i-noor. On this barbaric contribution of the gorgeous East the French observers, a little jealous perhaps, were severe. One of them says: "They rely on the sun to make it sparkle," and, when the fog is too thick, on gas. The curiosity about it, in the eyes of this incisive Gaul, was "not the divinity, but the worshipers." All day long a crowd filed solemnly by it under the supervision of a detachment of police, each pilgrim bestowing upon the fetish, "an egg-shaped lump of glass," half a second's adoration, and then moving reluctantly on. Thousands of far more beautiful things were around it, but none embodying in so small a space so many dollars and cents, and none therefore so brilliant in the light of the nineteenth century. As this light, nevertheless, is that in which we live, move and have our being, we must accept it, and turn to substantials, wrought and unwrought.
On our way to this feast of solids we must step for a moment into St. Paul's and listen to the great commemorative concert of sixty-five hundred voices that swept all cavilers, foreign and domestic, off their feet, brought tears to the most sternly critical eye, and caused the composer, Cramer, to exclaim, as he looked up into the great dome, filled with the volume of harmony, "Cosa stupenda! stupenda! La gloria d'Inghilterra!"
A transition, indeed, from this to coal and iron—from a concord of sweet sounds to the rumble into hold, car and cart of thirty-five millions of tons of coal and two and a half millions of iron, the yearly product at that time of England! She has since doubled that of iron, and nearly trebled her extract of coal, whatever her progress in the harvest of good music and good pictures. Forced by economical necessity and assisted by chemistry, she makes her fuel, too, go a great deal farther than it did in 1851, when the estimate was that eighty-one per cent. of that consumed in iron-smelting was lost, and when the "duty" of a bushel of coal burnt in a steam-engine was less than half what it now is. The United States have the benefit of these improvements, at the same time that their yield of coal has swelled from four millions of tons at that time to more than fifty now, and of iron in a large though not equal ratio. The Lake Superior region, which rested its claims on a sample of its then annual product of one hundred tons of copper, now exports seven hundred thousand tons of iron ore.
Steel, now replacing iron in some of its heaviest uses, appeared as almost an article of luxury in the shape of knives, scissors and the like. The success of the Hindus in its production was quite envied and admired, though they had probably advanced little since Porus deemed thirty pounds a present fit for Alexander; their rude appliances beating Sheffield an hour and a half in the four hours demanded by the most adroit forgers of the city of whittles for its elimination from the warm bath of iron and carbon. Bessemer, with his steel-mines, as his furnaces at the ore-bank may be termed, was then in the future. The steel rails over which we now do most of our traveling were undreamed of. Bar iron did duty on all the eighty-eight hundred miles of American and sixty-five hundred of British railway; not many, if at all, more than are now laid, in this country at least, with steel. This poetic and historic metal has become as truly a raw product as potatoes. The poets will have to drop it. The glory of Toledo—of her swords bent double in the scabbard, of her rapiers that bore into one's interior only the titillating sensation of a spoonful of vanilla ice, and of her decapitating sabres that left the culprit whole so long as he forbore to sneeze—is trodden under foot of men.
In crude materials the Union is at home. It was so in 1851, and is still; but then it was not so much at home in anything else as now. We have advanced in that field too, since we sent no silver, and from Colorado no gold, no canned fruits, meats or fish, and no wine but some Cincinnati Catawba, thin and acid, according to the verdict of the imbibing jury. We adventured timidly into manufacturing competition with the McCormick reaper, which all Europe proceeded straightway to pirate; ten or twelve samples of cotton and three of woolen goods; Ericsson's caloric-engine; a hydrostatic pump; some nautical instruments; Cornelius's chandeliers for burning lard oil—now the light of other days, thanks to our new riches in kerosene; buggies of a tenuity so marvelous in Old-World eyes that their half-inch tires were likened to the miller of Ferrette's legs, so thin that Talleyrand pronounced his standing an act of the most desperate bravery; soap enough to answer Coleridge's cry for a detergent for the lower Rhine; and one bridge model, forerunner of the superb iron erections that have since leaped over rivers and ravines in hundreds.
Meagre enough was the display of our craftsmen by the side of that made by their brethren of the other side. It could have been scarce visible to Britannia, looking down from a pinnacle of calico ready for a year's export over and above her home consumption, long enough, if unrolled, to put a girdle thirty times round the globe, though not all of it warranted to stand the washing-test that would be imposed by the briny part of the circuit.
And yet there were visible in the American department germs of original inventions and adaptations, the development and fructification of which in the near future were foreseen by acute observers. Our metallic life-boats were then unknown to other countries, those of England being all of wood. The screw-propeller was quite a new thing, though the Princeton had carried it, or been carried by it, into the Mediterranean ten years before. Engines designed for its propulsion attracted special attention. The side-wheel reigned supreme among British war-steamers, although some of the altered liners which cut such an imposing figure till the Sebastopol forts in '55 checked, and iron-clads in '62 finished, their career, were under way. A model of one of them, The Queen, was exhibited as the highest exemplification of "the progress of art as applied to shipbuilding during the last eighteen centuries"—a progress entirely eclipsed by that of the subsequent eighteen years.
We sent no steam fire-engines, no locomotives, and no cars. Our great printing-presses, since largely borrowed from and imported by Europe, were scarcely noticed. Not so with "a most beautiful little machine" for making card wire-cloth, copied from America. Recognition of the supreme merits of the pianos of Chickering, Steinway and the rest was still wanting, Erard's Parisian instruments bearing the bell. Borden's meat-biscuit—to revert to the practical—caused quite a sensation, the Admiralty being overloaded with spoiled and condemned preserved meat. The American daguerreotypes on exhibition were pronounced decidedly superior to those of France, and still more to those of England. Whipple displayed the first photograph taken of the moon, thus securing to this country the credit of having broken ground for the application of the new art to astronomy. No photograph of a star or of the sun had been obtained. The distance between the United States and Europe in the application and improvement of photography cannot be said, notwithstanding our advantage in climate, to have been since widened. A field of competition still lies open before them in the fixing of color by the camera and the sensitive surface. The sun still insists on doing his work with India ink and keeping his spectral palette strictly to himself. For cheap and popular renderings of color man was then, as now, fain to have recourse to the press. The English exhibited some chromatic printing, far inferior to the chromo-lithographs of today.
And this brings us to art. One out of thirty in the programme, it was, as it always will be on these occasions, nearer thirty to one in the estimation of assembled sight-seers. The dry goods and machinery, even the bald, shadeless and ugly (however comfortable) model cottages of the inevitable Prince Albert, failed to draw like the things which flattered the lust of the eye; as the pigs and pumpkins of an "agricultural horse-trot" attract but a wayside glance from the procession to the grand stand. We are all dwellers in a vast picture-gallery, with frescoed dome above and polychromed sculpture and mosaic pavement on the floor below. Its merits we perceive, enjoy and interpret according to our individual gifts and education. But it makes amateurs in some sort of every mother's son or daughter, of us; and we hasten to plunge, confident each in his particular grammar of the beautiful, into the study of what imitative gallery may be offered us. Though the financial idea may have been uppermost in the minds of the devotees of the Mountain of Light, and their pleasure in the march past that of a stroll through the vaults of the Bank of England, they also expected to see in it the combined brilliance of all diamonds. Not finding that, we dare say few of them paid it a second visit, but, led by a like craving for dazzle, sought more legitimate intoxication in marble, canvas, porcelain and chased and cast metals.
There they saw the diamond put into harness by the Hindus and used for drilling gems as it is now for drilling railway tunnels. In the carpets and shawls of the same region was to be traced an exact and unfaltering instinct for color, the tints falling into their proper places like those of the rainbow—the result not a picture, any more than the rainbow is a picture, but a blotted study rubbed up with the palette-knife, or what in music would be a fantasia.
From the Asiatic display, more complete by far than any before known, the eye passed to the works of the more disciplined hand and fancy and the more scholastic color-notions of Europe. There was young Munich with Mueller's lions and the anti-realistic figures of Schwanthaler; Austria with Monti's veiled heads, henceforth to be credited to Lombardy; Prussia with Rauch; and Denmark with Thorwaldsen—all pure form, copied without color from Nature, from convention and from the antique. Then came design and color united in ceramics—in the marvelously delicate flowers of Dresden, purified in the porcelain-furnace as by fire; in the stately vases of Sevres, just but varied in proportion, unfathomable in the rich depths of their ground-shadows, and exact and brilliant in the superimposed details; the more raw but promising efforts of Berlin, marked, like the jewelry from the same city, by faithful study of Nature; and, blending the decorative with the economic, the works of the English Wedgwoods and Mintons, infinite in variety of style and utility, and often pleasing in design. Italy, though supplying from her ancient stores so many of the models and so much of the inspiration of the countries named, seems to have forgotten Faenza and Etruria, and to prefer solid stone as a material to preparations of clay and flint. Her Venetian glass has markedly declined, at the same time that glass elsewhere—notably, the stained windows of Munich and the smaller objects of France and Bohemia—shows a great advance in perfection of manufacture and manageability for art purposes.
In that debatable land where the artistic and the convenient meet at the fire-side and the tea-table, English invention, enterprise and solicitude for the comfort and presentability of home shone conspicuous. Domestic art finds in the island a congenial home, and helps to make one for the islanders. English interiors, often incongruous and sombre in their decorations, at least produce the always pleasant sensation of physical comfort, the attainment of which the average Briton will class among the fine arts. Lovely as the Graces are, they need a little editing to harmonize them with a coal fire.
This halfway house of the nineteenth century, the house of glass in which it boldly ensconced itself to throw stones at its benighted relations, will ever be a landmark to the traveler over the somewhat arid expanse of industrial and commercial history. Its humblest statistics will be preserved, and coming generations will read with interest that 42,809 persons visited it, on an average, each day, that these rose on one day to 109,915, and that there were at one time in the building 93,224, or six thousand more than Domitian's most tempting and sanguinary bill of theatrical fare could have drawn into the Coliseum. Its length, by the way, was exactly equal to the circumference of the Flavian amphitheatre—1848 feet.
A new home (of progress)! who'll follow? "I," quoth New York. The British empire had taken three years in preparation: New York was ready with less than two. Not quite ready, either, we are apt to say now, but most creditably so for the time and the means of a few enterprising private men bestowed upon it. And up to this time the display of '53 under the Karnak-like shadow of the Croton Reservoir has not been equaled on our soil.
Architecturally, the building was superior to that of London, and showed itself less cramped by the peculiarities of the novel material. The form was that of a Greek cross, with a central dome a hundred and forty-eight feet high, and eight towers at the salients of seventy feet. The space, including galleries, did not reach a third of that afforded by its prototype, but proved equal to the demand.
Considering the absence of any formal public character in the movement and the brief notice, foreign exhibitors came forward in tolerable force. They could not expect to address through this display each other's commercial constituencies, as very few visitors would traverse the Atlantic: they could reach only the people of the United States. This difficulty must interfere—though much less now than twenty years ago, when the means of ocean-travel were but a fraction of what they are at present—with the strictly international complexion of any exposition in this country. If, however—as we are already assured beyond peradventure will be the case with the Centennial—our neighbors over the way send us a full representation of their products, and a delegation of visitors from their most intelligent classes, not inferior in numbers, for example, to the Germans who went to London, and the English who repaired in '73 to Vienna, we shall claim a cosmopolitan character for our exposition, and hold that it well fills its place in the line of progress.
What Europe did send to New York sufficed to prove the superiority of our own artisans in such labor-saving contrivances as suited the conditions of the country. The foreign implements and machines were more cumbrous in both complexity and weight of parts than ours. In the finer departments of manufacture, the Gobelin tapestry, the French glass, porcelain and silks, the broadcloths of England and Prussia, and a host of other such articles, could expect no rivalry here. The slender contributions of statuary and paintings hardly sufficed to illustrate the conceded superiority of the Old World in art. Crawford and Powers did very well by the side of the other, disciples of the antique, their chief opposition coming from some indifferent plaster-casts of Thorwaldsen's Twelve Apostles. In point of popularity, Kiss's spirited melodramatic group of the Amazon and Tiger threw them all into the shade. Its triumph at London was almost as marked, and the innumerable reductions of it met with everywhere show it to be one of the few hits of modern sculpture.
The general result of the exhibition was to encourage our manufacturers, without giving them a great deal of food for higher ambition; while our artists and the taste of their patrons, actual and possible, were disappointed of the instruction they had reason to expect, and which the ateliers of Europe will supply in fuller measure this year.
The succeeding years present us with an epidemic of expositions, most of them, often on the slenderest grounds, arrogating the title of "international." The sprightly little city of Cork was one year ahead of New York. Then came Dublin in '53, Munich in '54, Paris in '55, Manchester in '57 (of art exclusively, and very brilliant), Florence in '61, London again in '62, Amsterdam in '64; and in '65 the mania had overspread the globe, that year witnessing exhibitions dubbed "international" in Dublin, New Zealand, Oporto, Cologne and Stettin, with perhaps some outliers we have missed. Then ensued a lull or a mitigation till the moribund empire of France and the remodeled empire of Austro-Hungary flared up into the magnificent demonstrations of '67 and '73. To these last we shall devote the remainder of this article, with but a glance at the second British of 1862.
This, held upon the same ground with its forerunner of eleven years previous, affords a better measure of progress. It developed a manifest advance in designs for ornamental manufactures. The schools of decorative art were beginning to tell. Carpets, hangings, furniture, stuffs for wear, encaustic tiles, etc. showed a sounder taste; and this in the foreign as well as the British stalls. French porcelain was more fully represented than before, and in finer designs. The Paris exhibition of '55, more extensively planned, though less of a financial success, than the London one it followed, was not without effect on the industry and art-culture of France. The United States also showed that they had not been idle. Our fabrics of vulcanized rubber and sewing-machines were boons to Europe she has not been slow to seize. The latter are now sold in England, with trifling modifications and new trademarks, at from one-third to one-half the price our people have to pay.
The secret of making money out of these great fairs seemed to have been lost. Although England's second took in much more than the first, and four times as much as the first French, four hundred and sixty thousand pounds having entered its treasury, it failed to leave any such profitable memorials of profit.
By this time the spirit of French emulation was stirred to its inmost depths. They had gone to London, argued the Gauls, under every disadvantage. To prove that they had returned covered with glory, they hunted every nook and corner of numerical analysis. Out of 18,000 exhibitors of all nations, they had had but 1747, and yet Paris had received thirty-nine council medals, or honors of the first order, per million of inhabitants, against fourteen per million accorded to London. She had beaten the metropolis of fog not only in general, but in detail. In every branch, from the most solid to the most sentimental, she was victorious. For machinery a million of gamins beat a million of Cockneys in the proportion of seven to six; in the economical and chemical arts, four to one; in the geographical and geometrical, eight to three; and in the fine arts, Waterloo was reversed to the tune of twenty to four.
Nothing could be more conclusive; but to take a bond of fate it was determined to imitate England in trying a second display, and supplement '53 with '67 more effectively than Albion had '51 with '62. In what gallant style this determination was carried out we all remember. France did put forth her strength. She illustrated the Second Empire with an outpouring of her own genius and energy the variety and comprehensiveness of which no other nation could pretend to equal; and she called together the nearest approach to a rally of the nations that had yet been seen.
The casket of these assembled treasures was hardly worthy of them, so far as the effect of the mass went. It needed a facade as badly as does a confectioner's plum-cake. Had the vitreous mass been dumped upon the Champs de Mars from the clouds in a viscous state like the Alpine mers de glace, it would have assumed much such a thick disk-like shape as it actually wore. Then decorate it with some spun-sugar pinnacles and some flags of silver paper, and the confiseur stood confessed. Nevertheless, motive was there. Catch anything French without it.
The pavilion consisted of seven concentric ovals, the arcs and their radii effecting the duplicate division of objects and countries. Outside, under the eaves and in the surrounding area, the peoples were encamped around their possessions. The gastric fluid being the universal solvent, the festive board was assigned the position nearest the building, a continuous shed protecting the restaurants of all nations, each with its proper specialty in the way of viands and service. Necessarily, there was in the carrying out of the latter idea a good deal of the sham and theatrical. But that gave the thing more zest, and the saloons were by no means the least effective feature of the appliances for introducing the races to each other. Tired of the tender intercourse of chopsticks, forks and fingers, they could exchange visits in their drawing-rooms; most of the known styles of dwelling-place, if we except the snow-huts of the Esquimaux, the burrows of the Kamtchadales and the boats of Canton, having representatives.
The United States government took particular interest in this exposition, and published a long and detailed report made by its commissioners. Our contributions were not worthy of the country, and showed but little novelty. Implements of farming and of war, pianos, sewing-machines and locomotives attracted chief attention. The pianos were "unreservedly praised." The wines, California having come to the rescue, were pronounced an improvement on previous specimens. The only trait of our engines that was admired or borrowed appears to have been that which had least to do with the organism of the machine—the cab. In cars our ideas have fruited better, and Pullman and Westinghouse have gained a firm foothold in England, with whose endorsement their way is open across the Channel. In the arts we are credited with seventy-five pictures, against a hundred and twenty-three from England and six hundred and fifty-two from France.
Here France was at home, and felt it. The works of Dubray, Triquetti, Yvon, Giraud, Gerome, Dubufe, Toulmouche, Courbet, Troyon, Rosa Bonheur and others exhibited the route toward the naturalistic taken by her modern school, so different from that pursued by the Pre-Raphaelites in England. The Duesseldorf school has been drawn into the same path—France's one conquest from Prussia, who made at the same time a stout struggle in defence of the classic manner through Kaulbach. The drawings and paintings of art-students maintained by the French government in Italy attested an enlightened liberality other governments, general or local, would do well to imitate. The cost of supporting a few score of pupils in Rome could in no way be better bestowed for the promotion of commerce, manufactures and education. Taste has unquestionably a high economic value. But this is only one of France's ways of recognizing the fact. The government Ecole des Beaux Arts at Paris contained, in 1875, a hundred and seventy-two students of architecture, a hundred and eighty-three of painting, forty of sculpture and two hundred and fifty of engraving.
As a corollary to this assiduous culture, French art collectively was at the exposition "first, and the rest nowhere." The old works sent by Italy stood by themselves; and in mosaic, Salviati's glass, and statuary led by Vela's Last Moments of Napoleon, the modern studios of that country ranked in the front. Prussia had some heliographic maps, then a new thing, and chromos, also in the bud; Austria and England, fine architectural drawings; and Eastlake, Stanfield, Landseer, Frith and Faed crossed pencils with the French. But nothing modern of the kind could stand by the porcelain of Sevres, the glass of St. Louis and Baccarat, the bronzes of other French producers, the vast collection of drawings of ancient and mediaeval monuments and architecture in France, her book-binding and illustration by Bida and Dore, her jewelry and her art-manufactures as a whole. In carriages she had obviously studied the turnouts of American workshops to advantage.
In agricultural machinery all civilized exhibitors had gone to school to our artisans.
One of our specialties, a postal-car, appeared under the Prussian flag. So did things more legitimately the property of the nascent empire. The Krupp gun cast its substance, as well as its shadow, before. A locomotive destined for India made Bull rub his eyes. Chemicals in every grade of purity spoke the potency of the German alembic.
The probability that the production of beetroot-sugar would before many years attain a position among the industries of this country gave interest in the eyes of American visitors to the display of European machinery employed so successfully in that business. Labor-saving machinery we have not generally been in the habit of borrowing. Neither, on the other hand, has Europe been accustomed to draw from us crude material for the finest manufactures; and the balance was set even by the admirable quality of the glass made from American sand and the porcelain moulded in American kaolin. The latter substance, a silicate of alumina, is not found in England, and at but few points on the Continent. We have it in abundance and of the finest quality.
The extraordinary steps made within five years in the arts of destruction were illustrated by the twelve-inch Armstrong rifles of England and the Essen gun, throwing a 1212-pound shot. In 1862 the heaviest projectile shown did not exceed one hundred pounds. For field-service the limit of practice in weight seems long ago to have been reached: for forts and ships it cannot be far off. Armor and projectiles must soon bring each other to a standstill; as when, in the Italian wars of the fifteenth century, offence and defence reached the reductio ad absurdum of the incapacity of men-at-arms to inflict serious injury upon each other, or even to pick themselves up when the weight of their armor, with some aid from the clumsy blows of an antagonist, had overthrown them. Assailant and assailed were in equilibrio, and personal equilibrium could not be restored. Some such inane result may be witnessed when a pair of hostile iron-clads, out of sight of their nursing convoys, shall meet alone upon the deep; with the disagreeable difference that they will, if they go down, have a great deal farther to fall than the cuirassiers of the land.
Since 1851 a new commercial cement had come into operation in the adoption by neighboring powers of the French metrical system. England and America still hold out against the metre and the gramme; and the press of both occasionally levels at it the old jokes of making the spheres weigh a pound of butter and the polar axis measure a yard of calico. With the innovation, however, our merchants have become perforce familiar, a large share of their imported commodities being invoiced in accordance with it. Its immense superiority to our complicated and arbitrary weights and measures, in the tables whereof the same word often has half a dozen meanings, is beyond argument. In the United States it has earned a quasi-official adoption, but the force of habit among the people has yet to be overcome.
We may here give, in evidence of the increasing hold these expositions have upon the popular mind, the gradual multiplication of the numbers exhibiting. At London, in '51, the exhibitors were 13,937; at Paris, '55, 23,954; at London, '62, 28,653; and at Paris, '67, 50,226.
Austria, with admirable spirit, determined to anticipate her turn to enter the lists of peace. Undismayed by Solferino and Sadowa, she had found her Antaeus in Andrassy. Her capital city was advancing with immense strides in beauty and extent. Geographically and ethnically it was, like the empire itself, a meeting-ground of north and south, east and west. Isolated from the sea, it offered for the transport of heavy articles a system of railways proved by the event to be sufficiently effective. It was decided that the march of progress should be more than kept up, and that the building, with its appendages, should be an improvement on all its predecessors in extent, in architectural effect and in solidity of material. The dimensions are so variously stated, owing largely to difference of opinion as to what should be embraced within the admeasurement, that we are at a loss how to give them. To the main building, however, was assigned a capacity of seventy-three thousand five hundred and ninety-three square metres. Sixty-three hundred and eighty of these were awarded to France, ten metres less to England; and thirteen hundred and sixty to the United States. The marquee-like rotunda rose to a height of two hundred and fifty feet, with a diameter at base of three hundred and fifty-four. The principal entrance, with piers and arches of cut stone profusely decorated with statues and reliefs, was in highly satisfactory contrast to the fragile shells of glass and cast iron that sheltered the earlier exhibitions.
Perhaps in all this solid work the demands of time had not been duly considered. Certainly, the display was not punctual to the appointed period of opening. Exceptionally bad weather was another drawback, and the greed of the Viennese hotel-keepers a third. For such, among other reasons, the enterprise was financially a failure—a fact which little concerns those who went to study and learn, and those who three years later have to describe. If the darkening of the imperial exchequer prove more than a passing shadow, and an ultimate loss on the speculation cease to be matter of question, the few millions it cost may be recovered by the disbanding of a regiment or two. For one brigade, out of half a million soldiers, to bring the world and its wealth to the seat of government, is doing better than the usual work of the bayonet.
The country and the city themselves were a study to foreigners in many of the modes of life. The extent to which the utilization, as stationary and locomotive machines, of pigs, cows, women and dogs was carried elicited constant remark from the Western tourists, with sundry moral conclusions perhaps too hastily arrived at. This outside feature of the exposition may serve as an admonition to put our own surroundings in order. They are not apt to expose us to such comments as naturally occur to those who have never seen dogs and damsels in harness together; but other vulnerable points may peradventure be descried. We must demonstrate our civilization to be complete at all points, and not simply a coddled exotic under glass. What if our Viennese guests, physically a stouter race than we, should pronounce our women too obviously not hod-carriers, and painfully unaccustomed to wheeling anything heavier than an arm-chair or a piano-stool?
In that land of music concerts could not fail to be a leading feature. The Boston improvement of emphasizing the bass with discharges of distant artillery, or its equivalent, the slamming of cellar-doors nearer by, was not attained. Noise and harmony were kept at arm's length apart.
The illustration of homes was made a specialty. As at Paris, the peoples brought their dwellings, or, more often, the dwellings came without their occupants. The four-footed and feathered live-stock were of more indubitable authenticity. The display of all the European breeds of cattle and horses—English Durhams, Alderneys and racers, Russian trotters, Holstein cows and Flemish mares, the gray oxen of Hungary and the buffaloes of the Campagna, the wild red pigs of the Don and the razor-backs of Southern France—was calculated to amuse, if but moderately to edify, our breeders of Ohio, Kentucky and New York. A thousand horses and fifteen hundred horned cattle comprised this congress, while two hundred and fifty pigs were deemed enough to represent the grunters of all nations.
Of animals in another form, the preserved meats of Australia, sent sound across the tropics to the amount of seventeen thousand tons in 1872, against four tons in 1866, had their use of instruction to our packers. So with the improved display of agricultural produce from Southern Russia, our chief competitor in the grain-market. Our reapers and threshers are supplanting, in Eastern Europe, the ridiculous flails, sickles and straight-handled scythes that figured at New York in 1853. We have sent the Dacians, Huns and Sarmatians weapons to cut our own commercial throats. There are more enriching articles of export than wheat, as we must continue to learn.
In turning to other provinces, we find that England was foremost in machinery, the United States, "the only rival," says a British critic, "from whom we had anything to fear," being feebly represented, as we were in other respects, thanks to certain irregularities in the management of our commissioners sufficiently discussed at the time. The British carpets out-shone the display of any competitor, the influence of her new schools of decorative design being unmistakably marked.
The Aubusson carpets of France still maintained their position, as did the velvet, faience, tapestry, engravings, books, marine photographs, etc. of the same country. Italy made her usual contribution in the arts. Among the Austrian objects of this class the opals of Hungary were prominent.
India was unexpectedly complete in her collection: not only her modern industry, but her antiquities, had abundant specimens.
Much criticism has been expended upon the alleged lavish and indiscriminate distribution of medals and diplomas at Vienna. But, however numerous the undeserving who obtained them, the deserving must at the same time have had their share: the shower that fell on the unjust could not have missed the just. Therefore we note that, despite our slender show, one hundred and seventy-eight medals for Merit and sixty-nine for Progress, two for the Fine Arts (German Bierstadt and French Healey) and five for Good Taste, came to America. The National Bureau of Education, the Lighthouse Board and the State of Massachusetts obtained "Grand Diplomas of Honor" for documents. The like honor was awarded to the city of Boston and the Smithsonian Institution, and to four private exhibitors for the more palpable contributions of tool-making machinery, steam-machinery, mowing-machines and dentistry. This list does not teach us much. The prizes are, unless awarded with the most intelligent and conscientious precision, valuable chiefly as advertisements to the recipients, who can earn, and generally have earned, better advertisements in other shapes.
Thus have the chief powers of Western and Central Europe displayed their mettle in peaceful tourney. The visor of a young and unknown knight is now barred for the fray. He has, like the rest in these days of modern chivalry, to be his own herald and blow his own preliminary blast. It is a tolerably sonorous one. Let the event show that he speaks not through brass alone.
SKETCHES OF INDIA.
Thus we fared leisurely along. We passed Cabul merchants peddling their dried fruit on shaggy-haired camels; to these succeeded, in more lonesome portions of the road, small groups of Korkas, wretched remnants of one of the autochthonal families of Central India—even lower in the scale of civilization than the Gonds, among whom they are found; and to these the richly-caparisoned elephants of some wealthy Bhopal gentleman making a journey. We lingered long among the marvelous old Buddhistic topes or tumuli of Sanchi, and I interested my companion greatly in describing the mounds of the United States, with which I was familiar, and whose resemblance to these richly-sculptured and variously-ornamented ruins, though rude and far off, was quite enough to set his active fancy to evolving all manner of curious hypotheses going to explain such similarity. The whole way, by Sangor, Gharispore, Bhilsa, Sanchi, Sonori, presented us with the most interesting relics of the past, and the frequent recurrence of the works of the once prevalent Buddhistic faith continually incited us to new discussions of the yet unsolved question, Why has Buddha's religion, which once had such entire possession of this people's hearts, so entirely disappeared from the land?
And, as nothing could be more completely contrasted with the desert asceticism which Buddha's tenets inculcated than the luxury into which Mohammed's creed has flowered, so nothing could have more strikingly broken in upon our discussions of the Buddhistic monuments than the view which we at last obtained of the lovely Mohammedan city of Bhopal. To the south and east ran a strip of country as barren and heartacheish as if the very rocks and earth had turned Buddhist, beyond which a range of low rounded hills, not unlike topes, completed the ascetic suggestion. But, turning from this, we saw Mohammedanism at its very loveliest. Minarets, domes, palaces, gardens, the towers of the citadel, waters of lovely lakes, all mingled themselves together in the voluptuous light of the low sun: there was a sense of music, of things that sparkled, of pearly lustres, of shimmering jewels, of softness, of delight, of luxury. Bhopal looked over the ragged valley like a sultan from the window of his zenana regarding afar off an unkempt hermit in his solitude. My companion had arranged for permission to enter the town, and it was not long ere we were installed in the house of a friend of Bhima Gandharva's, whose guests we remained during our stay in Bhopal.
On a rock at the summit of a hill commanding this interesting city stands the fort of Fatehgarh, built by a certain Afghan adventurer, Dost Mohammed Khan, who, in a time when this part of India must have been a perfect paradise for all the free lances of the East, was so fortunate as to win the favor of Aurungzebe, and to receive as evidence thereof a certain district in Malwa. The Afghan seems to have lost no time in improving the foothold thus gained, and he thus founded the modern district of Bhopal, which was formerly divided between Malwa and Gondwana, one gate of the town standing in the former and one in the latter country. Dost Mohammed Khan appears, indeed, to have been not the only adventurer who bettered his fortunes in Bhopal. It is a curious fact, and one well illustrating the liberality which has characterized much of the more modern history of the Bhopal government, that no long time ago it was administered by a regency consisting of three persons—one a Hindu, one a Mohammedan, and the other a Christian. This Christian is mentioned by Sir John Malcolm as "Shahzed Musseah, or Belthazzar Bourbona" (by which Sir John means Shahzahad Messiah—a native appellation signifying "the Christian prince"—or Balthazar of Bourbon), and is described by that officer, to whom he was well known, as a brave soldier and an able man. He traced his lineage to a certain Frenchman calling himself John of Bourbon, who in the time of Akbar was high in favor and position at Delhi. His widow, the princess Elizabeth of Bourbon, still resides at Bhopal in great state, being possessed of abundant wealth and ranking second only to the Begum. She is the acknowledged head of a large number of descendants of John of Bourbon, amounting to five or six hundred, who remain at Bhopal and preserve their faith—having a church and Catholic priest of their own—as well as the traditions of their ancestry, which, according to their claim, allies them to the royal blood of France.
No mention of Bhopal can fail to pay at least a hasty tribute in commemoration of the forcible character and liberal politics of the Begum, who has but of late gone to her account after a long and sometimes trying connection with the administration of her country's affairs. After the death of her husband—who was accidentally killed by a pistol in the hands of a child not long after the treaty with the English in 1818—their nephew, then in his minority, was considered as the future nawab, and was betrothed to their daughter, the Begum being regent during his minority. When the time came, with his majority, for the nuptials, the Begum refused to allow the marriage to take place, for reasons which need not here be detailed. After much dispute a younger brother of the nephew was declared more eligible, but the Begum still managed in one way or another to postpone matters, much to his dissatisfaction. An arbitration finally resulted in placing him on the throne, but his reign was short, and he died after a few years, leaving the Begum again in practical charge of affairs—a position which she improved by instituting many wise and salutary reforms and bringing the state of Bhopal to a condition of great prosperity. The Pearl Mosque (Monti Masjid), which stands immediately in front of the palace, was built at her instance in imitation of the great cathedral-mosque of Delhi, and presents a charming evidence of her taste, as well as of the architectural powers still existing in this remarkable race.
The town proper of Bhopal is enclosed by a much—decayed wall of masonry some two miles in circuit, within which is a fort, similar both in its condition and material to the wall. Outside these limits is a large commercial quarter (gunge). The beautiful lake running off past the town to the south is said to be artificial in its origin, and to have been produced at the instance of Bho Pal, the minister of King Bohoje, as long ago as the sixth century, by damming up the waters of the Bess (or Besali) River, for the purpose of converting an arid section into fertile land. It is still called the Bhopal Tal.
If this were a ponderous folio of travels, one could detail the pleasures and polite attentions of one's Bhopalese host; of the social utter-pan; of the sprinklings with rose-water; of the dreamy talks over fragrant hookahs; of the wanderings among bazaars filled with moving crowds of people hailing from all the ports that lie between Persia and the Gondwana; of the fetes where the nautch-girl of Baroda contended in graceful emulation with the nautch-girl of Ulwur, and the cathacks (or male dancers) with both; of elegantly-perfumed Bhopalese young men; of the palaces of nobles guarded by soldiers whose accoutrements ranged from the musket to the morion; of the Moharum, when the Mohammedan celebrates the New Year. But what would you have? A sketch is a sketch. We have got only to the heart of India: the head and the whole prodigious eastern side are not yet reached. It is time one were off for Jhansi.
At Bioura we encountered modern civilization again in the shape of the south-west branch of the Grand Trunk road, which leads off from the main stem at Agra. The Grand Trunk is not a railroad, but a firm and smooth highway, with which the English have united Calcutta to the North-west Provinces and to the west of India. Much of this great roadway is metaled with kunkur, an oolitic limestone found near the surface of the soil in Hindustan; and all Anglo-India laughed at the joke of an irreverent punster who, apropos of the fact that this application of kunkur to the road-bed was made under the orders of Lord William Bentinck, then governor-general, dubbed that gentleman William the Kunkurer.
We had abandoned our chapaya—which, we may add for the benefit of future travelers, we had greatly improved as against jolting by causing it to be suspended upon a pair of old springs which we found, a relic of some antique break-down, in a village on the route—and after a short journey on elephants were traveling dak; that is, by post. The dak-gharri is a comfortable-enough long carriage on four wheels, and constitutes the principal mode of conveyance for travelers in India besides the railway. It contains a mattress inside, for it goes night and day, and one's baggage is strapped on top, much as in an American stage-coach after the "boot" is full. Frequent relays of horses along the route enable the driver to urge his animals from one station to the other with great speed, and the only other stoppages are at the dak-bungalows.
"I have discovered," I said to Bhima Gandharva after a short experience of the dak-gharri and the dak-bungalows—"I have discovered a general remark about India which is not absurd: all the horses are devils and all the dak-bungalow servants are patriarchs."
"If you judge by the heels of the former and the beards of the latter, it is true," he said.
This little passage was based on the experience of the last relay, which was, however, little more than a repetition of many previous ones. My friend and I having arranged ourselves comfortably in the dak-gharri as soon as it was announced ready to start, the long and marvelously lean Indian who was our driver signified to his team by the usual horse-language that we should be glad to go. The horse did not even agitate his left ear—a phenomenon which I associate with a horse in that moment when he is quietly making up his mind to be fractious. "Go, my brother," said the driver in a mellifluous and really fraternal tone of voice. The horse disdained to acknowledge the tie: he stood still.
Then the driver changed the relationship, with an access of tenderness in voice and in adjuration. "Go, my son," he entreated. But the son stood as immovable as if he were going to remain a monument of filial impiety to all time.
"Go, my grandson, my love." This seemed entirely too much for the animal, and produced apparently a sense of abasement in him which was in the highest degree uncomplimentary to his human kinsman and lover. He lay down. In so doing he broke several portions of the ragged harness, and then proceeded, with the most deliberate absurdity, to get himself thoroughly tangled in the remainder.
"I think I should be willing," I said to my companion, "to carry that horse to Jhansi on my own shoulders if I could have the pleasure of seeing him blown from one of the rajah's cannon in the, fort."
But the driver, without the least appearance of discomposure, had dismounted, and with his long deft Hindu fingers soon released the animal, patched up his gear, replaced him between the shafts and resumed his place.
Another round of consanguinities: the animal still remained immovable, till presently he lunged out with a wicked kick which had nearly obliterated at one blow the whole line of his ancestry and collateral relatives as represented in the driver. At this the latter became as furious as he had before been patient: he belabored the horse, assistants ran from the stables, the whole party yelled and gesticulated at the little beast simultaneously, and he finally broke down the road at a pace which the driver did not suffer him to relax until we arrived at the bungalow where we intended to stop for supper.
A venerable old Mohammedan in a white beard that gave him the majesty of Moses advanced for the purpose of ascertaining our wants.
"Had he any mutton-chops?" asked Bhima Gandharva in Hindustani, the lingua franca of the country.
"Cherisher of the humble! no."
"Nourisher of the poor! no."
"Well, then, I hear a chicken," said my friend, conclusively.
"O great king," said the Mohammedan, turning to me, "there is a chicken."
In a twinkling the cook caught the chicken: its head was turned toward Mecca. Bismillah! O God the Compassionate, the Merciful! the poor fowl's head flew off, and by the time we had made our ablutions supper was ready.
Turning across the ridges to the north-eastward from Sipri, we were soon making our way among the tanks and groves which lie about the walls of Jhansi. Here, as at Poona, there was ever present to me a sense of evil destinies, of blood, of treacheries, which seemed to linger about the trees and the tanks like exhalations from the old crimes which have stained the soil of the country. For Jhansi is in the Bundelcund, and the Bundelcund was born in great iniquity. The very name—which properly is Bundelakhand, or "the country of the Bundelas"—has a history thickly set about with the terrors of caste, of murder and of usurpation. Some five hundred years ago a certain Rajput prince, Hurdeo Sing, committed the unpardonable sin of marrying a slave (bundi), and was in consequence expelled from the Kshatriya caste to which he belonged. He fled with his disgrace into this region, and after some years found opportunity at least to salve his wounds with blood and power. The son of the king into whose land he had escaped conceived a passion for the daughter of the slave wife. It must needs have been a mighty sentiment, for the conditions which Hurdeo Sing exacted were of a nature to try the strongest love. These were, that the nuptial banquet should be prepared by the unmentionable hands of the slave wife herself, and that the king and his court should partake of it—a proceeding which would involve the loss of their caste also. But the prince loved, and his love must have lent him extraordinary eloquence, for he prevailed on his royal father to accept the disgrace. If one could only stop here, and record that he won his bride, succeeded his magnanimous old parent on the throne, lived a long and happy life with his queen, and finally died regretted by his loving people! But this is in the Bundelcund, and the facts are, that the treacherous Hurdeo Sing caused opium to be secretly put into all the dishes of the wedding-feast, and when the unsuspecting revelers were completely stupefied by the drug had the whole party assassinated, after which he possessed himself of the throne and founded the Bundelcund.
One does not wonder that the hills and forests of such a land became the hiding-places of the strangling Thugs, the home of the poisoning Dacoits, the refuge of conspirators and insurgents and the terror of Central India.
As for Jhansi, the district in whose capital we were now sojourning, its people must have tasted many of the sorrows of anarchy and of despotism even in recent times. It was appurtenant no long time ago to the Bundela rajah of Ourcha: from him it passed by conquest into the possession of the Peishwa. These small districts were all too handy for being tossed over as presents to favorites: one finds them falling about among the greedy subordinates of conquerors like nuts thrown out to school-boys. The Peishwa gave Jhansi to a soubahdar: the British government then appeared, and effected an arrangement by which the soubahdar should retain it as hereditary rajah on the annual payment of twenty-four thousand rupees. This so-called rajah, Ramchund Rao, died without issue in 1835. Amid great disputes as to the succession the British arbitrators finally decided in favor of Rugonath Rao; but new quarrels straightway arose, a great cry being made that Rugonath Rao was a leper, and that a leper ought not to be a rajah. His death in some three years settled that difficulty, only to open fresh ones among the conflicting claimants. These perplexing questions the British finally concluded quite effectually by assuming charge of the government themselves, though this was attended with trouble, for the stout old mother of Ramchund Rao made armed resistance from the fort or castellated residence of the rajahs, which stands on its great rock overlooking the town of Jhansi. A commission finally decreed the succession to Baba Gunghadar Rao, but retained the substantial power until the revenues had recovered from the depression consequent upon these anarchic disturbances.
"At any rate," I said as Bhima Gandharva finished this narrative while we were walking about the burial-place of the rajahs of Jhansi, and occupying ourselves with tracing the curious admixture of Moslem with Hindu architecture presented by the tombs, "these rajahs, if they loved each other but little in life, appear to have buried each other with proper enough observances: the cenotaphs are worthy of tenderer remembrances."
"Yes," he said: "this part of India is everywhere a land of beautiful tombs which enclose ugly memories. I recall one tomb, however, near which I have spent many hours of tranquil meditation, and which is at once lovely without and within: it is the tomb of the Muslim saint Allum Sayed at Baroda. It was built of stones taken from an old Jain temple whose ruins are still visible near by; and with a singular fitness, in view of its material, the Muslim architect has mingled his own style with the Hindu, so that an elegant union of the keen and naked Jain asceticism with the mellower and richer fancy of the luxurious Mohammedan has resulted in a perfect work of that art which makes death lovely by recalling its spiritual significance. Besides, a holy silence broods about the cactus and the euphorbian foliage, so that a word will send the paroquets, accustomed to such unbroken stillness, into hasty flights. The tomb proper is in the chamber at the centre, enclosed by delicately-trellised walls of stone. I can easily fancy that the soul of Allum Sayed is sitting by his grave, like a faithful dog loath to quit his dead master.
Jhansi was once in the enjoyment of a considerable trade. The caravans from the Deccan to Furruckabad and other places in the Douab were in the habit of stopping here, and there was much trafficking in the cloths of Chanderi and in bows, arrows and spears—the weapons of the Bundela tribes—which were here manufactured. Remnants of the wealth then acquired remain; and on the evening of the same day when we were wandering among the rajahs' tombs we proceeded to the house of a rich friend of Bhima Gandharva's, where we were to witness a nautch, or dance, executed by a wandering troop of Mewati bayaderes. We arrived about nine o'clock: a servant sprinkled us with rose-water, and we were ushered into a large saloon, where the bayaderes were seated with a couple of musicians, one of whom played the tam-tam and another a sort of violin. When the family of our host, together with a few friends, were seated at the end of the room opposite the bayaderes, the signal was given, and the music commenced with a soft and indescribably languorous air. One of the bayaderes rose with a lithe and supple movement of the body not comparable to anything save the slow separating of a white scud from the main cloud which one sees on a summer's day high up in the cirrus regions. She was attired in a short jacket, a scarf, and a profusion of floating stuff that seemed at once to hide and expose. Presently I observed that her jewelry was glittering as it does not glitter when one is still, yet her feet were not moving. I also heard a gentle tinkling from her anklets and bracelets. On regarding her more steadily, I saw that her whole body was trembling in gentle and yet seemingly intense vibrations, and she maintained this singular agitation while she assumed an attitude of much grace, extending her arms and spreading out her scarf in gracefully-waving curves. In these slow and languid changes of posture, which accommodated themselves to the music like undulations in running water to undulations in the sand of its bed, and in the strange trembling of her body, which seemed to be an inner miniature dance of the nerves, consisted her entire performance. She intensified the languid nature of her movements by the languishing coquetries of her enormous black eyes, from which she sent piercing glances between half-closed lids. It was a dance which only southern peoples understand. Any one who has ever beheld the slow juba of the negro in the Southern United States will recognize its affinity to these movements, which, apparently deliberate, are yet surcharged with intense energy and fire.
Her performance being finished, the bayadere was succeeded by others, each of whom appeared to have her specialty—one imitating by her postures a serpent-charmer; another quite unequivocally representing a man-charmer; another rapidly executing what seemed an interminable pirouette. Finally, all joined in a song and a closing round, adding the sound of clapping hands to the more energetic measures of the music.
"I can now understand," I said when the nautch was finished, "the remark of the shah of Persia which set everybody laughing not long ago in England. During his visit to that country, being present at a ball where ladies and gentlemen were enjoying themselves in a somewhat laborious way in dancing, he finally asked, 'Why do you not make your servants do this for you?' It is at least entertaining to see a nautch, but to wade through the English interpretation of a waltz, hic labor hoc opus est, and the servants ought to perform it."
"Do you know," said Bhima Gandharva, "that much the same national mode of thought which prompts the Hindu to have his dancing done by the nautch-girls also prompts him to have his tax-gathering and general governing done by the English? We are often asked why the spectacle has so often been seen of our native princes quietly yielding up their kingdoms to strangers, and even why we do not now rise and expel the foreigner from power over us. The truth is, most Hindus are only glad to get some one else to do the very hard work of governing. The Englishman is always glad to get a French cook, because the French can cook better than the English. Why should not we be also glad to get English governors, when the English govern so much better than the Hindus? In truth, governing and cooking are very like—the successful ruler, like the successful cook, has only to consult the tastes of his employers; and upon any proper theory of politics government becomes just as purely an economic business as cooking. You do not cook your own dinner: why? Because you desire to devote your time to something better and higher. So we do not collect taxes and lay them out for the public convenience, because there are other things we prefer to do. I am amazed at the modern ideas of government: it is looked upon as an end, as an objective result in itself, whereas it is really only the merest of means toward leaving a man at leisure to attend to his private affairs. The time will come"—and here the Hindu betrayed more energy than I had hitherto ever seen him display—"when the world will have its whole governing work done upon contract by those best fitted for it, and when such affairs will be looked upon as belonging simply to the police function of existence, which negatively secures us from harm, without at all positively touching the substantial advancement of man's life."
The next day we fared northward toward Agra, by Duttiah, Gwalior and Dholepore. Learning at Agra that the northward-bound train—for here we had come upon complete civilization again in the East Indian Railway—would pass in an hour, we determined to reserve the Taj Mahal (the lovely Pearl Mosque of Agra) until we should be returning from Delhi to Calcutta. Bhima Gandharva desired me, however, to see the Douab country and the old sacred city of Mattra; and so when we had reached Hatras Station, a few miles north of Agra, we abandoned the railway and struck across to the south-westward, toward Mattra, in a hired carriage.
We were now veritably in ancient Hindustan. It was among these level plains through which we were rolling that the antique Brahmins came and propounded that marvelous system which afterward took the whole heart of the land. Nothing could have been more striking than to cast one's eye thus over the wide cotton-fields—for one associates cotton with the New—and find them cultivated by these bare-legged and breech-clouted peasants of the Douab, with ploughs which consisted substantially of a crooked stick shod with iron at the end, and with other such farming-implements out of the time that one thinks of as forty centuries back. Yet in spite of this primitive rudeness of culture, and of an aridity of soil necessitating troublesome irrigation, these plains have for a prodigious period of time supported a teeming population; and I could not help crying out to Bhima Gandharva that if we had a few millions of these gentle and patient peasants among the cotton-fields of the United States, the South would quickly become a Garden of Delight and the planters could build Jammah Masjids with rupees for marble.
The conservatism which has preserved for so long a time the ancient rude methods of industry begins to grow on one as one passes between these villages of people who seem to be living as if they were perfectly sure that God never intended them to live any other way.
"It is not long," said my friend, "since a British officer of engineers, on some expedition or other, was encamped for the night at no great distance from here. His tent had been pitched near one of those Persian water-wheels such as you have seen, which, although of great antiquity, are perhaps as ingeniously adapted to the purpose of lifting water as any machine ever invented. The creaking of the wheel annoyed him very much, and after a restless night, owing to that cause, he rose and went out of his tent and inquired of the proprietor of the wheel (a native) why in the name of Heaven he never greased it. 'Because,' said the conservative Hindu, 'I have become so accustomed to the noise that I can only sleep soundly while it is going on: when it stops, then I wake, and knowing from the cessation of the sound that my bullock-driver is neglecting his duty, I go out and beat him.' Thus, even the conservation of the useless comes in time to create habits which are useful."
"It is true," I replied, "and it recalls to me a somewhat unusual illustration. A summer or two ago a legal friend of mine, who is the possessor of a large family of children, came into the court-room one morning with very red eyes, and to my inquiry concerning the cause of the same he replied: 'To tell you the truth, I can't go to sleep unless a child is crying about the house somewhere; but my wife left town yesterday for the summer with all the children, and I haven't had a wink the whole night.'"
A drive of some five hours brought us to Mattra after dark, and as we crossed the bridge of boats over the sacred Jumna (the Yamuna of the Sanscrit poems) he seemed indeed thrice holy, with his bosom full of stars. Mattra, which lies immediately on the western bank of the river, stands next to Benares among the holy cities of the Hindus: here both the soil and the river-water are consecrated, for this was the birthplace of Krishna, or, more properly speaking, the scene of that avatar of Vishnu which is known as Krishna. When we rose early in the morning and repaired to the river-bank, hundreds of the faithful were ascending and descending the numerous ghats leading down the high bank to the water, while a still more animated crowd of both sexes were standing up to their middle in the stream, throwing the water in this direction and that, and mingling their personal ablutions with the rites of worship in such a way as might at once clean both souls and bodies. Evidences of the holy character of the town met us everywhere as we strolled back to our lodgings. Sacred monkeys, painted red over their hind quarters in consecration to the monkey-god Hanuman, capered and grinned about us, and sacred bulls obstructed our way along the narrow and dirty streets, while everywhere we saw pictures representing Krishna—sometimes much like an Apollo in the guise of a youthful shepherd playing the flute to a group of young girls, who danced under a tree; sometimes as a Hercules strangling a serpent or performing other feats of physical strength.
Fabulous stories are told of the early wealth and glory of Mattra. Ferishta relates that when Mahmoud of Ghazni had arrived with his troops in the neighborhood in the year 1017, he heard of this rich city consecrated to Krishna Vasu-Deva, and straightway marching upon it captured it and gave it up to plunder. Writing of it afterward to the governor of Ghazni, he declared that such another city could not be built within two centuries; that it contained one thousand edifices "as firm as the faith of the faithful," and mostly built of marble; that among the temples had been found five golden idols in whose heads were ruby eyes worth fifty thousand dinars; that in another was a sapphire weighing four hundred miskals (the present miskal of Bosrah is seventy-two grains), the image itself producing, after being melted, ninety-eight thousand three hundred miskals of pure gold; and that besides these there were captured one hundred silver idols, each of which was a camel's load.
We spent a pleasant morning in wandering about the old ruined fort which was built here by Jey Singh (or Jaya Sinha), the famous astronomer, and we were particularly attracted, each in his own contemplative and quiet way, by the ruins of an observatory which we found on the roof of one of the buildings, where the remains of old dials, horizontal circles and mural instruments lay scattered about. I think the only remark made by either of us was when Bhima Gandharva declared in a voice of much earnestness, from behind a broken gnomon where he had ensconced himself, that he saw Time lying yonder on his back, with his head on a broken dial, nearly asleep.
Returning to Hatras Station on the same day, we again took the train, and this time did not leave it until we had crossed the great tubular bridge over the Jumna and come to a standstill in the station at Delhi. Here we found one of the apparently innumerable friends of Bhima Gandharva, a banker of Delhi, awaiting us with a carriage, and we were quickly driven to his residence—a circumstance, by the way, which I discovered next day to be a legitimate matter of felicitation to myself, for there is, strange to say, no hotel in Delhi for Europeans, travelers being dependent upon the accommodations of a dak-bungalow, where one is lodged for a rupee a day.
In the morning we made an early start for the palace of the padishahs, which stands near the river, and indeed may be said to constitute the eastern portion of the city, having a wall of a mile in extent on its three sides, while the other abuts along the offset of the Jumna upon which Delhi is built. Passing under a splendid Gothic arch in the centre of a tower, then along a vaulted aisle in the centre of which was an octagonal court of stone, the whole route being adorned with flowers carved in stone and inscriptions from the Koran, we finally gained the court of the palace, in which is situated the Dewani Khas, the famous throne-room which contained the marvelous "peacock throne." I found it exteriorly a beautiful pavilion of white marble crowned by four domes of the same material, opening on one side to the court, on the other to the garden of the palace. On entering, my eye was at first conscious only of a confused interweaving of traceries and incrustations of stones, nor was it until after a few moments that I could bring myself to any definite singling out of particular elements from the general dream of flowing and intricate lines; but presently I was enabled to trace with more discriminating pleasure the flowers, the arabesques, the inscriptions which were carved or designed in incrustations of smaller stones, or inlaid or gilt on ceiling, arch and pillar.
Yet what a sense of utter reverse of fortune comes upon one after the first shock of the beauty of these delicate stone fantasies! Wherever we went—in the Dewani Aum or hall of audience; in the Akbari Hammun or imperial baths; in the Sammam Burj or private palace of the padishahs, that famous and beautiful palace over whose gate the well-known inscription stands, "If there is a Paradise on earth, it is here;" in the court, in the garden—everywhere was abandonment, everywhere the filthy occupations of birds, everywhere dirt, decay, desolation.
It was therefore a prodigious change when, emerging from the main gate of the palace, we found ourselves in the great thoroughfare of Delhi, the Chandni Chowk (literally "Shining street"), which runs straight to the Lahore gate of the city. Here an immense number of daily affairs were transacting themselves, and the Present eagerly jostled the Past out of the road. The shops were of a size which would have seemed very absurd to an enterprising American tradesman, and those dealing in the same commodities appeared to be mostly situated together—here the shoemakers, there the bankers, and so on.