The Story of Ida Pfeiffer - and Her Travels in Many Lands
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THE STORY OF IDA PFEIFFER And Her Travels in Many Lands.

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"I'll put a girdle round the world."—SHAKESPEARE.









Ida Pfeiffer, the celebrated traveller, was born in Vienna on the 14th of October 1797. She was the third child of a well-to-do merchant, named Reyer; and at an early age gave indications of an original and self-possessed character. The only girl in a family of six children, her predilections were favoured by the circumstances which surrounded her. She was bold, enterprising, fond of sport and exercise; loved to dress like her brothers, and to share in their escapades. Dolls she contemptuously put aside, preferring drums; and a sword or a gun was valued at much more than a doll's house. In some respects her father brought her up strictly; she was fed, like her brothers, on a simple and even meagre diet, and trained to habits of prompt obedience; but he did nothing to discourage her taste for more violent exercises than are commonly permitted to young girls.

She was only in her tenth year, however, when he died; and she then passed naturally enough under the maternal control. Between her own inclinations and her mother's ideas of maidenly culture a great contest immediately arose. Her mother could not understand why her daughter should prefer the violin to the piano, and the masculine trousers to the feminine petticoat. In fact, she did not understand Ida, and it may be assumed that Ida did not understand her.

In 1809 Vienna was captured by the French army under Napoleon; a disgrace which the brave and spirited Ida felt most keenly. Some of the victorious troops were quartered in the house of her mother, who thought it politic to treat them with courtesy; but her daughter neither could nor would repress her dislike. When compelled to be present at a grand review which Napoleon held in Schonbrunn, she turned her back as the emperor rode past. For this hazardous manoeuvre she was summarily punished; and to prevent her from repeating it when the emperor returned, her mother held her by the shoulders. This was of little avail, however, as Ida perseveringly persisted in keeping her eyes shut.

At the age of thirteen she was induced to resume the garb of her sex, though it was some time before she could accustom her wild free movements to it. She was then placed in charge of a tutor, who seems to have behaved to her with equal skill and delicacy. "He showed," she says, "great patience and perseverance in combating my overstrained and misdirected notions. As I had learned to fear my parents rather than love them, and this gentleman was, so to speak, the first human being who had displayed any sympathy and affection for me, I clung to him in return with enthusiastic attachment, desirous of fulfilling his every wish, and never so happy as when he appeared satisfied with my exertions. He took the entire charge of my education, and though it cost me some tears to abandon my youthful visions, and engage in pursuits I had hitherto regarded with contempt, to all this I submitted out of my affection for him. I even learned many feminine avocations, such as sewing, knitting, and cookery. To him I owed the insight I obtained into the duties and true position of my sex; and it was he who transformed me from a romp and a hoyden into a modest quiet girl."

Already a great longing for travel had entered into her mind. She longed to see new scenes, new peoples, new manners and customs. She read eagerly every book of travel that fell into her hands; followed with profound interest the career of every adventurous explorer, and blamed her sex that prevented her from following their heroic examples. For a while a change was effected in the current of her thoughts by a strong attachment which sprung up between her and her teacher, who by this time had given up his former profession, and had obtained an honourable position in the civil service. It was natural enough that in the close intimacy which existed between them such an affection should be developed. Ida's mother, however, regarded it with grave disapproval, and exacted from the unfortunate girl a promise that she would neither see nor write to her humble suitor again. The result was a dangerous illness: on her recovery from which her mother insisted on her accepting for a husband Dr. Pfeiffer, a widower, with a grown-up son, but an opulent and distinguished advocate in Lemberg, who was then on a visit to Vienna. Though twenty-four years older than Ida, he was attracted by her grace and simplicity, and offered his hand. Weary of home persecutions, Ida accepted it, and the marriage took place on May 1st, 1820.

If she did not love her husband, she respected him, and their married life was not unhappy. In a few months, however, her husband's integrity led to a sad change of fortune. He had fully and fearlessly exposed the corruption of the Austrian officials in Galicia, and had thus made many enemies. He was compelled to give up his office as councillor, and, deprived of his lucrative practice, to remove to Vienna in search of employment. Through the treachery of a friend, Ida's fortune was lost, and the ill-fated couple found themselves reduced to the most painful exigencies. Vienna, Lemberg, Vienna again, Switzerland, everywhere Dr. Pfeiffer sought work, and everywhere found himself baffled by some malignant influence. "Heaven only knows," says Madame Pfeiffer in her autobiography, "what I suffered during eighteen years of my married life; not, indeed, from any ill-treatment on my husband's part, but from poverty and want. I came of a wealthy family, and had been accustomed from my earliest youth to order and comfort; and now I frequently knew not where I should lay my head, or find a little money to buy the commonest necessaries. I performed household drudgery, and endured cold and hunger; I worked secretly for money, and gave lessons in drawing and music; and yet, in spite of all my exertions, there were many days when I could hardly put anything but dry bread before my poor children for their dinner." These children were two sons, whose education their mother entirely undertook, until, after old Madame Reyer's death in 1837, she succeeded to an inheritance, which lifted the little family out of the slough of poverty, and enabled her to provide her sons with good teachers.

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As they grew up and engaged successfully in professional pursuits, Madame Pfeiffer, who had lost her husband in 1838, found herself once more under the spell of her old passion for travel, and in a position to gratify her adventurous inclinations. Her means were somewhat limited, it is true, for she had done much for her husband and her children; but economy was natural to her, and she retained the simple habits she had acquired in her childhood. She was strong, healthy, courageous, and accomplished; and at length, after maturing her plans with anxious consideration, she took up her pilgrim's staff, and sallied forth alone.

Her first object was to visit the Holy Land, and tread in the hallowed footsteps of our Lord. For this purpose she left Vienna on the 22nd of March 1842, and embarked on board the steamer that was to convey her down the Danube to the Black Sea and the city of Constantinople. Thence she repaired to Broussa, Beirut, Jaffa, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Nazareth, Damascus, Baalbek, the Lebanon, Alexandria, and Cairo; and travelled across the sandy Desert to the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. From Egypt the adventurous lady returned home by way of Sicily and Italy, visiting Naples, Rome, and Florence, and arriving in Vienna in December 1842. In the following year she published the record of her experiences under the title of a "Journey of a Viennese Lady to the Holy Land." It met with a very favourable reception, to which the simplicity of its style and the faithfulness of its descriptions fully entitled it.

With the profits of this book to swell her funds, Madame Pfeiffer felt emboldened to undertake a new expedition; and this time she resolved on a northern pilgrimage, expecting in Ultima Thule to see nature manifested on a novel and surprising scale. She began her journey to Iceland on the 10th of April 1845, and returned to Vienna on the 4th of October. Her narrative of this second voyage will be found, necessarily much abridged and condensed, in the following pages.

What should she do next? Success had increased her courage and strengthened her resolution, and she could think of nothing fit for her energies and sufficient for her curiosity but a voyage round the world! She argued that greater privations and fatigue than she had endured in Syria and Iceland she could scarcely be called upon to encounter. The outlay did not frighten her; for she had learned by experience how little is required, if the traveller will but practise the strictest economy and resolutely forego many comforts and all superfluities. Her savings amounted to a sum insufficient, perhaps, for such travellers as Prince Puckler-Muskau, Chateaubriand, or Lamartine for a fortnight's excursion; but for a woman who wanted to see much, but cared for no personal indulgence, it seemed enough to last during a journey of two or three years. And so it proved.

The heroic woman set out alone on the 1st of May 1846, and proceeded first to Rio Janeiro. On the 3rd of February 1847, she sailed round Cape Horn, and on the 2nd of March landed at Valparaiso. Thence she traversed the broad Pacific to Tahiti, where she was presented to Queen Pomare. In the beginning of July we find her at Macao; afterwards she visited Hong Kong and Canton, where the appearance of a white woman produced a remarkable and rather disagreeable sensation. By way of Singapore she proceeded to Ceylon, which she carefully explored, making excursions to Colombo, Candy, and the famous temple of Dagoba. Towards the end of October she landed at Madras, and thence went on to Calcutta, ascending the Ganges to the holy city of Benares, and striking across the country to Bombay. Late in the month of April 1848 she sailed for Persia, and from Bushire traversed the interior as far as legend-haunted Bagdad. After a pilgrimage to the ruins of Ctesiphon and Babylon, this bold lady accompanied a caravan through the dreary desert to Mosul and the vast ruins of Nineveh, and afterwards to the salt lake of Urumiyeh and the city of Tabreez. It is certain that no woman ever accomplished a more daring exploit! The mental as well as physical energy required was enormous; and only a strong mind and a strong frame could have endured the many hardships consequent on her undertaking—the burning heat by day, the inconveniences of every kind at night, the perils incidental to her sex, meagre fare, a filthy couch, and constant apprehension of attack by robber bands. The English consul at Tabreez, when she introduced herself to him, found it hard to believe that a woman could have accomplished such an enterprise.

At Tabreez, Madame Pfeiffer was presented to the Viceroy, and obtained permission to visit his harem. On August 11th, 1848, she resumed her journey, crossing Armenia, Georgia, and Mingrelia; she touched afterwards at Anapa, Kertch, and Sebastopol, landed at Odessa, and returned home by way of Constantinople, Greece, the Ionian Islands, and Trieste, arriving in Vienna on the 4th of November 1848, just after the city had been recaptured from the rebels by the troops of Prince Windischgratz.

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Ida Pfeiffer was now a woman of note. Her name was known in every civilized country; and it was not unnatural that great celebrity should attach to a female who, alone, and without the protection of rank or official recommendation, had travelled 2800 miles by land, and 35,000 miles by sea. Hence, her next work, "A Woman's Journey Round the World," was most favourably received, and translated both into French and English. A summary of it is included in our little volume.

The brave adventurer at first, on her return home, spoke of her travelling days as over, and, at the age of fifty-four, as desirous of peace and rest. But this tranquil frame of mind was of very brief duration. Her love of action and thirst of novelty could not long be repressed; and as she felt herself still strong and healthy, with energies as quick and lively as ever, she resolved on a second circuit of the globe. Her funds having been increased by a grant of 1500 florins from the Austrian Government, she left Vienna on the 18th of March 1851, proceeded to London, and thence to Cape Town, where she arrived on the 11th of August. For a while she hesitated between a visit to the interior of Africa and a voyage to Australia; but at last she sailed to Singapore, and determined to explore the East Indian Archipelago. At Sarawak, the British settlement in Borneo, she was warmly welcomed by Sir James Brooke, a man of heroic temper and unusual capacities for command and organization. She adventured among the Dyaks, and journeyed westward to Pontianak, and the diamond mines of Landak. We next meet with her in Java, and afterwards in Sumatra, where she boldly trusted herself among the cannibal Battas, who had hitherto resented the intrusion of any European. Returning to Java, she saw almost all that it had of natural wonders or natural beauties; and then departed on a tour through the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas, visiting Banda, Amboyna, Ceram, Ternate, and Celebes.

For a second time she traversed the Pacific, but on this occasion in an opposite direction. For two months she saw no land; but on the 27th September 1853 she arrived at San Francisco. At the close of the year she sailed for Callao. Thence she repaired to Lima, with the intention of crossing the Andes, and pushing eastward, through the interior of South America, to the Brazilian coast. A revolution in Peru, however, compelled her to change her course, and she returned to Ecuador, which served as a starting-point for her ascent of the Cordilleras. After having the good fortune to witness an eruption of Cotopaxi, she retraced her steps to the west. In the neighbourhood of Guayaquil she had two very narrow escapes: one, by a fall from her mule; and next, by an immersion in the River Guaya, which teems with alligators. Meeting with neither courtesy nor help from the Spanish Americans—a superstitious, ignorant, and degraded race—she gladly set sail for Panama.

At the end of May she crossed the Isthmus, and sailed to New Orleans. Thence she ascended the Mississippi to Napoleon, and the Arkansas to Fort Smith. After suffering from a severe attack of fever, she made her way to St. Louis, and then directed her steps northward to St. Paul, the Falls of St. Antony, Chicago, and thence to the great Lakes and "mighty Niagara." After an excursion into Canada, she visited New York, Boston, and other great cities, crossed the Atlantic, and arrived in England on the 21st of November 1854. Two years later she published a narrative of her adventures, entitled "My Second Journey Round the World."

Madame Pfeiffer's last voyage was to Madagascar, and will be found described in the closing chapter of this little volume. In Madagascar she contracted a dangerous illness, from which she temporarily recovered; but on her return to Europe it was evident that her constitution had received a severe blow. She gradually grew weaker. Her disease proved to be cancer of the liver, and the physicians pronounced it incurable. After lingering a few weeks in much pain, she passed away on the night of the 27th of October 1858, in the sixty-third year of her age.

* * * * *

This remarkable woman is described as of short stature, thin, and slightly bent. Her movements were deliberate and measured. She was well- knit and of considerable physical energy, and her career proves her to have been possessed of no ordinary powers of endurance. The reader might probably suppose that she was what is commonly known as a strong-minded woman. The epithet would suit her if seriously applied, for she had undoubtedly a clear, strong intellect, a cool judgment, and a resolute purpose; but it would be thoroughly inapplicable in the satirical sense in which it is commonly used. There was nothing masculine about her. On the contrary, she was so reserved and so unassuming that it required an intimate knowledge of her to fathom the depths of her acquirements and experience. "In her whole appearance and manner," we are told, "was a staidness that seemed to indicate the practical housewife, with no thought soaring beyond her domestic concerns."

This quiet, silent woman, travelled nearly 20,000 miles by land and 150,000 miles by sea; visiting regions which no European had previously penetrated, or where the bravest men had found it difficult to make their way; undergoing a variety of severe experiences; opening up numerous novel and surprising scenes; and doing all this with the scantiest means, and unassisted by powerful protection or royal patronage. We doubt whether the entire round of human enterprise presents anything more remarkable or more admirable. And it would be unfair to suppose that she was actuated only by a feminine curiosity. Her leading motive was a thirst for knowledge. At all events, if she had a passion for travelling, it must be admitted that her qualifications as a traveller were unusual. Her observation was quick and accurate; her perseverance was indefatigable; her courage never faltered; while she possessed a peculiar talent for first awakening, and then profiting by, the interest and sympathy of those with whom she came in contact.

To assert that her travels were wholly without scientific value would be unjust; Humboldt and Carl Ritter were of a different opinion. She made her way into regions which had never before been trodden by European foot; and the very fact of her sex was a frequent protection in her most dangerous undertakings. She was allowed to enter many places which would have been rigorously barred against male travellers. Consequently, her communications have the merit of embodying many new facts in geography and ethnology, and of correcting numerous popular errors. Science derived much benefit also from her valuable collections of plants, animals, and minerals.

We conclude with the eulogium pronounced by an anonymous biographer:—"Straightforward in character, and endued with high principle, she possessed, moreover, a wisdom and a promptitude in action seldom equalled among her sex. Ida Pfeiffer may, indeed, justly be classed among those women who richly compensate for the absence of outward charms by their remarkable energy and the rare qualities of their minds."

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Prompted by a boundless thirst for knowledge and an insatiable desire to see new places and new things, Madame Pfeiffer left Vienna on the 1st of May 1846, and proceeded to Hamburg, where she embarked on board a Danish brig, the Caroline, for Rio Janeiro. As the voyage was divested of romantic incidents, we shall land the reader without delay at the great sea-port of the Brazilian empire.

The traveller's description of it is not very favourably coloured. The streets are dirty, and the houses, even the public buildings, insignificant. The Imperial Palace has not the slightest architectural pretensions. The finest square is the Largo do Roico, but this would not be admitted into Belgravia. It is impossible to speak in high terms even of the churches, the interior of which is not less disappointing than their exterior. And as is the town, so are the inhabitants. Negroes and mulattoes do not make up attractive pictures. Some of the Brazilian and Portuguese women, however, have handsome and expressive countenances.

Most writers indulge in glowing descriptions of the scenery and climate of the Brazils; of the cloudless, radiant sky, and the magic of the never- ending spring. Madame Ida Pfeiffer admits that the vegetation is richer, and the soil more fruitful, and nature more exuberantly active than in any other part of the world; but still, she says, it must not be thought that all is good and beautiful, and that there is nothing to weaken the powerful effect of the first impression. The constant blaze of colour after a while begins to weary; the eye wants rest; the monotony of the verdure oppresses; and we begin to understand that the true loveliness of spring is only rightly appreciated when it succeeds the harsher aspects of winter.

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Europeans suffer much from the climate. The moisture is very considerable, and renders the heat, which in the hot months rises to 99 degrees in the shade, and 122 degrees in the sun, more difficult to bear. Fogs and mists are disagreeably common; and whole tracts of country are often veiled by an impenetrable mist.

The Brazils suffer, too, from a plague of insects,—from mosquitoes, ants, baraten, and sand-fleas; against the attacks of which the traveller finds it difficult to defend himself. The ants often appear in trains of immeasurable length, and pursue their march over every obstacle that stands in the way. Madame Pfeiffer, during her residence at a friend's house, beheld the advance of a swarm of this description. It was really interesting to see what a regular line they formed; nothing could make them deviate from the direction on which they had first determined. Madame Geiger, her friend, told her she was awakened one night by a terrible itching: she sprang out of bed immediately, and lo, a swarm of ants were passing over it! There is no remedy for the infliction, except to wait, with as much patience as one can muster, for the end of the procession, which frequently lasts four to six hours. It is possible, to some extent, to protect provisions against their attacks, by placing the legs of the tables in basins filled with water. Clothes and linen are enclosed in tightly-fitting tin canisters.

The worst plague of all, however, are the sand-fleas, which attach themselves to one's toes, underneath the nail, or sometimes to the soles of the feet. When a person feels an irritation in these parts, he must immediately look at the place; and if he discern a tiny black point, surrounded by a small white ring, the former is the chigoe, or sand- flea, and the latter the eggs which it has deposited in the flesh. The first thing to be done is to loosen the skin all round as far as the white skin is visible; the whole deposit is then extracted, and a little snuff strewn in the empty space. The blacks perform this operation with considerable skill.

Rich as the Brazils are in natural productions, they are wanting in many articles which Europeans regard as of the first importance. There are sugar and coffee, it is true; but no corn, no potatoes, and none of our delightful varieties of fruit. The flour of manioc, obtained from the cassava plant, which forms a staple portion of almost every dish, supplies the place of bread, but is far from being so nutritious and strengthening; while the different kinds of sweet-tasting roots are far inferior in value to our potato. The only fruit which Madame Pfeiffer thought really excellent, were the oranges, bananas, and mangoes. The pine-apples are neither very sweet nor very fragrant. And with regard to two most important articles of consumption, the milk is very watery, and the meat very dry.

* * * * *

Our traveller, during her sojourn at Rio Janeiro, made many interesting excursions in the neighbourhood. One was directed to Petropolis, a colony founded by Germans in the heart of scenery of the most exquisite character. Accompanied by Count Berchthold, she sailed for Porto d'Estrella in one of the regular coasting barks. Their course carried them across a bay remarkable for its picturesque views. It lies calmly in the embrace of richly-wooded hills, and is studded with islands, like a silver shield with emerald bosses. Some of these islands are completely overgrown with palms, while others are masses of huge rock, with a carpet of green turf.

Their bark was manned by four negroes and a white skipper. At first they ran merrily before a favourable wind, but in two hours the crew were compelled to take to the oars, the method of using which was exceedingly fatiguing. At each dip of the oar, the rower mounts upon a bench in front of him, and then, during the stroke, throws himself off again, with his full force. In two hours more they passed into the river Geromerino, and made their way through a world of beautiful aquatic plants which covered the tranquil waters in every direction. The river banks are flat, and fringed with underwood and young trees; the background is formed by ranges of low green hills.

At Porto d'Estrella, Madame Pfeiffer and her companion landed, and proceeded on foot towards Petropolis. The first eight miles lay through a broad valley, clothed with dense brambles and young trees, and shadowed by lofty mountains. The wild pine-apples by the roadside were very fair to see; they were not quite ripe, but tinted of the most delicate red. Beautiful humming-birds flashed through the air like "winged jewels," and studded the dense foliage with points of many-coloured light.

After passing through the valley, they reached the Sierra, as the Brazilians term the practicable mountain-summits. It was three thousand feet in height, and was ascended by a broad paved road, striking through the depths of virgin forests.

Madame Pfeiffer had always imagined that the trees in virgin forests had very thick and lofty trunks; but such was not the case here; probably because the vegetation was too luxuriant, and the larger trunks have the life crushed out of them by masses of smaller trees, bushes, creepers, and parasites.

Frequent truppas, or teams of ten mules driven by a negro, as well as numerous pedestrians, enlivened the path, and prevented our travellers from observing that their steps were persistently followed up by a negro. When, however, they arrived at a somewhat lonely spot, this negro suddenly sprang forward, holding a lasso in one hand and a long knife in the other, and with threatening gestures gave them to understand that he intended to murder them, and then drag their dead bodies into the forest!

The travellers were without arms, having been told the road was perfectly safe; their only weapons were their umbrellas, with the exception of a clasp-knife. This the brave woman drew from her pocket and opened, in the calm resolution to sell her life as dearly as possible. With their umbrellas they parried their adversary's blows as long as they could; but he caught hold of Madame Ida's, which snapped off, leaving only a piece of the handle in her hand. In the struggle, however, he dropped his knife, which rolled a few steps away from him. Madame Ida immediately made a dash at it, and thought she had secured it; but, quicker in his movements than she was, he thrust her away with his hands and feet, and once more obtained possession of it. Waving it furiously over his head, he slashed her twice in the upper part of the left arm. All seemed lost; but in her extreme peril the brave lady bethought her of her own knife, and struck at her adversary, wounding him in the hand. At the same moment Count Berchthold sprang forward, and while he seized the villain with both arms, Madame Ida Pfeiffer recovered her feet. All this took place in less than a minute. The negro was now roused into a condition of maniacal fury; he gnashed his teeth like a wild beast, and brandished his knife, while uttering fearful threats. The issue of the contest would probably have been disastrous, but for the opportune arrival of assistance. Hearing the tramp of horses' hoofs upon the road, the negro desisted from his attack, and sprang into the forest. A couple of horsemen turning the corner of the road, our travellers hurried to meet them; and having told their tale, which, indeed, their wounds told eloquently enough, they leaped from their horses, and entered the wood in pursuit. A couple of negroes soon afterwards coming up, the villain was captured, securely pinioned, and, as he would not walk, severely beaten, until, as most of the blows fell upon his head, Madame Ida Pfeiffer feared that the wretch's skull would be broken. Nothing, however, would induce him to walk, and the negroes were compelled to carry him bodily, to the nearest house.

The colony of Petropolis proved to be situated in the depth of a virgin forest, at an elevation of 2500 feet above the sea-level. At the time of Madame Pfeiffer's visit it was about fourteen months old, having been founded for the special purpose of providing the capital with fruits and vegetables which, in tropical climates, will thrive only in very elevated situations. It was, of course, in a very rudimentary condition, the mere embryo of a town; but the country around it was very picturesque.

* * * * *

Madame Pfeiffer's second excursion was into the interior; and it opened up to her a variety of interesting scenes,—as, for instance, a manioc- fazenda, or plantation. The manioc plant, it appears, throws off stalks from four to six feet in height, with a number of large leaves at their upper extremities. The valuable portion of the plant is its bulbous root, which frequently weighs two or three pounds, and supplies the place of corn throughout the Brazils. It is washed, peeled, and held against the rough edge of a mill-stone, until it is completely ground into flour. This flour is collected in a basket, steeped thoroughly in water, and afterwards pressed quite dry by means of a press. Lastly, it is scattered upon large iron plates, and slowly dried over a gentle fire. At this stage it resembles a very coarse kind of flour, and is eaten in two ways;—either mixed with hot water, until it forms a kind of porridge; or baked in the form of coarse flour, which is handed round at table in little baskets.

She also saw a coffee plantation. The coffee-trees stand in rows upon tolerably steep hillocks. Their height ranges from six feet to twelve; and they begin to bear sometimes as early as the second, but in no case later than the third year. They are productive for at least ten years. The leaf is long and slightly serrated, and the flower white; while the fruit hangs down like a cluster of grapes, and resembles a large cherry, which varies from green to red, then to brown, and almost black. While red, the outer shell is soft; but eventually it becomes perfectly hard, until it may be compared to a wooden capsule. Blossoms and ripe fruit are found on the same tree at the same time; so that a crop may be gathered at almost any season of the year. After the berries are plucked, they are spread out in spacious areas enclosed by a wall about twelve feet high, with small drains to carry off the rain-water. Here the coffee is allowed to dry in the heat of the sun, and it is then shaken into large stone mortars, where it is lightly pounded with wooden hammers, set in motion by water power. The whole mass falls into wooden boxes attached to a long table, at which sit the negro workers, who separate the coffee from the husk, and put it into flat copper pans. In these it is carefully and skilfully turned about over a slow fire, until desiccation is complete. On the whole, says Madame Ida Pfeiffer, the preparation of the coffee is not laborious, and the harvest much more easily gathered than one of corn. The negro, while plucking the coffee, stands erect, and the tree protects him from the heat of the sun. His only danger is from poisonous snakes, and a sting from one of these is a very rare occurrence.

Another novelty which much impressed our traveller was the sight of the frequent burning forests. These are set on fire in order to clear the ground for cultivation. In most cases she viewed the tremendous spectacle from a distance; but one day she realized it in all its details, as her road lay between a wood in flames on the one hand, and the brushwood, crackling and seething, on the other. The space between the double rows of fire did not exceed fifty paces in breadth, and was completely buried in smoke. The spluttering and hissing of the fire was distinctly audible, and through the dense mass of vapour shot upward thick shafts and tongues of flame, while now and then the large trees crashed to the ground, with loud reports, like those of artillery.

[A Forest of Fire: page45.jpg]

"On seeing my guide enter this fiery gulf," says our traveller, "I was, I must confess, rather frightened;" and her dread was surely very excusable. She plucked up courage, however, when she saw that her guide pushed forward. On the threshold, so to speak, sat two negroes, to indicate the safe, and, in truth, the only path. The guide, in obedience to their warning, spurred on his mule, and, followed by Madame Pfeiffer, galloped at full speed across the desert of fire. Flames to the right of them, flames to the left of them, onward they dashed, and happily effected the passage in safety.

* * * * *

Madame Pfeiffer gives a bright description of the beauties of the road as she pushed further into the interior. Crossing a small waterfall, she struck right into the depths of the virgin forest, pursuing a narrow path which ran along the bank of a little stream. Palms, with their lordly crests, soared high above the other trees, which, intertwined by inextricable boughs, formed the loveliest fairy-bowers imaginable; every stem, every branch was luxuriously festooned with fantastic orchids; while creepers and ferns glided up the tall, smooth trunks, mingling with the boughs, and hanging in every direction waving curtains of flowers, of the sweetest odours and the most vivid colours. With shrill twittering cry and rapid wings flashed the humming-bird from bough to bough; the pepper-pecker, with glowing plumage, soared timorously upwards; while parrots and paroquets, and innumerable birds of beautiful appearance, added, by their cries and motions, to the liveliness of the scene.

Madame Pfeiffer visited an Indian village. It lay deep in the forest recesses, and consisted of five huts, or rather sheds, formed of leaves, and measuring eighteen feet by twelve feet, erected under lofty trees. The frames were formed of four poles stuck in the ground, with another reaching across; and the roof was wrought of palm-leaves, by no means impervious to the rain. The sides were open. In the interior hung a hammock or two; and on the earth a few roots, Indian corn, and bananas were roasting under a heap of ashes. In one corner, under the roof, a small supply of provisions was hoarded up, and round about were scattered a few gourds; these are used by the Puris as substitutes for "crockery." Their weapons, the long bows and arrows, leaned against the wall.

Madame Pfeiffer describes the Puri Indians as even uglier than the negroes. Their complexion is a light bronze; they are stunted in stature, well-knit, and about the middle size. Their features are broad and somewhat compressed; their hair is thick, long, and of a coal-black colour. The men wear it hanging straight down; the women, in plaits fastened to the back of the head, and sometimes falling loosely down about their persons. Their forehead is broad and low, and the nose somewhat flattened; the eyes are long and narrow, almost like those of the Chinese; and the mouth is large, with rather thick lips. To enhance the effect of these various charms, the countenance bears a peculiar look of stupidity, which may be attributed perhaps to the way in which the mouth is kept always open. Women, as well as males, are generally tattooed of a reddish or blue colour, round the mouth, moustachio-wise. Both sexes are addicted to smoking, and look upon brandy as the summum bonum of human life.

The Indians, ugly as they were, gave Madame Pfeiffer a hospitable welcome. After an evening meal, in which roasted monkey and parrot were the chief dishes, they performed one of their characteristic dances. A quantity of wood was heaped up into a funeral pile, and set on fire; the men then danced around it in a ring. They threw their bodies from side to side with much awkwardness, but always moving the head forward in a straight line. The women then joined in, forming at a short distance behind the men, and imitating all their movements. A horrible noise arose; this was intended for a song, the singers at the same time distorting their features frightfully. One of them performed on a kind of stringed instrument, made out of the stem of a cabbage-palm, and about two feet, or two feet and a half, in length. A hole was cut in it slantwise, and six fibres of the stem were kept up in an elevated position at each end, by means of a small bridge. The fingers played upon these as upon a guitar, drawing forth a very low, harsh, and disagreeable tone. The dance, thus pleasingly accompanied, was called the Dance of Peace and Joy.

A wilder measure was next undertaken by the men alone. They first equipped themselves with bows, arrows, and stout clubs; then they formed a circle, indulged in the most rapid and fantastic movements, and brandished their clubs as if dealing death to a hundred foes. Suddenly they broke their ranks, strung their bows, placed their arrows ready, and represented all the evolutions of shooting after a flying foe, giving utterance to the most piercing cries, which resounded through the forest- glades. Madame Pfeiffer, believing that she was really surrounded by enemies, started up in terror, and was heartily glad when the dance ended.

[Cape Horn: page51.jpg]

From Rio Janeiro Madame Pfeiffer sailed in an English ship, the John Renwick, on the 9th of December, bound for Valparaiso in Chili. She kept to the south, touching at Santos, where the voyagers celebrated New- Year's Day, and reaching the mouth of the Rio Plata on the 11th of January. In these latitudes the Southern Cross is the most conspicuous object in the heavens. It consists of four stars of much brilliancy, arranged in two diagonal rows. Late in the month the voyagers sighted the sterile shores and barren mountains of Patagonia, and next the volcanic rocks, wave-worn and wind-worn, of Tierra del Fuego. Through the Strait of Le Maire, which separates the latter from Staten Island, they sailed onward to the extreme southern point of the American continent, the famous promontory of Cape Horn. It is the termination of the mighty mountain-chain of the Andes, and is formed of a mass of colossal basaltic rocks, thrown together in wild disorder, as by a Titan's hand.

Rounding Cape Horn they encountered a violent gale, which lasted for several days; and soon discovered, like other voyagers, how little the great southern ocean deserves its name of the Pacific. But they reached Valparaiso in safety. Its appearance, however, did not very favourably impress Madame Ida Pfeiffer. It is laid out in two long streets at the foot of dreary hills, these hills consisting of a pile of rocks covered with thin strata of earth and sand. Some of them are covered with houses; on one of them is the churchyard; the others are bare and solitary. The two chief streets are broad, and much frequented, especially by horsemen; for every Chilian is born a horseman, and is usually mounted on a steed worthy of a good rider.

Valparaiso houses are European in style, with flat Italian roofs. Broad steps lead up into a lofty entrance-hall on the first floor, from which, through large glass doors, the visitor passes into the drawing-room and other apartments. The drawing-room is the pride not only of every European settler, but of every native Chilian. The foot sinks into heavy and costly carpets; the walls are emblazoned with rich tapestry; the furniture and mirrors are of European make, and sumptuous in the extreme; and every table presents the evidence of refined taste in gorgeous albums, adorned with the choicest engravings.

As to the lower classes of the population, if we would obtain an idea of their manners and customs, we must stroll on a fete-day into one of their eating-houses.

In one corner, on the ground, crackles a tremendous fire, surrounded by innumerable pots and pans, between which are wooden spits with beef and pork, simmering and roasting with appetizing savour. A rude wooden frame- work, with a long broad plank on it, occupies the middle of the room, and is covered with a cloth, the original colour of which it is impossible to determine. This is the guest-table. The dinner is served up in the most primitive fashion imaginable, all the viands being heaped up in one dish; beans and rice, potatoes and roast beef, onions and paradise apples, forming a curious medley. The appetites of the guests are keen, and no time is wasted in talking. At the end of the repast, a goblet of wine or water passes from hand to hand; after which every tongue is loosened. In the evening a guitar strikes up, and dancing becomes general.

A singular custom prevails among the Chilians on the death of a little child. This incident, in most European families, is attended by much sorrow: the Chilian parents make it the occasion of a great festival. The deceased angelito, or little angel, is adorned in various ways. Its eyes, instead of being closed, are opened as wide as possible; its cheeks are painted red; then the cold rigid corpse is dressed in the finest clothes, crowned with flowers, and set up in a little chair in a flower- garlanded niche. The relatives and neighbours flock in, to wish the parents joy on the possession of such an angel; and, during the first night, they all indulge in the most extravagant dances, and feast with sounds of wildest merriment before the angelito.

Madame Pfeiffer heard from a merchant the following story:—A grave-digger, on his way to the churchyard with one of these deceased angelitos, tarried at a tavern to refresh himself with a cup of wine. The landlord inquired what he was carrying under his cloak, and on learning that it was an angelito, offered him a shilling for it. A bargain was soon struck; the landlord quickly fitted up a flowery niche in the drinking-saloon, and then took care that his neighbours should know what a treasure he had acquired. They came; they admired the angelito; they drank copiously in its honour. But the parents hearing of the affair, interfered, carried away their dead child, and summoned the landlord before the magistrate. The latter gravely heard the pleadings on both sides, and as no such case was mentioned in the statute-book, arranged it amicably, to the satisfaction of both parties.

[Scene in Tahiti: page57.jpg]

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Wearying of Valparaiso, our restless and adventurous traveller, who was bent upon accomplishing a voyage round the world, took her passage for China in the Dutch barque Lootpurt, Captain Van Wyk Jurianse.

They sailed from Valparaiso on the 18th of March, and on the 26th of April came in sight of that gem of the South Seas, Tahiti, the Otaheite of Captain Cook, and the largest and most beautiful of the Society group. From the days of Bougainville, its discoverer, down to those of "the Earl and the Doctor," who recently published a narrative of their visit, it has been the theme of admiration for the charms of its scenery. It lifts its lofty summit out of a wealth of luxuriant vegetation, which descends to the very margin of a sea as blue as the sky above it. Cool green valleys penetrate into its mountain-recesses, and their slopes are loaded with groves of bread-fruit and cocoa-nut trees. The inhabitants, physically speaking, are not unworthy of their island-Eden; they are a tall, robust, and well-knit race, and would be comely but for their custom of flattening the nose as soon as the child is born. They have fine dark eyes, and thick jet-black hair. The colour of their skin is a copper-brown. Both sexes are tattooed, generally from the hips half down the legs, and frequently over the hands, feet, and other parts of the body; the devices being often very fanciful in design, and always artistically executed.

The women of Tahiti have always been notorious for their immodesty, and the island, notwithstanding the labours of zealous missionaries, continues to be the Polynesian Paphos. The French protectorate from which it suffers has not raised the moral standard of the population.

Madame Pfeiffer undertook an excursion to the Lake Vaihiria, assuming for the nonce a semi-masculine attire, which any less strong-minded and adventurous woman would probably have refused. She wore, she tells us, strong men's shoes, trousers, and a blouse, which was fastened high up about the hips. Thus equipped, she started off with her guide, crossing about two-and-thirty brooks before they entered the ravines leading into the interior of the island.

She noticed that as they advanced the fruit-trees disappeared, and instead, the slopes were covered with plantains, taros, and marantas; the last attaining a height of twelve feet, and growing so luxuriantly that it is with some difficulty the traveller makes his way through the tangle. The taro, which is carefully cultivated, averages two or three feet high, and has fine large leaves and tubers like those of the potato, but not so good when roasted. There is much gracefulness in the appearance of the plantain, or banana, which varies from twelve to fifteen feet in height, and has leaves like those of the palm, but a brittle reed-like stem, about eight inches in diameter. It attains its full growth in the first year, bears fruit in the second, and then dies. Thus its life is as brief as it is useful.

Through one bright mountain-stream, which swept along the ravine over a stony bed, breaking up into eddies and tiny whirlpools, and in some places attaining a depth of three feet, Madame Pfeiffer and her guide waded or half-swam two-and-sixty times. The resolute spirit of the woman, however, never failed her; and though the path at every step became more difficult and dangerous, she persisted in pressing forward. She clambered over rocks and stones; she forced her way through inter- tangled bushes; and though severely wounded in her hands and feet, never hesitated for a moment. In two places the ravine narrowed so considerably that the entire space was filled by the brawling torrent. It was here that the islanders, during their struggle against French occupation, threw up stone walls five feet in height, as a barrier against the enemy.

In eight hours the bold traveller and her guide had walked, waded, and clambered fully eighteen miles, and had attained an elevation of eighteen hundred feet. The lake itself was not visible until they stood upon its shores, as it lies bosomed in a deep hollow, among lofty and precipitous mountains which descend with startling abruptness to the very brink of its dark, deep waters. To cross the lake it is necessary to put one's trust in one's swimming powers, or in a curiously frail kind of boat, which the natives prepare with equal rapidity and skill. Madame Pfeiffer, however, was nothing if not adventurous. Whatever there was to be dared, she immediately dared. At her request, the guide made the usual essay at boat-building. He tore off some plantain branches, bound them together with long tough grass, laid a few leaves upon them, launched them in the water, and requested Madame Pfeiffer to embark. She confesses to having felt a little hesitation, but without saying a word, she stepped on board. Then her guide took to the water like a duck, and pushed her forward. The passage across the lake, and back again, was in this way accomplished without any accident.

Having satiated herself with admiring the lake and its surrounding scenery, she retired to a little nook roofed over with leaves, where her guide quickly kindled a good fire in the usual Indian fashion. He cut a small piece of wood to a fine point, and then selecting a second piece, grooved it with a narrow and not very deep furrow. In this he rubbed the pointed stick until the fragments detached during the process began to smoke. These he flung into a heap of dry leaves and grass previously collected, and swung the whole several times round in the air, until it broke out into flames. The entire process did not occupy above two minutes. Gathering a few plantains, these were roasted for supper; after which Madame Pfeiffer withdrew to her solitary couch of dry leaves, to sleep as best she might. It is impossible not to wonder at the marvellous physical capability of this adventurous woman, no less than at her courage, her resolution, and her perseverance. How many of her sex could bear for a week the fatigue and exposure to which she subjected herself year after year?

The next morning she accomplished the return journey in safety.

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[Hong-Kong: page65.jpg]

On the 17th of May she left Tahiti, the Dutch vessel in which she had embarked being bound via the Philippines. They passed this rich and radiant group of islands on the 1st of July, and the next day entered the dangerous China Sea. A few days afterwards they reached Hong-Kong, which has been an English settlement since 1842. Here Madame Pfeiffer made no long stay, for she desired to see China and the Chinese with as little intermixture of the European element as possible. So she ascended the Pearl river, the banks of which are covered with immense plantations of rice, and studded with quaint little country-houses, of the genuine Chinese pattern, with sloping, pointed roofs, and mosaics of variously coloured tiles, to Canton, one of the great commercial centres of the Flowery Land. As she approached she surveyed with wonder the animated scene before her. The river was crowded with ships and inhabited boats. Junks there were, almost as large as the old Spanish galleons, with poops impending far over the water, and covered in with a roof, like a house. Men-of-war there were, flat, broad, and long, mounted with twenty or thirty guns, and adorned in the usual Chinese fashion, with two large painted eyes at the prow, that they may be the better able to find their way. Mandarins' boats she saw, with doors, and sides, and windows gaily painted, with carved galleries, and tiny silken flags fluttering from every point. And flower-boats she also saw; their upper galleries decked with flowers, garlands, and arabesques, as if these were barks fitted out for the service of Titania and her fairy company. The interior is divided into one large apartment and a few cabinets, which are lighted by windows of fantastic design. Mirrors and silk hangings embellish the walls, while the enchanting scene is completed with an ample garniture of glass chandeliers and coloured paper lanterns, interspersed with lovely little baskets of fresh flowers.

It is not necessary to attempt a description of Canton, with its pagodas, houses, shops, and European factories. Let us direct our attention to the manners, customs, and peculiarities of its inhabitants. As to dress and appearance, the costume of both sexes, among the lower orders, consists of full trousers and long upper garments, and is chiefly remarkable for its "excessive filth." Baths and ablutions have no charm for the Chinaman; he scorns to wear a shirt, and he holds by his trousers until they drop from his body. The men's upper garments reach a little below the knee, the women's about half way down the calf. They are made of nankeen, or dark blue, brown, or black silk. During the cold season both men and women wear one summer garment over the other, keeping the whole together with a girdle; in the extreme heat, however, they suffer them to float as free as "Nora Creina's robes" in Moore's pretty ballad.

The men keep their heads shaved, with the exception of a small patch at the back, where the hair is carefully cultivated and plaited into a cue. The thicker and longer this cue is, the prouder is its owner; false hair and black ribbon, therefore, are all deftly worked into it, with the result of forming an appendage which often reaches down to the ankles! While at work the owner twists it round his neck, but on entering a room he lets it down again, as it would be contrary to all the laws of etiquette and courtesy for a person to make his appearance with his cue twisted up. The women comb their hair entirely back from their forehead, and fasten it to the head in the most artistic plaits. The process occupies a considerable time, but when the hair is once dressed it is not retouched for a whole week. Both men and women frequently go about with heads uncovered; but sometimes they wear hats of thin bamboo, three feet in diameter. These are not only an adequate protection against sun and rain, but are exceedingly durable.

Large numbers of Chinese live a kind of aquatic life, and make their home on board a river-boat. The husband goes on shore to his work, and his wife meantime adds to the income of the family by ferrying persons from bank to bank, or letting out the boat to pleasure parties—always reserving one half of its accommodation for herself and household. Room is not very abundant, as the whole boat does not exceed twenty-five feet in length; but everywhere the greatest order and cleanliness are apparent, each separate plank being enthusiastically scrubbed and washed every morning. It is worth notice how each inch of space is turned to the best advantage, room being made even for the lares and penates. All the washing and cooking are done during the day; yet the pleasure party is never in the least degree inconvenienced.

Of course our traveller was attracted by the diminutiveness of the feet of the Chinese women, and she had an opportunity of examining one of these tiny monstrosities in natura. Four of the toes were bent under the sole of the foot, to which they were firmly pressed, and simultaneously with which they appeared to have grown, if growth it can be called; the great toe alone remained in its natural state. The fore part of the foot had been so swathed and compressed by tight bandages, that, instead of expanding in length and breadth, it had shot upwards, so as to form a large lump at the instep, where it became, so to speak, a portion of the leg; the lower part of the foot was scarcely five inches long, and an inch and a half broad. The feet are always encased in white linen or silk, with silk bandages over all, and are then stuffed into pretty little shoes with very high heels. "To my astonishment," says Madame Pfeiffer, "these deformed beings tripped about, as if in defiance of us broad-footed creatures, with tolerable ease, the only difference in their gait being that they waddled like geese; they even ran up and down stairs without a stick." She adds, that the value of a bride is reckoned by the smallness of her feet.

It was characteristic of Madame Pfeiffer that she found means to see much which no European woman had ever seen before. She obtained access even to a Buddhist temple,—that of Houan, reputed to be one of the finest in China. The sacred enclosure is surrounded by a high wall. The visitor enters first a large outer court, at the extremity of which a huge gateway opens upon an inner court. Beneath the arch stand two statues of war-gods, each eighteen feet high, with terribly distorted faces and the most menacing attitudes; these are supposed to prevent the approach of evil genii. A second portal, of similar construction, under which are placed the "four heavenly kings," leads to a third court, surrounding the principal temple, a structure one hundred feet in length, and of equal breadth. On rows of wooden pillars is supported a flat roof, from which glass lamps, lustres, artificial flowers, and brightly-coloured ribbons hang suspended. All about the area are scattered statues, altars, vases of flowers, censers, candelabra, and other accessories.

But the eye is chiefly attracted by the three altars in the foreground, with the three coloured statues behind them, of Buddha, seated, as emblematic of Past, Present, and Future. On the occasion of Madame Pfeiffer's visit a service was being performed,—a funeral ceremony in honour of a mandarin's deceased wife, and at his expense. Before the altars on the right and left stood several priests, in garments strangely resembling, as did the ceremonial observances, those of the Roman Church. The mandarin himself, attended by two servants armed with large fans, prayed before the central altar. He kissed the ground repeatedly, and each time he did so three sweet-scented wax-tapers were put into his hand. After raising them in the air, he handed them to the priests, who then stationed them, unlighted, before the Buddha images. Meantime, the temple resounded with the blended strains of three musicians, one of whom struck a metal ball, the other scraped a stringed instrument, and the third educed shrill notes from a kind of flute.

This principal temple is surrounded by numerous smaller sanctuaries, each decorated with images of deities, rudely wrought, but glowing with gilt and vivid colours. Special reverence seems to be accorded to Kwanfootse, a demigod of War, and the four-and-twenty gods of Mercy. These latter have four, six, and even eight arms. In the Temple of Mercy Madame Pfeiffer met with an unpleasant adventure. A Bonze had offered her and her companions a couple of wax tapers to light in honour of the god. They were on the point of complying, as a matter of civility, when an American missionary, who made one of the party, snatched them roughly from their hands, and gave them back to the priests, protesting that such compliance was idolatrous. The Bonze, in high indignation, closed the door, and summoned his brethren, who hurried in from all sides, and jostled and pushed and pressed, while using the most violent language. It was not without difficulty they forced their way through the crowd, and escaped from the temple.

The guide next led the curiosity-hunters to the so-called House of the Sacred Swine. The greatest attention is paid to these porcine treasures, and they reside in a spacious stone hall; but not the less is the atmosphere heavy with odours that are not exactly those of Araby the Blest. Throughout their sluggish existence the swine are carefully fed and cherished, and no cruel knife cuts short the thread of their destiny. At the time of Madame Pfeiffer's visit only one pair were enjoying their otium cum dignitate, and the number rarely exceeds three pairs.

Peeping into the interior of a Bonze's house, the company came upon an opium-smoker. He lay stretched upon a mat, with small tea-cups beside him, some fruit, a tiny lamp, and several miniature-headed pipes, from one of which he was inhaling the intoxicating smoke. It is said that some of the Chinese opium-smokers consume as much as twenty or thirty grains daily. This poor wretch was not wholly unconscious of the presence of visitors; and, laying by his pipe, he raised himself from the ground, and dragged his body to a chair. With deadly pale face and fixed, staring eyes, he presented a miserable appearance.

* * * * *

Our traveller also visited a pagoda,—the Half-Way Pagoda; so called by the English because it is situated half-way between Canton and Whampoa. On a small hillock, in the midst of vast tracts of rice, it raises its nine stories to a height of one hundred and seventy feet. Though formerly of great repute, it is now deserted. The interior has been stripped of statues and ornaments, and the floors having been removed, the visitor sees to the very summit. Externally, each stage is indicated by a small balcony without railing, access being obtained by steep and narrow flights of stairs. A picturesque effect is produced by these projections, as everybody knows who has examined a "willow-pattern" plate. They are built of coloured bricks, which are laid in rows, with their points jutting obliquely outwards, and faced with variegated tiles.

Even more interesting was Madame Pfeiffer's peep into the "domestic interior" of Mandarin Howqua.

The house was of large size, but only one story high, with wide and splendid terraces. The windows looked into the inner courts. At the entrance were two painted images of gods to ward off evil spirits, like the horse-shoe formerly suspended to the cottages and barns of our English peasants.

The front part was divided into several reception rooms, without front walls; and adjoining these, bloomed bright and gaily-ordered parterres of flowers and shrubs. The magnificent terraces above also bloomed with blossom, and commanded a lively view of the crowded river, and of the fine scenery that spreads around Canton. Elegant little cabinets surrounded these rooms, being separated by thin partitions, through which the eye could easily penetrate, and frequently embellished with gay and skilfully-executed paintings. The material used was chiefly bamboo, which was as delicate as gauze, and copiously decorated with painted flowers or beautifully-written proverbs.

The chairs and sofas were numerous, and of really artistic workmanship. Some of the arm-chairs were cunningly wrought out of a single piece of wood. The seats of others were beautiful marble slabs; of others, again, fine coloured tiles or porcelain. Articles of European manufacture, such as handsome mirrors, clocks, vases, and tables of Florentine mosaic or variegated marble, were plentiful. There was also a remarkable collection of lamps and lanterns pendent from the ceilings, consisting—these lamps and lanterns—of glass, transparent horn, and coloured gauze or paper, ornamented with glass beads, fringe, and tassels. And as the walls were also largely supplied with lamps, the apartments, when lighted up, assumed a truly fairy-like character.

[Chinese House and Garden: page77.jpg]

The mandarin's pleasure-garden stretched along the river-side. Its cultivation was perfect, but no taste was shown in its arrangement. Wherever the visitor turned, kiosks, summer-houses, and bridges confronted her. Every path and open spot were lined with large and small flower-pots, in which grew flowers and liliputian fruit-trees of all kinds. In the art of dwarfing trees, if such distortion and crippling of Nature deserves to be called an art, the Chinese are certainly most accomplished experts; but what can we think of the taste, or want of taste, which prefers pigmies three feet high to the lofty and far-shadowing trees which embellish our English parks and gardens? Why should a civilized people put Nature in fetters, and delight in checking her growth, in limiting her spontaneous energies?

Here are some particulars about the tea-plant:—In the plantations around Canton, it is not allowed to grow higher than six feet, and is consequently cut at intervals. Its leaves are considered good from the third to the eighth year; and the plant is then cut down, in order that it may throw off new shoots, or else it is rooted out. Three gatherings take place in the year; the first in March, the second in April, and the third, which lasts for three months, in May. So fine and delicate are the leaves of the first gathering, that they might easily be mistaken for the blossom; which undoubtedly has originated the error that the so-called "bloom or imperial tea" consists of the flowers and not of the leaves of the plant.

When gathered, the leaves are thrown for a few seconds into boiling water, and then placed on flat iron plates, inserted slantwise in stone- work. While roasting over a gentle fire, they are continually stirred. As soon as they begin to curl a little, they are scattered over large planks, and each single leaf is rolled together; a process so rapidly accomplished that it requires a person's sole attention to detect that only one leaf is rolled up at a time. This completed, all the leaves are again placed in the pans. Black tea takes some time to roast; and the green is frequently coloured with Prussian blue, an exceedingly small quantity of which is added during the second roasting. Last of all, the tea is once more shaken out upon the boards, and submitted to a careful inspection, the leaves that are not entirely closed being rolled over again.

[Singapore: page81.jpg]

Madame Pfeiffer had an opportunity of tasting a cup of tea made after the most approved Chinese fashion. A small quantity was dropped into a delicate porcelain cup, boiling water was poured upon it, and a tightly- fitting cover then adjusted to the cup. After a few seconds, the infusion was ready for drinking—neither milk, cream, nor sugar being added.

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But we must tarry no longer within the borders of the Celestial Empire. We have to follow Madame Pfeiffer in her wanderings over many seas and through many countries,—for in the course of her adventurous career she saw more of "men and cities" than even the much-travelling Ulysses,—and our limits confine us to brief notices of the most remarkable places she visited.

From China she sailed for the East Indies.

On her way she "looked in" at Singapore, a British settlement, where gather the traders of many Asiatic nations. The scenery which stretches around it is of a rich and agreeable character, and the island on which it is situated excels in fertility of vegetation. A saunter among the plantations of cloves and nutmegs is very pleasant, the air breathing a peculiar balsamic fragrance. The nutmeg-tree is about the size of a good apricot-bush, and from top to bottom is a mass of foliage; the branches grow very low down the stem, and the leaves glitter as if they were varnished. The fruit closely resembles an apricot, covered with spots of yellowish-brown. It bursts on attaining maturity, and then reveals a round kernel, of the size of a nut, embedded in a network, sold as mace, of a beautiful red colour. This network of fibrous material is carefully separated from the nutmeg, and dried in the shade,—being frequently sprinkled with sea-water, to prevent the colour deepening into black, instead of changing into yellow. The nutmeg is likewise dried, exposed a while to the action of smoke, and dipped several times into sea-water containing a weak solution of lime, to prevent it from turning mouldy.

The clove-tree is smaller, and less copiously provided with foliage, than the nutmeg-tree. The buds form what are known to us as cloves; and, of course, are gathered before they have had time to blossom. The areca-nut palm is also plentiful in Singapore. It grows in clusters of from ten to twenty nuts; is somewhat larger than a nutmeg, and of a bright colour, almost resembling gilt.

The Chinese and the natives of the Eastern Islands chew it with betel- leaf and calcined mussel-shells. With a small quantity of the latter they strew the leaf; a very small piece of the nut is added, and the whole is made into a little packet, which they put into their mouth.

Madame Pfeiffer also inspected a sago manufactory. The unprepared farina, which is the pith of the sago palm, is imported from a neighbouring island. The tree is cut down when it is seven years old, split from top to bottom, and the pith extracted from it. Then it is freed from the fibres, pressed in large frames, and dried at the fire or in the sun. At Singapore this pith or meal, which is of a yellowish tint, is steeped in water for several days until completely blanched; it is then once more dried by the fire or in the sun, passed under a large wooden roller, and through a hair sieve. When it has become white and fine, it is placed in a kind of linen winnowing-fan, which is kept damp in a peculiar manner. The workman takes a mouthful of water, and "spirts it out like fine rain over the fan;" the meal being alternately shaken and moistened until it assumes the character of small globules. These are stirred round in large flat pans, until they are dried. Then they are passed through a second sieve, not quite so fine as the first, and the larger globules are separated from the rest.

Pepper and gambir plantations are also among the "sights" of Singapore. The pepper-tree is a small bush-like plant, which, when carefully trained, springs to a height of eighteen feet. The pepper-pods grow in small clusters, and change from red to green, and then to black. White pepper is nothing more than the black pepper blanched by frequent steeping in sea-water. The gambir does not grow taller than eight feet. The leaves, which are used in dyeing, are first stripped from the stalk, and then boiled down in large coppers. The thick juice is placed in white wooden vessels, and dried in the sun; then it is divided into slips about three inches long, and packed up.

Singapore is an island of fruits. It boasts of the delicious mangosteen, which almost melts in the mouth, and delights the palate with its exquisite flavour. It boasts, too, of splendid pine-apples, frequently weighing as much as four pounds. Also of sauersop, as big as the biggest pine-apples, green outside, and white or pale yellow inside, with a taste and fragrance like that of strawberries. Nor must the gumaloh be forgotten: it is divided, like the orange, into sections, but is five times as large, and not quite so sweet. Finally, we must refer to the custard-apple, which is very white (though full of black pips), very soft, and very enticing in flavour.

* * * * *

From Singapore we follow Madame Pfeiffer to Point de Galle, in Ceylon. The appearance of this fair and fertile island from the sea is the theme of every traveller's praise. "It was one of the most magnificent sights I ever beheld," says Madame Pfeiffer, "to see the island soaring gradually from the sea, with its mountain-ranges growing more and more distinctly defined, their summits lighted by the sun, while the dense cocoa-groves, and hills and plains, lay shrouded in shadow." Above the whole towers the purple mass of Adam's Peak; and the eye rests in every direction on the most luxuriant foliage, with verdurous glades, and slopes carpeted with flowers.

Point de Galle presents a curious mixture of races. Cingalese, Kanditons, Tamils from South India, and Moormen, with crimson caftans and shaven crowns, form the bulk of the crowds that throng its streets; but, besides these, there are Portuguese, Chinese, Jews, Arabs, Parsees, Englishmen, Malays, Dutchmen, and half-caste burghers, and now and then a veiled Arabian woman, or a Veddah, one of the aboriginal inhabitants of the island. Sir Charles Dilke speaks of "silent crowds of tall and graceful girls, wearing, as we at first supposed, white petticoats and bodices; their hair carried off the face with a decorated hoop, and caught at the back by a high tortoise-shell comb. As they drew near, moustaches began to show, and I saw that they were men; whilst walking with them were women naked to the waist, combless, and far more rough and 'manly' than their husbands. Petticoat and chignon are male institutions in Ceylon."

* * * * *

Madame Pfeiffer, with unresting energy, visited Colombo and Kandy, the chief towns of the island. At the latter she obtained admission to the Temple of Dagoba, which contains a precious relic of the god Buddha—namely, one of his teeth. The sanctuary containing this sacred treasure is a small chamber or cell, less than twenty feet in breadth. It is enveloped in darkness, as there are no windows; and the door is curtained inside, for the more effectual exclusion of the light. Rich tapestry covers the walls and ceiling. But the chief object is the altar, which glitters with plates of silver, and is incrusted about the edges with precious stones. Upon it stands a bell-shaped case about three feet in height, and three feet in diameter at the base. It is made of silver, elaborately gilt, and decorated with a number of costly jewels. A peacock in the middle blazes with jewels. Six smaller cases, reputed to be of gold, are enclosed within the large one, and under the last is the tooth of Buddha. As it is as large as that of a great bull, one trembles to think how monstrous must have been the jaw of the Indian creed-founder!

[Native boat, Madras: page89.jpg]

* * * * *

Madame Ida Pfeiffer arrived at Madras on the 30th of October. She describes the process of disembarkation; but as her details are few, and refer to a comparatively distant date, we propose to rely on the narrative of a recent traveller.

From time immemorial, he says, the system of landing and embarking passengers and cargo has been by means of native Massulah boats, constructed of mango wood, calked with straw, and sewn together with cocoa-nut fibre. The ships drop their anchors in the roads half a mile from the shore; the Massulah boat pulls off alongside, receives its cargo at the gangway, and is then beached through the surf. It is no uncommon circumstance for the boat alongside, assisted by the rolling of the ship, to rise and fall twenty-five feet relatively to the height of the ship's deck at each undulation. Ladies are lashed into chairs, and from the ship's yard-arm lowered into the boat. In 1860 some improvement was effected by the construction of an iron pier, about nine hundred feet in length, and twenty feet in height. But a spacious and sheltered harbour is now being provided, by means of piers running out from the shore five hundred yards north and south respectively of the screw pile pier now existing, so as to enclose a rectangular area of one thousand yards in length by eight hundred and thirty yards in width, or one hundred and seventy acres. The foundation-stone was laid by the Prince of Wales in the course of his Indian progress in 1876.

Madame Pfeiffer stayed but a few hours at Madras, and her notes respecting it are of no value. We will proceed at once to Calcutta, the "City of Palaces," as it has been called, and the capital of our Indian Empire.

She speaks of the Viceroy's Palace as a magnificent building, and one that would ornament any city in the world. Other noticeable edifices are the Town Hall, the Hospital, the Museum, Ochterlony's Monument, the Mint, and the Cathedral. Ochterlony's Monument is a plain stone column, one hundred and sixty-five feet high, erected in commemoration of a sagacious statesman and an able soldier. From its summit, to which access is obtained by two hundred and twenty-two steps, may be obtained a noble view of the city, the broad reaches of the Ganges, and the fertile plains of Bengal.

The Cathedral is an imposing pile. Its architecture is Gothic, and the interior produces a very fine effect by the harmony of its proportions and the richness of its details. The ill-famed "Black Hole," in which the Rajah Surajah Dowlah confined one hundred and fifty English men and women, when he obtained possession of Calcutta in 1756—confining them in a narrow and noisome cell, which poisoned them with its malarious atmosphere, so that by morning only a few remained alive—is now part of a warehouse. But an obelisk stands at the entrance, inscribed with the names of the victims.

The fashionable promenade at Calcutta is the Maidan. It runs along the bank of the Hooghly, and is bounded on the other side by rows of palatial mansions. It commands a good view of the Viceroy's Palace, the Cathedral, the Ochterlony Column, the strong defensive works of Fort William; and is altogether a very interesting and attractive spot.

Every evening, before sunset, thither wends the fashionable world of Calcutta. The impassive European, with all the proud consciousness of a conquering race; the half-Europeanized baboo; the deposed rajah,—all may be seen driving to and fro in splendid equipages, drawn by handsome steeds, and followed by servants in gay Oriental attire. The rajahs and "nabobs" are usually dressed in gold-embroidered robes of silk, over which are thrown the costliest Indian shawls. Ladies and gentlemen, on English horses of the best blood, canter along the road, or its turfen borders; while crowds of dusky natives gather in all directions, or leisurely move homewards after their day's work. A bright feature of the scene is the animated appearance of the Hooghly: first-class East Indiamen are lying at anchor, ships are arriving or preparing for departure, the native craft incessantly ply to and fro, and a Babel of voices of different nationalities rises on the air.

Here is a picture of the Maidan, drawn by another lady-traveller, Mrs. Murray Mitchell:—

[The Maidan, Calcutta: page95.jpg]

It is, she says, a noble expanse, which, about a hundred years ago, was a wild swampy jungle, famous only for snipe-shooting. Strange to say, it is not, like most Indian plains, burned up and brown, but, from its vicinity to the river, and the frequent showers that visit it, as fresh and green as an English park. It has a few fine tanks, and is sprinkled with some leafy trees; these, however, not so numerous as they were before the cyclones of 1864 and 1867, which swept away its chief natural beauties. Several broad well-kept drives intersect it, and it is ornamented by some graceful gardens and a few handsome columns and statues. Indeed, the Maidan is the centre of all that is grand and imposing; the shabby and the unsightly is kept behind, out of view. Facing it, along its eastern marge, stand the noble pillared palaces of Chowringhee. At one end stands the handsome new Court House; also the Town Hall, and other buildings of less pretence; and, further on, the noble pile of Government House, with four handsome entrance gates, and surrounded by shrubberies and gardens. In front spread the Eden Gardens, a delightful addition to the beauties both of Government House and the Esplanade. From this point the business part of Calcutta extends in a northerly direction, including Dalhousie Square, with its many buildings, among which conspicuous stands the domed Post Office—the vista closing gracefully with the shapely spire of St. Andrew's Church. At the further extremity, nearly two miles across the verdant expanse, are seen the Cathedral, with its noble spire, the General Hospital, and the Jail; and still further, the richly-wooded suburbs of Kidderpore and Alipore. Fort William fronts toward the river, and with its ramparts and buildings forms a striking object; while the whole is bordered and "beautified" by the broad river, with its crowd of masts and flags, its almost innumerable boats, its landing-ghats, and all its life and motion.

* * * * *

[Benares: page99.jpg]

From Calcutta, Madame Pfeiffer proceeded to the city of temples, the sacred city of Hinduism—Benares. She visited several temples, but found them all agreeing in their leading details. That of Vishnu has two towers connected by colonnades, the summits of which are covered with gold plates. Inside are several images of Vishnu and Siva, wreathed with flowers, and strewn over with grains of rice and wheat. Images in metal or stone of the sacred bull are plentiful everywhere; and living bulls wander about freely, the object of special care and adoration. They are free to stray where they will, not in the temple precincts only, but also in the streets.

Among the other buildings, the one most worthy of notice is the Mosque of Aurengzebe, famous on account of its two minarets, which are 150 feet in height, and reported to be the slenderest in the world. They resemble a couple of needles, and certainly better deserve the name than that of Cleopatra at Alexandria. Narrow winding staircases in the interior lead to the summit, on which a small platform, with a balustrade about a foot high, is erected. From this vantage-point a noble view of the city, it is said, may be obtained; but few persons, we should think, have heads cool enough to enjoy it. With all Madame Pfeiffer's adventurousness, she did not essay this perilous experiment.

The Observatory, constructed for the great Mohammedan emperor Akbar, is also an object of interest. It is not furnished, like a European observatory, with the usual astronomical instruments, telescopes, rain- gauges, anemometers, and the like, the handiwork of cunning artificers in glass and metal; but everything is of stone—solid, durable stone. On a raised terrace stand circular tables, semicircular and quadratic curves, all of stone, and all inscribed with mystic signs and characters.

Benares is celebrated for its bazaars, in which are exhibited some of the rarest productions of the East; but its principal attraction is its sanctity, and crowds of pilgrims resort to its temples, and cleanse themselves of their sins by bathing in the fast-flowing Ganges. To die at Benares is regarded as a passport to heaven; and one of the most frequent sights is the burning of a corpse on the river-bank, with ceremonies proportioned to the rank and wealth of the deceased—the ashes being afterwards committed to the holy waters. Benares is also famous for its palaces. Of these the most splendid is that which the rajah inhabits. It was visited by Madame Pfeiffer, who appears to have gone everywhere and seen everybody at her own sweet will and pleasure, and she was even admitted to the rajah's presence.

A handsomely-decorated boat, she says, awaited her and her fellow-traveller at the bank of the river. They crossed; a palanquin was ready to receive them. Soon they arrived at the stately gateway which forms the entrance to the palace. The interior proved to be a labyrinth of irregular courts and small unsymmetrical chambers. In one of the courts a hall, surrounded by plain columns, served as a reception-room. This was cumbrously loaded with lamps, glass lustres, and European furniture; on the walls hung some wretched pictures, framed and glazed. Presently the rajah made his appearance, accompanied by his brother, and attended by a long train of courtiers. The two princes were gorgeously attired; they wore wide trousers, long under and short over garments, all of satin, covered with gold embroidery. The rajah himself, aged thirty- five, wore short silken cuffs, glowing with gold, and trimmed with diamonds; several large brilliants shone on his fingers, and rich gold embroidery was woven about his shoes. His brother, a youth of nineteen, wore a white turban, with a costly clasp of diamonds and pearls. Large pearls hung from his ears; rich massive bracelets clasped his wrists.

The guests having taken their seats, a large silver basin was brought in, with elaborately-wrought narghillies, and they were invited to smoke. This honour they declined. The rajah then smoked in solitary dignity—his pipe being changed as soon as he had taken a few whiffs.

A nautchni, or dance by nautches, was next provided for the visitors' entertainment. There were three musicians and two dancers. The latter were dressed in gay gold-woven muslin robes, with wide silk gold-broidered trousers, reaching to the ground, and quite covering their bare feet. One of the musicians beat a couple of small drums; the others played on four-stringed instruments not unlike a violin. They stood close behind the dancers, and their music was wholly innocent of melody or harmony; but to the rhythm, which was strongly accentuated, the dancers moved their arms, hands, and fingers in a very animated manner, and at intervals their feet, so as to ring the numerous tiny bells that cover them. Their attitudes were not ungraceful. The performance lasted a quarter of an hour, after which they accompanied the dance with what was intended for singing, but sounded like shrieking. Meantime, sweetmeats, fruits, and sherbet were handed round.

As a contrast to this gay scene, Madame Pfeiffer describes the performance of the wretched fanatics called fakeers. These men inflict upon themselves the most extraordinary tortures. Thus: they stick an iron hook through their flesh, and allow themselves to be suspended by it at a height of twenty or five-and-twenty feet. {105} Or for long hours they stand upon one foot in the burning sunshine, with their arms rigidly extended in the air. Or they hold heavy weights in various positions, swing round and round for hours together, and tear the flesh from their bodies with red-hot pincers. Madame Pfeiffer saw two of these unfortunate victims of a diseased imagination. One held a heavy axe over his head, in the attitude of a workman bent on felling a tree; in this position he stood, rigid as a statue. The other held the point of his toe to his nose.

* * * * *

In her tour through India our traveller passed through Allahabad, situated at the junction of the Jumna and the Ganges, and the resort of many pilgrims; Agra, where she admired, as so many travellers have admired, the lovely Taj-Mahal, erected by the Sultan Jehan in memory of his favourite wife,—and the Pearl Mosque, with its exquisitely delicate carving; Delhi, the ancient capital of the Moguls, which figured so conspicuously in the history of the Sepoy rebellion; the cave-temples of Ajunta and Ellora; and the great commercial emporium of Bombay.

Quitting the confines of British India, Madame Pfeiffer, ever in quest of the new and strange, sailed to Bassora, and ascended the historic Tigris, so named from the swiftness of its course, to Bagdad, that quaint, remote Oriental city, which is associated with so many wonderful legends and not less wonderful "travellers' tales." This was of old the residence of the great caliph, Haroun-al-Raschid, a ruler of no ordinary sagacity, and the hero of many a tradition, whom "The Thousand and One Nights" have made familiar to every English boy. It is still a populous and wealthy city; many of its houses are surrounded by blooming gardens; its shops are gay with the products of the Eastern loom; and it descends in terraces to the bank of the river, which flows in the shade of orchards and groves of palm. Over all extends the arch of a glowing sky.

From Bagdad an excursion to the ruins of Babylon is natural enough. They consist of massive fragments of walls and columns, strewn on either side of the Euphrates.

[Cave temple at Ellora: page107.jpg]

On the 17th of June our heroic traveller joined a caravan which was bound for Mosul, a distance of three hundred miles, occupying from twelve to fourteen days. The journey is one of much difficulty and no little danger, across a desert country of the most lifeless character. We shall relate a few of Madame Pfeiffer's experiences.

One day she repaired to a small village in search of food. After wandering from hut to hut, she obtained a small quantity of milk and three eggs. She laid the eggs in hot ashes, and covered them over; filled her leathern flask from the Tigris; and, thus loaded, returned to the encampment formed by the caravan. She ate her eggs and drank her milk with an appetite for which an epicure would be thankful.

The mode of making butter in vogue at this village was very peculiar. The cream was put into a leathern bottle, and shaken about on the ground until the butter consolidated. It was then put into another bottle filled with water, and finally turned out as white as snow.

Next day, when they rested during the heat, the guide of the caravan endeavoured to procure her a little shelter from the glare of the pitiless sun by laying a small cover over a couple of poles stuck into the ground. But the place shaded was so small, and the tent so frail, that she was compelled to sit quietly in one position, as the slightest movement would have involved it in ruin. Shortly afterwards, when she wished for some refreshment, nothing could be procured but lukewarm water, bread so hard that it could not be eaten until thoroughly soaked, and a cucumber without salt or vinegar.

At a village near Kerka the caravan tarried for two days. On the first day Madame Pfeiffer's patience was sorely tried. All the women of the place flocked to examine the stranger. First they inspected her clothes, then wanted to take the turban off her head; and, in fact, proved themselves most troublesome intruders. At last Madame Pfeiffer seized one of them by the arm, and turned her out of her tent so quickly that she had no time to think of resistance. By the eloquence of gesture our traveller made the others understand that, unless they withdrew at once, a similarly abrupt dismissal awaited them. She then drew a circle round her tent, and forbade them to cross it; an injunction which was strictly respected.

She had now only to settle with the wife of her guide, who had besieged her the whole day, pressing as near as possible, and petitioning for some of her "things." Fortunately her husband came on the scene, and to him Madame Pfeiffer preferred her complaint, threatening to leave his house and seek shelter elsewhere,—well knowing that the Arabs consider this a great disgrace. He immediately ordered his wife to desist, and the traveller was at peace. "I always succeeded," says Madame Pfeiffer, "in obtaining my own will. I found that energy and boldness influence all people, whether Arabs, Persians, Bedaween, or others." But for this strong will, this indomitable resolution, Madame Pfeiffer assuredly could not have succeeded in the enterprises she so daringly undertook. Even for a man to have accomplished them would have earned our praise; what shall we not say when they were conceived and carried out by a woman?

Towards evening, she says, to her great delight a caldron of mutton was set on the fire. For eight days she had eaten nothing but bread, cucumbers, and some dates; and therefore had a great desire for a hot and more nutritious meal. But her appetite was greatly diminished when she saw their style of cookery. The old woman (her guide's mother) threw several handfuls of small grain, and a large quantity of onions, into a panful of water to soften. In about half an hour she thrust her dirty hands into the water, and mixed the whole together, now and then taking a mouthful, and after chewing it, spitting it back again into the pan. Then she took a dirty rag, strained through it the delicate mixture, and poured it over the meat in the larger vessel. Madame Pfeiffer had firmly resolved not to touch the dish, but when it was ready her longing for food was so great, and so savoury was the smell, that she reflected that what she had already eaten was probably not a whit cleaner; in short, for once she proved false to her resolution. Eating, she was filled; and the viands gave her increased strength.

* * * * *

On the 28th of June the caravan reached Erbil, the ancient Arbela, where Alexander the Great defeated Darius and his Persian host. Next day they crossed a broad river, on rafts of inflated skins, fastened together with poles, and covered with reeds, canes, and plank. Rapidly traversing the shrubless, herbless plains of Mesopotamia, they reached at length the town of Mosul, the point from which travellers proceed to visit the ruins of Nineveh.

These have been so carefully explored and ably described by Layard and the late George Smith, that it is needless to quote Madame Ida Pfeiffer's superficial observations at any length. According to Strabo, Nineveh was the greatest city in the Old World—larger even than Babylon; the circumference of its walls was a three days' journey, and those walls were defended by fifteen hundred towers. Now all is covered with earth, and the ranges of hills and mounds that stretch across the wide gray plain on the bank of the Tigris do but cover the ruins of the vast Assyrian capital. Mr. Layard began his excavations in 1846, and his labourers, digging deep into the hills, soon opened up spacious and stately apartments, the marble walls of which were embellished from top to bottom with sculptures, revealing a complete panorama of Assyrian life! Kings with their crowns and sceptres, gods swooping on broad pinions, warriors equipped with their arms and shields, were there; also stirring representations of battles and hunting expeditions, of the storming of fortresses, of triumphal processions; though, unfortunately for artistic effect, neither proportion, perspective, nor correct drawing had been observed. The hills are scarcely three times higher than the men; the fields reach to the clouds; the trees are no taller than the lotus-flowers; and the heads of men and animals are all alike, and all in profile. Intermingled with these scenes of ancient civilization are inscriptions of great interest, in the cuneiform or wedge-shaped character.

* * * * *

A caravan starting from Mosul for Tabreez, Madame Ida Pfeiffer determined on joining it, though warned that it would traverse a country containing not a single European. But, as we have already had abundant evidence, Madame Pfeiffer knew not what fear was. Nothing could daunt her fixed purpose. She had made up her mind to go to Persia; and to Persia she would go. She started with the caravan on the 8th of July, and next day crossed the hills that intervene between Mesopotamia and Kurdistan. The latter country has never enjoyed a good reputation among travellers; and Madame Pfeiffer's experience was not calculated to retrieve its character. The caravan was crossing a corn-field which had been recently reaped, when half-a-dozen stalwart Kurds, armed with stout cudgels, sprang out from their hiding-place among the sheaves, and seizing the travellers' bridles, poured out upon them what was unmistakably a volley of oaths and threats. One of the travellers leaped from his steed, seized his assailant by the throat, and holding a loaded pistol to his head, indicated his determination of blowing out his brains. The effect of this resolute conduct was immediate; the robbers desisted from their attack, and were soon engaged in quite an amicable conversation with those they had intended to plunder. At last they pointed out a good place for an encampment, receiving in return a trifling backshish, collected from the whole caravan.

A few days later, the travellers, having started at two in the morning, entered a magnificent mountain-valley, which had been cloven through the solid rock by the waters of a copious stream. A narrow stony path followed the course of the stream upward. The moon shone in unclouded light; or it would have been difficult even for the well-trained horses of the caravan to have kept their footing along the dangerous way, encumbered as it was with fallen masses of rock.

Like chamois, however, they scrambled up the steep mountain-side, and safely carried their riders round frightful projections and past dangerous, dizzy precipices. So wild, so romantic was the scene, with its shifting lights and shadows, its sudden bursts of silvery lustre where the valley lay open to the moon, and its depths of darkness in many a winding recess, that even Madame Pfeiffer's uncultured companions were irresistibly moved by its influence; and as they rode along not a sound was heard but the clatter of the horses' hoofs, and the fall of rolling stones into the chasm below. But all at once thick clouds gathered over the moon, and the gloom became so intense that the travellers could scarcely discern each one his fellow. The leader continually struck fire with a flint, that the sparks might afford some slight indication of the proper course. But this was not enough; and as the horses began to miss their footing, the only hope of safety consisted in remaining immovable. With the break of day, however, a gray light spread over the scene, and the travellers found themselves surrounded by a circle of lofty mountains, rising one above the other in magnificent gradation, and superbly dominated by one mighty snow-crowned mass.

The journey was resumed. Soon the travellers became aware of the fact that the path was sprinkled with spots of blood. At last they came to a place which was crimsoned by a complete pool; and looking down into the ravine, they could see two human bodies, one lying scarcely a hundred feet below them, the other, which had rolled further, half hidden by a projecting crag. From this scene of murder they gladly hastened.

* * * * *

At a town called Ravandus Madame Pfeiffer rested for some days, making observations on the manners and customs of the Kurds. She was not prepossessed in their favour by what she saw: the women are idle, ignorant, and squalid; the men work as little and rob as much as they can. Polygamy is practised; and religion is reduced to the performance of a few formalities. The costume of the wealthier Kurds is purely Oriental, that of the common people varies from it a little. The men wear wide linen trousers, and over them a shirt confined by a girdle, with a sleeveless woollen jacket, made of stuff of only a hand's-breadth wide, and sewed together. Instead of white trousers, some wear brown, which are anything but picturesque, and look like sacks with two holes for the insertion of the feet,—the said feet being encased in boots of red or yellow leather, with large iron heels; or in shoes of coarse white wool, adorned with three tassels. The turban is the universal head-covering.

The women don loose trousers, and red or yellow boots, with iron heels, like the men; but over all they wear a long blue garment which, if not tucked up under the girdle, would depend some inches below the ankles. A large blue shawl descends below the knee. Round their heads they twist black shawls, turban-wise; or they wear the red fez, with a silk handkerchief wound about it; and on the top of this, a kind of wreath made of short black fringe, worn like a diadem, but leaving the forehead free. The hair falls in narrow braids over the shoulders, and from the turban droops a heavy silver chain. As a head-dress it is remarkably attractive; and it is but just to say that it often sets off really handsome faces, with fine features, and glowing eyes.

[Tartar Caravan: page119.jpg]

* * * * *

In her further wanderings through the wild lands of Persia, our traveller came to Urumiyeh, on the borders of the salt lake of that name, which in several physical features closely resembles the Dead Sea. Urumiyeh is a place of some celebrity, for it gave birth to Zoroaster, the preacher of a creed of considerable moral purity, which has spread over a great part of Asia. Entering a more fertile country, she reached Tabreez in safety, and was once more within the influence of law and order. Tabreez, the residence of the viceroy, is a handsomely-built town, with numerous silk and leather manufactories, and is reputed to be one of the chief seats of Asiatic commerce. Its streets are clean and tolerably broad; in each a little rivulet is carried underground, with openings at regular intervals for the purpose of dipping out water. Of the houses the passer-by sees no more than is seen in any other Oriental town: lofty walls, windowless, with low entrances; and the fronts always looking in upon the open courtyards, which bloom with trees and flowers, and usually adjoin a pleasant garden. Inside, the chambers are usually lofty and spacious, with rows of windows which seem to form complete walls of glass. Buildings of public importance there are none; excepting the bazaar, which covers a considerable area, and is laid out with lofty, broad, and covered thoroughfares.

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