Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Europe Revised by Irvin S. Cobb

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

of British character and partly right. Because he is slow to laugh
at a joke, we think he cannot see the point of it without a diagram
and a chart. What we do not take into consideration is that,
through centuries of self-repression, the Englishman has so drilled
himself into refraining from laughing in public--for fear, you
see, of making himself conspicuous--it has become a part of his
nature. Indeed, in certain quarters a prejudice against laughing
under any circumstances appears to have sprung up.

I was looking one day through the pages of one of the critical
English weeklies. Nearly all British weeklies are heavy, and this
is the heaviest of the lot. Its editorial column alone weighs
from twelve to eighteen pounds, and if you strike a man with a
clubbed copy of it the crime is assault with a dull blunt instrument,
with intent to kill. At the end of a ponderous review of the East
Indian question I came on a letter written to the editor by a
gentleman signing himself with his own name, and reading in part
as follows:

SIR: Laughter is always vulgar and offensive. For instance,
whatever there may be of pleasure in a theater--and there is not
much--the place is made impossible by laughter ... No; it is very
seldom that happiness is refined or pleasant to see--merriment
that is produced by wine is false merriment, and there is no true
merriment without it ... Laughter is profane, in fact, where it
is not ridiculous.

On the other hand the English in bulk will laugh at a thing which
among us would bring tears to the most hardened cheek and incite
our rebellious souls to mayhem and manslaughter. On a certain
night we attended a musical show at one of the biggest London
theaters. There was some really clever funning by a straight
comedian, but his best efforts died a-borning; they drew but the
merest ripple of laughter from the audience. Later there was a
scene between a sad person made up as a Scotchman and another
equally sad person of color from the States. These times no English
musical show is complete unless the cast includes a North American
negro with his lips painted to resemble a wide slice of ripe
watermelon, singing ragtime ditties touching on his chicken and
his Baby Doll. This pair took the stage, all others considerately
withdrawing; and presently, after a period of heartrending
comicalities, the Scotchman, speaking as though he had a mouthful
of hot oatmeal, proceeded to narrate an account of a fictitious
encounter with a bear. Substantially this dialogue ensued:

THE SCOTCHMAN--He was a vurra fierce grizzly bear, ye ken; and he
rushed at me from behind a jugged rock.

THE NEGRO--Mistah, you means a jagged rock, don't you?

THE SCOTCHMAN--Nay, nay, laddie--a jugged rock.

THE NEGRO--Whut's dat you say? Whut--whut is a jugged rock?

THE SCOTCHMAN (forgetting his accent)--Why, a rock with a jug on
it, old chap. (A stage wait to let that soak into them in all its
full strength.) A rock with a jug on it would be a jugged rock,
wouldn't it--eh?

The pause had been sufficient--they had it now. And from all parts
of the house a whoop of unrestrained joy went up.

Witnessing such spectacles as this, the American observer naturally
begins to think that the English in mass cannot see a joke that
is the least bit subtle. Nevertheless, however, and to the contrary
notwithstanding--as Colonel Bill Sterritt, of Texas, used to
say--England has produced the greatest natural humorists in the
world and some of the greatest comedians, and for a great many
years has supported the greatest comic paper printed in the English
language, and that is Punch. Also, at an informal Saturday-night
dinner in a well-known London club I heard as much spontaneous
repartee from the company at large, and as much quiet humor from
the chairman, as I ever heard in one evening anywhere; but if you
went into that club on a weekday you might suppose somebody was
dead and laid out there, and that everybody about the premises
had gone into deep mourning for the deceased. If any member of
that club had dared then to crack a joke they would have expelled
him--as soon as they got over the shock of the bounder's confounded
cheek. Saturday night? Yes. Monday afternoon? Never! And there
you are!

Speaking of Punch reminds me that we were in London when Punch,
after giving the matter due consideration for a period of years,
came out with a colored jacket on him. If the Prime Minister had
done a Highland fling in costume at high noon in Oxford Circus it
could not have created more excitement than Punch created by coming
out with a colored cover. Yet, to an American's understanding,
the change was not so revolutionary and radical as all that.
Punch's well-known lineaments remained the same. There was merely
a dab of palish yellow here and there on the sheet; at first glance
you might have supposed somebody else had been reading your copy
of Punch at breakfastand had been careless in spooning up his
soft-boiled egg.

They are our cousins, the English are; our cousins once removed,
'tis true--see standard histories of the American Revolution for
further details of the removing--but they are kinsmen of ours
beyond a doubt. Even if there were no other evidences, the kinship
between us would still be proved by the fact that the English are
the only people except the Americans who look on red meat--beef,
mutton, ham--as a food to be eaten for the taste of the meat itself;
whereas the other nations of the earth regard it as a vehicle for
carrying various sauces, dressings and stuffings southward to the
stomach. But, to the notice of the American who is paying them
his first visit, they certainly do offer some amazing contradictions.

In the large matters of business the English have been accused of
trickiness, which, however, may be but the voice of envious
competition speaking; but in the small things they surely are most
marvelously honest. Consider their railroad trains now: To a
greenhorn from this side the blue water, a railroad journey out
of London to almost any point in rural England is a succession of
surprises, and all pleasant ones. To begin with, apparently there
is nobody at the station whose business it is to show you to your
train or to examine your ticket before you have found your train
for yourself. There is no mad scurrying about at the moment of
departure, no bleating of directions through megaphones. Unchaperoned
you move along a long platform under a grimy shed, where trains
are standing with their carriage doors hospitably ajar, and
unassisted you find your own train and your own carriage, and
enter therein.

Sharp on the minute an unseen hand--at least I never saw it--slams
the doors and coyly--you might almost say secretively--the train
moves out of the terminal. It moves smoothly and practically
without jarring sounds. There is no shrieking of steel against
steel. It is as though the rails were made of rubber and the
wheel-flanges were faced with noise-proof felt. No conductor comes
to punch your ticket, no brakeman to bellow the stops, no train
butcher bleating the gabbled invoice of his gumdrops, bananas and
other best-sellers.

Glory be! It is all so peaceful and soothing; as peaceful and as
soothing as the land through which you are gliding when once you
have left behind smoky London and its interminable environs; for
now you are in a land that was finished and plenished five hundred
years ago and since then has not been altered in any material
aspect whatsoever. Every blade of grass is in its right place;
every wayside shrub seemingly has been restrained and trained to
grow in exactly the right and the proper way. Streaming by your
car window goes a tastefully arranged succession of the thatched
cottages, the huddled little towns, the meandering brooks, the
ancient inns, the fine old country places, the high-hedged estates
of the landed gentry, with rose-covered lodges at the gates and
robust children in the doorways--just as you have always seen them
in the picture books. There are fields that are velvet lawns, and
lawns that are carpets of green cut-plush. England is the only
country I know of that lives up--exactly and precisely--to its
storybook descriptions and its storybook illustrations.

Eventually you come to your stopping point; at least you have
reason to believe it may be your stopping point. As well as you
may judge by the signs that plaster the front, the sides, and even
the top of the station, the place is either a beef extract or a
washing compound. Nor may you count on any travelers who may be
sharing your compartment with you to set you right by a timely
word or two. Your fellow passengers may pity you for your ignorance
and your perplexity, but they would not speak; they could not, not
having been introduced. A German or a Frenchman would be giving
you gladly what aid he might; but a well-born Englishman who had
not been introduced would ride for nine years with you and not
speak. I found the best way of solving the puzzle was to consult
the timecard. If the timecard said our train would reach a given
point at a given hour, and this was the given hour, then we might
be pretty sure this was the given point. Timetables in England
are written by realists, not by gifted fiction writers of the
impressionistic school, as is frequently the case in America.

So, if this timecard says it is time for you to get off you get
off, with your ticket still in your possession; and if it be a
small station you go yourself and look up the station master, who
is tucked away in a secluded cubbyhole somewhere absorbing tea,
or else is in the luggage room fussing with baby carriages and
patentchurns. Having ferreted him out in his hiding-place you
hand over your ticket to him and he touches his cap brim and says
"Kew" very politely, which concludes the ceremony so far as you
are concerned.

Then, if you have brought any heavy baggage with you in the baggage
car--pardon, I meant the luggage van--you go back to the platform
and pick it out from the heap of luggage that has been dumped there
by the train hands. With ordinary luck and forethought you could
easily pick out and claim and carry off some other person's trunk,
provided you fancied it more than your own trunk, only you do not.
You do not do this any more than, having purchased a second-class
ticket, or a third-class, you ride first-class; though, so far as
I could tell, there is no check to prevent a person from so doing.
At least an Englishman never does. It never seems to occur to
him to do so. The English have no imagination.

I have a suspicion that if one of our railroads tried to operate
its train service on such a basis of confidence in the general
public there would be a most deceitful hiatus in the receipts from
passenger traffic to be reported to a distressed group of stockholders
at the end of the fiscal year. This, however, is merely a supposition
on my part. I may be wrong.

Chapter XVII

Britain in Twenty Minutes

To a greater degree, I take it, than any other race the English
have mastered the difficult art of minding their own affairs. The
average Englishman is tremendously knowledgable about his own
concerns and monumentally ignorant about all other things. If an
Englishman's business requires that he shall learn the habits and
customs of the Patagonians or the Chicagoans or any other race
which, because it is not British, he naturally regards as barbaric,
he goes and learns them--and learns them well. Otherwise your
Britisher does not bother himself with what the outlander may or
may not do.

An Englishman cannot understand an American's instinctive desire
to know about things; we do not understand his lack of curiosity
in that direction. Both of us forget what I think must be the
underlying reasons--that we are a race which, until comparatively
recently, lived wide distances apart in sparsely settled lands,
and were dependent on the passing stranger for news of the rest
of the world, where he belongs to a people who all these centuries
have been packed together in their little island like oats in a
bin. London itself is so crowded that the noses of most of the
lower classes turn up--there is not room for them to point straight
ahead without causing a great and bitter confusion of noses; but
whether it points upward or outward or downward the owner of the
nose pretty generally refrains from ramming it into other folks'
business. If he and all his fellows did not do this; if they had
not learned to keep their voices down and to muffle unnecessary
noises; if they had not built tight covers of reserve about
themselves, as the oyster builds a shell to protect his tender
tissues from irritation--they would long ago have become a race
of nervous wrecks instead of being what they are, the most stolid
beings alive.

In London even royalty is mercifully vouchsafed a reasonable amount
of privacy from the intrusion of the gimlet eye and the chisel
nose. Royalty may ride in Rotten Row of a morning, promenade on
the Mall at noon, and shop in the Regent Street shops in the
afternoon, and at all times go unguarded and unbothered--I had
almost said unnoticed. It may be that long and constant familiarity
with the institution of royalty has bred indifference in the London
mind to the physical presence of dukes and princes and things; but
I am inclined to think a good share of it should be attributed to
the inborn and ingrown British faculty for letting other folks be.

One morning as I was walking at random through the aristocratic
district, of which St. James is the solar plexus and Park Lane
the spinal cord, I came to a big mansion where foot-guards stood
sentry at the wall gates. This house was further distinguished
from its neighbors by the presence of a policeman pacing alongside
it, and a newspaper photographer setting up his tripod and camera
in the road, and a small knot of passers-by lingering on the
opposite side of the way, as though waiting for somebody to come
along or something to happen. I waited too. In a minute a handsome
old man and a well-set-up young man turned the corner afoot. The
younger man was leading a beautiful stag hound. The photographer
touched his hat and said something, and the younger man smiling a
good-natured smile, obligingly posed in the street for a picture.
At this precise moment a dirigible balloon came careening over
the chimneypots on a cross-London air jaunt; and at the sight of
it the little crowd left the young man and the photographer and
set off at a run to follow, as far as they might, the course of
the balloon. Now in America this could not have occurred, for the
balloon man would not have been aloft at such an hour. He would
have been on the earth; moreover he would have been outside the
walls of that mansion house, along with half a million, more or
less, of his patriotic fellow countrymen, tearing his own clothes
off and their clothes off, trampling the weak and sickly underfoot,
bucking the doubled and tripled police lines in a mad, vain effort
to see the flagpole on the roof or a corner of the rear garden
wall. For that house was Clarence House, and the young man who
posed so accommodatingly for the photographer was none other than
Prince Arthur of Connaught, who was getting himself married the
very next day.

The next day I beheld from a short distance the passing of the
bridal procession. Though there were crowds all along the route
followed by the wedding party, there was no scrouging, no shoving,
no fighting, no disorderly scramble, no unseemly congestion about
the chapel where the ceremony took place. It reminded me vividly
of that which inevitably happens when a millionaire's daughter is
being married to a duke in a fashionable Fifth Avenue church--it
reminded me of that because it was so different.

Fortunately for us we were so placed that we saw quite distinctly
the entrance of the wedding party into the chapel inclosure.
Personally I was most concerned with the members of the royal
house. As I recollect, they passed in the following order:

His Majesty, King George the Fifth.
Her Majesty, Queen Mary, the Other Four Fifths.
Small fractional royalties to the number of a dozen or more.

I got a clear view of the side face of the queen. As one looked
on her profile, which was what you might call firm, and saw the
mild-looking little king, who seemed quite eclipsed by her presence,
one understood--or anyway one thought one understood--why an English
assemblage, when standing to chant the national anthem these times,
always puts such fervor and meaning into the first line of it.

Only one untoward incident occurred: The inevitable militant lady
broke through the lines as the imperial carriage passed and threw
a Votes for Women handbill into His Majesty's lap. She was removed
thence by the police with the skill and dexterity of long practice.
The police were competently on the job. They always are--which
brings me round to the subject of the London bobby and leads me
to venture the assertion that individually and collectively,
personally and officially, he is a splendid piece of work. The
finest thing in London is the London policeman and the worst thing
is the shamefully small and shabby pay he gets. He is majestic
because he represents the majesty of the English law; he is humble
and obliging because, as a servant, he serves the people who make
the law. And always he knows his business.

In Charing Cross, where all roads meet and snarl up in the bewildering
semblance of many fishing worms in a can, I ventured out into the
roadway to ask a policeman the best route for reaching a place in
a somewhat obscure quarter. He threw up his arm, semaphore fashion,
first to this point of the compass and then to that, and traffic
halted instantly. As far as the eye might reach it halted; and
it stayed halted, too, while he searched his mind and gave me
carefully and painstakingly the directions for which I sought. In
that packed mass of cabs and taxis and buses and carriages there
were probably dukes and archbishops--dukes and archbishops are
always fussing about in London--but they waited until he was through
directing me. It flattered me so that I went back to the hotel
and put on a larger hat. I sincerely hope there was at least one

Another time we went to Paddington to take a train for somewhere.
Following the custom of the country we took along our trunks and
traps on top of the taxicab. At the moment of our arrival there
were no porters handy, so a policeman on post outside the station
jumped forward on the instant and helped our chauffeur to wrestle
the luggage down on the bricks. When I, rallying somewhat from
the shock of this, thanked him and slipped a coin into his palm,
he said in effect that, though he was obliged for the shilling, I
must not feel that I had to give him anything--that it was part
of his duty to aid the public in these small matters. I shut my
eyes and tried to imagine a New York policeman doing as much for
an unknown alien; but the effort gave me a severe headache. It
gave me darting pains across the top of the skull--at about the
spot where he would probably have belted me with his club had I
even dared to ask him to bear a hand with my baggage.

I had a peep into the workings of the system of which the London
bobby is a spoke when I went to what is the very hub of the wheel
of the common law--a police court. I understood then what gave
the policeman in the street his authority and his dignity--and his
humility--when I saw how carefully the magistrate on the bench
weighed each trifling cause and each petty case; how surely he
winnowed out the small grain of truth from the gross and tare of
surmise and fiction; how particular he was to give of the abundant
store of his patience to any whining ragpicker or street beggar
who faced him, whether as defendant at the bar, or accuser, or

It was the very body of the law, though, we saw a few days after
this when by invitation we witnessed the procession at the opening
of the high courts. Considered from the stand-points of picturesqueness
and impressiveness it made one's pulses tingle when those thirty
or forty men of the wig and ermine marched in single and double
file down the loftily vaulted hall, with the Lord Chancellor in
wig and robes of state leading, and Sir Rufus Isaacs, knee-breeched
and sword-belted, a pace or two behind him; and then, in turn, the
justices; and, going on ahead of them and following on behind them,
knight escorts and ushers and clerks and all the other human cogs
of the great machine. What struck into me deepest, however, was
the look of nearly every one of the judges. Had they been dressed
as longshoremen, one would still have known them for possessors of
the judicial temperament--men born to hold the balances and fitted
and trained to winnow out the wheat from the chaff. So many
eagle-beaked noses, so many hawk-keen eyes, so many smooth-chopped,
long-jowled faces, seen here together, made me think of what we
are prone to regard as the highwater period of American statesmanship
--the Clay-Calhoun-Benton-Webster period.

Just watching these men pass helped me to know better than any
reading I had ever done why the English have faith and confidence
in their courts. I said to myself that if I wanted justice--exact
justice, heaping high in time scales--I should come to this shop
and give my trade to the old-established firm; but if I were looking
for a little mercy I should take my custom elsewhere.

I cannot tell why I associate it in my mind with this grouped
spectacle of the lords of the law, but somehow the scene to be
witnessed in Hyde Park just inside the Marble Arch of a Sunday
evening seems bound up somehow with the other institution. They
call this place London's safety valve. It's all of that. Long ago
the ruling powers discovered that if the rabidly discontented were
permitted to preach dynamite and destruction unlimited they would
not be so apt to practice their cheerful doctrines. So, without
let or hindrance, any apostle of any creed, cult or propaganda,
however lurid and revolutionary, may come here of a Sunday to meet
with his disciples and spout forth the faith that is in him until
he has geysered himself into peace, or, what comes to the same
thing, into speechlessness.

When I went to Hyde Park on a certain Sunday rain was falling and
the crowds were not so large as usual, a bored policeman on duty
in this outdoor forum told me; still, at that, there must have
been two or three thousand listeners in sight and not less than
twelve speakers. These latter balanced themselves on small portable
platforms placed in rows, with such short spaces between them that
their voices intermingled confusingly. In front of each orator
stood his audience; sometimes they applauded what he said in a
sluggish British way, and sometimes they asked him questions
designed to baffle or perplex him--heckling, I believe this is
called--but there was never any suggestion of disorder and never
any violent demonstration for or against a statement made by him.

At the end of the line nearest the Arch, under a flary light, stood
an old bearded man having the look on his face of a kindly but
somewhat irritated moo-cow. At the moment I drew near he was
having a long and involved argument with another controversialist
touching on the sense of the word tabernacle as employed Scripturally,
one holding it to mean the fleshly tenement of the soul and the
other an actual place of worship. The old man had two favorite
words--behoove and emit--but behoove was evidently his choice.
As an emitter he was only fair, but he was the best behoover I
ever saw anywhere.

The orator next to him was speaking in a soft, sentimental tone,
with gestures gently appropriate. I moved along to him, being
minded to learn what particular brand of brotherly love he might
be expounding. In the same tone a good friend might employ in
telling you what to do for chapped lips or a fever blister he was
saying that clergymen and armaments were useless and expensive
burdens on the commonwealth; and, as a remedy, he was advocating
that all the priests and all the preachers in the kingdom should
be loaded on all the dreadnoughts, and then the dreadnoughts should
be steamed to the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean and there
cozily scuttled, with all aboard.

There was scattering applause and a voice: "Ow, don't do that!
Listen, 'ere! Hi've got a better plan." But the next speaker was
blaring away at the top of his voice, making threatening faces
and waving his clenched fists aloft and pounding with them on the
top of his rostrum.

"Now this," I said to myself, "is going to be something worth
while. Surely this person would not be content merely with drowning
all the parsons and sinking all the warships in the hole at the
bottom of the sea. Undoubtedly he will advocate something really
radical. I will invest five minutes with him."

I did; but I was sold. He was favoring the immediate adoption of
a universal tongue for all the peoples of the earth--that was all.
I did not catch the name of his universal language, but I judged
the one at which he would excel would be a language with few if
any h's in it. After this disappointment I lost heart and came

Another phase, though a very different one, of the British spirit
of fair play and tolerance, was shown to me at the National Sporting
Club, which is the British shrine of boxing, where I saw a fight
for one of the championship belts that Lord Lonsdale is forever
bestowing on this or that worshipful fisticuffer. Instead of being
inside the ring prying the fighters apart by main force as he would
have been doing in America, the referee, dressed in evening clothes,
was outside the ropes. At a snapped word from him the fighters
broke apart from clinches on the instant. The audience--a very
mixed one, ranging in garb from broadcloths to shoddies--was as
quick to approve a telling blow by the less popular fighter as to
hiss any suggestion of trickiness or fouling on the part of the
favorite. When a contestant in one of the preliminary goes, having
been adjudged a loser on points, objected to the decision and
insisted on being heard in his own behalf, the crowd, though plainly
not in sympathy with his contention, listened to what he had to
say. Nobody jeered him down.

Had he been a foreigner and especially had he been an American I
am inclined to think the situation might have been different. I
seem to recall what happened once when a certain middleweight from
this side went over there and broke the British heart by licking
the British champion; and again what happened when a Yankee boy
won the Marathon at the Olympic games in London a few years ago.
But as this man was a Briton himself these other Britons harkened
to his sputterings, for England, you know, grants the right of
free speech to all Englishmen--and denies it to all Englishwomen.

The settled Englishman declines always to be jostled out of his
hereditary state of intense calm. They tell of a man who dashed
into the reading room of the Savage Club with the announcement
that a lion was loose on the Strand--a lion that had escaped from
a traveling caravan and was rushing madly to and fro, scaring
horses and frightening pedestrians.

"Great excitement! Most terrific, old dears--on my word!" he added,
addressing the company.

Over the top of the Pink Un an elderly gentleman of a full habit
of life regarded him sourly.

"Is that any reason," he inquired, "why a person should rush into
a gentleman's club and kick up such a deuced hullabaloo?"

The first man--he must have been a Colonial--gazed at the other
man in amazement.

"Well," he asked, "what would you do if you met a savage lion loose
on the Strand?"

"Sir, I should take a cab!"

And after meeting an Englishman or two of this type I am quite
prepared to say the story might have been a true one. If he met
a lion on the Strand to-day he would take a cab; but if to-morrow,
walking in the same place, he met two lions, he would write a
letter to the Times complaining of the growing prevalence of lions
in the public thoroughfares and placing the blame on the Suffragettes
or Lloyd George or the Nonconformists or the increasing discontent
of the working classes--that is what he would do.

On the other hand, if he met a squirrel on a street in America it
would be a most extraordinary thing. Extraordinary would undoubtedly
be the word he would use to describe it. Lions on the Strand would
be merely annoying, but chipmunks on Broadway would constitute a
striking manifestation of the unsettled conditions existing in a
wild and misgoverned land; for, you see, to every right-minded
Englishman of the insular variety--and that is the commonest variety
there is in England--whatever happens at home is but part of an
orderly and an ordered scheme of things, whereas whatever happens
beyond the British domains must necessarily be highly unusual and
exceedingly disorganizing. If so be it happens on English soil
he can excuse it. He always has an explanation or an extenuation
handy. But if it happens elsewhere--well, there you are, you see!
What was it somebody once called England--Perfidious Alibi-in',
wasn't it? Anyhow that was what he meant. The party's intentions
were good but his spelling was faulty.

An Englishman's newspapers help him to attain this frame of mind;
for an English newspaper does not print sensational stories about
Englishmen residing in England; it prints them about people resident
in other lands. There is a good reason for this and the reason
is based on prudence. In the first place the private life of a
private individual is a most holy thing, with which the papers
dare not meddle; besides, the paper that printed a faked-up tale
about a private citizen in England would speedily be exposed and
also extensively sued. As for public men, they are protected by
exceedingly stringent libel laws. As nearly as I might judge,
anything true you printed about an English politician would be
libelous, and anything libelous you printed about him would be true.

It befalls, therefore, as I was told on most excellent authority,
that when the editor of a live London daily finds the local grist
to be dull and uninteresting reading he straightway cables to his
American correspondent or his Paris correspondent--these two being
his main standbys for sensations--asking, if his choice falls on
the man in America, for a snappy dispatch, say, about an American
train smash-up, or a Nature freak, or a scandal in high society
with a rich man mixed up in it. He wires for it, and in reply he
gets it. I have been in my time a country correspondent for city
papers, and I know that what Mr. Editor wants Mr. Editor gets.

As a result America, to the provincial Englishman's understanding,
is a land where a hunter is always being nibbled to death by sheep;
or a prospective mother is being so badly frightened by a chameleon
that her child is born with a complexion changeable at will and
an ungovernable appetite for flies; or a billionaire is giving a
monkey dinner or poisoning his wife, or something. Also, he gets
the idea that a through train in this country is so called because
it invariably runs through the train ahead of it; and that when a
man in Connecticut is expecting a friend on the fast express from
Boston, and wants something to remember him by, he goes down to
the station at traintime with a bucket. Under the headlining
system of the English newspapers the derailment of a work-train
in Arizona, wherein several Mexican tracklayers get mussed up,
becomes Another Frightful American Railway Disaster! But a head-on
collision, attended by fatalities, in the suburbs of Liverpool or
Manchester is a Distressing Suburban Iincident. Yet the official
Blue Book, issued by the British Board of Trade, showed that in
the three months ending March 31, 1913, 284 persons were killed
and 2,457 were injured on railway lines in the United Kingdom.

Just as an English gentleman is the most modest person imaginable,
and the most backward about offering lip-service in praise of his
own achievements or his country's achievements, so, in the same
superlative degree, some of his newspapers are the most blatant
of boasters. About the time we were leaving England the job of
remodeling and beautifying the front elevation of Buckingham Palace
reached its conclusion, and a dinner was given to the workingmen
who for some months had been engaged on the contract. It had been
expected that the occasion would be graced by the presence of Their
Majesties; but the king, as I recall, was pasting stamps in the
new album the Czar of Russia sent him on his birthday, and the
queen was looking through the files of Godey's Lady's Book for the
year 1874, picking out suitable costumes for the ladies of her
court to wear. At any rate they could not attend. Otherwise,
though, the dinner must have been a success. Reading the account
of it as published next morning in a London paper, I learned that
some of the guests, "with rare British pluck," wore their caps and
corduroys; that others, "with true British independence," smoked
their pipes after dinner; that there was "real British beef" and
"genuine British plum pudding" on the menu; and that repeatedly
those present uttered "hearty British cheers." From top to bottom
the column was studded thick with British thises and British thats.

Yet the editorial writers of that very paper are given to frequent
and sneering attacks on the alleged yellowness and the boasting
proclivities of the jingo Yankee sheets; also, they are prone to
spasmodic attacks on the laxity of our marriage laws. Perhaps
what they say of us is true; but for unadulterated nastiness I
never saw anything in print to equal the front page of a so-called
sporting weekly that circulates freely in London, and I know of
nothing to compare with the brazen exhibition of a certain form
of vice that is to be witnessed nightly in the balconies of two
of London's largest music halls. It was upon the program of another
London theater that I came across the advertisement of a lady
styling herself "London's Woman Detective" and stating, in so many
words, that her specialties were "Divorce Shadowings" and "Secret
Inquiries." Maybe it is a fact that in certain of our states
marriage is not so much a contract as a ninety-day option, but the
lady detective who does divorce shadowing and advertises her
qualifications publicly has not opened up her shop among us.

In the campaign to give the stay-at-home Englishman a strange
conception of his American kinsman the press is ably assisted by
the stage. In London I went to see a comedy written by a deservedly
successful dramatist, and staged, I think, under his personal
direction. The English characters in the play were whimsical and,
as nearly as I might judge, true to the classes they purported to
represent. There was an American character in this piece too--a
multimillionaire, of course, and a collector of pictures--presumably
a dramatically fair and realistic drawing of a wealthy, successful,
art-loving American. I have forgotten now whether he was supposed
to be one of our meaty Chicago millionaires, or one of our oily
Cleveland millionaires, or one of our steely Pittsburgh millionaires,
or just a plain millionaire from the country at large; and I doubt
whether the man who wrote the lines had any conception when he did
write them of the fashion in which they were afterward read. Be
that as it may, the actor who essayed to play the American used
an inflection, or an accent, or a dialect, or a jargon--or whatever
you might choose to call it--which was partly of the oldtime drawly
Wild Western school of expression and partly of the oldtime nasal
Down East school. I had thought--and had hoped--that both these
actor-created lingoes were happily obsolete; but in their full
flower of perfection I now heard them here in London. Also, the
actor who played the part interpreted the physical angles of the
character in a manner to suggest a pleasing combination of Uncle
Joshua Whitcomb, Mike the Bite, Jefferson Brick and Coal-Oil Johnny,
with a suggestion of Jesse James interspersed here and there.
True, he spat not on the carpet loudly, and he refrained from
saying I vum! and Great Snakes!--quaint conceits that, I am told,
every English actor who respected his art formally employed when
wishful to type a stage American for an English audience; but he
bragged loudly and emphatically of his money and of how he got it
and of what he would do with it. I do not perceive why it is the
English, who themselves so dearly love the dollar after it is
translated into terms of pounds, shillings and pence, should insist
on regarding us as a nation of dollar-grabbers, when they only see
us in the act of freely dispensing the aforesaid dollar.

They do so regard us, though; and, with true British setness, I
suppose they always will. Even so I think that, though they may
dislike us as a nation, they like us as individuals; and it is
certainly true that they seem to value us more highly than they
value Colonials, as they call them--particularly Canadian Colonials.
It would appear that your true Briton can never excuse another
British subject for the shockingly poor taste he displayed in being
born away from home. And, though in time he may forgive us for
refusing to be licked by him, he can never forgive the Colonials
for saving him from being licked in South Africa.

When I started in to write this chapter, I meant to conclude it
with an apology for my audacity in undertaking--in any wise--to
sum up the local characteristics of a country where I had tarried
for so short a time, but I have changed my mind about that. I
have merely borrowed a page from the book of rules of the British
essayists and novelists who come over here to write us up. Why,
bless your soul, I gave nearly eight weeks of time to the task of
seeing Europe thoroughly, and, of those eight weeks, I spent upward
of three weeks in and about London--indeed, a most unreasonably
long time when measured by the standards of the Englishman of
letters who does a book about us.

He has his itinerary all mapped out in advance. He will squander
a whole week on us. We are scarcely worth it, but, such as we
are, we shall have a week of his company! Landing on Monday morning,
he will spend Monday in New York, Tuesday in San Francisco, and
Wednesday in New Orleans. Thursday he will divide between Boston
and Chicago, devoting the forenoon to one and the afternoon to the
other. Friday morning he will range through the Rocky Mountains,
and after luncheon, if he is not too fatigued, he will take a
carriage and pop in on Yosemite Valley for an hour or so.

But Saturday--all of it--will be given over to the Far Southland.
He is going 'way down South--to sunny South Dakota, in fact, to
see the genuine native American darkies, the real Yankee blackamoors.
Most interesting beings, the blackamoors! They live exclusively
on poultry--fowls, you know--and all their women folk are named
Honey Gal.

He will observe them in their hours of leisure, when, attired in
their national costume, consisting of white duck breeches, banjos,
and striped shirts with high collars, they gather beneath the rays
of the silvery Southern moon to sing their tribal melodies on the
melon-lined shores of the old Oswego; and by day he will study
them at their customary employment as they climb from limb to limb
of the cottonwood trees, picking cotton. On Sunday he will arrange
and revise his notes, and on Monday morning he will sail for home.

Such is the program of Solomon Grundy, Esquire, the distinguished
writing Englishman; but on his arrival he finds the country to be
somewhat larger than he expected--larger actually than the Midlands.
So he compromises by spending five days at a private hotel in New
York, run by a very worthy and deserving Englishwoman of the middle
classes, where one may get Yorkshire puddings every day; and two
days more at a wealthy tufthunter's million-dollar cottage at
Newport, studying the habits and idiosyncrasies of the common
people. And then he rushes back to England and hurriedly embalms
his impressions of us in a large volume, stating it to be his
deliberate opinion that, though we mean well enough, we won't do
--really. He necessarily has to hurry, because, you see, he has
a contract to write a novel or a play--or both a novel and a play
--with Lord Northcliffe as the central figure. In these days
practically all English novels and most English comedies play up
Lord Northcliffe as the central figure. Almost invariably the
young English writer chooses him for the axis about which his plot
shall revolve. English journalists who have been discharged from
one of Northcliffe's publications make him their villian, and
English journalists who hope to secure jobs on one of his publications
make him their hero. The literature of a land is in perilous case
when it depends on the personality of one man. One shudders to
think what the future of English fiction would be should anything
happen to his Lordship!

Business of shuddering!

Chapter XVIII

Guyed or Guided?

During our scientific explorations in the Eastern Hemisphere, we
met two guides who had served the late Samuel L. Clemens, one who
had served the late J. Pierpont Morgan, and one who had acted as
courier to ex-President Theodore Roosevelt. After inquiry among
persons who were also lately abroad, I have come to the conclusion
that my experience in this regard was remarkable, not because I
met so many as four of the guides who had attended these distinguished
Americans, but because I met so few as four of them. One man with
whom I discussed the matter told of having encountered, in the
course of a brief scurry across Europe, five members in good
standing of the International Association of Former Guides to Mark
Twain. All of them had union cards to prove it too. Others said
that in practically every city of any size visited by them there
was a guide who told of his deep attachment to the memory of Mr.
Morgan, and described how Mr. Morgan had hired him without inquiring
in advance what his rate for professional services a day would be;
and how--lingering with wistful emphasis on the words along here
and looking meaningly the while at the present patron--how very,
very generous Mr. Morgan had been in bestowing gratuities on parting.

Our first experience with guides was at Westminster Abbey. As it
happened, this guide was one of the Mark Twain survivors. I think,
though, he was genuine; he had documents of apparent authenticity
in his possession to help him in proving up his title. Anyhow, he
knew his trade. He led us up and down those parts of the Abbey
which are free to the general public and brought us finally to a
wicket gate, opening on the royal chapels, which was as far as he
could go. There he turned us over to a severe-looking dignitary
in robes--an archbishop, I judged, or possibly only a canon--who,
on payment by us of a shilling a head, escorted our party through
the remaining inclosures, showing us the tombs of England's queens
and kings, or a good many of them anyway; and the Black Prince's
helmet and breastplate; and the exquisite chapel of Henry the
Seventh, and the ancient chair on which all the kings sat for their
coronations, with the famous Scotch Stone of Scone under it.

The chair itself was not particularly impressive. It was not
nearly so rickety and decrepit as the chairs one sees in almost
any London barber shop. Nor was my emotion particularly excited
by the stone. I would engage to get a better-looking one out of
the handiest rock quarry inside of twenty minutes. This stone
should not be confused with the ordinary scones, which also come
from Scotland and which are by some regarded as edible.

What did seem to us rather a queer thing was that the authorities
of Westminster should make capital of the dead rulers of the realm
and, except on certain days of the week, should charge an admission
fee to their sepulchers. Later, on the Continent, we sustained
an even more severe shock when we saw royal palaces--palaces that
on occasion are used by the royal proprietors--with the quarters
of the monarchs upstairs and downstairs novelty shops and tourist
agencies and restaurants, and the like of that. I jotted down
a few crisp notes concerning these matters, my intention being to
comment on them as evidence of an incomprehensible thrift on the
part of our European kins-people; but on second thought I decided
to refrain from so doing. I recalled the fact that we ourselves
are not entirely free from certain petty national economies.
Abroad we house our embassies up back streets, next door to bird
and animal stores; and at home there is many a public institution
where the doormat says WELCOME! in large letters, but the soap is
chained and the roller towel is padlocked to its little roller.

Guides are not particularly numerous in England. Even in the
places most frequented by the sightseer they do not abound in any
profusion. At Madame Tussaud's, for example, we found only one
guide. We encountered him just after we had spent a mournful five
minutes in contemplation of ex-President Taft. Friends and
acquaintances of Mr. Taft will be shocked to note the great change
in him when they see him here in wax. He does not weigh so much
as he used to weigh by at least one hundred and fifty pounds; he
has lost considerable height too; his hair has turned another color
and his eyes also; his mustache is not a close fit any more, either;
and he is wearing a suit of English-made clothes.

On leaving the sadly altered form of our former Chief Executive
we descended a flight of stone steps leading to the Chamber of
Horrors. This department was quite crowded with parents escorting
their children about. Like America, England appears to be well
stocked with parents who make a custom of taking their young and
susceptible offspring to places where the young ones stand a good
chance of being scared into connipshun fits. The official guide
was in the Chamber of Horrors. He was piloting a large group of
visitors about, but as soon as he saw our smaller party he left
them and came directly to us; for they were Scotch and we were
Americans, citizens of the happy land where tips come from.
Undoubtedly that guide knew best.

With pride and pleasure he showed us a representative assortment
of England's most popular and prominent murderers. The English
dearly love a murderer. Perhaps that is because they have fewer
murderers than we have, and have less luck than we do in keeping
them alive and in good spirits to a ripe old age. Almost any
American community of fair size can afford at least two murderers
--one in jail, under sentence, receiving gifts of flowers and angel
cake from kind ladies, and waiting for the court above to reverse
the verdict in his case because the indictment was shy a comma;
and the other out on bail, awaiting his time for going through the
same procedure. But with the English it is different.

We rarely hang anybody who is anybody, and only occasionally make
an issue of stretching the neck of the veriest nobody. They will
hang almost anybody Haman-high, or even higher than that. They
do not exactly hang their murderer before they catch him, but the
two events occur in such close succession that one can readily
understand why a confusion should have arisen in the public mind
on these points. First of all, though, they catch him; and then
some morning between ten and twelve they try him. This is a brief
and businesslike formality. While the judge is looking in a drawer
of his desk to see whether the black cap is handy the bailiffs
shoo twelve tradesmen into the jury box. A tradesman is generally
chosen for jury service because he is naturally anxious to get the
thing over and hurry back to his shop before his helper goes to
lunch. The judge tells the jurors to look on the prisoner, because
he is going away shortly and is not expected back; so they take
full advantage of the opportunity, realizing it to be their last
chance. Then, in order to comply with the forms, the judge asks
the accused whether he is guilty or not guilty, and the jurors
promptly say he is. His Worship, concurring heartily, fixes the
date of execution for the first Friday morning when the hangman has
no other engagements. It is never necessary to postpone this event
through failure of the condemned to be present. He is always there;
there is no record of his having disappointed an audience. So,
on the date named, rain or shine, he is hanged very thoroughly;
but after the hanging is over they write songs and books about him
and revere his memory forevermore.

Our guide was pleased to introduce us to the late Mr. Charles
Pease, as done in paraffin, with creped hair and bright, shiny
glass eyes. Mr. Pease was undoubtedly England's most fashionable
murderer of the past century and his name is imperishably enshrined
in the British affections. The guide spoke of his life and works
with deep and sincere feeling. He also appeared to derive unfeigned
pleasure from describing the accomplishments of another murderer,
only slightly less famous than the late Mr. Pease. It seemed that
this murderer, after slaying his victim, set to dismembering the
body and boiling it. They boil nearly everything in England. But
the police broke in on him and interrupted the job.

Our attention was directed to a large chart showing the form of
the victim, the boiled portions being outlined in red and the
unboiled portions in black. Considered as a murderer solely this
particular murderer may have been deserving of his fame; but when
it came to boiling, that was another matter. He showed poor
judgment there. It all goes to show that a man should stick to
his own trade and not try to follow two or more widely dissimilar
callings at the same time. Sooner or later he is bound to slip up.

We found Stratford-upon-Avon to be the one town in England where
guides are really abundant. There are as many guides in Stratford
as there are historic spots. I started to say that there is at
least one guide in Stratford for every American who goes there;
but that would be stretching real facts, because nearly every
American who goes to England manages to spend at least a day in
Stratford, it being a spot very dear to his heart. The very name
of it is associated with two of the most conspicuous figures in
our literature. I refer first to Andrew Carnegie; second to William
Shakspere. Shakspere, who wrote the books, was born here; but
Carnegie, who built the libraries in which to keep the books, and
who has done some writing himself, provided money for preserving
and perpetuating the relics.

We met a guide in the ancient schoolhouse where the Bard--I am
speaking now of William, not of Andrew--acquired the rudiments of
his education; and on duty at the old village church was another
guide, who for a price showed us the identical gravestone bearing
the identical inscription which, reproduced in a design of burnt
wood, is to-day to be found on the walls of every American household,
however humble, whose members are wishful of imparting an artistic
and literary atmosphere to their home. A third guide greeted us
warmly when we drove to the cottage, a mile or two from the town,
where the Hathaway family lived. Here we saw the high-backed
settle on which Shakspere sat, night after night, wooing Anne
Hathaway. I myself sat on it to test it. I should say that the
wooing could not have been particularly good there, especially for
a thin man. That settle had a very hard seat and history does not
record that there was a cushion. Shakspere's affections for the
lady must indeed have been steadfast. Or perhaps he was of stouter
build than his pictures show him to have been.

Guides were scattered all over the birthplace house in Stratford
in the ratio of one or more to each room. Downstairs a woman guide
presided over a battery of glass cases containing personal belongings
of Shakspere's and documents written by him and signed by him.
It is conceded that he could write, but he certainly was a mighty
poor speller. This has been a failing of many well-known writers.
Chaucer was deficient in this regard; and if it were not for a
feeling of personal modesty I could apply the illustration nearer

Two guides accompanied us as we climbed the stairs to the low-roofed
room on the second floor where the creator of Shylock and Juliet
was born--or was not born, if you believe what Ignatius Donnelly
had to say on the subject. But would it not be interesting and
valued information if we could only get the evidence on this point
of old Mrs. Shakspere, who undoubtedly was present on the occasion?
A member of our party, an American, ventured to remark as much to
one of the guides; but the latter did not seem to understand him.
So the American told him just to keep thinking it over at odd
moments, and that he would be back again in a couple of years, if
nothing happened, and possibly by that time the guide would have
caught the drift of his observation. On second thought, later on,
he decided to make it three years--he did not want to crowd the
guide, he said, or put too great a burden on his mentality in a
limited space of time.

If England harbors few guides the Continent is fairly glutted with
them. After nightfall the boulevards of Paris are so choked with
them that in places there is standing room only. In Rome the
congestion is even greater. In Rome every other person is a guide
--and sometimes twins. I do not know why, in thinking of Europe,
I invariably associate the subject of guides with the subject of
tips. The guides were no greedier for tips than the cabmen or the
hotel helpers, or the railroad hands, or the populace at large.
Nevertheless this is true. In my mind I am sure guides and tips
will always be coupled, as surely as any of those standard team-word
combinations of our language that are familiar to all; as firmly
paired off as, for example, Castor and Pollux, or Damon and Pythias,
or Fair and Warmer, or Hay and Feed. When I think of one I know
I shall think of the other. Also I shall think of languages; but
for that there is a reason.

Tipping--the giving of tips and the occasional avoidance of giving
them--takes up a good deal of the tourist's time in Europe. At
first reading the arrangement devised by the guidebooks, of setting
aside ten per cent of one's bill for tipping purposes, seems a
better plan and a less costly one than the indiscriminate American
system of tipping for each small service at the time of its
performance. The trouble is that this arrangement does not work
out so well in actual practice as it sounds in theory. On the day
of your departure you send for your hotel bill. You do not go to
the desk and settle up there after the American fashion. If you
have learned the ropes you order your room waiter to fetch your
bill to you, and in the privacy of your apartment you pore over
the formidable document wherein every small charge is fully specified,
the whole concluding with an impressive array of items regarding
which you have no prior recollection whatsoever. Considering the
total, you put aside an additional ten per cent, calculated for
division on the basis of so much for the waiter, so much for the
boots, so much for the maid and the porter, and the cashier, and
the rest of them. It is not necessary that you send for these
persons in order to confer your farewell remembrances on them;
they will be waiting for you in the hallways. No matter how early
or late the hour of your leaving may be, you find them there in a
long and serried rank.

You distribute bills and coins until your ten per cent is exhausted,
and then you are pained to note that several servitors yet remain,
lined up and all expectant, owners of strange faces that you do
not recall ever having seen before, but who are now at hand with
claims, real or imaginary, on your purse. Inasmuch as you have a
deadly fear of being remembered afterward in this hotel as a piker,
you continue to dip down and to fork over, and so by the time you
reach the tail end of the procession your ten per cent has grown
to twelve or fifteen per cent, or even more.

As regards the tipping of guides for their services, I hit on a
fairly satisfactory plan, which I gladly reveal here for the
benefit of my fellow man. I think it is a good idea to give the
guide, on parting, about twice as much as you think he is entitled
to, which will be about half as much as he expects. From this
starting point you then work toward each other, you conceding a
little from time to time, he abating a trifle here and there,
until you have reached a happy compromise on a basis of fifty-fifty;
and so you part in mutual good will.

The average American, on the eve of going to Europe, thinks of the
European as speaking each his own language. He conceives of the
Poles speaking Polar; of the Hollanders talking Hollandaise; of
the Swiss as employing Schweitzer for ordinary conversations and
yodeling when addressing friends at a distance; and so on. Such,
however, is rarely the case. Nearly every person with whom one
comes in contact in Europe appears to have fluent command of several
tongues besides his or her own. It is true this does not apply
to Italy, where the natives mainly stick to Italian; but then,
Italian is not a language. It is a calisthenic.

Between Rome and Florence, our train stopped at a small way station
in the mountains. As soon as the little locomotive had panted
itself to a standstill the train hands, following their habit,
piled off the cars and engaged in a tremendous confab with the
assembled officials on the platform. Immediately all the loafers
in sight drew cards. A drowsy hillsman, muffled to his back hair
in a long brown cloak, and with buskins on his legs such as a stage
bandit wears, was dozing against the wall. He looked as though
he had stepped right out of a comic opera to add picturesqueness
to the scene. He roused himself and joined in; so did a bearded
party who, to judge by his uniform, was either a Knight of Pythias
or a general in the army; so did all the rest of the crowd. In
ten seconds they were jammed together in a hard knot, and going
it on the high speed with the muffler off, fine white teeth shining,
arms flying, shoulders shrugging, spinal columns writhing, mustaches
rising and falling, legs wriggling, scalps and ears following suit.
Feeding hour in the parrot cage at the zoo never produced anything
like so noisy and animated a scene. In these parts acute hysteria
is not a symptom; it is merely a state of mind.

A waiter in soiled habiliments hurried up, abandoning chances of
trade at the prospect of something infinitely more exciting. He
wanted to stick his oar into the argument. He had a few pregnant
thoughts of his own craving utterance, you could tell that. But
he was handicapped into a state of dumbness by the fact that he
needed both arms to balance a tray of wine and sandwiches on his
head. Merely using his voice in that company would not have
counted. He stood it as long as he could, which was not very long,
let me tell you. Then he slammed his tray down on the platform
and, with one quick movement, jerked his coat sleeves back to his
elbows, and inside thirty seconds he had the floor in both hands,
as it were. He conversed mainly with the Australian crawl stroke,
but once in a while switched to the Spencerian free-arm movement
and occasionally introduced the Chautauqua salute with telling

On the Continent guides, as a class, excel in the gift of tongues
--guides and hotel concierges. The concierge at our hotel in
Berlin was a big, upstanding chap, half Russian and half Swiss,
and therefore qualified by his breeding to speak many languages;
for the Russians are born with split tongues and can give cards
and spades to any talking crow that ever lived; while the Swiss
lag but little behind them in linguistic aptitude. It seemed such
a pity that this man was not alive when the hands knocked off work
on the Tower of Babel; he could have put the job through without
extending himself. No matter what the nationality of a guest might
be--and the guests were of many nationalities--he could talk with
that guest in his own language or in any other language the guest
might fancy. I myself was sorely tempted to try him on Coptic
and early Aztec; but I held off. My Coptic is not what it once
was; and, partly through disuse and partly through carelessness,
I have allowed my command of early Aztec to fall off pretty badly
these last few months.

All linguistic freakishness is not confined to the Continent. The
English, who are popularly supposed to use the same language we
ourselves use, sometimes speak with a mighty strange tongue. A
great many of them do not speak English; they speak British, a
very different thing. An Englishwoman of breeding has a wonderful
speaking voice; as pure as a Boston woman's and more liquid; as
soft as a Southern woman's and with more attention paid to the R's.
But the Cockney type--Wowie! During a carriage ride in Florence
with a mixed company of tourists I chanced to say something of a
complimentary nature about something English, and a little
London-bred woman spoke up and said: "Thenks! It's vurry naice of
you to sezzo, 'm sure." Some of them talk like that--honestly they

Though Americo-English may not be an especially musical speech,
it certainly does lend itself most admirably to slang purposes.
Here again the Britishers show their inability to utilize the
vehicle to the full of its possibilities. England never produced
a Billy Baxter or a George Ade, and I am afraid she never will.
Most of our slang means something; you hear a new slang phrase and
instantly you realize that the genius who coined it has hit on a
happy and a graphic and an illuminating expression; that at one
bound he rose triumphant above the limitations of the language and
tremendously enriched the working vocabulary of the man in the
street. Whereas an Englishman's idea of slinging slang is to scoop
up at random some inoffensive and well-meaning word that never did
him any harm and apply it in the place of some other word, to which
the first word is not related, even by marriage. And look how
they deliberately mispronounce proper names. Everybody knows about
Cholmondeley and St. John. But take the Scandinavian word fjord.
Why, I ask you, should the English insist on pronouncing it Ferguson?

At Oxford, the seat of learning, Magdalen is pronounced Maudlin,
probably in subtle tribute to the condition of the person who first
pronounced it so. General-admission day is not the day you enter,
but the day you leave. Full term means three-quarters of a term.
An ordinary degree is a degree obtained by a special examination.
An inspector of arts does not mean an inspector of arts, but a
student; and from this point they go right ahead, getting worse
all the time. The droll creature who compiled the Oxford glossary
was a true Englishman.

When an Englishman undertakes to wrestle with American slang he
makes a fearful hash of it. In an English magazine I read a
short story, written by an Englishman who is regarded by a good
many persons, competent to judge, as being the cleverest writer
of English alive today. The story was beautifully done from the
standpoint of composition; it bristled with flashing metaphors and
whimsical phrasing. The scene of the yarn was supposed to be
Chicago and naturally the principal figure in it was a millionaire.
In one place the author has this person saying, "I reckon you'll
feel pretty mean," and in another place, "I reckon I'm not a man
with no pull."

Another character in the story says, "I know you don't cotton
to the march of science in these matters," and speaks of something
that is unusual as being "a rum affair." A walled state prison,
presumably in Illinois, is referred to as a "convict camp"; and
its warden is called a "governor" and an assistant keeper is called
a "warder"; while a Chicago daily paper is quoted as saying that
"larrikins" directed the attention of a policeman to a person who
was doing thus and so.

The writer describes a "mysterious mere" known as Pilgrim's Pond,
"in which they say"--a prison official is supposed to be talking
now--"our fathers made witches walk until they sank." Descendants
of the original Puritans who went from Plymouth Rock, in the summer
of 1621, and founded Chicago, will recall this pond distinctly.
Cotton Mather is buried on its far bank, and from there it is just
ten minutes by trolley to Salem, Massachusetts. It is stated also
in this story that the prairies begin a matter of thirty-odd miles
from Chicago, and that to reach them one must first traverse a
"perfect no man's land." Englewood and South Chicago papers please

Chapter XIX

Venice and the Venisons

Getting back again to guides, I am reminded that our acquaintanceship
with the second member of the Mark Twain brotherhood was staged
in Paris. This gentleman wished himself on us one afternoon at
the Hotel des Invalides. We did not engage him; he engaged us,
doing the trick with such finesse and skill that before we realized
it we had been retained to accompany him to various points of
interest in and round Paris. However, we remained under his control
one day only. At nightfall we wrested ourselves free and fled
under cover of darkness to German soil, where we were comparatively

I never knew a man who advanced so rapidly in a military way as
he did during the course of that one day. Our own national guard
could not hold a candle to him. He started out at ten A.M. by
being an officer of volunteers in the Franco-Prussian War; but
every time he slipped away and took a nip out of his private
bottle, which was often, he advanced in rank automatically. Before
the dusk of evening came he was a corps commander, who had been
ennobled on the field of battle by the hand of Napoleon the Third.

He took us to Versailles. We did not particularly care to go to
Versailles that day, because it was raining; but he insisted and
we went. In spite of the drizzle we might have enjoyed that
wonderful place had he not been constantly at our elbows, gabbling
away steadily except when he excused himself for a moment and
stepped behind a tree, to emerge a moment later wiping his mouth
on his sleeve. Then he would return to us, with an added gimpiness
in his elderly legs, an increased expansion of the chest inside
his tight and shiny frock coat, and a fresh freight of richness
on his breath, to report another deserved promotion.

After he had eaten luncheon--all except such portions of it as he
spilled on himself--the colonel grew confidential and chummy. He
tried to tell me an off-color story and forgot the point of it,
if indeed it had any point. He began humming the Marseillaise
hymn, but broke off to say he expected to live to see the day when
a column of French troops, singing that air, would march up Unter
den Linden to stack their arms in the halls of the Kaiser's palace.
I did not take issue with him. Every man is entitled to his
own wishes in those matters. But later on, when I had seen
something of the Kaiser's standing army, I thought to myself that
when the French troops did march up Unter den Linden they would
find it tolerably rough sledding, and if there was any singing
done a good many of them probably would not be able to join in the
last verse.

Immediately following this, our conductor confided to me that he
had once had the honor of serving Mr. Clemens, whom he referred
to as Mick Twine. He told me things about Mr. Clemens of which I
had never heard. I do not think Mr. Clemens ever heard of them
either. Then the brigadier--it was now after three o'clock, and
between three and three-thirty he was a brigadier--drew my arm
within his.

"I, too, am an author," he stated. "It is not generally known,
but I have written much. I wrote a book of which you may have
heard-- 'The Wandering Jew.'" And he tapped himself on the bosom

I said I had somehow contracted a notion that a party named Sue
--Eugene Sue--had something to do with writing the work of that

"Ah, but you are right there, my friend," he said. "Sue wrote
'The Wandering Jew' the first time--as a novel, merely; but I wrote
him much better--as a satire on the anti-Semitic movement."

I surrendered without offering to strike another blow and from
that time on he had his own way with us. The day, as I was pleased
to note at the time, had begun mercifully to draw to a close; we
were driving back to Paris, and he, sitting on the front seat, had
just attained the highest post in the army under the regime of the
last Empire, when he said:

"Behold, m'sieur! We are now approaching a wine shop on the left.
You were most gracious and kind in the matter of luncheon. Kindly
permit me to do the honors now. It is a very good wine shop--I
know it well. Shall we stop for a glass together, eh?"

It was the first time since we landed at Calais that a native-born
person had offered to buy anything, and, being ever desirous to
assist in the celebration of any truly notable occasion, I
accepted and the car was stopped. We were at the portal of the
wine shop, when he plucked at my sleeve, offering another suggestion:

"The chauffeur now--he is a worthy fellow, that chauffeur. Shall
we not invite the chauffeur to join us?"

I was agreeable to that, too. So he called the chauffeur and the
chauffeur disentangled his whiskers from the steering gear and
came and joined us. The chauffeur and I each had a small glass
of light wine, but the general took brandy. Then ensued a spirited
dialogue between him and the woman who kept the shop. Assuming
that I had no interest in the matter, I studied the pictures
behind the bar. Presently, having reduced the woman to a state
of comparative silence, he approached me.

"M'sieur," he said, "I regret that this has happened. Because you
are a foreigner and because you know not our language, that woman
would make an overcharge; but she forgot she had me to deal with.
I am on guard! See her! She is now quelled! I have given her a
lesson she will not soon forget. M'sieur, the correct amount of
the bill is two-francs-ten. Give it to her and let us begone!"

I still have that guide's name and address in my possession. At
parting he pressed his card on me and asked me to keep it; and I
did keep it. I shall be glad to loan it to any American who may
be thinking of going to Paris. With the card in his pocket, he
will know exactly where this guide lives; and then, when he is in
need of a guide he can carefully go elsewhere and hire a guide.

I almost failed to mention that before we parted he tried to induce
us to buy something. He took us miles out of our way to a pottery
and urged us to invest in its wares. This is the main purpose of
every guide: to see that you buy something and afterward to collect
his commission from the shopkeeper for having brought you to the
shop. If you engage your guide through the porter at your hotel
you will find that he steers you to the shops the hotel people
have already recommended to you; but if you break the porter's
heart by hiring your guide outside, independently, the guide steers
you to the shops that are on his own private list.

Only once I saw a guide temporarily stumped, and that was in Venice.
The skies were leaky that day and the weather was raw; and one
of the ladies of the party wore pumps and silk stockings. For the
protection of her ankles she decided to buy a pair of cloth gaiters;
and, stating her intention, she started to go into a shop that
dealt in those articles. The guide hesitated a moment only, then
threw himself in her path. The shops hereabout were not to be
trusted--the proprietors, without exception, were rogues and
extortioners. If madame would have patience for a few brief moments
he would guarantee that she got what she wanted at an honest price.
He seemed so desirous of protecting her that she consented to wait.

In a minute, on a pretext, he excused himself and dived into one
of the crooked ways that thread through all parts of Venice and
make it possible for one who knows their windings to reach any
part of the city without using the canals. Two of us secretly
followed him. Beyond the first turning he dived into a shoe shop.
Emerging after a while he hurried back and led the lady to that
same shop, and stood by, smiling softly, while she was fitted with
gaiters. Until now evidently gaiters had not been on his list,
but he had taken steps to remedy this; and, though his commission
on a pair of sixty-cent gaiters could not have been very large
yet, as some philosopher has so truly said, every little bit added
to what you have makes just a modicum more. Indeed, the guide
never overlooks the smallest bet. His whole mentality is focused
on getting you inside a shop. Once you are there, he stations
himself close behind you, reenforcing the combined importunities
of the shopkeeper and his assembled staff with gentle suggestions.
The depths of self-abasement to which a shopkeeper in Europe will
descend in an effort to sell his goods surpasses the power of
description. The London tradesman goes pretty far in this direction.
Often he goes as far as the sidewalk, clinging to the hem of your
garment and begging you to return for one more look. But the
Continentals are still worse.

A Parisian shopkeeper would sell you the bones of his revered
grandmother if you wanted them and he had them in stock; and he
would have them in stock too, because, as I have stated once before,
a true Parisian never throws away anything he can save. I heard
of just one single instance where a customer desirous of having
an article and willing to pay the price failed to get it; and that,
I would say, stands without a parallel in the annals of commerce
and barter.

An American lady visiting her daughter, an art student in the Latin
Quartier, was walking alone when she saw in a shop window a lace
blouse she fancied. She went inside and by signs, since she knew
no French, indicated that she wished to look at that blouse. The
woman in charge shook her head, declining even to take the garment
out of the window. Convinced now, womanlike, that this particular
blouse was the blouse she desired above all other blouses the
American woman opened her purse and indicated that she was prepared
to buy at the shopwoman's own valuation, without the privilege of
examination. The shopwoman showed deep pain at having to refuse
the proposition, but refuse it she did; and the would-be buyer
went home angry and perplexed and told her daughter what had

"It certainly is strange," the daughter said. "I thought
everything in Paris, except possibly Napoleon's tomb, was for sale.
This thing will repay investigation. Wait until I pin my hat
on. Does my nose need powdering?"

Her mother led her back to the shop of the blouse and then the
puzzle was revealed. For it was the shop of a dry cleanser and
the blouse belonged to some patron and was being displayed as a
sample of the work done inside; but undoubtedly such a thing never
before happened in Paris and probably never will happen again.

In Venice not only the guides and the hotel clerks and porters but
even the simple gondolier has a secret understanding with all
branches of the retail trade. You get into a long, snaky, black
gondola and fee the beggar who pushes you off, and all the other
beggars who have assisted in the pushing off or have merely
contributed to the success of the operation by being present, and
you tell your gondolier in your best Italian or your worst pidgin
English where you wish to go. It may be you are bound for the
Rialto; or for the Bridge of Sighs, which is chiefly distinguished
from all the other bridges by being the only covered one in the
lot; or for the house of the lady Desdemona. The lady Desdemona
never lived there or anywhere else, but the house where she would
have lived, had she lived, is on exhibition daily from nine to
five, admission one lira. Or perchance you want to visit one of
the ducal palaces that are so numerous in Venice. These palaces
are still tenanted by the descendants of the original proprietors;
one family has perhaps been living in one palace three or four
hundred years. But now the family inhabits the top floor, doing
light housekeeping up there, and the lower floor, where the art
treasures, the tapestries and the family relics are, is in charge
of a caretaker, who collects at the door and then leads you through.

Having given the boatman explicit directions you settle back in
your cushion seat to enjoy the trip. You marvel how he, standing
at the stern, with his single oar fitted into a shallow notch of
his steering post, propels the craft so swiftly and guides it so
surely by those short, twisting strokes of his. Really, you
reflect, it is rowing by shorthand. You are feasting your eyes
on the wonderful color effects and the groupings that so enthuse
the artist, and which he generally manages to botch and boggle
when he seeks to commit them to canvas; and betweenwhiles you are
wondering why all the despondent cats in Venice should have picked
out the Grand Canal as the most suitable place in which to commit
suicide, when--bump!--your gondola swings up against the landing
piles in front of a glass factory and the entire force of helpers
rush out and seize you by your arms--or by your legs, if handier
--and try to drag you inside, while the affable and accommodating
gondolier boosts you from behind. You fight them off, declaring
passionately that you are not in the market for colored glass at
this time. The hired hands protest; and the gondolier, cheated
out of his commission, sorrows greatly, but obeys your command to
move on. At least he pretends to obey it; but a minute later he
brings you up broadside at the water-level doors of a shop dealing
in antiques, known appropriately as antichitas, or at a mosaic
shop or a curio shop. If ever you do succeed in reaching your
destination it is by the exercise of much profanity and great
firmness of will.

The most insistent and pesky shopkeepers of all are those who hive
in the ground floors of the professedly converted palaces that
face on three sides of the Square of Saint Mark's. You dare not
hesitate for the smallest fractional part of a second in front of
a shop here. Lurking inside the open door is a husky puller-in;
and he dashes out and grabs hold of you and will not let go, begging
you in spaghettified English to come in and examine his unapproachable
assortment of bargains. You are not compelled to buy, he tells
you; he only wants you to gaze on his beautiful things. Believe
him not! Venture inside and decline to purchase and he will think
up new and subtle Italian forms of insult and insolence to visit
on you. They will have brass bands out for you if you invest and
brass knuckles if you do not.

There is but one way to escape from their everlasting persecutions,
and that is to flee to the center of the square and enjoy the
company of the pigeons and the photographers. They--the pigeons,
I mean--belong to the oldest family in Venice; their lineage is
of the purest and most undefiled. For upward of seven hundred
years the authorities of the city have been feeding and protecting
the pigeons, of which these countless blue-and-bronze flocks are
the direct descendants. They are true aristocrats; and, like true
aristocrats, they are content to live on the public funds and grow
fat and sassy thereon, paying nothing in return.

No; I take that part back--they do pay something in return; a
full measure. They pay by the beauty of their presence, and they
are surely very beautiful, with their dainty mincing pink feet and
the sheen on the proudly arched breast coverts of the cock birds;
and they pay by giving you their trust and their friendship. To
gobble the gifts of dried peas, which you buy in little cornucopias
from convenient venders for distribution among them, they come
wheeling in winged battalions, creaking and cooing, and alight on
your head and shoulders in that perfect confidence which so delights
humans when wild or half-wild creatures bestow it on us, though,
at every opportunity, we do our level best to destroy it by hunting
and harrying them to death.

At night, when the moon is up, is the time to visit this spot.
Standing here, with the looming pile of the Doge's Palace bulked
behind you, and the gorgeous but somewhat garish decorations of
the great cathedral softened and soothed into perfection of outline
and coloring by the half light, you can for the moment forget the
fallen state of Venice, and your imagination peoples the splendid
plaza for you with the ghosts of its dead and vanished greatnesses.
You conceive of the place as it must have looked in those old,
brave, wicked days, filled all with knights, with red-robed cardinals
and clanking men at arms, with fair ladies and grave senators,
slinking bravos and hired assassins--and all so gay with silk and
satin and glittering steel and spangling gems.

By the eye of your mind you see His Illuminated Excellency, the
frosted Christmas card, as he bows low before His Eminence, the
pink Easter egg; you see, half hidden behind the shadowed columns
of the long portico, an illustrated Sunday supplement in six colors
bargaining with a stick of striped peppermint candy to have his
best friend stabbed in the back before morning; you see giddy
poster designs carrying on flirtations with hand-painted valentines;
you catch the love-making, overhear the intriguing, and scent the
plotting; you are an eyewitness to a slice out of the life of the
most sinister, the most artistic, and the most murderous period
of Italian history.

But by day imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, stops a hole
to keep the wind away; and the wild ass of the ninety-day tour
stamps his heedless hoofs over the spot where sleeps the dust of
departed grandeur. By day the chug of the motor boat routs out
old sleepy echoes from cracked and crannied ruins; the burnished
golden frescoes of Saint Mark's blare at you as with brazen trumpets;
every third medieval church has been turned into a moving-picture
place; and the shopkeeping parasites buzz about you in vermin
swarms and bore holes in your pocketbook until it is all one large
painful welt. The emblem of Venice is the winged lion. It should
be the tapeworm.

In Rome it appears to be a standing rule that every authenticated
guide shall be a violent Socialist and therefore rampingly
anticlerical in all his views. We were in Rome during the season
of pilgrimages. From all parts of Italy, from Bohemia and Hungary
and Spain and Tyrol, and even from France, groups of peasants had
come to Rome to worship in their mother church and be blessed by
the supreme pontiff of their faith. At all hours of the day they
were passing through the streets, bound for Saint Peter's or the
Vatican, the women with kerchiefs over their heads, the men in
their Sunday best, and all with badges and tokens on their breasts.

At the head of each straggling procession would be a black-frocked
village priest, at once proud and humble, nervous and exalted. A
man might be of any religion or of no religion at all, and yet I
fail to see how he could watch, unmoved, the uplifted faces of
these people as they clumped over the cobbles of the Holy City,
praying as they went. Some of them had been saving up all their
lives, I imagine, against the coming of this great day; but our
guide--and we tried three different ones--never beheld this sight
that he did not sneer at it; and not once did he fail to point out
that most of the pilgrims were middle-aged or old, taking this as
proof of his claim that the Church no longer kept its hold on the
younger people, even among the peasant classes. The still more
frequent spectacle of a marching line of students of one of the
holy colleges, with each group wearing the distinctive insignia
of its own country--purple robes or green sashes, or what not
--would excite him to the verge of a spasm.

But then he was always verging on a spasm anyway--spasms were his
normal state.

Chapter XX

The Combustible Captain of Vienna

Our guide in Vienna was the most stupid human being I ever saw.
He was profoundly ignorant on a tremendously wide range of subjects;
he had a most complete repertoire of ignorance. He must have spent
years of study to store up so much interesting misinformation.
This guide was much addicted to indulgence of a peculiar form of
twisted English and at odd moments given to the consumption of a
delicacy of strictly Germanic origin, known in the language of the
Teutons as a rollmops. A rollmops consists of a large dilled
cucumber, with a pickled herring coiled round it ready to strike,
in the design of the rattlesnake-and-pinetree flag of the Revolution,
the motto in both instances being in effect: "Don't monkey with
the buzz saw!" He carried his rollmops in his pocket and frequently,
in art galleries or elsewhere, would draw it out and nibble it,
while disseminating inaccuracies touching on pictures and statues
and things.

Among other places, he took us to the oldest church in Vienna.
As I now recollect it was six hundred years old. No; on second
thought I will say it must have been older than that. No church
could possibly become so moldy and mangy looking as that church
in only six hundred years. The object in this church that interested
me most was contained in an ornate glass case placed near the altar
and alongside the relics held to be sacred. It did not exactly
please me to gaze at this article; but the thing had a fascination
for me; I will not deny that.

It seems that a couple of centuries ago there was an officer in
Vienna, a captain in rank and a Frenchman by birth, who, in the
midst of disorders and licentiousness, lived so godly and so
sanctified a life that his soldiers took it into their heads that
he was really a saint, or at least had the making of a first-rate
saint in him, and, therefore, must lead a charmed life. So--thus
runs the tale--some of them laid a wager with certain Doubting
Thomases, also soldiers, that neither by fire nor water, neither
by rope nor poison, could he take harm to himself. Finally they
decided on fire for the test. So they waited until he slept--those
simple, honest, chuckle-headed chaps--and then they slipped in
with a lighted torch and touched him off.

Well, sir, the joke certainly was on those soldiers. He burned
up with all the spontaneous enthusiasm of a celluloid comb. For
qualities of instantaneous combustion he must have been the equal
of any small-town theater that ever was built--with one exit. He
was practically a total loss and there was no insurance.

They still have him, or what is left of him, in that glass case.
He did not exactly suffer martyrdom--though probably he personally
did not notice any very great difference--and so he has not been
canonized; nevertheless, they have him there in that church. In
all Europe I only saw one sight to match him, and that was down
in the crypt under the Church of the Capuchins, in Rome, where the
dissected cadavers of four thousand dead--but not gone--monks are
worked up into decorations. There are altars made of their skulls,
and chandeliers made of their thigh bones; frescoes of their spines;
mosaics of their teeth and dried muscles; cozy corners of their
femurs and pelves and tibiae. There are two classes of travelers
I would strongly advise not to visit the crypt of the Capuchins'
Church--those who are just about to have dinner and want to have
it, and those who have just had dinner and want to keep on having

At the royal palace in Vienna we saw the finest, largest, and
gaudiest collection of crown jewels extant. That guide of ours
seemed to think he had done his whole duty toward us and could
call it a day and knock off when he led us up to the jewel
collections, where each case was surrounded by pop-eyed American
tourists taking on flesh at the sight of all those sparklers and
figuring up the grand total of their valuation in dollars, on the
basis of so many hundreds of carats at so many hundred dollars a
carat, until reason tottered on her throne--and did not have so
very far to totter, either.

The display or all those gems, however, did not especially excite
me. There were too many of them and they were too large. A blue
Kimberley in a hotel clerk's shirtfront or a pigeonblood ruby on
a faro dealer's little finger might hold my attention and win my
admiration; but where jewels are piled up in heaps like anthracite
in a coal bin they thrill me no more than the anthracite would.
A quart measure of diamonds of the average size of a big hailstone
does not make me think of diamonds but of hailstones. I could
remain as calm in their presence as I should in the presence of a
quart of cracked ice; in fact, calmer than I should remain in the
presence of a quart of cracked ice in Italy, say, where there is
not that much ice, cracked or otherwise. In Italy a bucketful of
ice would be worth traveling miles to see. You could sell tickets
for it.

In one of the smaller rooms of the palace we came on a casket
containing a necklace of great smoldering rubies and a pair of
bracelets to match. They were as big as cranberries and as red
as blood--as red as arterial blood. And when, on consulting the
guidebook, we read the history of those rubies the sight of them
brought a picture to our minds, for they had been a part of the
wedding dowry of Marie Antoinette. Once on a time this necklace
had spanned the slender white throat that was later to be sheared
by the guillotine, and these bracelets had clasped the same white
wrists that were roped together with an ell of hangman's hemp on
the day the desolated queen rode, in her patched and shabby gown,
to the Place de la Revolution.

I had seen paintings in plenty and read descriptions galore of
that last ride of the Widow Capet going to her death in the tumbril,
with the priest at her side and her poor, fettered arms twisted
behind her, and her white face bared to the jeers of the mob; but
the physical presence of those precious useless baubles, which had
cost so much and yet had bought so little for her, made more vivid
to me than any picture or anystory the most sublime tragedy of The
Terror--the tragedy of those two bound hands.

Chapter XXI

Old Masters and Other Ruins

It is naturally a fine thing for one, and gratifying, to acquire
a thorough art education. Personally I do not in the least
regret the time I gave and the study I devoted to acquiring
mine. I regard those two weeks as having been well spent.

I shall not do it soon again, however, for now I know all about
art. Let others who have not enjoyed my advantages take up this
study. Let others scour the art galleries of Europe seeking
masterpieces. All of them contain masterpieces and most of them
need scouring. As for me and mine, we shall go elsewhere. I
love my art, but I am not fanatical on the subject. There is
another side of my nature to which an appeal may be made. I can
take my Old Masters or I can leave them be. That is the way I
am organized--I have self-control.

I shall not deny that the earlier stages of my art education
were fraught with agreeable little surprises. Not soon shall I
forget the flush of satisfaction which ran through me on learning
that this man Dore's name was pronounced like the first two notes
in the music scale, instead of like a Cape Cod fishing boat. And
lingering in my mind as a fragrant memory is the day when I first
discovered that Spagnoletto was neither a musical instrument nor
something to be served au gratin and eaten with a fork. Such
acquirements as these are very precious to me.

But for the time being I have had enough. At this hour of writing
I feel that I am stocked up with enough of Bouguereau's sorrel
ladies and Titian's chestnut ones and Rubens' bay ones and Velasquez's
pintos to last me, at a conservative estimate, for about seventy-five
years. I am too young as a theatergoer to recall much about
Lydia Thompson's Blondes, but I have seen sufficient of Botticelli's
to do me amply well for a spell. I am still willing to walk a
good distance to gaze on one of Rembrandt's portraits of one of
his kinfolks, though I must say he certainly did have a lot of
mighty homely relatives; and any time there is a first-rate Millet
or Corot or Meissonier in the neighborhood I wish somebody would
drop me a line, giving the address. As for pictures by Tintoretto,
showing Venetian Doges hobnobbing informally with members of the
Holy Family, and Raphael's angels, and Michelangelo's lost souls,
and Guidos, and Murillos, I have had enough to do me for months
and months and months. Nor am I in the market for any of the dead
fish of the Flemish school. Judging by what I have observed,
practically all the Flemish painters were devout churchmen and
painted their pictures on Friday.

There was just one drawback to my complete enjoyment of that part
of our European travels we devoted to art. We would go to an art
gallery, hire a guide and start through. Presently I would come
to a picture that struck me as being distinctly worth while. To
my untutored conceptions it possessed unlimited beauty. There
was, it seemed to me, life in the figures, reality in the colors,
grace in the grouping. And then, just when I was beginning really
to enjoy it, the guide would come and snatch me away.

He would tell me the picture I thought I admired was of no account
whatsoever--that the artist who painted it had not yet been dead
long enough to give his work any permanent value; and he would
drag me off to look at a cracked and crumbling canvas depicting a
collection of saints of lacquered complexions and hardwood
expressions, with cast-iron trees standing up against cotton batting
clouds in the background, and a few extra halos floating round
indiscriminately, like sun dogs on a showery day, and, up above,
the family entrance into heaven hospitably ajar; and he would
command me to bask my soul in this magnificent example of real art
and not waste time on inconsequential and trivial things. Guides
have the same idea of an artist that a Chinaman entertains for an
egg. A fresh egg or a fresh artist will not do. It must have the
perfume of antiquity behind it to make it attractive.

At the Louvre, in Paris, on the first day of the two we spent
there, we had for our guide a tall, educated Prussian, who had an
air about him of being an ex-officer of the army. All over the
Continent you are constantly running into men engaged in all manner
of legitimate and dubious callings, who somehow impress you as
having served in the army of some other country than the one in
which you find them. After this man had been chaperoning us about
for some hours and we had stopped to rest, he told a good story.
It may not have been true--it has been my experience that very few
good stories are true; but it served aptly to illustrate a certain
type of American tourist numerously encountered abroad.

"There were two of them," he said in his excellent English, "a
gentleman and his wife; and from what I saw of them I judged
them to be very wealthy. They were interested in seeing only such
things as had been recommended by the guidebook. The husband would
tell me they desired to see such and such a picture or statue.
I would escort them to it and they would glance at it indifferently,
and the gentleman would take out his lead pencil and check off
that particular object in the book; and then he would say: 'All
right--we've seen that; now let's find out what we want to look
at next.' We still serve a good many people like that--not so many
as formerly, but still a good many.

"Finally I decided to try a little scheme of my own. I wanted to
see whether I could really win their admiration for something. I
picked out a medium-size painting of no particular importance and,
pointing to it, said impressively: 'Here, m'sieur, is a picture
worth a million dollars--without the frame!'

"'What's that?' he demanded excitedly. Then he called to his wife,
who had strayed ahead a few steps. 'Henrietta,' he said, 'come
back here--you're missing something. There's a picture there
that's worth a million dollars--and without the frame, too, mind

"She came hurrying back and for ten minutes they stood there
drinking in that picture. Every second they discovered new and
subtle beauties in it. I could hardly induce them to go on for
the rest of the tour, and the next day they came back for another
soul-feast in front of it."

Later along, that guide confided to me that in his opinion I had
a keen appreciation of art, much keener than the average lay
tourist. The compliment went straight to my head. It was seeking
the point of least resistance, I suppose. I branched out and
undertook to discuss art matters with him on a more familiar basis.
It was a mistake; but before I realized that it was a mistake I
was out in the undertow sixty yards from shore, going down for the
third time, with a low gurgling cry. He did not put out to save
me, either; he left me to sink in the heaving and abysmal sea of
my own fathomless ignorance. He just stood there and let me drown.
It was a cruel thing, for which I can never forgive him.

In my own defense let me say, however, that this fatal indiscretion
was committed before I had completed my art education. It was
after we had gone from France to Germany, and to Austria, and to
Italy, that I learned the great lesson about art--which is that
whenever and wherever you meet a picture that seems to you reasonably
lifelike it is nine times in ten of no consequence whatsoever;
and, unless you are willing to be regarded as a mere ignoramus,
you should straightway leave it and go and find some ancient picture
of a group of overdressed clothing dummies masquerading as angels
or martyrs, and stand before that one and carry on regardless.

When in doubt, look up a picture of Saint Sebastian. You never
experience any difficulty in finding him--he is always represented
as wearing very few clothes, being shot full of arrows to such an
extent that clothes would not fit him anyway. Or else seek out
Saint Laurence, who is invariably featured in connection with a
gridiron; or Saint Bartholomew, who, you remember, achieved
canonization through a process of flaying, and is therefore shown
with his skin folded neatly and carried over his arm like a spring

Following this routine you make no mistakes. Everybody is bound
to accept you as one possessing a deep knowledge of art, and not
mere surface art either, but the innermost meanings and conceptions
of art. Only sometimes I did get to wishing that the Old Masters
had left a little more to the imagination. They never withheld
any of the painful particulars. It seemed to me they cheapened
the glorious end of those immortal fathers of the faith by including
the details of the martyrdom in every picture. Still, I would not
have that admission get out and obtain general circulation. It
might be used against me as an argument that my artistic education
was grounded on a false foundation.

It was in Rome, while we were doing the Vatican, that our guide
furnished us with a sight that, considered as a human experience,
was worth more to me than a year of Old Masters and Young Messers.
We had pushed our poor blistered feet--a dozen or more of us--past
miles of paintings and sculptures and relics and art objects, and
we were tired--oh, so tired! Our eyes ached and our shoes hurt us;
and the calves of our legs quivered as we trailed along from gallery
to corridor, and from corridor back to gallery.

We had visited the Sistine Chapel; and, such was our weariness,
we had even declined to become excited over Michelangelo's great
picture of the Last Judgment. I was disappointed, too, that he
had omitted to include in his collection of damned souls a number
of persons I had confidently and happily expected would be present.
I saw no one there even remotely resembling my conception of the
person who first originated and promulgated the doctrine that all
small children should be told at the earliest possible moment that
there is no Santa Claus. That was a very severe blow to me, because
I had always believed that the descent to eternal perdition would
be incomplete unless he had a front seat. And the man who first
hit on the plan of employing child labor on night shifts in cotton
factories--he was unaccountably absent too. And likewise the
original inventor of the toy pistol; in fact the absentees were
entirely too numerous to suit me. There was one thing, though,
to be said in praise of Michelangelo's Last Judgment; it was too
large and too complicated to be reproduced successfully on a
souvenir postal card; and I think we should all be very grateful
for that mercy anyway.

As I was saying, we had left the Sistine Chapel a mile or so
behind us and had dragged our exhausted frames as far as an arched
upper portico in a wing of the great palace, overlooking a paved
courtyard inclosed at its farther end by a side wall of Saint
Peter's. We saw, in another portico similar to the one where we
had halted and running parallel to it, long rows of peasants, all
kneeling and all with their faces turned in the same direction.

"Wait here a minute," said our guide. "I think you will see
something not included in the regular itinerary of the day."

So we waited. In a minute or two the long lines of kneeling
peasants raised a hymn; the sound of it came to us in quavering
snatches. Through the aisle formed by their bodies a procession
passed the length of the long portico and back to the starting
point. First came Swiss Guards in their gay piebald uniforms,
carrying strange-looking pikes and halberds; and behind them were
churchly dignitaries, all bared of head; and last of all came a
very old and very feeble man, dressed in white, with a wide-brimmed
white hat--and he had white hair and a white face, which seemed
drawn and worn, but very gentle and kindly and beneficent.

He held his right arm aloft, with the first two fingers extended
in the gesture of the apostolic benediction. He was so far away
from us that in perspective his profile was reduced to the miniature
proportions of a head on a postage stamp; but, all the same, the
lines of it stood out clear and distinct. It was his Holiness,
Pope Pius the Tenth, blessing a pilgrimage.

All the guides in Rome follow a regular routine with the tourist.
First, of course, they steer you into certain shops in the hope
that you will buy something and thereby enable them to earn
commissions. Then, in turn, they carry you to an art gallery, to
a church, and to a palace, with stops at other shops interspersed
between; and invariably they wind up in the vicinity of some of
the ruins. Ruins is a Roman guide's middle name; ruins are his
one best bet. In Rome I saw ruins until I was one myself.

We devoted practically an entire day to ruins. That was the day
we drove out the Appian Way, glorious in legend and tale, but not
quite so all-fired glorious when you are reeling over its rough
and rutted pavement in an elderly and indisposed open carriage,
behind a pair of half-broken Roman-nosed horses which insist on
walking on their hind legs whenever they tire of going on four.
The Appian Way, as at present constituted, is a considerable
disappointment. For long stretches it runs between high stone
walls, broken at intervals by gate-ways, where votive lamps burn
before small shrines, and by the tombs of such illustrious dead
as Seneca and the Horatii and the Curiatii. At more frequent
intervals are small wine groggeries. Being built mainly of Italian
marble, which is the most enduring and the most unyielding substance
to be found in all Italy--except a linen collar that has been
starched in an Italian laundry--the tombs are in a pretty fair
state of preservation; but the inns, without exception, stand most
desperately in need of immediate repairing.

A cow in Italy is known by the company she keeps; she rambles
about, in and out of the open parlor of the wayside inn, mingling
freely with the patrons and the members of the proprietor's household.
Along the Appian Way a cow never seems to care whom she runs with;
and the same is true of the domestic fowls and the family donkey.
A donkey will spend his day in the doorway of a wine shop when he
might just as well be enjoying the more sanitary and less crowded
surroundings of a stable. It only goes to show what an ass a
donkey is.

Anon, as the fancy writers say, we skirted one of the many wrecked
aqueducts that go looping across country to the distant hills,
like great stone straddlebugs. In the vicinity of Rome you are
rarely out of sight of one of these aqueducts. The ancient Roman
rulers, you know, curried the favor of the populace by opening
baths. A modern ruler could win undying popularity by closing up
a few.

We slowed up at the Circus of Romulus and found it a very sad
circus, as such things go--no elevated stage, no hippodrome track,
no centerpole, no trapeze, and only one ring. P. T. Barnum would
have been ashamed to own it. A broken wall, following the lines
of an irregular oval; a cabbage patch where the arena had been;
and various tumble-down farmsheds built into the shattered masonry
--this was the Circus of Romulus. However, it was not the circus
of the original Romulus, but of a degenerate successor of the same
name who rose suddenly and fell abruptly after the Christian era
was well begun. Old John J. Romulus would not have stood for that
circus a minute.

No ride on the Appian Way is regarded as complete without half an
hour's stop at the Catacombs of Saint Calixtus; so we stopped.
Guided by a brown Trappist, and all of us bearing twisted tapers
in our hands, we descended by stone steps deep under the skin of
the earth and wandered through dim, dank underground passages,
where thousands of early Christians had lived and hid, and held
clandestine worship before rude stone altars, and had died and
been buried--died in a highly unpleasant fashion, some of them.

The experience was impressive, but malarial. Coming away from
there I had an argument with a fellow American. He said that if
we had these Catacombs in America we should undoubtedly enlarge
them and put in band stands and lunch places, and altogether make
them more attractive for picnic parties and Sunday excursionists.
I contended, on the other hand, that if they were in America the
authorities would close them up and protect the moldered bones of
those early Christians from the vulgar gaze and prying fingers of
every impious relic hunter who might come along. The dispute rose
higher and grew warmer until I offered to bet him fifty dollars
that I was right and he was wrong. He took me up promptly--he had
sporting instincts; I'll say that for him--and we shook hands on
it then and there to bind the wager. I expect to win that bet.

We had turned off the Appian Way and were crossing a corner of that
unutterably hideous stretch of tortured and distorted waste known
as the Campagna, which goes tumbling away to the blue Alban Mountains,
when we came on the scene of an accident. A two-wheeled mule cart,
proceeding along a crossroad, with the driver asleep in his canopied
seat, had been hit by a speeding automobile and knocked galley-west.
The automobile had sped on--so we were excitedly informed by some
other tourists who had witnessed the collision--leaving the wreckage
bottom side up in the ditch. The mule was on her back, all entangled
in the twisted ruination of her gaudy gear, kicking out in that
restrained and genteel fashion in which a mule always kicks when
she is desirous of protesting against existing conditions, but is
wishful not to damage herself while so doing. The tourists, aided
by half a dozen peasants, had dragged the driver out from beneath
the heavy cart and had carried him to a pile of mucky straw beneath
the eaves of a stable. He was stretched full length on his back,
senseless and deathly pale under the smeared grime on his face.
There was no blood; but inside his torn shirt his chest had a
caved-in look, as though the ribs had been crushed flat, and he
seemed not to breathe at all. Only his fingers moved. They kept
twitching, as though his life was running out of him through his
finger ends. One felt that if he would but grip his hands he might
stay its flight and hold it in.

Just as we jumped out of our carriage a young peasant woman, who
had been bending over the injured man, set up a shrill outcry,
which was instantly answered from behind us; and looking round we
saw, running through the bare fields, a great, bulksome old woman,
with her arms outspread and her face set in a tragic shape, shrieking
as she sped toward us in her ungainly wallowing course. She was
the injured man's mother, we judged--or possibly his grandmother.

There was nothing we could do for the human victim. Our guides,
having questioned the assembled natives, told us there was no
hospital to which he might be taken and that a neighborhood
physician had already been sent for. So, having no desire to look
on the grief of his mother--if she was his mother--a young Austrian
and I turned our attention to the neglected mule. We felt that
we could at least render a little first aid there. We had our
pocket-knives out and were slashing away at the twisted maze of
ropes and straps that bound the brute down between the shafts,
when a particularly shrill chorus of shrieks checked us. We stood
up and faced about, figuring that the poor devil on the muck heap
had died and that his people were bemoaning his death. That was
not it at all. The entire group, including the fat old woman,
were screaming at us and shaking their clenched fists at us, warning
us not to damage that harness with our knives. Feeling ran high,
and threatened to run higher.

So, having no desire to be mobbed on the spot, we desisted and put
up our knives; and after a while we got back into our carriage and
drove on, leaving the capsized mule still belly-up in the debris,
lashing out carefully with her skinned legs at the trappings that
bound her; and the driver was still prone on the dunghill, with
his fingers twitching more feebly now, as though the life had
almost entirely fled out of him--a grim little tragedy set in the
edge of a wide and aching desolation! We never found out his name
or learned how he fared--whether he lived or died, and if he died
how long he lived before he died. It is a puzzle which will always
lie unanswered at the back of my mind, and I know that in odd
moments it will return to torment me. I will bet one thing,
though--nobody else tried to cut that mule out of her harness.

In the chill late afternoon of a Roman day the guides brought us
back to the city and took us down into the Roman Forum, which is
in a hollow instead of being up on a hill as most folks imagine
it to be until they go to Rome and see it; and we finished up the
day at the Golden House of Nero, hard by the vast ruins of the
Coliseum. We had already visited the Forum once; so this time we
did not stay long; just long enough for some ambitious pickpocket
to get a wallet out of my hip pocket while I was pushing forward
with a flock of other human sheep for a better look at the ruined
portico wherein Mark Antony stood when he delivered his justly
popular funeral oration over the body of the murdered Caesar. I
never did admire the character of Mark Antony with any degree of
extravagance, and since this experience I have felt actually
bitter toward him.

Book of the day: