It was, I think, the year previous to this that my mother and father had deserted Point Pleasant as a place to spend their summer vacations in favor of Marion, on Cape Cod, and Richard and I, as a matter of course, followed them there. At that time Marion was a simple little fishing village where a few very charming people came every summer and where the fishing was of the best. In all ways the life was most primitive, and happily continued so for many years. In, these early days Grover Cleveland and his bride had a cottage there, and he and Joseph Jefferson, who lived at Buzzard's Bay, and my father went on daily fishing excursions. Richard Watson Gilder was one of the earliest settlers of the summer colony, and many distinguished members of the literary and kindred professions came there to visit him. It was a rather drowsy life for those who didn't fish--a great deal of sitting about on one's neighbor's porch and discussion of the latest novel or the newest art, or of one's soul, and speculating as to what would probably become of it. From the first Richard formed a great affection for the place, and after his marriage adopted it as his winter as well as his summer home. As a workshop he had two rooms in one of the natives' cottages, and two more charming rooms it would be hard to imagine. The little shingled cottage was literally covered with honeysuckle, and inside there were the old wall-papers, the open hearths, the mahogany furniture, and the many charming things that had been there for generations, and all of which helped to contribute to the quaint peaceful atmosphere of the place. Dana Gibson had a cottage just across the road, and around the corner Gouverneur Morris lived with his family. At this time neither of these friends of Richard, nor Richard himself, allied themselves very closely to the literary colony and its high thoughts, but devoted most of their time to sailing about Sippican Harbor, playing tennis and contributing an occasional short story or an illustration to a popular magazine. But after the colony had taken flight, Richard often remained long into the fall, doing really serious work and a great deal of it. At such times he had to depend on a few friends who came to visit him, but principally on the natives to many of whom he was greatly attached. It was during these days that he first met his future wife, Cecil Clark, whose father, John M. Clark of Chicago, was one of the earliest of the summer colonists to build his own home at Marion. A most charming and hospitable home it was, and it was in this same house where we had all spent so many happy hours that Richard was married and spent his honeymoon, and for several years made his permanent home. Of the life of Marion during this later period, he became an integral part, and performed his duties as one of its leading citizens with much credit to the town and its people. For Marion Richard always retained a great affection, for there he had played and worked many of his best years. He had learned to love everything of which the quaint old town was possessed, animate and inanimate, and had I needed any further proof of how deeply the good people of Marion loved Richard, the letters I received from many of them at the time of his death would show.
In the early fall of 1892 Richard returned to his editorial work on Harper's Weekly, and one of the first assignments he gave was to despatch himself to Chicago to report the Dedication Exercises of the World's Fair. That the trip at least started out little to my brother's liking the following seems to show. However, Richard's moods frequently changed with the hour, and it is more than possible that before the letter was sent he was enjoying himself hugely and regarding Chicago with his usual kindly eyes.
October 2, 1892.
Though lost to sight I am still thinking of you sadly. It seems that I took a coupe after leaving you and after living in it for a few years I grew tired and got out on the prairie and walked along drinking in the pure air from the lakes and reading Liebig's and Cooper's advs. After a brisk ten mile walk I reentered my coupe and we in time drew up before a large hotel inhabited by a clerk and a regular boarder. I am on the seventh floor without a bathroom or electric button--I merely made remarks and then returned to town in a railroad train which runs conveniently near. After gaining civilization I made my way through several parades or it may have been the same one to the reviewing stand. My progress was marked by mocking remarks by the police who asked of each other to get on to my coat and on several occasions I was mistaken by a crowd of some thousand people for the P----e of W----s, and tumultuously cheered. At last I found an inspector of police on horseback, who agreed to get me to the stand if it took a leg. He accordingly charged about 300 women and clubbed eight men--I counted them--and finally got me in. He was very drunk but he was very good to me.
Once back from Chicago Richard divided his time between his desk at Franklin Square, his rooms on Twenty-eighth Street, and in quickly picking up the friendships and the social activities his trip to England had temporarily broken off. Much as he now loved London, he was still an enthusiastic New Yorker, and the amount of work and play he accomplished was quite extraordinary. Indeed it is difficult to understand where he found the time to do so much. In addition to his work on Harper's he wrote many short stories and special articles, not only because he loved the mere writing of them, but because he had come to so greatly enjoy the things he could buy with the money his labors now brought him. His pleasures had increased as steadily as the prices he could now command for his stories, and in looking back on those days it is rather remarkable when one considers his age, the temptations that surrounded him, and his extraordinary capacity for enjoyment, that he never seems to have forgotten the balance between work and play, and stuck to both with an unswerving and unceasing enthusiasm. However, after four months of New York, he decided it was high time for him to be off again, and he arranged with the Harpers to spend the late winter and the spring in collecting material for the two sets of articles which afterward appeared in book form under the titles of "The Rulers of the Mediterranean" and "About Paris." He set sail for Gibraltar the early part of February, 1893, and the following letters describe his leisurely progress about the Mediterranean ports.
NEW YORK, February 3, 1893.
This is a little present for you and a goodby. Your packing-case is what I need and what I shall want, and I love it because you made it. But as YOU say, we understand and do not have to write love letters; you have given me all that is worth while in me, and I love you so that I look forward already over miles and miles and days and months, and just see us sitting together at Marion and telling each other how good it is to be together again and holding each other's hands. I don't believe you really know how HAPPY I am in loving you, dear, and in having you say nice things about me. God bless you, dearest, and may I never do anything to make you feel less proud of your wicked son.
February 12, 1893.
Today is Sunday. We arrive at Gibraltar at five tomorrow morning and the boat lies there until nine o'clock. Unless war and pestilence have broken out in other places, I shall go over to Tangiers in a day or two, and from there continue on my journey as mapped out when I left. I have had a most delightful trip and the most enjoyable I have ever taken by sea. These small boats are as different from the big twin-screw steamers as a flat from a Broadway hotel.
Everyone gets to know everything about everyone else, and it has been more like a yacht than a passenger steamer. When I first came on board I thought I would not find in any new old country I was about to visit anything more foreign than the people, and I was right, but they are most amusing and I have learned a great deal. They are different from any people I know, and are the Americans we were talking about. The ones of whom I used to read in The Atlantic and Blackwood's, as traveling always and sinking out of sight whenever they reached home. They, with the exception of a Boston couple, know none of my friends or my haunts, and I have learned a great deal in meeting them. It has been most BROADENING and the change has been SUCH a rest. I had no idea of how tired I was of talking about the theater of Arts and Letters and Miss Whitney's debut and my Soul. These people are simple and unimaginative and bourgeois to a degree and as kind-hearted and apparent as animal alphabets. I do not think I have had such a complete change or rest in years, and I am sure I have not laughed so much for as long. Of course, the idea of a six months' holiday is enough to make anyone laugh at anything, but I find that besides that I was a good deal harassed and run down, and I am glad to cut off from everything and start fresh. I feel miserably selfish about it all the time.
These Germans run everything as though you were the owner of the line. The discipline is like that of the German Army or of a man-of-war, everything moves by the stroke of a bell, and they have had dances and speeches and concerts and religious services and lectures every other minute. Into all of these I have gone with much enthusiasm. We have at the captain's table Dr. Field, the editor of The Evangelist, John Russell, a Boston Democrat, who was in Congress and who has been in public life for over forty years. A Tammany sachem, who looks like and worships Tweed, and who says what I never heard an American off the stage say: "That's me. That's what I do," he says. "When I have insomnia, I don't believe in your sleeping draughts. I get up and go round to Jake Stewart's on Fourteenth Street and eat a fry or a porterhouse steak and then I sleep good---that's me." There is also a lively lady from Albany next to me and her husband, who tells anecdotes of the war just as though it had happened yesterday. Indeed, they are all so much older than I that all their talk is about things I never understood the truth about, and it is most interesting. I really do not know when I have enjoyed my meal time so much. The food is very good, although queer and German, and we generally take two hours to each sitting. Dr. Field is my especial prey and he makes me laugh until I cry. He is just like James Lewis in "A Night Off," and is always rubbing his hands and smacking his lips over his own daring exploits. I twist everything he says into meaning something dreadful, and he is instantly explaining he did not really see a bullfight, but that he walked around the outside of the building. I have promised to show him life with a capital L, and he is afraid as death of me. But he got back at me grandly last night when he presented a testimonial to the captain, and referred to the captain's wife and boy whom he is going to see after a two years' absence, at which the captain wept and everybody else wept. And Field, seeing he had made a point, waved his arms and cried, "I have never known a man who amounted to anything who had not a good wife to care for--except YOU--" he shouted, pointing at me, "and no woman will ever save YOU." At which the passengers, who fully appreciated how I had been worrying him, applauded loudly, and the Doctor in his delight at having scored on me forgot to give the captain his testimonial.
There are two nice girls on board from Chicago and a queer Southern girl who paints pictures and sings and writes poetry, and who is traveling with an odd married woman who is an invalid and who like everyone else on board has apparently spent all her life away from home. I have spent my odd time in writing the story I told Dad the night before I sailed and I think it in some ways the best, quite the best, I have written. I read it to the queer girl and her queer chaperon and they weep whenever they speak of it, which they do every half hour. All the passengers apparently laid in a stock of "Gallegher" and "The West" before starting, and young women in yachting caps are constantly holding me up for autographs and favorite quotations. Yesterday we passed the Azores near enough to see the windows in the houses, and we have seen other islands at different times, which is quite refreshing. Tomorrow I shall post this and the trip will be over. It has been a most happy start. I am not going to write letters often, but am going head over ears into this new life and let the old one wait awhile. You cannot handle Africa and keep up your fences in New York at the same time. I am now going out to talk to the Boston couple, or to propose a lion hunt to Dr. Field.
Since I wrote that last I have seen Portugal. It made me seem suddenly very far away from New York. Portugal is a high hill with a white watch tower on it flying signal flags. It is apparently inhabited by one man who lives in a long row of yellow houses with red roofs, and populated by sheep who do grand acts of balancing on the side of the hill. There is also a Navy of a brown boat with a leg-of-mutton sail and a crew of three men in the boat--not to speak of the dog. It is a great thing to have a traveled son. None of you ever saw Portugal, yah!
I am now in Gibraltar. It is a large place and there does not seem to be room in this letter, in which to express my feelings about Moors in bare legs and six thousand Red-coats and to hear Englishmen speak again. When I woke up Gibraltar was a black silhouette against the sky, but toward the south there was a low line of mountains with a red sky behind them, dim and mysterious and old, and that was Africa. Then Spain turned up all amethyst and green, and the Mediterranean as blue as they tell you it is. They wouldn't let me take my gun into Gibraltar. They know my reputation for war.
February 14th, 1893.
The luck of the British Army which I am modestly fond of comparing with my own took a vacation yesterday as soon as I had set foot on land. In the first place Egypt had settled down to her sluggish Nile like calm and cholera had quarantined the ship I wanted to take to Algiers, shutting off Algiers and what was more important Tunis. The Governor was ill shutting off things I wanted and his adjutant was boorish and proud and haughty. Then I determined to go to Spain but found I had arrived just one day too late for the last of the three days of the Mardi Gras and too early for bull fights. Had I taken Saavedra's letters I should have gone to Madrid and met the Queen and other proud folks. So on the whole I was blue. But I have now determined to take a boat for Tangier at once where I have letters to the Duke de Tnas who is the Master of the Hounds there and a great sport and they say it is very amusing and exciting. In a fortnight I shall go to Malta. I called on Harry Cust's brother and told him who I was and he took me in and put me at the head of the table of young subalterns in grand uniforms and we had marmalade and cold beef and beer and I was happy to the verge of tears to hear English as she is spoke. Then we went to a picnic and took tea in a smuggler's cave and all the foxterriers ran over the table cloth and the Captain spilt hot water over his white flannels and jumped around on one leg. After which we played a handkerchief game sitting in a row and pelting the girls with a knotted handkerchief and then fighting for it-- During one of these scrimmages Mulvaney, two others and Learoyd came by and with eyes front and hands at their caps marched on with stolid countenances, but their officers were embarrassed. It is hard to return a salute with your face in the sand and a stout American sitting on your neck and pulling your first lieutenant's leg. I am now deeply engaged for dinners and dances and teas and rides and am feeling very cheerful again. I am also very well thank you and have no illnesses of any sort. You told me to be sure and put that in-- As you see, I have cut out half of my trip to avoid the cholera, so you need not worry about THAT. To-day I am going over the ramparts as much as they will allow and to-morrow I go to Tangier where I expect to have some boar hunting. I would suggest your getting The Evangelist in a week or two as Dr. Field's letters cover all I have seen. I do not tell you anything about the place because you will read that in the paper to the H. W. but I can assure you the girls are very pretty and being garrison girls are not as shy as those at home in England. I am the first American they ever met they assure me every hour and we get on very well notwithstanding.
You can imagine what it is like when Spaniards, Moors and English Soldiers are all crowded into one long street with donkeys and geese and priests and smugglers and men in polo clothes and soldiers in football suits and sailors from the man-of-war. Of course, the Rock is the best story of it all. It is a fair green smiling hill not a fortress at all. No more a fortress to look at than Fairmont Park water works, but the joke of it is that under every bush there is a gun and every gun is painted green and covered with hanging curtains of moss and every promenade is undermined and the bleakest face of the rock is tunnelled with rooms and halls. Every night we are locked in and the soldiers carry the big iron keys clanking through the streets. It is going to make interesting reading.
February 23rd, 1893.
Aeneas who "ran the round of so many chances" in this neighborhood was a stationary stay at home to what I have to do. If I ever get away from the Rock I shall be a traveller of the greatest possible experience.
I came here intending to stay a week and to write my letter on Gib. and on Tangier quietly and peacefully like a gentleman and then to go on to Malta. I love this place and there is something to do and see every minute of the time but what happened was this: All the boats that ever left here stopped running, broke shafts, or went into quarantine or just sailed by, and unless I want to spend two weeks on the sea in order to have one at Malta, which is only a military station like this, I must go off to-morrow with my articles unwritten, my photos undeveloped and my dinner calls unpaid. I am now waiting to hear if I can get to Algiers by changing twice from one steamer to another along the coast of Spain. It will be a great nuisance but I shall be able to see Algiers and Tunis and Malta in the three weeks which would have otherwise been given to Malta alone. And Tunis I am particularly keen to see. While waiting for a telegram from Spain about the boats, I shall tell you what I have been doing. Everybody was glad to see me after my return from Tangier. I dined with the Governor on Monday, in a fine large room lined with portraits of all the old commanders and their coats-of-arms like a little forest of flags and the Governor's daughter danced a Spanish dance for us after it was over. Miss Buckle, Cust's fiancee, dances almost as well as Carmencita, all the girls here learn it as other girls do the piano. On Tuesday Cust and Miss B. and another girl and I went over into Spain to see the meet and we had a short run after a fox who went to earth, much to my relief, in about three minutes and before I had been thrown off. There are no fences but the ground is one mass of rocks and cactus and ravines down which these English go with an ease that makes me tremble with admiration. We had not come out to follow, so we, being quite soaked through and very hungry, went to an inn and it was such an inn as Don Quixote used to stop at, with the dining-room over the stable and a lot of drunken muleteers in the court and beautiful young women to wait on us. It is a beautiful country Spain, with every sort of green you ever dreamed of. We had omelettes and native wine and black bread and got warm again and then trotted home in the rain and got wet again, so we stopped at the guard house on the outside of the rock and took tea with the officer in charge and we all got down on our knees around his fire and he hobbled around dropping his eyeglasses in his hot water and very much honored and exceedingly embarrassed. I amused myself by putting on all the uniforms he did not happen to have on and the young ladies drank tea and thawed. This is the most various place I ever came across. You have mountains and seashore and allamandas like Monte Carlo in their tropical beauty and soldiers day and night marching and drilling and banging brass bands and tennis and guns firing so as to rattle all the windows, and picnics and teas. I am engaged way ahead now but I must get off tomorrow. On Washington's birthday I gave a luncheon because it struck me as the most inappropriate place in which one could celebrate the good man's memory and the Governor would not think of coming at first, but I told him I was not a British subject and that if I could go to his dinner he could come to my lunch, so that, or the fact that the beautiful Miss Buckle was coming decided him to waive etiquette and he came with his A. D. C. and his daughter and officers and girls came and I had American flags and English flags and a portrait of Washington and of the Queen and I ransacked the markets for violets and banked them all up in the middle. It was fine. I turned the hotel upside down and all the servants wore their best livery and everybody stood up in a row and saluted His Excellency and I made a speech and so did his Excellency and the chef did himself proud. I got it up in one morning. Helen Benedict could not have done it better.
I had a funny adventure the morning I left Tangier-- There was a good deal of talk about Field (confound him) and my getting into the prison and The Herald and Times correspondents were rather blue about it and some of the English residents said that I had not been shown the whole of the prison, that the worst had been kept from us. Field who only got into the prison because I had worked at it two days, said there was an additional ward I had not seen. I went back into this while he and the guard were getting the door open to go out and saw nothing, but to make sure that the prison was as I believed an absolute square, I went back on the morning of my departure and climbed a wall and crawled over a house top and photographed the top of the prison. Then a horrible doubt came to me that this house upon which I was standing and which adjoined the prison might be the addition of which the English residents hinted. There was an old woman in the garden below jumping up and down and to whom I had been shying money to keep her quiet. I sent the guide around to ask her what was the nature of the building upon which I had trespassed and which seemed to worry her so much-- He came back to tell me that I was on the top of a harem and the old woman thought I was getting up a flirtation with the gentleman's wives. So I dropped back again.
It will be a couple of months at least before my first story comes out in The Weekly. I cannot judge of them but I think they are up to the average of the Western stories, the material is much richer I know, but I am so much beset by the new sights that I have not the patience or the leisure I had in the West-- Then there were days in which writing was a relief, now there is so much to see that it seems almost a shame to waste it.
By the grace of Providence I cannot leave here until the 28th, much to my joy and I have found out that I can do better by going direct to Malta and then to Tunis, leaving Algiers which I did not want to see out of it-Hurrah. I shall now return to the calm continuation of my story and to writing notes which Chas will enjoy.
Morocco as it is is a very fine place spoiled by civilization. Not nice civilization but the dregs of it, the broken down noblemen of Spain and cashiered captains of England and the R---- L----'s of America. They hunt and play cricket and gamble and do nothing to maintain what is best in the place or to help what is worst. I love the Moors and the way they hate the Christian and the scorn and pride they show. They seem to carry all the mystery and dignity of Africa and of foreign conquests about them, and they are wonderfully well made and fine looking and self-respecting. The color is very beautiful, but the foreign element spoils it at every turn. One should really go inland but I shall not because I mean to do that when I reach Cairo. Everybody goes inland from here and Bonsal has covered it already. He is a great man here among all classes.
I have bought two long guns and three pistols three feet long and a Moorish costume for afternoon teas. I shall look fine. My guide's idea of pleasing me is to kick everybody out of the way which always brings down curses on me so I have to go back and give them money and am so gradually becoming popular and much sought after by blind beggars. You can get three pounds of copper for a franc and it lasts all day throwing it right and left all the time. I made a great tear in Bonsal's record today by refusing to pay a snake charmer all he wanted and then when he protested I took one of the snakes out of his hands and swung it around my head to the delight of the people. I wanted to show him he was a fakir to want me to pay for what I would do myself. It was a large snake about four feet long. Then my horse and another horse got fighting in the principal street in the city standing up on their hind legs and boxing like men and biting and squealing. It was awful and I got mine out of the way and was trod on and had my arm nearly pulled off and the crowd applauded and asked my guide whether I was American or English. They do not like the English. So with the lower classes I may say that I am having a social success.
Off Malta--March 1, 1893.
I have been having a delightful voyage with moonlight all night and sunlight all day. Africa kept in sight most of the time and before that we saw beautiful mountains in Spain covered with snow and red in the sunset. There were a lot of nice English people going out to India to meet their husbands and we have "tiffin" and "choota" and "curry," so it really seemed oriental. The third night out we saw Algiers sparkling like Coney Island. I play games with myself and pretend I am at my rooms reading a story which is very hard to pretend as I never read in my rooms and then I look up and exclaim "Hello, I'm not in New York, that's Algiers." The thing that has impressed me most is how absolutely small the world is and how childishly easy it is to go around it. You and Nora MUST take this trip; as for me I think Willie Chanler is the most sensible individual I have yet met.
All the fascination of King Solomon's Mines seems to be behind those great mountains and this I may add is a bit of advance work for mother, an entering wedge to my disappearing from sight for years and years in the Congo. Which, seriously, I will not do; only it is disappointing to find the earth so small and so easily encompassed that you want to go on where it is older, and new. The worst of it is that it is hard leaving all the nice people you meet and then must say good-bye to. The young ladies and Capt. Buckle and Cust came down to see me off and Buckle brought me a photo four feet long of Gib, an official one which I had to smuggle out with a great show of secrecy and now I shall be sorry to leave these people. Just as I wrote that one of the officers going out to join his regiment came to the door and blushing said the passengers were getting up a round robin asking me to stop on and go to Cairo.
Since writing the above lots of things have happened. I bid farewell to everyone at Malta and yet in four hours I was back again bag and baggage and am now on my way to Cairo. Tunis and the Bey are impossible. As soon as I landed at Malta I found that though I could go to Tunis I could not go away without being quarantined for ten days and if I remained in Malta I must stay a week. On balancing a week of Egypt against a week of Malta I could not do it so I put back to this steamer again and here I am. Tomorrow we reach Brindisi and we have already passed Sicily and had a glimpse of the toe of Italy and it is the coldest sunny Italy that I ever imagined. I am bitterly disappointed about Tunis. I have no letters to big people in Cairo only subalterns but I shall probably get along. I always manage somehow with my "artful little Ikey ways." It was most gratifying to mark my return to this boat. One young woman danced a Kangaroo dance and the Captain wept and all the stewards stood in a line and grinned. I sing Chevalier's songs and they all sit in the dining room below and forget to lay out the plates and last night some of the Royal Berkshire with whom I dined at Malta came on board and after hearing the Old Kent Road were on the point of Mutiny and refused to return to barracks. Great is the Power of Chevalier and great is his power for taking you back to London with three opening bars. Malta was the queerest place I ever got into. It was like a city, country and island made of cheese, mouldy cheese, and fresh limburger cheese with holes in it. You sailed right up to the front door as it were and people were hanging out of the windows smoking pipes and looking down on the deck as complacently as though having an ocean steamer in the yard was as much a matter of course as a perambulator. There were also women with black hoods which they wear as a penance because long ago the ladies of Malta got themselves talked about. I was on shore about five hours and saw some interesting things and with that and Brindisi and the voyage I can make a third letter but Tunis is writ on my heart like Calais.
Today Cleveland is inaugurated and I took all the passengers down at the proper time and explained to them that at that moment a great man was being made president and gave them each an American cocktail to remember it by and in which to toast him I am getting to be a great speech maker and if there are any more anniversaries in America I shall be a second Depew.
It is late but it is still the season here and it will be gay, but what I want to do now is to go off on a little trip inland although Cairo is the worst of all for it is surrounded by deserts and nothing to shoot but antelope and foxes and those I SCORN. I want Zulus and lions. I shall be greatly disappointed if I do not have something to do outside of Cairo for I have had no adventures at all. It is just as civilized as Camden only more exciting and beautiful although Camden is exciting when you have to get there and back in time for the last edition. From what I have already seen I am ready to spend a month in Cairo and then confess to knowing nothing of it. But we shall see. There may be a W A R or a lion hunt or something yet if there is not I shall come back here again. I must fire that Winchester off at least once just for all the trouble it has given me at custom houses. Something exciting must happen or I shall lose faith in the luck of the British army which marches shoulder to shoulder with mine. If I don't have any adventures I shall write essays on art after this like Mrs. Van. Love and lots of it.
CAIRO, March 11, 1893.
In a famous book this line occurs, "He determined to go to that hotel in Cairo where they were to have spent their honeymoon," or words like that. He is now at that hotel and you can buy the famous book across the street. It is called "Gallegher." So--in this way everything comes to him who waits and he comes to it. "Gallegher" is not the only thing you buy in Egypt. You ride to the Pyramids on a brake with a man in a white felt hat blowing a horn, and the bugler of the Army of Occupation is as much in evidence as the priest who calls them to prayer from the minaret. I left the people I liked on the Sultey last Thursday in the Suez Canal and came on here in a special train. It is very cold here, and it is not a place where the cold is in keeping with the surroundings. You see people in white helmets and astrakan overcoats. It is an immense city and intensely interesting, especially the bazaars, but you feel so ignorant about it all that it rather angers you. I wish I was not such a very bad hand at languages. That is ONE THING I cannot do, that and ride. I need it very much, traveling so much, and I shall study very hard while I am in Paris. Our consul-general here is a very young man, and he showed me a Kansas paper when I called on him, which said that I was in the East and would probably call on "Ed" L. He is very civil to me and gives me his carriages and outriders with gold clothes and swords whenever I will take them.
It is so beastly cold here that it spoils a lot of things, and there are a lot of Americans who say, "I had no idea you were so young a man," and that, after being five years old for a month and playing children's games with English people who didn't know or care anything about you except that you made them laugh, is rather trying. I am disappointed so far in the trip because it has developed nothing new beyond the fact that going around the world is of no more importance than going to breakfast, and I am selfish in my sightseeing and want to see things others do not. And if you even do see more than those who are not so fortunate and who have to remain at home, still you are so ignorant in comparison with those who have lived here for years and to whom the whole of Africa is a speculation in land or railroads, it makes you feel like such a faker and as if it were better to turn correspondent for the N. Y. Herald, Paris edition, and send back the names of those who are staying at the hotels. That is really all you can speak with authority about. When you have Gordon and Stanley dishes on the bill-of-fare, you feel ashamed to say you've been in Egypt. Anyway, I am a faker and I don't care, and I proved it today by being photographed on a camel in front of the Pyramids, and if that wasn't impertinence I do not know its name. I accordingly went and bought a lot of gold dresses for Nora as a penance.
As a matter of fact, unless I get into the interior for a month and see something new, I shall consider the trip a failure, except as a most amusing holiday for one, and that was not exactly what I wanted or all I wanted. After this I shall go to big cities only and stay there. Everybody travels and everybody sees as much as you do and says nothing of it, certainly does not presume to write a book about it. Anyway, it has been great fun, so I shall put it down to that and do some serious work to make up for it. I'd rather have written a good story about the Inauguration than about Cairo.
I am well, as usual, and having a fine loaf, only I don't think much of what I have written--that's all.
CAIRO, March 19th, 1893.
I went up the Pyramids yesterday and I am very sore today. It sounds easy because so many people do it, but they do it because they don't know. I have been putting it off, and putting it off, until I felt ashamed to such a degree that I had to go. Little had never been either, so we went out together and met Stanford White and the Emmetts there, and we all went up. I would rather go into Central Africa than do it again. I am getting fat and that's about it--and I had to half pull a much fatter man than myself who pretended to help me. I finally told them I'd go alone unless the fat man went away, so the other two drove him off. Going down is worse. It's like looking over a precipice all the time. I was so glad when I got down that I sang with glee. I hate work like that, and to make it worse I took everybody's picture on top of the Pyramid, and forgot to have one of them take me, so there is no way to prove I ever went up. Little and I hired two donkeys and called them "Gallegher" and "Van Bibber" and raced them. My donkey was so little that they couldn't see him--only his ears. Gallegher won. The donkey-boys called it Von Bebey, so I don't think it will help the sale of the book.
Today we went to call on the Khedive. It was very informal and too democratic to suit my tastes. We went through a line of his bodyguard in the hall, and the master of ceremonies took us up several low but wide stairways to a hall. In the hall was a little fat young man in a frock coat and a fez, and he shook hands with us, and walked into another room and we all sat down on chairs covered with white muslin. I talked and Little talked about me and the Khedive pretended to be very much honored, and said the American who had come over after our rebellion had done more for the officers in his army than had anyone else, meaning the English. He did not say that because we were Americans, but because he hates the English. He struck me as being stubborn, which is one side of stupidness and yet not stupid, and I occasionally woke him to bursts of enthusiasm over the Soudanese. His bursts were chiefly "Ali." Little seemed to amuse him very much, and Little treated him exactly like a little boy who needed to be cheered up. I think in one way it was the most curious contrast I ever saw. "Ed" Little of Abilene, Kansas, telling the ruler of Egypt not to worry, that he had plenty of years in which to live and that he would get ahead of them all yet. Those were not his words, but that was the tone, he was perfectly friendly and sincere about it.
This place appeals to me as about the best place with which to get mixed up with that I know, and I've gone over a great many maps since I left home and know just how small the world is. So, I sent the Khedive my books after having asked his permission, and received the most abject thanks. And as Cromer called on me, I am going to drop around on him with a few of them. Some day there will be fine things going on here, and there is only one God, and Lord Cromer is his Prophet in this country. They think that Mohammed is but they are wrong. He is a very big man. The day he sent his ultimatum to the Khedive telling him to dismiss Facta Pasha and put back Riaz Pasha, he went out in full view of the Gezerik drive and played lawn tennis. Any man who can cable for three thousand more troops to Malta and stop a transport full of two thousand more at Aden with one hand, and bang tennis balls about with the other, is going in the long run to get ahead of a stout little boy in a red fez. It is getting awfully hot here, almost hot enough for me, and I can lay aside my overcoat by ten o'clock in the morning. Everyone else has been in flannels and pith helmets, but as they had to wear overcoats at night I could not see the advantage of the costume.
I open this to say that ALL of your letters have just come, so I have intoxicated myself with them for the last hour and can go over them again tomorrow. I cannot tell you, dearest, what a delight your letters are and how I enjoy the clippings. I think of you all the time and how you would love this Bible land and seeing the places where Pharaoh's daughter found Moses, and hearing people talk of St. Paul and the plagues of Egypt and Joseph and Mary just as though they had lived yesterday. I have seen two St. Johns already, with long hair and melancholy wild eyes and bare breasts and legs, with sheepskin covering, eating figs and preaching their gospel. Yesterday two men came running into town and told one of the priests that they had seen the new moon in a certain well, and the priest proclaimed a month of fasting, and the men who pulled us up the Pyramid had to rest because they had not eaten or drunk all day. At six a sheik called from the village and all the donkey--boys and guides around the Sphinx ran to get water and coffee and food. Think of that--of two men running through the street to say that they had seen the new moon in a well, when every shop sells Waterbury watches and the people who passed them were driving dogcarts with English coachmen in top-boots behind. Is there any other place as incongruous as this, as old and as new?
ATHENS, March 30, 1893.
I am now in Athens, how I got here is immaterial. Suffice it to say that never in all my life was I so ill as I was in the two days crossing from Alexandria to Piraeus, which I did with two other men in the same cabin more ill than I and praying and swearing and groaning all the time. "It was awful."
"I have crossed in many ships upon the seas And some of them were good and some were not; In German, P & O's and Genoese, But the Khedive's was the worst one of the lot. We never got a moment's peace in her For everybody'd howl or pray or bellow; She threw us on our heads or on our knees, And turned us all an unbecoming yellow."
Athens is a small town but fine. It is chiefly yellow houses with red roofs, and mountains around it, which remind you of pictures you have seen when a youth. Also olive trees and straight black pines and the Acropolis. There is not much of it left as far as I can see from the city, but what there is is enough to make you wish you had brushed up your Greek history. I have now reached the place where Pan has a cave, where the man voted against Aristides because he was humanly tired of hearing him called the Just and where the Minotaur ate young women.
What was in the Isle of Crete but the rock from which the father of Theseus threw himself--is still here! Also the hill upon which Paul stood and told the Athenians they were too superstitious. You can imagine my feelings at finding all of these things are true. After this I am going to the North Pole to find Santa Claus and so renew my youth.
I regret to say that it is raining very hard and Athens is not set for a rainstorm. It is also cold but as I have not been warm since I crossed the North River with Chas. amid cakes of ice that is of no consequence. When I come here again I come in the summer. The good old rule that it is cold in winter and warm in summer is a good enough rule to follow. You have only to travel to find out how universally cold winter is. last night I was in Cairo, I got in a carriage and drove out alone to the Pyramids. It was beautiful moonlight. I got a donkey and rode up around them and then walked over to the Sphinx. I had never understood or seen it before. It was the creepiest and most impressive thing I ever had happen to me, I do believe. There was no one except the two donkey-boys and myself and the Sphinx. All about was the desert and above it the purple sky and the white stars and the great negro's head in front of you with its paws stretched out, and the moonlight turning it into shadows and white lines. I think I stood there so long that I got sort of dizzy. It was just as if I had been the first man to stumble across it, and I felt that I was way back thousands of years and that the ghosts of Caesar and Napoleon and Cleopatra and the rest were in the air. That was worth the entire trip to me. This place promises to be most exciting, the New York artists are all here, they are the most jauntily dull people I ever met. Do you know what I mean? They are very nice but so stupid. I don't let them bother me. Who was the chap who wrote about the bottle of Malvoisie? because I got a bottle of it for BREAKFAST and it is NO GOOD. It is like sweet port. But on account of the poem and its being vin du pays I got it.
Dear Mother, I wish you were here now and enjoying all these beautiful things. I got you a present in Cairo that will amuse you. Had I stayed on in Cairo I should have had much and many marks of distinction from the English. Lady Gower-Browne, who found out from them that I had called and that they had done nothing except to be rude, raised a great hue and cry and everything changed. What she said of me I don't know but it made a most amusing difference. General Walker galloped a half mile across the desert to give me his own copy of the directions for the sham battle, and I was to have met Cromer at dinner tete-a-tete, and General Kitchener sent apologies by two other generals and all the subalterns called on me in a body. That was the day before I left. I don't know what Lady Gower-Browne said, but it made a change which I am sorry I could not avail myself of as I want politics as well as memories.
The next time I come I shall go to even fewer places and see more people.
If the Harpers don't look out our interests will clash. I look at it like this. I can always see the old historical things and take my children up the Nile, but I want now to make friends with the Mammon of unrighteousness and the men of the hour. I may want to occupy an hour or two myself some day and they can help me. If America starts in annexing islands she will need people to tell her how it is generally done and it is generally done, I find, by the English. I may give up literature and start annexing things like Alexander and Caesar and Napoleon. They say there will be another crisis in Cairo in a month or so. If that be true I am all right and solid with both parties. But it has got to be worth while of course or I won't go back. There is a king living in a fine palace across the square from my window, one of his officers is now changing the guard in the rain. I hope to call on the king because I like his guard. They wear petticoats and toes turned up in front. Don't you mind what I say about liking politics and don't think I am not enjoying the show things. I have a capacity for both that is so far unsatisfied, and I am now going out in the rain to try and find the post-office. Lots of love.
I am well and have been well (except sea sick) since February
P. S.--A funeral is just passing the window with the corpse exposed to view as is the quaint custom here, to add to its horror they rouge the face of the corpse and everybody kisses it. In the Greek church they burn candles for people and the number of candles I have burnt for you would light St. Paul's, and you ought to be good with so much war being expended all over Athens for you. You buy candles instead of tipping the verger or putting it in the poor box, or because you are superstitious and think it will do some good, as I do.
Orient Express. Somewhere in Bulgaria on the way to London.
April 14th, 1893.
Tuesday I wrote you a letter in the club at Constantinople telling you how glad I would be to get out of that City on April 17th on the Orient Express which only leaves twice a week on Thursdays and Mondays. So any one who travels by the Orient is looked upon first as a millionaire and second, if he does not break the journey at Vienna, as a greater traveller than Col. Burnaby on his way to Khiva. Imagine a Kansas City man breaking the journey to New York. After I wrote you that letter I went in the next room and read of the Nile Expedition in search of Gordon--this went through three volumes of The Graphic and took some time, so that when I had reached the picture which announced the death of Gordon it was half past five and I had nothing more to do for four days-- It was raining and cold and muddy and so I just made up my mind I would get up and get out and I jumped about for one hour like a kangaroo and by seven I was on the Orient with two Cook men to help me and had shaken my fist at the last minaret light of that awful city. So, now it is all over and it is done-- I have learned a great deal in an imperfect way of the juxtaposition of certain countries and of the ease with which one can travel without speaking any known languages and of the absolute necessity for speaking one, French. I am still disappointed about the articles but selfishly I have made a lot out of the trip. You have no idea how hard it is not to tell about strange things and yet you know people do not care half as much for them as things they know all about-- No matter, it is done and with the exception of the last week it was F I N E.
"I'm going back to London, to 'tea' and long frock coats I'm done with Cook and seeing sights I'm done with table d'hotes So clear the track you signal man From Sofia to Pless, I'm going straight for London On the Orient Express.
I'm going straight for London O'er Bulgaria's heavy sands To Rotten Row and muffins, soles, Chevalier and Brass Bands Ho' get away you bullock man You've heard the whistle blowed a locomotive coming down the Grand Trunk Road."
This is a great country and I want to ask all the natives if they know "Stenie" Bonsal. They are all his friends and so are the "Balkans," and all the little Balkans. Nobody wears European clothes here. They are all as foreign and native and picturesque as they can be, the women with big silver plates over their stomachs and the men in sheepskin and tights and the soldiers are grand. We have been passing all day between snow covered mountains and between herds of cattle and red roofed, mud villages and long lakes of ice and snow-- It is a beautiful day and I am very happy. (Second day out) 15th---We are now in Hungary and just outside of Buda Pesth "the wickedest city in the world," still in spite of that fact I am going on. I am very glad I came this way-- The peasants and soldiers are most amusing and like German picture-papers with black letter type-- I shall stop a day in Paris now that I have four extra days.
In sight of Paris--April 16, 1893.
has been the most beautiful day since February 4th. It is the first day in which I have been warm. All through I have had a varnish of warmth every now and again but no real actual internal warmth--I am now in sight of Paris and it is the 16th of April, in the eleven weeks which have elapsed since the 4th of February I have been in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Morocco. I have sat on the Rock of Gibraltar, sailed on the Nile and the Suez Canal and crossed through the Dardanelles, over the Balkans, the steppes of Hungary and the Danube and Rhine. I have seen the sphinx by moonlight, the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower and in two days more I shall have seen St. Paul's. What do you think I should like to see best now? YOU. I have been worrying of late as to whether or not I should not come home now and leave Paris for another time because it seems so rough on you to leave you without either of your younger sons for so long. But I have thought it over a great deal and I think it better that I should do Paris now and leave myself clear for the rest of the year. I promise you one thing however that I shall not undertake to stay away so long again; it is too long and one grows out of things. But nothing I feel, will be so easy or so amusing as Paris and I intend to get through with it soon and trot home to you by the middle of August AT THE VERY LATEST. So, please write me a deceitful letter and say you do not miss me at all and that my being so near as Paris makes a great difference and that I am better out of the way and if Chas goes to London I shall be near him in case he forgets to put on his overshoes or involves us in a war with G. B. Now, mother dear, do write me a cheerful letter and say that you do not mind waiting until the middle of August for me and when I come back this time I shall make a long stay with you at Marion and tell you lots of things I have not written you and I shall not go away again for ever so long and if I do go I shall only stay a little while. You have no idea how interesting this rush across the continent has been. I started in snow and through marshes covered with ice and long horned cattle and now we are in such a beautiful clean green land with green fields and green trees and flowering bushes which you can smell as the train goes by. I now think that instead of being a cafe-chantant singer I should rather be an Austrian baron and own a castle on a hill with a red roofed village around it. I have spent almost all of the trip sitting on the platform and enjoying the sight of the queer peasants and the soldiers and old villages. Tonight I shall be in "Paris, France" as Morton used to say and I shall get clean and put on my dress clothes but whether I shall go see Yvette Guilbert or Rusticana again I do not know. Perhaps I shall just paddle around the fountain in the Place de la Concorde and make myself thoroughly at home. With a great deal of love to Dad and Nora and Chas and all.
At the time that Richard's first travel articles appeared some of his critics took umbrage at the fact that he was evidently under the delusion that he had discovered London, Gibraltar, Athens, Paris, and the other cities he had visited, and that no one else had ever written about them. As a matter of fact no one could have been more keenly conscious of what an oft-told tale were the places that he had chosen to describe. If Richard took it for granted that the reader was totally unacquainted with the peoples of these cities and their ways, it was because he believed that that was the best way to write a descriptive article, always had believed it, and believed it so long as he wrote. And whatever difference of opinion may have existed among the critics and the public as to Richard's fiction, I think it is safe to say that as a reporter his work of nearly thirty years stood at least as high as that of any of his contemporaries or perhaps as that of the reporters of all time. As an editor, when he gave out an assignment to a reporter to write an article on some well-worn subject and the reporter protested, Richard's answer was the same: "You must always remember that that story hasn't been written until YOU write it." And when he suggested to an editor that he would like to write an article on Broadway, or the Panama Canal, or the ruins of Rome and the editor disapproved, Richard's argument was: "It hasn't been done until I do it." And it was not because he believed for a moment that he could do it better or as well as it had been done. It was simply because he knew the old story was always a good story, that is, if it was seen with new eyes and from a new standpoint. At twenty-eight he had written a book about England and her people, and the book had met with much success both in America and England. At twenty-nine, equally unafraid, he had "covered" the ancient cities that border the Mediterranean, and now Paris lay before him! This thought--indeed few thoughts--troubled Richard very much in those days of his early successes. He had youth, friends, a marvellous spirit of adventure, and besides there are many worse fates than being consigned to spending a few months in Paris, having a thoroughly joyous time, taking a few mental notes, and a little later on transferring them to paper in the quiet of a peaceful summer home at Marion.
Chief among his friends in Paris at this time was Charles Dana Gibson, who was living in a charming old house in the Latin Quarter, and where the artist did some of his best work and made himself extremely popular with both the Parisians and the American colony. In addition to Gibson there were Kenneth Frazier, the portrait-painter, and Tina, Newton, and James Eustis, the daughter and sons of James B. Eustis, who at that time was our ambassador to France, a most genial and kindly host, who made much of Richard and his young friends.
PARIS, May 5, 1893.
It is a narrow street with apartment houses of gray stone and iron balconies along either side of it. The sun sets at one end of the street at different times during the day and we all lean out on the balconies to look. On the house, one below mine, on the other side of our street, is a square sign that says:
ALFRED DE MUSSET
EST MORT DANS CETTE MAISON
A great many beautiful ladies with the fashionable red shade of hair still call there, as they used to do when the proper color was black and it was worn in a chignon and the Second Empire had but just begun. While they wait they stretch out in their carriages and gaze up at the balconies until they see me, and as I wear a gold and pink silk wrapper and not much else, they concentrate all their attention on the wrapper and forget to drop a sigh for the poet. There are two young people on the sixth floor opposite, who come out on the balcony after dinner and hold on to each other and he tells her all about the work of the day. Below there is a woman who sews nothing but black dresses, and who does that all day and all night by the light of a lamp. And below the concierge stands all day in a lace cap and black gown and blue, and looks up the street and down the street like the woman in front of Hockley's. BUT on the floor opposite mine there is a beautiful lady in a pink and white wrapper with long black hair and sleepy black eyes. She does not take any interest in my pink wrapper, but contents herself with passing cabs and stray dogs and women with loaves of bread and bottles in their hands who occasionally stray into our street. At six she appears in another gown and little slippers and a butterfly for a hat and says "Good-by" to the old concierge and trips off to dinner. Lots of love to all.
PARIS, May 11th, 1893.
I am still somewhat tentative as regards my opinion of the place, what it will bring me in the way of material I cannot tell. So far, "Paris Decadent" would be a good title for anything I should write of it. It is not that I have seen only the worst side of it but that that seems to be so much the most prominent. They worship the hideous Eiffel Tower and they are a useless, flippant people who never sleep and yet do nothing while awake. To-morrow I am going to a pretty inn surrounded by vines and trees to see a prize fight with all the silly young French men and their young friends in black and white who ape the English manners and customs even to "la box." To night at the Ambassadeurs the rejected lover of some actress took a gang of bullies from Montmartre there and hissed and stoned her. I turned up most innocently and greatly bored in the midst of it but I was too far away to pound anybody-- I collected two Englishmen and we went in front to await her re-appearance but she had hysterics and went off in a cab and so we were not given a second opportunity of showing them they should play fair. It is a typical incident of the Frenchman and has made me wrathy. The women watching the prize fight will make a good story and so will the arms of the red mill, "The Moulin Rouge" they keep turning and turning and grinding out health and virtue and souls.
I dined to night with the C-----s and P----s, the Ex-Minister and disagreed with everybody and found them all very middle class as to intellect. An old English lady next to me said apropos of something "that is because you are not clever like Mr. ---- and do not have to work with your brains." To which I said, I did not mind not being clever as my father was a many times millionaire," at which she became abjectly polite. Young Rothenstein is going to do a picture of me to-morrow morning. There is nothing much more to tell except that a horse stood on his fore legs in the Bois the other day and chucked me into space. I was very sore but I went on going about as it was the Varnishing day at the new salon and I wished to see it. I am over my stiffness now and if "anybody wants to buy a blooming bus" I have one for sale and five pairs of riding breeches and two of ditto boots. No more riding for me--- The boxing bag is in good order now and I do not need for exercise. The lady across the street has a new wrapper in which she is even more cold and haughty than before. "I sing Tarrara boom deay and she keeps from liking me."
PARIS, May 14th, 1893.
Things are getting more interesting here and I shall probably have something to write about after all, although I shall not know the place as I did London. Will Rothenstein has drawn a picture of me that I like very much and if mother likes it VERY, VERY much she may have it as a loan but she may not like it. I did not like to take it so I bought another picture of him, one of Coquelin cadet and now I have two. Coquelin gave him his first commission when he was nineteen, two years ago, and then asked him to do two sketches. After these were done Coquelin told him by letter that he would give him half what they had agreed upon for the big picture for the two sketches and begged the big picture as a gift. So Rothenstein cut the head and shoulders out of the big one and sent him the arms and legs. It is the head he cut out that I have. When Rothenstein and I and Coquelin become famous, that will make a good story. I have also indulged myself in the purchase of several of Cherets works of art. They cost three francs apiece. We have had some delightful lunches at the Ambassadeurs with Cushing and other artists and last night I went out into the Grande Monde to a bal masque for charity at the palace of the Comtesse de la Ferrondeux. It was very stupid and the men outnumbered the women 30 to 1, which are interesting odds. To-day we went to Whistler's and sat out in a garden with high walls about it and drank tea and laughed at Rothenstein. The last thing he said was at the Ambassadeurs when one of the students picking up a fork said, "These are the same sort of forks I have." Rothenstein said "yes, I did not know you dined here that often." Some one asked him why he wore his hair long, "To test your manners" he answered. He is a disciple of Whistler's and Wilde's and said "yes, I defend them at the risk of their lives." Did I tell you of his saying "It is much easier to love one's family than to like them." And when some one said "Did you hear how Mrs. B. treated Mr. C., (a man he dislikes) he said, "no, but I'm glad she did." It was lovely at Whistler's and such a contrast to the other American salon I went to last Sunday. It was so quiet, and green and pretty and everybody was so unobtrusively polite.
Rothenstein wore my rosette and made a great sensation and I was congratulated by Whistler and Abbey and Pennell. Rothenstein said he was going to have a doublebreasted waistcoat made with rosettes of decorations for buttons. Tomorrow Lord Dufferin has asked me to breakfast at the Embassy. He was at the masked ball last night and was very nice. He reminds me exactly of Disraeli in appearance. It is awfully hot here and a Fair for charity has asked me to put my name in "Gallegher" to have it raffled for. "Dear" Bonsal arrives here next Sunday, so I am in great anticipation. I am very well, tell mother, and amused. Lots of love.
PARIS, June 13, 1893.
There is nothing much to say except that things still go on. I feel like one of those little India rubber balls in the jet of a fountain being turned and twisted and not allowed to rest. Today I have been to hear Yvette Guilbert rehearse and thought her all Chas thinks her only her songs this season are beneath the morals of a medical student. It is very hot and it is getting hotter. I had an amusing time at the Grand Prix where Tina won a lot of money on a tip I gave her which I did not back myself. In the evening Newton took me to dinner and to the Jardin de Paris where they had 10 franc admittance and where every thing went that wasn't nailed. The dudes put candles on their high hats and the girls snuffed them out with kicks and at one time the crowd mobbed the band stand and then the stage and played on all the instruments. The men were all swells in evening dress and the women in beautiful ball dresses and it was a wonderful sight. It only happens once a year like the Yale-Princeton night at Koster and Bials except that the women are all very fine indeed. They rode pig-a-back races and sang all the songs. I had dinner with John Drew last night. I occasionally sleep and if Nora doesn't come on time I shall be a skeleton and have no money left. As a matter of fact I am fatter than ever and can eat all sorts of impossible things here that I could never eat at home. I lunch every day with the Eustises and we dine out almost every night. I consort entirely with the poorest of art students or the noblest of princesses and so far have kept out of mischief, but you can never tell for this is a wicked city they say, or it strikes me as most amusing at present only I cannot see what Harper and Bros. are going to get out of it. I said that of London so I suppose it will all straighten out by the time I get back.
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