MR. BACON'S first as well as his last recorded impressions of the world are preserved in two series of letters separated by the space of a lifetime, one series written for the eyes of an indulgent father and the other a devoted wife, without a thought of a larger public. The first series reveals the soul of the boy with the college behind and the world before him. They show him as he began life, his equipment for the struggle, the things that interested him, the things that made an impression on him. They give a picture of the outer as well as the inner man---if man he can be called, for he was but twenty. They display the intellectual capital upon which he built his subsequent career. They help us to appreciate the last series of letters and to understand the man who lies between.
Mr. Bacon's father had travelled much and far, and he thought that what was good for the father was good for the son.
A century ago, and in a lesser degree to-day, the young Englishman made the grand tour of Europe. The young American encircles the world. Therefore, Mr. Bacon and his college mate and life-long friend, Richard Trimble, made le tour du monde, as Mr. Bacon calls it more than once in his letters in the last months of 1880. The letters tell the story with scarcely a connecting word:
59 East 25th St. [New York]
MY DEAR FATHER,
I went with Dick & his father this morning to get his letter of credit and a passport which his father thought best for him to have. His letter is for £600 credit with Brown, Shipley & Co., London.
Mr. Bacon's allowance was probably about the same. In a letter of April 2, 1881, the expenses from Hongkong to London are given as £375.. He drew two drafts on his father in London for £75 and warned that he would probably draw "some more to get home, as "the tour du monde has left us destitute."
San Francisco, Oct. 24th, 1880.
MY DEAR Father,
After leaving you at Laramie [Wyoming] I experienced for the first time the feeling of leaving home.
We passed a very pleasant night, but did not make up much lost time, and consequently were too late at Ogden (Utah] to catch the train for Salt Lake.
After passing the night in a rather musty little room we found out that, if we were to carry out our proposed plan, we could have but 5 hours in Salt Lake, but resolved to try it nevertheless. This was indeed a lovely country after the chills of Laramie. We passed through the most fertile country, peach orchards and acres of all kinds of vegetables, the Wasatch Mts. rising like a great whale's back close on our left, and the lake stretching for miles on our right, the dark blue Mts. beyond. When we got to Salt Lake, which by the way is not on the lake as I had supposed, but 15 miles from it, we chartered a team with a very intelligent English ex-Mormon for a driver and proceeded to see all we could.
It is in a valley stretching for miles into the Mts. where the mines are, and through which flows the Jordan river. We saw everything; tabernacle, temple, several of the wives and 47 children of old Brigham [Young], a real live apostle and latter day saint, and had the whole business explained. Returned to Ogden that night and arrived at San Francisco about two o'clock on Friday. It took us several hours to get clean. . . .
Yesterday we were driven out through the Park to the Cliff House and enjoyed it immensely. We are just about to start for the "Yosemite" and I must stop in order to catch the train. I will write again when we come back.
San Francisco, Oct- 31st
MY DEAR FATHER,
The last letter which I wrote you I had to cut very short, as I was just starting for the Yosemite. We left here on Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock in the sleeper for Madera, which is the nearest railway station to the valley. There were in the car a lady and gentleman from Springfield, a lady and gentleman from the mines, formerly of Connecticut, having "come over" in the Mayflower, and two Englishmen. These were to be our constant companions for four days, so we were quite interested in them. Turning in at about 9 we waked at 5:30 the next morning to find ourselves on a side track at Madera, from whence we started, after breakfast, in a six horse coach with our new friends.
The first stage we rattled over at a good pace, 12 miles in less than an hour and a half, the road being quite level along the river bottom of the Fresno. Here there is something quite new for me: a large V- shaped flume 54 miles long in which large quantities of lumber is daily floated down from the saw-mills above at the rate of 9 miles per hour. Well, after this the pace slackened so that, after changing horses 5 times, we did not arrive at "Clark's"---a Hostelry in the Mts., until 6:30, having travelled more than 12 hours through beautiful mountains, the forests gradually becoming more dense and the trees of more variety, and larger. After paying five dollars for our lodging and breakfast, all the charges are becoming equally extortionate, we started in another stage for the "big trees." We drove for miles through a forest of splendid trees, pines of all kinds, cedars, firs, oaks, and etc., and finally came to a grove of the "sequoia gigantea." There are a great many more than I had any idea of and they are really fine great fellows, some being over 30 feet in diameter and one of which we drove through, coach and all. The dust of this expedition is something frightful. We were so covered with it from head to foot that you could not have recognized us, and one of our English friends, weight about 18 stone, became so disgusted with the dirt and jolting that he absolutely refused to go any farther and determined to go back without seeing the valley. We were inclined to do the same, and had it not been that we had got so far, I think we should have backed out; such was our disgust at the dirt and extortionate prices. However we plucked up and started for the valley, and it was indeed a lovely drive. We had seats with the driver, and escaped the dust to a great extent. We gradually ascended to a great height, and finally from a place called "inspiration point" had a magnificent view of the whole valley, a lovely broad plain covered with evergreen and deciduous trees of all colors surrounded, or rather walled in by perpendicular crags of any where from 2000 to 6000 ft. in height. It is too grand. I will not attempt a description.
Well, we did not arrive until after dark and were glad to turn in. Next morning we started off again at 6 to see "Mirror Lake," in which one can see all the Mts. Came back to breakfast and started immediately after on horse-back to ascend the side walls, see all the falls and views of importance and join the stage in the afternoon, which carried our baggage and was to take us back to Clark's. By the time we had ridden 20 or 30 miles at a rattling pace, I, for one, was, ready to dismount. The party consisted of 4, we having left our "Yanky" friends, who had nearly talked us to death, and having been joined by a young German who proved to be a first rate fellow.
After another day's ride in stage, having travelled in this way 200 miles in all, we again reached our sleeper which was waiting for us at Madera. Arriving here yesterday at 2, we consumed the usual 3 or 4 hours necessary for cleaning processes and called on Capt. O. [liver] only to find that the steamer, having arrived 3 days late, will not leave until Thursday, and here we are wasting our precious time and money. We have lots of friends here though, several invitations to dinner and prospects of a journey to "see the Geysers," so we are not likely to grow stale. There you have me---"all right up to the present time."
I feel quite forlorn every time the mail comes for I never get a letter and Dick always gets two or three---a circumstance which you might mention to some of my friends, if I have any. I am quite well and happy, although I am worried a bit sometimes by the thought of having nothing to do. I did not feel that I had really left home until I left you at Laramie. Good-bye. It is needless to tell you how welcome are all letters from home.
Sunday, Nov. 21st, '80.
MY DEAR FATHER,
Here we are in the middle of the Pacific. This is the 3rd Sunday that we have had on board and all three have been perfect days, the only ones since leaving. We have been having pretty rough weather lately, the end of some recent gale which must have been bad, judging from the sea it has raised. I have never seen waves half so high. We have had head winds every day but one since we started and the result is that we have averaged only 210 miles a day and probably will not arrive until the 27th or 28th.
I have been rolled and knocked about so that I am lame all over, and it is a great relief to have at last a pleasant day, in which to sit down quietly and write.
You must have received my last letter telling of our Yosemite trip and delay of 2 days in San Francisco. Election day passed off very quietly in the city, and, having dined with General Barnes the night before, we went with him to the "Republican League Club" where we heard all the returns from the different states(25) and met several of the most prominent business men, Capt. E. [ldridge], Gov. Lowe, Davis who was running for Congress and many others.
On Wednesday Bob Hastings drove us out to the fort to see Major Cushing. We dined with Hastings and in the evening went to see the "Chinese quarter." This is the most disgusting sight that I have ever seen. Thousands of men huddled together in space insufficient for a hundred. Why, you have no idea of the squalor and filth in which they all live, or rather exist, in dark garrets, dirty, damp holes under the street and anywhere else, all for the sake of the hundredth part of the "mighty dollar" which they may carry back to the home of celestials.
What I have seen puts a new aspect on the "Chinese question." I wish some of the Eastern philanthropists who hold up their hands in holy horror at the stories from the Pacific slope might see the subjects which their missionaries pretend to convert.
We have found the Gælic to be a very staunch and sea-worthy boat, though with not much cabin accommodation, having only a deck house which was built on "afterwards." She used to carry freight.
Capt. Kedley has proved to be an old friend, inasmuch as he was with poor Frank(26) when he died and held him in his arms. He used to know him in Japan, and we have had several talks about him. . . .
There are 4 young Englishmen on board, two of whom are first rate fellows. I see a great deal of them. The other passengers are Germans and missionaries going on their "fool's errand" to Canton. We have had cricket on the days when the sea has not washed the decks. And this with reading, whist, singing and getting exercise under difficulties makes the time go quickly enough---not to mention eating and sleeping.
We crossed the 180th meridian on Tuesday and omitted Wednesday altogether. Did not see the buoy on the line although the Capt. said there was one. The last half of our voyage is likely to be as rough as the 1st. Even as I write it is coming on to blow from the southwest.
I have been reading several books on Japan and am getting very keen about it. I think we shall go overland from Yokohama to Kioto. Either by walking or "jinrikshas," see Osaka and Kobi and take the steamer there. I will write some more in Yokohama, if the mail gives me time. Until then good-bye.
"International Hotel," Yokohama
Sunday, Dec. 5th.
Our voyage lengthened out another week, and we have had four Sundays on board. The last week was a slight improvement on the rest of the voyage, but still we had constant head winds and high seas. I wafted up on the night of Sunday the 27th and was rewarded by a glimpse of "la Luna" light at "8 bells." The land looks very welcome and beautiful in the gray of the morning, as we steam up the harbor through hundreds of "sampans" sculling about in every direction with marvellous speed. Our engines have brought us 4,760 miles without stopping. . . . The weather is simply perfect, warm and balmy in the day time and cool at night. The country is lovely and I have never been more favorably impressed in my life. It is pleasure merely to exist in this climate.
We have seen everything in Yokohama, including a football match between the "Shore" and officers from H.M.S. Comus. We have been to Tokio once and will go again to-morrow and see all the temples and estates of the now mythical Daimios. The "things" that we have already seen in exhibitions and bazaars are too beautiful for description.
Last Thursday we started with Knight and Mackinnon, who have proved to be good friends, for Enoshima, to see the temples and country in general.
We were six jinrikshas and 12 men besides ourselves and guide, one jinricky going to carry baggage and food. Was very much interested in all employments of the happy, smiling inhabitants, all of which, cotton manufacture, agriculture and all trades, we could see in all stages of progress. We passed through a large town which has been entirely destroyed by fire 10 days before and was now half rebuilt, the people seeming to like it, as it gave them employment.
At Enoshima, see temples, have a delicious bath in the sea and a rather cold night on the floor.
The next day started back by another road to see " Dai-Butsu" most famous old bronze image in Japan and 45 ft. high, and "kamakura." I don't say much about these temples, etc. I can't begin to do them justice and to say that they are magnificent and grand old relics of Buddhism is entirely too much for my little pen. Will have to do till I see you.
As I run through a village dragging a jinriksha the inhabitants go into convulsions and run behind shouting "Hy! Hy!" You can imagine me taking my exercise in that way. I had 4 1/2 miles across country on Friday. To-day I have been off on a Japanese pony for 25 miles, stopping at a teahouse for clams and tea, which is wet and warm, and that's all that can be said of it. We are going to give the next two days to Tokio and sail on Wednesday for Kobe, having given up the overland trip, as taking too much time. Shall leave for Shanghai on the 17th expecting to arrive on the 23rd. Expect to be in Calcutta by the 1st of February and receive lots of letters from home, which you might mention to some of my friends and acquaintances.
I am enjoying myself immensely and all my expectations of Japan have been more than realized; and they were pretty high I can tell you. I have met lots of friends of poor Frank and they have been very kind to me. . . .
Yokohama, Dec. 10th.
MY DEAR FATHER,
Just a line to say that we leave to-morrow for Kobe where we shall stay till the 18th, arriving in Shanghai on the 23rd. I received your letter to-day and it was indeed welcome, as the 1st from home since starting. It was rather diminutive. . . . I must go to bed now as I am going to Tokio at 7 A.M. to see a temple that I missed the other day. Dick is not going as he has something to do here.
Saturday, Dec. 18th, 1880.
MY DEAR GIRLS
Don't be frightened by the heading of this epistle. It is only the name of a steamer plying between Yokohama and Shanghai, the same one in which Wink came up to Japan a year ago.
We have been 3 weeks in Japan now, and think it the best place we have ever seen. The climate is simply perfect, to-day nearly Christmas, when you are all freezing at home-being clear and warm as an October day. Two weeks we spent in Yokohama, Tokio, and the surrounding country, which is lovely. We met two very nice Englishmen on the steamer, and one day in Yokohama we all made up a party of 4 and, taking an interpreter, started off for Enoshima, a little promontory, or rather island, about 20 miles from Yokohama. You should have seen our little cavalcade passing through the villages, stared at in wonder by scores of diminutive children, all shaved and tufted like those on your mantelpiece, and all carrying still smaller babes on their backs. They look like bundles of old rags with two heads. We had jinrikshas, which translated means "pull-man car," each propelled by two little half-naked Japs, one in the shafts and the other pushing behind, both grunting in concert. It is a very peculiar sensation at first, to be drawn along by a boy 4 feet high in a sort of little "shay," but one soon gets used to it and goes spinning along over the "Tokaido," the great imperial highway, at the rate of 8 or 10 miles an hour.
I was in a very happy frame of mind, just coming from a long voyage of 24 days to a "land which is fairer than day," the land, in fact, of the rising sun, where I eat 2 dozen oranges a day, and I carried on a running conversation with every one within hail, much to the amusement of every one else, for it is only necessary to look at Japanese to set them off into gales of laughter. In short, it was a very smiling journey. We had a very funny time that night at a teahouse or hotel, sitting about shivering in our stocking feet, the only warmth being in a small box of charcoal. It is quite cold at night at this season, and as the walls are made of paper, it was somewhat breezy sleeping on the floor, all four of us in one room. Next day we went home by another road, seeing the temples of Kamakura, an ancient capital of Japan, and the great bronze image of Dai Butz, and stopping for "Tiffin" and a sea bath at a delightful little place, of which I will show you a picture next spring.
Jenkins of "Fearon, Low & Co." was very kind and I went twice to ride with him in the country on a little black pony about twice as big as Barny. I found, too, several kindred spirits who invited me to play football and run in "Hare and Hounds," and these I enjoyed very much, especially the latter in which I fell down several precipices, cut myself on sharp sticks and tore my clothes. But, what I have enjoyed most are the curio shops. The beautiful things are beyond description, bronzes, cloisonné, porcelain, carved ivory and silk and satsuma good enough to eat. The little old dogs with several curly tails and crabs, turtles, and strange beasts are what please me. I spend hours rummaging in second-hand pawnshops for which Trimble laughs at me a great deal; but I haven't money enough for many really good things so I make it up on the odd little things that cost a few cents.
Last Saturday we left Yokohama and came down to Kobe by steamer, not having time to go overland as we had intended. Oh I forgot to tell you about the tennis garden in Yok. where all the ladies play. The grounds are lovely, all terraced and surrounded by orange trees and pretty hedges, and the ladies play better than any I have ever seen, even than you. One of them, Mrs. Defanger, played especially well, and, when afterwards I saw her at a concert and dance, I found that she played on the piano better than on the tennis court, and tried hard to be presented, but alas! in vain.
Kobe is even better than Yokohama, in fact about everything I see is better than the last, but I will tell you about it to-morrow as it is too dark to go on now.
To-day is the best of days and we have been coming through the inland sea, which is magnificent with all its green islands and queer fishing boats with many-coloured sails. But to return to Kobe. We went immediately to Fearon, Low's and were invited to tiffin by Mr. Cunningham, who has a quaint old Japanese house just at the foot of the Mts. which overlook Kobe. The house used to belong to an old Daimio or lord, and has been moved down by Mr. C. 20 miles from Osaca, the Venice of Japan. It would just suit the "artist." You may walk about an hour in it continually stumbling upon unexpected rooms of queer shapes and with odd little nooks and crannies. The walls are all of paper, silk and carved wood, made into sliding panels, all painted with unknown beasts and landscapes of fairyland. The friezes are all carved out in order to let the air pass through, and the ceilings all very low though of different heights. Mrs. C. being the only lady I have seen since leaving home rather frightened me, but I managed to get along and she invited us to dinner to meet Messrs. Groome and Green, two old friends of poor Frank, whom every one misses very much out here.
We spent two days in Kioto, Japan's ancient capital, and made several trips, the best of which was coming down the rapids of a mountain torrent, 20 miles through a beautiful gorge, deep and green. It reminded "Dante" of the inferno.
We spent two more days in curio shops which even surpassed those of Tokio and Yokohama and have come away with empty pockets, etc.
You can only think of the beauties of the inland sea by imagining a passage full of islands, something like the trip from Rockland to Mt. Desert, with Mts. four times as high and fantastic, vegetation eight times more luxuriant and the whole thing ten times more beautiful. Even this will convey no idea as it is 300 miles long.
In an hour we shall be in Nagasaki, the last port of Japan, and on Christmas day will be in Shanghai with Uncle and Aunt Low. I will now spare you and stop to get ready for shore.
If, on receipt of this, you write immediately to Alexandria there may be some hope for you; if not, look out for me when I get home. I want to know everything.
Tuesday, Dec. 28
Christmas is past and I am about to begin a new year here far away in the Antipodes. My last letter was from Kioto, I think, in the centre of Japan. On our return to Kobe we met many new friends and were invited out to tiffin and dinner with Messrs. Green and Cunningham.
Dr. Harris, an old friend of Frank's, was very kind, and took us about to all the curio shops, which we enjoyed much more than any we had seen before. On Friday night, after dinner at Mr. C's where we met Mr. Groome, we went on board the good ship, Hiroshima Maru, bound for Shanghai, via Nagasaki and the "Inland Sea." Next morning we found ourselves passing through the most beautiful sea in the world. For 300 miles we skimmed right along the shore winding among lovely, bold islands, and passing near enough to throw a biscuit ashore. There were some first-rate fellows on board and the time passed very quickly. Cyrus W. Field(27) was a fellow passenger en route for India. Tell Will that Capt. Haswell remembered him very well and asked for him. The harbor of Nagasaki is the most perfect one I have ever seen---just like Quisset multiplied ten times. Thirteen Russian men of war were lying there and the settlement full of drunken sailors---the most disorderly, with all its severity and cruelty, of any Navy in the world.
After examining manufact. of porcelain and tortoise shell, which is all there is to see, we started on Monday for Shanghai where we arrived on Wednesday night, after a smooth voyage, being just in time to go over bar at the top of high water and get up to the wharf at dark. Since then we have been enjoying one of the pleasantest Christmas vacations that I have had for a long time. It has truly been a vacation for there is really nothing to see here in the way of sights, that keeps one on the continual jump that we have become accustomed to in Japan.
It was after 9 when we went on shore, and, when I inquired where Uncle N.(28) was to be found, I was told that every one was at the theatre. So, sending for luggage and donning a dress suit, we proceeded to the hall of the Muses, where we found every one in full dress, witnessing some private theatricals. We might just as well have been in New York. Uncle N. appeared before we were up next morning with mail which had come in the same steamer with us, and insisted on our moving bag and baggage to his house on the "Babbling Well" road. I have at last been repaid for waiting so long, receiving 7 letters and hearing all the news. I sat up in bed reading my letters until I was nearly frozen and late for lunch. Christmas time in Shanghai is a very festival, no work being done and every one enjoying himself to the best of his ability, and it is quite a possible place, I assure you. It is and has been so unusually cold that "the hounds" have not been out, nor has there been a "paper hunt," but we have "been out" nearly ever day riding across country in parties of 8 or 12. This is so entirely new to me that it does as well as a hunt, and is not so dangerous.
Uncle Ned has been very unfortunate and has nine ponies all screwed up so as to be useless. Why there are any ponies with any legs left, I don't know, for it is the roughest country you ever saw, with its deep frozen "rut and furrow." It is wonderful how these little nags carry weight and jump. I have been riding one who takes me over ditches and creeks with perfect ease. But, then, you know, I am a lightweight, tipping the scale at 196. This and playing "racket" has given me exercise and enabled me to eat the large dinners and tiffins of Shanghai at Christmas time. Uncle Ned and Aunt Eleanor are just as happy and comfortable as anything you can imagine. It would take books to tell you all about them and everything we have been doing. We have been here nearly a week now, and have decided to go on Thursday in the "Oxus" "messagerie maritime" to Hongkong where we shall probably take another steamer on to Calcutta, etc. Cannot tell definitely as we don't know how the connections will work. We have been staying here very quietly with Uncle N. and Aunt E. really enjoying the comforts of home life and a rest after the hurry of the last 3 months. We should be very glad to stay here for weeks and weeks, but it is not what we have come for and so we must be off in a jiffy, just as we arrive, and continue our lightning investigations of the world---a big place to see in a moment. The universal cry that we meet is "How foolish of you to hurry back so! You will never be able to come again and what possible difference in your life can 3 or 4 months make in arriving home, where you will have to wait all summer before you can begin work?"
Uncle Ned goes so far as to say that he will excite and urge us to mutiny, take the consequences, and be thanked for it afterward, if he succeeds---that we will always regret having missed hundreds of beautiful things for lack of 2 or 3 days to see. To all this we answer that having agreed upon the 1st of May, we are going to get home if it takes a leg, and we don't see anything. . . .
Be sure and take good care of yourself and rely on me to do the same. For that is all that I am hurrying home for. . . .
That was the son's Christmas letter to the father, And this is the father's letter to the "boy" (appropriately written in small letters) although it is signed "brother."
Boston, Dec. 30, 1880.
MY DEAR BOY,
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year every time. We have just got through the first of these two occasions and the presents for children and all hands have nearly driven me wild. I send you my love for your present and accept yours for mine with great pleasure.
I enclose a letter for you from W. Hooper, Esq. It is hardly time yet to pitch upon an occupation for you, but the lame and lazy are always provided for and you won't be left out in the cold. Hoop. seems to be feeling "pretty well I thank you" which I suppose is partly due to the existence of the honeymoon which will soon begin to wane unless his is an exception to the general rule, in which case the rule would be proved to be correct. "Exceptio probat regulam." That is the result and about the only one, of a classic education. . . .
Poor Miss Annie C's plans have been upset, fortunately for her, I think. Mamma P. arrived from Europe, would not go to see Annie and kicked up such a mess that young P. went to Europe and as his letters did not prove to be of that confiding and desperately-in-love nature that Miss Annie expected, she kicked over the traces, notified the wandering bridegroom that the thing was up and started for Florida to pass the winter, where I hope she found warmer weather than we have got here; this thermometer standing at about zero as I write. The moral of the above is that it is not well for two young people to make up their minds on the most important question of life, without looking the market over thoroughly and without prayerful considerations. . . .
I hope this will find you "in condition" and I recommend you to keep yourself so till you get home for I am coming down in weight and could get round you pretty lively. With my love to Dick and best wishes for the health and pleasure of both of you.
I continue your aff brother,
W. B. B.
On board White Cloud
January 10th, 1881.
MY DEAR FATHER,
My last small budget must have reached you from "Shanghai." We were rather sorry not to go to Peking, but made up for it in Shanghai by our vacation from sightseeing of all kinds. The cold weather prevented our enjoying the "hounds" but we had many good rides and I was very glad of the chance of making the acquaintance of my new aunt and almost equally new uncle. They are as much in love with each other as a couple of 20, and are as comfortably situated as any one could wish. We took one look into the native city but were soon satisfied and came out. The smells of the drainage, etc., were frightful.
We left Shanghai on Friday the 31st and had two unpleasant and stormy days but on Sunday it came out warm and bright and we enjoyed the rest of the voyage till Monday morn very much. The French mail "paquebot", Oxus, on which we came is the finest ship I have ever seen and the service of the best. The climate of Hongkong is perfectly lovely. We spent 3 days in there very pleasantly playing cricket, rowing, and dining out.
On Thursday we started for Canton, where we stayed with Deacon and Co. on the Sharmeen and were very comfortable. The city we "did" in one day. I am very glad to have seen it as a specimen of a Chinese city with its old temples and pagodas and beautiful silk shops, but I don't care about going again. On Saturday we came down the river in a diminutive steamboat to Macao which is the prettiest place I have seen for a long time. The mixture of fine old Spanish and Portuguese buildings, beautiful ruined cathedrals, tropical gardens of poets of the 15th century, and forts bristling with soldiers on an island surrounded by Chinese gunboats and smuggling junks, was very incongruous, and made me forget where I was. There were several fellows whom we knew from Hongkong staying at the hotel, and they lost all their money at fan-tan, the gambling game which forms the principal revenue of the Portuguese Governor of Macao.
I am now on my way back to Hongkong in a good steamboat, whose hatches are all guarded by armed men to prevent any mutiny of the Chinese passengers below. We will have to wait in Hongkong till Thursday or Friday when we take steamer direct for Calcutta, due there on or about the 1st of February, which is our schedule time for arriving in India.
. . . You see, we have subdivided our time rather differently from what you and I did at home. It was perfectly impossible to leave Japan sooner than we did---almost heartrending to leave it so soon. As we were unable to get to Peking, we decided to cut short our stay in Shanghai, pleasant though it might be.
It was all very delightful and luxurious, but in the interests of general education and seeing strange countries it went for nothing, as we saw nothing that we had not seen before and did nothing but the things of a gay and Eastern society life. So we gave our time to Canton and Macao, and I am very glad we did, as you have already seen. By taking a direct steamer to Calcutta we have saved $75 and ten days here, losing only 4 days in India. Voilà.
I was much pained to think you received no letter from San Francisco. I wrote you quite a long letter and have since prided myself upon writing every mail. I was delighted to get your letter, however.
You have no idea what an excitement follows the arrival of mail. We immediately retire and spend the evening reading our letters to each other---I mean the firm of "Trimble, Bacon, et Cie."
This week is liable to be quiet and pleasant. We are getting into condition for the hot weather of the equator. Yesterday and to-day we have been out rowing and to-morrow I play football. My weight is 133 with rowing clothes. I think I win the bet. . . .
Friday, January 14th.
The week has passed as I predicted and nothing of importance has happened. Have rowed and played football. . . . We have taken our passages on the Awatoon Aplar, an opium steamer belonging to a private line. She leaves to-morrow at three o'clock and is due, as I have said, the 1st prox.
We went on board the other day and found her very large and comfortable, larger than the Cunard steamers.
I shall look out for that letter at Singapore, but hardly expect to find it. Letters from home have been more frequent than I expected and I feel as if I knew what was going on. . . .
I find that "Canton mats" cost $9.50 each, so don't think I shall purchase a great gross. This letter will probably reach you about the thawing and slush time of early spring. Be careful and try not to be laid up with the usual cold. You may think of me sweltering in the "Red Sea". . . . We have made up our minds about what to do in India. A trip to Benares, Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Agra, Cawnpore, and Simla, which is at the base of the Himalayas, then back to Allahabad and thence to Bombay will give us about three weeks in India. This is the present programme you may follow on the map. We have had thoughts of going from Alexandria to Athens, thence to Constantinople, Varna, and up the Danube to Vienna, but that is all in embryo as yet.
I did not say much about Canton, for I suppose it is about the same as when you saw it, 3 or 4 years ago, wasn't it? It smells as bad as ever and I was quite glad to get out of it at the end of a day of jolting about in a chair, with "Ali Cum" jabbering pidgeon English. . . .
Well, I must say good-bye I for the present. Do take care of yourself, at least till I get home to take care of you. I'm sure you need two assistants. . . .
Jan. 11th, 1881.
MY DEAR WINK,(29)
I was delighted to get your letter yesterday, and feasted on it for a long time. Your precaution about Stuart has come too late, although it was unnecessary. I met him the first day and he immediately put me up at the racquet court, where we played together, and did all manner of things for me. I dined with him, and we became very good friends. When we went away, he gave me lots of letters to people on my route, one of whom I dine with to-morrow, by the way, and a "Kumsha" of silk handkerchiefs. I met nearly all your friends and dined and tiffined with them, Weld, Bunnan [Burman?], Groome, and the rest. In fact, about the only thing I go on out here is my resemblance to you and it is quite sufficient to "go alone" on. We were rather unlucky in missing a meet of the hounds, but had plenty of rut and furrow across country. Nearly every day we went out with 6 or 8 fellows, Uncle Ned leading the way, the ground being too hard to ride at full speed to hounds. Old Baldy was rather unlucky and got one of the ponies you speak of. One day we were riding quite hard when someone happened to miss him. The whole field stopped and after some time we found him turning round and round in the middle of a lot of graves. Our united efforts finally persuaded the beast to proceed, but as he continually stopped to dance and refused every other jump, B. had to leave us and go home. Next day we tried again. We were about 8 miles from home when I happened to look round and saw a white pony with his four legs planted on the edge of a ditch, and Baldy . . . shooting over his head. Well, we chased that pony about 7 miles, darting through orchards and tearing our clothes, breaking down Chinese villages, fording muddy rivers and all covered with dirt. It was rather good fun for us, but death on Dick, who followed on foot in boots so tight that he has been troubled with blisters ever since. The pony, when last seen, was galloping off with no bridle and half a saddle, waving his tail in triumph and defiance. B. came home in a ricksha.
Japan was as lovely as usual, and I met all your friends, Groome, Green, Tileston, Jenkins, etc. They are still hospitable. Haswell who was with you at "Miyanoshita" is here. We have dined with him. I just missed Jim Fearon, Miss H., Mrs. S., and Mrs. Kerr who had all gone home. Too bad, wasn't it? Imagine China just as you saw it with a lovely cool climate and plenty of rowing, cricket, football, yachting, etc., and you have it as I see it. For further particulars I refer you to W. B. B. and stop for the night, or this miserable quill pen will drive both you and me crazy. "Boy!" who is about 80 can get no other.
Friday, January 14th.
I must finish rather abruptly, Wink, for nothing has turned up and I am pressed. . .
We are off for India to-morrow. . . .
If there are any more weddings coming off for which I shall need presents, I wish you would let me know in time to get them in Europe. I have already bought several. It is pretty hard not to buy all the beautiful things you see, isn't it? Still I don't think I shall stop at a handful or so of diamonds and rubies in India's coral strand. . . .
Jan. 22nd, 1881.
MY DEAR FATHER,
As we are just leaving Singapore . . . I think it a good time to begin a letter.
After a fine run down the China Sea with a fair monsoon, we arrived in Singapore yesterday morning (Friday). We have some very pleasant people on board . . . an indigo planter of India, and his wife. The officers too are all good fellows, so we have plenty to do all the time, with reading and writing up the log. This steamer belongs to one of two private lines which ply between Calcutta and Hongkong and have a complete monopoly of the opium trade.
The Suez, the steamer of the other line, always starts at the same hour and minute that the Aplar does, and consequently there is quite a brisk competition and race from port to port. She is now about mile ahead of us, having had the advantage of position.
The weather in Singapore has been cooler than ever before. Yesterday was colder than the oldest inhabitant remembers to have seen it. Still, I think I must have lost a pound or two, for the water ran out of me all day.
Mr. Cuthbertson of Bonstead received me very cordially, immediately gave us his carriage to drive in the Botanical Garden, and invited us to dinner. We were fortunate in coming on Friday, for on that day the regimental band plays in the garden, and all the "beauty and fashion" turn out to hear it. The gardens are really beautiful, all blooming with flowers of every description, and tropical plants. They are kept up by the government now and are the prettiest thing of the kind that I have seen.
There are a great many ladies here considering the size of the place, and good teams, which made the place look very much like Newport.
Our dinner at the Cuthbertsons was very pleasant and homelike, "in one sense of the word " for they are hearty Scotch people and were having a kind of family party. At first I was afraid we were "de trops," but soon found out that they didn't mind us, and proceeded to enjoy it accordingly. We have met a great many Scotch people since we have come to "the East" and like each one better than the last. There are more Scotch than English here.
I learned a little as to the character of the "East India trade," of which I knew absolutely nothing before, by being taken through the "go downs" of Bonstead and Co., and shown the tapioca, tin, spices of all kinds, etc., all ready for shipping, and the cotton goods, blankets, etc., which they were trying to persuade the Chinamen to buy. The China "New Year" is close at hand, and "John" is not very eager to purchase, everybody being in preparation for the grand festivities.
We left at 2 o'clock and are on our way to Penang, where we expect to arrive on Monday morning.
Thursday, Jan. 26th.
We are now speeding along up the Bay of Bengal, two days out from Penang, at the rate of 11 1/2 knots, the n. e. monsoon being fair enough for everything to draw.
Arrived in Penang on Monday morning at daylight, and, after watching for sometime the Malay coolies at work on the cargo, and the crowd of "sampans" that come off to land the Chinese passengers, went on shore and proceeded to Bonstead and Company. Mr. Finlayson invited us to tiffin in the office, but, as it was not yet time, we took a "garry" and went off to see the waterfall, which is about the only thing of interest in the way of "sights." Very much struck by the hundreds of varieties of flowers and the thousands of palms, both "cocy" and betel-nut, which line the road. Here we have the true black, naked nigger and the full force of the tropical sun. I nearly melted during the short walk from the garry to the waterfall. The large solar hats that we wore are sufficient protection against the sun and prevent any possibility of sun stroke. Penang, like Hongkong, is right at the foot of a mountain, which the people call their "Sanitarium," and where they retreat when the weather gets too much for them.
They all tiffin in their offices here because it saves time and does not necessitate a long ride home. We met several men at Bonstead's and enjoyed the tiffin. Mr. Finlayson invited us to come and play tennis in the P. M. not saying anything about ladies. We went, and found a regular lawn party, ten or twelve ladies and gentlemen. Played tennis, had a first-rate time, and stayed to dinner, after which we went to the "race lottery," where Penang was assembled to bet on the races which began the next day. Saw several of the rich Chinamen and natives who form the monied class of the colony---among them the "Mahah-Rajah of Jahore" a fine-looking old fellow with turban and sarong of brilliant colours. The Suez, our constant companion, is going to wait for the races of the 1st day and will not sail until 7 o'clock, expecting to catch us before we get to Calcutta. Our captain, McTavish, does not approve, so we are off at 12 o'clock on Tuesday.
It is generally very calm here at this season, but we are fortunate in having a fresh n. e. breeze, and are stealing quite a march on the Suez. We expect to be in Calcutta on Sunday, or rather in the river, for it will take some time to go up the "Hoogly."
I think I told you, from Hongkong, what our proposed plan of action was. We have not changed. We intend to be in India about three weeks, giving most of the time to the cities of the north, and leaving Bombay about the 20th or 25th.
So much for me---I am having a first-rate time, as you can well see, and I think I am getting some experience as to the things of this world, which may be of use, whatever I do.
Time flies as I have never seen it before, and here we are more than halfway in our journey, when we have but just started. Yet it seems about four years since we left, and I find it hard to realize that it is only three months, and that everything has been going on exactly as if we had never gone away. It seems to me as if great and important changes must have taken place. One does not realize his own insignificance until he has seen how perfectly well, perhaps even better, the world would go on without him.
What are you going to have for me to do, when I get back? I am anxious to "settle down," my only regret being that now I shall never learn French and German which has always been my greatest wish (in that line).
I wish you would make up your mind, as you said you might, to come over to England in April and go home with me. You know how much good it always does you and it won't take but a few weeks. Please think seriously of it. I shall be in London the first week in April, "Deo Volente." You will have to start right away on receipt of this. . . .
January, 30th, Sunday.
We are now about halfway up the Hoogly. What a splendid great river the Ganges is, but how full of shoals and mud! It must have changed since you were here. We now go from the outside light to Calcutta in 10 hours. It must have taken you weeks to do it. The scenery is not very pretty, is it? Reminds me of Shanghai with all its flatness. . . .
Yesterday morn. about 9 we sighted a steamer astern. She turned out to be the Suez, who had caught us, and passed us last night at 11 o'clock. I have been up since four "taking it all in." I had a good view too of the Southern Cross.
Calcutta, Feb. 2nd.
On arriving here Sunday afternoon we went to the Great Eastern Hotel, not knowing where to find the Whitneys. We had a first-rate run up the river passing 5 large steamers and 6 ships bound out and homeward. I have never seen so many ships before. I had no idea of the extent of the trade from this, the largest port in the East. How very pretty the banks of the river are just before arriving, botanical gardens, ex-kings' palaces, and fine private residences.
We went out on the "Esplanade" and saw all the "style." Every one drives there in the P. M. . . .
Monday morning we went to the Whitneys'(30) and found them all, Fred, Frank, and Ned. They were very cordial and asked us to come and stay with them, which we did in the P. M. and have since been very comfortably ensconced at their house in the city. They have moved in from "Ballygunge" where they used to live.
Yesterday we looked about the city and in the evening went out in a "pair-oar" with Tom Edmonds, brother of the "old man's" partner.
I haven't time now to write all particulars, but will write again soon. To-morrow we think of going up to the Himalayas, or rather near them, to a place called Darjeeling. It will be a three days' trip, but we think will pay. When we come back, we shall start almost immediately for the "North West" to carry out the programme mentioned above. The P. and O. steamer Surat sails from Bombay on the 24th and we think that we shall go in her.
I enjoy staying here at the Whitneys' very much, especially as they let us alone to do as we please, true principle of hospitality.,
"Himalayas," Feb. 5th
MY DEAR FATHER,
. . . We left Calcutta on Thursday at 1 o'clock in the "Northern Bengal R. R." pretty comfortably housed in an English " carriage." It took us all the afternoon to cross the large, flat, almost uninteresting plain which forms the Delta of the Ganges. Crossed the river at 7 o'clock and found ourselves settled for the night in a small carriage, our companions being a man and a boy, who insisted upon talking. Our bedding consisted of our rugs and a small inflated paper pillow each, which we brought from Japan.
After a very dirty and "cindery" night we found ourselves at Lillijuri where we breakfasted at 6-30. A steam tramway is to take us 50 miles to Lonada. The ascent of the mountains is a lovely ride, the little train rattling along and whisking around corners even more sharp and sudden than those of the "Grand Canyon of the Arkansas." However, we arrived safely at Lonada, where we tiffined and proceeded on to Darjeeling on ponies, there being a dearth of "Tonjons," the usual mode of conveyance. I was not at all sorry, for I had a diminutive stallion who nearly pulled my arms off and quite "limbered" me out after the long ride in the cars. Here we arrived at 5 P. M. and a beautiful spot we find it. It is in the province of Sikkim which is in the very heart of the Himalayas, and surrounded by Bhootan on one side and Nepaul on the other, with Thibet on the north. You will have to get out your map. It is quite an English settlement, there being a military cantonment and British residence, and the visitors who come up from the plains for their health being all English.
Darjeeling is noted for its "Tea Gardens," which one can see dotting the hillsides all about. This morning at 6.30 we had a fine view of the snowy range and Mount Kunchinjunga and to-morrow we are off for an eminence from which we hope to see Mt. Everest, King of Mts. Let us hope that the mists will not prevent, as this will be our only chance. We go on to Calcutta to-morrow. Good-night.
Monday afternoon, Calcutta.
We decided not to attempt to see "Everest," and thus gained four hours in Darjeeling on Sunday morning. The chances were much against seeing the mountain, and we would have caught cold, no doubt, waiting about on top of a mountain at 6 in the morning, after having walked 7 miles. It was market day and the "Bazaar" was filled with country folk who had come in from the surrounding mountain provinces to sell their produce and coarse wares of all kinds. Lepchas, Bhootanes, and Nepaulese all sat huddled together behind their piles, arrayed in all colours of the rainbow, making the birdseye view, which we had of it all from above, a very picture. They are a fine, hardy lot, and look like the pictures one sees of wandering "Bedouins" etc., from Thibet.
We had a rather pleasant ride down the mountains, although a little dirty, the cars of the "Tram" being all open, giving free sweep to all cinders and smoke from the engine. Arrived here at 1 o'clock and went again to the Whitneys' and made ourselves at home, as we had promised. . .
Feb. 14th, 1881.
MY DEAR FATHER,
My last was just before I left Calcutta. Just after I had posted it, your letter came, and right in the nick of time, for had it been a few hours later, I should not have received it until I reached Bombay.
I enjoyed your news immensely, for, although you always say you have none, you always tell me more than any one. I am glad to see that you are in such good spirits and "condition." I am a light weight now and will surely win the bet. I am awfully sorry about Annie C's troubles. She is too nice a girl to [have] two such unfortunate experiences. If I meet P. I think I shall tell him what I think of him, for although a man must be very careful in his selection, after it is once made, he must "stick" to it at all hazards.
Still I think as you say, she will be better off eventually. He must be an ass.
I am sorry, however, to hear such pessimistic views on marriage in general. You remember accusing me of being a pessimist. I maintain that I never have held such discouraging views as those which you seem to hold out for the young married couple. But I'll forgive you, if you will meet me in London on the 5th of April at the Grand Hotel.
Leaving Calcutta last Tuesday night, we arrived at Benares, the ancient and Holy City of the Ganges, at about 2 the next day, and started immediately to inspect the various temples and mosques of ye ancient time. They are splendid old monuments, so much better than any of the showy "Josshouses," all "gingerbread" work and decked out with tawdry tinsel. I am not going to inflict any descriptions.
One temple is sacred to monkeys and is literally infested, nearly 1000 of the little beasts of all sizes and ages living in and about temple grounds. Benares is a true picture of an oriental city of the Arabian Nights, narrow alleys and high overhanging houses, with dusky beauties bedizened with jewels and gaudy colors leaning from the verandas and minarets.
At early morn, thousands bathe in the holy Ganges and wash away all their sins from the Ghats or stone flights of steps that line the banks. Just behind these Ghats are palaces of ancient Moguls with their castles and battlements. The picture, as I saw it, at sunrise from a boat on the river is indescribable. The next day we reached Cawnpore, the saddest memorial in English history. The world knows nothing of the horrors of that triple massacre.(31) The Government takes good care to conceal what happened through their own carelessness.
Lucknow is not many hours from Cawnpore, and is as glorious as the latter is shameful. We saw all the places where a mere handful held out for months against 20 times their number, until relieved by another handful, who had cut their way through hordes of rebel Sepoys.
We have now come to Agra and have seen the great and renowned Taj-Mahal. Without exception it surpasses anything I have ever seen for architectural beauty and splendor. No one can form any idea of it until he has seen it. It stood there in the moonlight last night, and really I could have sat and looked at it all night. I took eleven hours' sleep instead.
There is a fort here that would fulfil wildest fairyland fancies of the most imaginative youth. Built of red sandstone, with all the batteries, bastions, moats, portcullis, it is 70 feet high and 1 1/2 miles circum. Inside are all the palaces and mosques, the great King and all his wives. The "pearl mosque" entirely of white marble is beautiful. Nearly all the halls and corridors are inlaid with precious stones and gold. Others are of the finest carving in sandstone and marble. "I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls." A dream that I never expected to see so fully realized. By the way, this is the "land of roses." All flowers grow here and the gardens are superb. One in Lucknow has the most beautiful "Jacqueminot," Maréchal Niel, and Souvenirs and every other flower I ever imagined.
I am rather hurrying this and do not give full details of the things I see, knowing that you will be satisfied to learn that I am "all right." The mail goes to-night to Bombay and, as I am going to drive out to an old tomb, I must stop. . . .
We go to Delhi from here, then Jeypore and down through the Rajput to Bombay, where we expect to arrive on Monday the 21st, and sail about the 24th in some line that is cheaper than the P. & 0. By the way, we travel "2nd class" now and rather like it. . . .
S. S. Galatea
Feb. 24th, '81.
We have finished India and are hurrying as fast as most perfect weather and fair breezes will let us, to Egypt, where we hope to arrive about the 9th prox. My last, from Agra was, I am afraid, hurried and uninteresting, except inasmuch as it let you know that all was well. Our journey through India was the most rapid thing on record, nearly all our nights being spent in railway carriages and all our days in the continual whirl of what people call "sightseeing." It was very pleasant, however, and interesting, everything being entirely new, and giving me, although superficially, a pretty clear idea of India in general. The "Taj-Mahal " is par excellence, the monument of the "East" and, I think, of the world. Everything that I have seen since has paled before its simple yet grand purity. The interest of Delhi was, to me, principally in itself, as the great capital of ancient Moguls and in its productions, not the less beautiful for being modern. The four or five days that we spent in Agra and Delhi were very pleasant, too, socially, for we had as companions Mr. and Mrs. Field and two Englishmen, Crabbie and Delmagé, whom we got to know very well and regretted leaving. With the two latter we made several excursions, one being a drive of 50 miles out from Agra to an old and weird castle, which took us all day. We took our tiffin with us and made a little picnic out of it. Arriving at Delhi at 5 in the morning we set out immediately after "Chota Hazri," which consists of eggs, tea, and toast at 6 A. M. to see all we could before breakfast, having only two days to give to Delhi. After going entirely through the palace and "Jamma Masjid" or Imperial Mosque, we came back to a "Turkish bath" before breakfast. Just a word about the palace. One hall, the " Diwan-i-Khas," is the most lavishly extravagant thing that one can imagine. It is entirely of marble and open to the air, being merely a roof resting upon 50 pillars. The carving which covers it is wonderful. The pillars are all inlaid with precious stones and painted with gold leaf. The ceiling was formerly covered with plates of gold and silver. The throne which used to stand here was in the form of a peacock, the feathers in whose tail were of emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. It cost 50 million livres. Well, the Turkish bath was most refreshing, though peculiar. The man who manipulated me went through the most fearful antics. He danced on my chest, kicked, punched, and squeezed me until I felt as limp as a rag and quite ready to lie down. The rest of our time, as I have said, was passed in examining the beautiful cashmere and chaddar shawls and the gold jewelry and embroidery for which Delhi is noted. The next night we said good-bye to Crabbie and Delmagé, who are to follow us on the next steamer, and started over the Rajputana R. R. for Jeypore, where we arrived at 10 the following morning.
Jeypore is the most essentially Indian city there is at the present time, in fact, it is the only one under the direct rule of a Rajah or rather Maharajah, which is one step higher. After sending our cards to the Maharajah in due form, a guide came from his private secretary, without whose assistance and permission we could not enter the city walls. The Dak Bungalow, where we are staying, is just outside. The palace, though large and splendid enough for its proportions, is but a tawdry-looking modern structure, all painted in gaudy colors and furnished with European furniture, The courtyards and corridors were all full of lazy looking native soldiers, who looked as if they had no idea of the use of the swords and shields which they carry. We were much disappointed to find that the day before we arrived there had been a great festivity and "Durbah," which translated means a dance of many nautch girls in the rajah's presence. We might have witnessed it as well as an elephant fight which had taken place the very morning we arrived. just too late, as usual. The part of the palace which I enjoyed most was the stable in which there were 200 splendid Arabs, just like the proud and prancing steeds of a circus. They are all tethered by a rope around each leg. If they were not trained to it, they would surely break their legs. In the afternoon we met the Maharajah himself, driving out in great state with his numerous followers, their horses all richly caparisoned with gay trappings. He had the good sense to drive himself a pair of fine "whites." My pen is too weak to attempt a description of the city. The broad streets and market places were literally crowded with people, dressed in every conceivable color, camels, elephants, and bullocks, for all the carriages are drawn by milk-white bullocks with horns of green and gold.
The next morning we started early with two Englishmen to drive six miles to the rajah's "other" palace. Four natives who insisted on going with us completed the party and made quite a load for the miserable half-fed "quads" which took us. At the foot of a long and high hill we were met by elephants sent to meet us from the rajah's stable, upon which we mounted and were carried up to the palace which is on top of the hill. The motion of an elephant is anything but pleasant, but one gets used to it after a while. We had started so early that we were back in time to catch the train at 11 for Bombay, via Ajmere, Ahmedabad, and Baroda. This was on Saturday and we arrived in Bombay on Monday morning---a long and dirty ride through rather an uninteresting and sterile country. It reminded me of our ride in the U. P.
We had learned that the P. & O. steamer Surat was to sail on Thursday, but thinking 500 rupees rather too extortionate to Suez, looked about us for other and cheaper. We found the good ship Galatea of the Anchor line, with accommodation for only seven passengers, but having run across the Atlantic formerly, thought she must be seaworthy and engaged our passage for 300 rupees. We find her staunch and comfortable enough and will probably arrive at Suez before the P. & 0. As she left on Tuesday afternoon we had not much time for Bombay, but made the best of what we had.
We started off immediately for letters, and I was disappointed at finding only about six lines from you, with the enclosed packet. But I hadn't been there long before your two letters came, one from Calcutta and the other direct. . . . You speak of the temptations of Paris. I do not even think we shall stop there, and if we did, I feel quite sure that I have several imaginary "Talismen" which would raise me above them. I wish I felt as sure of myself on many other scores as I do on that. But really I think I may get a little common sense one of these days. I am just beginning to feel that it may be something to realize that I don't know anything; and I am quite sure on that point.
One reason that I do not jump at the Manchester offer any more eagerly is that it would take me away from Boston and you, and, if I am not mistaken, that same reason has influenced you in not urging it very strongly. . . .
To return to Bombay, where I left off yesterday. Messrs. Dossabhoy, Merwanjie & Co. received me with open arms. First, they wanted to know all about my "good father" and uncle, and what they were doing, and what they were likely to do. Then they pointed out the window at an old "carryall" which you had sent them free in a ship 25 years ago and which was then the finest carriage in Bombay. They insisted upon doing everything for us and were much disappointed because we didn't go there again in the afternoon, so that they might "show us round." But we were quite willing to stay at home quietly after our long and sleepless journey, and read our letters. We did, however, walk out when it became cooler and found ourselves at the "Apollo Bunder" soon, where all the "style" congregate to hear the band play, show themselves and their fine clothes and partake of cooling "American drinks" as they call them here.
Most conspicuous among the crowd are the rich "Parsees" who outshine the Europeans in everything of that kind. The old gentlemen lean back in landaus and barouches with their tall, peculiar hats on and clothes of satin and silk, and look as if they owned all Bombay, as indeed they do to a great extent.
Before I was out of my bath next morning, Mr. D. M. & Co. called and brought another letter from you which was especially welcome, the others having been so short. We went immediately after breakfast to draw some money. . . . We engaged our passages for that afternoon, and then went with Mr. D. M. & Co. all about town and to several tempting shops. I then met another Mr. D. M. & Co. who is the head of the house and who wanted all the news of the "good old gentlemen" and to be remembered kindly to them. When we went, they insisted upon giving us presents of fans and bottles of perfume and went all the way to the steamer's dock with us to see that all was right. We have left some "things" to be sent home by them, which we had purchased in India. I did not think that it would be much trouble to them, as they are always sending to New York. We tried hard, but could not find a single tiger-skin. I wanted one very much for a wedding present. We have had things sent home from China and Japan by Messrs. F. L. & Co., all to New York, and I fancy you will be surprised when you see the collection. But I am quite sure I shan't regret them, as I expect to be supplied with "presents" for the next year. . . .
. . .We found on arriving at the steamer that she would not sail until 8 o'clock P. M. but was going to "drop down" on account of the tide, so we determined to go to the "races" which were to take place that afternoon. We were a little late but saw some very close heats between Arabs and "walers" from Australia. The most novel part of it though was the immense concourse of people, principally natives. It was the most brilliantly colored scene that I have seen. A living mass of all colors of the rainbow. The Parsee children are especially gorgeous in their satins, silks, and gold embroidery. There were a good many English there too, and quite a display of beauty " and "swell" teams.
We hurried away directly it was over, and arrived at the Bund just at dark, not knowing in the least in which direction the Galatea was lying. A boatman professed to know, however, and we started off. We had boarded two steamers and it was getting very late and dark when we espied a steamer's lights far out and away from the rest. As the chances were that it was not our ship, I took a paddle and went to work with a will, not blessing the boatman, I assure you. Fortune favored us, or we might still be paddling about in the dark. I didn't cool off till next day, when I found myself well under way in the Arabian Sea.
The last two days have been perfect, with a cool breeze from the north, but to-day is rather a bad 'un, there being a light air just astern. The thermometer is but 88°, however, and I do not grumble, although I sleep on deck. . . .
The passengers are quite uninteresting, and, having nothing else to do I spend the time writing, reading, and thinking. The latter does not amount to much as I think principally about myself, so much so that I am getting quite selfish. . . .
Wednesday, Mar. 9th.
We have had one of the slowest passages on record. The P. & 0. steamer passed us about a week ago, as well as all the other steamers that left several days after us. Our engine broke down, as luck would have it, and we had to stop and repair, besides not being able to go more than 6 miles an hour ever since. We met a regular Atlantic gale and head sea in the middle of the Red Sea, which lasted 3 days and did not assist us much. I think considering the fact that we came on the Galatea to save time as well as money, we have succeeded about as well as usual, having lost 8 days altogether. We are now just entering the Gulf of Suez and hope to arrive to-morrow if we have good luck. . . .
Cairo, March 14th
It is quite late and I ought to be in bed, but I am going to begin a letter to you because I feel quite blue. I have just been talking with Morris Gray whom I have been chasing all around the world and just caught, and it has set me thinking. Everybody seems to have something definite to do and they are all starting off in life at a good pace, while I seem to be still "scoring" and scoring badly at that. It is all well enough to tell me that I have plenty of time and all that, but that doesn't seem to satisfy me at all. . . . What is there in the line of business? Manufact. you say, and railroads. I don't want to have to go into some mill that is going to take me away from you for 5 or 6 years more. If I am going away, why not go altogether and get west" or somewhere. What can I do in a railroad? I shall never have brains enough to manage anything and I don't want to be a fireman on some engine. They say that business is now "lively" and that there is a boom in all stocks is plain from the newspapers. By the time I shall want to have anything to do with "business" there will surely be a revulsion and corresponding crisis. It is bound to come soon. Half the time I think I had better study law and let money grabbing alone and do without the "mighty" or rather "cursed" dollar. I can always earn my own living. Life is too short to be spent in vain search after riches. That is rather a weak and narrow view of it too---a lame excuse I rather think for not wanting to settle down and dig money enough to marry on---for that really, even you with your skepticisms must admit, is one of the ultimate aims and ends of most people. You must think that your son has taken leave of his senses, prattling in this senseless way, but he hasn't---he is only thinking aloud a little, and as usual going off at 1/2 cock and not putting down half what he really does think. I feel better, however, and think I will go to bed.
I think I will leave off last night's strain and tell you a little of what I've been doing. We finally got rid of that miserable Galatea, having lost about six days on account of her old broken engine. As I think I told you, the last 3 days in the Red Sea were very disagreeable and we had to go at half speed sometimes on account of the head sea and wind, which were larger and more stormy, the captain said than any he had seen there before. However, we finally reached Suez and went to the only hotel, which is not bad. I was feeling a little "seedy" not having eaten anything but "Food for Infants" for 3 or 4 days, as I had a little touch of sun which caused a disarrangement of the stomach. I am sure you will say that there could be no more suitable food for me than the above-mentioned. We came right on from Suez on the next day, there being a railway now, not a caravan and camels, as when you were here, "the other day."
Finding comfortable quarters and a most delicious atmosphere and climate after the enervating heat of the tropics, we settled down at Shepheards Hotel and I have been dieting and keeping quiet for 2 or 3 days. I am now all right and as fine as a fiddle, having passed the morning on a donkey's back. Frank Weld and Minot Weld, whom we chased all through India, and Morris Gray whom we have been chasing all around the world, are here, and it is quite pleasant to have someone to talk it over with. Minot Weld and M. Gray have been up the Nile to Thebes, Abydos, the Cataracts, etc. This is quite the thing to do, but we have no time to linger, being already a day or two behind our regular schedule time. We leave here to-morrow, I think, and go down to Alexandria from whence we take steamer either to Constantinople direct or via Athens. The "Russian Mail" goes on Friday (18th) and the khedive's Egyptian mail goes on Saturday. These steamers will get us to Vienna about the 1st of April, whence we shall go straight to London, getting there in time for the Oxford-Cambridge boat-race and athletic sports which take place on the 7th and 8th. . . . That is our present plan. How many times we may change it, I don't know, but at any rate, we shall be at home on the 1st May, "Deo volente." It makes me a little anxious at times to hear of all those fellows who are going to spend the summer in Europe, . . . especially as I am so anxious to learn German or even French, and as, in all probability, I shall have to loaf at home all summer.
The hotels here are full of people of all kinds, invalids who have spent the winter here and further up the Nile, invalids who have not and swarms of "Cook's Tourists," all "breaking up" now, and going their respective ways . . . I haven't yet given up all hope of finding you in England, especially as you have said nothing about it in any of your letters. I wish I might feel sure that you will be there. If not, take good care of yourself in the changes of our "gentle spring" with all its "diphtherial mildness."
I am rather discouraged to find, on reading this over, that about 1/2 the words are spelled wrong. I think I had better go back to school.
Alexandria MY DEAR FATHER,
March 18, '81.
Safely ensconced on board of one of the Russian paquebots bound for Constantinople, I have just time to send this line by a passenger who is going on shore. We came from Cairo yesterday intending to go by the Egyptian mail to-morrow to Athens; thence to Constantinople. On finding this morning that it would be impossible to have any time in Athens, we decided to go direct by the Russian mail of to-day. We find that our paquebot cannot sail till to-morrow, but do not think it worth while to go on shore again.
She seems to be a comfortable boat, and seaworthy, and we are to have 15 fellow passengers. Morris Gray is with us.
I think it probable that we shall have a rough passage, as it seems to be blowing quite hard from the northeast. We have left the tropics and fully realized it last night on arrival in Alexandria. The change in temperature was worthy of New England.
I think it was rather unkind not to write either to Cairo or Alex. You certainly knew that I should be in Egypt at least for a few days. I shall not get any news now until we get to Vienna, which will be about April 1st, D.V. I had fully made up my mind to at least one letter and was really very much disappointed, especially as my Bombay mail was very meagre. I wish myself "bon voyage" for you. . . .
March 24th, '81.
MY DEAR FATHER,
I intended to have written a line from Smyrna, where we stopped on our way from Alexandria, but we had so few hours there, and were so busy that I did not find time.
We have been having the spring equinox and I assure you it is very disagreeable and cold---just like our March weather at home. The Russian steamer that we came on was a great high-sided thing, and rolled more than any boat that I have seen---in fact, she rolled all the time, whether there was any sea or not. We had just left the harbor when all hands were sick. I waited till after breakfast the next morning and then decided to pay my small tribute, too, to Neptune. The sail up the Ægean Sea was lovely, although it would have been much improved by fair weather. The day which we spent in Smyrna was most interesting.
Being, as you know, the great emporium and trading centre for all Asia Minor, it offers a mixture almost unequalled here in Constantinople. Turks, Greeks, Jews, Armenians, and Italians swarm the streets and bazaars where we spent the day, principally at the stores for Turkish and Persian rugs.
After another night of rolling even worse than before, we passed inside of Tenedos having a fine view of the plains of Troy and entered the Dardanelles, where we stopped for 4 or 5 hours. All this time it has been colder than Cambridge and thick overcoats and blankets have stood in good stead. The Captain proved a first-rate fellow, speaking English well, and I have been much interested in Russia, especially the late assassination [of Alexander II on March 13th] which has been the principal topic of conversation. With the officers and stewards I had rather a hard time, Morris Gray and Dick generally making me spokesman---why, I don't know, unless because I am less bashful about making blunders than they. The steward spoke French about as well as I do. You may imagine the struggles that took place daily. But, really, I feel pretty small, when every man I meet can speak 3 or 4 languages, while I cannot even write my own. "Leander swam the Hellespont" you know, and "Xerxes, etc. etc." Well, we saw all this on our way through the straits and a beautiful voyage it is---a little later in the season. It rained all night, and has been snowing and raining all day, with a regular North-Easter, which has made an "extraordinary" large pair of "trankenplasts" almost invaluable.
Don't smile---we have changed our plan of action. Everyone who seems to know anything about it tells us that the trip "up the Danube" is most uninteresting, and that no one but an idiot would do it at this season of the year, unless obliged to. Believing this and frightened off by the ungracious reception which the weather has given us in Europe, we are going to leave here to-morrow in an Austrian Lloyd steamer for Athens. A Grecian steamer will take us through the Gulf of Corinth, and, connecting at Corfu, with a Florio steamer for Brindisi, we hope to be in Naples by the 1st of April. I wrote to "Barings" from Alexandria to send my letters to Vienna, and have now written to the Anglo-Austrian Bank at Vienna to forward them to Rome. You will probably think it foolish to rush about the country in this wild fashion, but it has been our object to see as much as possible, it being our last chance, and, if you were here, I think you would prefer the chance of the lovely Mediterranean weather of Athens and Naples, to the certainty of snow and ice in Bulgaria and Austria.---À demain.
WILLIAM B. BACON
Father of Robert Bacon
THE HARVARD CREW
Robert Bacon rowing seven.
I haven't time to-day nor do I think it would particularly interest you, to tell of all we have done here in Constantinople. They have been two busy days and I feel satisfied and almost ready to get into warmer climes. Our trip to-day through the Bosphorus to the Euxine was very satisfactory and would have been perfect with clear spring weather. To-day, however, it has cleared off and I think the storm is over.
Our steamer, the Minerva, is large and comfortable and I expect to enjoy the Greek part of the archipelago as well, if not better, than the Turkish.
I am getting very anxious for letters, as it is now a month since I have had any. I should have liked to receive a line in Egypt! But, I consider no news as being good news and look forward to an enlarged packet in Rome. . . . I shall write again soon, probably more at length, but I think it must be tedious "wading through" 20 to 30 pages. I have never had the opportunity of trying. . . . A short five weeks I hope will bring me home. . . .
Rome, April 2nd, '81.
MY DEAR FATHER,
I have just received yours of the 9th March, and you may well believe it was welcome, being the 1st that I have received since Feb. 21st. We have just this minute arrived from Naples, where we spent two days.
I hope you have received my short letters from Alexandria and Constantinople. I meant to write again from Brindisi, but, really, I have been so----what shall I say? busy does not convey any idea---continually "on the jump," that time failed in its flight. I suppose you were surprised, I hope not annoyed, at our seeming fickleness and versatility, as it were, in the way of plans. We had fully made up our minds to go up the Danube to Vienna, but, arriving in Constantinople in cold north-east storm---just down from Russia---and finding that our proposed trip would be very uninteresting and cold, too, for us poor souls from the tropics, we turned back to sunnier and more genial climes. . . .
You must excuse my hurrying this letter so, but unless I do I shall not even see the "Forum," which is actually the only thing I shall have time to see of Grand Old Rome.
Although I have not said much of Constanti. in my last, I must reserve it till I see you in London.
We left on Saturday the 25th and after a lovely sail through the Dardanelles and islands of the North Ægean, came to Athens the next morning, intending to go from thence through the Gulf of Corinth to Patras, Corfu, and Brindisi, but I seem to have had a good many "buts"---we could not make the connection and had to continue in the good ship Minerva, having only 8 hours in which to see probably the most interesting city of the Levant. It was hard to bear, merely for the sake of a few days, but it had to be done. Athens is simply teeming with interest and Greece is lovely---we skirted along the shore past Cape Matapan, inside all the islands of Ionic fame, Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca and finally arrived at Corfu on Tuesday, 28th. You have no idea of the fertility and beauty of these "isles of Greece" "where burning Sappho loved and sung "---7 delightful hours we spent in Corfu and then proceeded in a " Florio " steamer to Brindisi arriving next morning.
By the way, Greece is bristling with soldiers and I think war is almost inevitable.(32) 10 hours through the olive and almond groves of "la Belle Italie" brought us to Naples. The aggravation of hurrying through these wonderful old places is better imagined than described. Pompeii and Vesuvius, however, succumbed to our rapid sightseeing propensities and here we are in Rome, having seen Turkey, Greece, and Italy in a week.
We enjoyed a splendid opera in Naples and expect to do so again tonight. The delights of this land of music make us almost doubt whether we have not been eccentric in preferring the "far east" to such charms as the operas of Rome and Naples and the orchestras of Vienna and Berlin to say nothing of the "languages" which I shall never learn now. But I, for one, do not regret my tour du monde.
Do not be afraid that I am overdoing myself by trying to see too much. We take it very easy and as Rome was not built in a day, think it useless to attempt to see it in a day. Our only excursion will be a drive to the ruins to-morrow. . . .
London, Apr. 11th, '81.
MY DEAR FATHER,
I have been so busy ever since I arrived in London that I haven't had a moment. . . . We saw the race very well and were very kindly received by Benson, the Cambridge "coach" who invited us to dine with the crews after the race. Having so few days here, we are kept very busy "shopping." The tour du monde has left us destitute. . . .
London, Apr. 14th.
I write again in case my last missed to say that we wait two days for the Gallia. This, I hope, will catch the Germanic at Queenstown and arrive 3 days ahead of me. All well and enjoying myself in spite of London rains and fogs which are numerous. I am so busy with my packing, etc. that I must stop. I leave for Liverpool at 5 P. M. to get a day there.
In after years the travellers used to laugh at their "race" around the world, as they called it, to see Oxford and Cambridge row. But then they were athletes. Richard Trimble had been captain and Robert Bacon a member of the last Harvard crew to row against Yale. To them the Oxford-Cambridge race was in a real sense the "onlie begetter" of the sport. Had they made the tour of the world later, they would not have had more pleasure; they would probably have seen other things, but hardly more. As it was, they saw with the eyes of twenty. And after all one is twenty but once.
Table of Contents