QUOTED HIGHLIGHTS FROM
\”Following the Equator
A Journey Around the World\”
It is a stuff like tar, and is dabbed on to places where the shearer clips a piece out of the sheep. It bars out the flies, and has healing properties, and a nip to it which makes the sheep skip like the cattle on a thousand hills. It is not good to eat. That is, it is not good to eat except when mixed with railroad coffee. It improves railroad coffee. Without it railroad coffee is too vague. But with it, it is quite assertive and enthusiastic. By itself, railroad coffee is too passive; but sheep-dip makes it wake up and get down to business. I wonder where they get railroad coffee?
Men ought to begin to feel a sort of respect for their mothers and wives and sisters by this time. The women deserve a change of attitude like that, for they have wrought well. In forty-seven years they have swept large number of unfair laws from the statute books of America. In that brief time these serfs have set themselves free – essentially. Men could not have done so much for themselves in that time without bloodshed – at least they never have; and that is argument that they didn\’t know how. The women have accomplished a peaceful revolution, and a very beneficent one; and yet that has not convinced the average man that they are intelligent, and have courage and energy and perseverance and fortitude. It takes much to convince the average man of anything; and perhaps nothing can ever make him realize that he is the average woman\’s inferior – yet in several important details the evidences seems to show that that is what he is.
Man has ruled the human race from the beginning – but he should remember that up to the middle of the present century it was a dull world, and ignorant and stupid; less dull all the time. This is woman\’s opportunity – she has had none before I wonder where man will be in another forty-seven years?
Unspeakably hot. The equator is arriving again. We are within eight degrees of it. Ceylon present. Dear me, it is beautiful! And most sumptuously tropical, as to character of foliage and opulence of it. \”What though the spicy breezes blow soft o\’er Ceylon\’s isle\” – an eloquent line, and incomparable line; it says little, but conveys whole libraries of sentiment, and Oriental charm and mystery, and tropic deliciousness – a line that quivers and tingles with a thousand unexpressed and inexpressible things, things that haunt one and find no articulate voice.
The walking groups of men, women, boys, girls, babies – each individual was a flame, each group a house afire for color. And such stunning colors, such intensely vivid color, such rich and exquisite mingling and fusings of rainbows and lightnings! And all harmonious, all in perfect taste; never a discordant note; never a color on any person swearing at another color on him or failing to harmonize faultlessly with the colors of any group the wearer might join. The stuffs were silk – thin, soft, delicate, clinging; and, as a rule, each piece a solid splendid purple, a splendid ruby, deep, and rich with smouldering fires – they swept continuously by in crowds and legions and multitudes, glowing, flashing, burning, radiant; and every five seconds came a burst of blinding red that made a body catch his breath, and filled his hear with joy. Ant then, the unimaginable grace of those costumes! Sometimes a woman\’s whole dress was but a scarf wound about her person and her head, sometimes a man\’s was but a turban and a careless rag or two – in both cases generous areas of polished dark skin showing – but always the arrangement compelled the homage of the eye and made the heart sing for gladness.
It is all color, bewitching color, enchanting color – everywhere – all around – all the way around the curving great opaline bay clear to Government House, where the turbaned big native chuprassies stand grouped in state at the door in their robes of fiery red, and do most properly and stunningly finish up the splendid show and make it theatrically complete. I wish I were a chuprassy.
This is indeed India! The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition, whose yesterdays bear date with the mouldering antiquities of the rest of the nations – the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the show of all the rest of the globe combined.
All day long one has this monotony of dust-colored dead levels and scattering bunches of trees and mud villages. You soon realize that India is not beautiful; still there is an enchantment about it that is beguiling, and which does not pall. You cannot tell just what it is that makes the spell, perhaps, but you feel it and confess it, nevertheless. Of course, at bottom, you know in a vague way that it is history; it is that that affects you, a haunting sense of the myriads of human lives that have blossomed, and withered, and perished here, repeating and repeating and repeating, century after century, and age after age, the barren and meaningless process; it is this sense that gives to this forlorn, uncomely land power to speak to the spirit and make friends with it; to speak to it with a voice bitter with satire, but eloquent with melancholy. The deserts of Australia and the ice-barrens of Greenland have no speech, for they have no venerable history; with nothing to tell of man and his vanities, his fleeting glories and his miseries, they have nothing wherewith to spiritualize their ugliness and veil it with a charm.
By all accounts it was a most strange fruit, and incomparably delicious to the taste, but not to the smell. Its rind was said to exude a stench of so atrocious a nature that when a dorian was in the room even the presence of a polecat was a refreshment. We found many who had eaten the dorian, and they all spoke of it with a sort of rapture. They said that if you could hold your nose until the fruit was in your mouth a sacred joy would suffuse you from head to foot that would make you oblivious to the smell of the rind, but that if your grip slipped and you caught the smell of the rind before the fruit was in your mouth, you would faint. There is a fortune in that rind. Some day somebody will import it into Europe & sell it for cheese.
Boating on the Ganges
We made the usual trip up and down the river, seated in chairs under an awning on the deck of the usual commodious hand-propelled ark; made it two or three times, and could have made it with increasing interest and enjoyment many times more; for, of course, the palaces and temples would grow more and more beautiful every time one saw them, for that happens with all such things; also, I think one would not get tired of the bathers, nor their costumes, nor of their ingenuities in getting out of them and into them again without exposing too much bronze, nor of their devotional gesticulations and absorbed bead-tellings.
Benares View & Monkey
The most conspicuous feature of Benares is the pair of slender white minarets which tower like masts from the great Mosque of Aurangzeb�.There is a great view from up there – a wonderful view. A large great monkey was part of it, and damaged it. A monkey has no judgment. This one was skipping about the upper great heights of the mosque – skipping across empty yawning intervals which were almost too wide for him, and which he only just barely cleared, each time, by the skin of his teeth. He got me so nervous that I couldn\’t look at the view. I couldn\’t look at anything but him. Every time he went sailing over one of those abysses my breath stood still, and when he grabbed for the perch he was going for, I grabbed too, in sympathy. And he was perfectly indifferent, perfectly unconcerned, and I did all the panting myself. He came within an ace of losing his life a dozen times, and I was so troubled about him that I would have shot him if I had had anything to do it with. But I strongly recommend the view. There is more monkey than view, and there is always going to be more monkey while that idiot survives, but what view you get is superb. All Benares, the river, and the region round about are spread before you. Take a gun, and look at the view.\”
I believe that in India \”cold weather\” is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy.
What a soaring, strenuous, gushing fountain spray of delicate greenery a bunch of bamboo is! As far as the eye can reach, these grand vegetable geysers grace the view, their spoutings refined to steam by distance.
Hand-Car Rail Descent
I had previously had but one sensation like the shock of that departure, and that was the gaspy shock that took my breath away the first time that I was discharged from the summit of a toboggan slide. But in both instances the sensation was pleasurable – intensely so; it was a sudden and immense exaltation, a mixed ecstasy of deadly fright and unimaginable joy. I believe that this combination makes the perfections of human delight.
Captain vs Scot
The captain has this peculiarity – he cannot tell the truth in a plausible way. In this he is the very opposite of the austere Scot who sits midway of the table; he cannot tell a lie in an unplausible way. When the captain finishes a statement the passengers glance at each other privately, as who should say \”Do you believe that?\” When the Scot finished one, the look says \”How strange and interesting\”. The whole secret is in the manner and method of the two men. The captain is a little shy and diffident, and he states the simplest fact as if he were a little afraid of it, while the Scot delivers himself of the most abandoned lie with such an air of stern veracity that one is forced to believe it although one know it isn\’t so.
I do not know how a day could be more reposeful: no motion; a level blue sea; nothing in sight from horizon to horizon; the speed of the ship furnishes a cooling breeze; there is no mail to read and answer; no newspapers to excite you; no telegrams to fret you or fright you – the world is far, far away; it has ceased to exist for you – seemed a fading dream, along in the first days; has dissolved to an unreality now; it is gone from your mind with all its businesses and ambitions, its prosperities and disasters, its exultations and despairs, its joys and griefs and cares and worries. They are no concern of yours any more; they have gone out of your life; they are a storm which has passed and left a deep calm behind. The people group themselves about the decks in their snowy white linen, and read, smoke, sew, play cards, talk, nap, and so on�..
I myself am wholly indifferent as to when we are going to \”get in\”; if any one else feels interested in the matter he has not indicated it in my hearing. If I had my way we should never get in at all. This sort of sea life is charged with an indestructible charm. There is no weariness, no fatigue, no worry, no responsibility, no work, no depression of spirits. There is nothing like this serenity, this comfort, this peace, this deep contentment, to be found anywhere on land. If I had my way I would sail on for ever and never go to live on the solid ground again.
p. 699 & 703
South Africa Diamonds
A very few people in the world have seen the diamond in its home. It has but three or four homes in the world, whereas gold has a million. It is worth while to journey around the globe to see anything which can truthfully be called a novelty, and the diamond mine is the greatest and most select and restricted novelty which the globe has in stock.
It is an exciting kind of fishing, and you feel a fine thrill of pleasure every time you detect the glow of one of those limpid pebbles through the veil of dark sand. I would like to spend my Saturday holidays in that charming sport every now and then. Of course there are disappointments. Sometimes you find a diamond which is not a diamond; it is only a quartz crystal or some such worthless thing. The expert can generally distinguish it from the precious stone which it is counterfeiting; but if he is in doubt he lays it on a flatiron and hits it with a sledge-hammer. If it is a diamond it holds its own; if it is anything else, it is reduced to powder. I liked that experiment very much, and did not tire of repetitions of it. It was full of enjoyable apprehensions, unmarred by any personal sense of risk.
If you\’ve read the above, I just saved you 682 pages of bother!….The book was 712 pages, \’nuff said!