Skip to main content

Full text of "Fenollosa And His Circle"

See other formats


With Other Essays in Biography 
By Van Wyck Brooks 

A parade of fascinating personalities 
intellectuals, artists, travelers and ex- 
plorers moves through this rich and 
colorful book of biographical essays by 
the author of Makers and Finders. 
The collection opens with a long 
essay on Ernest Feiiollosa, the Ameri- 
can who went to Japan and, as the 
Emperor said, taught the Japanese to 
know their own art. Later, after being 
Commissioner of Fine Arts for the 
Japanese Empire, he rediscovered the 
ancient Noh plays which Ezra Pound, 
his executor, popularized in English. 
His "circle" included Henry Adams, 
John La Farge, Lafcadio Hearn and 
others for whom he was the authority 
on the art of Japan. No biography has 
been written in English of this ex- 
traordinary man whose story is now 
really told for the first time. 
Another essay tells the story of Fanny 
Wright, who established the first 
colony to liberate the slaves in the 
South. The story is reconstructed from 
a collection of unpublished letters by 
and about this rich and attractive 
Scottish girl, a prot6g6e of Lafayette 

(ct*itinued on back flap) 

920 B87f 62-17169 


Fenollosa and his circle 





VAN WYCK BROOKS has written 


the Writer in America, 1800-1915 



v. THE CONFIDENT YEARS: 1885-1915 






THREE ESSAYS ON AMERICA: America's Coming-of-Age, 

Letters and Leadership, The Literary Life in America 





JOHN SLOAN: A Painter's Life 

HELEN KELLER: Sketch for a Portrait 






Essays in Biography 




With Other Essays in Biography 

By Van Wyck Brooks 

NEW YORK, 1962 

Copyright, ,1962 by Van Wyck Brooks 
All rights reserved, 


Published simultaneously in Canada by Clarke, 
Irwin & Co,, Ltd,, of Toronto 

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without 
permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer 
who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review 
written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-14709 
Printed in the U.S.A. by American Book-Stratford Press 


In order to write my essay, "Fenollosa and His Circle/' I 
searched for material far and wide, and I have to thank a num- 
ber of persons for their kindness in assisting me. Mr. Owen 
Biddle of Philadelphia, Fenollosa's grandson, who showed me 
photographs and newspaper clippings, gave me permission to 
quote from letters that Fenollosa wrote to Mr. Biddle's mother, 
Brenda Fenollosa Biddle. The nephew of Fenollosa, Mr. Man- 
uel Fenollosa, lent me other letters, and I read the letters of 
Fenollosa in the New York Public Library. Mr. Usher P. Cool- 
idge of the Fogg Museum described for me the memorials to 
Fenollosa and Dr. Sturgis Bigelow, beautifully cared for, at 
Miidera in Japan. Mr. Norris Carter, formerly curator of Fen- 
way Court in Boston, gave me anecdotes of Mrs. Jack Gardner 
and her friendship with Fenollosa, and I must thank Mr. W. 
H. Bond of the Houghton Library at Harvard for permission 
to quote from the conversations of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick 
Winslow with Dr. Sturgis Bigelow. Mrs. Winslow Suttle of 
Boston had kindly told me where I could find the manuscript 
of these conversations. I am indebted also to Mr. Kojiro To- 
mita, curator of Far Eastern art at the Boston Museum of Fine 
Arts, who enabled me to read Dr. Sturgis Bigelow's notes on 
the Buddhist religion; and my dear friend, Mr. Chiang Yee, 
helped me greatly by reading and correcting the essay I had 

62171 6 9 


written. For my treatment of Edward S. Morse, Percival Lo- 
well, Henry Adams, John La Farge and Lafcadio I learn, I 
drew from well-known printed sources. As for trie central 
figure of the "circle," whom I have seen referred to as the 
"shadowy" Fenollosa, a "European scholar," I have long heen 
surprised that no effort had been made to rediscover this ex- 
traordinary fellow-countryman. 

Two or three years ago, on a ship to Rotterdam, I met the 
well-known Mrs. Cecilia Payne Gaposhkin. The English-born 
wife of a Russian astronomer and herself the chairman of the 
Department of Astronomy at Harvard, Mrs. Gaposhkin told 
me much about Fanny Wright of whom I had vaguely heard 
in connection with Walt Whitman. She had inherited a col- 
lection of letters about Fanny Wright which she permitted me 
later to examine. The letters had lain undisturbed for two or 
three generations under the bed of Mrs, Gaposhkin's great- 
aunt in England, and they largely concerned her forbears, 
Fanny Wright's friends, the daughters of John Garnett of New 
Brunswick, New Jersey. After their father's death, the Garnett 
daughters and their mother went to Paris, where they became 
friends of Stendhal and Prosper Mexim6e, and Fanny Wright, 
visiting them there again, became a protege of Lafayette and 
returned with him to America to establish Nashoba in Ten- 
nessee. This first attempt to liberate the Southern slaves at- 
tracted the attention of Jefferson, who was an admirer of 
Fanny Wright, of the Swiss historian Sismondi, a cousin by 
marriage of the Garnetts, and of the mother of Anthony Trol- 
lope, who came to America to live at Nashoba. The widow of 
the poet, Mary Shelley, was also drawn to Fanny Wright, and. 
there were letters of hers in the collection, with many letters 
from Sismondi and Mrs. Trollope and many copies of letters 
of Lafayette. Jeremy Bentham and Robert Owen of Lanark 


and New Harmony, Indiana, actively figured in the story. In 
short, Mrs. Gaposhkin's letters were a literary treasure-trove, 
although their possessor was far from being unknown. 

The anecdotes of Maurice Prendergast were written for 
the catalogue of the Prendergast exhibition in the Addison 
Gallery at Andover. They were related to me in 1938 by my 
friend Charles Prendergast, Maurice's brother. My older friend 
Randolph Bourne is, I find, clearly remembered forty-four 
years after his death. I am indebted to several persons, espe- 
cially Bourne's niece, Mrs. James Say en of Princeton, for the 
essay I have written about him. There have been three un- 
published biographies of Randolph Bourne, aside from the 
published book by Louis Filler, and I have examined all these 
three and have to thank the authors of them. In addition, I 
must thank Miss Alyse Gregory, Miss Elizabeth Shepley Ser- 
geant, Mrs. Agnes de Lima and Mr. Carl Zigrosser for per- 
mission to quote from their letters, and I am also indebted to 
Mr. Stephen Siteman who gave me a collection of Bourne's 
letters that he had assembled for one of the unpublished biog- 
raphies. I found most illuminating Miss Alyse Gregory's fine 
novel, Hester Craddock, in which Bourne appears under an- 
other name. Randolph Bourne's letters brought back most 
poignantly to me the feeling of the years before the first world 
war. Those were the years when, as John Butler Yeats said, 
"the fiddles were tuning all over America/' 

V. W. B. 












With Other Essays in Biography 


ryiHE Far East seemed closer to Salem than to any other 
JL American town when Ernest Fenollosa was born there in 
1853. While the great East India trade had long since van- 
ished, a considerable stream of commerce still flowed on, and 
even as late as the eighteen-eighties two hundred and fifty let- 
ters a month left the Salem post-office for India, China and 
Japan. In Singapore a visitor found that people knew much 
about Salem who had never heard of Boston. The name was 
familiar because of the sea-captains and the brigs, barques and 
clipper-ships hailing from there. 

Fenollosa, born in the year in which Commodore Perry 
opened Japan, with his "black ships" in the Bay of Tokyo, 
was the son of a Spanish musician who had settled in Salem 
and married one of his pupils, Mary Silsbee. This young girl 
was the daughter of an old East India shipowner in the days 
when the Chinese merchants exchanged for boiled sea-slugs 
their silks, lacquers and teas. Fenollosa's father had been a 
member of a Spanish band that had been brought over in an 
American frigate and that had given concerts for several years 
during the thirties in Washington, New York, Boston and 
Portland, Maine. The young man had come from Malaga; 


he had led the choir in the cathedral there, and, as a musical 
prodigy on hoth the piano and the violin, he had played in 
public from the age of ten. He had qualified for the military 
hand that was sailing for the United States by practising all 
night on the French horn, and, as a teacher of music in Salem, 
he played in Boston orchestras, often missing the late returning 
train. He sometimes walked home after the concert fifteen 
miles through the snow, with his violin slung across his back. 
A Roman Catholic, he became, in Salem, an Episcopalian, and 
he was a proteg6 of George Peabody, who had a collection 
of musical instruments and was a player himself on the vio- 
loncello. Manuel Fenollosa spent many evenings in his pa- 
tron's studio where the two made music together. George Pea- 
body had founded in 1867 the Essex Institute of which Ed- 
ward Sylvester Morse was curator and director. Morse had 
visited Japan in order to study brachiopods, and the younger 
Fenollosa was later summoned to the University of Tokyo 
mainly through the influence of this Salem worthy. 

Ernest Fenollosa's mother well remembered as a child the 
anival of her father's ships from the Far East and the long 
lines of stevedores carrying up through the garden paths the 
treasures of the Orient that had been brought back. There 
were boxes of tea and silks, lacquers and porcelain and curious 
objects from the Polynesian islands. Ernest Fenollosa's own 
first memory was of lying on the floor, as an infant, in the sun 
near a window while his mother at the piano and his father, 
with a violin, played what he later knew as a Beethoven so- 
nata. A sensitive young man in the Harvard class of 1874, he 
sang in the chorus of the Handel and Haydn Society, and, 
presently studying philosophy as a disciple of Hegel, he was 
active in forming the Herbert Spencer Club. That was the 
moment when John Fiske was expounding the theory of Evo- 


lution, as Herbert Spencer presented it, in popular lectures, a 
new conception of the unity of nature in which all its phenom- 
ena were parts of an unbroken chain of cause and effect 
Man was involved in this cosmic drama in which sun, stars, 
animals and plants followed one law of development from a 
common source, all the various forms of nature evolving from 
previous forms through the vast sweep of time from the pri- 
meval vapour. But Fenollosa, a brilliant student who was also 
the class poet, was already interested in art as well as in phi- 
losophy. He began a course in drawing and painting at the Art 
School of the Boston Museum. He was a student also of 
Charles Eliot Norton, the recently appointed professor of the 
history of art. 

It was Norton who, presently, recommended Fenollosa to 
Edward S. Morse, and Morse arranged to send him to Japan 
at a time when the University of Tokyo opened its doors to 
foreign instruction, obliging all the students to learn English 
in advance. It was true that Norton had no sympathy for 
Japanese art, and he protested vigorously later when Bernard 
Berenson ranked Carlo Crivelli with it rather than with Euro- 
pean painting. Berenson said that Crivelli's forms had the 
strength of line and the metallic lustre of old Satsuma and 
lacquer, and Norton was outraged that anyone should give 
naturalization papers, as it were, to this supposedly inferior 
Oriental art But, after all, Fenollosa's appointment had noth- 
ing, at first, to do with art; he was expected to teach political 
economy and philosophy, and he lectured on the history of phi- 
losophy from Descartes to Hegel. His discourses, "lacking in 
subtlety and exactness, gave an impression/' said Yujiro Miyoke, 
"akin to that produced by scratching one's feet outside one's 
shoes, yet his eloquence had no small influence upon students." 
At the same time he continued to preach Herbert Spencer, 


"the world's greatest thinker," as Lafcadio Hearn called him a 
few years later. In Spencer, Hearn discovered the doctrines of 
Eastern philosophy on which he based so many imaginative 
visions, the ideas of Nirvana, metempsychosis, Karma,re- 
marlcing that Shinto, Buddhism and the thinking of Spencer 
did not merely "mix well" but "rushed together." At this time 
of transition in Japan, the young men were eager for Spencer; 
they wished to forget altogether their ancestral religion, and 
they looked to Fenollosa to transplant a Western wisdom use- 
ful to Japan. He taught the most brilliant boys chosen by the 
Daimios of the great old feudal clans, many of whom became 
the statesmen of the future, and he was reappointed every two 
years from 1878 to 1886. But, largely influenced by Morse, 
who had brought him to Japan and who was collecting Japa- 
nese pottery himself, he gradually abandoned philosophy for 
the study of art. He had felt an instant sympathy with the 
Japanese spirit 

This was a moment in the history of Japan when everything 
was at sixes and sevens, following the break-up of the old 
feudal system after the fall of the Shoguns and the resto- 
ration of the Emperor in the revolution of 1868. One of the 
statesmen had declared that feudalism "stood on thoroughly 
worm-eaten, though externally lacquered and gilded pillars," 
The castles or fortified mansions where the feudal nobles or 
Daimios had dwelt were turned into schools or abandoned 
and ruined, their broken walls mantled with ivy and lichen, 
although only a dozen years before they had stood in all the 
pride of the Middle Ages. The great collections of most of the 
Daimios, who were often reduced to poverty, were broken 
up and scattered, or they were sold by their sons for means 
to live on, and the "night of Asia" that had stifled the country 
for centuries under the Shoguns had given place to a riot of 


Western ideas, Japan, the hermit empire, that had thought 
itself the mightiest of nations, felt only a sudden humilia- 
tion as it confronted the wonders of the West; it went in for 
waltzing, mesmerism, planchette and cock-fighting, while every- 
thing Japanese seemed on the point of heing swept away. As 
foreign teachers and missionaries flocked into the country, 
the Japanese ceased to cherish their traditions and heirlooms. 
Monasteries were forced to part with their treasures; bronze 
statues were sold for the old metal they contained; the ancient 
Noh stages were destroyed, the court troupes of actors were 
dispersed, and Japanese students were sent abroad in hundreds 
to study the miracles of Western civilization. New buildings 
rose in stucco and brick with crimson carpets and French 
clocks, European costumes came to be adopted, and French 
milliners appeared selling Occidental head-gear; but the ancient 
art of the tea-ceremony was virtually forgotten while young 
Japan was getting on its feet. The Samurai gave up wearing 
their traditional badge of two swords in the girdle and yielded 
up their revenues to the crown. What had taken centuries to 
bring about in Europe had been accomplished in a few months 
in Japan. Meanwhile, the old native arts were regarded as bar- 
baric and French and Italian professors taught Japanese artists 
the technique of European painting and sculpture. Art students 
were trained in crayon drawing from Greek casts and marble 
madonnas, Japanese drawing was no longer taught in the 
schools, and stiff graphite pencils making lines that were hard 
and sharp replaced the soft pliant Japanese brushes of old. 
To Fenollosa, for whom at first Japan was a fairyland in 
which he felt only the rapturous surprise of others like Laf- 
cadio Hearn and T. S. Perry, all this seemed curiously topsy- 
turvy as he experienced, more and more, the shock and the 
enchantment of Japanese art. To him, as to Perry, the grand- 


nephew of the Commodore, who was later a professor in Japan, 
the whole Western world was simply another East Boston 
in comparison with this magical Oriental country, in which 
for twenty years the most precious works were treated as rub- 
bish. Where else did people hang verses on trees in honour of 
their beauty, and where did families travel a long way before 
the dawn to see the first light touch the newly formed buds? 
Where else did the newspapers announce the spring opening 
of the blossoms ? Fenollosa's interest in the art of Japan was 
aroused during his first days there by some kakemonos in the 
window of a curio shop. He had studied at Harvard the history 
of the fine arts, he knew a good deal about European paint- 
ing, and now he was attracted by these not very good wall- 
hangings which he was scarcely yet in a position to judge. He 
bought then his first pieces of Japanese art, John La Farge 
had written a chapter on the subject in Across America and 
Asia, his friend Raphael Pumpelly's book of travels, and James 
Jackson Jarves had also written A Glimpse at the Art of Japan 
two years before Fenollosa arrived there. This was, Jarves said, 
a "new world to explore," but as yet no one had explored it, 
and Jarves's little volume was apparently the first that any 
Westerner had written on Japanese art. He had seen Japanese 
art objects at the Paris exposition of 1867, and Russell Sturgis 
had a collection of them as early as 1869, the year of La Farge's 
essay in Pumpelly's book. Jarves had studied the subject with 
an Italian in Florence who had learned in Paris to speak 
Japanese, and, like John La Farge, he had written mainly about 
Hokusai and the coloured prints that were virtually all the 
West knew of Japanese art. For the rest, neither of these writers 
had visited the country. As for Fenollosa, he said to Viscount 
Kaneko, who observed that his pictures were not the best, "I 
cannot see the best. There is no museum here/' Thereupon 


Kaneko Introduced him to the Marquis Kuroda, who had kept 
his wealth and his collection and who said, "An American 
cannot judge. This art is beyond him." Nevertheless, he per- 
mitted Fenollosa to see his pictures, and Fenollosa knelt down 
in front of the kakemonos and remained in the room for an 
hour looking at them. He returned a second and a third time, 
remarking, "Now I have seen the work, where is a "book that 
will tell me about its sources?" But no book that he could 
read existed in Japan. 

Then Fenollosa set to work studying the history of Japan 
and China, examining all the schools of Chinese and Japanese 
art and reading the lives of the artists. His teacher in Tosa 
and Buddhist painting was Hirotaka, the last Sumiyoshi, who 
died in 1885, an d his teacher in the Chinese and Kano paint- 
ing was the third Kano Yeitoku. From Hirotaka he derived 
the traditional views of a thousand years, while Kano Tomo- 
nobu, another of his teachers, was the blood descendant of a 
school that had learned its art before 1868 in the Shogun's 
great academy. Kano Yeitoku was the present head of the Kano 
house, and Fenollosa was adopted into the Kano family and 
authorized to use the name Kano Yei. He called himself Kano 
Yeitan, "Endless Seeking." It was quite a thing, he wrote to 
Morse, to have the greatest critics in Japan admitting him to 
equality in this fashion. But, while the second-rate workmen 
were employed in cheap production for the foreign rnarket, 
for the craze for Japanese bric-a-brac had begun in the West, 
the masters, the great artists, were driven to the wall. Heredi- 
tary artists were reduced to straits, for their traditional art was 
no longer cared for; and, while many artists changed their pro- 
fession, only a few persevered. The grand old man of the 
Kano school, Kano Hogai, had been obliged to throw away 
his brushes. He supported himself by selling brooms and has- 


kets while his wife helped the household by weaving at night, 
and Fenollosa was able to set Kano Hogai to work again by 
taking lessons from him at twelve yen a month. This "priestly 
painter with soul a-fire" of Fenollosa's East and West, a poem 
that he wrote a few years later, was, he said, "the greatest Japa- 
nese painter of recent times ... my most valued teacher" and 
"one of my dearest friends." 

O sweet dead artist and seer, O tender prophetic priest, 
Draw me aside the curtain that veils the heart of your East, 

So, in his poem, he invoked the painter, after his death in 
1888, as the re-incarnate spirit of Oriental art; and Kano was 
the real hero of The Dragon Painter, the novel by the second 
Mrs. Fenollosa. Old Kano, the last of his mighty line, is look- 
ing for an apprentice who will carry on his work, and a wild 
young artist, a foundling, who paints only dragons, marries with 
tragic results his only daughter. For the rest, Fenollosa found 
that many upper-class people regarded all old Buddhist art as 
vulgar, not only Kano art but old Tosa art, Ashikaga art and 
Koyetsu art They used to say, he remembered, that "nothing 
but ink rocks and black bamboos are refined enough for a 
gentleman to paint." 

Fenollosa was twenty-five when he arrived in Japan, and, 
returning to the United States for a brief visit the following 
year, he married a Miss Millett, also of Salem. Together in 
Tokyo they lived in a large low wooden house, a European 
or American house that was very simple, though the wood- 
work had been constructed with great care. This house became 
in time a centre for Japanese and American artists and scholars. 
In summer the Fenollosas moved to Nikko where it was high 
and cool, an ancient city surrounded by mountains with a group 
of famous temples on their slopes. It was wild and rugged 


there, and the stone foundations of the temples were clothed 
with lichen and moss and beautiful ferns sprang from the 
crevices of the rock. At intervals the clang of a temple hell 
came down from the forest, as Morse wrote, like the note of a 
gigantic, deep-throated bird. But to Morse the temples them- 
selves meant nothing, at least in these early years. He was 
interested mainly in the shells that he found in the mountains. 


Morse was the magnet that attracted to Japan not only 
Fenollosa hut Percival Lowell, who had heard him lecturing 
in Boston, and, especially Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, who 
accompanied him on his return for a third visit Morse had 
exposed the shortcomings of the soi-disant authorities in the 
new universities and schools of Japan, often sea-captains and 
merchants with little preparation; and the president of the 
University of Tokyo had asked him to name desirable candi- 
dates for vacant positions. As one of the new professors him- 
self who was also teaching Darwinism, which, he said, went 
well with Shintoism, he was doing for science in Japan, for 
biology, botany and archaeology, what Fenollosa was to do 
for art. An assistant of Agassiz in conchology, he had been lec- 
turing in San Francisco when he heard of the great green 
Japanese brachiopods, and he resolved to go and find them if 
it obliged him, as he wrote, to "come down to one meal a day." 
Fie had no interest in Japanese history, religion, philosophy 
or government, but, arriving in Japan, he saw from the window 
of the train a shell lying beside the railway track. It was near 
Omori, and he knew that this weather-beaten shell, like others 
he saw on the embankment, was at least five thousand years 
old. He recognized as a kitchen midden a pile of bleached 


shells near by, and this discovery of the ancient shell mounds 
of Omori was the beginning of archaeology in Japan. In a 
country that had been isolated for three hundred years, archae- 
ology, like zoology and marine biology, had been totally un- 
known. It was said later that Japanese progress in virtually all 
the sciences had sprung from Morse's ninety most promising 
students. He had been invited to organize a department of 
zoology at the university and to found a museum of natural 
history. He had begun to teach there in 1877, the year before 
Fenollosa's arrival. 

At Enoshima, Morse built a little laboratory in a fisherman's 
hut rented for him by the university, and there he dredged all 
day, finding the sea-bottom rich in starfish, shells, sea-urchins 
and other marine life. He rowed to a cave that was dedicated 
to the goddess protector of sea-farers, but he ignored the rock 
carvings and only scanned the walls closely to see if he could 
find twilight insects there. To his delight he discovered two 
little spiders, two very small sow-bugs and two cave crickets. 
He was too busy to enquire into the history of the red lacquer 
shrines on the hilltop above, dedicated to Shinto goddesses; 
and he soon moved his marine collection in a fifty-mile trip 
by jinricksha to unload them in Tokyo for the new museum. 
He and his assistant each carried in his lap a basket of coral, 
shells and glass sponges, all found in this little fisherman's 
village where, alone for weeks, thrown only with poor fisher- 
folk, he had seen the reality of Hokusaf s pictures. The people 
were all polite, from the poorest to the richest: good manners, 
he discovered, were universal in Japan, He accustomed himself 
to eating for supper a well-filled plate of marine worms, like 
our own angleworms but slightly larger; and, devouring them 
raw, he found the taste precisely like the odour of sea-weed 
at low tide. He also ate things that he did not know, nor could 


he guess what they were, writing in his diary, "I am keeping 
body and its animating principle together, but long for a cup 
of coffee and a slice of bread and butter." 
N \ During three visits to Japan, Morse, a born collector, had 
developed a sudden interest in Japanese pottery, and he was to 
become the supreme authority in this field, consulted by experts 
in Europe, America and Asia. His American friends were 
surprised by this, for Morse had had no aesthetic training: his 
favourite painter was Rosa Bonheur and his favourite musical 
composition was the "Pilgrims' Chorus," played by a brass 
band. But his Tokyo doctor advised him to find some hobby, 
some interest to follow during his walks in the city, and he 
discovered in a china shop a small saucer that might almost 
have been a pecten shell. This was the lid of the bowl that 
he found, years later, in London, recognizing it at once as the 
missing part At any rate, thereafter, on his daily walks, passing 
shops, he looked for other pieces that were modelled on shells, 
and he began to note, and memorize, the idiographs, the marks 
of the various potters on the bottoms of the pieces. He carried 
in his memory hundreds of these signatures. He began to study 
pottery with Noritano Minigawa, a student of ceramics who 
came to his house and knelt on his heels examining the pottery 
Morse had purchased during the walks of a week. Minigawa 
taught Morse the secrets of this art, instructing him in the feel- 
ing of clays from the various provinces, along with the methods 
of firing the glazes. His enthusiasm for their pottery charmed 
the Japanese. Count Kanaka from a far-away province presented 
him with a collection of Takatori ware, and Count Okuma was 
struck by Morse's appreciation of every piece when he showed 
Morse his collection. He sent the whole collection as a gift to 
Morse's house. A few years later, Viscount Tanaka, who was 
collecting pottery himself, said, "That rascal Morse has carried 


away every decent bit of old pottery in Japan and put it behind 
glass in the Boston Museum/' 

While Morse had come to Japan with his dredges and his 
microscopes to study the various brachiopods in Japanese 
waters, he was soon travelling to distant provinces as much 
in search of pottery as for this more strictly professional interest. 
As an advisor to the government in science, he had official 
freedom to travel in all parts of the Japanese empire, and he 
went through sections of the country where no foreigner had 
ever been before. He rode on horseback over densely forested 
mountain ranges inhabited only by bears and hairy Ainus, walk- 
ing many miles in search of ancient shell-heaps as well as of 
pots, jars, cups and bowls. Adaptable, adventurous and ready 
for any chance event, he dined once at the governor's house 
in a far-away province. He had been told that there was a 
cave in the side of a hill in which were a few pottery vessels. 
Knowing the peculiar form of cave-pottery further north, he 
asked the governor for a brush and paper and ventured to 
draw the outlines of the vessels in the cave, aware that caves 
were burial-places and that the vessels were placed there for 
offerings of rice and wine to the departed spirits. Then, ap- 
proaching the cave, he entered by a hole in the roof and 
dropped into water nearly up to his waist. There was a mo- 
mentary silence, he wrote, and then shouts of horror came 
echoing down from the openings in the roof, His assistant 
told him that great poisonous centipedes were crawling out 
through this aperture, and, having on his wide-brimmed hat, 
and a slippery rubber coat, he noted that huge centipedes 
were dropping on him. He had supposed that they were crumbs 
of earth and pebbles tumbling from the sides of the ragged 
hole. He stood in a cascade of the venomous creatures that 
scampered around the walls of the cave, dropping from the 


ceiling as so many frightened spiders would have done. Grow- 
ing accustomed to the dim light, he saw them by hundreds 
floating in the water, and, waiting till the current drained 
them off, he groped around for pottery in the sand at the bot- 
tom. There was a deposit on the floor of two feet or more of 
sand and mud, and luckily the centipedes could not retain a 
hold on his slippery overcoat and tumbled into the water as 
fast as they struck him. He got three specimens of the crea- 
tures for his museum, made a rapid sketch of the wall of the 
cave facing the opening and then had a rope lowered to pull 
him up. He induced two jinricksha men to go down and 
scratch about in the sand, and they discovered four specimens 
of pottery, one perfect, another slightly broken and large frag- 
ments of two others. Then the governor of the province drew 
out his sketch, and he spoke to the natives in wonder that a 
foreigner could describe in advance the shapes of the vessels 
to be found there, none of which they themselves had ever 
seen. The governor presented Morse with the Satsuma bottle 
from which he had been drinking. 

By this time, the all-curious Morse knew Japanese pottery 
better than any Westerner had ever known it, aware of the 
delicate distinctions in methods of glazing and the subtle 
qualities of the colour-tones. He had travelled through all the 
provinces from the extreme North to the Southwest, visiting 
the famous potters of Kyoto where he gathered a mass of notes 
about the generations of families there. One old potter repre- 
sented the twelfth generation of his family who had made 
for three hundred years a pottery called Raku. He showed 
Morse a complete set of Raku bowls, exemplifying all the 
generations. Morse made outlines and rubbings of the marks, 
and he finally packed up twenty-nine hundred pots to carry 
back to Salem with him. He even made a brief visit to China, 


stopping at Shanghai and Hong Kong and going up to Can- 
ton on the Pearl river* He engaged a boat and a crew of six 
hands to call at a pottery village not far from Canton, putting 
a pistol in his pocket, for he was surrounded by a hostile 
crowd, and he watched a pot in process of being made there. 
Meanwhile, he had studied in Japan the intricate tea-ceremony 
and had even taken lessons in Japanese singing. To master 
the tea-cerernony he joined a class of Japanese, and the teacher 
told him that he was the first foreigner ever to take lessons 
in the art. The famous teacher of Noh singing and acting, 
Minoru Umewaka, seemed pleased that a foreigner should 
wish to take lessons in this other art. He had, adjoining his 
house, a stage for Noh plays, and Morse read slowly in Ume- 
waka's singing-book the words that he was expected to learn, 
writing the words down as well as he could. Umewaka placed 
before him a little music-stand and gave him a fan which he 
held resting on his leg, while the master sang a line and Morse 
sang it after him, then another till he reached the eleventh 
line of the composition. After trying it twice that way, the 
two sang together; and Morse realized how rich and sonorous 
Umewaka's voice was. At the end Umewaka told him, perhaps 
to encourage him, that probably in a month's time he could 
sing in a Noh play. Morse felt that by taking lessons in the 
tea-ceremony and Japanese singing he might learn many things 
from the Japanese standpoint. 

Morse kept a daily journal in Japan, and he published this 
many years later under the title Japan Day "by Day. His 
friend Dr. Sturgis Bigelow had urged him to do this* Bigelow 
had written, "You are still frittering away your valuable time 
on the lower forms of animal life, which anybody can attend 
to, instead of devoting it to the highest, about the manners 
and customs of which no one is so well qualified to speak as 


you. Honestly, now, isn't a Japanese a higher organism than 
a worm? Drop your damned Brachiopods. They'll always he 
there . . , Remember that the Japanese organisms which you 
and I knew familiarly forty years ago are vanishing types, 
many of which have disappeared completely from the face of 
the earth, and that men of our age are literally the last people 
who have seen these organisms alive. For the next generation 
the Japanese we knew will he as extinct as belemnites." In 
fact, so little had the country changed that most of his notes 
and sketches might have been records of a thousand years 
before: there were the wandering story-tellers and various 
habits of the Japanese as they were before the Revolution. 
Many of the men still wore their hair in a waxed queue at the 
back of the head, and little by little Morse understood why 
the Japanese had always described as barbarians the foreigners 
they encountered. House-breaking and pocket-picking were 
unknown in this pagan country , you could leave your um- 
brella on a bench in a crowd and find it there an hour later; 
and at any hour of day or night a man was safer in the wilder 
regions than he would be in the quiet streets of Salem. Their 
houses had no locks or bolts or keys, and in their methods of 
house-adornment they showed greater refinement than the 
people of the West, for their tastes were normally artistic. 
Precepts from the classics decorated the walls of even country 
inns, and one looked out on a garden with a tank full of tur- 
tles, perhaps, aquatic ferns, a bronze crab and a rock. There 
were as yet few railroads, there were no automobiles, and the 
jinrickshas spun noiselessly over earthen roads in all but abso- 
lute silence, the barelegged runners moving with a long 
swinging lope. There was little that Morse omitted in his 
diary of the late seventies, with his accounts of flower- 
arrangement, types and type-setting, women's hair-dressing, 


thatched roofs, falconry, games and outdoor fairs. His hun- 
dreds of pen-and-ink sketches were made under trying cir- 
cumstances, often in bumping jinrickshas or in jostling crowds, 
but years before Lafcadio Hearn he gave one a detailed ac- 
count of Japan that could never have been equalled or re- 


There were many entries in Morse's diary referring to Ernest 
Fenollosa, one of four western professors who sang with spirit 
on a certain occasion "Old Hundred" and "All Honour to the 
Soldier Be." Fenollosa wrote for Morse a boatman's song, show- 
ing that, although he was a lover of the beautiful, he was yet 
simple in his tastes. He might have said, like the Greeks of 
whom Thucydides wrote, "We cultivate the mind without 
loss of manliness/' But it was only in the summer months that 
he could study Japanese art and find the time to travel and 
visit the temples, in some of the remote provinces, that were 
full of treasures, though by 1882 he had abandoned philosophy 
and gone into what became his permanent study. Before long 
he received an official appointment, and the government paid 
his expenses and even made him, within a few years, Com- 
missioner of Fine Arts for the empire. With Morse he trav- 
elled hither and thither, Morse looking for pots and he for 
sculpture and pictures. His fellow-commissioner was Okakura 
Kakuzo, the author of the well-known Book of Tea. It was 
Okakura who organized the Imperial Art School in Tokyo. 
He too was opposed to the wholesale introduction of Western 
art and manners, and he was all for preserving the old life 
of Japan. 

Fenollosa found a condition that was much like Italy's, as 


Rusldn described this in The Stones of Venice. In 1846, Rusldn 
saw buckets set on the floor of the Scuola di San Rocco to 
catch the rain that came through the pictures of Tintoretto on 
the ceiling. In the Doges' Palace, Paulo Veronese's pictures 
were laid on the floor to be repaired, and Ruskin saw the 
breast of a white horse reillumined with a brush, at the end of 
a stick five feet long, dipped in a common house-painter's 
vessel of paint. More ancient masters were treated with neg- 
lect and contempt; and gold-background pictures were brought 
out of suppressed convents and churches and burned for the 
sake of the gold that was found in the ashes. In 1845, Ruskin 
said, even the most learned tourists had never heard Ghir- 
landajo's name. This was the time when James Jackson Jarves 
made the famous collection of primitives that nobody wanted. 
A tattered Correggio was found in the hands of an old-clothes 
dealer, a Michelangelo was sold by a rag-and-bone man, and 
Jarves discovered a great piece of sculpture in an ash-can, The 
"Muse of Cortona," when first disinterred, painted on slate, 
was used by a peasant to stop a hole in an oven. Just so, in 
1884, Fenollosa found in an ash-barrel a fine ceramic head of 
Buddha, one of the earliest relics of the Tendai sculpture. It 
was probably part of a complete statue destroyed in the twelfth 
century by a fire, and the priests were tired of keeping the 
fragment and threw it away. In 1880, at Shodaiji, amid a mass 
of broken statues, he found a life-sized piece that seemed to 
have been one of the original Greco-Buddhist models, or at 
least experiments. It was like a huge wooden doll, apparently 
surfaced with over-layers of modelled clay. That same year 
he discovered a Bodhisattva with a beautiful plastic play of 
drapery over the shoulder, so like a Roman emperor's portrait- 
statue that he affectionately called it "Caesar." In 1 879, a year 
after he arrived in Japan, he had acquired a work from a pic- 


ture-dealer who had never heard the name of Ganku and 
knew not how to place him. It was Ganku's masterpiece, a 
picture o two Japanese sacred deer, and FenoIIosa believed 
this to be one of the finest animal paintings of the whole 

But, for works of art, the temples were the chief treasure- 
houses, and they were usually placed in the most picturesque 
spots, at the head of a ravine, in a grove of trees or on top of a 
mountain. There was, for instance, the famous temple of 
Horiuji with its many buildings and many treasures of Korean 
art which had already, as models, found their way to Japan. 
On the immense altar of Kondo stood a solid block of masonry, 
about eighty feet long and thirty feet wide, and there one 
found the Tamamushi shrine, the tall wooden Kwannon and 
various smaller pieces. Other buildings were crowded with 
paintings, statues and sacred utensils brought to this central 
monastery, making Horiuji a natural and national museum. 
There, in the summer of 1884, FenoIIosa and Okakura found 
the most important existing monument of Korean art, the 
standing Buddha in the Yumedono pavilion. This most beauti- 
ful statue was a little larger than life, and the priests of Horiuji 
said the central shrine in the octagonal pavilion had not been 
opened for more than two hundred years; but FenoIIosa had 
credentials from the government which enabled him to requi- 
sition the opening of all godowns and shrines. The priests 
resisted for a long while, alleging that in punishment for the 
sacrilege an earthquake might well destroy the temple. Finally, 
FenoIIosa prevailed, on fire as he was with the prospect of 
such a treasure, and "I shall never forget," he wrote, "our 
feelings as the long disused key rattled in the rusty lock. Within 
the shrine appeared a tall mass closely wrapped about in swath- 
ing bands of cotton cloth upon which the dust of ages had 


gathered." There were five hundred yards of cloth, and "our 
eyes and nostrils were in danger of being choked with the 
pungent dust. But at last the final folds of the covering fell 
away, and this marvellous statue, unique in the world, came 
forth to human sight for the first time in centuries. It was a 
little taller than life, but hollow at the back y carved most care- 
fully from some hard wood which had been covered with 
gilding, now stained to the yellow brown of bronze. The head 
was ornamented with a wonderful crown of Korean open- 
work gilt bronze, from which hung long streamers of the 
same material set with jewels. We saw at once that it was the 
supreme masterpiece of Korean creation." 

Horiuji was the first great monastery in Japan, it remained 
the first great art museum, and this, the finest known speci- 
men of Korean art, had been made probably at the end of 
the sixth century. It was the first large work of sculpture 
brought to Japan when the spark of civilization leaped to the 
island empire from the neighbouring peninsula of Korea, and 
from this figure of Buddha the first Japanese sculptors derived 
their finest inspiration. There, too, was the first great original 
Japanese statue, a figure of the Bodhisattva Kwannon cut out 
of wood by Prince Shotoku. In the great monastery of Daito- 
kuji, in the fields north of Kyoto, Fenollosa spent many a long 
series of days examining the wonderful Chinese paintings 
and questioning the friendly abbot concerning the principles 
of Zen; and he first saw Tofokuji in 1880, when it was an 
enormous monastery that was still intact. At the south it had 
a massive gateway, and there were two colossal halls between 
this and the famous hanging causeway over the valley. These 
halls were faced externally with gigantic pillars, made of single 
trunks of Chinese cedars, about fifty feet in height, that were 
supposed ta have been floated from the head-waters of the 


Yangtse and across the China Sea. The central halls were 
destroyed by fire in 1882, but Fenollosa lived for weeks at a 
time with the kindly Zen priests, and his artists were privi- 
leged to copy for months many of the wonderful relics. But 
"no visit," he wrote, "can give a tithe of the solemn-sweet 
impression particularly at night and morning of cool sanded 
courts crossed irregularly with granite steps, and banked with 
Sung compositions of ancient shrub and mossy stone and 
trickling stream , . . In those sweet days of the early eighties 
... I felt like an unworthy degenerate Noami privileged to 
revisit the very treasures that had delighted his eyes four 
hundred and fifty years before." 

On three separate occasions in the eighteen-eighties, Fenol- 
losa studied, as imperial commissioner, the treasures of the 
famous Shosoin of Nara, erected in the year 749. This great 
museum was opened only once a year, for drying, and at that 
time an imperial rescript was necessary for each visitor ad- 
mitted. There were preserved, from the early T'ang period, 
writing-paper in rolls, garments from the imperial wardrobe, 
furs and slippers of the Empress, jewels, pans, bowls, knives, 
spoons and forks. There were bedsteads and couches, vases 
and boxes, silks for embroidery, banners and screens, manu- 
scripts, mirrors and weapons, mostly deposited there in 749. 
In 1882, Fenollosa photographed the rubbish heaps at the back 
of the Chukondo altar of Kofukuji, where masses of remains 
and the broken "bones" of composition statues mingled with 
splendid contours of Buddhist torsos and the armour of knights. 
Then, in 1884, he saw a motley collection of deities in a 
chapel at Udzumasa, since destroyed, the whole pantheon, 
seated or standing, gilded or in colour, and before them the 
small square lacquered altar, with a silver mirror and a gilded 
apex. There were four candlesticks that burned lights of four 


colours, and the small square mat where you might sit and 
make yourself a purged circle immune against the devil Among 
the works of art he found were the little bronze Kwannon of 
Contemplation, later owned by the Fine Arts Academy in 
Kyoto. He discovered this during one of his early explorations 
and bought it as a nucleus for treasures which he hoped that 
a museum attached to the coming school would eventually 
collect. He had bought in 1882 a great painting of Monoto- 
nobu which turned up in the emporium of Yamanaka in 
Osaka. This had been given away to a retainer by the Marquis 
Hashisake, as so many Daimio treasures were given in the 
sad parting of the years before. Then families of faithful re- 
tainers, loyal at times through seven centuries, were absolved 
from their feudal vows and became citizens of a new demo- 
cratic Japan. Treasures like this soon found their way into 
pawnshops, and so, at a time when the revived taste of a new 
aristocracy had not yet formed, into the general market Thus 
Fenollosa purchased for twenty-five yen what would be worth 
thousands were it sold in the Japan of twenty years later. 
When he first arrived, he said, but for the Kano Academy 
and the Shogun's passive patronage of Buddhist temples, all 
the Godoshis, Ririomins, Kakeis, Bayens and Mokkeis in 
Japan would have been swept away and burnt up as old lumber. 
For instance, the name of Okio was hardly known in 1 878 by 
Japanese dealers or collectors, though later he was held to be 
one of the great national geniuses and works by him were to 
be found in all the principal collections of the world. Fenol- 
losa had known Wunkin, one of the last masters of Japanese 
flower painting, during the year in which he died, 1880, and he 
bought from the last artist of his line Kano Tanyu's copy of 
Mesanobu's great portrait of Confucius in the Ashikaga uni- 
versity, based upon an important Sung statue. One of Takan- 


obu's finest pieces was the elaborate set of large paintings 
narrating, in separate dramatic scenes, the whole romantic 
life of Shotoku Taishi. This was the most interesting heir- 
loom of the Sumiyoshi family at the death of its last patriarch, 
Fenollosa's teacher, Hirotaka, in 1885. It was regarded by 
generations of Tosas and Sumiyoshis as the typical example of 
Takanobu in Japan, and Hirotaka sold it on his deathbed to 
Fenollosa to save it from the possible wrangling of heirs and to 
leave money to his widow. When Fenollosa had arrived in 
Japan, no artist of the school of Yeitoku was clearly differenti- 
ated from the founder, and through several years it was his 
absorbing labour to identify the various styles of some fifteen 
or twenty of his followers. The last professional Busshi was a 
young man whose workshop, stacked with ancient and modern 
portraits, Buddhas and carved works, he visited in Kyoto in 
1882. This artist died a few years later, and the tradition was 
lost, except in sporadic amateur work among a few Shingon 
and Tendai priests. 

In Japan, Fenollosa was known as an antiquarian, and he 
was especially interested in the old aristocratic art of the Kano 
and Tosa schools depicting the ancient court life. This was the 
art that was favoured by the grandees, the three hundred 
Daimios and the four hundred thousand Samurai, the sworded 
gentry of the past, a mediaeval art involved with Buddhism as 
the art of mediaeval Europe was involved with Christianity. 
It was equally hieratic and idealistic. The upper classes despised 
the Ukiyoye school of Japanese painting and print-designing 
that for the last three centuries had expressed the common 
people and their life. Its artists, sprung mostly from the ranks 
of the people, confined themselves to the recreation and occupa- 
tions of their class, and they reflected every phase and change 
of fashion in the life of the capital. They mirrored Japanese 


everyday life with the scenes and activities of women of the 
middle and lower classes. Among them were Utamaro, Hiro- 
shige and Hokusai, who died at the age of ninety and with 
whom the history of Ukiyoye practically closed. In touch with 
the people, rendering modem low life, as the Tosa school had 
never done, they were the only school that Europeans and 
Americans knew as yet much about, for many Japanese prints 
were exported to London and Paris as soon as Japan was opened 
in the eighteen-fifties. John La Farge and Whistler studied 
them, especially the work of Hokusai, the great vulgarizer, 
the "Dickens of Japan/' who was regarded in Europe as the 
greatest Japanese artist of all time. By the upper classes in 
Japan, Hokusai was condemned, Fenollosa said, as coarse and 
uninspired, although Fenollosa was not at first aware of his 
most important work, a painting on a large eight-panelled 
screen. He came to think this challenged comparison with the 
finest mural painting of the West, as "one of the world's tran- 
scendent masterpieces." 

Fenollosa was to publish in 1896 The Masters of Ukiyoye, 
a glorified catalogue of the "popular school of Japanese artists/' 
exhibited in New York in January of that year. This plebeian 
genre art, unknown to the Samurai, had developed side by 
side with the legitimate theatre under the first great actor of 
Japan, Danjuro, a histrionic art, also shunned by the upper 
classes, that became an organ of self-expression of the com- 
mon people. The pit of the theatre was fragrant with the 
odours of raw fish and saki. Both this and the single-sheet 
print were regarded as hopelessly vulgar by the aristocratic 
admirers of Noh plays and Tosa art. Fenollosa pursued and 
finally captured the most important date at which hand-colour- 
ing went out and block-printing came in, the application of 
colour by impression from flat wooden blocks. The two methods 


of colouring overlapped by a few years. The making of the last 
cheap hand-coloured prints stopped about 1742-1743. 

"Of course it is natural/' Fenollosa wrote to Edward S. 
Morse, "that some of the old fogy Japanese are suspicious 
and unwilling to trust me. I am proving that some of their 
supposed treasures are relatively worthless and bringing forth 
the real gems from unknown holes ... I [have] bought several 
pictures dating from 700 and 900 A.D. Already people here 
[in Tokyo] are saying that my collection must be kept here 
in Japan for the Japanese. I have bought a number of the very 
greatest treasures secretly. The Japanese as yet don't know 
that I have them. I wish I could see them all safely housed 
forever in the Boston Art Museum; and yet, if the Emperor 
or the Mombusho should wish to buy my collection, wouldn't 
it be my duty to humanity, all things considered, to let them 
have it? What do you think?" Morse had already raised this 
question. Travelling, in 1882, with Fenollosa and Okakura, who 
sat listening while the others discussed the treasures found 
during the day, Morse remarked, "Many fine things of Japanese 
art are now on the market, like those we are buying. It is like 
the life-blood of Japan seeping from a hidden wound. They 
do not know how sad it is to let their beautiful treasures leave 
the country." Okakura had a sudden thought, and on their 
return to Tokyo he went to the officials and begged them to 
realize the situation. This resulted in the law of Koko Ho 
(national treasures), in 1884, that required all the remaining 
objects of ancient art to be registered and restricted from ex- 
port. In return, this resulted in the great museums of Tokyo, 
Nara and Kyoto. But Fenollosa had already sold his collection 
of a thousand or more paintings to Dr, G. C. Weld of Boston 
to remain as the Weld-Fenollosa collection in the Boston 


Again Fenollosa wrote to Morse, "I cannot see why my 
work this summer [1884] was not just as important at bottom 
as much of that which the world's archaeologists are doing in 
Greece and Turkey. Of course people don't see the practical 
importance of Eastern civilization for the world with the 
same vividness as they do that of Greek culture . . . But from 
the point of view of human history as a whole it is absolutely 
indispensable. I expect the time will come when it will be 
considered as necessary for a liberally educated man to know 
the names and deeds of man's great benefactors in the East, 
and the steps in advance in their culture, as it is now to know 
Greek and Latin dates and the flavour of their production." 
Meanwhile, he founded, in 1881, a club of Japanese painters 
that was called Kangwakwai, assembling representations of the 
various schools, meeting once a month and exchanging opin- 
ions with various masters. The chief inspirer of this was Kano 
Hogai, last of the really great artists of old Japan, descendant 
of a long line of Kano painters; and the club arranged, in 
chronological order, old and new pictures and advised young 
painters to produce new works. A loan collection of Daimio 
treasures was exhibited annually at the club. 

By 1882, a reaction had begun in the upper classes, and 
Fenollosa joined with others in starting the Art Club of Nobles. 
Three artists, including, with himself, the heads of the Kano 
and Tosa schools, composed the committee for criticism, and 
they undertook to criticize any paintings that were brought 
and give certificates if these were desired. Fenollosa denounced 
in a fervent speech a race that permitted its birthright to slip 
through its fingers, making no effort to retain it, and he de- 
plored the tendency to teach American drawing in the schools 
and to study sculpture under Italian artists. At the end of the 
speech there was great excitement, and a rebirth followed of 


national pride and interest in Japanese art. In 1885 the use of 
Japanese ink, brushes and paper was reintroduced into the 
schools. Fenollosa was entrusted with the task of registering 
the art treasures of the country. He knew all the well-known 
connoisseurs, he had visited all the important temples, and he 
had been thrown with all the dealers and collectors as well as 
the remaining artists. In fact, Fenollosa, who persuaded the 
government to preserve the old worthy temples and shrines, 
had led the Japanese to respect their ancient tradition and keep 
it intact. "An American, Fenollosa, taught us how to admire 
the unique beauty of our art," said Professor Yaichi Haga; 
and when, in 1886, Fenollosa was about to return for a while 
to America, the Emperor said to him, "You have taught my 
people to know their own art; in going back to your great 
country, I charge you, teach them also." 


That was still some years in the future when Dr. Sturgis 
Bigelow arrived in Japan in 1882, in the company of Edward 
S. Morse, now director of the Peabody Museum of Salem, who 
was homesick, after his earliest visits, for Japan. The two had 
met at Tuckernuck island, off Nantucket, and Morse, convinc- 
ing himself that his notes needed amplification, persuaded Dr. 
Bigelow to return with him. "Well, for good or ill," Bigelow 
wrote to Morse years later, "the cruise to Japan was the turn- 
ing point of my life." There, in fact, he was to remain for 
seven years after Morse sailed back to Europe and America. 

Now, Morse's Lowell lectures of 1881 had engrossed many 
of his friends in Boston. They actually started a movement, 
for there the world seemed to be moving too fast and the 
Bostonians found too much that was ugly in their civilization* 


The "cloistered loveliness of old Japan," as Lafcadio Hearn 
was to call it, seemed gentler and kinder than the Western 
world, slower in its motions, always smiling, and, above all, 
endowed with an exquisite taste. Sturgis Bigelow was soon 
followed by the young Percival Lowell, and presently by 
Henry Adams and John La Farge, while in 1883 came Mrs. 
Jack Gardner, the "gloom-dispeller, corpse-reviver and general 
chirker-up," as Dr. Bigelow called her. Bigelow himself was 
rather like Dr. Peter Alden in Santayana's novel The Last 
Puritan, the doctor who never practised medicine and only 
put to the proof the adage, "Physician, heal thyself," who 
sailed in his yacht, the "Black Swan," with two Buddhas 
decorating the poop with their golden shrines. In his dream of 
Oriental loveliness, Dr. Peter Alden collected ivory carvings in 
China and Japan, intending to present them to the Boston 
Museum of Fine Arts. Dr. Bigelow had studied in Paris under 
Pasteur. In Japan he became immersed in Buddhist philoso- 
phy before he returned to lecture on Buddhism at Harvard. 
Fenollosa joined Bigelow and Morse when they arrived in 
Tokyo for a journey to the great cities of Japanese art and 
antiquities, inaccessible to most foreigners hitherto; and, stay- 
ing at native inns, they travelled by boat and jinricksha, for 
the railways had not yet been extended through the empire. 
This was a trip through the southern provinces; they went 
overland to Kyoto and then by steamer through the Inland 
Sea; and "We shall see," Morse wrote, "a little of the life of 
old Japan. I shall add a great many specimens to my collection 
of pottery. Dr. Bigelow will secure many forms of swords, 
guards and lacquers, and Mr. Fenollosa will increase his re- 
markable collection of pictures, so that we shall have in the 
vicinity of Boston by far the greatest collection of Japanese art 
in the world." Hunting for screens, pots and painted scrolls, 


they stopped at Nagoya and Nara, and in the evening, by 
candlelight, sprawling on soft straw mats, they showed one 
another the treasures found during the day, old swords, 
kakemonos, tea-jars and bowls. Arriving at Nagoya after dark, 
they spent four days there, Morse ransacking the city for 
pottery and the others for lacquers and paintings, and, visiting 
the curio-shops in every town, they rode across the plains of 
Osaka to the mountains beyond. At Osaka, Dr. Bigelow dis- 
covered an interesting temple pond in which were hundreds 
of turtles of various sizes, and he became very fond of raw fish 
at dinner. Meanwhile, he made a specialty of collecting Nishi- 
yama Hoyens, of which he gave sixty or seventy to the Boston 
Museum. Morse came up from Kobe on a steamer that con- 
veyed to Tokyo a number of ambassadors from Korea, all 
genial men with whom he became quickly acquainted. He 
made surreptitiously a few sketches of them, and he managed 
to ask them many questions, as they spoke Japanese, and to 
understand their answers. Two of them wore large goggles 
with coloured glasses, and they allowed him to examine them 
when, to his surprise, he found they were made of clear 
smoky-quartz crystals in tortoise-shell frames. 

The following year Dr. Bigelow wrote to Morse, who had 
left Japan, "Everything the same, even Fenollosa stretched out 
flat on his back reading Emerson. Everything is just as it was 
a year ago. But we miss the old Woolly [Morse]. We want 
to see the look that he used to wear when he came in from a 
raid round a new town, accompanied by two or three grinning, 
astonished and obsequious dealers bearing a pile of boxes and 
loose pots. And then the triumph of the O.W. when he dis- 
played his treasures, got them all out on the floor, finally pro- 
ducing from his pocket as a thing too precious to let the other 
men bring home, some particularly demoralized-looking old 


coprolite. 'A Koyashi, by God! 650 years old; a genuine Unko 
Koyashi with a stamp! Never saw but two others, and one of 
those Ninagawa asked 30 yen for, and I got this for 15 sen 1 / " 
Still a year later, 1884, Fenollosa wrote to Morse, "Been off 
two months and a half with the doctor [Bigelow] and an of- 
ficer of Mombusho, who was sent on a special commission to 
travel with me and study art. We have been through all the 
principal temples in Yamashiro and Yamato armed with gov- 
ernment letters and orders, have ransacked godowns, and 
brought to light pieces of statues from the lowest stratum of 
debris in the top stories of pagodas 1300 years old. We may 
say in brief that we have made the first accurate list of the 
great art treasures kept in the central temples of Japan . . . 
The doctor has taken 200 photographs and I innumerable 
sketches of art objects (paintings and statues); and, more than 
all, I have recovered the history of Japanese art from the sixth 
to the ninth centuries A.D., which has been completely lost I 
have done it by a chain of close reasonings, based on a com- 
parative study of all the specimens, many of which have never 
been shown to anyone before ... I have found Chinese things 
called Japanese, and vice versa, many Japanese called Korean, 
new things called old, and even some old things called new; 
the names of individual artists hopelessly mixed up. Yet this 
is the result of native criticism for centuries/' 

Dr. Bigelow himself took up the study of Japanese gardens; 
then, falling in with a learned old abbot, a priest of the Shin- 
gon sect, he became an ardent Buddhist, taking spiritual exer- 
cises under the abbot's direction. Received into Buddhism, he 
"emanated a peaceful radiance," one of his later friends said, 
"mingled with a faint fragrance of toilet water," but this was 
after he returned to Boston, full of Buddhist lore, believing he 
had been aware of his former incarnations. He preferred, 


this friend said, an Asiatic religion while wearing beautiful 
Charvet neckties and handsome English clothes, and, a 
bearded mystic and epicure, he lived, in fastidious luxury, 
with the rarest wines and exquisite food and every kind of 
exotic delicacy. He was surrounded in Boston with Oriental 
porcelains, bronzes and tapestries; but, meanwhile, he was 
still in Japan when Percival Lowell arrived there, on the first 
of four visits, in 1883. A young man of fashion, Lowell hired 
a house in Tokyo and set up a luxurious establishment there, 
writing, first or last, three books about Japan and studying the 
language and the people. Fenollosa saw much of him and 
Morse became his lifelong friend, largely responsible for his 
appointment as advisor to the government of Korea. Lowell 
was given complete charge of the embassy to the United 
States, the first diplomatic mission from the Hermit Kingdom 
to any foreign power. He wrote a book, Cfooson, about Korea, 
portraying the life of the upper classes that were soon swept 
away, never to reappear. Only two other Westerners at that 
time could speak the Korean language. 

Lowell wrote a light-hearted account, rather in the manner 
of Robert Louis Stevenson, of a wild journey to the province 
of Noto, a peninsula that stood out from the Western coast of 
Japan with bold headlands and deep-bosomed bays. It was 
virtually unknown to foreigners, though one of them was rest- 
ing at an inn with Lowell who said, "The passing of royalty 
or even a circus would have been tame news in comparison 
with this." Lowell passed a Daimio's castle turned into a pub- 
lic school, and he saw an old crone squatting on the bank of a 
river, contemplating what looked like the remains of a hoop- 
skirt, dangling from a pole half in and half out of the water. 
A similar bit of still life, bordering the brink like a meditative 
frog, sat on the other side of the river, and, recognizing them 


as the identical fisherfolk sitting in the paintings of Tomonobu, 
he almost looked for the master's seal somewhere in the corner 
of the landscape. Before Noto, he had written The Soul of 
the Far East, a "colossal, splendid, godlike hook/' Lafcadio 
Hearn exclaimed when he first read it in a New York book- 
shop. "Incomparably the greatest of all books on Japan/' 
Hearn continued. "I have just finished it" and "feel like John 
of Patmos. I am not vain enough to think I can ever write 
anything so beautiful." It was, in fact, this book that largely 
suggested Lafcadio Hearn's going to Japan. 

After his third visit in 1891, Lowell wrote Occult Japan, a 
study of the psychic phenomena connected with the Shinto 
faith, a book that was largely influenced by William James. In 
Shintoism, peaks were peculiarly sacred spots, and Lowell 
climbed Ontake, or the Honourable Peak, which ten thousand 
pilgrims ascended every summer. He watched three young 
men, clad in pilgrim white, lost in prayer before a shrine on 
this slumbering volcano. One pilgrim fell into a trance, another 
asked the name of the god who had thus deigned to descend 
and a third entered a similar possession. "I am Hokkai," a 
voice replied to the question. Mountains were especially good 
points for entering another world. Ontake was the mountain 
of trance and to its summit pilgrims ascended not simply to 
adore but to be there actually incarnate by the gods. Divine 
possession took place on it daily through the six weeks in 
which the gods received men. There were pilgrim clubs that 
took the road from the middle of July to the first of September, 
crowds wending their way to some shrine or other, peripatetic 
picnic parties faintly flavoured with piety, some to sacred sum- 
mits, some to lowland shrines. The great shrines of Ise were 
especially favoured by pilgrimesses, bands of fifty to a hundred 
maidens of Osaka and Kyoto, at the time when the cherries 


were in bloom. Sometimes little girls of eleven or twelve sur- 
reptitiously clubbed together and tramped to a shrine. Ise was 
a province of what was still old Japan, and one could take it 
for fairyland when it was all aglow with cloud-like masses of 
pink-white blossoms. Carnival crowds of men, women and 
children journeyed along the country roads chanting as they 
moved beneath the canopy of flowers. Three hundred thou- 
sand pilgrims walked every spring to the shrines of Ise. 

Percival Lowell gazed into the caves that had once been 
inhabited by hermits. There were still a few hermits in the 
hills, seeing no man during the three years they spent there, 
and he fell in with some of them after their return to society, 
Then he witnessed the Shinto miracles, sometimes at seances 
in his own house, climbing the ladder of sword-blades, walk- 
ing over live coals and the ordeal by boiling water. The priest 
walked round a boiling kettle, repeating the scalding douche 
with growing self-abandonment, lashing the water until he 
collapsed upon the ground. These miracles belonged to the 
esoteric side of Shinto, the way of the gods, the old native 
faith, the ancient belief of the Japanese people the sentiment 
of which throbbed as strongly as ever in the nation's heart. It 
was an adoration of family wraiths, regarding the dead as 
spiritually living, the antithesis of the Buddhist Nirvana that 
regarded the living as spiritually dead. 

Percival Lowell left Japan in 1893, and, never coming back, 
he gave himself up to astronomy, his earliest interest. Morse, 
who visited Flagstaff later, was heart and soul with Lowell in 
his study of what he took for canals on Mars. Meanwhile, 
Lowell wrote from Japan to his little sister Amy Lowell, who 
grew up knowing all about the fox-sprites and spider-demons 
of which he had told her in his long letters. Her poems were 


to abound in time with the two-sworded nobles and the Japa- 
nese pixies of which she had first heard from Percival Lowell. 

Fenollosa became interested, in 1882, in Noh plays. He fell 
in with Minoru Umewaka, who had taught Morse Noh sing- 
ing, and he was struck at once by the analogy between the 
Noh plays and the early morality plays of Europe. The Noh 
theatre had been established at the close of the fourteenth 
century, absorbing dances performed at Shinto shrines in 
honour of spirits or the gods, and the Noh plays had been 
enjoyed exclusively by the military class; they were the prin- 
cipal entertainment of the Samurai. As they relied on a certain 
knowledge of past story or legend, the common people could 
not participate in them, and at first they had been performed 
only by Shinto priests in shrines to propitiate the gods. There 
had been performances of Noh lasting five days at marriages 
and initiations of the Shoguns, and in the Tokagawa days 
every rich Daimio had his own stage and his complete 
collection of properties. Noh was a necessary part of official 
ceremonies at Kyoto. Young nobles and princes, forbidden to at- 
tend the popular naturalistic theatre, were encouraged to per- 
form in spectacles where music, speech, song and dance created 
an image of nobility and beauty. To Minoru Umewaka was 
due the fact that Noh did not wholly vanish with the over- 
throw of the Shoguns in 1868, for, at the restoration of the 
Mikado, people were convinced that an art so closely con- 
nected with the Shogunate ought to disappear with it. 

Minoru Umewaka was one of the actors in the Shogun's 
main troupe, and he was acting in the Shogun's garden when 
the news of Perry's arrival stopped the play. For three years, 


performances ceased entirely and the troupes of actors were 
dispersed. Then, in 1871, Umewaka bought for a song an 
ex-Daimio's stage, set it up on the tank of the Sumida river 
at Tokyo and began to train his two sons. He bought masks 
and robes at sales of impoverished nobles, selling his own 
clothes to pay for them, and, while old actors returned and 
joined him, he lived in a mean house on a mean street. Pos- 
sessing texts and stage directions, he guarded the old tradition, 
giving at first private performances like those that had once 
been given in noblemen's palaces and houses. 

Fenollosa first called upon old Mr. Urnewaka, presenting 
him with a large box of eggs, and asking him to accept fifteen 
yen as a gift, in consideration of his kindness to Professor 
Morse. Umewaka asked Fenollosa to sing for him, and, when 
Fenollosa sang "Hansakaba," he said he was already advanced 
enough to sing in a Japanese company, Fenollosa noted that 
"Morse and I are the only foreigners who have ever been 
taught Noh ? and I am the only foreigner now practising it." 
For twenty years thenceforward he studied under Umewaka 
and his sons this art of posture, dancing, chanting and acting 
that was not mimetic, a drama of masks on a symbolic stage; 
for there was always in Japan a distinction between serious 
drama and the mimetic drama of the common people. At the 
same time he took down the oral traditions of the stage before 
the revolution of 1868, and he prepared translations of about 
fifty of the texts. 

Thus the Noh drama was saved from the ashes of the Rev- 
olution, It had in it elements that had disappeared from the 
Western stage, resembling not only the morality play but re- 
ligious mysteries and dances like those of the mediaeval mass. 
The word "Noh" signified exhibition of talent, or accomplish- 
ment, and it had developed into a kind of opera in which the 


performers alternately recited and danced. There were some- 
times as many as nine players, all men, and it was quite usual 
for an old actor, wearing a mask, to take the part of a young 
woman. For the music, there were a flute-player, two hand- 
drurnmers and sometimes also a big drum beaten with a stick. 
A ship was represented by skeletons of willows or osiers 
painted green, a fruit-tree by a bush in a pot, and a house, 
palace or cottage was represented by four posts covered with 
a roof. An actor usually carried a fan that was used to repre- 
sent a knife or a brush; and, while dances were performed 
with solemn gestures and slow steps, the text was partly in 
prose, partly in verse. The Noh stage was a platform sur- 
rounded by the audience on three sides and reached by a 
bridge from the green-room; it sloped slightly forward and 
there was always a pine-tree in the background, a symbol of 
unchanging green and strength. The form of the Noh plays 
had been perfected in Kyoto in the fifteenth century, and the 
same plays were enacted in the same manner as at first. The 
players themselves passed on from father to son their elaborate 
art, and most of the actors today shared the blood of the men 
who created this drama five centuries before. It was intended 
only for cultivated people who were able to understand the 
allusions referred to in the ancient lyrics. 

The Noh plays abounded in ghosts and spirits, who often 
appeared in homely guise, and many began with a traveller, 
sometimes a priest, asking his way with various questions. In 
one play the hero and heroine were the ghosts of two lovers 
who had died unmarried. Their spirits are united a hundred 
years after their death near a hillside grave where their bodies 
had lain together. In Kakitsuliata, a wandering priest stops at 
an iris marsh, and, as he admires the flowers, a spirit appears 
who has identified herself with the iris. In this iris marsh, 


centuries before, the sage Nirihira had passed thinking of the 
damsel who had become the spirit and who, disguised as a 
simple girl, is suddenly transfigured into the splendidly dressed 
great lady whom Nirihira had loved of old. Some of the plays 
represented scenes from the lives of saints or the intervention 
of Buddha in human affairs, and among the dramatic types 
were elementals, animal spirits or hungry spirits, cunning or 
malicious. There were spirits of the moonlight, dragon kings 
from the water world, the souls of flowers or trees and angry 
devils. Fenollosa remembered the saying of Kobori Enshu, 
"Dancing is especially known, by its circulation of the blood, 
to keep off the disease of old age," and this form of drama 
seemed to him as intense and primitive and almost as beauti- 
ful as the ancient Greek drama at Athens. It, too, had risen 
out of religious rites, beginning as a sacred dance with a sacred 
chorus added, sung by priests. A full range of epic incident 
had sprung out of the Shinto god-dance. 

Thirty years later, Ezra Pound, taking Fenollosa's pencil 
script, made his own revision of some of the translations, trans- 
ferring a refrain, perhaps, or adding occasional words that 
seemed to him to belong to the particular emotion. For Pound 
had become, at the second Mrs. Fenollosa's request, a literary 
executor of Fenollosa, and he published a selection of the 
plays of this unemphatic drama and made them known to 
the Anglo-Saxon world. Fenollosa, Ezra Pound said, had un- 
earthed treasures that "no Japanese had heard of," and pres- 
ently William Butler Yeats invented a form of drama that 
was based on Ezra Pound's re-translation of the Noh plays. 
Yeats, who was tired of theatre work, was interested only in 
experiments now that seemed to belong to his own art, and he 
found himself "thinking of players," he said, "who needed per- 
haps but to unroll a mat in some Eastern garden." Reacting 


against the naturalistic European theatre, he felt it "should 
be again possible for a few poets to write as all once did, not 
for the printed page but to be sung," and he saw a possibility 
for the Irish dramatic movement in a kind of play that was 
distant from real life. He hoped to write a play for forty or 
fifty persons in a room, with masks, no scenery, three mu- 
sicians, "with the music, the beauty of form and voice all 
coming to a climax in a pantomimic dance ... In the studio 
or the drawing-room, we can found a true theatre of beauty/' 
he said, and he looked to Japan "for a stage-convention, for 
more formal faces . . . and perhaps for those movements of 
the body copied from the marionette shows of the fourteenth 
century . . . Realism is created for the common people . . . 
and it is the delight today of all those whose minds, educated 
alone by schoolmasters and newspapers, are without the 
memory of beauty and emotional subtlety . . . All imaginative 
art keeps at a distance and this distance once chosen must be 
firmly held against a pushing world. Verse, ritual, music and 
dance in association with action require that gesture, costume, 
facial expression, stage arrangement must help in keeping 
the door/' The form Yeats invented in At the Hawk's Well 
was symbolic and indirect, and for the pleasure of his friends 
and a few score people of good taste, he hoped to complete a 
dramatic celebration of the life of Cuchulain, planned long 

Yeats had heard from Ezra Pound of the Japanese Noh 
plays, and he saw in some of them elements in common with 
Irish legend. The ghost lovers in one play reminded him of 
the story of the Arran island boy and girl, related by Lady 
Gregory, who come to the priest after their death to be mar- 
ried. Then he saw a Japanese dancer, Ito, dancing in a studio, 
or a drawing-room, on a very small stage lit by an excellent 


stage-light. At the Hawk's Well was the first of his "plays for 
dancers," which substituted for the rising of a curtain the 
folding and unfolding of a cloth, and it was intended to be 
played to the accompaniment of drum, flute and zither. Ito 
had attracted attention at the Regents' Park Zoo by prancing 
about outside the cages of the birds of prey, so that people 
thought that he was either mad or a follower of some Oriental 
religion that worshipped birds. "Ito was presently ready to 
evolve a dance based on the movements of the hawks as they 
hopped about and stretched their wings, and Yeats was often 
seen beside him at the Zoo, all attention . . . When completed, 
At the Hawk's Well admirably brought together the mythol- 
ogies of Ireland and of Japan." So wrote Joseph Hone in his 
life of Yeats. A second performance of the play was given in 
a London drawing room for a war charity. Queen Alexandra, 
who was present, wearied of Yeats's preliminary explanation 
of Noh drama and sent a message by her lady-in-waiting to 
ask for it to be cut short. Joseph Hone also related this in- 
cident in his life of Yeats. It took place thirty years after Fen- 
ollosa first began to study the Noh plays. 


Henry Adams and John La Farge, who arrived in Japan in 
1886, had both long been interested in Japanese art, which 
had come into vogue in America with the Centennial Exhi- 
bition in Philadelphia in 1876. Adams was a friend, in Wash- 
ington, of the Japanese minister, Yoshida, and he had known 
the Oriental art dealers in Paris and New York. He had the 
collector's instinct, and in his house in Washington there were 
many Japanese and Chinese vases, bronzes, porcelains and 
other Far Eastern objects. He had gone to Japan, he said, "to 


buy kakemonos for my gaunt walls," La Farge, who had writ- 
ten on Japanese art in 1869, had been well in advance of his 
time in America and even in France, where the market had 
been flooded with Japanese curios since the opening of Japan, 
and various artists collected prints of Utamaro and Hokusai. 
A Japanese print appeared in the background of Manet's por- 
trait of Zola in 1868. While Ruskin warned European artists 
against this heathen source, and Norton followed him in the 
United States, there were Japanese museums in Holland and 
in Dresden and there had been much importation of Japanese 
porcelain into Holland since the seventeeth century. La Farge 
said that Japanese prints "endangered with amateurs the repu- 
tation of the painter who publicly admired them," but he had 
owned prints himself since 1863; and he noted that the Japa- 
nese excelled in energy, grandeur of style, refinement and an 
enchanting harmony of colours. 

Henry Adams had suggested their summer visit to Japan, 
and they had undertaken not to read any books about it but 
to "come as innocently as we could." On their way to San 
Francisco, where they were to take the ship, an Omaha re- 
porter asked them why they were going, and, when La Farge 
said they were in search of Nirvana, the reporter said, "Are 
you not rather late in the season?" Just the same, Henry 
Adams studied Buddhism on the way, with the Four Noble 
Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path by which Nirvana was 
to be attained. He "hungered," he said, "for annihilation" 
after his wife's death; he felt, with his Mrs. Lightfoot Lee, 
"What rest it would be to live in the Great Pyramid and look 
out forever at the polar star." He had been "living with not a 
thought but from minute to minute." La Farge had undertaken 
to paint his great picture for the Church of the Ascension in 
New York, and he had, he said, a vague belief that he might 


find in Japan certain conditions of line in the mountains 
which would help him. Actually, one day there, he saw before 
him a space of mountain and cloud and flat land which 
seemed to him what he needed. He made a rapid but careful 
study, so complete that the big picture was "only a part of 
the amount of work put into the study of that afternoon." His 
first impression of Japan was of the "splendour of light . . . 
as if the sky, in its variations, were the great subject of the 
drama we were looking at, or at least its great chorus." Again, 
he spoke, in An Artist's Letters from Japan, of the silvery milk- 
iness and whiteness of the light. 

Now Dr. Sturgis Bigelow was a cousin of Mrs. Henry 
Adams. He had visited the Adamses in Washington, and in 
Yokohama and Tokyo he took charge of the arriving friends 
as what Henry Adams called a "courier and master of cere- 
monies." He was full of the details of manners in Japan, now 
as familiar to him as those of Europe, and he took La Farge 
and Adams to his club to see and listen to some Noh plays. 
The plays were given in a theatre built at the club for this 
purpose. The men took off their shoes, so as not to injure the 
mats, and presently they heard wailings and the piercing notes 
of stringed instruments and flutes against a background of 
high, distinct declamation. La Farge described the Noh plays 
at Tokyo as often a pantomime with an actor making gestures 
to the accompaniment of music or the declamation of the 
choragus who told the poetic story. For the rest, there were 
many short plays, mostly based on legendary subjects, dis- 
tinguished by gorgeous dresses, and occasionally some comic 
scenes of domestic life. It was all very different from the more 
or less disreputable theatre, but La Farge said, "I only vaguely 
understood what it was all about." 

At Tokyo, Adams and La Farge met Fenollosa, "to be de- 


lighted and instructed by the great authority on Japanese art." 
"Fenollosa," said Henry Adams, "is a kind of St. Dominic and 
holds himself responsible for the dissemination of useless 
knowledge by others. My historical indifference to everything 
but facts, and my delight at studying what is hopelessly de- 
based and degraded, shock his moral sense . . . He has joined 
a Buddhist sect. I was myself a Buddhist when I left America, 
but he has converted me to Calvinism with leanings towards 
the Methodists/' Then he said, "Fenollosa and Bigelow are 
stern with us. Fenollosa is a tyrant who says we shall not like 
any work done under the Tokagawa Shoguns. As these gen- 
tlemen lived 250 years, or thereabouts, to 1860, and as there 
is nothing at Tokyo except their work, La Farge and I are 
at a loss to understand why we came; but it seems we are to 
be taken to Nikko shortly, and permitted to admire some tem- 
ples there." On looking up the question, he found presently 
that these temples were the work of Tokagawa Shoguns, but 
about this inconsistency he did not dare to ask. 

Nikko, about ninety miles north of Tokyo, lay high and 
cool, Henry Adams wrote, and this centre of beautiful scenery 
had been chosen as a summer residence by Dr. Sturgis Bige- 
low. There he lived with his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Fenollosa, 
and he hired for Adams and La Farge a little Japanese toy- 
house near by. "Tokyo is amusing," said Adams, "but with 
the thermometer above 90, a somewhat cloying joy. For 
smells it has no known rival . . . Ten days of Japanese or 
hotel food made us curious to learn how clean Mrs. Fenollosa's 
table might be; for a pervasive sense of oily nastiness charac- 
terize every article of ordinary consumption." The little house 
stood by a waterfall on the slope of a mountain with an en- 
closed garden facing the great temple groves. The enormous 
mountains stood behind them, together with a high wall of 


rock over which the torrent rolled, breaking three times. "In 
the sand of our little garden/' wrote La Farge, "we set clumps 
of flowers, chrysanthemums mostly, and occasionally ids and 
azalea ... A little fountain in the middle ... In the early 
morning I sit in the bath-room and paint this little picture, 
while Adams, upstairs in the verandah, is reading in Dante's 
Paradiso, and can see, when he looks up, the great temple 
roof of the Buddhist Mangwanji." 

The world-famous temples of Nikko were the greatest tem- 
ples now standing in the empire, and Adams took photographs 
of them in their twenty acres on the mountain flank. In Nikko, 
he and La Farge spent a month near the Fenollosas, and "Mrs. 
Fenollosa," Adams wrote, "has rescued us from our trials. I 
cannot imagine what we should have done without her." One 
day, when Fenollosa was unwell and La Farge hard at work, 
he set out with Bigelow and Mrs, Fenollosa to visit Yumato, 
the Saratoga or White Sulphur of Japan that lay fourteen 
miles above them among the mountains. Mrs. Fenollosa sum- 
moned five pack-horses, one for herself, one for Sturgis Bige- 
low and a third for Henry Adams. A servant and baggage 
followed on a fourth, and the fifth carried beds, blankets, 
linen, silver, eatables and drinks. There were a dozen inns but 
no village at Yumato, Henry Adams said they had their little 
joke about all they saw and did, always ending in the convic- 
tion that they were playing baby and were living in doll-land. 
They were established in their doll-house with paper windows 
and matted floors, and the temples were evidently a toy, for 
everything was lacquer, gilding or green, red and blue paint. 
Meanwhile, they examined curios that were sent to them from 
Tokyo, Osaka and heaven knew where. Adams said that Fen- 
ollosa and Bigelow "are the highest authorities on lacquers and 


kakemonos; but they can only pick up a good thing now and 

Bigelow and Fenollosa employed two men to hunt curios 
for Adams and La Farge, and bales of merchandise arrived 
and were unloaded at their door. Patient pack-horses stood in 
the enclosure of the yards and big parcels and piles of boxes 
and bundles encumbered the verandah, but they found almost 
nothing among the things brought them that could rank as 
works of high art. One day a large lot of kakemonos arrived, 
sent up by the great curio-dealer Yamanaka. Adams gleaned 
about two dozen out of the lot, and, though they were cheap 
enough, he feared that Fenollosa, who was in Tokyo, would 
say they were Tokagawa rot and would bully him into letting 
them go. He was even now trying to prevent Adams from 
having a collection of Hokusai's books; and Adams added, 
writing to John Hay, "I wish you were here to help us tram- 
ple on him ... I have still to report/' he continued to John 
Hay, "that purchases for you are going on, but more and more 
slowly, for I believe we have burst up all the pawn-brokers' 
shops in Japan . . . Bigelow and Fenollosa cling like misers to 
their miserable hoards. Not a kakemono is to be found, though 
plenty are bought. Every day new bales of rubbish come up 
from Tokyo or elsewhere, mounds of books, tons of bad 
bronze, holocausts of lacquer. I buy literally everything that is 
merely possible, and yet I have got not a hundred dollars' 
worth of things I want for myself ... I am trying to spend 
your money. It is hard work, but I will do it, or succumb . . . 
I want to bring back a dozen big bronze vases to put on the 
grass before our houses in summer, for palms or big plants, so 
as to give our houses the look of a cross between curio shops 
and florists. A man at Osaka has sent up some 250 dollars' 
worth of lacquers, sword-hilts, inlaid work and such stuff. As 


he has the best shop in Japan, we took the whole lot and 
have sent for more." To Elizabeth Cameron he wrote, "I have 
bought curios enough to fill a house, but nothing I like or 
want for myself ... If I knew what would please you, I 
would load the steamer with it." Henry Adams collected por- 
celains and kakemonos, Hokusai drawings and gowns of silk 
for his friends and their wives at home. 

John La Farge felt every day disgusted and ashamed look- 
ing at curios as an occupation, returning to it as a gambler 
might, he said, hoping to make it right with his conscience 
by some run of luck. He spent a whole day at Osaka examin- 
ing bric-a-brac, arriving early at the big shop where tea was 
offered him in the merchant's little back room. Pieces of por- 
celain were brought from the warehouse, then there was more 
tea, followed by the inspection of many rooms full of odds and 
ends, again more tea, and more pieces were slowly and re- 
luctantly drawn from the warehouse. Followed lunch and tea, 
then a visit to the upper rooms where hundreds of kakemonos 
were unrolled "to a crescendo of exasperation/' all this to the 
unexpressed contempt of Dr. Bigelow, the great collector of 
precious lacquers. La Farge remembered in New York seeing 
one of the great dealers marking on his samples the colours 
that pleased most of his buyers: all other colours were tabooed 
in his instructions to the makers in Japan, But he felt, in the 
presence of the ancient paintings of the Buddhist divinities, 
what he had once felt at the first sight of old Italian art, and 
Fenollosa later recalled how he had taken La Farge to see the 
great white Kwannon by Mokkei at Daitokujl La Farge, de- 
vout Roman Catholic that he was, could hardly restrain a 
bending of the head as he murmured "Raphael." There was 
one painting that La Farge felt was "directly meant" for him, 
a painting by the legendary artist of Japan, the Cimabue of a 


thousand years ago, Kose-no-Kanawoka, the inheritor and 
student of an even older Chinese art. It was still in fair con- 
dition, and it was a delight to him to recognize the lotus mo- 
tives he had used himself, working at such a distance of time 
and place, when he "tried to render the tones and the trans- 
parency of our own fairy water-lily." La Farge painted a few 
for a Japanese friend, and he was pleased when he was shown 
his own early drawing "The Wolf Charmer/' This was in the 
studio of a well-known Japanese artist who saluted him as 
"the wolf man" and said, "You must have painted that with 
a Japanese brush," which he had actually done. 

At Kyoto, in the early morning, La Farge sat out on the 
wide verandah drawing or painting from the great panorama 
before him, the distant mountains making a wall lighted up 
clearly, with patches of burning yellow, white and green, 
against the Western sky. Though Adams was not so well 
pleased by their drifting existence, La Farge enjoyed it, letting 
himself be guided by the light of Lao Tzu. "After many years 
of wilful energy, of forced battle that I have not shunned, I 
like to try," La Farge wrote, "the freshness of the springs, to 
see if new impressions come as they once did in childhood"; 
and he liked "the old roads between yashiki walls, broken up 
with torrents and bridges; and the small shrines and sacred 
trees, stones and rocks that are sacred, why and wherefore no 
one actually knowing . , . The great Pan might still be living 
here, in a state of the world which has sanctified trees and 
groves and associated the spirit-world with every form of the 
earthly dwelling-place." Here were "the soul-informed rocks of 
the Greeks," for Buddhism joined with the faith of Shinto in 
attaching religious value to solitary places and mountain 
heights. There were stories everywhere of ascensions and dis- 
appearances, "all of which talk mingles," wrote La Farge, 


"with the vague interest of my painting. For I had proposed 
to make my studies serve for the picture of the 'Ascension', to 
use the clouds and the wilderness for my background, and to he, 
at least for moments, in some relation to what I have to 
represent that is to say, in an atmosphere not inimical, as 
ours is, to what we call the miraculous. Here at least I am not 
forced to consider external nature as separate and opposed, 
and I can fall into moods of thoughtor, if you prefer, feeling, 
in which the edges of all things hlend, and man and the out- 
side world would pass into each other/' The image that touched 
"both La Farge and Adams most, partly because of the Eternal 
Feminine, was that of the incarnation called Kwannon, shown 
absorbed in the meditation of Nirvana. It brought back the 
Buddhist idea of compassion, for her name today was that o 
the Compassionate One. 

During that summer Okakura spent much of his time with 
John La Farge. They discussed spiritual manifestations and all 
the Buddhist wonderland in which spiritual bodies take form 
and disappear again and the edges of the real and the imaginary 
melt into one another. Okakura chose for him Japanese and 
Chinese prints, of great purity and long tradition, that were 
to be a consolation to him in his last years. Such a "Kano" 
blue! The exact Chinese vermilion of the extremest best! Think- 
ing of the colours of A.D, 812 or A.D. 1340 made him feel that 
for a moment luck sailed through the clouds. He felt the'Vague 
recall of the antique that is dear to artists in the distinctly 
rigid muscles of the legs and thighs" of men seen in the streets, 
"the rippling swellings of the back a godsend to a painter"; 
and he hoped soon, Henry Adams said, "to be a fluent talker 
of Daimio Japanese, As for me, I admire/' La Farge was espe- 
cially charmed by the civilized emptiness of Japanese houses 
beside the accumulations he had known at home: "the do- 


mestic architecture is as simple, as transitory, as if it symbol- 
ized the life of man ... All framework and moving screens 
instead of walls. No accumulations, no bric-a-brac ... All the 
same from the Emperor's palace to little tradesmen's cottages 
. . . The set look of insisting on an idea, the idea of doing 
with little, a noble one, certainly." He discovered in the temples 
more details of beauty than all our architects could dream of 
accomplishing. Their "wood and plaster had more of the 
dignity of art than all we have at home, if melted together, 
would result in." But then La Farge agreed with Stanford 
White about our native American "Hottentot" style. 

Edward S. Morse had discussed his own sketches of Japanese 
architecture with the Boston architect Henry Greenough, who 
was travelling in the Orient at the same time, a generation 
before Ralph Adams Cram wrote his book about Japanese 
architecture. Henry Adams grasped this theme in a "clear 
and dispassionate and masterly way," talking about it, said La 
Farge, with a natural reference to the past, for "Adams's his- 
toric sense amounts to poetry . . . His deductions and remarks 
always set my mind sailing into new channels," Together 
Adams and La Farge travelled to Nara, the ancient capital, 
thirty miles by ricksha, where, in this summer of 1886, Fenol- 
losa spent many weeks in delightful study with Kano Hogai. 
The old city gloried in a grove of huge pines and cedars, sweep- 
ing for a mile to the eastern mountains, sheltering the buildings 
of the Shinto temple, Kasuga. Ancient Buddhist monasteries 
flanked this on the north, and wild streams tore beds through 
the trees. Archseologically, Fenollosa said, Nara was the treas- 
ure-house of Japan. 

Later, in Ceylon, Adams visited Kandy and the great Bud- 
dhist temple there, "the last remaining watchfire of our church, 
except for Boston where Bill Bigelow and Fenollosa fan faint 


embers/' He went to the sacred Bo-tree and sat under it for 
half an hour, hoping to attain Nirvana; but he left the spot 
without reaching Buddhaship, for Buddhism made a poetic 
appeal but not a religious appeal to Adams. Meanwhile, the 
Fenollosas sailed back to America with him, and Mrs. Fenol- 
losa brought her Japanese nurse. Fenollosa was now a Japanese 
official, travelling under Japanese orders and credentials. Adams 
had "some tons of curios," he said, most of which he sent by 
a tramp steamer around to New York, At home again, he be- 
gan to study Chinese, two hours every day after six hours of 
history-writing; and his house, as the British ambassador said, 
was full of strange trophies from Japan. The idea of the Rock 
Creek monument over his wife's grave, representing silence and 
repose, had taken shape in his conversations with La Fargc in 
Japan. La Farge had "reluctantly crawled away towards New 
York to resume the grinding routine of studio-work at a time 
when life runs low/' So Adams wrote in his Education. He 
would rather himself have "gone back to the East, if it were 
only to sleep forever in the trade winds under the Southern 
stars, wandering over the dark purple ocean, with its purple 
sense of solitude and void." 


Fenollosa had gone home, and to Europe, for a year, on a 
commission from the Japanese government to study European 
methods of art education. With two Japanese colleagues, he 
visited for this purpose all the great cities of Europe. The 
excesses of Western custom introduced into Japanese schools 
were now rapidly on the wane. The era of confusion was melt- 
ing away into that of reconstruction; and, thanks largely to 
Fenollosa's insistence, Japanese painting and drawing had been 


reinstated in the schools. Later, discussing his own theories, he 
said, "I do not like the word 'decoration/ It seems to imply too 
much artificiality, a superficial prettiness. The word we ought 
to use is 'structural/ The lines, the spaces, the proportions 
lie in the structure of the thing itself." Again, "Representation 
is not art, it is literature. That a picture represents a man does 
not interest us ... It is a question of spacing, of how the pat- 
tern is worked out, that interests us ... not the representational 
element but the structural element ... not the realistic motive 
but the desire to find finer and finer space relations and line 
relations." In his lectures he referred equally to Japanese, 
Greek, Arabic, Polynesian and Egyptian art. He said that the 
most instructive works come just before the best in any school: 
"In the stage preceding the highest we have all the elements, 
not worked out to their best. There is the greatest individuality 
at this stage. Studying colour, going to the Venetian school, 
we must not go to Titian or Veronese. No, Bellini was solving 
the problem. We will learn from him, and not from Titian or 
Veronese, who had solved it." 

After this, Fenollosa thought and spoke more and more of 
"the coining fusion of East and West." He was a prophet of the 
idea of "one world/' At Nikko, in 1879, he had talked with 
General Grant, who was on his tour around the world, and 
General Grant said that the East was the theatre of coming 
events in which the union of Japan and China would be the 
only barrier to European spoliation. Japan wished for this 
union, but the Chinese could not believe in Japanese disinter- 
estedness, and the Sino-Japanese war inevitably followed. Fenol- 
losa's doctrine was union all round. The strength of Western 
civilization tended to lie in a knowledge of means, while that 
of the East lay in a knowledge of ends, and "means without 
ends are blind/' he said, while "ends without means are para- 


lysed." Eastern culture had held to ideals whose refinement 
seemed markedly feminine, while the West had held to ideals 
whose strength seemed markedly masculine, and the East had 
the privilege of supplying what the West lacked, he remarked 
in the preface to his long poem. This was the Phi Beta Kappa 
poem, East and West, which he delivered at Harvard in 1892, 
prophesying the synthesis of the two halves of the world, 
brought together "for the final creation of man." Elsewhere he 
said, 'We cannot escape a stronger and stronger modification 
of our standards by the pungent subtlety of Oriental thought/* 
and, dreaming of a new world type, he welcomed the inflow- 
ing of the Oriental stream in Western art 

Meanwhile, in this Phi Beta Kappa poem, addressing old 
Kano, the "priestly painter/' Fenollosa wrote, 

I've flown from my West 

Like a desolate bird from a broken nest 

To learn thy secret of joy and rest 

He had become, in the eighties, a Buddhist, with Dr. Sturgis 
Bigelow, who wrote of Nirvana in Buddhism and Immortality, 
"There alone is peace, that peace which the material world 
cannot give, the peace which passeth understanding trained 
on material things, infinite and eternal peace, the peace of 
limitless consciousness unified with limitless will. That peace 
is Nirvana." Fenollosa and Dr. Bigelow had studied with Arch- 
bishop Keitoku of the Tendai sect at Miidera temple on Lake 
Biwa. The archbishop believed that the Western spirit was 
nearly ripe to receive the lofty doctrine which Eastern guardians 
had preserved, and Fenollosa looked up to him as his most 
inspired and devoutly liberal teacher in matters religious. The 
archbishop died in 1889, and precious were the days and nights 
Fenollosa had had the privilege of spending with him in the 


vicinity of Kyoto, Nara and Nikko. As for Dr. Bigelow, he 
jotted down notes * on the conversations that he and Fenol- 
losa had with Archbishop Keitoku. A few of these notes follow: 

E. F. F. (Fenollosa) asked in the i8th year of Meiji 
at Kommei whether the task of a Buddhist priest is con- 
fined to this world, and the A. said no. But the A. did not 
answer F's question from actual experience. 

The "Law" of Buddha is a great truth which must be 
read by the eye of the mind. It is not written in books. 

From the religious point of view it is impossible for a 
priest to have a wife. 

Buddhism is like an emperor. If you set him on com- 
mon things he can't do them as well as a petty officer. So 
Buddhism. This is why priests withdraw from the world. 

Everyone wishes to develop his wisdom, and to help 
such folks Shaka [Buddha] first teaches that he must 
leave the world. As his wisdom gradually increases he 
comes to know that true wisdom does not lie elsewhere 
than in the world which he left. 

One who sees the coarse dust about himself becomes 
a Rakan. One who gets rid of the fine dust becomes a 

The reason Shaka could do his work in eighty years 
(a very short time) is because he spent so many years in 
preparing for it. 

I ask about time. There is time in Shaka's state. But 
he had finished his plan of rescuing all people, and in 
his eyes they are all rescued. 

Shaka honoured those who abused him as a father who 
knows that he intends to transfer all his property to his 
son, though the son does not know it, and that he must 
become inferior or dependent himself. 

* Preserved in a notebook now kept in the Oriental division of the 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts. 


Shaka's appearing in so many countries seems strange 
till we remember that a Bosatsu can make his appearance 
in as many places as he wishes at the same time, and 
can see with his eyes what is going on in the different 

I ask whether they are appearing as men, or only as 
Notoke, etc. He answers, as men or animals or any- 
thing. Even as a dog, to save the dogs. 

The real object of life is to acquire freedom from the 
ties that limit consciousness by connecting it with the 
material world (to the law of which it habitually con- 
forms). The real object of religion is to facilitate the ac- 
quisition of such freedom. 

(25 years later, 1914. Should change wording to this: 
'To expand consciousness beyond the limitations which 
the material world would impose on it") 

Many years later still, in Boston, in 1922, Dr. Bigelow dis- 
cussed Buddhism with Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Winslow. In 
these conversations* the name of Fenollosa also appeared, in 
connection with wayside shrines and holy places. Dr. Wins- 
low asked, "Do the Japanese feel that any special spirit inhabits 
Fuji?" and Dr. Bigelow replied, "Not only Fuji, but every 
mountain in Japan, almost Much as it is in India. You go out 
to walk; you are apt to pass a wayside shrine; or in a clump of 
trees where the daemon of that particular place is worshipped, 
you are likely to find one or two little offerings there, flowers 
or food or something of that kind. People are very simple-minded 
about it. I remember one night at a place near Kyoto where 
Fenollosa and I used to go to get a swim in the evening. There 
was a little ten or twelve-year-old girl who was employed as a 
servant about the house, and, one night as I walked down the 
length of the piazza, I found her putting a little china plate 

* Notes on these conversations are preserved in the Houghton Li- 
brary at Harvard. 


of beans on top of the corner post of the piazza railing. I said, 
'Hello! What are you doing that for?' She said, The moon/ 
There was a little new moon off in the sunset. A little grove 
hardly more than fifty yards on a side. There was a little 
stone shrine there, not ornamented but cut in the regular 
shape of a temple, and in front was a straight stone with two 
circular hollows, one at each end, just to hold water, and some- 
body was in the habit of putting in fresh water and fresh 
flowers/ 7 Mrs. Winslow: "That accounts for the way the 
Japanese feel about flowers and trees, etc. Anesaki spoke of the 
way people here pull at trees and shrubs as they go by, often 
pulling off leaves or twigs. He said you did not see that in 
Japan. Perhaps the recognition of the indwelling deity is the 
reason/' Dr. Bigelow: "Yes. When a deity gets accustomed to 
a certain combination of form, a certain group of trees, the 
intimacy gets strengthened by repetition/ 7 

In these conversations, Dr. Bigelow spoke of Kano Hogai, 
the great friend of Fenollosa and Okakura, as "simple to the 
last degree/' He painted, the very last thing he did, he didn't 
quite finish it, a picture of the goddess Kwannon holding a 
baby. The early Roman Catholic missionaries who came to the 
Far East pitched on Kwannon as embodying characteristics of 
the Virgin. "So they took her/ 7 Dr. Bigelow said, "and put a 
baby in her arms, which I think she didn't have before. In 
the turn-over of everything in those days, 7 ' Dr. Bigelow con- 
tinued, "both Kano Hogai and Hashimoto Gaho were without 
support. Kano could sell, but Hashimoto Gaho was not known. 
For a long time I kept him going; used to give him monthly 
pay and take whatever he chose to send me. Now his things 
are priceless/ 7 

Later Mrs. Winslow asked, "How far is it legitimate to try 
to become like a god in this life on earth?" To this Dr. Bigelow 


replied, "It is legitimate to try to become like any god, but the 
bigger the god is, the harder it is. Hence the reason for the 
use of all the lower and lesser divinities, Bodisattvas. They 
are the beings who have the power of expanding to infinity but 
have not done so but have kept enough in touch with the finite 
to be easily accessible to ordinary human beings." Then Dr. 
Bigelow spoke of the "direct transfer of consciousness from one 
mind to another. If the teacher knows some higher truth than 
the pupil, which is obviously the nature of the case, he can 
transfer that knowledge to the pupil without the pupil's real- 
izing where it came from. Nothing is so common in this world 
as thought transference, and most of the good and most of the 
mischief in the world is due to that; not by talking but by 
transference. That is why it is desirable to keep in contact 
with decent people rather than with roughs. It is not what they 
say; it is getting their minds hitched up with yours more or 
less and dragging your mind down to the level of theirs so 
that you get to like what they like, admire what they admire 
and dislike what they dislike, the wrong things right through." 
Dr. Bigelow said, "The object of training is to disregard 
sensory experiences at will Give your faith a clear swing. Be 
free to build up a universe by imagination . . . Protestant sects 
that have extemporaneous prayers do themselves great injustice 
by not using formal prayers. Lose value of constant association 
of words and ideas . . . Characteristic of Buddhists not to press 
or force people's interest; never to interfere with a man who 
doesn't come to them first and ask for help/' On still another 
occasion he said, "Mind must be activemust be doing some- 
thing of itself in order not to be swept off its bearings by an 
outside force. Mind should be able to hold a single idea volun- 
tarily, to make that idea a matter of course . , . What you think 
of is unimportant. It is merely practice in thinking of some- 


thing that does not exist, something that is the contradiction 
of the evidence of your eyes and ears. Faith is saying you 
believe something when you know it isn't so. Be able to con- 
struct your own world, your own conditions without regard 
to the conditions that are imposed on you through your 
senses. In all Western science passivity is the test of truth. 
You are passive to things that come through your senses, 
whereas the great object of training is to get your mind 
so accustomed to acting independently of your senses as to 
be able to think what you want without regard to them/' 
Question: "In the East do they ever get to a point where they 
believe in passivity?" Answer: "Never. On the contrary, pas- 
sivity is thoroughly bad-a thing to be kept away from. It holds 
you down. It is all in the direction of the material world, 
which is just what you want to get away from." 


Fenollosa's daughter Brenda, who was bom in Tokyo, later 
wrote a description of the family house there. "The entrance/* 
she said, "was through a porch, enclosed by glass in winter, 
some eighty feet long, and filled with tropical flowers and 
shrubs. I still remember the beauty of the dwarf weeping plum- 
trees, which bloomed there in the spring, amidst the multi- 
coloured azaleas. At the end of this porch was my playroom, 
where I kept my toys and where my dolls were ranged in their 
full regalia. The house itself was on one floor, with a big tiled 
Japanese roof. There was an entrance hall, library, two large 
drawing-rooms with their respective fireplaces, the dining-room, 
our five bedrooms, two bathrooms, and, not least important, 
the small passageway with its low roof, to which we all rushed 
at night whenever there was an earthquake a thing which 


happened quite often and which shook the house and made 
frightful rumbling noises. The servants' quarters were rambling 
and in Japanese style . . . 

"In the summer we were wont to go to the mountains. At 
Nikko we lived in a real Japanese house that had sliding panels 
between the rooms and matting on the floors. The surround- 
ing grounds were enchanting, with a broad stream, which 
dashed over rocks amid its trees and flowers. Bishop Brooks 
of Boston and Bishop McVickar from Pennsylvania came to 
visit us at Nikko, during their sojourn in Japan. So weighty 
were these pillars of the Church that all our wicker furniture 
creaked and groaned for many weeks after their departure; and, 
so tall were these two gentlemen, that their heads almost 
touched the ceiling whenever they walked through our house 
... At Nikko, near where we lived there was a very ancient 
and famous temple to which Ah-Ching (the Chinese nurse) 
would sometimes take me for a walk. The building was superb, 
covered with red lacquer and carved gold. Its marvellous roof, 
made of enormous tiles, sloped up with the angle which dis- 
tinguishes Fugi Yama. One day, when we were there, I stood 
lost in admiration of the great bronze gong, some eighteen 
inches in diameter, and the bronze gong-master, which looked 
like a small torpedo and which hung from a chain, perfectly 
balanced and floating, as it were, in the air. Suddenly I decided 
to see if I could whang that great gong. Before Ah-Ching 
noticed me, I had climbed on to the flat wall surrounding the 
temple and, jumping up into the air, I reached for the gong- 
master, striking it with my hand. A resonant deep dong ensued. 
And then, with one hand over my mouth, Ah-Ching whisked 
me away . . . 

"In our garden were the most beautiful of dragon-flies, multi- 
coloured and with iridescent wings. There were also many 


butterflies, and in our mountain stream stood white herons 
and storks. On occasion I would put a drop of honey on the 
end of each finger, and run off to the garden to entice the 
dragon-flies to come to me. Many a time I have had a dragon- 
fly perched on each of my ten fingers, sipping the honey . . . 
Mother, who did a good deal of photographing in those days, 
had a dark room at the end of a passage in our house at Nikko. 
One day, as she was coming from the dark room, she beheld 
a priest, dressed in his gorgeous vestments of Japanese brocade, 
standing at the entrance of the corridor. She spoke to him, but 
he did not answer her. Suddenly, as she approached him, he 
vanished. She was amazed. The house in which we lived had 
belonged for many years before his death to a priest, and we 
were told in the village that this same priest always came back 
on moonlight nights that he might gaze over the valley to the 
mountain beyond and see the beautiful view that he had so 
well loved in life. Often, it was said, he had been so seen stand- 
ing there on a balcony at the end of the passage. 

"The summer over, we returned with all our luggage to 
Tokyo by many jinrickshas. This journey took two days, which 
required spending the night at a Japanese inn. Here we slept 
on the floor on mats, as is the custom in Japan. We were 
sprinkled with flea-powder in the hope of escaping the fleas. 
The road we took was narrow and rough, with mud up to 
the axles of the wheels, but the scenery was lovely with dis- 
tant prospects of the mountains and nearer hills and rice-fields 
in the foreground. Tall cryptomeria trees lent shade to our 
journey, as these dark evergreens lined the road on either side 
. . . Many were the changes that we found when we reached 
our home in Tokyo, for the parents had decided to give up the 
jinrickshas. A landau and a pair of beautiful high-stepping 
stallions had been purchased, for to Tokyo belonged the dis- 


tinction of being the district set aside for stallions. So we found 
ourselves with a coachman, a footman and a stable-boy instead 
of the three jinricksha men. Then Father bought a horse to 
ride, also a stallion, and I used to watch him leave home in a 
cloud of dust . . . How beautiful was Mother dressed in her 
Court presentation costume! With pleasure I remember her, 
dressed in gold and white brocade with the long Court train 
of crimson satin embroidered with gold chrysanthemums. On 
her head were white ostrich feathers with a white tulle veil 
behind. Father had been knighted by the Emperor of Japan 
for his mission to Europe. 

"After our return to Tokyo, our house, from time to time, 
became filled with objects of art: screens of gold leaf, over 
which were painted in brilliant colours scenes of Japanese 
life, of birds, and of landscapes; kakemonos in their rich 
brocade frames; wood-block prints of many famous artists; 
bronze hibachis braziers in which the Japanese burn charcoal 
and over which they sit on padded mats, warming their hands; 
bronze vases and bronze candlesticks; bronze bells from the 
temples; brass and silver incense-burners; cloisonne trays and 
boxes; exquisite lacquer tanses and an infinite variety of porce- 
lain. How wonderful they were, and how I gloried in looking 
at each new object after their arrival! And they mysteriously 
disappeared, only to be followed by others, until these latter 
also went the way of the first. This was the beginning of my 
father's Japanese art collection, now in the Boston Museum 
of Fine Arts . . . Not only the Emperor and nobles, but the 
temples, too, had vast collections stored in godowns or ware- 
houses. Occasionally the ornaments in their houses were 
changed for others in the godowns. Father was given entree 
to these godowns, which enabled him to coordinate Japanese 
art and to purchase objects for his collection. 


"One day at an informal lunch-party, largely of men, I was 
allowed to be at the table and sat between Mr. Percival Lowell 
and Mr. Lafcadio Hearn. Dr. Sturgis Bigelow was also there. 
I was charmed with Mr. Lowell and in later years often saw 
him in Boston. But Mr. Lafcadio Hearn was replusive to look 
at; he had a wonderful voice, to be sure, and he talked well; 
but he was totally blind, and his food landed in strange places, 
much to my delight. In the middle of lunch there was a loud 
crash. Suzuki, our tall butler, disappeared; Father followed, and, 
of course, so did I, not heeding Mother's protests. In the hall 
we saw a great hole in the ceiling, and below the floor was 
covered with plaster in which a six-foot snake was wriggling. 
Our butler killed the snake and took him out. Meanwhile 
our guests came out from the dining-room. As soon as Dr. 
Bigelow saw what had happened, he exclaimed, 'Three cheers! 
I have heard that snake moving around over the ceiling in my 
bedroom. Thank God, he did not fall on me!' 

"The last incident I remember before we left Japan to return 
to America, soon after I was seven years old, occurred in our 
park, Kaga Yasiki, while I was out taking a walk with my 
governess. Suddenly we saw a red fox come out of his hole and 
dart away. Then, as we felt the tremors of an earthquake, we 
turned towards home. On the way the ground in front of us 
was heaving up and down, like the waves of the sea; but the 
tremors did not last long." 


In 1890, Lafcadio Hearn arrived in Japan. He had returned 
to New York from the French West Indies, and he came to 
Yokohama vaguely commissioned to write sketches of travel 
for American magazines. To him, the little people seemed all 


gentleness and kindness, and he felt that he was surrounded 
by a smiling world, a world of hushed voices and slow move- 
ments. He was won over at once by the folklore of the Japa- 
nese, threatened by infiltrations from the scientific West Inter- 
ested in the common people and their half -forgotten legends, 
their old myths and stories of ghosts, he was impressed by what 
seemed to him the joyousness of Shinto and Buddhism, and 
his favourite divinity was also Kwannon. He was attracted to 
Jizo, the god of the ghosts of children. Disliking the new mili- 
tant Japan, he thought everything that was ugly in the empire 
was a result of the influence of the West, and he was con- 
vinced that science was bound to wipe out all memory of Bud- 
dha's words from the mind of Japan. He spent most of his 
first summer in Yokohama, tutoring and going on pilgrimages 
to well-known and lesser-known temples. He never forgot, in 
the grounds of a certain temple, a grove of cherry trees in 
bloom against a pale blue sky. 

Hearn found that teachers of English were still in demand 
in government schools, and, presently married to a Japanese 
wife, he cherished in his house a world of ancient courtesies, 
thoughts and ways. He became instructor in English in a 
government college at Kumamoto, on an island at the south 
of Japan; but, ultimately becoming a professor at the Univer- 
sity of Tokyo, he was known as the recluse of the campus. 
His house was an hour from the university by ricksha; it stood 
on a high hill, and beyond a field was an ancient Buddhist 
temple in a dense wood on a higher slope. Usually in garden 
or study, he walked in the evenings with an old priest, and he 
wrote to Fenollosa that friends were more dangerous than 
enemies,-"Alas! I can afford friends only on paper. Visiting 
is out of the possible/' Fenollosa had given him the story, 
A Mountain of Skulls, about the vast heap of death's-heads, 


the skulls of one man's previous incarnations; and he had 
enjoyed, he said, more pleasant hours in the Fenollosa house 
than in any other foreign house in Tokyo. Fenollosa too was 
an advocate of Herbert Spencer; but Lafcadio Hearn wrote of 
"the isolation indispensable to quiet regularity of work, and 
the solitude which is absolutely essential to thinking upon 
such subjects as I am now engaged on. My friends! Ah! My 
friends! . . . But I have not been the loser by my visits to you 
both did I not get that wonderful story? And so I have given 
you more time than any other person or persons in Tokyo. 
But now I must again disappear." 

For Fenollosa the great years of romantic interest of living 
in Japan had been from 1880 to 1890, and he was prepared 
to return to Boston to spend five years as curator of the Orien- 
tal collections in the Museum. He arranged the treasures there, 
wrote various catalogues and became interested in art educa- 
tion in the United States. He was opposed to the enforced 
drawing from plaster casts, "tracing the shadow of a shadow.*' 
The keynote of his teaching was 'spacing/' and for a while 
he worked with Arthur Wesley Dow at the Pratt Institute in 
Brooklyn. In Boston he gave public lectures on Japanese and 
Chinese history and art, and in 1893 he represented Japan 
at the World's Fair in Chicago, where Japanese art was clas- 
sified for the first time not among the industries but among 
the fine arts. In the Puvis de Chavannes frescoes at the Bos- 
ton Public Library he saw "the supreme triumph of the decora- 
tive idea," though he said they pushed too far towards the 
pole of decoration as Abbey's pictures pushed too far towards 
the pole of expression. He spoke of Sargent's first fresco as 
"blazing up the firmament of art like a new comet." During 
these years he showed the youthful Bernard Berenson his 
collections of Oriental art, which Berenson defended in opposi- 


tion to Norton; and Mrs. Jack Gardner saw much of Fenol- 
losa. She remembered his "fresh enthusiastic greeting" when 
she was in Japan in 1883, and at her house he met Paul Bour- 
get and his wife when they visited Boston in 1893. But she 
declined the honour of receiving at Fenway Court a distin- 
guished Japanese who wore European dress. A believer in 
the maintenance of native customs, costumes and ceremonies, 
she found the ways of the Orient picturesque and interesting, 
and Japanese were welcome in her box at the opera only if 
they came in Japanese clothes. 

Why did Fenollosa sever his connection with the Boston 
Museum? In part, no doubt, because of a scandal. He had 
left his wife and presently married Mary McNeil, who had 
grown up in Mobile, Alabama. Mary McNeil had been mar- 
ried before to a diplomat at Tokyo, and she had lived for 
several years in Japan, the setting of two or three novels she 
later wrote under the pen-name "Sidney McCall." After her 
husband died, she married Fenollosa in 1895, when he was 
still curator at the Boston Museum. The two returned together 
to Japan, where they lived in Tokyo from 1897 to 1900, and 
Fenollosa studied the Noh drama and Chinese and Japanese 
poetry and began to plan his history of Far Eastern art. Jap- 
anese artists, poets and priests gathered in his house there; 
Japan excited him more than ever, and, to Robert Underwood 
Johnson of The Century Magazine in New York, he wrote: 
"This is the first time I have ever lived. There seems no end to 
the material that is offering itself to us here. Meanwhile, we 
keep ourselves well-informed of the Western world through 
a liberal supply of papers and magazines . . . Here it was my 
intention, for the first time in my life, to enter upon a literary 
career; and the choice of residence and conditions was a matter 
involving much time. At last in the middle of June I was 


able to hire a suitable house in Tokyo, and soon had all my 
furniture, books and papers from America unpacked and 
arranged about me. It was then only that I could settle down 
to my writing . . . There can be no question that this is the 
place in which Oriental history should be written. Already 
I have vistas of years of fruitful collaboration with my Eastern 
friends. My closest friend and co-worker is Okakura." 

"Let me hope," Fenollosa continued in a letter to Johnson 
in 1897, "that a word describing my new life may interest 
you. Besides working on the history of art, I have projected 
the early writing of treatises, which I have been preparing for 
years on the Theory of Art and on Art Education. In col- 
laboration with my wife, I shall carry forward the translation 
of Chinese and Japanese poetry ... A young lady is with us, 
a Miss Dyer of New Orleans, of a remarkable mind, a writer 
who will be heard from in the future. She, Mrs. Fenollosa 
and myself have three separate studies, where we work undis- 
turbed for five hours every morning. In the afternoon we take 
exercise, view the city, or receive our friends. In the evening 
we meet for regular study together. Monday evenings our 
subject is Philosophy, and at present we are studying Hegel's 
Logic. On Tuesday it is Poetry, and we have begun with the 
Elizabethan dramatists. Wednesday, History, at present Eng- 
lish, Thursday, the History of Art, Bosanquet's Aesthetics. 
Friday, Science, just now mechanics. Saturday, Japanese lan- 
guage. A number of years spent in this fashion will carry us 
over much ground." Fenollosa was preparing some articles on 
Japanese art for The Century, and he wrote to Johnson in 
1898, "The time is more than ripe for the appearance of my 
articles, as yet the first accurate information on the subject, 
and that for which the world has been waiting for fifteen 
years. I cannot guarantee their primacy much longer, and 


my reputation demands that, in some way, my twenty years 
of effort should enter the field first . . . There have "been 
efforts on the part of hoth foreigners and natives to publish 
on Japanese art ... So far, we have the field pre-empted. No- 
body has opened my historic mine, nobody has used such 
illustrations. But the drift here is rapidly toward a national 
interest in these things, which is stimulating many a scheme 
of art publication. The government's former prohibition of 
the public's photographing treasures in temples has been greatly 
relaxed. To have our illustrative material remain unique we 
must be quick in its use. As for the text, pardon my self-con- 
fidence if I say that I wish the early publication of my sketch 
to deter, by its evident reserve of strength, any rash and ill- 
equipped interlopers in this field." 

Two years later, in 1900, the Fenollosas returned to America, 
but not before Fenollosa had published in the Japan Weekly 
Mail his ode on the marriage of the Crown Prince of Japan. 
Much Japanese history appeared in this Epithalamial Ode, 
which was written in the lofty style of Milton. Fenollosa 
lectured from San Francisco to New York, and, invited by 
President Theodore Roosevelt, he even lectured at the White 
House. He noted that he was regarded as a "Japanese man/' 
and sometimes he heard students at a university say, "Oh, 
where is the Jap?" At least he believed that Japanese art had 
an immense amount to teach Americans. At this time he and 
his wife went to live for a while in Mobile, at Kobinata, named 
after Fenollosa's former house in Tokyo, where were installed 
not only many objets-d'art but also shrubbery brought back 
from Japan. There, when Fenollosa was absent on his lecture 
tours, "Sidney McCall" began to write her novels. She also 
wrote poems with Japanese themes, but, along with The 
Dragon Painter, the story of an actual artist with a violent 


style, her most important book was The Breath of the Gods, 
largely about an American senator who has idealized Japan be- 
fore, as ambassador, with his family, he goes to live there. He 
is convinced, like Fenollosa, that the Japanese can "fuse the 
experience, character, insight, humanity of both our long- 
suffering hemispheres/' His own old mule, on the farm in 
Illinois, called Kuranasuki, did better work than any span of 

In a New York apartment, in the summer of 1906, Fenol- 
losa completed a rough draught of his Epochs of Chinese and 
Japanese Art, hastily writing in pencil and often omitting 
Chinese names, the full names of artists and the names of 
temples. He left blank the location of many Tang paintings 
in Japan, intending to insert these when he could get back 
to Japan again, consult with old colleagues and have access 
to archives. Making no claim to being a scholar, he wrote 
for those who could try to form a clear conception of the 
humanity of the Far Eastern peoples; but this was the first time 
that anyone had attempted a treatise on its vast subject, "a 
single splendid sweep/' He discussed together Chinese and 
Japanese art as if they were a single aesthetic movement, as 
closely interrelated as Greek and Roman art, seeing each epoch 
as having its own beauty of spacing, colour and line, permeat- 
ing ceramics and textiles along with painting and sculpture. 
He foresaw a time when the art-work of the whole world 
would be looked upon as one, variations in a single kind of 
mental effort. 

In 1908, Fenollosa undertook a tour of Europe, leading a 
class of young men to whom he lectured in art museums. For 
The Craftsman he reviewed the spring Paris Salon of which 
he said the live historical genius had fallen on a rocky soil 
from Spain. Then, in September, on the eve of sailing for 


home, he died suddenly in London, a victim of angina pec- 
toris, and his ashes, placed at first in Highgate cemetery, were 
enclosed in a bronze casket and conveyed to Japan. They were 
huried on a hill overlooking Lake Biwa, under a group of 
large cryptomeria trees, in the grounds of the temple of Miidera, 
to which old lichen-covered steps led the way. There Fen- 
ollosa had spent many days meditating upon the sutras, and 
the ceremony was performed hy Ajari Mobayeshi and his at- 
tendant priests chanting the sacred Kyomon. At the time of 
the funeral a memorial exhibition was held of two hundred 
paintings loaned by collectors in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, for 
which two temples were turned into art galleries. Later a stone 
monument, twelve feet high, was erected in the grounds of 
the Tokyo Art School, with a chiselled portrait bust surmount- 
ing a long biographical inscription, shadowed in spring by 
cherry blossoms. Fenollosa, the poet Yone Noguchi said, was 
"the very discoverer of Japanese art for Japan." 

Two years later, Mrs. Fenollosa left Kobinata and took the 
manuscript of his Epochs to Japan, where, working with Dr. 
Ariga Nagao and Kano Tomonobu, she completed the book 
as well as she could. Kano Tomonobu was the only blood 
descendant of his already forgotten school who was alive and 
practising his family art as he had learned it before the Revo- 
lution. The book, still full of errors, remained a great romance, 
and, as Langdon Warner said, "Though Western knowledge 
of Oriental art has progressed since [Fenollosa's] death, it has 
followed the path blazed by him." Meanwhile, the shadowy 
head of Christ behind Saint-Gaudens's "Phillips Brooks," at 
the side of Trinity Church in Boston, was modelled from 
Fenollosa's head. "He was in certain ways a great man," Dr. 
Bigelow wrote to the first Mrs. Fenollosa. Dr. Bigelow was to 
outlive him by several years. His heart too remained in Japan, 


and, while his family arranged for funeral services in Trinity 
Church, no one was permitted to see the "body; for Dr. Bige- 
low had insisted on being dressed for burial in the Oriental 
robes of a Buddhist neophyte. He too was buried, near Fen- 
ollosa, on the shores of Lake Biwa. As for Edward S. Morse, 
the first of all these pilgrims to Japan, his five thousand speci- 
mens of Japanese pottery had long since been acquired by 
the Museum in Boston; but he continued to live in Salem, and 
Japanese visitors were astonished by his perfect rendering of 
long poetical passages from the Noh plays. 

"The life of Ernest Fenollosa was the romance par excel- 
lence of modern scholarship," Ezra Pound wrote in 1916. 
After Fenollosa's death, his widow cast about for someone who 
could render into poetical English his unedited fragments of 
Chinese and Japanese poems and plays, and she became con- 
vinced that Ezra Pound was the "poet-interpreter" for whom 
she was searching. She forwarded her husband's notes to him, 
and Pound, enthusiastic, said that the writers before the Pe- 
trarchan age of Li Po were "a treasure to which the next cen- 
turies may loot for as great a stimulus as the Renaissance had 
from the Greeks." Pound began with work on the Noh plays 
and presently went on to the Chinese poems, saying, "The 
first step of a renaissance, or awakening, is the importation of 
models for painting, sculpture and writing. The last century 
discovered the Middle Ages. It is possible that this century may 
find a new Greece in China." He drew a parallel between 
Chinese and Imagist poetry, explaining Imagism in terms of 
the idiogram of the Chinese written character, a "verbal 
medium consisting largely of semi-pictorial appeals to the eye." 


For this written character was based not on sound but on 
form; the word was a picture of an object. He called Fenol- 
losa's essay, The Chinese Written Character, "a study of the 
fundamentals of all aesthetics"; in its strong reliance on verbs 
it erected all speech into a kind of dramatic poetry. But George 
Kennedy, the sinologist of Yale, found this essay a mare's-nest, 
all self-contradiction and confusion, in which it was apparent 
that the Chinese language did not rely on verbs but rather on 

In his summing up, however, Ezra Pound wrote truthfully 
of Fenollosa, "His mind was constantly filled with parallels 
and comparisons between Eastern and Western art ... He 
looked to an American renaissance ... In his search through 
unknown art, Fenollosa, coming upon unknown motives and 
principles unrecognized in the West, was already led into many 
modes of thought since fruitful in 'new' Western painting and 
poetry." Ezra Pound concluded with the remark, "He was a 
forerunner without knowing it and without being known as 


IN THE autumn of 1819, the. Englishman John Garnett had 
been living for twenty-two years in New Brunswick, New 
Jersey, where this elderly philosopher of ample means had 
bought the Whitehouse farm to bring up his four personable 
daughters. A citizen of the world himself, he had travelled in 
France and Italy; he had known, in Switzerland, Bonstetten 
and Lavater; and, an ardent follower of the French Ency- 
clopaedists, he built an observatory beside his roomy dwelling. 
For he was a student of astronomy and mathematics who gave 
lessons in navigation and nautical science to Charles Wilkes, 
the future discoverer of the Antarctic continent. John Garnett 
had sent for an English governess to supervise the daughters, 
one of whom wrote in later years a tale called The Jersey 
Laurel about the shrub that grew by the Raritan river. Prosper 
Merim6e, whom she was to know in Paris, compared her style 
to Dr. Johnson's. 

The Garnetts were cosmopolites, and among their neigh- 
bours in New Brunswick were the Hyde de Neuville family 
who had escaped from France after trying to persuade Na- 
poleon to recall the Bourbons. They were Bonapartist emigres 
as others in America had been exiled earlier still by the French 

6 9 


Revolution, and they lived for three years in New Brunswick 
before the "shepherd of the Raritan" became the Minister of 
Marine of the Bourbon king. The Hyde de Neuvilles were 
royalists as the Garnetts were republicans, but they mingled 
very happily in New Jersey, although John Garnett had more 
in common with the Englishman Joseph Priestley who had 
settled on the Susquehanna at about the same time, Garnett 
had come to America in 1797, Priestley in 1794, hoping to 
establish a settlement for the friends of liberty there. A few 
years earlier Coleridge and Southey had planned to organize 
their Pantosocracy on the banks of the Susquehanna; while 
they gave up this plan, Priestley expressed the frame of mind of 
many of the emigrants to the United States, "Whatever was 
the beginning of this world, the end will be glorious and 
paradisaical, beyond what our imagination can now conceive." 
The age of Enlightenment was in full flood, and America was 
the Eden of the new world. 

Suddenly, in 1819, two attractive Scottish girls arrived in 
New Brunswick to visit the Garnetts, Frances and Camilla 
Wright, who had just come down from Montreal in the course 
of a journey through the new republic. Frances Wright, or 
Fanny Wright, as everybody called her, was tall and slender, 
twenty-four years old, with blue eyes, high spirits, an air of 
command and a manner that was often called enchanting. Her 
pretty sister Camilla was a year younger. The two had stayed 
in a boarding-house near the Battery in New York, then they 
had moved to the house of the widow of Wolf Tone, the 
leader of the Irish rising of 1798; but they had come to New 
Brunswick with an introduction from John Wilkes, who was 
very English himself in manner and appearance. This banker, 
the father of the explorer, who lived in Greenwich Village, 
wore a blue coat with a buff waistcoat, and his long hair was 


slowly turning white. Fanny was anxious to be known as a 
young author, and she had published the tragedy of Altorf, 
a Byronesque play in five acts that was produced at the Park 
Theatre in New York. It dealt with an imaginary incident in 
the struggle of the Swiss against the encroachments of Austria 
in the fourteenth century. Fanny had hoped that Kemble 
would produce the play in Glasgow at a time when she was 
living there, but it was brought out in New York with the 
elder Walleck in the principal part and John Wilkes and 
Cadwallader Golden sitting in boxes. Then, before it was 
printed by Mathew Carey, it was produced again, with the 
praise of William Dunlap, in Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson, 
who read the play, also praised it in a letter to the author. 
It was supposed for a while to have been written by the young 
Wolf Tone, whose mother was now married to a brother of 
"Christopher North/' the principal writer of Black-wood's 
Magazine. Fanny, who had been engaged for a long time to 
her cousin in England, fell in and out of love with this other 
young man, as keen a radical as herself, who read the pro- 
logue to Altorf, a play expressing views that were hateful to 
the Tories. But Fanny, who spoke Italian and French, still had 
conservative friends, like Wilkes and Colonel John Trumbull, 
the painter. 

Fanny and Camilla stayed with the Garnetts for many 
weeks, and before they left to return to England they swore 
eternal friendship with Julia and Harriet Garnett, two of the 
young daughters. But Fanny, who had lost her own father 
when she was not three years old, was even more taken with 
John Garnett, the venerable sage whose name and character 
she planned to introduce in a long poetical work, Thoughts 
of a Recluse. In fact, she was always looking for a father, and 
she was to find one in Jeremy Bentham, in Robert Owen, and, 


above all, in Lafayette. In the end she married an elderly 
Frenchman. She had had, with Camilla, meanwhile, an un- 
happy childhood. Bom in Dundee, the daughter of a mer- 
chant who had been under surveillance for treason, they had 
been left orphans when they were just able to walk, and they 
had been brought up by their mother s conventional family 
and friends. Their father, a great numismatist, who collected 
coins and medals and presented his valuable collection to the 
British Museum, had financed a cheap edition of Thomas 
Paine's The Rights of Man and remained a trouble-maker in 
a time of reaction. These were the retrograde years that fol- 
lowed Waterloo, and the great landlords of Scotland were 
turning their estates into game preserves, leaving their tenants 
to emigrate or die by the roadside. It was almost a crime to 
sympathize with the ideas of the French Revolution, punish- 
able by imprisonment or transportation, and Fanny, who had 
fallen under Byron's influence, seemed to take pleasure in 
defying public opinion. She had observed that her grandfather 
Campbell knew only "lords and generals," and she and her 
sister never learned to dress themselves without help from a 
maid, while they themselves were subjected to 'Violence and 
insult/' Or so Fanny averred in a letter to her aunt. Carefully 
brought up in the Church of England, and with ample means 
of her own, she happened on a copy of Botta's American 
Revolution and, as she said, awoke to a new existence. She 
confessed to the Garnetts her aversion to England, its govern- 
ment and society, saying, "Do not think me madly prejudiced 
against this island. But I cannot see beggary in our towns and 
villages, and read of injustice in every paper . * * and meet 
political and religious hypocrisy wherever I turn, without feel- 
ing pain, indignation or disgust." She wished only to see the 
United States, and she had sailed with Camilla to remain for 


two years and a half and travel through the country. Camilla, 
"young, lovely, attractive in manner," as one of their friends 
said, "could have no happiness distinct from her glorious sis- 
ter." Camilla, in short, lived in Fanny's light. 

Their only pleasant home in England had been the house, 
near Newcastle, of the sympathetic widow of one of their 
uncles, and to this Mrs. Robina Millar, who had lived in 
America herself, Fanny wrote the letters that she presently 
published. She called her book Views of Society and Manners 
in America, and she recounted her travels among the "calm, 
rational, civil and well-behaved" American people. Slavery 
was the only blot she could see in a country "where the dreams 
of sages, smiled at as Utopian, seem distinctly realized ... a 
nation of all others the most orderly and the most united"; 
but, as she made only a little excursion into Virginia, she was 
not greatly disturbed as yet by slavery. From the "pleasant, op- 
ulent and airy" New York, she went to Albany and Vermont, 
Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, and 
there she met Henry Clay who quoted in one of his speeches 
a remark of the "distinguished foreign lady." She visited Jo- 
seph Bonaparte, the ex-king of Spain, at Bordentown, among 
Canova's busts of the Bonaparte family in his villa there, and 
she found on American farms plenty at the board, an open 
door, light spirits and easy toil. In short, her picture was much 
like Cobbetfs in A Year's Residence in the United States 
when this transmogrified Tory, returning to the country, found 
universal civility, cheerfulness and industry where he had 
found everything hateful before. Nothing was said, in Fanny 
Wright's view of the great experiment, about any of the ele- 
ments that America lacked, a fine literature, cathedrals, impos- 
ing ruins; one saw only what was visible through rose-coloured 
glasses of a country that was happily called a republic. 



Soon after Fanny returned to England, John Garnett died 
in New Brunswick, and his wife and three unmarried daugh- 
ters sold their Whitehouse farm and went to live on the Left 
Bank in Paris. They settled in the Rue St. Maur, as it was 
called in the eighteen-twenties. The Hyde de Neuvilles wel- 
comed their old neighbours from New Brunswick, with Paul 
de Neuville, who had also raised sheep on the Raritan, and 
Madame Dupont de Nemours, who had gone back to Paris. 
It was Paul de Neuville's daughter whose scandalous elope- 
ment caused her to appear as Mathilde de la M61e in Sten- 
dhal's novel, Le Rouge et Le Noir, and Prosper M<rime acted 
as an intermediary between the Garnetts and the rejected 
lover. For Grasset was forbidden to marry the young lady. 

The Garnetts, who were far from rich, had their own salon, 
nevertheless, at which Prosper M6rime and Stendhal con- 
stantly appeared, and when Macready, the actor, came to 
Paris, they gave a little evening party for him. Merimee, pale 
and thin, came once with his arm in a sling, the result of a 
duel, though he said it was due to a fall from a cabriolet. The 
duel was fought over a lady at whose house he was staying, 
and the husband challenged him and shot him in the arm. 
Sismondi, the Swiss historian, who had gone to Italy with 
Madame de Stael on the journey that resulted in Corinne, 
had married a Miss Allen, a cousin of the Garnetts, and at his 
house in Geneva later they met the great Chateaubriand, who 
appeared to be as liberal as they were. "I forgot I was talking 
to a great man" Harriet wrote to Fanny Wright. "His head 
is beautiful and his conversation full of spirit and feeling." In 
Geneva she also met La Guiccioli, "as fair as a lily, but not 
melancholy enough for Byron's mistress." A few years later 


Mrs. Shelley arrived in Paris and saw the Gametts again and 
again, ''such a complete coquette/' wrote Harriet, "that I have 
no patience with her. Pretty she is hut so affected/' flirting 
with Prosper Merimee. While most of their friends were 
conservative, the Gametts remained liberals, and they felt 
at home in the circle of Lafayette and his gay young follower 
Benjamin Constant. "The general/' always Lafayette, who, 
in his old age liked young girls, was the great attraction of 
their salon; and Harriet Garnett later translated his memoirs 
into English when his family consulted her about a previous 
bad translation. The Gametts were invited to the weddings 
of his granddaughters and all the family ceremonies at La 
Grange, the great gloomy castle forty miles from Paris. Ever 
since he had been released from the Austrian prison of 
Olmiitz, he had been active in the French Chamber of Depu- 
ties, fighting for the freedom of the press, the abolition of titles 
and religious toleration. He believed that France had only to 
turn itself into another America to achieve happiness for all 

Meanwhile, Fanny and Camilla Wright had gone back to 
the north of England. There they stayed near Newcastle with 
their aunt by marriage who wrote that, after two years and a 
half in the United States, they had returned "wholly Ameri- 
can in their sentiments and feelings." Fanny sent Harriet Gar- 
nett two poems she had composed in the stage-coach on her 
way to Ayrshire, and, writing her Views of Society and Man- 
ners in America, she met Francis Jeffrey in Edinburgh. Not 
yet Lord Jeffrey, he was the editor of the Edinburgh Review 
and the son-in-law of her New York friend John Wilkes, and 
Fanny wrote to Harriet, "Jeffrey was very polite . . . But I 
did not like him so well as the last time I saw him. His con- 
ceit and nonsense are rather sickening, and his vulgar flirting 


with a married woman on a side sofa was greatly sickening. 
We saw at his house that evening his peculiar coterie, and I 
thought it altogether insufferableconceit, affectation and vul- 
garity all united, For heaven's sake, whisper this not abroad." 
Then she related how a certain bluestocking had met Mrs. 
Jeffrey, who took her into the nursery, seated her by the fire 
and ran away to find a pair of dry shoes and stockings. (They 
had been walking along roads ankle-deep in mud.) Just then 
Jeffrey returned from his ride, and, coming to the nursery, he 
saw, sitting with her back to the door, a female figure which 
he took for his wife's. He called out loud, 'You great ass, what 
are you sitting there for?" No answer. 'You great stupid brute, 
why don't you answer?" Still silence. 'You great ugly beast, 
you great deaf fool." Then the figure slowly rose and, lifting 
up her veil, confronted him, a stranger, Fanny added, "Don't 
you see his hair bristling like a porcupine's, his face lengthen- 
ing into an ell and a quarter and his two eyes expanding into 
saucers?" She could scarcely have wondered that he ignored, 
in the Edinburgh Review, her Views of Society and Manners 
in America. 

But the book won the attention of liberals and radicals all 
over Europe, and even the Bourbon King of France, Louis 
XVIII, was impressed by her picture of the young republic. 
She had a letter from Jeremy Bentham, an old friend of her 
father's, and the great utilitarian invited her to visit him the 
next time she came to London. Priestley's Essay on Govern- 
ment had given him the formula "the greatest happiness of 
the greatest number," at sight of which he had cried out, like 
Archimedes, "Eureka!" and Fanny had seen the connection 
between this and her own Epicurean doctrine that the desire 
for pleasure and the avoidance of pain were the underlying 
motives of human action. "I had contracted," Bentham said, 


"on! horrible! that unnatural and, at that time, almost un- 
exampled appetite, the love of innovation" although he had 
been opposed to the cause of the American colonists, owing 
to the inadequacy of its presentment by their friends in Eng- 
land. But he had given Mirabeau materials for some of his 
greatest speeches and the title "Citizen of France" had been 
bestowed upon him. He had belonged to a dinner club of 
which the despot was Dr. Johnson, that "pompous vamper," 
as he said, "of commonplace morality/' and he called Sir Wal- 
ter Scott "that servile poet and novelist," for he himself had 
become more and more a radical. He devoted to projects of 
prison reform years of his life and much of his fortune, and 
he urged the suppression of fox-hunting and cock-fighting be- 
cause they entailed a prolonged and painful death. His sole 
measure of good and evil was the quantity of pleasure or pain, 
physical or intellectual, that an action caused, and his contempt 
for the past was general and marked. He never tired now of 
comparing the honest government of the United States with 
the corruption that he found in England, and he was eager 
to converse with anyone who could give him information about 
the American republic. He refused to see Madame de Stael, 
whom he called a "trumpery magpie," but he talked with 
Fanny Wright till eleven in the evening. 

An old bachelor, cheerful and benign, with long flowing 
white hair, a Quaker-like coat and light brown cashmere 
breeches, he seldom left his "Hermitage" in Queens Square 
Place where flowers grew in all the window-boxes. A piano 
stood in every room for Jeremy Bentham to play on. He read 
and wrote all day and dined at six, beginning with dessert, 
for he said it lost its flavour if he ate it after the more sustain- 
ing viands. In the evenings he conversed with his friends, 
the philosophical radicals whom he inspired, James Mill, 


Francis Place, the 'radical tailor," the poet Thomas Campbell 
and George Grote, the historian of Greece. Fanny, who was 
often there, sometimes found herself alone at the fireplace of 
her old philosopher, the Socrates who carried his years as 
bravely as ever, she wrote, except that he had grown con- 
siderably deafer. An hour's conversation with him left her 
more fatigued than a walk of six miles. But she felt at home in 
Jeremy Bentham's house, he called her "the strongest, sweet- 
est mind that was ever cased in a human body"; and to him 
she dedicated A Few Days in Athens, a little book about 
Epicurus. 'Think for yourself is the motto of the Epicurean 
garden, as the young Corinthian, a disciple, quickly learns, 
and Fanny, the bold free-thinker, had thought herself out of 
religion, which she described as "the dark coinage of trembling 
ignorance/' The book became a favourite with readers of 
Volney's Ruins and Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason. 

One day in September, 1821, Fanny received a letter from 
Lafayette, who had read her Views of the United States and 
begged her to see him when she came to Paris to visit the 


Garnetts. He was enchanted with this book, which did jus- 
tice, as he said, to "the best and happiest people in the world"; 
and, when Fanny went over to Paris, Lafayette invited her 
to visit him and his family at La Grange. In the old chateau 
with its crumbling walls and five massive towers, there were 
usually twenty or thirty guests at dinner, the "exiled con- 
stitutionals," Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese and Poles, not to 
mention the needy Americans who sponged upon him. Then 
there was the family of nineteen persons, Lafayette's sons and 
daughters, with their husbands, wives and children, who 
walked, fished, rowed on the lake and visited the islands. They 
all assembled in the fine old dining-room, a stone hall with a 
groined roof. The conspirators who appeared there used La 


Grange as a meeting-place, though the Carbonari, who were 
held together by hatred of the Bourbons, had their supreme 
lodge in Paris. Lafayette, who was up to the neck in Car- 
bonarist plots, with Ary Scheffer, the painter, and the two 
Thierrys, the well-known historians of later years, often ap- 
peared at meetings in this lodge, inviolable himself as a mem- 
ber of the Chamber. Open-handed, immensely rich, he had 
fed seven hundred peasants a day in a year of agricultural 
depression, and he cultivated not only his land but his flock 
of merino sheep, his Devonshire cattle and his pigs from Balti- 
more and China. He sent sheepdogs to Jefferson at Monticello. 
For Washington's former aide-de-camp had retained through 
half a century his friendship with the fathers of the American 
republic, together with his loyalty to the American people as 
"one large innocent family having everything in common." He 
said that Fanny's book made him live over again the days that 
he had spent with "an army of brothers." He had his private 
quarters in one of the towers at La Grange, a library and a 
study where always hung the portrait that Ary Scheffer 
painted of Fanny, and Fanny's room was directly underneath, 
so that they could spend many hours together. Fanny, his 
confidante, aware of all his plans, sometimes acted as his sec- 
retary, and, spending six months there once, with her sister 
Camilla and Harriet Garnett, she worked on a life of Lafayette 
that was never completed. "My beloved, my adored Fanny," 
as Lafayette called her, with her amber hair, tall and slender, 
wore trousers at La Grange, a tunic and a sash and a broad- 
brimmed hat instead of a bonnet. "What goodness, what ador- 
able goodness is yours to me, O my friend, my father, my 
brother! How fortunate I am after all to have such a friend in 
whom I can confide all my thoughts, and who finds me worthy 
of a like confidence ... I who was thrown in infancy upon 


the world like a wreck upon the waters." So she wrote to 
Lafayette. They all spent their winters in Paris, Fanny with 
the Gametes, in an old building that had once heen a convent, 
and Lafayette drove over in his coach two or three times a 
week to pass a few hours in Fanny's study. It was a little room 
that had once heen a nun's cell. Once he found her correcting 
the proofs of a French translation of her hook. 

For three or four years Fanny went hack and forth between 
Paris and London, where she found a second home at Har- 
row, not far away, in the house of the mother of Anthony 
Trollope. Short, plump and voluble, Mrs. Trollope, a country 
clergyman's daughter, had been a lifelong friend of the Gar- 
netts, and she said that her husband was "a good honourable 
man" but that his temper was really "dreadful/' He had vio- 
lent headaches for which he took calomel, and "every year 
increases his irritability, and also its lamentable effect upon 
the children." A melancholy failure at both law and farming, 
he was absorbed in writing an Encyclopaedia Ecclesiastica, and 
their son Anthony, as a day-pupil at the Harrow school, was 
laughed at for wearing his father s cut-down suits. Mrs. Trol- 
lope, a Tory at heart, had been brought up on Rousseau. She 
was liberal, and even gullible, at this time of her life, anything 
but the orthodox matron she became later, and, writing letters 
to her sons in French and Italian, she was much taken with 
Fanny and her sister Camilla. She could not say too much 
about the "glorious sister": "Never was there, I am persuaded, 
such a being as Fanny Wright . . . Some of my friends declare 
that if worship may be offered it must be to her that she is 
at once all that woman should be and something more than 
woman ever was and I know not what beside and I for my 
part applaud and approve all they say. Miss Landon [Letitia 
Elizabeth Landon, the poetess], to whom I had mentioned 


her being here has written to ask leave to look at the most 
interesting woman in Europe. I honour the little Sappho for 
the wish and have granted it." 

Fanny Trollope had just travelled to England with Fanny 
Wright on the top of a diligence to Calais, for she had been 
in Paris in 1823 when she met Washington Irving and Feni- 
more Cooper. She dined at the Garnetts' house with Sismondi 
and Benjamin Constant, and Lafayette, who was also there, 
invited her for ten days at La Grange. General Guglielmo 
Pepe, too, may have been present, the hero of the unsuccessful 
rising at Naples, for Pepe, with his aide-de-camp, Count Pisa, 
was often at the Garnetts' and the Trollopes'. These two were 
professional soldiers of fortune, always on the liberal side, and 
Fanny Wright found herself entangled in General Pepe's af- 
fairs, concerned as he was at the moment with a revolt in Spain. 
Mrs. Trollope was to cross the ocean a few years later with 
Fanny Wright, but at the moment Fanny was to go to America 
with Lafayette, whom President Monroe invited in 1824. 
Lafayette had been defeated in the elections of 1823, and the 
failure of all the Carbonarist plans had discredited the cause 
of liberalism. Moreover, Lafayette himself was in financial 
straits, and his family had been embarrassed by his relations 
with Fanny. With what she called their 'little minds and petty 
jealousies/' they had turned against her; but their feeling 
changed when they were convinced that his well-being and 
even his health would be affected by any break with his 
"adopted daughters/' In fact, they urged Fanny and Camilla 
to go to America with him, provided they sailed on a separate 
ship. 'The Atlantic to be sure is a broad ferry, but easily to be 
crossed," Fanny wrote to Julia Garnett, adding, "Without 
some fixed and steady occupation, of labour, of business, of 
study ... it is impossible to make our existence glide smoothly 


... I remember an observation of your father's, that geometry 
had been his best friend and consoling companion. Rousseau 
said the same thing of botany, and Gibbon of his social re- 
search and composition," Fanny was very busy planning and 

So she and Camilla returned to America with "General 
Rainbow," as he came to be called; or, rather, sailing on a 
slower ship, the sisters reached New York in time for the 
great reception at Castle Garden. Then they travelled for 
several months about the country in his train, sharing balls, 
dinners and fetes, from Charleston to Boston. They heard 
Daniel Webster's oration on the fiftieth anniversary of Bunker 
Hill, and they spent several days at Monticello with Jefferson, 
to whom Lafayette had sent A Few Days in Athens. Fanny 
and Camilla set out on horseback for Natural Bridge, then, 
striking across to Harper's Ferry, through scenes that Jefferson 
had described, they rode for ten days to Washington. There, 
meeting Sam Houston and Andrew Jackson, Fanny told John 
Quincy Adams that Jeremy Bentham often spoke of him. 

But, at a certain Virginia seaport where they were disem- 
barking, Fanny saw a vessel sailing for New Orleans, crowded 
with blacks who were chained two by two and destined for the 
slave-market of the deep South. From that moment the ques- 
tion of slavery filled her mind, what could she herself do about 
it? and she gave up all thought of returning to France with 
Lafayette and began to think out a plan for emancipation. 
Before long she had bought from agents of General Jackson 
six hundred and forty acres near Memphis, Tennessee, formerly 
a station for the fur trade of the Indians and at the moment 
consisting of a dozen log cabins. Her land was below the cotton 
line of the South; it was gently undulating and hilly, though 
still infested with wolves, bears and panthers; and there she 


started a "model plantation" where a small number of slaves 
were to work out their freedom. She called it Nashoba, the 
old Chickasaw name for Wolf, and in preparation she rode on 
horseback forty miles a day, spending the night in the forest, 
on the ground or in cabins. For her bed she used a bearskin, 
with her saddle for a pillow. She had, she wrote, a perfect 
horse, gentle as a lamb but full of fire, who ate salt from her 
hand and ran like a deer. As for Camilla, she was more excited 
by the Western woods than by the prospect of emancipation. 
Fanny had parted from Lafayette at St. Louis, but she was to 
see him again two years later. 


Lafayette sailed back to France in 1825, carrying with him 
a large box filled with American earth so that he could eventu- 
ally be buried in it. Meanwhile, he was all sympathy with 
the "dear girls and their present concerns," for he was inter- 
ested in every plan to abolish slavery: he had even attempted, 
long before, an experiment in gradual emancipation on his 
estate in French Guiana. This experiment had been cut short 
by the French Revolution, but he had proposed to Washing- 
ton that they should purchase some land together and employ 
the slaves as paid agricultural hands after giving them their 

As for Fanny and her plan, both Monroe and Madison gave 
her their blessing, and Jefferson heartily approved of Nashoba 
when the sisters joined Lafayette at Monticello. Jefferson 
believed that every plan should be adopted, every experiment 
tried that might do something towards the ultimate object, and 
he wrote to Fanny, "That which you propose is well worthy 
of trial. It has succeeded with certain portions of our white 


brethren, under the care of a Rapp and an Owen; and why 
may it not succeed with the men of colour?" Fanny revered 
the "greatest of America's surviving veterans ... on the top 
of this little mountain . . . His face exhibits still, in its decaying 
outline and fallen and withered surface, the forms of symmetry 
and deep impress of character. His tall well-moulded figure re- 
mains erect and springy . . . but the lamp is evidently on the 
wane, nor is it possible to consider the fading of a light so 
brilliant and pure without a sentiment of deep melancholy/' 
But, while Jefferson thought her plan was promising, he wrote, 
"At the age of eighty-two, with one foot in the grave and the 
other lifted to follow it, I do not permit myself to take part in 
any new enterprise," or any but his university at Charlottes- 

This was the age of communities, one hundred and seventy- 
eight at least, in the course of fifty years, in the United States, 
and there even existed at this time a Society for Promoting 
Communities in New York. George Flower, an Englishman of 
means, also a friend of Lafayette, who had his own community 
in Illinois, had journeyed with Fanny on horseback across the 
state of Tennessee searching for the right land for Nashoba. 
Finding it near Memphis on both sides of the Wolf River, 
Fanny bought eight slaves at Nashville, five men and three 
women, and a family of seven who had come from South 
Carolina. They were a mother and six daughters, the gift of 
a planter, and a carpenter and a blacksmith were expected 
from day to day. George Flower, who had gone home to Dlinois, 
presently arrived again with his family and Camilla. They had 
had a tedious voyage on a flatboat, snagged in the Mississippi and 
getting off with difficulty. Travelling on the Mississippi was 
extremely hazardous, but "snags and foundered steamboats," 
wrote Fanny, "lost cargoes and drowned passengers, seldom 


inspire the precaution of lying in on a dark night, or of care- 
fully firing the boilers, so as to prevent the addition of blow- 
ing up to the other perils of the navigation." 

Soon a Scotsman , Richardson, arrived at Nashoba, with a 
young man, Richeson Whitby, who had been brought up in an 
easy-going Shaker Village; and they all piled brush and rolled 
logs, Fanny with the rest, fencing an apple orchard of five acres. 
They cleared two acres for cotton and five for corn. They 
built at first two log cabins, one for the Negroes, one fox the 
whites, and at first they were cheerful and contented. "The 
axes are ringing and all is stirring," Fanny wrote to Julia Gar- 
nett. A fiddle, produced by one of the men who knew how to 
turn some merry tunes, struck up regularly every evening, 
and Fanny soon procured a flute for another. They had 
dances twice a week in a larger cabin which they presently 
built, dancing after a hard day's work of hewing and -chopping, 
Fanny wrote, so heartily, "that I could wish myself one of 

Fanny's old desire to be known as an author seemed to her 
very silly now. She was not interested in making her way to 
fortune and renown when there was a chance of gradually 
freeing the slaves without financial loss to the planters. She 
had spent, meanwhile, about $10,000, '"more than a third of 
my property," she wrote, refusing the aid of Lafayette who 
watched over every move she made and who kept her friends 
the Garnetts well-posted about her. But she accepted a gift of 
goods from a Quaker in New York to help her in outfitting 
the community store. Moreover, George Flower transported 
down the river, in a flatboat, corn, hay, pork and beef, for she 
estimated that it would take three years of steady industry 
to bring the vegetable garden and the farm to bear. She had 
two cows to supply the dairy until they could send for the cattle 


and sheep, still in Illinois, in the autumn and spring. She 
planned to form a school where whites and blacks were to 
study together, proving their equality in brains, and a small 
cotton factory also, and she proposed to build on the pretty 
Wolf River a washing-house and another house for bathing. 
Then they were to open in time some wooded pastures and 
retired walks extending over meadows by the stream. Fanny 
rode three hundred miles into the Indian country, and she 
found in Memphis an interpreter for the body of Choctaws 
and Chickasaws who were trading there. 

Fanny had no doubt that the Garnetts were going to join 
her, and she wrote to Julia Garnett, 'When you come, bring 
a piece of stout cambric muslinpercale. Bring a few common 
beads, if cheap * . . Garnet red a favourite colour. Article of 
trade with Indians. A few cheap neck handkerchiefs, open 
net or silk, mixed with cotton or worsted. Showy cotton or 
marine handkerchiefs would sell well. Pincushions, bags, bas- 
kets, etc., also three plain looking glasses"; and she enclosed 
a draught to purchase these objects. Camilla added a request 
for two boxes of eau de Cologne, six yards of Swiss muslin 
for neck handkerchiefs, and two dozen cambric handkerchiefs 
for common use. Fanny wrote to Julia, "This state is one of 
the most favoured in the Union, abundantly watered by navi- 
gable streams flowing in all directions, and affording all vari- 
eties of soil and many of climate. Most of the productions of 
the North can be raised in perfection, and the Southern 
staple of cotton finds in this Western district a sun sufficiently 
genial and a soil particularly apt." Again she wrote, "The 
lovely face of nature such woods, such lawns, such gently 
swelling hills, such glorious trees, such exquisite flowers, and 
the giant river wafting the rich produce of this unrivalled 
land to the ocean. I could have wept as I thought that such a 


garden was wrought by the hands of slaves." Fanny had 
spent seven of the nine months she had passed in America 
almost entirely within the slave states. On her earlier tour 
she had scarcely seen them at all, and she was now convinced 
that the cure for slavery lay in the amalgamation of the races. 
Fanny owed the idea of Nashoba to the Owenite experiment 
which she had seen in its early stages; and she had even 
visited Economy, near Pittsburgh, where the Rappites were now 
living. George Rapp, a German vinedresser, had sold to Robert 
Owen the village of New Harmony in Indiana, although, 
moving to this new site, he continued the community that 
carried on its orchards and its vineyards. Owen, a rich English- 
man, who had come to America with his four sons, hoped to 
prove in his village on the Wabash that men were what their 
environment made them, and his experiment in cooperative 
living largely inspired Fanny's single-handed attempt to liber- 
ate the slaves, Owen, a great manufacturer who had begun as 
a poor boy, had seen men, women and children demoralized 
and maimed by the wage-slavery of ordinary factory-life. 
Treated as mere instruments for the accumulation of wealth, 
they had worked in impossible conditions, and Owen was 
convinced that if the conditions were reversed the human 
results would be reversed as well. In short, he believed that 
men were perfectible if the environment was right. A friend 
of Bentham and William Godwin, he had conducted, at New 
Lanark, a laboratory for experiments in education, and, not 
believing in punishment, he had started schools for the factory- 
folk, teaching by means of maps and coloured blocks. The 
pupils danced and sang, following the methods of Pestalozzi, 
and studied in the open air, on country walks. When the 
control at New Lanark was taken out of Owen's hands, he 
had come to the United States hoping to establish his new 


world of the spirit In new-world conditions. He had addressed, 
in Washington, the House of Representatives, and the whole 
country was soon aware of this English socialist and his so- 
called 'Village of cooperation." 

Fanny and Camilla were heartily with him. Camilla wrote 
to the Garnetts, "The principles advocated by Owen are to 
change the face of this world as surely as the sun shines in 
the heavens/* and Fanny said, "Mr, Owen is working miracles 
and promises to revolutionize the North as I pray we may 
do the South/ 1 She dreamed that Nashoba might not only win 
for the Negroes political liberty but that it might lead to the 
moral regeneration of the race, and she set out to prove the 
equality of black and white by giving to mixed classes the 
same education. At the same time she agreed with Owen that 
"Christian fanaticism and subjection" were "the means em- 
ployed for stultifying the intelligence," for she too was opposed 
to revealed religion. She was "not of any religion yet taught 
in the world"; moreover, she felt with Owen that marriage 
ought to be a free contract between willing partners. A little 
later Owen challenged the whole religious public to discuss 
the truth or falsehood of all religions, and Alexander Camp- 
bell challenged him, in 1829, in a famous debate in Cincin- 
nati. Meanwhile, he had been to Mexico where he tried to 
convert Santa Anna, and he obtained a large tract of land in 
Texas, at that time Mexican, in order to start another com- 
munity there. He had all but beggared himself in these enter- 
prises. Lafayette wrote to the Garnetts, "You see, dear friends, 
that there is but one opinion, in Scotland and elsewhere, of 
Mr. Owen's exaggerations, while his virtues are as generally 

Owen, returning to America after eight months in Europe, 
brought with him down the river his "Boatload of Knowledge/' 


artists, teachers and men of science, among them Phiquipal 
D'Arusmont, an eccentric little French physician. D'Arusmont 
started his School of Industry in the old Rappite church build- 
ing, with between sixty and ninety boys who produced enough 
by labour to supply their daily needs. At the moment, both 
Fanny and Camilla looked to New Harmony as a refuge in 
case Nashoba was a failure, and Fanny was to go there when 
it failed. 


In the spring of 1827, Fanny Wright returned to France in 
the company of Robert Dale Owen, Robert Owen's son. Des- 
perately ill with brain fever, she was carried aboard the ship, 
the victim of malaria, the result of riding and sleeping in the 
woods under the midday sun, in the dews at night. Richard- 
son had recommended a sea voyage for her and a residence 
in Europe during the summer, and there was also a question 
of finding recruits in England and France and spreading the 
good news of Nashoba. Camilla was left at the colony, the 
only white woman there, with Richardson and Whitby, in 
charge of their forest home. In New Orleans, the "Babylon 
of the Revelations," where slavery abounded, and the clank 
of chains rose from the piles and gutters, Fanny engaged a 
Scotch woman to travel with her. She provided herself with a 
box of lemons to make lemonade during the crossing. There 
were two goats on the little ship, two pigs, two sheep and two 
alligators; and among the passengers were six Osage Indians 
who lay on the roof of the companionway. As they set out, 
the Indians began singing hymns to the Great Spirit for the 
success of the voyage. 

For six days the ship was grounded on a sandbar, while 
swarms of mosquitoes tormented the passengers, and, as Fanny 


wrote, "If Moses had thought of Mississippi mosquitoes, one 
plague would have done the work of seven." But she acquired 
on the voyage new limhs, and a new head and eyes, and, 
when after fifty days at sea the ship reached Le Havre, she 
went to the Garnetts and then to La Grange to be with Lafay- 
ette. She found the cMteau much improved, "as simple as 
ever but neat and fresh, the old faces Nichola's primum 
flourishing through the room, broom in hand and brush on 
foot." From La Grange she wrote, "I see our forest home with 
its smiling faces of every hue almost as if I stood in our busy 
square . . , The children both of slave and free are now 
gathered together under the charge of Charlotte and Camilla, 
separated from the contamination of their parents whom they 
see only in presence of their directors/' 

Then, about Lafayette, she wrote to Sismondi, the cousin by 
marriage of the Garnetts, "It is soothing to the heart to see the 
autumn, for seventy years have not brought him to the winter 
of life, thus fresh and vigorous and so sweetened by well- 
merited honours and grateful retrospection." Sismondi himself 
wrote to Julia and Harriet Garnett, saying it was impossible 
to take their mother to Nashoba, "It is not at her age that one 
is able to go to look for death in the savannahs of the Mis- 
sissippi in the midst of flood, and mosquitoes, in a miserable 
hut made of tree trunks, deprived of all the sweetnesses of life, 
of all society of her own age, of all medical care, even of 
furniture and common utensils, of food and drink which long 
habit has made necessities." The year before, Sismondi had 
written, "Poor girls! Almost alone, without food for their mind, 
with the coarsest food for their body, weakened in their health, 
very likely disheartened in their schemes . . , You exaggerate 
strangely the influence I have over them. I love them almost 
entirely through you. They have seen me only once." He 


added, writing to Julia, "I wish much to see F. Wr. but chiefly 
to see her to persuade her to study here, in Italy, the systems 
of exploitation which have made the peasants happy, which 
have given them hahits of order and intelligence, which have 
in short been the successive and necessary steps to advance 
from slavery to liberty and goodness. I am persuaded she will 
continue to combine her American experience with the old 
experience of Europe. I believe that before returning to Tenese 
[sic] she should see the peasants of Switzerland and also those 
of Tuscany ... I regret especially that she has employed her 
heroic enthusiasm under the direction of a man [Robert Owen] 
whose mind is so little logical and who has delivered himself 
up to dangerous reveries on the ways to better mankind in- 
stead of studying what is, and what has been ... In writing 
to Miss Wright, speak to her again of my admiration and 
attachment"; but a year later, referring to Fanny's "great pre- 
sumption," he said, "I cannot admit that a young woman 
should be so bent on remaking the whole of human society/' 
Fanny, however, had no doubts, and she was convinced 
that she would find many recruits for her enterprise. In Paris 
she tried to make converts in liberal circles, and before going 
over to London she stayed long enough to witness the mar- 
riage of Julia Garnett to a young German historian. This was 
Georg Heinrich Pertz, whom Julia had met at one of Lafa- 
yette's soirees and when she was staying in Harrow at Mrs. 
Trollope's. They had played chess together and Pertz's con- 
versation pleased her. Pertz had been in England collecting 
materials for his German history, and he eventually published 
texts of the more important writers on German affairs down 
to the year 1500, a work that made possible the existence of 
the modern school of scientific historians of mediaeval Germany. 
Fanny had been for nine years, Julia wrote to Sismondi, "the 


sole object of my thoughts, almost the sole object of my love"; 
but Julia went to Hanover now, to remain for the rest of her 
life, and henceforth Harriet Garnett was Fanny's correspondent. 
Fanny still hoped that Harriet and Mrs. Garnett would join 
her at Nashoba, and she wrote back from Harrow, where she 
was staying at Mrs. Trollope's, asking Harriet to send two 
pairs of sabots, "and do not forget to bring a pair for your- 
self. They will be very useful in the spring out of doors . . . 
I say, only delay until I see a comfortable residence for your 
mother ... If you come, dear Harriet, take pills regularly 
while at sea and drink plentifully a thin gruel the first three 
or four days , . . Pills of rhubarb and aloes mixed are as good 
as any." If she could make the voyage on the first of October, 
after the equinox had passed, she would have the best chance 
for a good voyage. She would thus land in New York in 
time to cross the Alleghanies "before the spring rains set in," 
and she would reach Nashoba in November or December. 
In London, Fanny found much interest in her undertaking, 
for she had returned, Sismondi said, with an "immense reputa- 
tion"; and she was "engrossed," she wrote, "by a crowd of 
visitors from morning till night," Robert Dale Owen thought 
that Leigh Hunt and Mary Shelley would join them, and, 
remembering that Mrs. Shelley was the daughter of Mary 
Wollstonecrafr^ Fanny had written to her with high hopes. 
For Mary Wollstonecraf t had been the pride and delight of her 
own life. She described herself as "a delicate nursling of 
European luxury and aristocracy. I thought and felt for my- 
self, and for martyrized humankind, and have preferred all 
hazards, all privations in the forests of the New World to the 
dear-bought comforts of miscalled civilization. I have made the 
hard earth my bed, the saddle of my horse my pillow, and 
have staked my life and fortune on an experiment having in 


view moral liberty and improvement." She wrote again, "Yes, 
dear Mary, I do find the quiet of these forests and our ill- 
fenced cabins of rough logs more soothing to the spirit, and 
now no less suited to the body, than the warm luxurious houses 
of European society ... I do want one of my sex to commune 
with and sometimes to lean on in all confidence of equality 
and friendship." But the gentle and womanly Mrs. Shelley, 
who found Fanny "like Minerva ... a woman young, rich 
and independent," had had too much adventure in her pre- 
carious life, and she was more interested in Fanny herself 
than in her settlement in the Western woods. She introduced 
Fanny to her father, William Godwin, but she is supposed to 
have remarked, "Since I lost Shelley, I have had no wish to 
ally myself to the radicals they are full of repulsion to me"; 
and she said, when she sent her son to Harrow, 'Tor heaven's 
sake, let him learn to think like everyone else!" When Fanny 
finally sailed away, Mrs. Shelley came to the Town Steps in 
London to see her vessel off. She had made upon Fanny an 
ambiguous impression, but she had no intention of going with 

About Mary Shelley, Fanny wrote to Harriet Garnett, "De- 
ficient sensibility is a negative quality, but hypocrisy is a posi- 
tive one of the worst character . . . 'Tis a bad and hollow 
world, my Harriet, as it is now, whatever it may be hereafter, 
and all I hear of or from it makes me rejoice in the breadth 
of the wilderness that separates Nashoba from it." There was 
another possible recruit with whom she perhaps fell in love, 
a young Frenchman, Antoine Dutrone, a member of the radical 
Carbonari, to whom she wrote a letter that she sent to the 
Garnetts, asking them to read it. You would have "to turn your 
back," she wrote to Dutrone, "on old institutions, on estab- 
lished customs, on the interests, the luxuries and the com- 


forts of the Old World . . . There are many men of your age 
who are able to leap forward with enthusiasm, hut few, very 
few, who are able to persevere in the face of obstacles and to 
press towards the goal without averting their eyes. I am not 
trying to discourage you. Far from it. I am too sensible of the 
need for companions in the work that occupies me, a work that 
needs for its success the efforts of all right-minded men. Only 
I wish to guard against illusions on your part, and disappoint- 
ments on mine. May those who form our little battalion be at 
least brave and strong/' Perhaps the young man felt that the 
prospect was too grim. At any rate, he went instead to Greece. 
Were some of the recruits scared away by rumours that 
had begun to spread and that had reached Fanny already 
at La Grange? The moment she turned her back on Nashoba, 
things had begun to go wrong there, for Camilla, landlady 
of the tavern, was too easy-going to control the community, 
and Richardson and Richeson Whitby were no stronger. The 
very day that Fanny had left, Dilly and Redrick were repri- 
manded for interchanging abusive language, and Willis was 
made to retract the threat which he had uttered of avenging 
with his own hands the wrongs of Dilly. Henry declined to 
follow the plough on the plea of pain in his knee-joint, and 
some of the slaves broke the swing by using it in a riotous 
manner and had to be forbidden to partake of any such amuse- 
ment. Black Peggy stole a pair of shoes, black Jenny quarrelled 
with black Joe, and Maria tried to hang herself for jealousy 
of Henry, in which the community could not support her. 
Kitty was reprimanded for washing the clothes of Mr. Roe, 
instead of carrying them to the washerwoman, Sukey. Maria 
began to cohabit with Henry, and Isabel laid a complaint 
against Redrick for coming to her bedroom during the night 
and endeavouring, uninvited, to take liberties with her person. 


Moreover, Richardson Informed the community that he and 
Mam'selle Josephine had begun to live together, and he wrote 
and published an article defending his conduct. He said that 
the proper basis of sexual intercourse was the unconstrained 
and unrestrained choice of both parties, and Camilla backed 
him up, affirming in print that the absent Fanny shared their 
views. Then Richardson thought he could not live in a co- 
operative system and left Nashoba to play his part in the com- 
petitive world, while the mulatto Josephine sailed with her 
children to Haiti where they would no longer be described 
as "niggers." Camilla was left alone with Whitby as her only 
white companion, and they were presently married by a justice 
of the peace, 

Now Camilla was opposed to marriage as "a subtle invention 
of priestcraft for poisoning the purest source of human felicity/' 
Nevertheless, she had married in a quite official way, as her 
sister Fanny was to do in time; but when the rumour got 
about that Nashoba was a free-love community,- and one that 
ignored the colour-line, their conventional friends were horri- 
fied, among them John Wilkes, who had heartily approved of 
their project for emancipation. There could be no more inter- 
course with the ladies of his family, John Wilkes said, although 
he continued to manage their financial affairs, and their Scot- 
tish uncle, James Mylne, was outraged by their insulting at- 
tacks on "the fixed opinions and the decent feelings of man- 
kind." He felt obliged to conceal his relationship to the sisters. 
Julia Garnett wrote to Sismondi, "Mr. Owen has much to 
answer for in sacrificing such beings as F. and C. Wright, 
he has done an irreparable wrong to mankind. Alas! What a 
mind he has ruined ... I believe that Owen worked upon her 
mind at a moment when she was incapacitated by fever from 
judging sanely." The Garnetts had not objected to the free 


amours of their friends Benjamin Constant, Merime'e and 
Stendhal, but Anglo-Saxons were supposed to be different 
from the French, and in any case Harriet was loyal to Fanny. 
It was true that, two or three years later, Mrs. Garnett would 
not allow her to invite Fanny to come to see them. "The gates 
of the most rigid convent/' Harriet wrote to Julia, "are not 
so insurmountable a barrier between the world and the nuns 
they enclose as public scorn makes against a woman who has 
joined such a community as Nashoba." 

It is possible that Mrs. Trollope had not heard these rumours. 
However that may be, she wrote to Julia Garnett. '1 feel greatly 
inclined to say, Where her country is, there shall be my 
country'. The more I see of her, the more I listen to her, the 
more I feel convinced that all her notions are right. She is 
pointing out to man a short road to that goal which for ages 
he has been in vain endeavouring to reach. Under her system 
I believe it possible that man may be happy." Mrs. Trollope 
was the only recruit who followed Fanny without any doubts, 
the only one except Auguste Hervieu, the painter, who 
sailed eventually to America with them. Hervieu, a familiar 
visitor at Harrow, was a political refugee artist to whom 
Fanny offered the position of drawing-master at Nashoba* 
Mrs. Trollope, whom Fanny had met six years before at La 
Grange, saw Nashoba as the end of all her troubles, a com- 
fortable rustic retreat where she could recoup the family 
fortunes and find a good school for her invalid son. Henry Trol- 
lope could be educated at Owen's socialist colony in Indiana* 
So, although her friend Macready tried to persuade her not 
to go, she had been too ready to be converted, and she was 
prepared to like everything there and everybody. She took with 
her all the furniture except enough to furnish two rooms 


for Mr. Trollope, whom she was leaving behind at the Har- 
row farmhouse. 

On the ship to New Orleans, Fanny Wright haunted the 
steerage. She sat on a coil of rope reading to a sailor, who 
sat on another coil patching his breeches, and she expounded 
the wildest doctrines of equality and concubinage, or so Mrs. 
Trollope said later. Something, she felt, must have befallen 
Fanny when she went back to America that totally un- 
settled all her views, for obviously someone was to blame 
for Fanny's irregularities, either Lafayette or Robert Owen. 
In spite of Fanny's enchanting manner, Mrs. Trollope's feel- 
ing about her had in a measure changed on closer acquaintance. 
As for the young Hervieu, Mrs. Trollope discovered on the 
voyage that he was unfitted for anything but his art, and 
before their arrival she had told him so. But here again she 
was obliged to change her opinion. "Poor Hervieu! He seemed 
to live only in the hope of helping us," she was to write a 
few months later. Hervieu was virtually to support the Trol- 
lopes for two years in Cincinnati. 

At Nashoba, Hervieu found that the school was not yet 
formed, and he went off in a rage to Memphis, where he 
painted a few portraits before he finally settled in Cincinnati. 
Mrs. Trollope was disillusioned in a very few minutes. There 
was no pump, no cistern, no drains, no milk, no butter, no 
meat but pork, no dustman's cart, no vegetables but rice and 
potatoes. Fanny made her own meals on a bit of Indian corn 
bread and a cup of very indifferent cold rain water, although 
with her persistent and indomitable enthusiasm she seemed 
perfectly at home in Nashoba. The savage aspect of the scene 
appalled Mrs. Trollope; desolation was her only feeling there. 


The rain came through the roof of her bedroom, and the logs, 
flirnsily plastered with mud, caught fire a dozen times a day. 
Camilla and Whitby, the "surly brute," looked like spectres 
from fever and ague, and in fact the complexion of everyone 
on the river was a bluish white, suggesting the idea of dropsy. 
What a miserable and melancholy mode of living! it was 
all vividly dreadful. Mrs. Trollope, who had made up her 
mind to be a "forest pioneer," stayed ten days at Nashoba. 
Then, alarmed for her children, she too went to Cincinnati. 
Fanny, the ever magnanimous, wrote, "F. Trollope has pro- 
ceeded up the river with her friends to Cincinnati, more suited 
to her at present than our retirement. She is a sweet hearted 
being, though too much under her feelings and, as you know, 
not always judicious"; and Harriet Garnett wrote to Julia, 
"The more I think of it and of her enthusiasm for the cause 
of all the sacrifices she made to accompany Fanny of the 
difficulties she conquered of the public opinion she braved 
the more astonishing does it seem to me that she should so 
soon have been discouraged by the difficulties she encountered 

In the "triste little town" of Cincinnati, as she described 
it later, Mrs. Trollope, resolved to invest the last remnant of 
her capital, built "Trollope's Folly," as it came to be called. 
This was the castellated bazaar in which she struggled to make 
a living, the Egyptian mosque with Moorish pilasters, Gothic 
battlements, a colonnade and a dome surmounted by a Turkish 
cresent. It contained a great ballroom and a rotunda for ex- 
hibiting pictures; and later it was used as an inn, a theatre, 
a military hospital, a dancing school and a Presbyterian church. 
Mrs. Trollope intended to sell the latest luxuries, watch-guards, 
pincushions and toilet-table ornaments, but her husband sent 
her a consignment of just the wrong objects which she could 


not sell by any means. She was obliged to auction them off 
to pay for the building; then, after a long interval, she went 
to live near Washington with a married sister of the Garnett 
girls. She proceeded to write the book, Domestic Manners of 
the Americans, to show that the Americans had no domestic 
manners at all. For Mrs. Trollope had seen in the West only 
dishonest transactions, craft, coarse familiarity and a dreary 
coldness. She saw none of Burke's "unbought grace of life/' 
and, while Washington Irving described the book as an abom- 
inable fabrication, Sismondi was shocked by Mrs. Trollope's 
prejudices. "In America, the heart speaks more nobly than with 
us," he said, reflecting the great mood of the Revolution. Lafay- 
ette, urging Fanny Wright to defend America against the 
book, said, "Her abuse of the American character and Ameri- 
can manners has not a little contributed to make her fashion- 
able in the fine circles of England." It was true, she had entered 
America by the "back door" at New Orleans and had seen 
little but the pioneering regions. Regarding these, Mark Twain 
later said that she described a state of things which "lasted 
well along in my youth, and I remember it/' 

Mrs. Trollope, who had been called "the old woman" in 
Cincinnati, where at that time they did not like the English, 
remarked that once she would have "thought only, what will 
be said of it? Now, alas, my only anxiety is, what will be 
paid for it? This same poverty has a mighty lowering affect on 
one's sublimities." Later, with tongue in cheek, no doubt, 
she wrote another book about the country of the Stars and 
Stripes, "the most glorious country . . . beyond all reach of 
contradiction, the finest country in the whole world." Her 
heroine, Mrs. Barnaby, who has lost her money in England 
and who writes Justice Done at Last, is rather inclined to 
agree with Anne Beauchamp, the American girl, about her 


"poor paltry miserable atom of an island." But this was long 
after Mrs. Trollope had settled for a while in Bruges to escape 
punishment for debt, leaving behind in America the name 
of "Old Madame Vinegar", along with Auguste Hervieu and 
Hiram Powers. Hervieu, hoping to find an opening in the 
line of historical pictures, painted "Lafayette Landing in Cin- 
cinnati," and he opened in 1828 a gallery of historical paint- 
ings that included a number of his own. Among these were 
"General Bolivar Hunting Bisons," "Napoleon and His Army 
Crossing the Alps" and the "City of Lyons, Capital of Southern 
France," painted on four hundred square feet of canvas. Her- 
vieu decorated the Western Museum in Cincinnati, where 
Mrs. Trollope's invalid son, who spoke seven languages, made 
a great success as the "Invisible Girl." Hiram Powers mended 
some wax figures broken in transit, which he arranged as a group 
of banditti. Hiram Powers, who had come from Vermont, had 
worked in a provision store selling flour, whiskey and salt pork; 
then he invented a machine for cutting wooden clock wheels and 
made in bees'-wax his first bust. A pet of Mrs. Trollope's, 
who conceived the idea of presenting scenes from Dante's 
Inferno, he created mechanical figures for the Infernal Regions 
that remained for decades an amusement in Cincinnati. When, 
many years later, Mrs. Trollope settled in Florence, she was 
not surprised to find Hiram Powers "fully emerged from the 
boyish chrysalis state into a full-fledged and acknowledged 
man of genius*" 

Meanwhile, Fanny Wright abandoned Nashoba in 1828. 
Her whole heart and soul had been occupied by the hope of 
raising the African to the level of the European intellect; but 
in her absence the colony had run down completely, and she 
knew she must give it up altogether or devote herself entirely 
to it Remembering the painful impression the forest home 


had produced upon her, Mrs. Trollope wrote to Mary Mit- 
ford, "Miss Wright has abandoned for the present (and I 
think forever) her scheme of forming an Eden in the wilder- 
ness and cultivating African Negroes till they produced ac- 
complished ladies and gentlemen." Thus ended the first serious 
attempt that had ever been made to emancipate the slaves. A 
year or two later, chartering a brig, Fanny carried her slaves 
to Haiti: there were twenty or thirty of them now, and the 
President promised to look after them. Richeson Whitby ac- 
companied them to New Orleans, and Phiquepal D'Arusmomt, 
who had lived in the West Indies in early life, went with 
Fanny on the voyage. She was convinced now that the example 
of Haiti would cause the gradual emancipation of the slaves 
of the South. 

Then Fanny went to live in Robert Owen's New Harmony, 
resolved to instruct the young in the rational principles of the 
Enlightenment, and she joined Robert Dale Owen in editing 
the New Harmony Gazette, in which she continued A Few 
Days in Athens. In this she made an open plea for atheism, 
and at the same time she began to lecture as "the advocate 
of opinions that make millions shudder and some half-score 
admire/' It was Mrs. Trollope who said this, and she went on, 
to Miss Mitford, "Her subject is just knowledge, and in strains 
of the highest eloquence she assures the assembled multitudes 
that throng to hear her that man was made for happiness and 
enjoyed it till religion snatched it from him, leaving him fan- 
tastic hopes and substantial fears instead/' Fanny was dis- 
turbed by the great revival in Cincinnati and the talk of 
original sin and the torments of hell, and, talcing up the cause 
of "insulted reason and outraged humanity/' she attacked 
"the ghostly expounders of damnation." She opposed the Chris- 
tian party that was believed to have set out to unite Church 


and State and dominate the nation, and her lectures on free 
enquiry and the advancement of factual knowledge were full 
of the ideas of Bentham and Owen. Her dress of plain white 
muslin looked like the drapery of a Greek statue, and Mrs. 
Trollope could not say enough of "the splendour, the bril- 
liance, the overwhelming eloquence" that went with "the 
wonderful power of her rich and thrilling voice." 

Fanny lectured on "existing evils," capital punishment, im- 
prisonment for debt, and she demanded women's rights and 
advocated hirth control, saying "turn your churches into halls 
of science." She spoke in the principal cities of the West, and 
men and women crowded to hear the "priestess of infidelity," 
as the religious called her. In Cincinnati, five hundred per- 
sons were turned away from the lecture-hall, and Camilla, 
who was present, wrote, "The whole town was in a state of 
excitement." But Sismondi, who was anxious for Fanny and 
who was troubled by "the vague and disordered spirit of Owen," 
regretted that she had ruined the cause of the Negroes by 
declaring war on public opinion. He sent her a long letter, 
expressing his "eager affection" for her, but directly opposing 
her whole system; and to Julia Garnett he wrote, "After all, 
your friend, for all her aversion to religion, is a religious mad- 
woman . . . She is a new St. Theresa in whom the love of 
principle and usefulness moves, but not that of the soul or 
the love of God." James Madison, writing to Lafayette, de- 
plored her views on religion and marriage, "the effect of which 
your knowledge of this country can readily estimate . . . With 
all her rare talents, she has I fear created insuperable obstacles 
to the good fruits of which they might be productive by her 
disregard, or rather open defiance, of the most established 
opinion and vivid feelings." 

What, meanwhile, had become of Camilla? She left Nashoba 


to join her sister in New York, when Fanny moved there in 
1829. She had remained until her child was born, then, break- 
ing with Nashoba where Richeson Whitby continued to live 
alone, she never saw her husband again. "Fortunately," wrote 
Harriet Garnett, 'lie seems satisfied to remain in the woods. 
He was not a man she could bring to New York." Mrs. Trol- 
lope had written, "Fanny Wright has made herself too un- 
pleasantly conspicuous for any person so insignificant as myself 
to venture to brave public opinion by holding intercourse with 
her, but I do not believe it possible that any circumstances 
can occur which should prevent my seeking the society of 
Camilla Whitby, wherever and whenever I could obtain it" 
Later, after the separation had taken place, she continued, 
"Our dear Camilla is wonderfully recovered in health and in 
looks since I parted with her at that miserable Nashoba. She 
is again the sweet, the elegant Camilla I knew in Europe." 

Fanny had taken to New York the New Harmony Gazette, 
which she renamed the Free Enquirer, and she printed this in 
the basement of the house in Yorkville where she set up a 
printing-press. She had leased this roomy old dwelling, with 
ten acres of land, a cow-house and a poultry yard and garden, 
on the bank of the East River, not far from the house where 
Margaret Fuller was to live twenty years later. There, besides 
Fanny, were Camilla and her baby, Phiquipal D'Arusmont, 
three French boys who had been committed to her care, and 
Robert Dale Owen, who had come with the magazine which 
he helped Fanny to edit. The office was in the basement of 
the Hall of Science, remodelled from the old Ebenezer Church 
in Broome Street, near the Bowery, which Fanny had bought 
and which was largely supported by receipts from her lectures. 
There were evening classes for young mechanics in chemistry, 
physics, geology, history and political economy. Fanny had 


really come to New York with the purpose of taking command 
of the workingmen's parties in the city; and there she con- 
tinued until 1830, when she broke up the home of the Free 
Enquirers and returned for five years to France. 


In Paris, Fanny soon married Phiquepal D'Arusmont, an 
ugly fidgety litde man, many years older than herself, but an 
ingenious, experienced, capable teacher. She had been stag- 
gered by the death of Camilla in a lonely lodging there, 
the baby had died of cholera some time before; and it was 
supposed that, after her marriage, Fanny would give up public 
life and devote herself wholly to her husband. Meanwhile, 
her feelings seemed to have changed as much towards her 
friends as their feelings had often changed towards her, al- 
though Lafayette and Harriet Garnett remained loyal to the 
last She ceased to write to them, or even to see them, and 
Lafayette was especially hurt, for no one had cared more deeply 
for the "angelic girls" than he. Fanny Wright had ceased to 
appear at Lafayette's soirees. But to Harriet he wrote in 1832, 
"I had a visit from dear Fanny before I left town. She no doubt 
has informed you of the death of her child. [For Fanny's 
first child had died, like Camilla's.] Poor Fanny! Her portrait 
in my room incessantly retraces to me the days of hers, 
Camilla's, Julia's and your happy presence at La Grange." 

Fanny had not even announced to Harriet the birth of her 
child, and Mrs, Garnett wrote, "How completely she is 
changed. I suppose Harriet has told you [Julia] she wishes, 
I should say, to be forgotten, and of course will be." Fanny 
and her husband lived near the Luxembourg, "And I can- 
not therefore often see her/' said Harriet, especially because 


Mrs. Garnett forbade any intercourse with her and the 
younger sister took her mother's part. "She has lost the recol- 
lection/' Harriet wrote, "of her former affection for us," and 
Harriet ceased to write to Fanny, who lived only five minutes' 
walk away. "Why should I write? She will only think it is a 
trouble to answer my letters. She does not think of any of 
her friends of those who have been so much attached to. 
her/' Later she wrote to Julia in Hanover, "I have received 
a letter from F. W. but a letter that gave me no- pleasure 
... it is so cold, so changed from her former letters that 
I have not had courage to reply to it." Fanny herself told 
Harriet it was not for want of affection that she did not write 
but because doing so awoke too many painful ideas of the 
past. In 1831 Harriet wrote again to Julia, "I have seen F. W., 
now Madame D'Arusmont , . . Fanny received me kindly 
but coldly; old friendships I think she had forgotten; old 
scenes have vanished from her mind . . . She looked well and 
not older except for the deep furrows of her forehead; that 
sweet playfulness of her manner is gone; it was her and yet 
not her. This I felt as I saw her caressing her naked girl [the 
second child, Sylva] for a naked child is an ugly object A 
bedroom, a dirty girl, a naked child, Fanny in robe de chambre s 
a stove and a child's victuals cooking how different from the 
elegant boudoir in which we used to find our loved Fanny 
writing. I thought of the past, of you and poor Cam and I 
felt, I own, very unhappy. I have not had courage to return 
and shall probably seldom see her I have loved so well too 
well, alas." 

In America, Mrs. Trollope had observed this change long 
before. "I saw Fanny at Cincinnati," she told Harriet, "about 
three months ago. Every time I see her I am struck by the 
increase of that dry, cold, masculine, dictatorial manner that 


Las been growing upon her since she commenced her public 
lectures. Oh, how unlike the Fanny of former days!" and she 
continued, to Julia, "How easily do the wonders of a day pass 
away! Last year I hardly ever looked at a paper without seeing 
long and repeated mention of Miss Wright. Her eloquence 
and her mischief, her wisdom and her folly, her strange prin- 
ciples and her no-principles, were discussed without ceasing. 
Now her name appears utterly forgotten ... If you mention 
her, the answer begins with, 'Oh the woman that made such 
a fuss at New York. I don't know what's become of her. I 
expect she's dead!' Or-That joke is over. We must have some- 
thing nearer to talk of. But she was only mad, Madam. I guess 
she was not half so bad as what was said/ and so the subject 
is dismissed. But there are some of us who have felt her in- 
fluence too deeply to forget it so easily, though my sanguine 
spirit leads me to hope that no heavy evil will be the ultimate 

Fanny was plainly the victim of that sclerosis of the temper- 
ament which often goes with humanitarian activities. A case 
in point was Robert Owen who "became a humanitarian and 
lost his humanity," as one of his admirers said. "He became 
an embodied principle and forgot his wife." Still more, she 
resembled Hollingsworth, in The Elithedale Romance, whose 
heart was "on fire with his own purpose, but icy for all hu- 
man affection/' For, "by and by," as Hawthorne said, "you 
missed the tenderness of yesterday, and grew drearily conscious 
that Hollingsworth had a closer friend than ever you could be; 
and this friend was the cold, spectral monster which he had 
himself conjured up, on which he was wasting all the warmth 
of his heart and of which, at least ... he had grown to be 
the bondslave. It was his philanthropic theory . . . This was 
a result exceedingly sad to contemplate, considering that it had 


been mainly brought about by the very ardour and exuber- 
ance of his philanthropy . . . He had taught his benevolence 
to pour its warm tide exclusively through one channel, so that 
there was nothing to spare for other great manifestations of 
love to man, nor scarcely for the nutriment of individual at- 
tachments, unless they could minister, in some way, to the 
terrible egotism which he mistook for an angel of God/' More- 
over, Fanny was not in love with her husband, for she made 
seven more trips between Europe and America, and her hus- 
band made nine, but they never travelled together. Phiquepal 
D'Arusmont wrote to her many years later. 'Tour life was 
essentially an external life. You loved virtue deeply, but you 
loved also, and perhaps even more, grandeur and glory; and in 
your estimation, unknown, I am sure, to your innermost soul, 
your husband and child ranked only as mere appendages to 
your personal existence/' Husband and wife were divorced 
before they died. But now, in Paris, where Lafayette said that 
all happiness was over for Fanny, she obtained for D'Arus- 
mont, the disciple of Pestalozzi, a post as head of an agricul- 
tural school. Of their new circle one member was Auguste 
Comte, whose religious belief in humanity went even beyond 
Robert Owen's and took the place of the Christian idea of 
God. He too recommended the reorganization of society in the 
interest of the working classes. 

This was Fanny's doctrine when, in 1835, she returned to 
America and lectured in New York. There, and in Cincinnati, 
she and D'Arusmont remained for another four years before 
they returned to Paris. Thenceforward, they were constantly 
crossing the ocean until at last Fanny, left alone, died in 1852 
in Cincinnati. In the ferment of Jacksonism, she lectured on 
the history of civilization, opposing abolitionism because of its 


alliance with religion and growing more and more apocalyptic. 
D'Arusmont wrote a book on a new system of education. 
Fanny said, "It has long been clear to me that in every coun- 
try the best feelings and the best sense are found with the 
labouring and useful classes, and the worst feelings and worst 
sense with the idle and useless"; and many years before Marx 
she envisaged the struggle of the classes. "The intelligent en- 
thusiasm and pure feeling which sparkled in the eyes or burnt 
on the cheek/' she said, "of many young and old hearers in 
the crowd who stood as if still listening when I had ceased 
will, I think, never leave my memory." On the platform, 
at least, she was human enough, and even enthusiastic, she 
whom a dream had possessed and who charmed others. 

One of those who listened to her at Tammany Hall, on 
Sundays, was the young son of a carpenter, the future author 
of Leaves of Grass, who spoke of her, in his old age, as "glori- 
ous Frances/' The Whitman family, who lived in Brooklyn, 
read the Free Enquirer, there were always copies lying about 
the house, and, for Walt Whitman, Fanny Wright and Rob- 
ert Owen wrote in the free-thinking spirit of Jefferson and 
Paine. Their faith was based on the love of man for man, and 
Whitman, who had been blessed as a boy on a street in Brook- 
lyn by Lafayette, found "daily food" in A Few Days in Athens. 
There were some people, he said, who were shocked by the 
bare mention of Fanny's name, but "she was a brilliant woman 
of beauty and estate who was never satisfied unless she was 
busy doing good . . . always to me one of the sweetest of 
sweet memories . . . Fanny Wright (we always called her 
Fanny for affection's sake)~-Fanny Wright had a nimbus, a 
halo, almost sacerdotal . . . She was beautiful in bodily shape 
and gifts of soul ... We all loved her, fell down before her, 


her very appearance seemed to enthrall." When a disciple said, 
"I have never known you to speak of any woman as glowingly 
as you do of Fanny Wright/' Walt Whitman answered, "I 
never felt so glowingly towards any other woman." 


r-powARDS the end of the eighteenth century, in 1795, the 
JL French savant Constantin Volney appeared in the United 
States. He had escaped the guillotine and hoped to find in the 
new world the refuge he had lost in the old one, and he 
travelled through Kentucky as far west as Detroit "before he 
returned to France, which was then under Napoleon. Volney 
had previously spent four years in Egypt and Syria, and, seated 
among the ruins of ancient cities, he had meditated on the 
causes of the downfall of empires. His hook The Ruins ended 
with a prophecy of the assembly of peoples and the universal 
republic of humankind, an idea developed earlier by Joel Bar- 
low, who translated the book at Thomas Jefferson's suggestion. 
The Ruins was read, like The Age of Reason, through the 
woods and clearings of the West and discussed, with Thomas 
Paine, in village stores, and Volney 's sombre meditations on 
the fate of empires in the antique world captivated the Amer- 
ican imagination. Along the Hudson river, artificial ruins rose 
at Hyde Park and further up-stream, and among these dilapi- 
dated arches were placed large Mayan sculptures brought back 
from the jungles of Central America by John Lloyd Stephens. 
For ruins existed there like the ruins of Egypt, relics of an 



unknown race and a forgotten people. The fashionable feeling 
for the picturesque delighted in this contrast with the hurry 
and bustle of the new-world civilization. 


The "American Traveller/' as he was called, John Lloyd 
Stephens, had also visited, like Volney, Syria and Egypt, and, 
even more adventurous, he had made his way through the 
valley of Edom, the only man who had been known to do so. 
For this was the land of Idumen, the desolate region that 
Isaiah had cursed, saying, "None shall pass through it for ever 
and ever"; and, though several had crossed its borders and 
three Europeans had attempted the journey, they had left no 
written record of it. Stephens had visited the Holy Land, as 
well as Greece, Russia and Poland, before he explored the 
green forests of Chiapas and Yucatan. A small, wiry, nervous 
man, the son of a prosperous merchant in New York, he had 
been born in New Jersey in 1805; but, taken to the city when 
he was a year old, he had grown up in Greenwich Street 
Fulton's "Clermont" was anchored in front of the house on 
the river. The Bowling Green had been his playground, he 
had climbed its fence hundreds of times, and he had been one 
of a band of boys who held on to it long after the Corporation 
invaded their rights. Brought up in a school kept by an Irish- 
man, "wondrously good at drill and flogging/' he had entered 
Columbia College at thirteen, and then he had studied law 
under Tapping Reeve at the first American school of law at 

After that, with his father's approval, he had taken a long 
trip in the West into the heart of the Shawnee country. He 
and a cousin travelled in a Conestoga wagon, and, presently, 


starting from Pittsburgh, he had floated to New Orleans in a 
flat-bottomed boat down the Mississippi. They had stopped 
along the bank at night as, later, Stephens stopped on the 
Nile, in one case under the ruins of an ancient temple, in the 
other under the wild trees of the forest; but whereas in Egypt 
the men sipped coffee around a fire, smoked and lay down 
quietly to sleep, the roaring boys of the West fought and 
frolicked, with fighting cocks or at cards or pitching pennies. 
Stephens, who had come home smoking long black cheroots, 
with an ample growth of reddish whiskers, a violent partisan 
of Andrew Jackson in 1828, became well-known in New York 
as a political speaker. In fact, he was the favourite speaker at 
Tammany Hall. 

At twenty-nine, a promising lawyer, suffering from an affec- 
tion of the throat, the result of too much public speaking, he 
was sent abroad for treatment in Paris, and from there he 
went to Rome and, presently, to Greece, carrying a copy of 
Volney's Ruins with him. His cutter was driven by the wind 
into the harbour of Missolonghi, where Byron had died ten 
years before, a long stretch of shanties that had been run up 
since the destruction of the old town in the Greek revolution. 
There was not even a hotel where he could get breakfast: 
it reminded him of "Communipaw in bad weather/' But he 
was invited to call upon the widow of Marco Bozzaris about 
whom his friend Fitzgreene Halleck had written a poem. Still 
under forty years old, tall and stately, she was living with her 
children in a large square house. The tomb of Marco Bozzaris 
consisted of a pile of round stones, and Stephens remembered 
how this chieftain had resisted the whole Egyptian army, de- 
fending the town with a few hundred men. All Europe had 
condemned as foolhardy the Greek revolution, but Stephens, as 
a Columbia student, had solicited funds for Greece, and he 


knew every campaign by heart. Later, when he returned to 
New York, he told Halleck about his visit there, and Halleck 
sent a copy of his poems to the widow of Marco Bozzaris. 

Travelling with a carpet-bag and a Greek servant, Stephens 
filled his journal with impressions of war-devastated Greece. 
He set out on horseback for Athens by way of Corinth and 
the village that had been the birthplace of Euclid* The road 
ran along the sea to Piraeus, a ruined village with a starving 
population, standing on the site of the ancient Eleusis where 
were held the mysterious rites of Ceres. At Athens, he visited, 
first of all, the American missionary school where young 
Americans were teaching the elements of their own tongue 
to the descendants of Socrates and Plato. For the only door of 
instruction in the city where Cicero had gone to study had 
been opened in 1832 by American Episcopalians, and there 
were now five hundred pupils of whom not more than six of 
the first ninety-six had been able to read. There Stephens 
shook hands with a little Leonidas and a little Miltiades, to- 
gether with a son of the Maid of Athens, who had married a 
Scotsman, the chief of police. 

Stephens surveyed the ruins of Athens, where the modern 
Greeks had built their miserable dwellings with the plunder of 
the temples, and he detested the insolence with which the Ger- 
mans, under their king, lorded it over the emancipated natives. 
One of these Germans, on the Acropolis, showed him plans of 
"city improvements," with new streets laid out and a projected 
railroad, a great hobby of his own New York, and he caught 
himself laying out streets in his mind, a Plato and a Homer 
street, on a spot where solitude and silence bred thoughts that 
were very remote from lots in Athens. He drove over the 
plain of Argos in a bright yellow carriage, with a big Albanian 
for coachman, and, poring over the Iliad, he saw Agamemnon's 


tomb, well preserved but empty and Forsaken. In one corner 
a goat was dozing and a shepherd drove his flock within for 
shelter. The rocks and caves of Delphi, the seat of the muses, 
were the abode of robbers. On the field of Marathon, he saw 
the large mound of earth erected over the Athenians who fell 
there, and, sitting on the top, he threw the reins over his 
horse's neck and read in Herodotus the account of the battle. 
He passed the region of the Nemean grove, the haunt of the 
mythical lion and the scene of the first of the labours of Her- 
cules, and several times he jumped over the Ilissus and trotted 
his horse over the garden of Plato. Then he sailed to Smyrna 
on a rickety brig with hardly ballast enough to keep the keel 
under water, Smyrna, ten times destroyed and ten times risen 
from her ruins, exalted by the ancients as the pride of Asia. 
It was at Smyrna that Stephens began to write, or rather 
to compose out of his journal; for he sent a long letter about 
his travels to Charles Fenno Hoffman, the friend who was 
editor of the American Monthly Magazine. Hoffman pub- 
lished the letter, under the title Scenes of the Levant, in suc- 
cessive issues of the magazine, recording Stephens's admira- 
tion of the ladies in the city of raisins and figs, with large 
dark rolling eyes under their enchanting turbans. From Con- 
stantinople, he crossed the Black Sea to Odessa, a city laid 
out on a gigantic scale that had risen in thirty years over a 
village of a few fishermen's huts. He carried with him the 
poems of Byron, prohibited in Russia, his companion in Italy 
and Greece, but, omitting to mention it, he put the book un- 
der his arm, threw his cloak over it and walked out unmo- 
lested. A brigadier-general in the Russian army, an American 
from Philadelphia, was the inspector of the port of Odessa, 
and Stephens rode out to the country-house of this grand 
counsellor of the empire who was living with the true spirit 


of an American farmer. They compared his wheat with the 
wheat that was raised on the Genesee flats with which the 
general was perfectly familiar. Then Stephens set out on a 
journey of two thousand miles through Kiev to the city of 
churches, Moscow. 

He had bought a carriage, a large calash, with a postillion 
in a sheepskin coat and four shaggy wild-looking little horses, 
engaging for a servant a bewhiskered Frenchman who had 
been exiled by the Restoration. The steppes over which they 
drove were desolate and bleak, and great herds of cattle passed 
them with long trains of wagons, fifty or sixty together, drawn 
by oxen. At Kiev, the old capital, the holy city of the North, 
with gilded domes and spires glittering in the sun, Stephens 
found it cheaper to give his carriage away and take the newly 
established diligence to Moscow. They passed processions of 
pilgrims on their way to Kiev, bands of a hundred or so, men, 
women and children, led by a white-bearded monk, barefoot, 
with a staff; and Stephens was struck by the elegance of the 
opera-house in Moscow before he went on to St. Petersburg 
over a new road. He procured a carte de sejow that enabled 
him to remain two weeks on the understanding that he would 
not preach democratic doctrines; then he set out for Warsaw, 
another thousand miles, travelling in a round-bottomed box 
that was called a kibitka. It had straw to lie on but no springs. 
Warsaw, on the Vistula, was a gay city of nobles and peas- 
ants, with no middle class between them, and Stephens, who 
all but remembered the American revolution, visited, at Cra- 
cow, the tomb of Kosciusko. There, on an eminence, stood an 
immense mound of earth that was visible for miles in every 

In Paris, when he was intending to return to New York, 
Stephens picked up a folio on the quays along the Seine. It 


contained enchanting lithographs of Petra, a city of Arabia 
cut out of the rock; and this Voyage de I' Arabic Petree by 
Leon de La Borde sent him instead to Egypt on the way there. 
For all ruins had for Stephens an irresistible attraction. The 
Pasha at Cairo, who favoured Americans after the war with 
Tripoli, gave him a permit for an expedition up the Nile, and 
he set out in a falookha, in January, 1836, carrying Volney's 
Ruins and a dictionary with him. Besides the captain and the 
crew, ten men in all, he took, as a dragoman, Paolo Nuozzo, 
a Maltese whom he had met at Constantinople, thirty-five 
years old, honest and faithful and, like himself, a great lover 
of ruins. An Arab tailor made for him a star-spangled banner 
to float over the falookha during the voyage, for it was neces- 
sary to place himself under the flag of his country to prevent 
the men from being taken for the army. The boat was forty 
feet long, with two lateen sails. A swinging shelf over the 
bed contained his books, together with his pistols and a shot- 

At every village on the Nile, Stephens was struck by the 
misery of the peasants in their mud-huts, whether this was 
the result of their character, or the climate or the government 
of the great pasha at Cairo; and he could understand why in 
Egypt the centre of interest was the dead, why death had 
been the paramount preoccupation. Only in the world of the 
dead could people imagine security and peace, and, where 
the Greeks had resisted and turned toward life, the Egyptians 
had turned towards death, the releaser and rewarder. In 
Greece the theatre flourished, in Egypt the tomb, and many 
of the peasants lived in tombs, great buildings with domes 
and minarets, crawling in with their dogs, sheep, goats, women 
and children. Every sarcophagus was broken, the bones had 
been scattered, and in many cases the hollow shell was used 


as a sleeping-place, or the mummy-cases were used for fire- 
wood and the traveller might cook his breakfast with the 
coffin of a king. There were supposed to be eight to ten 
millions of mummied bodies in the vast necropolis of Thebes, 
and the Arabs had been in the habit of selling the mummies 
to travellers until an order from the pasha put an end to this. 
The open doors of tombs appeared in long ranges on the west- 
ern bank of the river, and on the plain large pits had been 
opened in which were found a thousand mummies at a time. 
From one tomb Stephens saw an enormous wolf run out, fol- 
lowed by another, furiously fighting; and, entering one of the 
tombs, he found the ceiling covered with paintings, some of 
them as fresh as if they had just been executed. Passing into 
the inner chambers, he heard a loud rushing noise; he fired 
his gun; the report went rumbling and roaring into the dark 
passages; then the light was dashed from Paolo's hand, a soft 
skinny substance struck his own face and thousands of bats, 
wild with fright, came whizzing forth from the recesses. At one 
point a long funeral procession followed a corpse on the way 
to a burying-ground at the foot of a mountain. Having the 
permission of the sheik, Stephens walked over to the tomb, 
built of Nile mud, with a round top and whitewashed. 

With no plan yet of writing a book, he sailed to the first 
cataract whose roar in ancient days frightened the boatmen: 
the fall was only about two feet, although poetry and history 
had invested these rapids with extraordinary terrors. The river 
was filled with rocks and islands, among them the island of 
Philae, carpeted with green to the water's edge and lovelier, 
Stephens thought, than the Lago Maggiore with the beautiful 
Isola Bella and the Isola Madre. The temple, on the south- 
west corner of the island, about a thousand feet long, had been 
approached by a grand colonnade. An Arab village was built 


among the ruins of Thebes: the plough had been driven 
over the ruins of the temples and grass was growing where 
palaces had stood. The sun was beating down with meridian 
splendour when the falookha made fast at the ancient port 
where boatmen had tied their boats thirty centuries before. 
Thebes had once been more than thirty-three miles in circum- 
ference, and the whole of this great area was more or less 
strewn with ruins, broken columns, avenues of sphinxes, colos- 
sal figures, obelisks, pyramidal gateways, porticoes, blocks of 
polished granite, while over them, in the unwatered sands, 
stood the skeletons of gigantic temples solitary and silent. The 
road to Karnac was lined with rows of sphinxes, each of a solid 
block of granite. Two miles away was the temple of Luxor 
on the summit of which, a year before, John Lowell of Boston 
had drawn a long codicil to his will providing for the well- 
known Lowell lectures. Stephens's boatmen, having little to 
do, lay all day about the deck, gathering towards evening 
round a large pilaff of rice, turning their faces, as the sun was 
setting, towards the tomb of the Prophet, while they knelt 
down on the deck and prayed. Stephens was still dreaming of 
a visit to Arabia Petraea, suggested to him again by a party of 
four Englishmen who were hoping themselves to make the 

Returning to Cairo, he fell in with La Borders companion 
who told him about their earlier expedition. With a retinue of 
camels and horses, they had made a great display to overawe 
the wild Bedouins of the desert. Stephens provided himself 
with the costume of a Cairo merchant, a long red silk gown 
with a black abbas of camel's hair, a sword and a pair of large 
Turkish pistols. He wore a red tarbooch with a green and 
yellow handkerchief rolled round it as a turban, white trousers, 
a blue sash and red shoes over yellow slippers; and he took 


with him, besides Paolo, eight men, with pistols and mus- 
kets, six camels and the dromedary that he rode. The caravan 
struck into the desert towards a range of sandstone mountains, 
following the wandering steps of the children of Israel when 
they flew from their land of bondage before the anger of 
Pharaoh. Virtually the only object on the route to Suez was 
a large palm, standing alone, green and living, which they 
saw for two or three hours before they reached it: watching 
this, while they travelled at the slow pace of the camels, filled 
their minds for a great part of the day. Then they caught 
sight of the Red Sea, rolling between dark mountains; and 
they watered the camels for the first time since they had left 
Cairo at a well on the hither side of Suez. Crossing the Red 
Sea in small boats, they camped on the sacred spot where the 
Israelites, rising from the dry bed of the sea, watched the 
divided waters rushing together, overwhelming Pharaoh and 
his chariots and the host of Egypt. 

After Suez, their road lay between wild and rugged moun- 
tains, and the valley itself was stony, broken and gullied by 
the washing of the winter torrents. A few straggling thorn- 
bushes were all that grew in that region of desolation, and on 
the sides of the mountains, deformed with gaps and fissures, 
not a blade of grass or a shrub was to be seen. Stephens could 
think of nothing but water. Rivers floated through his imagi- 
nation, and, moving slowly on his dromedary, with the hot 
sun beating upon his head, he wiped the sweat from his face 
and thought of the frosty Caucasus; and when, through an 
opening in the mountains, the others saw a palm-tree shading 
a fountain, the caravan broke into a run and, dashing through 
the sand> threw themselves to a man on the living water. 
Reading this, when Stephens's book was published, Herman 
Melville, as a boy, remembered seeing the author in church 


in New York, and his aunt whispered, "See what big eyes he 
has. They got so big because when he was almost dead with 
famishing in the desert, he all at once caught sight of a date- 
tree, with ripe fruit hanging on it." When church was out, the 
boy wanted his aunt to follow the traveller home. "But she 
said the constables would take us up if we did; and so I never 
saw this wonderful Arabian traveller again. But he long 
haunted me; and several times I dreamt of him and thought 
his great eyes were grown still larger and rounder; and once 
I had a vision of the date-tree." 

At the foot of Mount Sinai stood the convent of St. Cath- 
erine, surrounded by high stone walls, with turrets at the 
corners: the convent looked like a fortress. It was sometimes 
attacked by the Bedouins, so the walls were mounted with 
cannon, and only after the caravan had set off two volleys of 
firearms did a monk with a long white beard appear at a slit 
in the wall. He let down a rope thirty feet for the letter of in- 
troduction which the Greek patriarch at Cairo had given to 
Stephens; and, when the rope was let down again, Stephens 
tied it about his arms and swung to and fro against the wall. 
Then he found himself clasped in the arms of a burly long- 
bearded monk who kissed him on both cheeks and set him on 
his feet All the monks pressed forward, took him in their 
arms and gave him a cordial greeting. The superior told him 
that God would reward him for coming from so distant a land 
to do homage to the sacred mountain; and, leading him 
through a long range of winding passages, he and Stephens 
came to a small room spread with mats. Presently arrived a 
platter of beans and a large smoking pilaff of rice. In his wan- 
derings, Stephens had invariably found the warmest feelings 
toward his country from boatmen, muleteers and ploughmen 


in the fields, and this was also glowing in the wilderness of 
Sinai. The monks, with their superior, were all Greeks. 

From the door of his little cell, Stephens saw the holy moun- 
tain and longed to stand on its lofty summit; and the superior 
led him through galleries built of stone, with iron doors, 
to the outer garden. There bloomed almonds, oranges, lemons, 
apricots and dates, shaded by arbours of grapevines; and they 
began to ascend in the company of a Bedouin dwarf and an 
old monk with long white hair. Paolo and Stephens followed: 
the rest of their caravan remained outside the walls and con- 
tinued to sleep there. At every point was a legend or a chapel. 
At length they stood on the peak of Sinai where Moses had 
talked with the Almighty amid thunder and a fearful quaking 
of the mountain. On the way down, they came to a long flat 
stone, with a few holes indented on its surface, the stone upon 
which Moses broke the tablets of the law when he found the 
Israelites worshipping the golden calf. Then they saw the rock 
of Horeb, which Moses struck with his rod, causing the water 
to gush out. At parting the superior gave Stephens a small 
box of manna, the same, as he believed, that fed the Israelites 
during their sojourn in the wilderness; and he begged Stephens 
to come back and live there if, returning to his own country, 
he found his kindred gone. 

Stephens had found, on the rocks of the wilderness, certain 
strange characters that Edgar Allan Poe reproduced in his 
account of the South Sea island of Tsalal, in the Narrative of 
Arthur Gordon Pym. Reviewing with admiration the Incidents 
of Travel in Arabia Petr&a, Poe doubted the assertion of 
Stephens that he had passed through the valley of Edom, 
there being some question about its proper boundaries; but 
Stephens had certainly been one of the first to visit the city 


of Petra since it had been rediscovered in 1812. He had been 
the first American to do so; and his view of the "rose-red city, 
half as old as time" * remained forever fixed in his imagina- 
tion. The capital once of a Roman province, it had been for- 
gotten; for many hundred years only the Bedouins knew it, 
and Stephens found written on the facade of the temple the 
names of an Englishman who had entered the city, two 
Frenchmen, an Italian and the discoverer, Burckhardt Two 
miles long, it lay between high and precipitous ranges of rocks 
with ivy, oleanders and wild fig-trees growing out of the sides 
of the cliffs, while, among the open doors of tombs, stood the 
beautiful temple, hewn out of the rock, with rows of Corin- 
thian columns in the sunlight, fresh and clear. There was a 
large circular theatre, with thirty-three rows of seats, capable of 
containing more than three thousand persons. The sides of 
the mountains were cut smooth and filled with long ranges 
of dwelling-houses, excavated out of the rock, with columns 
and porticoes and pediments, palaces and triumphal arches, a 
waste of ruins prostrate, in confusion. Stephens clambered up 
broken staircases and among the remains of streets until he 
had made the whole circuit of the desolate city. The valley 
continued as before, presenting sandy hillocks, thorn-bushes, 
gullies and the dry beds of streams, and presently, on the 
summit of Mount Hor, Stephens caught sight of the tomb of 
Aaron, the first high-priest of Israel, covered with a white 
dome. Climbing the mountain, rocky and naked, he held on 
to the rough and broken corners of the porous sandstone rocks, 
and he found the tomb was about thirty feet square, entirely 
bare save for a few ostrich eggs suspended from the ceiling. 

* This line from the Newdigate Prize Poem at Oxford in 1845, 
written by John William Burgon, seems to have been suggested by 
Stephens's book. 


Then he beheld the Dead Sea that rolled its dark waters over 
the guilty cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

He had noticed a change for the worse in the appearance of 
the Bedouins, and he had heard that those with whom he now 
set out belonged to one of the most lawless tribes of a lawless 
race. They were by far the wildest and fiercest looking he had 
yet seen, with complexions bronzed and burnt to blackness, 
dark eyes glowing with fire 7 and sinewy figures, thin and 
shrunken. But the appearance and habits of the Arabs were 
precisely the same as those of the patriarchs of four thousand 
years ago: with their flocks and herds they might have been 
Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, and the women winnowed and 
ground the grain, or pounded and rubbed it between two 
stones, in the same primitive manner that was practised of 
old. The beauty of the weather atoned to Stephens for the 
desolation of the scene, and, mounted on the back of his 
Arabian horse, he felt, with his elastic spirit, a lightness of 
frame, and he was happy to accept an invitation to supper 
from an old Bedouin whom he met. This patriarch, wearing a 
large loose frock, a striped handkerchief on his head, bare 
legs, sandals and a long white beard, took up his shepherd's 
crook, after they were seated, and selected a lamb from the 
flock for the evening meaL 

Stephens had followed the wandering path of the children 
of Israel from Egypt to the borders of the Promised Land, and 
he came to another field of ruins where the relics of an Arab 
village were mingled with those of a Roman city. Then he 
arrived in Hebron, the old capital of David, where Sarah had 
washed the clothes of Abraham and Isaac at a large fountain 
just beyond the mosque. The chief rabbi of Hebron gave him 
a warm welcome, and there Stephens threw off most of his 
Turkish dress and continued his journey in a blue roundabout 


jacket. He wore grey pantaloons, boots splashed with mud, 
a red sash and a tarbooch with a black silk tassel; and he moved 
through the Holy Land with three mules, one for himself, one 
for Paolo and the third for his luggage. After visiting Bethle- 
hem and Jerusalem, Nazareth, Mount Tabor and Jericho, he 
became ill at Beirut; and his travels in the East came to an end 
there. He got on board a vessel that was bound for Alexandria 
and presently found himself in London. 


Now Stephens had been guided in his tour of the Holy Land 
by a map executed by "F. Catherwood." He had seen the name 
Frederick Catherwood signed in convent registers and on monu- 
ments in Egypt, where, in point of fact, Catherwood himself, an 
Englishman, was teaching architecture at the University of 
Cairo. Stephens knew nothing of architecture; he had never 
measured a building, and his whole knowledge of Egyptian an- 
tiquities was little more than enough, he said, to enable him to 
distinguish between a mummy and a pyramid. He could not have 
gone far in archaeology without some knowledge of architec- 
ture or, at least, without a companion who was familiar with 
it; and here in London he fell in with Catherwood himself, 
the architectural draughtsman who was to illustrate his later 
books. The two men were to explore together Central America 
and Yucatan. Catherwood was lecturing in Leicester Square on 
the Panorama of Jerusalem, painted from the drawings that he 
had made in the holy city at the time when he had drawn the 
Mosque of Omar there, half expecting at any moment to be 
torn to pieces. For Christians were not admitted and the crowd 
was only pacified when the Governor appeared and announced 
that Catherwood had come to repair the dilapidated mosque. In 


London, as a panoramist, he had given the producer Burford 
his drawings also of Thebes, Karnac and the ruins of Baalbec. 
The rotunda, which was presently reproduced in New York, 
exhibited pictures of battles, coronations and far-away cities. 
It was sensationally popular at the moment. 

Six years older than John Lloyd Stephens, Catherwood, born 
in a suburb of London, had made a topographical journey 
through England, then he had studied at the Royal Academy, 
under Sir John Soane, where he had heard much of Piranesi. 
Soane was mad about Piranesi, who had engraved the ruins of 
Rome, and Catherwood, who had seen Keats off on his brig 
to Italy, had followed his own friend Joseph Severn there. He 
went to Sicily to paint the ruins of Taormina, and then to 
Greece where he was shut up in Athens during the Greek 
revolution, besieged by the Turks, but, escaping to Syria, 
dressed as an Arab, he had made his way to the Nile, drawing 
the ruins of the ancient cities on the river. A good linguist who 
read Hebrew and spoke Arabic and Greek, he arrived in Egypt 
during the year in which Champollion found the Rosetta stone 
and used it as a key to the hieroglyphics. He had hired with 
two friends a vessel to ascend the Nile, and there he drew 
three pyramids to scale, with a coloured plan of Thebes and 
the ruins of Memphis and Abydos, Karnac and Luxor. The 
Pasha employed him as an engineer to repair the mosques of 
Cairo; then he climbed Mount Sinai, sketched it and visited 
the ruins of Baalbec, pitching his tent among the fallen col- 
umns. It was Catherwood's drawings, made into a panorama, 
that first made Baalbec widely known; and he showed Stephens 
in London a crude book he had picked up about an ancient 
city in Guatemala. The city was called Palenque, and it had 
palaces and pyramids buried in the jungle of which no one 
had ever heard before. Stephens and Catherwood discussed, if 


nothing more, in London, a plan to visit Central America and 
search out these ruins. 

Meanwhile, after two years in the East, John Lloyd Ste- 
phens returned to New York, where Catherwood presently 
followed with his panorama of Jerusalem. Catherwood built a 
rotunda at the corner of Broadway and Prince Street, exhibiting 
other panoramas of Niagara and Thebes, establishing himself 
as an architect who was much in demand after the fire of 1835 
had destroyed so many buildings. He made a drawing of the 
tower at Newport that was supposed to have been built by the 
Norsemen, and his rotunda was as popular, at the time, as Cat- 
lin's Indian Gallery and Niblo's Garden. Stephens, opening 
a law office, resumed his public speaking on behalf of Martin 
Van Buren, the successor of Jackson, but he set to work at 
once writing Incidents of Travel, the first about Egypt, Arabia 
Petrsea and the Holy Land, the second on Greece, Turkey, 
Russia and Poland, Both books were popular, the first espe- 
cially so; they went through five or six editions in one year, 
and the British continued to reprint for thirty years the ac- 
count of travels in Arabia Petra3a. The review of this book 
by Poe made Stephens famous. Stephens and Catherwood were 
often seen together at the Astor House Book Store, the rendez- 
vous of the literati, and the bookseller John Russell Bartlett 
showed Stephens two books that had appeared on the myste- 
rious ruins of tropical America. These books were exaggerated, 
shadowy and vague; and the original cities were ascribed to 
the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Scythians, the Scandi- 
navians or the Chinese. Even Humboldt had never heard of 
the ruins south of Mexico, forgotten, buried in the jungle. It 
had come to be generally supposed that the lost tribes of Israel 
had built up this unknown civilization, for no one dreamed 
that it could have been the work of American Indians, the 


savages whom the Americans knew so well. The names of 
Uxmal, Palenque, Copan, reverberated in Stephens's mind. 
He was overwhelmed by what he read. 


Catherwood, too, was excited by this new prospect of explora- 
tion, and, turning his back on everything else, he set out with 
Stephens, in October, 1839, for Belize. The capital of British 
Honduras was a range of white houses extending a mile along 
the shore, thronged with Negroes, a fine-looking race, tall, 
straight and athletic. It happened that the minister to Central 
America had died, and Stephens, who applied to Van Buren 
for the post, received his appointment before the friends sailed 
together; a Broadway tailor shaped for him a blue diplomatic 
coat with gold braid and gold buttons. The British brig "Mary 
Ann" carried them to Central America, and they engaged at 
Belize a servant, a French Spaniard, born in Santo Domingo, 
Augustin by name. Then they sailed down the coast of Hon- 
duras one hundred and fifty miles to Punta Gorda, a settle- 
ment of Carib Indians that produced cotton and rice, bananas, 
cocoanuts, pineapples, oranges and lemons. There the natives 
gathered under the trees to be baptized and married by the 
padre who had sailed down also from Belize. From Punta 
Gorda, or, rather, from Izabal, to which they had taken an- 
other steamboat, Stephens and Catherwood set out with five 
mules, each armed with a brace of pistols and a large hunting- 
knife carried in his belt. Four Indian carriers, besides Augustin, 
went with them, entering a land of volcanoes and earthquakes, 
torn and distracted by civil war, on the so-called high road to 
Guatemala City, a place of importance in the Spanish-American 
world. They dragged their way through mud-holes and gullies. 


knocking against trees, stumbling over roots, meeting a large 
party of muleteers, encamped for the night, with bales of indigo 
and mules peacefully grazing. They passed an occasional palm- 
leaf hut and mountains thousands of feet high, while flocks 
of parrots, with gorgeous plumage, flew over their heads, catch- 
ing up their words and filling the air with their mockings. 

It was a wilderness of flowers and bushes clothed in purple 
and red, and they soon came to the great plain of Zacapa, 
bounded by a belt of mountains with the town at the foot. 
Their host had heard of the United States: he had read about 
it in The Spy, called in the Spanish translation a history of 
the American Revolution, in which Washington appeared under 
the name of Harper. They passed in a day, in this region of 
desolation, no less than seven Hispano-Moriscan churches, 
some of them roofless and falling to ruin as a result of earth- 
quakes or scourged by the current civil war. The states of 
Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, 
liberated from Spain in 1823, and originally forming a single 
nation, had broken apart into five separate republics: General 
Morazan, the head of the Federal party, was now in Salvador, 
defeated at the moment, while Carrera, whom Stephens was 
soon to meet, was the absolute master of Guatemala. A band 
of Carrera's soldiers arrested Stephens and Catherwood at an- 
other village along the way. Indians and mestizos, ragged and 
ferocious, armed with swords, clubs, muskets and machetes, 
carrying blazing pine-sticks, burst in upon them, and their 
young officer said that Stephens's passport was not valid. 
Though they were released a few hours later, Stephens was 
presently told that a plan had been formed to rob and murder 
him. A man passed who said he had met two of the robbers 
on the road and they were intending to catch him in the 
morning. They had got it into their heads that he was an aide- 


de-camp of Carrera, returning from Belize with money for the 
troops, but Stephens evaded the robbers by crossing the moun- 
tains in the evening instead of, as usually, in the afternoon. 
He knew that two English travellers had recently been arrested. 
Their muleteers and servants had been murdered, and he him- 
self was beginning to feel heartily sick of the country and 
its incessant petty alarms. 

In a spot that was wildly beautiful, in a hacienda, Stephens 
and Catherwood spent one night, driving out the dogs and 
pigs and lighting their cigars in a room that was full of women, 
most of them servants. Later Catherwood alone returned to 
Quiriqua, with its ruined terraces and mounds, and statues 
some of them twenty-six feet tall, and meanwhile they ap- 
proached Copan and the modern village of half a dozen 
wretched huts that were thatched with corn. The appearance 
of the travellers created a sensation, and all the men and women 
in the village gathered round to look at them; for the people 
were less accustomed to the sight of strangers than the Arabs 
about Mount Sinai, and they were more suspicious. The skin 
of an ox was spread in the piazza, ears of corn were thrown 
upon it and all the men sat down to shell the corn. The cobs 
were carried to the kitchen to burn, the com was taken up in 
baskets and hogs were driven in to pick up the scattered 
grains. But no one in the village had ever heard of the ruins 
that stood a few miles away, and the visitors were sent to the 
hacienda of Don Gregorio, where the fire was kindled in the 
cosina. The sound of the patting of hands gave notice that 
tortillas were being made, and in half an hour dinner was 

Stephens, with Catherwood, spent thirteen days at Copan, 
and he knew that the Hondurian natives, who had no tradi- 
tions of the past, were the actual decendants of the builders. 


In short, they were Mayans, a word of which Stephens was 
unaware, but he could see that the work of their forbears 
was different from that of any other people, and by no means 
derived from the old world. It had grown up in this jungle 
like the indigenous plants and fruits, and the builders were 
as aesthetically advanced as the people of Egypt. They had 
been neolithic, cutting stone with stone, and between the 
first and the ninth Christian centuries the old empire of the 
Mayas had invented a solar calendar, hieroglyphic writing and 
a well-developed agricultural system. As subsequent explorers 
found, the city of Copan had stood from 436 to 810 A.D. 
Stephens first caught sight of a great wall, about a hundred 
feet high, that followed the bank of the river, and his busi- 
ness was to follow the Indians who cleared a path among 
trees and shrubs in order to excavate monuments for Gather- 
wood to draw. They began with a regular survey of the 
ruins. They had good surveying compasses, and Catherwood 
worked the theodolite while Stephens used the tape-reel that 
Catherwood had employed in a survey of Thebes on the Nile. 
Stephens directed the Indians in cutting straight lines through 
the woods, sticking their hats on poles to mark the stations. 
On the second day they were thoroughly in the spirit of it, 
and in three days of hard and interesting labour they finished 
the survey. 

They found several pyramids with flattened tops on which 
temples had once stood, two of them one hundred and 
twenty feet high, a stairway rising almost a hundred feet 
and a chamber ten feet long in a mound of ruins. In a sepul- 
chral vault they found red earthenware dishes and pots, more 
than fifty of these full of human bones. They came to a large 
fragment of stone elaborately sculptured, and, working their 
way through the woods, they happened on a square stone 


column that was carved in bold relief from the base to the 
top. The front was the figure of a man curiously and richly 
dressed with a face fitted to excite terror. There was a gigantic 
head, six feet high, and near by two other colossal heads turned 
over and partially buried, with various fragments of curious 
sculpture protruding from decayed vegetable matter. No doubt 
there were many others completely buried that could be brought 
to light by digging. A dozen monoliths still stood erect, some 
with elegant designs and some in workmanship equal to the 
best of Egyptian carving. One was displaced by enormous 
roots, while another had been hurled to the ground and was 
bound down by huge vines and creepers. Before this could 
be drawn, it was necessary to disentangle the vines and tear 
the fibres out of the crevices. There was a remarkable altar, 
of a single block of stone, with thirty-six tablets of hiero- 
glyphics, and with channels in the stone to carry off the blood 
of the victims whose hearts had been cut out and exposed to 
the sun. Halfway up the side of one of the pyramids there 
were sculptured rows of death's heads. The only sound that 
disturbed the quiet of the buried city was the noise of monkeys 
moving among the tops of the trees and the crackling of dry 
branches broken by their weight. Processions of forty or fifty 
walked on the ends of boughs, springing from tree to tree 
with a sound like a current of wind as they passed on into 
the depths of the forest. 

Stephens remembered the ring of the woodman's axe in 
the forests at home, and he longed for a few Green Moun- 
tain boys to do the cutting for him. In this jungle of 
lizards and snakes, the Indians thought he was engaged in 
some black art to discover hidden treasure. One Indian found 
the legs and feet of a statue, another found a part of the 
body to match, and they set it up without the head. Stephens 


discovered more than fifty objects for Catherwood to draw in 
his manner that recalled Piranesi, as he stood with his feet in 
the marshy ground, while he drew with his gloves on to 
protect his hands from the mosquitoes. He was already ill 
with fever and ague and rheumatism and from standing all 
day in the mud of the jungle. But the beauty of the sculpture, 
the sombre stillness of the woods and the mystery that hung 
over the desolate city created in Stephens an interest higher, 
if it was possible, than he had felt among the ruins of the 
old world* These ruins had put to rest for him all uncertainty 
in regard to the character of American antiquities: the people 
who had lived there had not been savages, for savages had 
never reared these structures or carved these stones. All the 
arts that embellish life had flourished in this forest, although 
no associations were connected with the place. The jungle 
had shrouded the ruins, and when one asked the Indians who 
had made them, their only answer was, "Who can tell?" 

Finally, Stephens bought the ruins. He paid $50 for them. 
The owner thought he was only a fool: if Stephens had offered 
more, he would have thought something worse. Stephens was 
dreaming of a museum in New York that would house these 
relics of the continent, but he found it was out of the ques- 
tion to transport more than a few fragments. Catherwood, 
meanwhile, had acquired a reputation for his medical skill, 
although, as he was ill himself, he was obliged to give it 
out that he had discontinued practice. However, his fame 
had extended far, and he had many applications for remedios, 
for one, the wife of the owner of the ruins was ill with 
malaria at Copan. People came from more than thirty miles 
to be cured by this medico who never killed anybody, and 
it was hard to send them away without doing what he could 
for them. 


It was on the Copan river that Stephens and Catherwood 
separated, Catherwood to remain behind and go on with his 
drawing, Stephens to proceed to Guatemala City and try to 
find the government. So Stephens rode forward alone through 
grand and even magnificent scenes, along the beds of streams 
and down ravines that were deep, narrow and wild. He passed 
through the village of San Jacinto in a primaeval wilderness, 
a collection of huts, some of them plastered with mud, and, 
entering Esquipulas, he rode up to the convent, where he 
was welcomed by the cura. There was the great church of the 
pilgrimage, the holy place of Central America where pilgrims 
came every year from Peru and Mexico, eighty thousand 
people, trading on the way. The town contained about fifteen 
hundred Indians, living on a road a mile long, with mud 
houses on each side. Under the shed of a deserted house he 
had seen an old Indian teaching their catechism to ten or 
twelve Indian girls, dressed in red plaid cotton drawn round 
the waist and with white handkerchiefs over their shoulders. 

Arriving in Guatemala City, Stephens looked around to 
find the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but he was told that no 
government existed: Morazan had retreated and Carrera was 
expected. Stephens took possession of the American Legation, 
and then the master of Guatemala appeared. Stephens found 
him sitting at a table counting silver coins, and the conqueror 
rose, pushed the money to one side, gave the American minis- 
ter a chair and received him with courtesy. About twenty- 
three years old, boyish in manner but unsmiling and grave, 
Carrera had begun with thirteen followers armed with old 
muskets, and, wounded himself in eight places, with five mus- 
ket balls in his body, he was evidently ignorant and evidently 
sanguinary. In the meantime, Stephens, struck with the beauty 
of Guatemala, climbed to the top of the Volcano de Fuego. 


It was fourteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, and 
from the top he saw the old city of Guatemala, thirty-two 
villages and the Pacific Ocean. He descended into the crater, 
swept by a whirlwind of vapour and cloud, until his clothes 
were saturated with the rain and the mud. The ancient capi- 
tal had been destroyed by an earthquake, and the ruins of 
convents and churches stood in masses about the plaza with 
their fronts still erect and trees growing inside the walls. 
Stephens visited the hacienda of a cochineal planter whose 
plants were set out in rows like Indian corn: a piece of sugar- 
cane was pinned with a thorn to every leaf and thirty or forty 
insects gathered in the hollow. He overtook on the road a man 
and a woman on horseback, he with a gamecock, she with a 
guitar. The cock was wrapped in matting under the man's 

Stephens had made up his mind to go down to Salvador, 
the seat of the Federal government, if such a thing existed, 
inasmuch as Morazan was there; so, discharging Augustin 
and procuring a man who knew the route, he set out for the 
port of Istapa. It was a place, now desolate, but once the focus 
of romantic adventure where Alvarado had embarked to dis- 
pute with Pizarro the wealth of Peru. Istapa consisted now of 
a few miserable cabins with half -naked Indians sitting on the 
shore, Stephens sailed on a French ship within sight of six 
volcanoes, one emitting smoke, another flames, and he himself 
was again ill with malaria, light-headed, with chills and fever: 
in fact, wild with pain. However, the French crew doctored 
him, and, reaching Salvador, he found Morazan at Ahua- 
chapam, a handsome man with dark eyes, somehow suggesting 
Bolivar, and with an expression that was intelligent and mild. 
He stood, by the light of a candle, in the corridor of the ca- 
bilda, full of sorrow for his unhappy country but with not a 


word about his own misfortunes. The best man in all Central 
America, Stephens strongly felt, his troops were sleeping in 
the plaza under arms. In the morning, calling upon Stephens, 
Morazan spoke of Carrera without malice or bitterness, and 
Stephens bade Morazan farewell with an interest greater than 
he had felt for anyone else in the country. There was a range 
of gigantic volcanoes along the coast, one of them spouting into 
the air an immense column of stones and smoke; and, while the 
earth shook under his feet, he ascended a mountain behind the 
volcano, commanding a view of the crater. He had been 
sleeping in a bed that was full of cockroaches and spiders 
and the ashes now fell about him with a noise like the 
sprinkling of rain. 

When later he returned to Guatemala, Stephens wrote to 
Washington, to the Secretary of State, resigning his position. 
"After diligent search, no government found/* he said; for 
there was indeed no government in Central America, and the 
five republics were all involved in the civil war. But now, in 
order to study the much talked of canal route, Stephens took 
another ship to the Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica. Again he 
came down with chills and fever; nevertheless, he mounted 
a horse for the return journey to Guatemala, five hundred 
miles more or less. It was a country with no provisions for travel- 
lers, with rumours of horrible atrocities, murders in the forest; but 
Stephens plunged into the wilderness alone, riding through 
clouds of locusts, beating them off with his hat. He heard 
the surge of monkeys moving along the tops of the trees, and 
he rode north through Nicaragua and Salvador, the richest 
of the Central American states, extending a hundred and 
eighty miles along the shore of the Pacific. The wild woods 
were constantly swept by tornadoes. At one hacienda a noise 
over the supper-table brought the good-natured host out of 


his chair; it was another sudden earthquake; everyone rushed 
out of doors and the earth rolled like a pitching ship. In the 
darkness Stephens's feet barely touched the ground, and he 
threw out his arms involuntarily to save himself from falling. 
Riding all day in the forest, where the ground teemed with 
noxious insects, he stopped at a stream and tore them out of 
his flesh; and, sleeping among the trees at night, wrapped 
in his poncho, he heard the howling of wolves and the 
screams of the mountain cat. He had heen told in Nicaragua 
that the troops had marched into Honduras, and that the 
troops of Honduras were invading Nicaragua. Then he met an 
American named Hardy of whom he had first heard at the 
Cape of Good Hope, hunting giraffes. Later he had fallen in 
with Hardy in New York. With an elephant and two drome- 
daries this man had travelled through Central America where 
no one had ever seen an elephant before. Meanwhile, Ste- 
phens was able to send the Department of State at home a 
good report of the possibilities of the Nicaragua Passage. 

At Christmas he returned to Guatemala City, encountering 
a religious procession with priests and monks bearing lighted 
candles, preceded by men throwing rockets. A letter came 
from Catherwood, saying he had been robbed by his servant, 
adding that he was ill and had left the ruins and was on his 
way to Guatemala City. Then he arrived, armed to the teeth 
but also pale and thin, half eaten by mosquitoes, ticks, wasps 
and ants, happy at reaching the capital, but not half so happy 
as Stephens was to see him. They resolved not to separate 
again. Catherwood had explored several ruins, especially Quiri- 
gua, which no one in Guatemala had ever visited. He had 
found a pyramidal structure like the pyramids of Copan, to- 
gether with a colossal head, two yards in diameter, covered 
with moss; near by stood a large altar and a collection of 


monuments much like those at Copan but twice or three times 
as high. In the centre of a walled circle there was a large 
round stone, with sides sculptured in hieroglyphics. The ruins 
were by no means appreciated in Guatemala, and the owner 
said that, if his family had not been impoverished, he would 
have been proud to present them to the United States. 
Stephens and Catherwood went to a bullfight in Guatemala 
City, where Carrera entered the captain-general's box, dressed 
in a blue military frock-coat, embroidered with gold. All eyes 
turned towards this man who, a year before, had been hunted 
among the mountains and treated like an outcast. Stephens 
shook hands with him and presently called upon him, telling 
Carrera that he had met Morazan. He had shaken hands with 
men who were thirsting for each other's blood, and he met 
Carrera's wife, a pretty delicate-looking mestiza who was not 
more than twenty years old. Carrera had an idea that Stephens 
was a great man in his own country, although he was vague 
about where the country was. Stephens had obtained from 
the Archbishop of Guatemala letters to all the padres along 
their route through Chiapas; for they were soon to enter this 
state of Mexico in search of the ruins of Palenque. 

At Tecpan, still in Guatemala, near the magnificant church, 
the second that was built after the conquest, the ground was 
covered with mounds of ruins where they spent two hours, 
while they rolled back and forth in another earthquake. They 
were travelling with a cargo mule apiece, each with an oxhide 
trunk, secured with a chain clumsily padlocked, and each con- 
taining a small cot, doubled with a hinge, and with pillows 
and bedclothes wrapped in another oxhide. They had added 
to their equipment undressed goatskins embroidered with red 
leather to protect their legs from rain in the wintry ascent 
through high and rugged mountains. The scenery was grand 


and beautiful, with gigantic volcanoes and lakes, and on the 
narrow road they met caravans of mules loaded with wheat 
and cloth for Guatemala City. In the afternoon, looking back, 
they counted six volcanoes, two of them nearly fifteen thou- 
sand feet high. At Quiche a mestizo advised them to carry 
their weapons, for the people were not to be trusted; two 
travellers had recently been speared by the Indians and the 
wife of another had been murdered on the road: her fingers 
had been cut off and the rings torn from them. They had 
stopped at Quiche to measure and examine the ruins of Utat- 
lan, where they found confused and shapeless masses of stone* 
Even the palace had been largely destroyed to afford building 
material for the present village. However, the floor remained 
unbroken, with fragments of partition walls, and the inner 
walls were covered with plaster that had remains of colour on 
them. In one place, on a layer of stucco, they had made out 
part of the body of a leopard that was well coloured and 
drawn. Stephens found a large plaza or courtyard with the 
relics of a fountain in the centre. On a quadrangular stone 
structure had once stood an altar where human beings were 
carried up naked, stretched out with four priests holding the 
legs and arms while another priest tore out the heart and 
offered it to the sun. The Indians, impressed as they were 
by the pomp of religious ceremonies, and by the splendour of 
the churches, were still full of idolatry and superstition, and in 
the mountains and ravines they kept their idols and prac- 
tised their ancestral rites in secrecy and silence. 

So Stephens and Catherwood were told by the padre of 
Quiche, of whom they first caught sight near the ruins of 
Utadan, toiling along under a red silk umbrella. A Spaniard 
and a Dominican, he had witnessed the battle of Trafalgar, 
looking down from heights on the shore, and he had seen 


enough, he said, of wars and revolutions and had come to 
Guatemala with twenty other Dominican friars. With a broad- 
brimmed black glazed hat, an old cassock reaching to his heels, 
a waistcoat and pantaloons to match, he laughed at everything 
in a good-natured way and told them stories of the country. 
He said there was a city in the Cordilleras where the Indians 
still lived as they had lived before the conquest, and he had 
himself climbed the topmost range of the sierra and seen this 
city at a great distance with white turrets glittering in the 
sun. The people there were said to keep their roosters under- 
ground so that their crowing might not attract the white men. 
The padre pointed out on a map the position of the myste- 
rious city in a region that did not acknowledge the government 
of Guatemala; and Stephens, excited by the tale, would gladly 
have climbed the cordilleras in order to have a glimpse of the 
white city. But to attempt this alone, speaking none of the 
twenty-four dialects that, as he knew, were spoken in Guate- 
mala, would have been out of the question; and he decided 
not to let anything deter him from reaching the ruins of 
Palenque. But Barnum, the showman in New York, reading 
later Stephens's book, got up his hoax of the two "Aztec chil- 
dren," found in the Indian city that Stephens half believed 
in and had longed to see in Guatemala. Barnum said the city 
had high walls and parapets, with hanging gardens and vestal 
virgins, and, taking to London the Aztec children, he induced 
the Prince Consort to come and see them in his exhibition. 
He even published a descriptive guide that was said to have 
been written by Stephens and that Catherwood denounced 
as the fraud that it was. 

When Stephens and Catherwood crossed the border into 
Mexico, the rainy season was approaching, and they were told 
that the roads would be impossible. But nothing could stop 


them, and Mexico struck Stephens as an old, long-settled, 
civilized, quiet, well-governed country. However, while most 
of Mexico was quiet, Tabasco and Yucatan, two points in 
their journey, were in a state of revolution, and the govern- 
ment of Santa Anna had issued a peremptory order to prevent 
all strangers from visiting the ruins of Palenque. What the 
revolution was about Stephens had not any idea, although 
it was true that the central government used its distant 
provinces as quartering places for rapacious officers. How- 
ever, Stephens made up his mind to go on to Palenque, never- 
theless, as one of the principal objects of the expedition. He 
had just met Henry Pawling, an American from Rhinebeck 
on the Hudson, who had been connected with Hardy's trav- 
elling circus. Pawling had arranged in Central America its 
places of exhibition, and then he had managed the cochineal 
plantation that Stephens had seen near Guatemala City. For 
seven years he had not spoken a word of his own language, 
and, tired of the chaotic state of the country, he had raced 
along the road to catch up with these explorers who spoke 
English. Later, Stephens arranged for Pawling to make plaster 
casts of the sculptures at Palenque that were presently seized 
and destroyed by a "patriots' committee." 

On a poor little trail through the forest, winding about 
through mountains and ravines, with vultures overhead and 
scorpions below, and with aguanas, rattlesnakes and lizards, 
they made their way by Ocosingo, the city that had a pyra- 
midal fortress and two stone figures lying on the ground. 
They crossed an ancient suspension bridge, made of osiers 
twisted into cords, passing roofless churches standing in places 
that were unknown: their altars were thrown down and trees 
grew within the walls. The cold was still severe; there were 
many rugged peaks with gigantic cypress trees growing on 


their sides; and they crossed a river where alligators were in 
undisturbed possession, basking on mudbanks like logs of 
driftwood. The river was dotted with their heads. One monster, 
twenty-five or thirty feet long, lay on the arm of a tree that 
hung over the water; and, when Stephens shot him, he fell 
with a tremendous convulsion, reddening the water with a 
circle of blood. There were corn patches in deep ravines and 
on mountain heights, and the Indians were notoriously hos- 
tile; but Stephens and Catherwood reached Palenque safely, 
a village that was eight miles from the ruins. They found 
coffee in three small village shops, with rude pottery cooking 
utensils and hard vegetable shells for cups. One Indian car- 
ried a cowhide trunk with a chicken on each side, another had 
a live turkey on top of his trunk, and a third carried beside 
his load several strings of eggs, each egg wrapped in a husk of 

At the ruins of Palenque, best known of the ancient 
American cities, they came first upon masses of stones, then, 
climbing to a terrace covered with trees, they saw the front 
of a large building which the Indians described as the 
Palace, It was richly ornamented with stuccoed fragments 
on the pilasters; and, tying their mules to the trees, they as- 
cended a flight of steps and entered a corridor and a courtyard. 
There were many rooms in the Palace, with a three- 
storied tower in the centre, and there were apartments under- 
ground containing tables that were about eight feet long. An 
aqueduct was supplied by a stream that ran at the base of 
a terrace, and a broken but level esplanade led to a pyramidal 
structure. From the tower they discovered another building 
more than a hundred feet high, the Temple, with great bushes 
dislodging stones from the roof; the carved wooden lintels 
were covered with a complex stucco design, all overgrown 


with trees. A monument lay on its face, half buried under 
earth and stones, which the Indians turned over, having 
cut down saplings for levers. It was like the Egyptian statues, 
ten feet, six inches tall, and beautifully carved on the under- 
surface. The figure wore a lofty spreading headdress. There 
were large tablets of hieroglyphics, half obliterated by the 
action of the rain and the decomposition of the stone, covered 
with a coating of green moss which they had to wash and 
scrape away. Stephens cleaned the lines with a stick and 
scrubbed the hieroglyphics with blacking brushes, preparing 
the monument for Catherwood to draw. The hieroglyphics 
were exactly like those at Copan, three hundred air-miles 
away, separated by rivers, mountains and jungles, showing that 
the whole country had been occupied by the same race and 
that the Indians had once spoken the same language. 

Stephens fired off his gun, knowing the Indians would re- 
port it and that it would prevent them from making a visit 
during the night. Then he and Catherwood hung their ham- 
mocks in the corridor, uneasily conscious of snakes, scorpions 
and lizards and finding the mosquitoes beyond all endurance. 
They were also disturbed by the screams of the bats that hung 
from the ceiling and whizzed through the corridor all night 
long. The next morning they escorted through the ruins three 
padres who had come especially to see them and who were 
attended by more than a hundred Indians, carrying chairs, 
hammocks and luggage. They were all great card-players, but 
the padre of Tumbala, who weighed two hundred and forty 
pounds, played his violin while the others played monte, and 
Stephens, who had been impressed by the kindness of the 
padres he had seen, was convinced that they were all dili- 
gent in their vocations. In short, they were good and intelli- 
gent men, without reproach among the people. The ruins 


were wet, and the continuous rains worked through cracks 
and crevices and pushed the stones asunder. Catherwood 
was wan and gaunt, wracked with malaria, his face swollen 
with insect bites and his left arm crippled with rheumatism. 
Then the nigua insects attacked Stephens's feet, which were 
soon inflamed and swollen to twice their natural size. For 
a day or two he could not leave his hammock. But at Palenque 
he had taken elaborate notes and Catherwood had made about 
fifty sepia drawings. 

When finally they abandoned the ruins, Stephens and 
Catherwood left their beds, together with their pots and cala- 
bashes, hoping that later visitors could use them, and, riding 
in their wet clothes, with another long journey before them, 
they presently took a Spanish brig for Sisal. This was the 
port of Merida to which they drove in a calash, without 
springs, painted red, green and yellow, looking in the capital 
for Don Simon Peon, the owner of the hacienda and ruins of 
Uxmal. Stephens had met him in New York at a Spanish 
hotel in Fulton Street, where he had been himself in the 
habit of dining, and, finding that Don Simon Peon had gone 
to Uxmal, he and Catherwood decided to go on at once. They 
set out on horseback to ride the fifty miles, escorted by a serv- 
ant of Senor Peon and preceded by Indians carrying a load 
provided for his guests in which a box of claret was conspic- 
uous. At the hacienda there were two major-domos, one of 
whom Stephens had also known in New York, a waiter at Del- 
monico's, a young Spaniard from Catalonia who had taken 
part in some unsuccessful insurrection. Through a noble 
stretch of woods, Stephens and Catherwood walked to the 
ruins, emerging suddenly upon a large open field that was 
strewn with vast buildings and terraces and pyramidal struc- 
tures. Although it was never mentioned in history, Uxmal 


had obviously been, at one time, a large and populous city, 
and the ruins were in a fine state of preservation. They re- 
called the descriptions of the old chroniclers of the conquest, 
who spoke of the splendours that met their eyes in their 
progress through the country. Cortes must have passed within 
a few miles of Uxmal, ever since exposed to the deluge of 
tropical rains and with trees growing through the doorways. 
The Indians regarded the ruins with superstitious reverence, 
believing that immense treasure was buried in them, Stephens 
was struck at the first glance with the wonder and admira- 
tion with which he had caught sight of the ruins of Thebes. 
Volney would have found here another occasion to meditate 
and moralize on the ruins of empires. 

At Uxmal, Catherwood began to draw a panorama; then, 
with a violent attack of fever, he suddenly collapsed and had 
to be carried back to Merida. He felt as if Stephens, on horse- 
back, was following his bier. Stephens, who had returned for 
one more view of the ruins, decided that they must come 
back later to pursue their explorations. Meanwhile, in July, 
1840, they sailed for New York. The sharks played around 
them as they were transferred from a Spanish brig to the jolly- 
boat of the ''Helen Maria." They reached New York exactly 
ten months after they had originally sailed for Belize. 

When Stephens and Catherwood arrived in New York, 
the campaign was at its height for William Henry Harrison 
as President of the country. Stephens, after visiting Washing- 
ton to call upon Daniel Webster, set to work at once on his 
new book. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas 
and Yucatan created, at the moment, a great sensation: it went 


through twelve printings in three months, and Edgar Allan 
Poe called it in a review 'perhaps the most interesting book 
of travel ever published/' William Cullen Bryant, the editor 
of the Evening Post, especially admired the wash and sepia 
drawings for which Catherwood had engaged five different 
engravers; and Albert Gallatin and H. H. Schoolcraft, authori- 
ties on the American Indians, called upon Stephens in New 
York. Schoolcraft presently contributed an appendix to Ste- 
phens's later book. The historian Prescott, who had begun to 
dictate The Conquest of Mexico, was enthusiastic about this 
explorer's work; he was deeply indebted to the author for 
his discoveries in Central America and for his pictures and 
comments on the Mexican scene. 

Scarcely more than a year later, in October, 1841, the two 
friends sailed back to Sisal, the port of Merida, in Yucatan. 
It was a voyage of twenty-seven days, and the barque "Ten- 
nessee" carried, as cargo, gunpowder, six hundred kegs, with 
turpentine, muskets and cotton. Along with a daguerreotype 
apparatus, the explorers took with them a modest young 
Harvard man from Boston, Dr. Samuel Cabot, later well-known 
as a surgeon, who had studied medicine in Paris. Dr. Cabot 
was also a naturalist, deeply interested in ornithology, and he 
looked forward to finding in Yucatan a great number of rare 
tropical birds. He was not to be disappointed, for the state 
had never before been explored ornithologically, and he found 
egrets and pelicans, the white-winged king vulture and the 
ocellated turkey, which Audubon described. He was to see, 
near Tulum, a tree covered with white ibises, its green foliage 
appearing like a frame for their snowy plumage, and he was 
to shoot a trogan, one of the most unusual birds, adorning 
with its brilliant plumage the branches of an overhanging 
tree. Then there were scarlet ibises and roseate spoonbills 


and many new varieties of bitterns and hawks. In addition, 
Dr. Cabot knew how to cure strabismus, and there was much 
squinting in Merida, there were many cross-eyed people: in the 
Maya world it had been attractive to be cross-eyed and one 
o the gods had been so represented. Without any anaesthesia, 
one cut a small muscle to let the eye fall back into its normal 
position, and Dr. Cabot operated on a fourteen-year-old boy, 
an old Mexican general and a pretty young girl. The general, 
an exile in Merida, had served as an aide-de-camp to General 
Jackson at the battle of New Orleans. Dr. Cabot's room was 
crowded with curious people; and in the street passers-by 
pointed to him and said, "There goes the man who cures the 

There was a great cathedral in Merida, with a Franciscan 
convent. The bishop lived in style in the palace, and Stephens, 
Catherwood and Dr. Cabot were conducted through three 
stately rooms, all with high ceilings and lighted lamps. The 
bishop, handsomely dressed, seated in a further room, was 
like some priestly warrior or grand master of the Temple, as 
he spoke of generals, seiges, blockades and battles, and he 
said his house and table were at the service of the Americans 
and asked them to name a day for dining with him. Since 
1840, Yucatan had been an independent state, and the general 
aspect of Merida was Moorish, for it had been built at a time 
when the Moorish style prevailed in Spanish architecture. 
The houses were mostly of one story, with balconies and court- 
yards. The three friends took a small stone house, where 
they set up the daguerreotype apparatus, and they began to 
photograph the young ladies of Merida: there were three who 
came first, with their fathers and mothers, dressed in their 
prettiest costumes, with earrings and chains. One was a deli- 
cate and dangerous blonde, from the point of view of Ste- 


phens, whose name, he said, was poetry itself and who pres- 
ently sent them a large cake, three feet in circumference, and 
six inches deep, which Stephens smothered into his saddle- 
hags. There it spoiled some of his small stock of wearing ap- 
parel. His business in M^rida was to enquire ahout more 
ruins and arrange for the journey into the interior, and all 
three set out, on horseback, with their luggage on the backs 
of mules, for Uxmal and, presently, Mayapan. This ancient 
city, once the capital of the fallen empire of Maya, had never 
been visited by strangers. 

At Uxmal again, they went first to see Don Simon Peon, the 
proprietor of the ruins, on his hacienda, with a large cattle- 
yard, great trees and tanks of water; then they went on to the 
ruins and swung their hammocks, alone in the palace of un- 
known kings. The buildings there still had doors that could 
be opened and shut, and, according to the tradition, the 
Indians had been going there one hundred and forty years 
after Merida was founded, observing their religious rites far 
from the eyes of the Spaniards. Stephens had ladders made, 
and Catherwood climbed up to make his accurate drawings 
of the Governor's house, the largest building in Uxmal and 
the most interesting of all the Maya buildings anywhere: the 
fagade of carved stone was largely unbroken. They cut roads 
from ruin to ruin, to make a line of communication, and 
first they took a stroll along the whole front of the house, with 
no great wish to go to bed. But their mosquito-nets were a great 
success, and they made one of the Indians the ruler over their 
fireplace, with all the privileges and emoluments of sipping 
and tasting. 

Stephens and Cabot cleared the buildings so that Gather- 
wood might draw them, measuring the walls and making 
floor-plans. From the House of the Magician they could see 


most of the ruins, scattered over an area of two miles, stone 
buildings with elaborate fagades and terraces, now indistinct, 
and truncated pyramids with stairways on the sides. There 
was the House of the Doves, resembling a dovecote, and the 
House of the Turtles, so called because of the row of turtles 
carved on the cornice: it had been tottering when they had 
been there the year before and the centre, within this year, 
had fallen in. After a few more returns of the rainy season, 
the whole building would be a mass of ruins. The hieroglyph- 
ics were like those they had seen at Copan and Palenque; 
and there was a sculptured beam, a rare piece of carved wood, 
that Stephens hoped to have in his museum: covered with 
hempen bagging, it was carried away by the Indians and 
presently reached New York in good condition. But with no 
one to cook well for them they had been all but helpless until 
Chaipa Chi appeared, an Indian woman, with the look of a 
Maya portrait, a slanting forehead and hooked nose, who came 
up the steps, carrying her clothes on her head. The only in- 
terest her soul loved was the making of tortillas. In the six 
weeks he spent at Uxmal, Catherwood did his finest work. 
He had his happiest period drawing there. But the ruins were 
unhealthy, and at the end of that time all three were carried 
away on the backs of Indians, delirious with malaria. They 
left the famous Uxmal, silent as they had found it, to crum- 
ble and fall like other cities in the forest. 

Before he himself collapsed, Stephens had ridden off one 
day to visit the fair at Jalacho, on the main road to Campe- 
achy, thronged with Indians moving to the fiesta, all in 
freshly washed garments, from the villages roundabout. On the 
plaza, tables were set out with necklaces and rings, and in 
rustic arbours opposite were vendors of toys and trinkets and 
looking-glasses in frames of red paper. There was a proces- 


sion of toreadors headed by an Indian, squint-eyed and bandy- 
legged, carrying a drum under Ms arm, dancing grotesquely 
to his own music; then followed the band and the picadors, a 
cut-throat looking set, who presently took part in a sanguinary 
bullfight. Stephens discovered on the way the ruins of Max- 
canu, with a great cave where he explored the recesses, tying 
to his left wrist the end of a ball of twine and entering the 
labyrinth with a candle and a pistol. Riding through thick 
canebrake he visited ruins at another hacienda in the neigh- 
bourhood. The Indians who had not gone to the fair sat in 
their yards in the village streets, plaiting palm-leaves for hats 
and weaving hammocks, while the women sewed in their door- 
ways and the children played naked in the road. 

When all three men were well again, they set out for 
Mayapan where they found a circular building on a mound 
from which projected double rows of columns. The road was 
a mere bridle-path through the woods, and, stopping at one 
hacienda, Dr. Cabot operated on the owner's wife, this time 
not for strabismus but to remove a wen. Dr. Cabot's presence 
in every village was known at once and patients crowded 
round him to cure their biscos. For there were no doctors in 
Yucatan except in Campeachy and Merida, and in villages the 
whole duty of attending to the sick devolved upon the usually 
devoted cura: he had, as a rule, a "sister-in-law" who did not 
impair his usefulness but was supposed to give him settled 
habits. The ruins of Mayapan covered a great plain with 
sculptured stone strewn about the ground, human figures and 
animals with hideous expressions. There were many ruins 
near Uxmal, ruin after ruin in the jungle, Kabah, for instance, 
with pyramids, terraces and arches, six tigers with stone masks 
and a figure carved in wood, with a headdress of quetzal 
plumes, standing on a snake. Then there was Nohcacab, 


where the padre hurried to meet them, exclaiming, "Buenos 
noticias! Otras ruinaslGood news! More ruins!" At Nohpat 
they found the figure of a great lord lying on its hack, and at 
Lahna there was a row of death's heads in stucco, painted 
figures and a beautiful arched gateway. On many of the ruins 
they found the stamp of a red hand, a symbol of mastery or 
power, as bright as if it had been newly made, that brought 
one close to the Indian builders; but the rankness of the 
tropical vegetation was hurrying to destruction all the walls 
and all the cities. The gnarled and twisted roots of the trees 
encircled the stones with a ruthless grip and the fibres gradu- 
ally overturned the walls. When the jungle had overtaken 
the farther flung cities, the Maya people had returned to their 
original home, and from the tenth century till the coming of 
the Spaniards they had gathered in the northern tip of Yuca- 

Presently, from Kabah, the friends proceeded on horseback, 
on the flat plain, toward Campeachy, with hammocks, a tin 
table service, a few changes of clothing, a candlestick, bread, 
chocolate, coffee and sugar. Catherwood could sketch, without 
dismounting, from his horse and Dr. Cabot could shoot from 
the back of his. Entering a region that was occupied wholly 
by Indians, they came to the ruins of Sayil, a name that had 
never been uttered by civilized man; and at the rancho of 
Sarmacte the Indians were wild in appearance. The women 
disappeared at once and the men crouched on the ground, 
their long black hair hanging over their eyes. Stephens, Cath- 
erwood and Dr. Cabot explored the woods for ruins, Mani, 
Sabactche, Kevic, Xampon, where the walls had furnished ma- 
terials for the church and all the stone houses of the village. 
Stephens rode off alone to Ticul for a bullfight and a dance 
and there he saw sculptured heads fixed as ornaments on the 


fronts of houses. The plaza was overgrown with grass, while 
a few mules pastured upon it, the perfect picture of stillness 
and repose. But then again he was overtaken by malaria. An 
icy chill succeeded a fire in his body, and the padre in an old 
Franciscan habit took him to the convent and cured him with 
orange and lemon juice flavoured with cinnamon. 

The friends met again at Bolonchen, where the water was 
taken from a deep well and Catherwood made some of his 
finest drawings. There was a ladder wide enough for twenty 
men to descend abreast, with water-jugs strapped to their 
heads, and Catherwood climbed down one hundred and 
twenty feet and made several sepia drawings in the dripping 
half -darkness. The most dramatic of all was his picture of the 
ladder. The three proceeded to the hacienda of Santa Rosa 
Xtampak, where, peering through the trees, they saw the 
white front of a lofty building, the grandest they had seen 
in Yucatan. They found interior staircases for the first time, 
and, mounting to the top, where the wind swept over the 
ruined building, they caught sight of an eagle hovering aloft 
Dr. Cabot recognized it as one of a rare species but, before 
he had time to shoot it, the proud bird soared away. The moon 
beamed over the clearing, lighting up the woods and illuminat- 
ing the great building from the base to the summit, and then 
a short walk brought them into an open country and among 
the towering remains of another city. There were lofty mounds 
and ranges through which white masses of stone were glim- 
mering and rising in quick succession. 

Stephens had discovered the stone roads of Yucatan, which 
had once traversed the whole country, binding together all the 
Maya cities. These roads were eight feet wide, well kept in 
Maya times, and one of them wound its way to Chichen Itza. 
Ever since he had left home he had had his eyes upon this 


place, the greatest city of the later Maya empire, and a centre 
of religious pilgrimages, where he, with his companions, was 
to spend eighteen days, and Catherwood was to make more 
than fifty drawings. All the great buildings were in full view, 
casting prodigious shadows over the plain, and the morning 
after they arrived, guided by an Indian, they prepared for a 
preliminary survey. While the field of ruins was partially 
wooded, most of it was open, crossed by cattle-paths here and 
there. A great truncated pyramid had staircases on all four 
sides, and the balustrades were decorated with gigantic ser- 
pents, intertwined, portions of which were still in place. The 
decoration on another building was a procession of tigers or 
lynxes, and there were paintings in vivid colours of human 
figures, battles, houses, trees, scenes of domestic life and a 
large canoe. The heads were adorned with plumes and the 
hands bore shields and spears. One of the buildings was more 
than two hundred feet long with a staircase fifty-six feet wide 
rising to the top, and in the gymnasium or tennis-court, so 
called, the Mayas had played a game with hardened rubber 
balls. In the interior of Yucatan, Chichen Itza had been the 
spot where the conquering Spaniards had first settled. For two 
centuries the whole Maya empire had been ruled by the lords 
of Chichen Itza. 

To visit the northern and eastern coast, Cozumel and Tu- 
lum, the ruined city that could be seen from the ocean, they 
followed the route to Valladolid, nine leagues away, where 
great buildings towered on both sides of the road. The first 
stranger to visit Chichen Itza had been an American who was 
now living in Valladolid, a living city that still bore the mark 
of ancient grandeur going to decay: there were houses bla- 
zoned on the front with the coats of arms of Castilians whose 
race had been forgotten. Stephens and his friends arranged 


then for their further journey through seventy miles of the 
densest forest; and, although they were warned that it was 
impossible, they had no thought of turning back. Moreover, 
they were charmed by the welcome of the cura of Valladolid 
and the comfortable appearance of the convent, where the 
parlour was furnished with engravings from the novels of Sir 
Walter Scott that had been made for the Spanish market. 
Presently they set out for the port of Yalahau, over a road 
that was lonely and rugged, past bushes covered with garrapa- 
tas that swarmed in thousands over them until the body itself 
seemed to be crawling. This port, recently a haunt of pirates, 
was now the abode of smugglers, a business they combined 
with the embarking of sugar and other products of neighbour- 
ing ranchos. The coast had been infested with bands of des- 
peradoes, doomed to be hanged on sight, whenever they were 
caught; and the principal men of the town were notorious 
quondam pirates who were living there, now greatly respected. 
A canoe was pointed out, lying in front of their door, that 
had once been used in pirate operations. Dr. Cabot found a 
new field opened to him in flocks of seafowl strutting along 
the shore and screaming down from over their heads. 

At Yalahau they laid in a stock of provisions, two turtles, 
beef and pork in strings and implements for making tortillas, 
and they set out in a canoe following the track of the Span- 
iards along the east coast of Yucatan. They had undertaken 
to find vestiges of the great buildings of lime and stone that 
had astonished the Spanish conquerors, and they reached first 
the island of Mugeres, the resort of Lafitte, the notorious pi- 
rate who had been buried in a church near by. Then, after a 
few days, they came to the island of Cozumel, finding there a 
well of pure and abundant water upon which they fell at the 
moment of landing. Cozumel had been called by the chron- 


iclers a place of many temples, a sanctuary for the aborigines; 
but the island was overgrown with trees and only after a long 
search did they find a tower standing on a terrace. Then they 
discovered another building, with the remains of a Spanish 
church in which a tree grew out of the main altar. Returning 
to the mainland, they travelled down to Tulum, where they 
found an ancient sea-wall, fifteen hundred feet in length, and 
the remains of several buildings with the Castillo on a high 
cliff, one hundred feet long, in full sight. There, again, were 
prints of the red hand, and they discovered on another build- 
ing the figure of a man with head down and legs and arms 
spread out From there they returned to Silam, the port of 
Izamal, with the towering remains of another ruined city. The 
whole of Izamal was built from the stones that lay in the 
mounds, and Catherwood made a splendid drawing of a gi- 
gantic head that was seven feet high and wide and covered 
with stucco. On the way back to Merida, fifteen leagues from 
Izamal, they stopped to visit the ruins of Ak6, where they 
found a great platform with thirty-six columns but with no 
trace of a building or a roof* 

Once more in Merida, Stephens could say that he had in- 
troduced the first circus company that had ever been in Yuca- 
tan. For a man named Clayton had brought there a portable 
theatre with spotted horses, riders, clowns and monkeys, and 
he said that Stephens, whom he had met in New York, had 
induced him to come to Merida. Stephens had encouraged 
this in the belief that it might be a first step towards breaking 
up the popular taste for bullfights, the bullfights that even 
Jacques Casanova considered "a most barbarous sport and 
likely to operate unfavourably on the national morals/' The 
circus threw into the shade the daguerreotype and the curing 
of biscos. Then Stephens and his companions, bidding fare- 


well to the house of Peon, set off with their luggage to the 
port of SisaL They carried with them Stephens's notebooks, 
CatherwoocTs huge portfolios and Dr. Cabot's collection of 
Mexican bird-skins. Stephens, in his irregular route, had dis- 
covered the crumbling remains of forty-four ancient Mayan 
cities, some of them certainly never seen by the eyes of a 
white man and most of them never visited by any stranger. 
Many had been occupied when the Spaniards had invaded 
the country, but time and the tropical rains were hastening 
them all to destruction; and in a few centuries great buildings, 
already cracked and yawning, were destined to become mere 
shapeless mounds. 


From that time forth, in Latin America, John Lloyd Ste- 
phens was to be known as the "father of Mayaism." But what 
was to be his own future, and what became of Catherwood? 
To the Rotunda in New York, with Catherwood's panorama, 
Stephens had sent many relics, Mayan sculptures, vases, figures, 
the lintel covered with hieroglyphics and carved beams from 
Uxmal, Kabah and Labna. There were hundreds of Gather- 
wood's drawings and water-colours, and all were destroyed 
when a fire consumed the panoramas that Catherwood had 
made of Jerusalem and Thebes. The few sculptures that were 
saved Stephens gave to John Church Cruger, his friend who 
owned the island in the Hudson, and the "Stephens stones" 
were built into the wall that had been erected there to sug- 
gest one of the fragments of Volney's ruins. They were bought 
generations later by the Museum of Natural History from a 
descendant of John Church Cruger. After the fire Catherwood 
set up again as an architect; then he was sent to British Guiana 
to build a small railroad that would enable the planters to 


bring their cotton and sugarcane to market. He bought land 
In California, invested his savings in a railroad there, and, go- 
ing to England, he was lost, coming back, in 1854, in a col- 
lision at sea. 

Stephens had died two years before him. The two had met 
once again on the river Chagres in Panama, where Stephens 
had begged Catherwood to take charge of the administration 
of the railroad that he was building there. Stephens himself 
had gone to Bogota to arrange with the government for the 
lease of the land for the railroad. As agent for a steamship 
company, he had sailed to Germany where he had a long con- 
versation, at Potsdam, with Humboldt, "the greatest man since 
Aristotle," in his opinion, and "a part of history, belonging to 
the past." Stephens had published in 1843 his Incidents of 
Travel in Yucatan, republished every two years until 1861. 
The discovery of gold in California hastened the building of 
the railroad, and among the gold-seekers on the isthmus Ste- 
phens met Hermann Schliemann, the future discoverer of the 
city of Troy, who was bound for Sacramento. But the so- 
called "Chagres fever" soon got the better of him, and, picked 
up unconscious under a gigantic ceiba tree, he was carried to 
New York and presently died there. He was hastily buried in 
the tomb of a well-known family, with which he was not 
known to be connected, and only a century later, when the 
coffin was discovered, was the name of the father of Mayaism 
famous again. 


eighteen-thirties were a heyday of the Indians, and 
JL when George Catlin ascended the Missouri in 1832, he 
saw them in all their splendour of gait and costume. He sailed 
up the river on the first voyage of the "Yellowstone," the "Big 
Thunder Canoe," as the Mandans called it, a journey of three 
months from St. Louis, two thousand miles north, to Fort 
Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone river. The boat, on its 
way up, puffing and blowing, bumped against floating trees 
and hidden sandbars, and the Indians and buffaloes on the 
banks were terrified and fled when the twelve-pound cannon 
was discharged at a tepee village. The Indians ran to the tops 
of the bluffs or lay with their faces to the ground or shot their 
horses and dogs to appease the Great Spirit, who had been 
offended, they thought, by the belching of the gun. But to 
Cadin the country seemed like fairyland, both sublime and 
picturesque, as his eyes roamed over the hills, the bluffs and 
the dales. It was like the ruins of an ancient city with ram- 
parts, domes, towers and spires of clay; and he was astonished 
by the herds of buffaloes, elk and mountain goats that bounded 
over the green fields of the unending prairies. 

Cadin had come out to the Far West to make portraits of 



the Indians, who were still uncorrupted beyond the frontier, 
and at St. Louis, where he had already spent two years, he 
had met and painted General William Clark. The survivor of 
Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, had 
crossed the Rockies twenty-eight years before, following the 
Columbia river to the Pacific ocean, and the old general was 
superintendent of Indian affairs in the Western country and 
knew more about the Indians than anyone else. He was drawn 
to Catlin, impressed by his sincerity; and Catlin painted por- 
traits also of the chiefs of the delegations who visited the su- 
perintendent at St. Louis. The two men went up to Prairie du 
Chien, where General Clark made treaties with the loways, 
the Sioux, the Omahas and the Sacs and Foxes, and Catlin, 
painting all the time, rode through the country of the Konsas, 
who ornamented their heads with crests of deer's hair. Then 
he travelled through passes in the mountains to Great Salt 
Lake when the Mormons were still living in Illinois. He was 
at home in the saddle and a master of woodcraft who had lived 
as a boy on a farm on the Susquehanna. 

Before going up the Missouri, Catlin had returned to Al- 
bany. There he had married, in 1828, the daughter of a mag- 
nate who had bought up a good part of the town, a rival in 
this respect of the first William James who had also made his 
fortune in real estate at Albany. But Clara Catlin was to have 
much to put up with, for her husband was destined to live a 
nomad's life, one who took, as he said, "an incredible pleasure 
in roaming through nature's trackless wild/' Born at Wilkes- 
Barre in 1796, he had heard trappers and Indian fighters talk- 
ing at his fathers forest farm; then, studying law at Litchfield, 
like his father before him, he had set up as a lawyer for two 
or three years. But, exchanging his law books for paint-pots 
and brushes, he had gone to Philadelphia to study with 


Thomas Sully and the Peales, delighting in the Peale mu- 
seum where were exhibited, among minerals and birds, relics 
of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Becoming a well-known 
portrait-painter, travelling from city to city, he had painted 
Dolly Madison and De Witt Clinton. Especially he painted 
reservation Indians, Senecas, Oneidas and Tuscaroras, among 
them the old chief Red Jacket, standing on the brink of Ni- 
agara Falls where he thought his spirit would linger after he 
was dead. Catlin had already made up his mind to visit the 
unknown Far West and become the "historian," as he put it, 
of the Indians there. 


General Clark in St. Louis approved of Catlin's plan to 
travel in the 'Tellowstone" up the Missouri. It would be early 
summer when the Indians were gathered round the agencies 
to fit themselves out for their autumn hunts. Then he said, 
"I need your help in a losing battle," for he believed in the 
Indians and felt they were doomed. He had his own private 
museum of Indian costumes and weapons, with heads of elk 
and buffalo and portraits of chiefs, which were poor indeed 
beside Catlin's, smooth and academic. The 'Tellowstone" was 
stocked with blankets and red flannel shirts, tomahawks, bush- 
els of beads and kegs of tobacco, together with the vermilion 
the Indians daubed on their bodies and faces and that caused 
them to be described as red men. For their natural colour was 
a sort of cinnamon brown. Catlin, who had come aboard with 
his easel, canvas and bladders of paint, soon saw what the 
general meant by a 'losing battle," for the traders and the fur 
men talked about the Indians and how many beaver-skins 
could be traded for a bottle of whiskey. Catlin, determined to 


champion their cause, also believed in them "before they were 
put in frock coats with velvet collars," and he was convinced 
that, before they were spoiled by the craft and cunning of the 
whites, they were proud, honourable and honest. He was to 
find everywhere, in his eight years with the Indians, universal 
hospitality and kindness, but there was an example on the boat 
of the effect that white civilization had upon these children of 
the prairies. A young man named Wi-jun-jon, or the Pigeon's 
Egg-Head, the son of a chief of the Assiniboines, had spent a 
winter in Washington, where he met the Great White Father, 
and was returning home in full-dress regimentals. Whistling 
'Tankee Doodle/* he strutted on the deck, while he had slept 
in his uniform, his white kid gloves were almost black and 
two bottles of whiskey stuck out of his pockets. The village had 
assembled to welcome the son of the chief, who walked ashore 
with a blue umbrella in his hand, and Catlin later heard the 
rest of the story. His wife, thinking his coat was useless, cut 
it off at the waist in order to make leggings for herself; she 
made of his hat-band a pair of garters; and the Pigeon's Egg- 
Head himself, bragging about the white man's ways, was fi- 
nally killed as a liar and a good-for-nothing. 

The steamboat, with its Yankee trappers and French-Ca- 
nadian coureurs de bois, was grounded several times on sand- 
bars in the river, and Catlin, who went ashore and painted 
portraits among the Sioux, fell in with an old chief who had 
been exposed. Too infirm to follow his tribe, which was driven 
afar by hunger for buffalo meat, he had asked to be left alone 
to starve, a custom of all the prairie tribes, and Catlin could 
only shake the hand of the poor old forsaken patriarch and 
leave him to the mercy of the bears and the wolves. On an- 
other occasion, with seventeen fellow passengers, he walked 
across the country two hundred miles to Fort Tecumseh, where 


the Teton river flowed into the winding Missouri. With his 
sketch-book slung on his back, rifle in hand, he learned how 
much easier it was to walk with his toes turned in, through 
the long grass, in the Indian fashion. There were six or seven 
hundred skin lodges grouped about this fort, the site of the 
future capital of South Dakota, for it was a centre of trade 
with the Sioux whence buffalo robes in great quantities were 
transported to be sold in the Eastern markets. There were 
games and horse-races and the Indians gave the white men a 
feast of dog-meat, killing their most faithful companions to 
bear witness to their friendship. Each guest had a wooden 
bowl with dog's flesh floating in the soup and a large spoon 
made of a buffalo's horn, and everyone knew the solemnity 
and good feeling behind the feast and the necessity of devour- 
ing a little of the brew. Catlin saw one chief take from his 
bowl the victim's head and descant on it with affection and 
with tears in his eyes. 

At Fort Tecumseh, Catlin painted One Horn, Ha-wan-je- 
tah, the great chief of the Sioux, whose white elkskin tunic 
was fringed with scalp-locks and quills; and he made a por- 
trait of Mah-to-tchee-ga, the Little Bear, in profile, merely for 
the sake of variety, from his point of view. But he did not 
foresee the consequences. A surly member of another band, 
Shon-ka, watching as he painted, remarked, "The Little Bear 
gets only half a face because he is only half a man." When the 
Little Bear asked, 'Who says that?" Shon-ka, the Dog, replied, 
"Shon-ka says it," whereupon the Little Bear answered, 'When 
the Dog says it, let him prove it." Then the Dog said again, 
"He knows that half of your face is good for nothing, so be 
has left it out of the picture." Presently two shots rang out, 
the Little Bear was killed and the Dog fled, to be killed later; 
and Catlin was blamed for this by the medicine-men who 


said that all the men he painted were bound to die, for they 
could not live in two places at once. A portrait, to them, was 
obviously alive: the eyes in the picture were always open, the 
subjects could not even sleep at night, and the picture would 
go on living when the subject was dead. Presently the Indians 
left the fort: their wigwams lay flat on the ground, horses and 
dogs were loaded and the cavalcade crept off. Catlin painted 
this scene, too, and noted it in the letters he was sending to 
a newspaper in New York. 

By the time when the '"Yellowstone" reached Fort Union, 
the end of its run of two thousand miles, Catlin knew much 
about the northwestern Indians. The fort, the principal depot 
of the American Fur Company, was built with palisades and 
two stone bastions, and there were eight or ten log-cabins, 
store-houses, sheds and living quarters within the enclosure. 
It was a rendezvous of several tribes who came to trade there, 
Crows, Blackfeet and Assiniboines among them. Sometimes, 
in fact, a whole tribe camped there; and Kenneth McKenzie, 
a Scotsman, the master, locked up all their weapons, so that 
hostile tribes were obliged to keep the peace. The agent of the 
company as far west as the Rocky Mountains, he kept a vast 
stock of goods for trading, and the hunters came in from the 
further West, laden with packs of furs, with Indian chiefs, 
sachems, warriors, women and children. Catlin was given a 
painting-room in one of the bastions of the fort, and there he 
worked, with his easel before him, sitting on the breech of a 
twelve-pounder. The room soon became a lounge for the 
worthies of the tribe, where Crows and Blackfeet, deadly 
enemies outside, gathered and quietly smoked together. At Mc- 
Kenzie's table, Catlin dined on buffalo meat and buffaloes' 
tongues and on beavers' tails with marrow-fat for butter, and 
with port and Madeira for lunch and dinner. 


There Catlin painted for several weeks, while he took part 
in buffalo-hunts, ball-plays, foot-races, horse-races and wres- 
tling, or chased the little wild horses that ranged from Lake 
Winnepeg to the Mexican border, the shyest animals of the 
prairie. Milk white, or jet black, sorrel, bay, iron grey or pied, 
with long tails that swept the ground, strays from Mexico, 
where the Spaniards had introduced them, they scoured the 
plains in herds of thousands. Just so the buffaloes also ranged 
as far north as Hudson's Bay, and the Indians, who killed 
them with arrows or with lances, lived altogether on buffalo 
meat Their flesh was delicious, Catlin thought, like that of 
fat beef, but the Indians used every part of the buffalo, not 
only the flesh for food but the skin for clothing. They used 
the skin also for covering their lodges and for constructing sad- 
dles, bridles and thongs, as they used the horns for ladles and 
spoons, the hoofs for making glue and the bones for saddle- 
trees and war-clubs. They braided the buffalo hair into halters 
and made strings of the sinews and the women used the sinews 
in their sewing. The Indians hunted the buffaloes even in 
winter on snow-shoes, but this was mainly for buffalo robes 
to sell; for they usually killed and dried the meat in the au- 
tumn when it was especially fat and juicy, Carts were sent 
out, following the hunters, to collect the buffalo-meat, which 
was then thrown into the ice-house. Catlin enjoyed these 
buffalo-hunts, with the great animals eddying and wheeling, 
plunging and butting at each other and attacking the horses; 
and, with his sketch-book and rifle, and his canvas rolled up in 
a case on his back, he sometimes took notes and drew when 
he was in the saddle. At the end of the day, the hunters re- 
turned to relate their adventures to the women-folk. But the 
buffaloes were doomed like the Indians who fed upon them. 
Catlin related that a band of Sioux brought in fourteen hum- 


dred buffaloes' tongues for which they received a few gallons 
of whiskey. The skins and the flesh were left on the prairie 
for the wolves. 

The Blackfeet and the Crows, the aristocrats of the Indian 
world, were the finest in appearance at Fort Union, the Black- 
feet, the largest and most warlike of the tribes, and the Crows, 
known for their tall figures, who made the most beautiful 
lodges. Their wigwams were hung with skins that were 
dressed to look almost as white as linen and were most pic- 
turesquely ornamental. Catlin painted the Four Wolves, a fine 
looking fellow of six feet, whose hair as he walked trailed on 
the grass, and he also painted Pe-toh-pee-kiss, the Eagle Ribs, 
a Blackfoot brave, holding two medicine-bags made of the 
skins of otters. Medicine was their word for mystery, and 
Catlin himself was called the White Medicine painter, for 
no Indian had seen a life-like portrait before; and painting was 
held to be the most unaccountable of mysteries, while guns 
and pistols were great medicine also. So were the lucifer 
matches that Catlin carried with him. Young Indians, "mak- 
ing their medicine," wandered off alone, neither eating nor 
drinking until some experience or dream told them what their 
medicine was to be, and whatever bird, animal or reptile they 
first dreamed about became their special medicine and their 
protection. Then they hunted for the creature, otter, badger, 
loon or wolf, or perhaps even a mouse, to be saved for its skin 
which was to become the basis of the medicine-bag they were 
to wear on all occasions. They carried these medicine-bags into 
batde, disgraced if they lost them or if their enemies captured 
them and displayed them later as trophies of war. Once Catlin 
witnessed the procedure of a Blackfoot doctor or medicine-man 
over a brave who was dying. Dressed in the skin of a yellow 
bear, he growled and groaned and gesticulated, hopping over 


the patient while he pawed about with his hands and feet, ex- 
actly in the manner of a bear. Attached to the skin he wore 
were the skins of other animals, snakes, frogs and bats, with 
the beaks and tails of birds and with antelopes* hoofs. Catlin 
obtained this costume for his Indian collection, with other 
headdresses, pipes, war-clubs, lances and arrows. He collected 
rattles, whistles, drums and flutes, and the staves of medicine- 
men, hung with bats' wings, ermine skins and bears' claws, 
perfumed with the scent of the skunk. He had bows of ash- 
wood, lined for their elasticity with the sinews of the buffalo 
and the deer. 

Most of Catlin's portraits were painted in half -length, the 
head of the White Buffalo, for example, with his mystery 
drum over his left arm; but he painted the Iron Horn at full 
length in a very splendid costume. Then there was Mah-to- 
toh-pa, the Four Bears, for whom Catlin was obliged to wait 
till noon with his palette and colours all prepared, for this 
important man had spent at his toilet the whole morning until 
he was finally satisfied with his looks and equipment He en- 
tered like a tragedian treading the stage, in a headdress of war- 
eagle's quills extending to his feet and a necklace of fifty claws 
of the grizzly bear. His shield was the hide of a buffalo's neck, 
hardened with glue from its hoofs, and he was a picture of 
manly dignity and grace with his leggings, knife, medicine-bag, 
tomahawk and war-club. He was accompanied by a crowd of 
women and children who gazed at him with admiration, and, 
taking a position in the middle of the room, he sang his medi- 
cine-song and looked the painter straight in the face. For if a 
warrior was painted not looking straight forward, if in the 
portrait he looked away, it was necessary for him to challenge 
the painter to fight. Catlin acquired for his collection the great 
man's painted robe, adorned with twelve battle scenes on the 


back, and he also acquired the scalping-knife with the blood 
of the victims dried on the blade and certificates of its identity 
and history. No warrior, in fact, would stand for his portrait 
until he had spent all the time from sunrise until eleven or 
twelve o'clock arranging himself in his war-dress and war- 
paint, oiling with bear's grease his long locks and bedaubing 
and streaking himself with red, green and black. Cadin 
painted the head chief of the Blackf eet, who sat for his picture 
superbly dressed and surrounded by his warriors and his 
braves, the warriors being those who had taken one or more 
scalps while the braves had not taken scalps but had only 
fought. The Stone with Horns, Toh-ki-ee-to, was tattooed 
by pricking in vermilion and gunpowder in elaborate profu- 
sion. When a portrait was finished, the sitter usually lay down 
in front of it, admiring his own beautiful form from noon till 

Distinguished personages of each tribe lounged about the 
room, narrating stories of the battles they had fought and 
boasting of the scalp-locks that were attached to their tunics 
and their leggings. Their likenesses were recognized by stamp- 
ing and yelling, while the women covered their mouths, a 
sign of surprise; and the painter was considered the greatest 
of all medicine-men, for the eyes of the picture moved and 
smiled. Guards were stationed at the door in order to keep 
the crowds away, and, when he was summoned, Catlin stepped 
out and the women gazed and gaped at him: the braves of- 
fered him their hands and the little boys struggled to touch 
him with their fingers. The portraits were held up over the 
door together, so that the whole tribe could see their chiefs, 
and the painter was presented with a doctor's wand and a dog 
was sacrificed to him and hung by the legs over his wigwam. 
The chiefs decided who was worthy of the honour of being 


painted, but Catlin occasionally made mistakes. There was a 
kind of dandy who strolled about in a beautiful dress but 
without scalp-locks or claws of the grizzly bear. In each tribe 
there were a few of these young men, pluming themselves 
with swan's-down, sweet-scented grass and the quills of ducks, 
and they were held in low esteem by the chiefs and braves 
because they had an aversion to arms and fighting. Faint 
hearts, gay and tinselled bucks, decked out in all their finery, 
they were always taking up attitudes at Catlin's door, and 
Catlin began to paint one of them when two or three chiefs 
were in the room, whereupon the chiefs rose and went out- 
side. Presently an interpreter came in saying, "My God, you 
have given great offence to the chiefs* If you paint that man's 
picture, you must destroy theirs." Generally, when Catlin was 
painting, he induced the other young men to perform their 
dances so that he could study their expression and their char- 
acter. Their songs were made up of yelps and barks, harsh and 
jarring gutteral sounds, but they were handsome and pictur- 
esque beyond description, and he greatly admired their grace 
and perfection of form. Among many, he painted the White 
Buffalo, the Bear's Child and the Eagle's Rib, together with 
the wife of the chief, the Crystal Stone. 

Meanwhile, he took wild rambles about this country of 
green meadows, enamelled with myriads of flowers, there 
were lilies, wild roses and sunflowers everywhere, a country 
where everything was topsy-turvy, where men were red and 
wolves were white, rivers were yellow and frogs had horns 
and where magpie and paroquet replaced the bluebird and the 
robin. There were no laws here but those of honour and only 
the sun and the rats were the same as at home. The steamboat, 
the "Yellowstone," was returning to St. Louis, transporting a 
heavy load of buffalo skins, but Catlin was planning to paddle 


down the river in a canoe with two companions, Bogard and 
Batiste. Bogard was a Mississippian, Ba'tiste was a weather- 
beaten voyageur, and both had been employees of the Fur 
Company, engaged in trapping beavers on the northern Mis- 
souri or at the base of the Rocky Mountains. They all bade 
farewell to their friends at the fort and set out in their frail 
little bark canoe, Bogard in the bow, while Ba'tiste paddled 
from the middle and Catlin steered, sitting in the stern. He 
had, besides his canvas, easel and paint-pots, and the pictures 
that were dry and rolled together, several packs that contained 
his Indian collection, and the canoe was stocked with beavers' 
tails and dried buffaloes' tongues, fresh buffalo meat and a 
good supply of pemmican. They counted on Bogard with his 
rifle to replenish their larder. They had also brought three tin 
cups, a coffee-pot and a plate, together with a frying pan and 
a tin ketde. They travelled at the rate of four or five miles an 
hour, camping at night on buffalo robes on the shore, and they 
were in high spirits, under the rugged and varicoloured bluffs, 
because the coffee was good and the weather was fine. 

At the fort, Kenneth McKenzie had given them a war-eagle, 
the bird which the Indians esteemed for its valour and the 
quills that were used for the heads of warriors and chiefs. It 
was full-grown and domesticated. Catlin had a perch erected 
for it, six or eight feet high, over the bow, and there, without 
being fastened, the great bird rested quietly, silently survey- 
ing all that passed. Fed with fresh buffalo meat or fish, it 
usually held to its perch all day, and could not be made to 
leave the canoe. When the companions woke up in the morn- 
ing, there the bird was on its stand, but, tired of its position, 
during the day, it sometimes raised its long broad wings and, 
spreading them, hovered a few feet over their heads. Occasion- 
ally it soared for miles together, looking down over them, shad- 


ing and fanning them with fresh air. Once, waking up, when 
they slept on a beach, Cadin heard Bogard exclaim, "Look at 
old Gale, will you?" Caleh, or Gale, was the word for a grizzly 
hear, and there the monster stood, a few feet away, with his 
mate and two cubs standing beside him. The bears had been 
in the canoe, and had pawed out every article, untying two 
packs of Indian dresses, shirts, leggings and robes which were 
daubed with mud and spread out as if to dry; and they had 
devoured most of the eatables that Bogard had to replace by 
shooting an occasional antelope that was gazing at them. For 
that matter, they were well supplied with clams, frogs, snails 
and rattlesnakes, delicious when they were properly dressed 
and broiled. The canoe passed a prairie-dog village, and a herd 
of buffaloes crossed the river, swimming about and blackening 
the stream. Catlin painted the scene and described it in his 
journal. Once he left Bogard and Ba'tiste, stretched out on the 
grass, where they enjoyed a mountaineer's nap, while, taking 
his rifle and sketchbook, he roamed from hilltop to hilltop, 
picking wild flowers and looking at the valley beneath him. 
He carried his easel and canvas to the top of a bluff and 
painted views up and down the river, the gracefully sloping 
hills and domes of green that vanished into blue in the dis- 
tance. He followed the traces of a grizzly bear and pursued a 
wild war-eagle in sight of a herd of buffaloes on the rugged 
cliffs. There were thousands of white swans and pelicans 
where the river expanded itself into what appeared to be a 
beautiful lake. 


Catlin had made up his mind to visit every Indian tribe and 
record with brush and pencil its habits and amusements, its 
mysteries and religious ceremonies, the grass-builders, the 


earth-builders, the bark-builders and the timber-builders, in 
all their native simplicity and beauty. Documenting their 
everyday life, he had set out to defend them and explain why 
they resented the invading white men who stole their land 
away from them, dug up their graves and scattered the bones, 
debauched them and destroyed them with whiskey and small- 
pox. The Mandans, whom he stopped to see, with whom he 
spent several weeks indeed, were to be exterminated by small- 
pox two or three years later: only about thirty were left out of 
two or three thousand, and twenty-five thousand Blackfeet 
were exterminated also. Two or three traders had introduced 
among them a disease from which they had no immunity. 
The Mandans were a small unwarlike tribe who lived in 
a fortified village, two villages, in fact, two miles apart, 
protected by the river and a high stockade, with dome-shaped 
lodges all close together, circular, with walls of timber and 
" earth on top. They sat on the roofs of these lodges, which 
looked like inverted potash-kettles, with their dogs, sleds, pot- 
tery and buffalo skulls, and they cultivated corn, pumpkins 
and small turnips, while most of their time was spent in gos- 
sip and games. For the Indians were not taciturn, reserved or 
morose, they were actually more talkative than civilized people, 
garrulous, fond of story-telling, laughing easily at a slight joke, 
full of fun as they sat cross-legged, in winter, by the fire. 

Two hundred miles south of Fort Union, the "polite and 
friendly" Mandans, as even the traders called these leisurely 
people, the "people of the pheasants," as they called them- 
selves, lived on the future site of Bismarck, the capital of 
North Dakota. All hilarity and mirth, they spent much of 
their time in gambols and games, ball-plays, horse-racing and 
archery, the "game of the arrow," or in dancing the scalp- 
dance, the boasting dance, the begging dance, or in their hot 


vapour "baths or swimming in the river. The buffalo dance, 
with much beating of drums, stamping, bellowing and grunt- 
ing, sometimes lasted four days until the buffaloes finally 
came. They had rain-makers, when the earth was dry, and 
rain-stoppers, when the earth was wet, and, instead of burying 
their dead, they wrapped up the corpses carefully and placed 
them on high scaffolds out of the reach of wolves and dogs. 
Cadin, with so many picturesque subjects before him, was 
busy all the time with his easel and brushes. The art of por- 
trait-painting was unknown to the Mandans, and this was a 
new era of medicine for them. There were glistening eyes at 
every crevice of the painter's lodge, with braves at the door 
and a hush when he was painting. Catlin straddled a naked 
horse, all unclothed himself, for the Mandans rode naked on 
unsaddled horses. 

Lewis and Clark had spent in their villages the winter of 
1804-1805, and Prince Maximilian of Neuwied also spent the 
winter there a year after Catlin visited the Mandans; and 
when Schoolcraft, the Indian scholar, said Catlin was un- 
truthful, Prince Maximilian came to his defence. He had told 
the exact truth in describing the ceremony of O-Kee-pa, the 
annual commemoration of the Deluge. For all the Indian tribes 
had this tradition of the great flood that left only one man 
alive and of the Big Canoe that landed on a mountain. The 
ceremony of the Mandans had a three-fold object, to celebrate 
the settling of the waters, to dance in order to bring buffaloes 
and as an ordeal for the young men; and it began on the 
day when the willow-leaves were full-grown, for the medi- 
cine-bird had brought a twig with full-grown leaves upon it 
A stranger from the West entered the village and, playing 
the part of the only man who had been saved, he related the 
story of the Deluge. Then he proceeded to open the medicine- 


lodge. Catlin was present at the sacred transactions that took 
place within the lodge, probably the first white man to have 
seen them, when the youthful candidates were put through 
frightful tortures to prepare them for manhood in the tribe, 
Catlin, convinced that a better, more honest or kinder people 
were not to be found, painted, among many others, a Mandan 
chief. He bought the costume of the chief but finally sold it 
for two horses, keeping only the headdress for his collection. 

Then, taking to the canoe again with Bogard and Ba'tiste, 
he recommenced the journey to St. Louis, eighteen hundred 
miles down the river, stopping at the village of the Minatarees, 
where he painted the Black Moccasin, the patriarch who was 
more than a hundred years old. Catlin was an inmate of the 
chiefs hospitable lodge, where he slept on a buffalo-robe with 
curtains of elk-hide, and he painted the courteous old man 
who sat on the ground smoking his pipe with a fine Crow robe 
wrapped about him. He also painted Red Thunder in his war- 
dress. The Black Moccasin remembered Lewis and Clark, 
who had visited the tribe, and, hearing that "Long Knife" 
Clark was still living at St. Louis, he sent warm regards to his 
old friend. Catlin brought Clark the message and showed 
him the portrait, which he recognized at once, saying the 
old man had treated him with great kindness. 

Once more on the river, the three men camped on the bank 
as usual. Catlin would steer the canoe silently into a little 
cove and drop his line under the willows to catch fish for 
their supper* They shot deer, ducks, wild geese and prairie 
chickens, and once two or three big grey wolves approached 
them in the night and chewed off the corner of Cadin's buf- 
falo-robe. They stole, around midnight, with muffled paddles, 
past the Riccarees, who had once been friendly to the white 
men. Lewis and Clark had found them hospitable, but their 


experiences with traders had made them hostile. At last 
they reached St. Louis, the gateway of the West, the head- 
quarters of the fur companies and of Catlin himself, who 
sent there from all points, to be kept till he arrived, his 
packages of pictures, note-hooks and Indian treasures. He lifted 
his pretty canoe to the deck of the steamer, lying at the 
wharf, to remain for a few hours while he found a place to 
store his portraits; but when he came back it had been stolen, 
though he finally recovered about fifteen of the twenty pack- 
ages that he had brought to St. Louis. For weeks, at Indian 
villages, the canoe had lain unmolested, although there had 
been no laws to guard it, and Catlin was reminded all over 
again of the honesty of the Indians, not one of whom had 
stolen from him a penny's worth of property. No Indian 
had ever struck him, nor had he ever had to raise his hand 
against an Indian. They were high-minded and honourable, 
the honestest people he had lived among. No Indian ever 
questioned the ridiculous fashions of the civilized world or 
asked why the white man did not paint his body, why he 
wore a hat on his head and buttons on the back of his coat 
or why he wore whiskers and a shirt collar up to the eyes. 
Catlin agreed with Columbus, who wrote to Ferdinand and 
Isabella, "There is not a better people in the world, more 
affectionate, affable and mild. They love their neighbours as 
themselves and they always speak smilingly." Far from being 
sullen, they were proud before they had teachers or laws and 
best, as Rousseau said, in their primitive state. They were 
cruel, but their hearts were good, and they had the most un- 
principled part of civilized society to deal with. Considering 
the boundless system of plunder that was practised on these 
rightful owners of the soil, how natural that they should 


appropriate a few horses or kill a few trappers who took their 

There was Black Hawk, for instance, who had called for 
war against the whites and who was now a prisoner at Jef- 
ferson Barracks, with a ball and chain fastened to his ankle, 
the old chief against whom Abraham Lincoln had fought, 
along with Lieutenant Jefferson Davis. Catlin painted Black 
Hawk who held up his cannon ball and said, "Make me so 
and show me to the Great White Father," for he had done 
nothing of which an Indian should be ashamed. Jefferson 
Davis had sat by Catlin and watched him painting portraits 
and he knew how accurate this painter was, and later, in the 
Senate, he said in a speech that it would be a shame if Cat- 
lin's Indian collection were sold in a foreign land. Yet when 
the bill came up to buy the collection for the Smithsonian, 
and Senator Daniel Webster defended the bill, Jefferson 
Davis voted no "on principle"; for Jackson had removed the 
Southern tribes west of the Mississippi so that the land might 
be covered with slave labourers, and Jefferson Davis wished 
to protect this arrangement. Meanwhile, from St. Louis Cat- 
lin went East in order to rejoin his wife at Pittsburgh, where 
he himself was desperately ill for a month. Yet he exhibited 
his paintings there and at Cincinnati presently, where Harriet 
Beecher Stowe and her father heard him give a lecture. Then 
he and his wife went on to Louisville and presently to 
Florida, where they spent at Pensacola the winter of 1833- 
1834. It was a land that Audubon knew, the artist who was 
compared with Catlin, the painter of Indians as he painted 
birds, a land of cypress and myrtle, live oak and magnolia, 
of pines, swamps, alligators, sandhill cranes and wolves. 

In the spring, when the swans and wild geese were flying 
north, the Cadins sailed up the Mississippi to Natchez, whence 


Catlin set out for Fort Gibson on the Arkansas river, the 
future site of Tulsa, Oklahoma. His wife went on to Alton, 
where he planned to meet her later, after he had "reverted 
again to the wild and romantic life that," he said, "I occa- 
sionally love to lead." Fort Gibson was the last southwestern 
outpost of the frontier, and again he wrote, 'Tou will agree 
with me that I am going farther to get sitters than any of 
my fellow-artists ever did." The whites and the Indians were 
rapidly destroying the furs and game of the Western country, 
but there were still thousands of Indians to paint; and Catlin, 
with pen and brush, depicted the Osages, who shaved their 
heads, wore crests and slit their ears. He painted the chief 
Clermont at full length, in a beautiful dress, with his favourite 
war-club and leggings fringed with scalp-locks, and Tchong- 
tas, the Black Dog, who was seven feet tall and whose body 
was wrapped in a huge Mackinaw blanket For several months 
Catlin travelled and hunted with three young Osages, whose 
portraits he painted together on one canvas, visiting with note- 
book and easel the villages of Cherokees and Creeks, who 
had been driven West from Florida and Georgia. It was a 
country of oak ridges, wild currants, prickly pears and oc- 
casional huge yellow rattlesnakes. He painted a game of 
lacrosse between two of the tribes. Then he set out for Texas 
with a regiment of eight hundred dragoons, among them 
Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, under the command of General 
Leavenworth, who invited Catlin to share his tent while he 
explored these savage and beautiful regions. 

The expedition soon found itself in the land of the bold 
Comanches, who hung on the sides of their horses when 
they were fighting, the most extraordinary horsemen whom 
Catlin had seen, together with the Pawnee Picts whose wig- 
wams were built of grass and looked for all the world like 


beehives of straw. The expedition went to the edge of the 
Rockies to hold council with the leaders of the Pawnee Picts, 
and Catlin painted more portraits and Indian scenes before 
disaster overtook them all. The frightful heat, the contaminated 
food and the foul water of the buffalo wallows brought scores 
of dragoons down with fever. General Leavenworth himself 
died, with a third of his officers, and finally only two hundred 
men were left. Catlin was again desperately ill by the time 
they returned to Fort Gibson, but nevertheless he set out alone 
for Booneville on the Missouri, five hundred and forty miles 
over the prairie. He had bought a cream-coloured mustang 
that was called Charley, with a long black tail that swept 
the ground, and, keeping his course in a straight line by the 
sun or by his compass, he cantered over the prairie hills and 
flats. Charley pranced and gallopped over the sea of waving 
grass, and Catlin occasionally lay down for an hour or so until 
the chattering of an ague chill passed off. He had started against 
the advice of all the officers at the fort, but he made the jour- 
ney in twenty-five days, with a bear-skin spread over Charley's 
back, a coffee-pot tied to it and a few pounds of hard biscuits 
in his portmanteau. He carried the sketch-book strapped on 
his back and a fowling-piece and pistols in his belt. He halted 
by a little stream at sunset, got water for the coffee and wood 
for the fire, spread out his iron spoon, his cup and his bowie 
knife with his salt, sugar and a slice or two of ham. Or he had 
a prairie hen or a venison steak, falling asleep finally on his 
bear-skin with a buffalo robe for covering and with his saddle 
for a pillow. Charley, a wild horse of the Comanches, was 
picketed near by. Catlin woke up in the morning undisturbed 
by the wolves that stood a few feet away, gazing at him. 

At Alton he rejoined his wife, and then, for a year or two, 
with or without her, he visited other frontier forts in the 


Western country. From Camp des Moines he went to a village 
of the Sacs and Foxes, sixty miles up the Des Moines river, 
where he painted at full length on horseback the proud chief 
Keokuk who was excessively vain but very graceful: he ap- 
peared in all his gear and trappings mounted on a black horse, 
supposed to be the finest on the frontier. There Catlin saw 
again Black Hawk, the deposed chief, who had been released 
from prison, in an old frock coat and brown hat, whom Catlin 
looked upon with pity. He visited Pigs* Eye, the trading-post, 
the site of St. Paul, Minnesota, with its great stone fortress 
on a bluff over the river, and Fort Snelling, on the Falls of 
St. Anthony, where Mrs. Catlin, Clara, was with him for a 
time. It was a camp of the Ojibways, or Chippewas, with their 
birch-bark canoes, whom he visited and painted every day, 
celebrating the Fourth of July with several hundred wild 
Indians, Ojibways and Sioux. He placed his wife on a 
steamer for Prairie du Chien, and set out in a canoe for St. 
Louis, nine hundred miles, with ducks, deer and bass for game 
and food; and, back at headquarters, where he joined his wife 
again, he introduced her for the first time to General Clark. 
After a winter there, he set out for New Madrid, three or 
four hundred miles south, trudging through the snow with a 
tough little pony and a pack-horse, cooking his own meat 
and with his own gun. He ascended the Platte river to Fort 
Laramie in the later Wyoming, where he painted the Buffalo 
Bull of the Grand Pawnees. At one time or another he met 
the French hunter and guide of Washington Irving, who 
was making his tour of the prairies at about this time, as well 
as the Honourable Charles Murray, the son of the Earl of 
Dunmore, who had also visited the Pawnees. Murray was to 
see much of Catlin later. At Buffalo, in a building that had 


once been a church, Catlin exhibited his pictures and Indian 

First or last, he visited almost every part of the great river 
valley, viewing men, as he wrote, in the "artless and innocent 
simplicity of nature, happier than kings or princes can be." 
He had set out to acquaint the world with the real character 
of the Indians of the West, and he had travelled through 
the later Dakotas, along the borders of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas 
and Missouri. He had painted the chief of the Puncahs, who 
described for him the poverty and distress of his nation and 
predicted the certain and rapid extinction of the tribe, which 
he had not the power to avert, and Catlin had witnessed the 
degradation and the misery of the frontier, where the Indians 
acquired the vices of the whites. Among his subjects were 
the brother of Tecumseh and the chief of the Shawnees, 
He Who Goes Up the River, together with the Foremost 
Man, the chief of the Kickapoos, a small remnant of a once 
powerful tribe that had been wrecked by whiskey and small- 
pox. Then there was the Shawnee prophet, a devoted Chris- 
tian, painted in an attitude of prayer, while he begged the tribe 
to give up whiskey drinking. The Peorias and the Delawares 
who had moved West wore dresses of civilized manufacture. 
Catlin had painted the Whirling Thunder, the Driving Cloud, 
the Walking Rain, the Hard Hickory, the Earth Standing 
and the Mouse-Coloured Feather, and he represented Indian 
ceremonies Like Looking at the Sun, in which the neophyte, 
with skewers run through the flesh of both breasts, hung 
back, facing the sun all day. Above all, he invariably attended 
a ballgame, sometimes riding thirty miles to do so, straddling 
his horse, looking on or dropping with laughter off the horse's 
back at the succession of kicks and scuffles. For all sorts of 


droll tricks ensued in the almost superhuman struggles For the 

Finally, with an English friend whom he had met on the 
way, he visited the famous Red Pipe Stone Quarry, west of 
Lake Superior and the Falls of St. Anthony, setting out from 
Green Bay, Wisconsin. He had left his wife for the moment 
and deposited his collection at the little town of Buffalo on 
Lake Erie, and, travelling to Detroit and Mackinaw, he had 
stopped at Sault de Ste. Marie, where he found Indians he 
had not seen before. He painted a view of Mackinaw, seen 
from the distance. All the tribes visited the Red Pipe Stone 
Quarry to obtain the claystone that was used in Indian pipes, 
sacramental and common, including the calumet, the symbol 
of peace, smoked when they supplicated the gods to protect 
them. From the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and from 
Canada to Mexico, smoking was a ritual at council meetings, 
and the bowls were always made of the same red stone that 
came from the same quarry in the Sioux country. Catlin was 
forbidden to go there. "No white man shall go!" the chiefs 
of the Sioux had said to him, but he replied that he must 
and would and he and his friend rode off at the risk of their 
lives. He had ridden to the Coteau des Prairies, in the south- 
western corner of Minnesota. There were thousands of inscrip- 
tions and paintings on the rocks of the quarry, left when the 
tribes made pilgrimages there. It was twenty miles from the 
Thunderer's Nest, where the thunder was hatched out on 
the hottest days by a small bird that sat on its eggs in a thicket. 
The red stone was called Cadinite by mineralogists later. 



Far more real to Catlin's ear were the Indian yells and 
war-whoops than the groans one heard in civilization about 
banks and deposits, and he was bent on presenting the case 
of these simple people who seemed to be so rapidly fading 
away. It had been the passion of his soul to seek out nature's 
wildest haunts and give his hand to nature's men, who had 
filled the earliest page of his juvenile impressions, when the 
ploughmen in his father's fields had turned up Indian skulls 
and Indian tomahawks, arrowheads and beads. His mother 
as a child had been captured by the Indians, but they had 
treated her very well. Now he had visited forty-eight tribes, 
all speaking different languages, and had brought back three 
hundred and ten portraits in oil, painted of chiefs and their 
wigwams, with two hundred other paintings, views of their 
villages, dances and games: he had been the first artist to 
visit the further West. Few people knew how the Indians 
lived, or how they dressed and worshipped, and he had trav- 
elled not to trade but to record for posterity the customs that 
were destined to die in all the tribes. He dreamed of a great 
national park that would perpetuate man and beast in all the 
wild freshness of their native beauty; and he had made an 
Indian collection of headdresses, robes, bows, drums and 
shields, and pipes designed and carved with taste and skill. 
There were also specimens of spinning and weaving, by which 
they converted dogs' hair and the wool of the mountain sheep 
into robes that were durable and splendid. He took to 
Washington his Indian gallery, hoping that Congress would 
buy it, and Daniel Webster said he had been blind to the 
Injustice of the government and all this Indian majesty and 
beauty. But, although Henry Clay and Seward were also in 


favour of the bill that would have acquired Catlings collection, 
it was defeated by Jefferson Davis's vote. Besides, Catlin was 
on the wrong side, practically speaking; for the fur companies 
and the distillers discredited his statements condemning the 
system of rum and whiskey selling. He had attacked the sins 
of the government, which constantly made treaties that only 
the Indians respected. 

In 1837, Catlin exhibited his Wild West show in New 
York, lecturing on the manners and customs of the Indians. 
One evening, at the Stuyvesant Institute on Broadway, Keokuk 
appeared at the lecture, with a delegation of Sioux and of 
Sacs and Foxes, and one of the Sioux corroborated Cadin's 
statement that an arrow could be shot through a buffalo and 
come out on the other side. Keokuk rose and said that in his 
tribe this had happened repeatedly; he had seen it often. The 
show was immesely popular, but Catlin closed it suddenly 
when he heard of the capture of Osceola, who was imprisoned 
with four chiefs near Charleston. Osceola had fled to the 
Everglades in Florida, where for six years he kept a large 
army at bay, and he had been taken under a flag of truce, a 
stratagem that was condemned by every officer except the 
one who was responsible for it. Indignant over this treachery, 
Catlin went to Fort Moultrie, fifteen hundred miles from 
New York, with canvas and brushes to paint Osceola's por- 
trait; and he found this warrior, who was not a chief but a 
man of great influence in his tribe, with a turban, three 
ostrich feathers and a rifle in his hand. He painted two fine 
portraits of Osceola, who died a day after Catlin left. Osceola 
arrayed himself in full dress, shook the hands of the officers 
and chiefs and then lay down and died in silence. 

Presently, in 1839, Catlin decided to go to England, taking 
his great Indian collection with him. He had a letter, advising 


him to come, from Charles Murray, his old fellow-travel- 
ler on the Mississippi, who was now Master of the House- 
hold at Buckingham Palace and in charge of Queen Victoria's 
private affairs. Catlin set out with eight tons of freight and 
two grizzly bears which he had reared since they were cubs 
and which, weighing another ton, were kept in an iron cage 
that was like a small house lashed on the deck. The bears were 
to cause trouble until Catlin finally sold them to the zoo at 
Regent's Park. Murray had hired for him the Egyptian Hall 
on Piccadilly, and Catlin erected a wigwam in the middle of 
the room, with twenty or more buffalo skins that were curi- 
ously ornamented and embroidered with porcupine quills. 
His Irish helper Daniel and his nephew, Theodore Burr Cat- 
lin, had accompanied the collection to England with him, and, 
thanks largely to Murray, the exhibition was a success, with 
ten dukes and five earls and their ladies on the opening day. 
Among them were the Duke of Wellington and the Duke of 
Cambridge. For three years the show went on, and then 
Catlin took it to other cities, among them Edinburgh and 
Dublin. Meanwhile, he showed the Queen at Windsor Castle 
the model of the Falls of Niagara he had made years before. 
She asked him to point out the principal features of the 
scene, and the Prince Consort wished to hear all about the 

Then a group of nine Ojibways were also brought to Eng- 
land, followed by a party of fourteen loways, and Catlin in- 
cluded them in his exhibition, erecting a platform in the 
hall for the Indians to use in their dances. They were 
all invited to lunch at Disraeli's in his great house facing 
Hyde Park, where they sat at a table that was splendidly ap- 
pointed, and the Queen received them at Buckingham Palace, 
where the Indians sat in a circle on the floor. They danced 


their Pipe Dance and their War Dance, each warrior step- 
ping forward, as their custom was, and relating in a boasting 
manner the exploits of his life. They sounded their war-whoop 
at the end, to the amusement of the servants in the gallery 
who remained after the Queen and the Prince Consort had 
left The Queen later sent them twenty pounds to be divided 
among them, together with a piece of plaid of her own 
colours. The Indians were taken on omnibus drives to the 
Thames Tunnel, London Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral and 
Westminster Abbey. Hyde Park reminded them of the 
prairies and the shores of the Skunk and Cedar rivers, and they 
were amused by some of the great chiefs who did not know 
how to ride, for they had a man riding behind to pick them 
up if they fell from their saddles. The Indians had brought 
three wigwams which their squaws erected on Lord's Cricket 
Ground, where they danced and exhibited their archery and 
ball-play. Mrs. Catlin had come to England, and she and her 
husband, and their nephew Burr, went to a ball at the Man- 
sion House, dressed in Indian costumes from the collection, 
passing for real Indians, for they refused to speak or answer 
questions. Mrs. Catlin begged her husband to go home, for 
he was an artist, she said, not a showman. In fact, he had 
stayed there too long; the interest in the show was running 
out, and he was approaching the end of his tether. He had 
published in London his great book in two volumes, Letters 
and Notes on the North American tribes, with a list of sub- 
scribers headed by the Queen. He had filled thousands of 
pages of his journal with details of tribal life, and, while 
his writing was occasionally clumsy and repetitive, this was 
to remain a standard work. 

But Catlin had made up his mind to visit Paris also, and, in 
1845, hiring a hall in the Rue St. Honore, he took his wife. 


his four children and the Indians over. The Indians had 
promised not to drink any spirituous liquors, but they had been 
permitted to drink the Queen's champagne, which they called 
"chickabobboo"; and, after that, ale and beer were also "chicka- 
bobboo," a great joke for Catlin and the Indians also. The 
King had arranged for Catlin to set up his exhibition in one 
of the large halls of the Louvre, and Victor Hugo and George 
Sand went to see it Baudelaire described two of Catlin's 
portraits that were shown at the Salon of 1846, saying that 
when the showman of savages first appeared in Paris it was 
said that he could not paint and could not draw: if he had 
made a few passable sketches, it was thanks to his courage 
and his patience. But it was affirmed now that Catlin knew 
very well both how to paint and how to draw, and these two 
portraits were enough to prove it to Baudelaire, even if his 
memory did not recall many other pieces that were equally 
beautiful. The skies especially struck him because of their 
transparency and lightness. "Catlin has rendered superlatively 
well/' Baudelaire wrote, "the proud free character of these 
brave men, and, as for the colour, there is something myste- 
rious in it that pleases me more than I can say." The Indians 
were driven about in an omnibus with four horses, and they 
amused themselves counting the women they passed who were 
leading little dogs in the street. They were saddened at the 
Jardin des Plantes by the poor old buffalo, which seemed to 
be desolate and jaded. 

When the King and Queen of the Belgians came on a 
visit to Paris, Louis Philippe invited the Indians to appear 
before him, and they decked themselves out in a full blaze 
of colour with necklaces of grizzly bear's claws, shields, bows 
and arrows, tomahawks, war-clubs and lances. For the King 
they painted the stem of a beautiful pipe, bright blue, orna- 


merited with blue ribbons. On the floor of the palace they 
prepared for their Eagle Dance, singing and beating their 
drum for the kings and queens. The Belgian King had 
visited America as a guest of George Washington, long years 
before, and Louis Philippe had visited George Washing- 
ton also, at Mount Vernon, during his exile of 1797-1800: 
Washington had given him directions to follow in his horse- 
back journey over the Alleghany Mountains. Louis Philippe 
told the story of his rambling life in the American backwoods. 
He had descended, with his two brothers, the Ohio and the 
Mississippi in an old Mackinaw boat, purchased at Pittsburgh, 
making their way six hundred miles to the mouth of the Ohio 
and then travelling to New Orleans, a thousand miles fur- 
ther. They had lived on game and fish, killed by themselves 
or bought from the Indians, sleeping in their leaky boat or 
among the canebrakes with the alligators and rattlesnakes 
on the shore. Louis Philippe had visited Lake Erie and Niagara, 
paddled his canoe to Ithaca through Seneca Lake and then, 
on foot, with a knapsack, he had tramped to Philadephia 
through the Pocano mountains. His horse had been mired in 
Buffalo creek, but he had slept, near Buffalo, in the wigwams 
of the Senecas, and he had even passed through a village 
called Wilkes-Barre, when Catlin was a few months old in 
his mother's arms there. Louis Philippe had stayed with the 
Delawares on the Ohio and with the Cherokees and Creeks 
in Georgia and Tennessee, all of fifty-two years before, and 
he had seen many other tribes. From Catlin he ordered fif- 
teen paintings for the palace at Versailles and then twenty- 
seven more depicting the story of La Salle. The two men 
selected the episodes together. The King saw Catlin's col- 
lection in the Louvre and invited the artist to a royal break- 


fast at St. Cloud, together with the King and Queen of the 

But then misfortune fell upon Catlin. His wife died in Paris, 
and his litde son George died also. Three of the Indians died 
and six more were in a hospital. The French Revolution of 
1848 broke out and Louis Philippe was spirited away. Cat- 
lin's association with the King had not been good for him, 
for the mob invaded his studio and destroyed some of his 
pictures; and when, with his three daughters, he escaped to 
England, he was in a tragic plight The bodies of Mrs. Cat- 
lin and the dead child had been sent home, and the remaining 
Indians were sent home also; and his wife's family, in whose 
eyes Catlin was a failure, took his three daughters back to 
New York. His friend at court, Charles Murray, had been 
sent to Egypt on a diplomatic mission, and at this time he 
received the news that Congress in Washington had finally 
decided not to buy his pictures. Schoolcraft had come to Lon- 
don hoping to obtain them to illustrate his encyclopaedia of 
the Indian tribes, and, when Catlin refused to give him the 
pictures, Schoolcraft, angered by the rebuff, said his account 
of O-Kee-Pa was a cock-and-bull story. Catlin had mortgaged 
the pictures, and finally his creditors had seized them, intend- 
ing to sell them piece by piece, when an American who had 
lent Catlin money bought up all the claims and shipped the 
collection to Philadelphia. There it was stowed away in the 
basement of his warehouse. 

After a year or two, Catlin returned to Paris. He seemed to 
be defeated and he was alone. He had come back to paint 
the pictures which the king had commissioned but for which 
he was never to be paid, and he wandered about the boule- 


vards, solitary and unknown. The studio, with the few pic- 
tures he had brought back from London, had lost all its 
charm for him, and he haunted the public reading-room of 
the Bibliotheque Imperiale, where he read Humboldt's South 
American Travels. He had met years before in the Louvre the 
great Baron von Humboldt, who had been impressed by his 
work in ethnology and who questioned him about the northern 
Indian tribes. Later he was to write to Catlin, telling him 
about Schoolcraft's accusations and saying he must take steps 
to counteract them, and it was owing to this that Prince Maxi- 
milian of Neuwied came, at Humboldt's suggestion, to Cat- 
lin's defence. But, meanwhile, in the library, Gatlin fell in with 
an habitue who told him about the gold mines in the Crystal 
Mountains of northern Brazil, mines which the Spaniards 
had worked and abandoned to the Indians,and Catlin pored 
over maps of Central America, Brazil and Peru, eager for gold 
and dreaming of equatorial volcanoes and jungles. He saw 
himself paddling up tropical rivers in a dugout canoe, paint- 
ing the Indians in these little-known countries; for Latin 
America was full of Indians and he could start afresh and 
redeem the apparent failure of his first explorations. Destitute 
and deaf, he was fifty-seven when he sold his few possessions 
and slipped out of Paris with a bundle of old portraits, Bristol 
board and maps. For he knew that in the humidity of South 
and Central America the paint would dry too slowly for him 
to use the canvas he had rolled up in his former expeditions, 
and, besides, Bristol board was easy to carry. It was 1853. He 
sailed to Caracas, in Venezuela, the best approach, he knew, 
to the pampas tribes and the Crystal Mountains. He had 
somehow obtained a British passport. 



Thus began the further travels of this idomitable man 
who was to spend six years exploring South America, ascend- 
ing the west coast as far as the Aleutians, travelling and paint- 
ing even at Kamchatka* Twice he set out from Paris and 
twice he returned there, laden on each journey with new 
Indian pictures. At Caracas he was joined by a German 
botanist, Dr. Hentz, who gathered plants and flowers while 
Cadin painted portraits. Their progress was slow, for they 
were impeded by vines that twisted about their legs and the 
mass of fallen leaves was also fatiguing. They tramped over 
the plains to Angostura on the Orinoco, a hundred and fifty 
miles, but that was "nothing," among acres of geraniums 
and wild roses and at least fifty varieties of flowering plants. 
Cadin was almost as happy, he said, as Dr. Hentz, putting 
these beautiful scenes into his portfolio, painting the pampas 
Indians and their Handsome Dance in which three young 
women joined, entirely naked. The Indians threw their raw- 
hide bolas, tipped with balls of lead, killing the wild horses 
for their skins and hair, and the monkeys chattered as- they 
leapt from branch to branch in the dark forests overlooking 
the Orinoco. Alligators basked in the sun and plunged off 
their slimy logs, turtles paced out of the woods and sought 
shelter in the waves, and there were hundreds of wild swans 
and pelicans, while sticks that were floating in the river turned 
into snakes. Cadin and Dr. Hentz passed hungry jaguars and 
harmless sloths, hanging all day without moving from the 
limbs of trees, and they descended the Orinoco to Georgetown, 
with their faces burnt almost to the colour of the Indians, 
There, in the capital of British Guiana, they encountered 
a young Englishman who had seen Cadin's show in London 


and who recognized die old painter at once, working on the 
portrait of an Indian chief who stood in front of him. The 
young man, Smythe, hearing that they were going to the Crys- 
tal Mountains, attached himself, as a good shot, to the 

Cadin painted in the neighbourhood and at Parimaribo in 
Dutch Guiana. Then they all set out in a big canoe up the 
Essequibo and, leaving the canoe, took to the land, struggling 
through swarnps to an Arowak village where Catlin showed 
his pictures to the chief. He astonished the Indians with 
his marksmanship. Stretching an old cowskin over a hoop, 
and standing at sixty or seventy yards, he fired six shots, with 
"Sam," into the bull's-eye. ("Sam" was the carbine that had 
been made expressly for him by his old friend, Colonel Colt) 
At this village they left Dr. Hentz, and Catlin and Smythe 
went on together, about a hundred miles, to the Crystal Moun- 
tains where Catlin soon lost his "nugget fever," happy to be 
at his old vocation, stopping among the tribes along the way. 
"Fortune has given me," he wrote, 'life, health and wisdom, 
my only wealth, my portfolio." He was almost overcome 
with the sickening odour of a rattlesnake that was lying under- 
neath his cowskin rug and that was soon ready for battle 
when he got up; and once, when Symthe was roasting a wild 
pig over the fire, he shot a large tiger that visited the camp. 
"Smythe," he said, "be perfectly calm and cooL Don't move. 
There's a splendid tiger just behind you." Symthe, slowly 
turning round, saw the tiger, stretched out, playing with the 
feet of their sleeping Indian guide. Catlin whistled, the tiger 
raised his head, Cadin fired point-blank, and the tiger, killed 
at once, leaped into the air. Crossing the mountains to the 
Trombetas river, they descended in a dugout loaded with 
hides. At Para, Cadin procured leggings of strong buckskin, 


with knives, beads and fishhooks to distribute among the In- 
dians. There Smythe left him, and Catlin sailed up the Ama- 
zon on the first steamer that had ever ascended the river. 
Catlin had picked up at Para, as a bodyguard and porter, a 
gigantic escaped slave from Cuba, Caesar Bolla, a good-natured 
Negro whose back served Catlin as an easel, for Caesar carried 
the portfolio with its waterproof covering. For five years they 
were to remain together, wandering through the wilderness 
for thousands of miles, visiting many primitive tribes whom no 
white man had seen before, beginning with the tribes on the 
Amazon river. These tribes were the nakedest and ugliest but 
the least warlike and hostile, for there were no buffaloes or 
beavers in this country to excite the white man's cupidity, and 
the Indians were all friendly to the whites. There were the 
Muras, on both sides of the river, the Iguitos, the Ticunas and 
the Conibos who made pottery and were experts with the blow- 
gun, and others who killed monkeys and sent their skins to 
Paris to be used in the manufacture of gloves for ladies. The 
forest was alive with peccaries and the vines twisted to the tops 
of the trees and hung suspended in the air like huge serpents. 
Beautiful parasitic flowers grew from the stems that strangled 
the palms. Catlin and Caesar slept in hammocks, slung be- 
tween two trees, building fires to protect them from animals 
and reptiles, and once Catlin was overcome from the heat and 
clung for a week to his hammock; but they had provisions 
enough and a variety of fish. They were sixty-nine days on the 
river, and Catlin sketched thirty tribes in their canoes or fish- 
ing or in groups on the banks; and he painted the unknown 
grandeurs of the stupendous forest. One chief refused to give 
his name to be put on the back of the portrait, for then he 
would be a man without a name. Sometimes when the In- 
dians objected to being painted, for they were full of super- 


stitious fears, Catlin worked behind the bulwark that served 
as a screen. 

From the headwaters of the Amazon, they tramped or rode 
westward, working their way over the Andes through snows 
and ravines, until they came to Lima, the most beautiful city 
in the world, as it seemed to Catlin at the moment. Thence, 
by steamer, they sailed to Panama, to San Diego and San 
Francisco, and then by sailing vessel to Nootka Sound, the 
Aleutians, Queen Charlotte Island and Kamchatka. The cap- 
tain of the ship was a Spaniard who was planning to return 
with a cargo of dried fish, sheepskin and wool, and Catlin fin- 
ished several sketches on the slow sail up. He painted the 
Hydas Indians, the Stickeens and the Nayas, whose women 
wore in their underlips circular blocks of wood, but to Catlin 
all fashions were the same, rings in the ears and rings in the 
nose, crinoline of the waist and crinoline of the lip. OS the 
west coast of Vancouver, among the pines and rocky peaks, he 
painted the Klah-o-quats on Nootka Sound, and the Indians 
brought oysters and fish to barter for their rum. Catlin and 
Caesar walked through the woods to the Fraser river, which 
was all in confusion, the new El Dorado; but Catlin was in- 
different to the gold-rush, wary of gold as he was, having just 
recovered from the nugget fever. He and Caesar took ship for 
Astoria and ascended the Columbia to the Dalles, where Cat- 
lin learned that a band of Crows were encamped in the Sal- 
mon river valley, and, opening his portfolio in the lodge of 
the chief, he heard a sudden piercing yelp: one of the Indian 
group recognized a Crow whom Catlin had painted twenty 
years before at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone 
river. A moment later this Very Sweet Man himself walked 
into the lodge and, saying "How! How!" gave Catlin a hearty 


handshake. He said he had seen Catlin also paint a portrait 
of the Jumper. 

There Catlin bought a horse for himself, with a mule for 
Csesar and a pack-mule, and they both set out for the Rocky 
Mountains, for Catlin's interest in geology had been growing 
and he was bent on examining the gneiss and granite there. 
The two of them crossed the Rockies by the Santa Fe pass, the 
later route of the Pony Express, known already to Kit Carson, 
while they slept in pioneer cabins or on the rough ground, 
advancing by means of Catlin's pocket compass. They went 
through the country of the Apaches, with whom the govern- 
ment was at open war. Once they were seated by a rousing 
fire when two grizzly bears appeared and one of them, seizing 
a firebrand with both paws, dropped it and began to cry in 
the most piteous manner. He wiped his nose and paws on the 
grass and both the bears galloped away, whining. Catlin and 
Caesar crossed the Colorado and paddled down the Rio Grande 
eight hundred miles to Matamoros, and from there they sailed 
to Sisal, in Yucatan, where Caesar bade farewell to Catlin. He 
could not wait to confide his adventures to Sally Bool, the 
mulatto girl who sold oranges at the head of the quay at Para, 
at the mouth of the Amazon river in Brazil. Catlin lingered 
for a while at Sisal, for he had read John Lloyd Stephens, and, 
painting some of the Mayans, he visited Palenque and Uxmal 
and the coast of Campeachy. 

Then, returning to Paris, Catlin went to see Humboldt at 
Potsdam and told him about his discoveries in geology and 
ethnology. It was 1855, and Humboldt, now a very old man, 
remembered him and welcomed him kindly. He even pre- 
sented Catlin to the King of Prussia. Catlin, at Humboldt's 
suggestion, showed the king some of his new Indian pictures, 
and the king bought several of these that were later owned by 


the gallery in Berlin. Humboldt told Catlin that he must go 
back to South America and collect more data, and he gave 
Catlin a list of places he must visit and a letter to his fellow- 
explorer, the botanist Aime Bonpland. Catlin was to find this 
old man, who had left science far behind, living on the right 
bank of the Uruguay river, with a squaw and half-caste chil- 
dren, in a dilapidated cottage. For, in 1856, Catlin sailed again 
from Le Havre to Cuba and later the West Indies, finding in 
his cabin a letter from Humboldt ending with the words, "If 
I were a younger man, I would join you in the expedition at 
once." Exploring Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad and the Gulf of 
Maracaibo, he went on to Rio de Janeiro, where he once more 
delighted in the great forests and the rivers and swamps that 
lay to the south of the city. Then, going to Buenos Aires, he 
hired a half-Indian guide and servant who belonged to the 
Auca tribe on the Salado river, and together they paddled to 
Corrientes, a big town on the Parana where groups of Indian 
tents lined the shore. They had started up the river in a sort 
of barge that was like the keel-boats of the Mississippi, five 
hundred miles to the mouth of the Iguau, whence they crossed 
through the woods to the upper waters of the Uruguay, The 
banks of these rivers were covered with dense and magnificent 
forests, abounding with monkeys, parrots, ant-eaters and tigers 
that lived on the peccaries and soft-shelled turtles on the shore, 
and they slept in their strong, dry canoe, ready, at a moment's 
notice, to push off into the current of the stream. Catlin did 
many portraits of the Indians on the banks, among them those 
who used blocks of wood in their under-lips, like the Nayas 
tribe of the Northwest There were the Payaguas, the Tobos 
and the Linguas; there were also the anacondas and the rattle- 
snakes that were common in all the forests and on all the 
rivers. Catlin ate a tiger's tail, wrapped in leaves of the wild 


cabbage and roasted in a camp-fire under the embers, and once 
he shot an ant-eater that was twelve feet long to the tip of its 
tail and that had its long nose almost in the fire. On another 
occasion a jaguar leapt upon him and flung him to the water's 
edge, where his servant and the boatman rescued him. He had 
picked up a first-rate paddler who worked his passage to 
Buenos Aires, down the Uruguay river, seven hundred miles. 
Cadin had known nothing more delightful than to travel down 
stream in such a river, with plenty of powder, ball and fishing- 

Recuperating from his wounds in a Buenos Aires boarding- 
house, he completed some of the sketches he had made on the 
rivers, and then he visited an Indian family who lived on the 
pampas, riding a silver-grey stallion with a black mane and 
tail. Although he was now nearly sixty, he kept his seat as of 
old, and this unsaddled stallion could not throw him. He took 
part in a flamingo chase, of which he made a picture, and a 
chase after ostriches, one half the size of the African ostrich, 
which ran in all directions away from their nests. Then, on 
board the "Gladiator," a sailing packet bound for Chile on the 
west coast, he passed down the hilly coast of Patagonia, going 
ashore to paint the Patagons with one of the cabin-boys to 
carry the portfolio which he showed the chief. He explained 
that he had visited the Indian villages in North America, 
pointing them out on a map that he had brought with him; 
and he sketched some of the people who crowded into the 
tent and went ashore again on the third day. Through an 
interpreter he drew up a vocabulary of Patagon words in a 
village of the Fuegians, a branch of the Patagons, and, passing 
through the Straits of Magellan, he went on to Panama, where 
for a few months he dropped out of sight. But he was still 
painting when he received the news that Humboldt was dead. 


Altogether, he had painted a hundred and twenty tribes in 
North, Central and South America. He had visited more tribes 
than any other man, and he was everywhere treated with hos- 
pitality and kindness. 

Catlin was nearly sixty-two when he returned to Europe. 
Going first to England, he retired to Brussels, where he was 
to live for several years. He had a studio in an obscure street 
near the Antwerp railway station, in the northern part of the 
city. He lived frugally, taking his meals at a little restaurant 
near by, and the American consul remembered that he never 
spoke of his family or gave any reason why the "friend of the 
Indians" lived there. In his retired life he finished many paint- 
ings of the South American Indians and the northwest coast, 
and he wrote in Brussels three books. O-Kee-Pa, Last Rambles 
and Life Amongst the Indians. The last book had a large sale 
when it was published in England. 


Then, in 1870, when he was seventy-four, Cadin returned 
to New York. He had been out of the country for thirty-one 
years, and he brought with him a new collection of more than 
a hundred and fifty paintings. His three daughters met him 
on the pier. They had grown up in affluence and offered him 
a home, but, saying, "I have twenty years' work to do still/' 
he went off to live in Washington. His loyal old friend Joseph 
Henry, who was now secretary of the Smithsonian, asked him 
to exhibit his new pictures there. He gave Cadin a painting- 
room, with a bed, high up in a tower of the Institution, and 
there he remained until he became ill with Bright's disease 
and was too weak even to get up. He was taken back to his 
daughters and their uncle in Jersey City, where he died in 


1872. He was then seventy-six years old, and he was buried 
beside his wife and son in an unmarked grave at Greenwood 
Cemetery in Brooklyn, near the graves of Beecher, Morse and 
Greeley. He had constantly asked, 'What will happen to my 
gallery?" the great collection that Congress had refused to 
buy; and finally, but not until after his death, it was given to 
the Smithsonian, and the hope of his life came true. Upon 
these paintings and drawings of Catlin were to be based all 
the Indian pictures since his time, all the Wild West shows 
and the "Western" movies, and countless tales of ethnologists 
and writers. He had given his whole life to the painting of 
the Indians of whom he had once said, "I love the people who 
have made me welcome to the best they had, and how I love 
a people who don't live for the sake of money!" 


rip HE first Exploring Expedition of the United States Navy 
J. sailed from Hampton Roads in the summer of 1 838. There 
were six vessels in the squadron that cruised for nearly four 
years, two sloops of war, a gun-brig, a store-ship and two tend- 
ers, and the commander was Charles Wilkes, a lieutenant 
from New York who was already a master of navigation. The 
objects of the expedition were to advance American commerce, 
determine the existence of shoals, doubtful on the charts, make 
treaties with Polynesian chiefs, reconcile factions in the South 
Seas, protect missionaries and find the best ways for whalers, 
the whaling fleet that, as Wilkes said, "at this very day whitens 
the Pacific ocean with its canvas." But to Wilkes the advance- 
ment of science was the main object of the expedition. He had 
refused to be a "money-changer" and, although he was to bring 
back the first global whaling chart, he despised the ships of 
the whaling captains, the vessels that were dirty and greasy 
with the blood of the whales. He took with him a corps of 
artists and scientific men that outnumbered those in any other 
expedition, except perhaps the French expedition to Egypt. 
There were nine of these "clam-diggers," as the naval officers 
called them at first, who were socially accepted only as time 
went on, while Wilkes himself shared many of the tastes of 



the artists, botanists and mineralogists, the philologists and 
ethnographers of the expedition. 

Charles Wilkes, who was forty years old at the time, was 
the son of the banker in New York who had been a friend of 
Fanny Wright. The father had come from London after the 
Revolution, himself a nephew of John Wilkes, the English 
politician who had taken the side of the colonists in the House 
of Commons. After him and Isaac Barre, his fellow-Parliamen- 
tarian, the town of Wilkes-Barre had been named, Charles 
Wilkes, after his mother's death, had been largely brought up 
by Elizabeth Seton, the aunt who was later well-known in Ro- 
man Catholic history, and, taking lessons in navigation, he had 
drawn a map of the English channel for a captain who had 
left his charts at home. At seventeen, in Washington, at the 
house of the French minister, a friend of his family with 
whom he was visiting, President Monroe gave him a midship- 
man's warrant; and, in a Mediterranean cruise that lasted three 
years, he had gained a practical knowledge of nautical science. 
Then, marrying Jane Renwick, the daughter of Robert Burns's 
"Jeanie," he had gone on a two years* cruise in the South 
Pacific. He made surveys of Narragansett Bay and the har- 
bours of Beaufort and Wilmington, while the great Bowditch, 
examining his charts, told each and everybody that Charles 
Wilkes was a first-rate surveyor. When John Quincy Adams, 
the President, urged Congress to fit out ships to expand the 
country's fisheries and for scientific knowledge, Wilkes had 
already erected, at his own expense, a tower for astronomical 
observations. This pleased Adams, who encouraged the sci- 
entific Wilkes and hoped he might command an expedition 
that would rival the expeditions of James Cook for England, 
La Perouse for France and the Russian Admiral Bellingshau- 


The expedition was postponed until Martin Van Buren was 
President, with Joel R. Poinsett as Secretary of War, the dis- 
coverer of the poinsettia who hoped that Wilkes would bring 
back plants, shells, birds and minerals for a national museum. 
In 1838, James K. Paulding, the old friend of Washington 
Irving, was Secretary of the Navy; and the President and these 
two aides went to Hampton Roads to bid farewell to the ad- 
venturous squadron. Wilkes had been sent abroad to buy in- 
struments and charts in London, Paris and Berlin, and he had 
visited well-known geographers and purchased books on 
meteorology and terrestrial magnetism. Nathaniel Hawthorne, 
according to his son, would have liked to join the expedition 
as the official historian of the long cruise. As the voyage went 
on, most of the officers were excited by the work of the "scien- 
tifics" who studied the habits of whales and seals, observed 
birds, animals, fishes and shells, studied fossil remains and 
found useful plants. The artists were Joseph Drayton and 
A. T. Agate, later well-known as a miniature-painter, who 
made charming and accurate drawings of the flora and fauna, 
while Wilkes himself was a draughtsman of unusual talent, as 
one saw in his sketches of icebergs and rock-lined harbours. 
There was the picture, for instance, in Wilkes's Narrative, of 
the sloop "Vincennes" in Disappointment Bay. Asa Gray, the 
botanist, who had been chosen, resigned in favour of James 
Dwight Dana, famous as a mineralogist in after years, and 
Horatio Hale, the son of the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, 
was to fit himself as a Polynesian linguist. Charles Pickering 
was the zoologist of the expedition; and his assistant was W. D. 
Brackenridge, who was especially a student of ferns and 
mosses. Brackenridge was to bring back plants and seeds from 
the South Seas that became the nucleus of the Botanical 
Garden in Washington, and, as a landscape architect, he laid 


out the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution. There were 
others besides Titian Peale who had 'not come on board to be 
comfortable" and contented himself with a cabin as small as 
a bedstead. Over and beneath the berth were packed his 
clothes, guns, boxes and books, and he ate his meals in the 
wardroom with the officers, by candle-light, under the surface 
of the sea* 

In some respects, Titian Peale might have stood for all these 
naturalists at a moment when the type was dying out, when 
the explorers were giving place to the classifiers who were to 
be superseded by the scientific specialists. The youngest son 
of Charles Willson Peale and the brother of Rembrandt and 
Raphaelle Peale, not to speak of Angelica, Rubens and Ro- 
salba, he had been born in Philadelphia, at Philosophical 
Hall> where his family had been installed as caretakers. He 
said he had "imbibed a taste for nature" in the Peale Museum 
where he had grown up among students of science and his 
father's artist friends: Thomas Sully rented rooms from the 
Peales and Thomas Jefferson's grandson lived with them. It 
was already a family project, managed by the brothers and 
sisters, when they all moved to Independence Hall with two 
small grizzly bears kept in a cage in the yard, monkeys from 
Africa and alligators from Carolina. There were the Indian 
artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expedition, the leggings, 
tobacco-pouches and beaver-skin mantles, and the children, 
learning to paint from their father, learned also how to label 
the minerals, bkds, insects, butterflies and shells. In their circle 
were Alexander Wilson, Audubon and Charles Lucien Bona- 
parte, the ornithologist who was Napoleon's nephew and for 
whose extension of Wilson's American Ornithology Titian 
Peale was to draw most of the plates. Titian Peale had joined 
Long's Yellowstone Expedition, travelling from St. Louis up 


the Missouri, reporting the existence of the Great American 
Desert, the unmapped territory of the Louisiana Purchase; 
and he had studied the Indian mounds, measuring them and 
taking notes, while he once killed two deer with a single shot 
He had sketched insects, butterflies and birds, Indian scenes 
and landscapes, and then he had taken part in a South Amer- 
ican expedition, travelling four hundred miles up the Magda- 
lena river. An expert taxidermist, proud of his ability as a 
collector and observer, he sent back from this "glorious field 
for the Lepidopterist" large boxes of fishes, birds and shells. 
Titian Peale was the only member of the scientific corps 
who was to go into the antarctic regions. He had joined the 
expedition on the understanding that its main object was natu- 
ral science rather than national glory or commercial prestige, 
and he was to describe and draw sea-fowl, mollusks and ani- 
mals, at the same time keeping his journal along with the 
others. He was "very proud and difficult to manage," Wilkes 
wrote in a letter, though Wilkes placed great confidence in 
Peale as a guide and helper at difficult moments. For the 
commander liked his buoyancy of spirit, the trait he described 
as "so truly characteristic of our countrymen." Wilkes enjoyed 
jovial company, and, a superb commander himself, he con- 
stantly felt on the verge of some overwhelming calamity to the 
ships and the crews. But he was extremely emotional and 
overbearing at a time when naval officers rode the high horse, 
owing in part to the exploits of the Navy, when the captain 
of a warship, at anchor in Sicily, kidnapped a military band 
to make music on his return across the Atlantic. (He sent the 
band back when the "Chesapeake" sailed for the Mediter- 
ranean.) Peale referred to Wilkes in his journal as a "petty 
tyrant" whose "quarterdeck insolence" annoyed the scientists, 
they were all, at one moment or another, at odds with the 


commander, for he was not only peppery, he was a hard 
master, unyielding in his insistence on efficiency and order. 
He had a seaman flogged because he had dressed so hurriedly 
that he left one of his buttons out of its hole, and at his court- 
martial at the end of the voyage he was publicly reprimanded 
for illegally punishing men under his command. He said he 
had given only one-tenth of the lashes that a court-martial 
would have inflicted. But those were the days of Billy Budd 
when striking a petty officer was reason enough for hanging 
a man at the yard-arm. 

The first year of the cruise was rather unproductive, and 
the ships entered the antarctic circle only after visiting South 
America, and then merely for a brief attempt. It was too late 
in the season, and they had to postpone for another year their 
real exploration of the zone of icebergs. First sailing to Ma- 
deira, where they spent nine days, enabling the scientists to 
make observations on bats, hawks, canaries, mollusks and 
insects, they went on to the Cape Verde islands, with a half- 
African population, where Horatio Hale obtained a vocabulary 
of the Mandingo language. The others added to their collec- 
tions of plants, shells and zoophytes before the ships sailed on 
to Rio de Janeiro, where Brackenridge and Pickering, who 
spoke Portuguese, took notes about the trees on an expedition 
to the Organ mountains. Wilkes wrote historical accounts of Bra- 
zil, Argentina, Chile and Peru, describing all varieties of 
Negroes on the continent, including the free Negroes of 
Brazil who were on an equal footing with the whites; and 
Dana found many minerals, gypsum and fossils, both in Bra- 
zil and Argentina. In the convict settlement of El Carmen, an 
American from Rhode Island claimed the protection of the 
expedition. He said he had been impressed for the Argentine 
army, but actually he had been engaged in a riot at Buenos 


Aires and was known to have killed two or three men. At 
Valparaiso, Peale went in search of guanacoes, which were 
said to frequent only inaccessible heights, and killed one that 
was nine feet long and four feet tall, while two of the other 
men measured Tupongati, several hundred feet higher than 
Chimborazo. An American who had made and lost fortunes 
in revolutions was working the silver-mines in the vicinity of 
Santiago. Near the temple of Pachacamac, on the summit of 
a Peruvian hill, the explorers discovered artifacts that were 
buried before the Spaniards came, wooden needles, cotton 
seeds, pottery and plated stirrups, and four of them went to 
the cordilleras to make botanical collections, dangerous be- 
cause of the bandits frequenting the route to the mines of 
Pasco. Brackenridge gathered seeds of a species of cactus that 
grew in dense tufts all over the mountains. 

Then from Callao they sailed to the Tuamoru islands, where 
a petty chief, half naked and tattooed, stood in the bow of his 
skiff brandishing a boat-hook. The natives were hostile because 
they had been fired upon by trading vessels that were engaged 
in the pearl fishery. On the island of Clermont de Tonnerre 
the birds were so tame that they suffered Peale to climb the 
trees and take them by hand. In several cases one had to push 
them off the nest in order to see their eggs. One little fellow 
alighted on Wilkes's cap, as he was sitting under a tree, and 
sang melodiously and long. The explorers were welcomed at 
Tahiti, whose steep cliffs were a contrast to the barren coast of 
Peru. The high peaks there were covered with vines and 
creeping plants, delightful to the botanists of the expedition, 
and there at Papeete the crew of the "Peacock," having leisure 
on their hands, performed a play to amuse the natives and 
themselves. They had chosen Schiller's The Robbers, the parts 
of which they had rehearsed in afternoons at sea, and the 


acting, which the officers thought was at least tolerable, gave 
great pleasure to the Tahitians. They breakfasted together on 
taro, pig and breadfruit, the standard dishes of the islands, 
where about a hundred whaling ships annually came from Amer- 
ican ports, and Wilkes established an observatory in a shed on 
Point Venus and formed parties to survey the four principal 
harbours. His main object was to obtain accurate charts for 
the whaling ships, and indeed Wilkes's charts were so exact 
that they were still in use in the second world war. 

Wilkes sent out a party of naturalists from Papeete to cross 
the island, and the officers were given a feast by one of the 
chiefs; but there were less than two hundred present in the 
Protestant church of the missionaries and Wilkes questioned 
the wisdom of the missionaries in dealing with these gay and 
cheerful people. The women were dressed unbecomingly in 
flaring chip bonnets and loose silk frocks with showy kerchiefs 
tied about their necks, and, passionately fond as they were of 
flowers, their use in dress was discouraged by the teachers as 
vanities inappropriate for Christians. Wilkes had been dis- 
gusted by the sight of the chiefs, large and noble-looking, pass- 
ing from ship to ship soliciting soiled linen to wash and 
performing other services that were not in keeping with their 
rank. The washing of the soiled linen of the crews was one of 
the prerogatives of the Queen* It happened, however, that the 
Queen, Pomare IV, was pregnant and unable to visit the ships, 
so they had to choose a less distinguished laundress; but when 
she asked for soap, in great request in Tahiti, they were happy 
to oblige her. On a second visit there, Wilkes saw something 
of the domestic broils of the royal family when the Queen, 
with her followers, rushed into the house of foreigners to 
escape from her consort who pursued her with threats. He had 
struck her in the street and attempted to strangle her, then, 


thwarted, he had gone to the palace, broken her boxes and 
trunks, torn her clothes to pieces and smashed the windows. 
But this was less surprising because the Queen had been in 
the habit of giving him a sound cudgelling, even in the high- 

In the Tuamotu archipelago, Wilkes surveyed fifteen islands 
and discovered two islands that had not been charted. Then 
at Pago-Pago in Samoa, the ships were surrounded by a large 
number of canoes. The chief, admitted on board, an athletic- 
looking man, studied Wilkes from head to foot, and, when 
he was asked why, he said he had on shore a coat that was 
too tight for him. He thought the coat would fit Wilkes, 
could they exchange? Wilkes, instead, gave the chief a small 
hatchet. A native named Tuvai had killed an American and 
the chiefs tried to save his life. Wilkes decided to transport 
him to some other island. Horrified, Tuvai said that he would 
rather be put to death on his native island than be banished 
elsewhere, and, when the chiefs asked anxiously if there would 
be any cocoanuts on the island where he was to be banished, 
Wilkes, wishing to make the punishment severe, said there 
would be none whatever. He finally landed Tuvai on Wallis 
Island where his fate would remain a mystery to his country- 

The great antarctic cruise began after a visit to New South 
Wales where, at Sydney, the ships were put in order for it 
The convicts there were a quarter of the population, and 
Wilkes visited a convict ship, expressly prepared for the pur- 
pose, with narrow boxes on deck where the convicts stood 
upright for punishment. But most of them were ruddy enough 
and healthy looking after the long voyage of transportation, 
and Wilkes wrote a detailed account of the customs of the 
aborigines, including the boomerang, their special weapon. 


He described the crimps who kidnapped sailors from their 
ships, concealed them when they were drunk and rented or 
sold them to other ships. Then the squadron set out for 
Macquarie Island, south of New Zealand, where myriads of 
penguins covered the rugged hills. One of the party, ascending 
a crag, could not hear himself speak because of the din of 
squalling and gabbling, while the penguins snapped at him, 
caught hold of his trousers and pinched his flesh until he 
kicked them down the precipice. The birds stood in rows, like 
Lilliputian soldiers, and the invader knocked some of them on 
the head while he collected a few of the penguins' eggs. He 
captured a king penguin of enormous size, forty-five inches 
from tip to tail, stunning him first with a blow from a boat- 
hook. The crews witnessed a sea-fight between a whale and 
one of its many enemies, in this case a killer orca. The sea 
was quite smooth and offered the best possible view of the 
whole battle. First, at a distance, they saw a whale flounder- 
ing, lashing the sea into a perfect foam. As he approached the 
ships, they saw that a great fish, apparently about twenty feet 
long, held him by the jaw, while the contortions and throes 
of the whale betokened the agony of the huge monster. The 
whale then threw himself at full length upon the surface, with 
his mouth wide open, his pursuer still hanging to the jaw, 
while the blood that issued from the wound dyed the sea to 
a distance roundabout. At last the orca worried him to death. 
They entered the region of blizzards and fogs where alba- 
trosses hovered about with cormorants, grey snow petrels and 
cape pigeons, and they began to encounter all kinds of ice- 
bergs, some huge and quadrangular, others deceptively sunken. 
There were vast ice-islands, in one place eighty icebergs, and 
the foresheets were covered with ice while water froze on 
the decks. A gale set in, the snow fell, and there were many 


birds about, one of them a sheath-bill; and at midnight came 
a display of the aurora australis. It centered in a bright spot 
that changed into a crescent, and, from this, feathery-edged 
rays of pale orange-colour branched off in every direction, 
while over them the prismatic colours seemed to flit in rapid 
succession. The whole southern hemisphere was covered with 
straw-coloured arches from which streamers radiated of almost 
a lustrous white, with the stars visible among them. Then 
massive cumulus clouds formed that were tinged with pale 
yellow against a background of red, orange and purple. The 
sailors lay on the deck, face upward, to watch this wonderful 
spread of beauty. 

At times the weather was so thick that they could see only 
a few yards ahead and the snow might have been armed with 
sharp icicles or needles. The spray that struck the ships was 
at once converted into ice, and a seaman who got on the lee 
yard-arm was almost frozen to death when the sail blew over 
the yard so that he could not get back. The cry rang out, "Ice 
ahead!", then "Ice on all sides!", and all hope of escape seemed 
to vanish. Some of the icebergs were three miles long and two 
hundred feet above the surface of the water, some forming 
obelisks, some towers and Gothic arches, others exhibiting 
lofty columns with a natural bridge resting on them of a 
lightness and beauty that was inconceivable in any other ma- 
terial. Their sides had been excavated by the waves and the 
arches often extended to a considerable distance into the body 
of the ice, and the sea, rushing in, produced loud and distant 
thunderings. The flight of birds, passing in and out, recalled 
ruined abbeys and castles, while here and there a bold pro- 
jecting bluff, crowned with pinnacles and turrets, resembled 
a mediaeval keep. In some cases the sides were perfectly 
smooth, as though they had been chiselled, while sometimes 


the tabular bergs were like masses of beautiful alabaster of 
every variety of shape and tint If one could imagine an im- 
mense city of ruined alabaster palaces, composed of huge piles 
of buildings grouped together, with long lanes winding ir- 
regularly through them, some faint idea might be formed of 
the grandeur and beauty of the spectacle of these icy and 
desolate regions. Every sound on board the ships, even the 
sound of voices, reverberated from the massive and pure white 

In The Sea-Lions, James Fenimore Cooper, a friend of 
Wilkes's father, reflected some of these descriptions that ap- 
peared in the captain's Narrative, just as one found there a 
picture of the setting of Cooper's other novel that was called 
The Crater. For Wilkes's five-volumed account of the cruise 
found no more eager reader than this novelist who had also 
served in the United States Navy. The schooner, "The Sea- 
Gull," was eventually lost: it disappeared off Cape Horn, sup- 
posedly swamped, with all hands on board. For the rest, the 
sloop "Peacock" had the narrowest escape when the bergs 
closed in and the ship was caught fast in the ice. The gun- 
wales were pressed together so that the ship was almost 
crushed, wedged in between masses of ice before the icebergs 
retreated; she laboured in the swell, with ice grinding and 
thumping against her, and every moment something either 
fore or aft was carried away, chains, bolts, bob-stays, bow- 
sprit, shrouds and anchors. The "Peacock" was drawn at first 
stern foremost against an iceberg that chewed up the rudder 
and the keel, so that she barely escaped for repairs; and a 
great pillar of ice had fallen in the wake that would have 
crushed the vessel a few seconds earlier. Most of the icebergs 
were covered with eighteen inches of snow, and on the oldest 
there were ponds of fresh water that enabled the ships to re- 


plenish their supply. They put in for repairs at Orange Har- 
bour in Tierra del Fuego, the "far and lonely bay" of Thutia, 
the poem that was written by the surgeon, James Croxall 
Palmer, who was later the medical director of the Navy. 
Palmer had said that "The Flying Fish/' the other schooner 
of the expedition, would at least serve its commandant as "an 
honourable coffin/' 

The great achievement of this far-southern cruise was the 
discovery of the seventh continent, although Wilkes's claim 
was not generally accepted until Shackelton's expedition 
proved, in 1908-1909, that Wilkes was right He was not the 
first to find antarctic land there, but he had followed the 
coast-line for sixteen hundred miles, enough to show that it 
had a continental character. One day the sun and moon ap- 
peared at the same time, the moon nearly full and each 
throwing its light abroad. The moon tinged with silver the 
clouds in its neighbourhood, while the sun illuminated the dis- 
tant continent with deep golden rays. For, while, owing to 
mirages, Wilkes was mistaken in reporting distances, he dis- 
tinctly saw a lofty mountain range that showed many ridges 
and indentations. It was easy to mistake piles of snow and ice 
for mountain summits, but, steering among the icebergs that 
were sometimes eight hundred feet high, he had begun to 
realize that this coast was indeed a continent. He had some- 
times sailed for more than fifty miles together along a straight 
and perpendicular wall of ice, two hundred feet, more or 
less, in height; and he made a sketch of one harbour with 
dark volcanic rocks a few miles away. The commander of the 
French expedition, Dumont d'Urville, believed he had found 
the antarctic continent earlier on the same day, and Jules 
Verne, describing d'Urville's voyage, said that Wilkes had 
only pretended to see it. But d'Urville had made a miscalcu- 


lation: he found the continent ten hours later than Wilkes. 
The squadron sailed on to the Fiji islands where the eating 
of human flesh was still a common and general practice. Three 
or four canoes came out, and portions of the cooked body of 
a Fiji of another tribe were brought for sale on board the "Pea- 
cock/' There were human bones with flesh adhering, and, 
taking up a skull, one fellow picked out an eye while he bit 
off a piece of the cheek. There had been much discussion in 
the wardroom as to whether or not the Fijis were cannibals, 
but one of the missionaries had seen twenty men cooked; 
their bodies were green from putrescence, the flesh dropping 
from the bones. In fact, the bodies of enemies, bound and 
placed in the oven, covered with leaves and roasted, were al- 
ways eaten. This missionary had stood in the yard and seen 
an enemy chief cooked, with perfect insensibility and no in- 
dication of revenge, and he said that the missionaries closed 
their windows to keep out the sight and the smell, and that 
the king's son had given them a warning: if this happened 
again, he said, he would knock them on the head and eat 
them. They averred that during their residence there had 
been only one natural death; all the natives who were dead 
had been strangled or buried alive, for children usually stran- 
gled their feeble aged parents, the deformed and maimed were 
commonly destroyed, and when they had lingering diseases 
their heads were wrung off. Another of the missionaries 
pointed out to Wilkes a chief of high rank who had strangled 
his mother. He had witnessed the procession to the grave, 
with the mother dressed in her best attire; a rope of twisted 
tapa had been placed around the old woman's neck, and a 
number of natives, besides the son, taking hold of each end, 
strangled her and buried her forthwith. On an August day in 
1839, seventeen of the wives of one of the chiefs had been 


strangled, considering it a privilege to be so; and, in fact, by 
their own request, wives were often put to death or buried 
alive at the funerals of their husbands. Titian Peale wrote in 
his journal that he was shown five pits in which five persons 
had been recently roasted, having been first laid on their sides 
along with the spears and clubs that had been captured with 
them. Peale collected tapa mats, pottery jugs and bowls, a 
wooden idol and models of boats. He obtained a few plants in 
the mountains that were not found near the coast, and he had 
taken the idol from the consecrated grove after the natives 
sold it for a paper of vermilion. 

On the island of Ovalau, Wilkes chose a site for an ob- 
servatory; with room for tents, houses and instruments, it was 
thirty feet above the beach. He wrote down many observations 
on Polynesian mythology; and, in the case of a bloodthirsty 
chief who had murdered the crew of a brig from Salem, he 
decided, instead of hanging the man, to bring him in irons 
to the United States. This Vendovi, who said that American 
sailors walked like Muscovy ducks, was to die in New York 
in the naval hospital, and his skull was stored later in the 
Smithsonian among the ethnological collections. On Ovalau, 
Wilkes encountered a wrinkled old man with a long beard 
who spoke with a broad Milesian accent The natives called 
him Berry but his real name was Paddy Connell, he had been 
born in County Clare, and, taking part in the first Irish re- 
bellion, he had been sent to Cork and placed on a convict 
ship for New South Wales. There set at liberty, he had 
sailed on a vessel for Tonga and had lived for forty years 
among the savages. He knew the Fiji character very well. He 
said he had had a hundred wives and he had forty-eight chil- 
dren, and, begging for a hatchet for his little boy, he could 
only give a few hens in exchange. 


Wilkes named several islands which the squadron visited: 
Bowditch Island, Hudson Island, named after his second in 
command, and Speiden Island, the name of the purser of the 
"Peacock," one of the most valuable officers in the squadron. 
Wake Island was a discovery of the expedition. On Pitts Is- 
land a Scotsman appeared in one of the canoes of the natives: 
he had been left by an English whaler seven years before and 
he was incoherent with excitement, talking to Wilkes in the 
native tongue and with the natives in English. On Drummond 
Island they made a large collection, eighteen bales, including 
about forty pounds of necklaces and belts. Budd Island, com- 
posed of scoriae and large blocks of lava, no doubt suggested 
the setting of Fenimore Cooper's The Crater, for the centre 
was an almost perfect volcanic bowl which, with its rim, 
formed the island. At last they reached Honolulu on the island 
of Oahu with churches and dwellings in the European style 
that brought back civilization. There, on the summit of Mauna 
Loa, Wilkes established a pendulum house for his scientific 
observations: it contained, besides store compartments, an 
observatory and a magnetic room where he conducted techni- 
cal experiments. The crater of the volcano was so vast that 
the New York City of 1840 would not have been noticed if it 
had been placed there. The naturalists were divided into three 
parties to explore the island, the botanists and the geologists 
going in different directions. Peale made a drawing of the 
stump of the cocoanut tree near which Captain Cook breathed 
his last 

Later, the squadron returned to Hawaii on its way to the 
Philippines, but it turned first to the Northwest American 
coast to explore the Columbia river at the mouth of which the 
"Peacock" was beaten to pieces; although the crew was saved, 
the ship was abandoned on the rocks and many of the col- 


lections were lost with her. The expedition surveyed the river, 
camping on an island in the bay, for there were few harbours 
on the rocky coast of Oregon that could be entered at all times 
with safety. Astoria, which had once had forts, gardens and 
banqueting halls, was now an assemblage of log cabins, pig- 
sties and sheds. Within the town there was a half-breed 
Canadian, still hale and hearty, who had served under Bur- 
goyne in the Revolution and who had been in Oregon fifty 
years, and there was another settler in the Willamette valley 
who had been one of the party of Lewis and Clark. The 
widow of an Indian chief whose time of mourning had ex- 
pired arranged herself every half hour with her seven maids 
in a row, informing the bystanders in a chant that she had 
given her grief to the winds and was now ready to espouse 
another. Later Wilkes wrote a book, Western America, that 
was published in 1849, at the time of the gold rush in Cali- 
fornia, containing the first accurate map that had been made 
of Oregon, together with a map of the Columbia river. Mean- 
while, Peale rode on horseback from Vancouver to Yerba 
Buena where the buildings of San Francisco were easily 
counted, a few frame houses, a blacksmith's shop and a bil- 
liard room, an old dilapidated adobe, a store and a bar. Peale 
visited Captain Sutter on his domain at Sacramento where the 
Mexican government had given him a grant of thirty leagues 
square. At New Helvetia, with his distillery and his corrals 
and adobes, Sutter kept forty Indians at work along with the 
hunters and trappers. He had bought the Russian fur settle- 
ment of Bodega where he had a thousand horses and three 
thousand cattle. 

The ships returned to Honolulu partly to procure clothes 
for those who had lost everything in the sinking of the "Pea- 
cock"; there was little to be obtained on the coast of California. 


Then they sailed on to the Zulu archipelago, and, beyond, to 
Manila and Singapore. Wilkes and Captain Hudson went 
ashore at Soung to make a treaty with the Sultan of Zulu for 
the sake of trade with the United States and to put an end 
to the pirates who infested the inlets and islets. These pirates 
were supposed to possess two hundred ships that were usually 
manned "by forty or fifty men, and, along with the Malay 
pirates, they had heen as cruel and troublesome as the Barbary 
pirates had been years before. The beautiful archipelago 
swarmed with birds and monkeys, and the plants and corals 
and minerals interested the scientists, while Wilkes made 
magnetical observations on the great beach and Peale shot 
several birds, among them a Nicobar pigeon. Agate made a 
portrait drawing of the Sultan's son. Following the example 
of Thomas Jefferson in northern Italy, Wilkes sent home from 
Manila samples of different kinds of rice, and he described the 
interior of a Chinese junk and the two thousand sampans that 
filled the harbour of Singapore. In this great mart of Oriental 
commerce, frequented by twenty-four nations, one saw tiny 
cockboats and stately and well-found Indiamen. The squadron 
sailed home by way of Capetown and St. Helena, a barren 
rock rising abruptly from the sea. Longwood, Napoleon's 
house, neglected, was little better than a barn, with the outer 
walls disfigured and the glass broken, and the dining-room 
where Napoleon died was strewn with chaff and straw and 
occupied by a patent threshing machine: his tomb was near 
the house, for his body had not yet been returned to France. 
The master's mate, Benjamin Vanderfore, who had died in 
the Far East, was the only man with whom the Polynesian 
prisoner Vendovi had been able to talk. Vendovi could not be 
persuaded to look at the corpse of his only friend and his 
spirits flagged from that time on. His illness made rapid strides 


and he died in the naval hospital soon after the ship reached 
Sandy Hook. 

It was June loth, 1842, hut the aftermath of the expedition 
was a shocking anticlimax. Wilkes went at once to Washing- 
ton, only to be received there by "a cold and insulting silence/' 
as John Quincy Adams said. The first proposer of the expedi- 
tion, Adams supported and praised Wilkes, and Joel R. Poin- 
sett praised him also, but the new President, John Tyler, 
together with Congress, ignored the commander who had ex- 
pected to be welcomed with some kind words of the govern- 
ment. The expedition had surveyed two hundred and eighty 
islands and constructed one hundred and eighty charts, and 
it had brought back a thousand species of birds, five hundred 
insects and two hundred and fifty fishes. More than two hun- 
dred of the ten thousand species of plants which the botanists 
had carried home were still living in a greenhouse; and there 
were countless minerals and native tools and artifacts. More- 
over, Wilkes and his assistants had abolished piracy in Far 
Eastern waters and gathered a mass of information of im- 
mense value to whalers. But Wilkes was court-martialed, 
mainly for trumped-up reasons, and reprimanded for an ex- 
cess of severity in dealing with his men. Although there was 
justice in this, no doubt, it should simply have qualified in- 
stead of replacing altogether the praise that Wilkes deserved. 
The scientists, after what Audubon called their "four years of 
constant toil and privation/' were totally ignored: their treas- 
ures had been unpacked by an ignorant man who removed all 
the tags, so that many of them could not be identified, and 
Peale found that the legs of one bird had been placed on the 
body of another, while the ends had been sawed off several 
arrows in order to make them fit into stands. Naturalists had 
ceased to interest the public in a day of railroad-building, and, 


although two German geographers placed Wilkes Land on 
their maps, Wilkes was accused of fabricating his discovery 
of a new continent. The Whig administration was bent oi> 
condemning all the enterprises of Martin Van Buren, and 
the Secretary of the Navy, when Wilkes called upon him, did 
not offer him a handclasp or a chair. 

That republics are ungrateful had been known before the 
times of Wilkes, but at least the government splendidly pub- 
lished Wilkes's Narrative in five volumes, together with a 
long series of books that were written by the scientists. As 
the "Hero of the Trent," during the Civil War, Wilkes be- 
came popular later, when, stopping a British packet, near the 
coast of Cuba, he took off the Confederate Commissioners, 
Mason and SlidelL For this he was remembered by many who 
had never heard of the expedition that discovered a conti- 
nent, abolished the pirates who molested ships in the Far 
East and filled American museums with its treasures. 


WHEN Charles Godfrey Leland was born in Philadel- 
phia, he had for a nurse an old Dutch woman who 
was supposed to be a witch and was at least familiar with 
occult matters. One day the baby and the cradle were missing, 
but they were presently found in the attic, surrounded with 
candles, a Bible and a knife to secure the future success of 
the infant and its rise in life. This was the old nurse's expla- 
nation. Going upstairs was a symbol of ascent; moreover, a 
person who was carried in this way was destined to become an 
adept in sorcery and magic. 

The son of a rich commission merchant, a master of folk- 
lore in later years, a friend and student of Gypsies and Italian 
witches, Leland, with his patrician air, was to spend much of 
his life among tinkers, tramps and fortune-tellers. He was 
drawn, he said, to the "outside class of creation." He had a 
proclivity toward low society and ways that are dark, and he 
possessed a talent for the marvellous that came out more and 
more as he advanced in life. The mysterious for him was the 
savour of existence; his pockets were always full of amulets 
and charms, and, in short, one might have said that his guard- 
ian angel was Poe's Angel of the Odd. 



As a boy in Philadelphia, he studied occult literature, de- 
vouring dark lore from Agrippa to Zadkiel. He made a copy, 
at fifteen, of the Pimander of Hermes Trismegistus, and he 
collected Alduses and Elzivirs and black-letter editions of 
Paracelsus, Baptista Porta and the Rosicrucian writers. At the 
same time he worked at Provengal, Icelandic, High German 
and Old Swedish. He could not learn the multiplication table, 
but he had a passion for linguistics. At the Germantown 
school of Bronson Alcott, "the worst and best teacher I ever 
had/' he cultivated the European boys for the sake of their 
strange languages, dividing his pocket-money between black- 
letter folios and the comic almanacs of David Crockett. The 
almanacs aroused in him another passion for wild Western 
life that he was to taste years later, but Rabelais was 'like an 
apocalypse [to him] . . . like the light that flowed upon Saul 
journeying to Damascus. " After this revelation of fun and 
wisdom, he never again felt like the same person, and he 
argued in one of his early books for the Rabelaisian point of 
view as opposed to the "diseased pathos" of many romantic 
writers. He was to found in London the Rabelais Club of 
which Thomas Hardy and Bret Harte were members. 

The old Irish servants said there was something uncanny 
in this young man who grew gigantically tall. He undoubtedly 
knew a good deal about the Voodoo sorcerers who flourished 
secretly in Philadelphia. Silent and unseen, they conjured and 
worked among the coloured people, while the white people 
knew nothing whatever about them. Leland remembered a 
lecture, at Princeton, of Professor Joseph Henry: he said that 
people would not believe him when he explained to them how 
the tricks of a conjuror were executed. They did not wish to 
be disillusioned, and there were times when Leland seemed 
to feel the same way. He took long and lonely walks in the 


wild New Jersey woods, charmed by the magic of the knots 
on the ancient forest trees, and he could imagine that they 
were the heads of witches buried near by and trying to get 
back into life again. For the rest, he made a serious study of 
interlaced patterns, in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark 
and England, copying literally thousands of them, many of 
which were to appear in the bizarre illustrations of some of 
his books. He believed that through them ran a mystic mean- 
ing, whether Scandinavian serpents or Gothic ribbons, that 
they were all mysterious hieroglyphics to which one could get 
the key by inspiration and study. 

In 1845, when he was twenty-one years old, Leland went 
from Princeton to the university of Heidelberg, and there he 
fell in with students and artists who were devoted to the re- 
vival of the Middle Ages. There too he met Captain Medwin, 
full of stories about Byron and Shelley, and an old German 
poetess who had known Madame de Stael. With a knapsack 
and a pipe, he tramped along the Rhine, then, walking to 
Munich, where he studied aesthetics, he called upon Lola 
Montez, who was, or was soon to be, mistress of the king. 
Later, in New York, Lola proposed to him to make a bolt with 
her to Europe, whereupon a friend who was in the room said, 
"But, Madame, by what means could you two live?" To this 
she replied, "Oh, people like us can get a living anywhere," 
and she rolled a cigarette for him and another for herself. Le- 
land said he was the only friend she had at whom she had 
not thrown a plate or a book or attacked with a dagger or a 
poker. Later he went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, stay- 
ing in the Hotel du Luxembourg, a fragment of an old palace 
where lived other students who were plotting the revolution 
of 1848. When this broke out, Leland, dressed as a Dumas 
hero, went out with a dirk and pistols and a red sash tied about 


his waist. Towering over the others, with a single eye-glass 
and a rakish cap on the side of his head, he fought at one of 
the barricades, at a time when the mob was invading the 
studio of George Catlin, who had been befriended by the 

Before he went home again, he had been to Italy, he had 
been to Russia, and, becoming a lawyer in Philadelphia, he 
drifted into journalism and was soon associated with P. T. 
Barnum. The great showman had established an illustrated 
weekly magazine, and Leland, moving to New York, became 
the assistant editor under Rufus Griswold, the enemy of Poe. 
One day he found in Griswold's desk, which had been turned 
over to him, a great mass of papers to the discredit of Poe, 
and, burning them all at once, he told Griswold he had done 
so and gave him at the same time a good scolding. Barnum, he 
thought, was a genius like Rabelais, and years later Leland 
remembered his coming into the room like a harvest moon, 
smiling, big with some new joke. Leland himself turned out 
articles for the Knickerbocker Magazine, writing Meister Karl's 
Sketch-Book, for which Washington Irving praised him, with 
various translations of German poetry and prose. He translated 
several volumes of Heine, who is not known to have read this 
work but referred to it in a letter to the publisher Calmann- 
Levy. Above all, he wrote the Hans Breitmann ballads, with 
a forty-eighter as a prototype, popular in a day of dialect in 
novels and verse, a series that had a "humble little sixpenny 
immortality," as Leland said when he was seventy-eight But, 
soon tiring of New York, he began to tire of Philadelphia, 
"I had been in Arcadia. I was now in a pleasant sunny Phil- 
istia, but I could not forget the past"; and he went off to Ten- 
nessee, where there were more bears and deer than men, and 
where he looked for oil and for Indian legends. 


During the next few years, in fact, Leland saw much of 
frontier life, buffalo-hunting and living with the Indians; and 
he could understand Jim Beckwourth, the semi-outlaw chief 
of the Crows, whose "life and adventures" he introduced in 
England. Leland had a gift of getting on with Indians, as he 
was to get on with Gypsies and the witches in Tuscany; and 
on the coast of Maine, in the tents of the Passamaquoddies, he 
would sit over the fire by the hour listening to the Algonquin 
legends. With their love of bright colours, their dark faces 
and their out-of-doors life, they seemed to Leland much like 
Gypsies, and in their wigwams under the pines, in the cool 
fragrant shade, they welcomed him on many a long afternoon. 
The original stock of the Algonquin myths still existed in 
Maine and New Brunswick among the Passamaquoddies, 
Penobscots and Micmacs, and their folklore seemed to Leland 
grander than the Chippewa and Iroquois Hiawatha legends. 
It assigned to every rock, river and hill in New England a 
fairy, elf, naiad or hero, and in it spirits existed for the terrible 
winters of the North, for the drifting icebergs and frozen 
Arctic wastes. The legends were mostly taken down from the 
memories of old squaws, and in combination they formed an 
epic, the only real Indian epic, with many weird monsters of 
Eskimo mythology. There were traces of the Norse legends of 
Greenland in them: the mischief-maker Lox was probably 
derived from the Norwegian Loki. There was also the terrible 
Chinoo, a human being with a heart of stone, while the 
gentlemanly Glooskap seemed to Leland congenial to the 
reader of Rabelais and Shakespeare. Years later he published 
The Algonquin Legends of New England. 



In 1869, soon after the end of the Civil War, Leland went 
to England, where he spent nine years, and there he began 
the study of the Gypsies that was to take him to Egypt and 
all over Europe. He fell in with Thomas Carlyle, who seemed 
to have "vinegared" on himself, the result of knocking people 
down and meeting with no resistance; victory had palled upon 
him and he needed someone to put on the gloves and box with 
him, metaphorically, once a day. Nothing could have been 
better for him than a few thumping blows, and Leland 
thought Carlyle would not have shrunk from a tussle a la 
Choctaw, with biting, gouging, tomahawk and scalping-knife. 
One day, at the British Museum, Leland was introduced to 
George Borrow, the Nestor of Gypsyism, who was seated at a 
table, reading a book in Old Irish, and he discussed horses and 
Gypsies with the grand old Romany rye who was more than 
six feet tall and eighty at the moment Borrow was at that time 
living in Brompton Square, and he had the air of an old- 
fashioned Gypsy bruiser, full of craft and merry tricks. Leland 
had already written a book on the English Gypsies and their 
language, and, before publishing this, he had asked Borrow's 
permission to dedicate his book to the old master. Borrow, who 
had not replied, immediately announced in the newspapers his 
own Wordbook of the Romany Language, with many illustra- 
tions of the Gypsy ways of speaking and thinking and an ac- 
count of various things relating to Gypsy life in England. This 
was exactly what Leland had told him his own book was to 
contain, but, inasmuch as he owed to Borrow all his own love 
of gypsy ing, he had no ill feeling about it: in fact, he would 
gladly have burned his book if it would have pleased the grand 
old man. He knew that a part of Sorrow's book had lain 


In manuscript for thirty years and that it might never have 
appeared except for this provocation. Borrow asserted that the 
English Gypsy speech prohahly did not amount to more than 
fourteen hundred words, whereas Leland's own collection con- 
tained nearly four thousand words of which he was constantly 
verifying those that were doubtful. But Sorrow's faults were 
trifling, and his vigorous originality had been schooled by the 
study of natural simple writers like Defoe and Smollett. 

It seemed to Leland that Sorrow's sympathy for Gypsies 
was not so much a result of their dramatic character, but rather 
because they were a part of out-of-doors nature, associated 
with sheltered nooks among rocks and trees. Hedgerows, 
river-sides and wild roads appealed to Leland in the same way, 
and, like Borrow, he got easily into the good graces of the 
Gypsies, who told him without reserve their tricks and secrets. 
In gypsydom and the wandering life there was a strange charm 
for him, something of green leaves and silent nights that was 
somehow commingled with the forbidden, a witch-aura and a 
fierce spirit of social exile from the world that surrounded the 
Gypsies. There was a piquancy for him in their love of lonely 
places, under old chestnut trees, near towering cliffs, wood- 
paths and deep ravines among the rocks, together with their 
secret language and superstitions, a joyous consciousness of 
their own hidden ways. They had what seemed to him a 
goblin or elfin state of mind, and he could not resist the blue 
smoke rising from a Gypsy camp, with its caravans, tents, 
donkeys and smouldering fires. The young people fishing in 
the stream, the busy basket-makers, the dark forms of the chil- 
dren frolicking about seemed akin to the foxes and the hares 
and birds, free and at home only with nature. In Epping 
Forest, at Oatlands Park, at the Hampton races, he had been 
drawn to the Gypsies from the first in England, and in the south- 


ern counties he had become intimate with all who camped in 
the woods and roamed the roads. 

In Brighton, at the Devil's Dyke, six miles out of town, a 
large old Roman encampment, he fell in with the Coopers, 
old Gentilla Cooper, the famous fortune-teller, and Matty 
who gave him lessons in Romany two or three times a week. 
Neither had ever slept in a house or under a fixed roof, unless 
perhaps in a stable at some fair. Matty Cooper, in his knee 
breeches, with his red and yellow neckerchief, came to Le- 
land's room to give him lessons, and they went together 
through a Hindi and a Persian dictionary while Leland wrote 
down every word that Matty remembered or recognized. 
When Leland asked Matty the word for poet, he replied that 
such a man was generally called givellengro, but he thought 
the word shereokero-mush was more elegant and deeper than 
this other word, which meant song-master. For it signified 
headman, and poets made songs out of their heads and were 
also better in head-work than all other men. One day Matty 
proposed that they should set out "on the drum" together; he 
himself would buy a donkey and borrow a cart and a tent, and 
Leland would brown his face and hands in order to be dark 
enough. Then Matty would provide a nut-brown maid to do 
the cooking for them and earn money to support them by 
fortune-telling. By the use of his newly acquired language, 
Leland could soon scarcely walk two miles without making 
the acquaintance of some wanderer on the highways. He 
would take his staff and sketch-book and set out on a day's 
pilgrimage, and as he strolled by some grassy nook he would 
see the gleam of a red garment and find a man of the roads 
with dusky wife and child. He would sit in the gypsy camp, 
hearing some of their secrets, and talking familiarly in their 
strangely softly flowing language. 


Wandering afoot with the Windsor Froggie, another of 
Matty Cooper's names, Leland would often stop at inns and 
order lunch in a private room, observing the neat-handed 
Phyllis awed into bewilderment as the two communed in mys- 
tic words. Red and yellow were the favourite colours of the 
Gypsies; they loved a bright yellow neckerchief and a red waist- 
coat and perhaps a frightfully dilapidated old white hat, with 
a striped corduroy coat and leather breeches, and the long 
red cloak was dear to the heart of the Gypsy fortune-teller. 
Leland had known two fortune-telling sisters who spent a 
considerable sum on new red cloaks; for there was luck in 
a red cloak, and to wanderers whose home was the roads and 
whose living was precarious luck became naturally a real deity. 
One day he met an old woman who told him her sad story: 
she said she was a Methodist and for forty years a washer- 
woman, and she had walked sixty miles to see her daughter 
who was dying. But as she turned toward the sunlight, he 
saw in her the witch eye, the wildcat eye of the old sorceress, 
though, dumbfounded when he spoke to her in Romany, she 
pretended not to understand him. He gave her a penny, say- 
ing there was a pocketful where this came from if she would 
talk in Gypsy to him, whereupon the Romany devil flashed up 
in her and she said, 'Til have you know, when you talk to 
me, you talk to a reglar shrewd old female thief." In fact, she 
turned out to be old Moll of the Roads, and she went dancing 
away in the sunshine, capering backwards along the road, 
merrily shaking the pennies in her hand for music. A witch 
to the last, she sang a song in Romany and vanished as only 
witches can. Leland published, with two friends, one a pro- 
fessor at Cambridge, a collection of English-Gypsy songs, 
which seemed to him like the songs of the American Indians, 
with no perceptible form and without rhythm or metre. They 


contained many Hindustani, Sanskrit and Persian words, and 
a military friend of his from India, visiting a Gypsy camp, had 
tried to talk with the Gypsies in Hindustani. Later one of them 
said to Leland that his friend spoke "very bad Romany, but it 
was Romany and the gentleman was a Romany rye." The 
Gypsies made a mystery of their speech, from which came 
words like shindy, yd and slang, and, only after drinking a 
pot of beer, would they confirm the rumour that the Gypsies 
had a queer language of their own. 

Witches could be found everywhere, Mrs. Petulengo said, 
the wife of the master of the horse-shoe, and she added, 
"There's a many witches as knows clever things. I learned 
from one of them how to cure the rheumatiz. Suppose youVe 
got the rheumatiz. Well, just you carry a potato in your pocket 
As the potato dries up, your rheumatiz will go away . * . You 
may know a natural witch by certain signs. One of these is 
straight hair that curls at the ends. Such women have it in 
them." Leland had met the Petulengos near the bridge at 
Walton-on-Thames, where he had seen a tent and a wagon 
by the hedge. He knew by the curling smoke that Gypsies 
were near, so he went over the bridge, and, sure enough, 
there on the ground Mr. Petulengo lay at ease, while his 
brown wife tended the pot. When Leland addressed her in 
Romany, she burst out in amazement as each new sentence 
struck her ear, and she exclaimed, "Well, well, that ever I 
should live to hear this! Why, the gentleman talks just like 
one of us!" Mrs. Petulengo trudged about from one farm- 
house to another, loaded with baskets and household utensils, 
selling them with wily art and wheedling tones. Leland spent 
eight months in this neighbourhood, wandering to every old 
church and every tower, manorhouse or ruin, finding at Oat- 
lands Park a lodging-house for "travellers," those who dwelt 


upon the roads and earned their living in the open air. Above 
the high fence one could always see the tops of two or three 
Gypsy vans, and there hung about the establishment the gen- 
eral air of mystery that goes with places haunted by people 
whose ways are not as our ways. There was a spot on the 
river-bank, under an old willow-tree, where one seldom failed 
to see a lightly rising smoke, a tent and a van, as the evening 
shadows blended with the mist from the river. In spring and 
summer the Gypsies attended fairs and races, cock-shying, 
fortune-telling and trading in horses. At the Derby there were 
always innumerable Gypsy tents. In the hopping season they 
gathered in Kent, but they wandered all over England, selling 
baskets less and less because the French basketware had be- 
come so cheap. 

Leland had found in the Gypsies a natural politeness that 
always showed itself when they were treated properly, a 
cheerfulness, a gratefulness and an instinctive refinement that 
spoke for the Oriental in them. Setting out in his velveteen coat 
and his corduroy pantaloons, he filled his pockets with chest- 
nuts and oranges for the children, the small black-eyed umber- 
coloured elves who tumbled about the little tents and vans; 
and he was used to the whispered warning, ''Don't talk 
Romany, sir, there comes a policeman/* that obstacle to the 
Gypsies in their search for a living. For their whole life was 
simply a hunt for enough food to sustain life in their warfare 
with the world. They could never disguise their origin. Forty 
centuries of association with civilized races had not succeeded 
in obliterating a sign of it, and skill in begging implied the 
possession of every talent they most esteemed, artfulness, cool 
effrontery, the power of arousing pity and provoking gener- 
osity by figure or by humour. One day, in Epping Forest, 
Leland met a young Gypsy woman with whom he held a 


conversation chiefly about toads, that emblem of productive- 
ness of which he possessed amulets, an old silver ring, for 
instance, with a toad carved in blood-stone. An old Gypsy 
woman named Lizzie Buckland told him that in the old time 
Gypsy girls made a special kind of cake which they threw 
over the hedge by night for their lovers. Their language was 
rapidly vanishing, but it seemed to Leland that people who 
lived in wild places, watching waving grass and falling waters, 
believed in their inspirations and felt there was the same mys- 
terious presence in all people who lived and moved as well as 
themselves. When George Eliot, speaking of her Spanish 
Gypsy, told him that she had seen Gypsies only once or twice, 
he felt that, for all her genius, she should have known some- 
thing of Gypsy life before she attempted to make pictures of 
it The spell of the Romany especially lurked, it seemed to 
him, in the paintings of Ruysdael and Salvator Rosa. 

In Wales, the Gypsies struck him as more archaic than in 
England. There existed deep ravines, rocky corners and road- 
side nooks and thousands of acres of the wildest lands, and 
there one could boil the kettle and pitch the tent, entirely un- 
disturbed by the rural policeman. Once, on a Welsh road, Le- 
land fell in with a party of Gypsies, and they seemed to be 
delighted when he addressed in Romany a young man in the 
party who carried a fiddle. They drove to a little wayside inn, 
where they alighted and rested, and Leland said, "Now, if 
you will, let us have a real frolic." After a quart of ale, the 
fiddle was set going. Leland sang in Romany, and the rustic 
landlord and his household wondered what sort of guests they 
might be, a real swell and dusky vagabonds of the road. Mat 
Woods played well and his sister touched the harp and sang, 
dancing by herself to her brother's fiddling, while the villagers 
gathered and gazed into the hall, and Leland felt that there 


survived among the Welsh Gypsies some of the spirit of their 
old Eastern music. It was in Wales that he discovered Shelta, 
once the common language of all the old tinkers and still 
spoken by the Irish who were on the roads. He happened on 
this "tinkers' talk" in 1876, a kind of slang and rhyming cant 
that was based on old preaspirated Irish Gaelic. It was a secret 
jargon, descended from the ancient bards, spoken by knife- 
grinders and Irish horse-dealers, and once at the Maryborough 
Road station he met two little boys who were selling ground- 
sel and chattering in Shelta. No English writer but Shake- 
speare had ever mentioned this Celtic language, but he had 
found that all who spoke it were also acquainted with Romany. 


While he was writing on the English Gypsies in 1872, Le- 
land went to Egypt to spend the winter, the land they origi- 
nally came from, as many supposed, where he sailed up the 
Nile in company with a Persian prince of whom he asked the 
meaning of certain Gypsy words. The Persian gave him in 
most cases the correct meaning, speaking himself in his native 
language, only asking why he wanted to know those old words 
which were spoken solely by peasant women. Leland delighted 
in the long strings of camels, in the choruses of the boatmen, 
in a Coptic wedding that he attended in Cairo, in the pictur- 
esque lattice windows that made one feel one should go to 
the East not to teach art but to learn it. For with tools of a 
singular rudeness the Egyptians excelled in jewelry, in em- 
broidery, leather work and engraved metal. He observed the 
annual marching forth of the pilgrims for Mecca, with a splen- 
didly canopied camel at the head of the procession, its pyra- 
midal top surmounted by a ball and crescent of silver gilt and 


with gold and crimson, green and black brocade. Emerson, 
who was also at Shepheard's Hotel, exclaimed when he saw 
in the garden the banyan tree of which he had heard so much, 
and Leland jumped up and picked a leaf from the tree which 
he brought back to the sage of Concord. Together they went 
to see the howling dervishes whose exhibition Emerson did 
not greatly enjoy, for he did not like anything that showed 
man in a ridiculous light or seemed to lower him to the brute. 
But Emerson recalled a remark that Leland had made to him 
twenty-five years before, at an earlier meeting, that a vase in a 
room had the effect of a bridge in a landscape as a point on 
which the eye involuntarily rested. On a platform in front of 
the hotel, the Egyptians stood begging all day long, peddling 
and offering their services to tourists, and there a Gypsy boy, 
a snake-charmer of sixteen, offered to eat alive a cobra if he 
were paid a rupee for it. Sinuous and tawny, with unmistak- 
ably wild Gypsy eyes, he kissed the cobra that he held in his 
hand, and he presently exhibited the other snakes that he kept 
under his shirt by his bare skin. He stowed under his cap the 
live scorpions and the small serpents that he could not trust 
to dwell with the larger ones. In Cairo, Leland examined 
books of the African sorcerers, the black Takrooni who drew 
their magic largely from Arabic cabalists. He found there a 
great deal of mediaeval Europe, the harpers, for instance, with 
one-stringed harps, singing metrical romances like those of 
thirteenth-century Italy and France. 

One who spoke Romany, Leland thought, need be a stranger 
in few lands, for one could meet Gypsies on every road in 
Europe and America and even in northern Africa and western 
Asia. He encountered Greek Gypsies in Liverpool, French 
Gypsies at Geneva, a Gypsy family in a beer garden at Hom- 
burg, Piedmontese Gypsies at Bagni di Lucca, a van full at 


Innsbruck, and German Gypsies at Dinan, under the ramparts. 
By moonlight, near Budapest, in an old Roman amphitheatre, 
he fell in with a whole camp of wild Gypsies, a picturesque 
sight, with the blazing fire, the strangely dressed men, the 
tempestuous singing and dancing women. When he asked 
them what they wore for luck they showed him small sea- 
shells, saying they were powerful against everyday misfortunes. 
Around the necks of babies they hung three Maria Theresa 
silver dollars, a dollar that was held in high esteem for magi- 
cal purposes in many lands, even, Leland found, in the heart 
of Africa. He liked to address the Gypsies in Romany and 
watch their astonishment as he towered over them with his 
long flowing beard, telling their fortunes and their own stories 
and singing to them their own songs, the myths they had 
brought from the East and that still clung to them. G. H. 
Lewes, whom he met later, said that to tell fortunes to Gypsies 
struck him as the last word in cheek. 

The winter of 1876 Leland spent in Russia, where the 
Gypsies of Moscow seemed to him the most interesting he had 
ever encountered. He remarked that they received him as a 
brother, and the Austrian gypsies who were there said they 
played for him as they had never played for any other man. At 
a cafe outside the town, surrounded with young and comely 
faces, he read the hands of the Gypsy girls, who crowded 
round him with serpentine smiles and pantherine eyes, saying, 
'Tell my fortune, rya! Tell mine! and mine!" It would have 
made, Leland thought, a good subject for a picture, but this 
time he spoke in French, which was translated into Russian. 
The Russian Gypsies succeeded in their songs in combining 
the maddening charm of the true wild Eastern music with a 
regular and simple melody that was intelligible to the Western 
ear. From St. Petersburg he went to another cafe in the coun- 


try, half an hour's sleigh-ride from the town, where there 
were six or eight girls and two Gypsy men and every pair of 
great wild eyes was fixed upon him. A young man who looked 
like a light Hindu stepped up and addressed him in Russian, 
and Leland, staring at him for a long time steadily, at last 
replied in the Gypsy language. They were all surprised: what 
new species of Gypsy might this very tall bearded man he? 
The two prettiest girls sat on either side of him and plied 
him with questions about Gypsy life in other lands, while the 
young lady at his left said, "We are going to sing only Ro- 
many for you. You will hear our real Gypsy airs/' Then he 
listened to the strangest sweetest singing he had ever heard, 
the singing of Lorelei, sirens and witches. He in turn sang 
them a ballad taken from Borrow's Lavengro, and the Gypsy 
girl, with her black eyes sparkling, cried, "I know that song!" 
She sang him a ballad that was much the same, in which a 
damsel described her fall, her Gorgio lover and her final ex- 
pulsion from the tent Strange, after so many centuries, to find 
English and Russian Gypsies, parted from the parent stock, 
singing the same song. Where had they all come from? He 
told the Russian Gypsies what he knew of their origin, how 
their fathers had wandered from India, the fatherland of di- 
vination, and appeared in Europe in 1417. Their travels could 
be traced by the words in their language, Persian, Rumanian 
and Greek. In this last wave of the primitive Aryan-Indian 
ocean, the words were virtually the same in India, Germany, 
Russia and England, geographical allusions which the men, at 
least, understood. When Leland went to Paris, for the expo- 
sition of 1878, he was in the Orangerie when a procession of 
men and women came in dressed in gaily coloured Oriental 
garments. They were the Gypsies from Moscow, and one of 
the girls recognized Leland and called out, "O Romany Rye!" 



One of Leland's Gypsy friends in England said he would 
like to go to America "because you know, sir, as America lays 
along into France, we would get our French baskets cheaper 
there." Most of them, in fact, had gone to America, their true 
Canaan, where there was room for roaming and where they 
grew more vigorously and soon ceased to beg like their broth- 
ers in Europe. Leland himself returned to Philadelphia in 
1879, and there for four years he conducted an evening school 
for the teaching of the minor arts, embroidery, wood-carving, 
decorative design, porcelain painting and leather-work, with 
two hundred children as pupils, and a few women. He had 
always amused himself carving and working at the minor arts, 
and, watching the boy-jewellers in the bazaars at Cairo, he 
had hoped that Americans might become like the mediaeval 
craftsmen, who made every pot a thing of beauty. He fell in 
with Walt Whitman who was eager for news of the Gypsies. 
There were Gypsies camping, in fact, about a mile from his 
house in Camden. Walt sat in a big chair by a fruit-stall at 
the foot of Market Street, gossiping with the Italian dealer 
while he ate peanuts and shaking hands with the horse-car 
drivers. He admired the wooden Indian, a tobacconist's sign, 
near by, which he thought was a bit of true folk-lore. 

One day, in Chestnut Street, Leland met three dark young 
men with hair in black ringlets down their shoul<krs 3 and 
with silver buttons as large as hen's eggs, to whom he spoke 
in Italian, changing to Illyrian and to Serb, of which he knew 
a few phrases. They spoke fluently all these languages and 
told him how they were getting on, where they camped and 
how they sold horses; Leland had always found that the feel- 
ings of Gypsies were easily aroused by kindness and especially 


by sympathy and interest. On another day, at the corner of 
Liberty and Fourth Streets, he met a Gypsy barker who was 
selling a Gypsy elixir and who had been born in a tent on 
Battersea Common. Was this the corner? it might well have 
been, like the turn of a rapid river, so great was the crowd of 
busy men that flowed past, which Henry Charles Lea passed 
on his afternoon walks, deducing the principle that the num- 
ber of persons passing any given point would be a logical in- 
dex to its relative value. Working on this principle, Lea 
bought real estate until he became one of the largest property- 
owners in Philadelphia. Lea shared certain of Charles God- 
frey Leland's interests, although, as an active publisher, he 
had scarcely begun in the eighteen-seventies a half-finished 
history of magic, or the control that men have assumed to 
possess over supernatural forces. The subject of witchcraft had 
always fascinated Lea, just as it had always fascinated Leland, 
and his work on the Inquisition had been, he said, in some 
sort an outgrowth of this other interest. For three years before 
his death he devoted all his time to gathering the "materials 
toward a history of witchcraft" that was published in three 
volumes thirty years later. This was at the moment when Le- 
land was living in Florence, in daily contact with Tuscan 
witches and wizards. 

Meanwhile, in walks about Philadelphia, Leland encoun- 
tered vagabonds, unknown in 1860, from every part of Europe, 
Italians of the most bohemian type who swarmed as fruit- 
dealers and bootblacks and who were wonderfully common in 
1880. There were Czechs and Croats with whom he could 
practise the Slavonian languages; and one morning, in the 
garden of his house, he heard the tap-tap-tap of a hammer and 
the clang of tin and knew there was a tinker near with whom 
he could speak Shelta. The Voodooism in Philadelphia was 


exactly like the pre-Aryan magic practised by so many Gypsies, 
the Shamanic spells and charms of the most primitive Tartar 
tribes that had been preserved from prehistoric times. Leland 
was in correspondence with a Missouri folk-lorist, Miss Mary 
Owen of St. Joseph, deeply instructed in Voodooism, who was 
recording her knowledge of the vast stock of traditions she had 
been brought up with. Leland had never known anyone so at 
home in her subject except one of the Indians, a Passamaquoddy, 
who knew all the folk-lore of her tribe and who had told him, 
as a thing unknown, that the three hills of Boston had been 
split apart by Glooskap, the Algonquin god. The Rabbit of 
the Voodoos of whom Miss Owen had heard as a child was 
an altogether different creature from the Brer Rabbit of Uncle 

Outside Philadelphia the Gypsies pitched their little brown 
tents, and they would come to one's door, sharpening knives 
and scissors, wearing strange garments and with flashing eyes 
and long black hair. Among them were Val Stanley and Ros- 
anna Lovell. With his note-books and sketch-books, Leland 
would join them, getting off a Romany joke or perhaps singing 
a Romany song, or he would go with Britannia Lee over the 
river into New Jersey, stopping to talk with Walt Whitman 
at the Camden ferry. Then Britannia would say, "I see a 
smoke and a tent and a wagon," and they would find the real 
witch-aura in the Rembrandtesque half -darkness where three 
or four Gypsy sorceresses sat on the straw. Their black eyes 
flashed together at Leland, like those of a row of eagles in a 
cage, while the young men, with three or four girls, were 
eating their four o'clock dinner on a bit of canvas spread over 
the ground. Sometimes Leland went off alone, walking until 
he came to a place where he knew the Gypsies must be camp- 
ing, one of those picturesque spots, not to be seen from the 


road, that artists loved and Leland especially rejoiced in; for 
these green haunts were the best links to bind one to the 
people who dwelt by wood and wold. Once, turning a corner, 
he saw before him the low round tents, with smoke rising 
from the tops, and the gaily painted vans near by and he 
wished that Plato Buckland were with him to share the fun 
he was, as ever, sure to have. There was no sign of life as he 
drew near the first tent, for as usual all was silent at the sound 
of a stranger's footfall. But, knowing the tent was packed with 
inhabitants, he called a greeting in Romany and was im- 
mediately invited to enter. He found himself in a scene that 
would have charmed Callot or Goya. 

Leland knew the day was coming when there would be no 
wild wanderers, no more wild nature and certainly no Gypsies. 
But meanwhile, he found nothing to keep him in Philadel- 
phia, nothing to engage his ambitions, such as they were. Re- 
garding the city, at that time, "there was not one in the world/' 
he wrote, "of which so little evil could be said, or so much 
good, yet of which so few ever spoke with enthusiasm. Its 
inhabitants were all well-bathed, well-clad, well-behaved, all 
with exactly the same ideas and the same ideals. When a 
Philadelphian gave a dinner or supper, his great care was to 
see that everything on the table was as good or perfect as pos- 
sible. I had been accustomed to first considering what should 
be placed around it on the chairs as the main item." So Le- 
land once more betook himself to Europe, and there he became 
the chairman of the first European folk-lore congress that was 
held in Paris in 1889. He had organized a folk-lore society in 
Hungary and he set about organizing one in Italy after he 
went to live in Florence. He felt that folk-lore was "the last 
great development of the art of learning and writing history, 
and a timely provision for future social science. It sets forth 


the most intimate inner life of people as they were, and the 
origins of our life as it is." Everywhere honoured as a Gypsy 
scholar and a friend of the Gypsies, he was to become a master 
of Italian folklore also, and he said, "There is a great differ- 
ence between collecting folk-lore and living it in truth. I do 
not believe that in all the folklore societies there is one person 
who lives in it in reality as I do ... Real folk-lorists like us 
live in a separate occult hidden wonderful fairyland. We see 
elves and listen to music in dropping waterfalls and hear 
voices in the wind." At Nuremburg and in Vienna, he was to 
read papers at congresses of Orientalists and folk-lorists. 

In Florence, forty years earlier, he had lived in the Palazzo 
Feroni, at that time the best hotel in the town, one of the 
most picturesque of mediaeval palaces, though it had suffered 
a little from restoration. Its first inhabitant, "Big Iron" Feroni, 
had fought with an iron table and broken it with his giant 
arm, one of the legends that Leland collected when he dwelt 
in other hotels in one of which he was to die in 1903. He 
stayed for a while in a hotel from which he could see the 
castle of Bellosguardo across the Arno. He lived, as it were, 
in witchcraft as he had lived in Romany, finding that the 
Tuscan peasants retained their primitive Shamanism more 
than any other people in Europe except the Sicilians and 
the Gypsies. Anything, he said, to take him out "of this 
neat-handed five o'clock tea Philistia of a common comm 
on dit world!" Collecting songs, spells and stories of necro- 
mancy, he found that the witch-lore in Florence was stranger 
even than Gypsyism and altogether an unexplored field. 
Prowling about the town, in his soft wide-brimmed hat, 


lie met by chance a woman whom he called Maddalena, a 
young woman who would have been taken in England for a 
Gypsy but In whom he learned to know the antique Etruscan. 
She had in addition the mysterious glance of the witch. Mad- 
dalena had grown up in a witch family of the Romagna Tos- 
cana, among cliffs, forests and legendary castles, a family that 
had, from time immemorial, told fortunes, repeated legends 
and gathered enchanted herbs, philtres and spells. Her witch 
grandmother and stepmother had brought her up to believe 
she was destined to be a sorceress also, and they had taught 
her, in the forest, to chant incantations and to invoke the 
ancient Italian gods. For in this region that lay between Forli and 
Ravenna, stregeria, witchcraft, existed to an astonishing de- 
gree; something more than sorcery, something less than a faith, 
it consisted of the remains of a mythology of spirits, preserv- 
ing the names of the old Etruscan gods. Tinia had been 
Jupiter, Terano had been Mercury, and with these there 
still existed the most ancient rural deities, Silvanus and Pan, 
to whom prayers were addressed. Leland had made the ac- 
quaintance of Maddalena in 1886, and she began to commu- 
nicate to him the traditions of the older time that were known 
to her sisters of the hidden spell. Her brain was a veritable 
library of folk-lore. It was curious how he found such char- 
acters, for he did not seek them. They came to him as in a 

Leland, who saw Maddalena constantly, met her in old parts 
of the town, amid buildings bearing shields of the Middle 
Ages, and, when he asked her what she was doing, she would 
reply, for instance, "There's an old woman here who knows a 
story." Then a long colloquy in dialect would follow ending 
with some legend, perhaps of the bronze imp of Giovanni di 
Bologna. But Maddalena led a wandering life, and, leaving 


Florence, she would send him incantations and odd news of 
her friends in Arezzo or Siena or Volterra. Once she found 
for him the manuscript of Aradia, or the Gospel of the 
Witches. She introduced him to women endowed with strange 
powers, one of whom was an old woman living with a mag- 
nificent cat who fixed his eyes on Leland as if he recognized a 
friend. Sitting among her herbs and bottles, the old woman 
said, "You come to me to learn, Maestro, but it is fitter for me 
to take lessons from you," and she asked for the wizard's bless- 
ing, which he gave her in Romany. 

Another was Marietta whom he found installed in an an- 
cient palace from which the splendour was sadly departed. 
The vast and desolate rooms were unfurnished, the stone 
floors were bare, and the walls were frescoed with scenes from 
Tasso. There was a single window in one grim apartment, 
and from this Leland sketched the fourteenth-century statue 
of a rain-worn saint on the opposite wall. He asked Marietta 
if she knew the name of Aplu and found that it awoke in her 
some shadowy reminiscences. Aplu turned out to be the 
Etruscan Apollo, and Leland gradually came upon a mass of 
obscure old legendary names that poured down upon him like 
the Arno from the mountains of the Romagna Toscana. Di- 
vinities who had been supposedly extinct for fifteen hundred 
years lived on as real folletti among old witches, and in the 
mountains all the names of the old Etruscan gods were still 
remembered by the peasants. One of these was Faflon, the 
Etruscan Bacchus, the spirit of the vineyards and of wine, and 
there was Tituno, the spirit of thunder, Bovo, who always did 
good to people, and a spirit called Ra, much talked of in 
Volterra. To a shoemaker Leland owed his knowledge of Bovo 
and Ra, who was especially the protector of children. Attilio 
was a merry devil, like the jolly Brownies of English folk-lore, 


a great tease of servant-girls who shared their couches and 
made them no end of presents. Then there was Tana, the old 
Etruscan name for Diana, the queen of the fairies and the 
moon; and there were red-caps and house-goblins, familiar to 
the early people of Italy before German or Celtic beliefs were 
ever heard of. The peasants of the Romagna Toscana had 
lived since prehistoric times with very little change, and they 
had preserved, under Etruscan, Latin and Christian rule, their 
primitive Shamanism or animism. Jupiter, Venus and Mercury 
still lived under Etruscan names among the old women of the 
Tuscan mountains, some of whom could astonish the learned 
by their legends of the Roman gods, mingled with lore one 
found in Theocritus and Cato. The "gods in exile" were still 
alive in Tuscany to a degree that would have astonished 

An Italian had told Gladstone once that in rural Tuscany 
there was ten times as much heathenism as Christianity. This 
seemed to be true, Leland found, although even the learned 
Italians were indifferent to the strange lore of the witches: 
they left it to him, a foreigner, to collect and preserve it 
There seemed to be no interest in the fact that this lore con- 
tained a quantity of old Roman minor myths and legends of 
the sort that Ovid had recorded, though it was rapidly van- 
ishing before the newspapers and the railroads. Leland was 
assured that what he had recorded, in his Etruscan-Roman Re- 
mains and his other books of Tuscan folk-lore, could no longer 
be collected, since it had only existed in the memory of a few 
old women who were disappearing every day. Twenty years 
earlier still, a vast collection might have been made. But while 
the country people had recourse to priests and saints on great 
occasions, they used magic all the time in secret, assuming 
that one religion was good if the other failed, mortally afraid 


of the priests as they were and concealing from the educated 
everything that related to the "old religion/ 7 For the priests 
taught that all spirits not sanctioned by the Church were 
devils. The educated Italians said that they who knew the peo- 
ple had never heard of witches or met with any of this old 
lore. They were like the respectable Philadelphians who knew 
nothing of the Voodoo sorcerers. Yet Leland discovered that 
hymns were still sung, even in Florence, to Jupiter and Bac- 
chus by strege who had often come from families that went 
back to Roman times. 

Leland himself was once in a conventicle of witches at 
which Satan was believed to be present and ceremonies were 
performed that were described as damnable by great authori- 
ties of the Church. For the people understood the old religion 
of nature and were deeply devoted to the poor old forbidden 
gods. They performed strange rites in which the deities were 
invoked, while they made and sold amulets and good-luck 
emblems. Rebels, outlaws and the discontented adopted witch- 
craft as their religion, especially the worship of Laverna, the 
goddess of pickpockets and thieves, and Diana, the protectress 
of all outcasts. There were many who knew nothing of Diana 
as a Roman goddess but who were familiar with her as the 
queen of the witches, and this Diana, with her daughter 
Aradia, the female Messiah, was invoked in hymns that had 
been handed down. Diana was the good genius of those to 
whom night is their day, while Aradia had established witch- 
craft and witches, and the worship of Aradia and Diana by 
witches had been condemned in the sixth century by one of 
the councils of the Church. However, it was still carried on 
at secret meetings in desert places or among old ruins that 
were accursed by the priests, though no doubt the ancient 
hymns had been much garbled and deformed in transmission. 


The peasants met in winter around a fire, first reciting a rosary 
and aves and other prayers and then beginning to relate tales 
of folletti. There were incantations and benedictions of honey, 
meal and salt, evidently a relic of the Roman mysteries, and 
love-philtres were compounded with curses upon enemies 
over whom the witches muttered spells. The spirits of rock 
and river, forest and cavern were invoked as in the earliest 
Tuscan time, and offerings were made to them, perhaps three 
sunflowers that were laid on a window-sill. To Abel the 
sorceresses preferred Cain, the first murderer, to whom they 
also sang invocations, taking pains to intone or accent them 
accurately, in a manner like that of Church chanting or Arab 
recitations. They always took the side of the sinner and the 
heretic, while most of their stories comforted the poor, for they 
taught the delusive but cheering lesson that good luck and for- 
tune might turn up some day, even for the most unhappy. 


Mystery and secrecy surrounded the vecchia religione, and 
the peasants were averse to communicating tales to anyone 
who was not a fellow-heathen. While pursuing his researches, 
Leland had a sense of the police hovering over him like a 
dark shadow, and he often felt, moreover, that he was lost in 
a kind of elf-land. But there was a wondrous poetry of thought 
in the witch traditions that had much in common with the 
sorcery of the Gypsies. He remembered a day in London when 
two pretty young Italian model-girls were posing for one of 
his friends, an artist, while a droll old Gypsy, a venerable 
wanderer, sat in the studio imparting to him the lore of the 
Romany. Till the Gypsy appeared the girls behaved like moral 
statues, but for the rest of the sitting they were like devilettes, 


for some of the wild and weird in the Italian mountain life 
seemed to awake in them like unholy fire. They responded 
sympathetically to the gypsy wizard-spell. Over mountain and 
sea, and through forests dark with legends, these semi-outlaws 
of society recognized each other, for Gypsy and Italian sorcery 
went back to the same root, the old faith of the devil-worship- 
ping pre-Aryans. Occult remedies had been preserved from 
remote antiquity with other relics of pure classic heathenism. 
For instance, as a cure for headache, earthworms should be 
gathered with the left hand and powdered with earth from the 
threshold of a house. For pains in the bladder, the fresh skin 
of a hare should be burned, reducing it to the finest powder 
of which three spoonfuls should be given to the patient. For 
the spleen, a green lizard should be hung alive in the door 
before the bed of the sufferer, and for toothache one should 
give a grain of salt, a crumb of bread and a dead coal tied 
together in a bit of red cloth. To have a dream that would 
come true one had to sleep in a pig-pen, and to learn the 
future in a dream one must sleep on one's face. Curses for 
the devils of fever and gout were "awful/* Leland said, enough 
to frighten a cowboy or stir an impenitent mule to move. 
Orange was always the fruit of the sun and lemon the fruit 
of the moon in all these spells and conjurations. 

From Maddalena and many others Leland gathered the 
Legends of Florence and the Legends of Virgil that he also 
collected, the first consisting of old stories of the Duomo, the 
Campanile, the city gates and the palaces and bridges of the 
town, tales over which often hung a dim air of sorcery, 
how the Street of the Fly, for instance, got its name. There 
were legends of the Cascine and the Boboli Gardens, the 
story of the lanterns of the Palazzo Strozzi that were shaped 
like onions and the tale of the egg-woman of the Mercato 


Vecchio. Virgil had first appeared as a magician in the twelfth 
century, and he appeared in the legends as a magus who was 
always on the side of the suffering, the lowly and the weak. 
The fame of the humorous sage, who was benevolent and 
genial, spread all over Europe, and some of the legends owed 
their existence to the Virgil of Dante, commonly known 
among the people. He brought back to life the dead oxen of 
the poor peasants, he changed a bird into a flageolet, he 
created beautiful women out of statues and he drove the flies 
away from Rome. Virtually all the stories of mediaeval magi- 
cians were in the end attributed to Virgil. 

A few of the legends Leland drew from an old vellum- 
bound history of Florence that he bought from a book-hawker 
for about four cents. Far beyond the picture-galleries, cheapened 
by the raptures of the tourists, he prized the old barrows about 
the Signoria, and from them he picked up battered mediaeval 
relics, early copies of Dante, Roman lamps and ancient classics 
in parchment. There was a girl with a small hand-cart from 
whom he constantly bought all sorts of relics for a few soldi, 
a paper, for instance, of bronze medals of Julius Caesar and 
Pietro Aretino, knowing that the girl had already realized 
several hundred percent profit from them. The dealers in 
antiques were supposed to be shrewd, but lie had to explain 
to one of them the value of a portrait of Charles I with the 
name of Van Dyck which he found on the back. He would 
buy a gold-background madonna that was fearfully dilapi- 
dated and restore it with gesso and gouache, gum and gold, 
so that it looked all of its four hundred years; and there were 
two small folio volumes, beautifully bound, in black letter, 
that he rescued from their total dilapidation. He moistened 
the ragged surface, applied gum-arabic in solution and 
smoothed it down with an agate burnisher, then, painting it 


over with strong liquid India ink, he varnished it lightly 
and rubbed it with his hand. He found that relics of saints 
sometimes lost value. He saw for sale once a large silver cas- 
ket, stuffed full of the remains of the holiest saints, together 
with certificates of their authenticity, a mass of old bones, 
nails, rags with blood and dried-up eyes, offered for the value 
of the silver in the casket, the relics being thrown in. He 
liked to patch and restore antiquated objects, while at the 
same time he wrote manuals of leather-work, metal-work, 
carving and repairing. In England he had been one of the 
founders of the Cottage Arts Association, a parallel of his 
Philadelphia School of Industrial Design. 

In his hotel rooms in Florence, Leland was always restoring 
madonnas, binding books and making frames with gesso. He 
went on working at languages, learning low-German Hebrew 
and talking Czech, mixed with Russian, Gypsy and Italian, 
with a Ruthenian Slovak from the Turkish border. The old 
man in his seventies, six feet four inches tall, with his long 
white palmer's beard, worked all day, more assiduously, and 
without any sense of weariness, than at any earlier period of 
his life. He wrote a book called Have You a Strong Will? 
that led him to reflect on the subliminal self, and he found 
that by willing to be free from vanity, envy and irritability, 
he eliminated from his mind a vast mass of folly. A master 
of auto-suggestion, he found that he could effect marvels if 
he resolved to be vigorous, calm and collected. Meanwhile, he 
wrote in Florence a ballad that became a broadside, sold at 
street-stands by old women, appearing with a ship and a flying 
bird to grace the head and tail of the sheet, an arrangement 
that he owed to Marietta; and he who had once written a 
book that Abraham Lincoln heavily marked, occasionally 
had prophetic ideas about the twentieth century. "How long/ 1 


he wrote in Gypsy Sorcery, '"before the discovery of cheap 
and perfect aerial navigation will change all society and an- 
nihilate national distinctions. These and a thousand strange 
discoveries will during the ensuing century burst upon the 
world, changing it utterly/' 

But, amid all his activities and the many books Leland 
wrote, the study of folk-lore remained his ruling passion, an 
ungrateful task for a pioneer struggling with ignorant country- 
people who were endowed with a gift for improvising. The 
old were very inaccurate and the ignorant younger people 
had only half learned the half -forgotten traditions, so that the 
feeblest critic could point out no end of errors in the work 
of the most careful student and collector. Leland said he had 
worked under circumstances "when I had, so to speak, to 
feel my way in the lurid fog of a sorcerers* Sabbat, in a be- 
wildering, strangely scented witch-aura, misled ever and anon 
by a goblin's mocking cries, the tittering cheeping of bats on 
the wing, the hoots of owls, blindly feeling my way from the 
corner of one ruined conjecture to another, ever apprehending 
that I have found a mare's-nest, or, more properly, a night- 
mare of the most evasive kind/' Admitting all possible imper- 
fections, he begged other scholars to use civil language when 
they corrected him and not accuse him of recklessness or of 
untruthfulness or carelessness; and his friend Frederick York 
Powell, the professor of modern history at Oxford, said in 
his obituary of Charles Godfrey Leland, "He could and did 
make careful and exact notes, but when he put the results 
before the public he liked to give them the seal of his own 
personality and to allow his fancy to play about the stories 
and poems he was publishing, so that those who were not 
able to distinguish between what was folk-lore and what was 
Leland were shocked and grumbled (much to his astonish- 


ment and disgust), and belittled his real achievement He 
thought clearly, and many of his 'guesses' have been and are 
being confirmed," both in the world of the Gypsies and of 
Tuscan folk-lore. 


rTTiHE artist Maurice Prendergast was born in St. John's, 
JL Newfoundland, in 1859. When he was two years old, 
his family settled in Boston, and there, or in the suburbs round 
about, he lived until he had passed the age of fifty. As a 
boy, he went to work in the drygoods shop of Loring and 
Waterhouse, where his task was to tie up packages. He al- 
ways had a pencil in his hand, and, whenever he could spare 
a moment from the paper and string, he sketched the women's 
dresses that hung about the shop. Nothing amused his eye 
more than a pretty dress, blue, green, yellow or old rose, as 
one saw in all his pictures to the end of his life, the beach 
parties and fairy-tale picnics with their charming wind-blown 
figures and little girls with parasols and flying skirts. 

His family lived at the South End, and every Sunday and 
holiday morning he set out early for the country, with his 
lunch and his box of water-colours. He would leave his coat 
in Day's Woods and wander all over the meadows after the 
cows, and when he came home in the evening his sketch- 
book was full of cows, heads, feet, tails and cows all over. He 
was apprenticed to a painter of show-cards and began by 
washing out the other men's brushes. Then he drew show-cards 
himself for a living, while his brother Charles carved and 

* As related to me by Hs brother, Charles Prendergast. 



gilded picture-frames. Maurice had made up his mind to be an 
artist, and he planned to go to Paris to study as soon as he 
had saved a thousand dollars. When he had his thousand 
dollars, the question rose, did he really have enough talent to 
be an artist? One of his friends was Mrs. Waterbury, the 
wife of the minister in Boston. He framed some of his sketches 
and hung them up and asked for Mrs. Waterbury's opinion. 
Should he go to Paris? "I decidedly should," she said. Ten 
days later he sailed for France. 

This was in 1886, and Prendergast was twenty-seven. It 
was May when he arrived in Paris. He first took a room in the 
Place Montparnasse, and presently he settled in an artists' 
lodging-house in the Rue Campagne Premiere. The house 
had a beautiful court-yard, with a balcony on the second 
floor. On this balcony opened the rooms of a dozen poor souls 
who were trying to keep alive while they studied art. As one 
walked along the balcony in the morning, one saw these 
young men with their doors open, some of them still in bed, 
some washing and shaving themselves, some pulling on their 
boots and cooking breakfast. At least, it was warm and often 

Prendergast put down his name at Colarossfs school. He 
had never seen students working together, and all with such 
an air of serious effort. After a while, he went to Julien's 
and entered the life-class there. He had never tried to draw 
a nude figure. When the master, Jean Paul Laurens, glanced 
at his first sketch, he said, "You should go down-stairs and 
study from the casts." Prendergast took this as a challenge. 
He made up his mind to stick to the model until he had made 
a good drawing, and soon he made a number that were hung 
in the Concours. In the summer he went to Treport and 
Dinan, where he stayed for two or three months; and when, 


on his return, he showed Jean Paul Laurens some of his 
sketches,* the master asked what part of the world he came 
from. ''Boston? Ah, yes, Boston baked beans. Boston baked 
beans," But Jean Paul no longer advised his pupil to go to 
work in a shoe-shop. He always stopped to look at the young 
man's pictures. 

For more than three years, Prendergast lived on his thou- 
sand dollars. Once he even sold a picture. He was sketching 
on one of the boulevards when a Frenchman stopped to look 
at his work and asked him how soon it would be finished. 
When the sketch was done, the Frenchman reappeared and 
paid for It and carried it away. At this time, Prender- 
gast was living with a fellow-student, a young English sculptor 
named Stark, and one day a friend of Stark's, the son of a 
British general who had fought in the Soudan, dropped 
in to see them, Prendergast's sketch-books were lying about, 
and this young man put one in his pocket. Later, in London, 
he showed the sketches to Whistler, saying that he himself 
had done them. Whistler, struck by the talent they revealed, 
arranged with The Studio to publish a group of them. When 
Stark saw the magazine, with the falsely attributed pictures, 
he wished to call down fire on the swindler's head. But 
Prendergast, a man of peace, preferred to let the matter go 

At the end of his years in Paris, he returned to Boston. He 
went back to drawing show-cards, and then for a while he 
found work with the publishers. He illustrated various books, 
Barriers JLady Nicotine among them. He also drew poster- 
advertisements; and once, when he sold a water-colour, his 
father said, when he saw the cheque, "Well, all the fools are 
not dead yet" He exhibited some of his monotypes, for, in 
order to see how a sketch would look in a painting, he some- 


times put it down in this form first. He could not afford a 
regular press, and his quarters in Huntington Avenue were 
so cramped that he had no room for a work-bench. So he made 
his monotypes on the floor, using a large spoon to rub the 
back of the paper against the plate and thus transfer the paint 
from the plate to the paper. As he rubbed with the spoon, he 
would grow more and more excited, lifting up the paper at 
one of the comers to see what effects the paint was making. 
The clattering of the big spoon made a great noise on the 
floor; and soon he and Charles would hear the sound of a 
broom-stick pounding on the ceiling below. That meant the 
end of the day's work. 

He often went for excursions into the country. Once, at 
Westfield, he was spending the day at the house of a cousin. 
It looked as if it was going to rain, so his cousin gave him a 
silk umbrella to take into the fields while he sketched. He 
soon caught sight of a little scene that pleased him, and, laying 
the umbrella on the grass, became absorbed in his work. In 
about an hour, the rain came on. Gathering up his brushes, he 
opened the umbrella. But what had happened? The grass- 
hoppers had collected all over the silk and eaten the umbrella 
to shreds. 

One of his friends in Maiden, a good-natured business 
man, arranged to have an auction of some of his pictures with 
others by his fellow-painter, George Noyes. It was a summer 
day, and the auction was to take place in an open barn. After 
they had hung the pictures, Prendergast and Noyes gathered 
greens and wild flowers to make the barn attractive. Then 
they lay down in the grass, outside the window, to listen 
while the connoisseurs of Maiden made bids for their pic- 
tures. What they half expected to hear was "Five thousand 
dollars," and they were going to celebrate at Tomford's. But 


what they heard was this, drifting out of the window, "One 
dollar fifty, is that all I am offered for this picture?" 

When Prendergast had his exhibition, a lady who admired 
his work offered to send him to Venice. This was in 1898. 
He was very happy in Venice. He liked to spend his after- 
noons at the Cafe Oriental, sketching the boats that came 
in from the Lido and the girls at the neighbouring tables. 
Often Gedney Bunce would sit down with him, sharing one 
of those Toscano cigars that were meant to be broken in two, 
while he pounded on the table for his coffee. Sometimes Bunce 
brought a lettuce that he had picked up in the market and 
pounded for a bowl to make a salad. In the evening, Prender- 
gast joined the other artists, French, Italian, Russian or what- 
ever, and gathered in the latest news from Paris. They 
usually met at Florian's which had not closed its doors for 
three hundred years. Few of them spoke the language of the 
others, but they all gestured so much that it made little dif- 
ference. Prendergast felt that Venice had been made for him, 
and he was deeply influenced by Carpaccio's work. In later 
years, it was sometimes said that Sisley and Monticelli had 
affected his painting, though he never mentioned either of 
these artists. Actually, he cared for neither, but Carpaccio 
really influenced him. He was always talking about Carpaccio, 
his gondolas darting over the water, his figures on the steps 
of the canals and his spots of colour. Once he sent this line 
to his brother, 'The work of the grand Venetians makes me 
ashamed to call myself an artist." 

He had a commission in Venice to paint the old clock-tower. 
He went there two or three times for preliminary sketches. 
Each time, as he began to work, a little boy who was passing 
stopped to watch him. The little boy stood motionless and 
silent until he closed his box and went away. The next day, 


there was the boy again, waiting for him, following all his 
movements, Prendergast was frantic. He packed up his box 
and walked over to Florian's, and he kept peeping round the 
corner to see if the boy was there. Not a soul in sight! He 
went back and unfolded his stool. Presto! There was the boy 
again; he seemed to have sprung from the ground. There he 
stood watching and never said a word. 

Prendergast loved beautiful frames. He carved the frames 
for most of his pictures, and he was always making notes of 
the frames he saw in museums. In the evening, at home, after 
supper, when he had smoked his cigar, he would set to work 
copying these frames. He never designed original frames, but, 
walking through museums, he studied the frames as much as 
he studied the pictures. While he was in Venice, he bought 
eight or nine fine old frames. They were of no great value, 
but he had them carefully boxed, and setting out for home, 
he sent them to the inspector's office where works of art had 
to be examined before they were permitted to leave the coun- 
try. He waited in the office, and presently two men came in 
with long beards and elegant uniforms and an air of great 
importance. They told the porter to take off the cover and 
show them the contents of the box. Then they looked at one 
another gravely and, pointing to the frames, shook their heads. 
They frowned and gesticulated and poured out a flood of 
words, as if they were two gendarmes who had caught a thief; 
then, finally, shaking their heads, they left the room. Prender- 
gast felt as if his last hour had come. In any case, he had 
certainly lost the frames, though he had not understood what 
the men had said. What else could they have meant by all 
those frowns? He went to see the consul, who looked into 
the matter. There seemed to be no objection to his taking 
the frames. Then why were the officials so excited? They had 


merely said that Prendergast had come on the wrong day. 
Next Wednesday was the day for examining frames. 

One afternoon in Venice, passing an antique-shop, he 
noticed a sampler in the window. He bought it for two or 
three lire from the old woman in charge. Then, stepping out- 
side, he saw the old soul bestirring herself to put up the shut- 
ters of the shop. He watched her for a moment through the 
window, as she took off her apron and threw it on the coun- 
ter, brushed back her hair and went out in the street. She 
walked a hundred yards and opened the door of the shoe- 
maker's shop and called to the old man at his bench. The shoe- 
maker took off his apron and tossed it over the bench, then he 
joined the old woman at the door. Arm in arm, the two 
sauntered down the street and entered the nearest cafe, to 
celebrate the sale of the little sampler. 

While he was in Venice, Prendergast was taken ill. He 
was obliged to have two operations. From the Cosmopolitan 
Hospital, where he spent two months, he wrote to his brother 
Charles, 'It is too bad for your sake I am sick. It would be 
so fine to be home in the old studio, helping you along with 
the frames. We together were such a fine team. I am feeling 
strong and healthy and with dutiful trust in God am ready 
for the second operation." He came through safely and left 
for home soon afterwards, having had, as he said, the visit 
of his Mfe. He brought a great number of pictures with him, 
mostly water-colours, together with what remained of his 
letter of credit When he returned the letter of credit to the 
husband of his patroness, <r What have you been living on?" 
the latter asked. "Straw?" 

He exhibited his pictures at the Boston Water-Colour Club, 
and six or seven were sold. He sometimes had to sell a picture 


he would have liked to keep. The wife of a Boston broker 
was bent on having a large painting, one of his best oils. 
Prendergast hoped he would not have to lose this picture, but 
one evening he went to dinner with Mr. and Mrs. B., together 
with his brother Charles, at an Italian restaurant Prender- 
gast and the broker walked in the rear, and his brother heard 
the broker's voice boom out, "Well, how much do you want 
for it?" Prendergast kept answering, "Well, it isn't finished 
yet." He had never done anything so good, and he was very 
unwilling to part with this picture. But the broker repeated, 
"How much do you want for it?" until Prendergast had to 
surrender. He was cornered, and he was obliged to sell the 

At this time, he and Charles were living at Winchester. 
Every summer morning, when it was fair, he walked the four 
miles to Maiden, and there he caught the car for Revere 
Beach; for he never lost a chance to paint a beach, covered 
with bright dresses and bathing-suits, with ships and sails in 
the distance. As he worked, he often sang, 

Tell me, young maiden, whither are you going? 
The bark spreads its sails and the breeze is blowing. 

He often went to Marblehead, where many of his water- 
colours were painted. Once he decided to stay there, and he 
found a fine painting-room in a beautiful old-fashioned house. 
He did not stay there very long, however. He sketched and 
painted away, and everything seemed to be going well, but, 
when his brother Charles came to see him, Maurice met him 
with the words, Tve got to get out" 

'Why, what's the matter?" 

"She's begun to make love to me." 


He was fond of quoting Kipling's lines, 

If a man would be successful in his art, art, art, 

He must keep the girls away from his heart, heart, heart. 

He had many good friends in Boston. Once, Mrs. Bartol 
gave him an order for a picture of her husband's church in 
.Cambridge Street. The colour of the church doors had turned 
to x a beautiful green-blue faded tone. He took pains to paint 
the rest of the church first, saving these fine doors till the 
end. Just as he was ready for the doors, two housepainters 
came along the street. They stopped in front of the church 
and set their pots of paint on the steps. Then, right before his 
eyes, they painted the beautiful doors a cold, raw blue. 

While he had friends in Boston, there were other Boston 
people whom he did not like quite so well. In Venice, he had 
stayed on the Giudecca, in a pension-palace owned by an 
impoverished countess. A number of other artists stayed there, 
and every afternoon several priests and monks arrived to take 
their coffee with the countess. One day, an American family 
came, a disagreeable-looking Boston man with his wife and 
two daughters. The artists were greatly disturbed. They had 
taken refuge on the Giudecca, and the Philistines were pur- 
suing them even there. The following year, in Boston, the 
head nurse of the hospital where Prendergast had had his 
operations came to see him. He was glad to take any amount 
of trouble, in the way of dressing up, to meet some friends 
of hers in Marlborough Street He and Charles called at the 
house; but, when the door opened, who did the lady's friends 
turn out to be? The disagreeable-looking Boston man and his 
wife and two daughters. 

Just the same, he liked Boston. He wrote in one of his note- 
books, "I never imagined the summers in Boston could be so 


beautiful." He often painted on the Common, for he liked 
parks and scenes of holiday-making, ponds and flashing foun- 
tains and paths chequered with sunlight and flickering leaves. 
On the backs of some of his Boston sketches, he jotted down 
remarks, for instance, he wrote these in 1905: 

She's not got a beautiful face from an artist's point of 
view, that is, a stimulating face, but she has a splendid 
figure and mahogany-coloured hair. She comes to the 
studio and poses one evening a week when I make pen- 
cil drawings of her and I take her out on Saturday and 
Sunday afternoons. 

Very blue this afternoon. I suppose it comes from ab- 
staining from the customary afternoon cup of coffee. 
You must make yourself a strong man. You are on the 
threshold as an artist. Be firm and determined* 

Accustom yourself to master things which you seem 
to despair of. 

The love you liberate in your work is the only love you 

There is nothing like the good old red wine for mak- 
ing the blood run. 

After 1901, he made occasional trips to New York, and 
in 1914 he and his brother moved there. They settled on the 
top floor at 50 Washington Square. The Prendergasts had 
had a stroke of luck. Several years before, Thomas W. Law- 
son, the financier, had ordered some of Charles's frames, one 
to surround a picture, four or five yards long, that represented 
Mr. Lawson's dogs. This had enabled the brothers to move 
from Winchester into Boston, where they had taken a studio 
in Mount Vernon Street. It was another order for eighteen 
frames that enabled them to go to New York. There Prender- 
gast became one of the well-known "Eight," with Sloan, Henri, 


Luks, Ernest Lawson, Glackens, Shinn and Arthur B. Davies. 

Every day until he grew too feeble, he died in 1924, 
he took his daily stroll through Washington Square. Then 
he climbed upstairs again and picked up his brushes and lost 
himself in his work. He had grown very deaf, so deaf that 
he could not hear the knock on the door when Charles was 
out and people came to see him. So his friends took to thrust- 
ing a newspaper under the door, which they rattled back 
and forth till he saw it. Prendergast did not greatly regret 
his deafness. He said he was glad to find that people did 
not shout the disagreeable things they had to say. Besides, 
he was never too deaf to hear good news from the art-world. 
When he was told that some young painter had received 
a deserved recognition, he would always say, "Well, there's 
still hope for the country." 

When short skirts came into fashion, after he had settled 
in New York, he spoke of the beautiful movement that 
women had made when, at a street-corner, they turned round 
to lift up their skirts before they scurried across the street. 
"That's a lost art/' he said. It was one of the scenes he had 
always loved to paint ever since the days when, as a boy, he 
had sketched the dresses in the shop in Boston. 


I KNEW Randolph Bourne. In my house in Connecticut, 
he spent much of the summer before he died, writing his 
autobiographical novel and typewriting Jacquou the Rebel, 
a French novel that my wife was translating. During the 
previous summer of 1917, he walked out with me to Province- 
town, where we had rooms high up over the water, facing 
the harbour. The Provincetown Players were flourishing and 
Greenwich Villagers were as thick as the mosquitoes, Ran- 
dolph wrote, among them Susan Glaspell and Mary Heaton 
Vorse; and we went to see Eugene O'Neill who had written 
a story for The Seven Arts, the magazine with which we 
were both connected. O'Neill, in a bathing-suit, sat silent 
in the window, trembling all over, for he was already a victim 
of Parkinson's disease. Then we walked back most of the 
way to Boston. With Randolph's feeling for style, he de- 
lighted in the old squares and the fine red-brick houses on 
Beacon Hill. "The eye is constantly charmed," he wrote to 
Alyse Gregory, <r by noble old houses and gracious expanses 
and wonderful white steeples." This was my real introduction 
to the New England capital to which I had been largely 
indifferent during my years at Harvard. 



Randolph had gone to Columbia, but in a roundabout way: 
he had entered college when he was twenty-three. He had 
passed with high marks the entrance examinations for Prince- 
ton, but a change in the family fortunes prevented him from 
going there. He had grown up in Blooinfield, New Jersey, 
where he was born in 1886, the nephew and grandson of 
ministers and lawyers. One of his grandfathers had been the 
pastor of the church at Sleepy Hollow, where Washington 
Irving was buried, and he was given the middle name Silli- 
man after his uncle, Colonel Silliman, a Union officer killed 
in the Civil War. He had had what he called once a "ter- 
ribly messy birth/' The doctor had been incompetent and 
had caused his facial disfigurement; and this, with tuberculosis 
of the spine, which he developed when he was four, caused 
him to be deformed, dwarfed and hunchbacked. His face 
was badly twisted, he had a misshapen ear and his breathing 
was audible and hard. He grew up in what he remembered 
as a tall white house, belonging to his grandmother, to which 
he was taken at the age of six; and, joining the Presbyterian 
church, he later became a Unitarian after reading The Sym- 
pathy of Religions by Thomas Wentworth Higginson. The 
Bible to him was a "magical book that you must not drop 
on the floor/* and he made a New Year's resolution to learn 
one Bible verse a day "and," as he wrote in a diary, "to be 
more cordial." 

It is recorded that at school he took part in a debate on the 
question of whether China would benefit by Russian control, 
a prophetic question in 1900. He was a "very dutiful child," 
he said in Education and Living, governed by his moral rather 
than his intellectual sense. "The French and Italian which I 
picked up later I can read more easily than the German upon 
which I spent three school years/' and this was prophetic, too, 


for Germany was to repel him while he was instinctively 
drawn to the Latin countries. He said that the New York 
Tribune, lying on the doorstep every morning, was "gathered 
in like intellectual manna by my small and grateful self": it 
told him every day of a wide and fascinating world, and to 
it he reacted with never-failing curiosity. But he revolted 
against "that silent 'sect-pressure', ceaselessly trying to mould 
you to ways of thinking and acting." He discovered socialism 
in which he saw applied Christianity "moving towards an 
ever more perfect socialized human life on earth." Later, for 
the Atlantic Monthly, he made a study of Bloomfield, which 
had become a suburb of Newark and New York. Called The 
Social Order in an American Town, it was a case-history of 

Meanwhile, music was his ruling passion. An aunt had 
taken him to various operas and to concerts at Carnegie Hall, 
and the piano was his great consolation. 'We are scarcely 
out of that period," he said in one of his later books, "when 
it was a moral obligation upon every child to learn to play the 
piano." Deformed as he was, he suffered tortures in trying 
to learn to skate, climb trees, play ball and conform in general 
to the ways of the world, but he never resigned himself to the 
inevitable: he over-exerted himself constantly in a grim deter- 
mination to succeed. On the other hand, he said, "one can 
get at grips with one's piano and feel the resistance and the 
response of the music one plays." He wrote to a friend, 
"Music is a real inner sanctuary to which one retires alone 
... I thump and pound my piano until the dejection passes 
and the blood flows again and my spirits are righted. I have 
just been playing the third act of 'Meistersinger' almost en- 
tirely through and the divine music warms me like wine." 
He played Bach, Ravel, Scriabine and Cesar Franck, together 


with the Brahms rhapsodies and "my ever-beloved MacDowell, 
one of my first musical loves and one who never fails." 
One of his friends at Columbia said, "I remember my as- 
tonishment when I found how beautifully this strange mis- 
shapen gnome could make a piano sing and talk/' and Paul 
Rosenfeld, one of his good friends, spoke of his "long, sensi- 
tive Gothic face, and the fine musician's hands with their 
delightful language, the joyous, youthful, certain dance of 
the mind." Later a lady whom he met in England wrote to 
him, "Do you know that the first time you came to this house 
your music seemed to me to transfigure everyone in the 
room. I had never had such an experience in my life before." 

In his early twenties, before he entered college, Randolph 
was employed as a proof-reader in a pianola-record factory at 
Newark. Then he worked for a composer who owned a newly- 
invented machine on which could be cut perforated music- 
rolls for "player pianos." He was paid five cents for every 
foot of roll he cut while the owner received fifteen, composing 
symphonies meanwhile in the next room. Later, Randolph 
took this as an example of the exploitation he was to fight all 
his life: it was "one of those rudimentary patterns of life 
which remain to fix the terms in which we interpret the 
world." He gave a few music lessons, and during his college 
years he played accompaniments in a vocal studio at Carnegie 

Randolph, who had applied for a university scholarship, 
entered Columbia in 1909, and there he found his "spiritual 
home," he said, and the "talkative people without whom I 
starve*" There were, among the professors, James Harvey 
Robinson and Charles A. Beard, Giddings, Franz Boas, Shot- 
well, Woodbridge, and, above all, John Dewey y whose hope- 
ful and intelligent imagination made him, from Randolph's 


point of view, "the most significant thinker in America/ 7 
Dewey's enemies were routine, the ready-made in ideas and 
the decline of life into a state of passivity, and Randolph was 
to remain an ardent disciple of Dewey until he broke with 
his old teacher at the beginning of the first world war. "Colum- 
bia appeals to me especially," he wrote to a friend, "because 
the teachers are, a few of them, not the cloistered kind that 
one finds in some of the older country colleges, but rather 
men of affairs in whom philosophy and science are not mere 
games, but real aids in understanding the world and living 
a worthy part in it" He went in mainly for history and philos- 
ophy. He said later that he was "to put literature in its 
proper place, making all 'culture' serve its apprenticeship 
for him as interpreting things larger than itself." He found 
that Robinson's course in history was "considered the great 
course." Later Randolph said that he must have absorbed 
the Francophile atmosphere of the history department, for 
he found in Paris that he liked "nearly everything French, 
whereas England was always exasperating me and shocking my 

On the other hand, the teachers of literature seemed to him 
curiously narrow and childish, and he spoke of the "pernicious 
high priests of bad morality and bad psychology, the profes- 
sors of English literature in colleges." In The Professor he 
was to present a satirical portrait of one who was 'laying out a 
career for himself as a poetor 'modern singer/ as he expressed 
it," one for whom scholarly criticism could scarcely be too 
cautious, yet who had "dared unutterable things with Shelley. 
. . . One of his most beautiful poems pictures his poignant 
sensations as he comes from a quiet hour within the dim 
organ-haunted shadows [of the chapel] out into the sunlight, 
where the careless athletes are running bare-leggedly past him, 


unmindful of the eternal things." The last consecrated saint 
of the literary canon was Robert Louis Stevenson, and the 
most popular of the English professors had never heard of 
Galsworthy, Another was creating a flurry of scandal in the 
department by recommending Chesterton to his classes. Emer- 
son, Whitman and Thoreau, to whom the professors seldom 
referred, "have delighted me/' Randolph said, "infinitely more 
than all my English official reading. Why can't we get pa- 
triotic and recognize our great men?" A chance lecture in his 
native town by William Lyon Phelps led him to study the 
modern novel. Irony, humour, tragedy, sensuality suddenly 
appeared to Randolph as literary qualities in forms that he 
could understand. They were like oxygen to his soul The lec- 
turer, who talked about Hardy, Turgenev and Tolstoy, might 
have been a heretic or a boy playing out of school. There was 
an air of illicit adventure about him, and Randolph returned 
to college a cultural revolutionist, applying pick and dynamite 
to the whole structure of the canon. While he was reading 
Resurrection, his class in literature was making an "intensive" 
study of Tennyson. It was too much; he rose in revolt, and he 
forswore literary courses forever. He "did not know that to 
naughtier critics even Mr. Phelps might eventually seem," he 
said, "a pale and timid Gideon." In history and philosophy, 
Randolph was a first-rate student. Charles A. Beard directed 
his reading, and when Arnold Bennett visited Columbia in 
1911 Randolph was one of the first to meet him. However, he 
had his doubts about "Dr. Alexander Mackintosh Butcher," 
whom he described in One of Our Conquerors. This was 
Nicholas Murray Butler, who, in presenting the degrees, em- 
phatically warned the graduates against everything new, un- 
tried, untested. 

Randolph lived in Hartley Hall, and there he and his 


friends formed a discussion club that was called the Academy, 
made up largely of what were described at that time as radi- 
cals. "Our reactions are swift and immediate," he wrote in 
Youth and Life. "Our minds are made up instantly, "friend or 
no-friend/ By some subtle intuition we know and have meas- 
ured at first words all the possibilities which their friendship 
has in store for us. If I am to like a man, I like him at once." 
Among these friends were Arthur MacMahon, later the poli- 
tical scientist, and Carl Zigrosser, who became the curator of 
black and white art in Philadelphia and who was a follower of 
Prince Kropotkin. Another was Roderick Seidenberg, the au- 
thor of Post-Historic Man, and Randolph dined with Joyce 
Kilmer and Rockwell Kent, who was "quite mystical and very 
f erven t." He visited the farm of Carl Zigrosser's father in 
beautiful rolling country at the foot of the Catskills, "a really 
charming place, with rocky, Norwegian-looking scenes, a 
comfortable old house, beautiful woods, a piano and lots of 
books." At this farm he wrote the final essays of Youth and 
Life, papers that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. 

An essay had been published previously denouncing the 
younger generation, and Professor Woodbridge, the philoso- 
pher, suggested to Randolph in his junior year to write an arti- 
cle in reply to this one. Woodbridge sent his essay, The Younger 
Generation, to Ellery Sedgwick, the editor, who became from 
that time on another friend of Randolph's. The older genera- 
tion, the essay said, tolerated shams, observed social distress 
with equanimity and discouraged youthful aspirations, and 
Randolph objected to the guarded defences and discreet apolo- 
gies for it that kept filtering through the papers in the At- 
lantic. The older generation seemed to him to lead intellec- 
tually far too vegetative a life, and it was misled by the fact 
that the young did not talk about self-sacrifice and concluded 


that they did not know what this meant. It believed that social 
ills could be cured by personal virtue. But these ideals of 
sacrifice and service were utterly selfish because they took 
account only of the satisfaction and moral consolidation of the 
doer. How well one knew the type o man in the older gen- 
eration who had been doing good all his life! How he had cease- 
lessly been storing away moral fat in every cranny of his 
soul! The need and depression of other people had been the 
air he breathed. Without their compensating misfortune and 
sin, his goodness would have wilted and died. If good peo- 
ple would earnestly set to work to make the world uni- 
formly healthy, beautiful and prosperous, the field of their 
vocation would be destroyed. That they so stoutly resisted all 
philosophies and movements which had these ends primarily 
in view was convincing evidence of the fierce and jealous 
egoism that animated their so plausibly altruistic spirit 

In this way Randolph attacked the older generation which 
Lad had a religion and a philosophy that reigned practically 
undisputed until the appearance of his own generation. It had 
never felt called upon to justify itself, he said, it had never 
been directly challenged, as it was today. It believed in ex- 
tracting all the luxury from the virtue of goodness, while ob- 
taining the advantages of living in a vicious society. Those dry 
channels of duty and obligation through which no living 
waters of emotion flowed should be broken up. The young 
would have no network of emotional channels that were not 
brimming, no duties that did not equally include love. The 
elders were always optimistic in their views of the present, 
pessimistic in their views of the future, while youth was pes- 
simistic toward the present and gloriously hopeful for the fu- 

Randolph defended the young with their irreverence for the 


old conventions and their delight in the novel and the star- 
tling. He admonished youth to be proud of its destiny and 
impatient of social pressures that might distort its true per- 
spectives. To keep one's reactions warm and true was to have 
found the secret of perpetual youth, and perpetual youth was 
salvation. One of the qualifications of youth, he wrote to a 
friend, is "a sense that the world has just begun with yon, 
that it is in a dreadful condition but will speedily be set right, 
mostly through your own efforts." Randolph became a spokes- 
man for his generation. Meanwhile, he was editor-in-chief of 
the Columbia Monthly, and his predecessor later said it would 
have been stupid to compare Randolph's with any other un- 
dergraduate contributions, for "his ideas and their expression 
were even then . . . quite the equal of those of our foremost 
professors." Randolph's classmate Alfred Knopf remarked that 
"undergraduate writers were somewhat awed by a fellow who 
had made the Atlantic" 

With Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird Randolph was delighted, 
and he saw in Maeterlinck "the best of modern mystics": he 
told us that "the valid mystery does not begin at the threshold 
of knowledge but only after we have exhausted our resources 
of knowing*" As for the members of Randolph's conversation 
club, they talked about William James, H. G. Wells, G. 
Lowes Dickinson and Bergson. "Tolstoy was their god, Wells 
their high priest, and Chesterton infuriated them," Randolph 
said. He himself had the pleasure of introducing to Bergson, 
who lectured at Columbia, the old philosopher-naturalist, 
John Burroughs. He had had the good luck to spend a few 
days with Burroughs at Woodchuck Lodge at Esopus on the 
Hudson, a "noble old man, very simple and modest, who likes 
simple childish people best. He looks at the world," Randolph 
wrote, "with the eye of the artist, and uses his science to il- 


lumine his artistic insight, which I believe is the eternally 
right way and attitude of the intellectual life." John Bur- 
roughs himself was pleased with Bergson. Randolph said, "We 
are all instrumentalists here at Columbia. Thought is a prac- 
tical organ of adaptation to environment, knowledge is a tool 
to encompass this adaptation rather than a picture of reality." 
So spoke the disciple of John Dewey, the pragmatist, though 
he was to change his tune in later days. Randolph had a cult 
of friendship. "A friend," he said, "becomes the indispensable 
means of discovering one's own personality. One only exists, 
so to speak, with friends"; and again, "My friends, I can say 
with truth, since I have no other treasure, are my fortune. I 
really live only when I am with my friends. I am a battery 
that needs to be often recharged. I do not spark automatically, 
but must have other minds to rub up against and strike from 
them by friction the spark that will kindle my thoughts . . . 
The doors of the handicapped man are always locked and the 
key is on the outside. He may have treasures of charm inside 
but they will never be revealed unless the person outside co- 
operates with him in unlocking the door . . . One comes from 
much reading with a sense of depression and a vague feeling 
of something unsatisfied; from friends or music one comes 
with a high sense of elation and of the brimming adequacy of 

Often, at Columbia, Randolph appeared with girls in tow, 
sometimes at lectures, sometimes at tea. "I am keen on girls' 
friendships," he wrote to one he had never seen. "A charming 
girl, if by any miracle she has a mind of the same texture as 
yours, is simply a heaven-sent companion and the blessedest 
gift of the gods." To another he wrote, "Have you not observed 
when you confront me with your valued friends that I have a 
weakness for charm, yes, even beauty? A mere mind is apt to 


chill me. I hate to be crude, but I was rather shocked at the 
way I did not rise to the mental lure of your last brilliant 
galaxy." He was not drawn to the "serious puckered women" 
whom he had known as teachers of children, but he had found 
the friendship of attractive young women the most delightful 
and satisfying of all, though in his case the social convention 
that every friendship between young men and women must 
be on a romantic basis was naturally irrelevant. He spoke of 
himself as "a man cruelly blasted by the powers that brought 
him into the world, in a way that makes him both impossible 
to be desired and yet bleak irony that wise Montaigne knew 
about doubly endowed with desire/' Alyse Gregory later 
wrote, "In Randolph's life, girls beckoned or they eluded. He 
could charm them to him at any moment by his audacious 
thought and his power of revealing them to themselves, but 
he had only to venture an inch over a forbidden line to have 
them fly from him like shy birds startled from their leafy 
bower." He was to write delightful character sketches of some 
of them. His understanding of them was almost uncanny. 

"At twenty-five," Randolph said, "I find myself full of the 
wildest radicalisms and look with dismay at my childhood 
friends who are already settled down and have achieved babies 
and responsibilities." He had written a letter to the Columbia 
daily protesting against the unfair treatment of the scrub- 
women at the university. Like other universities it professed a 
high standard of social ethics while at the same time it prac- 
tised a low one. Later he addressed the trustees, objecting to 
their dismissal of Professors Cattell and Dana, capable teachers 
who held unpopular opinions, and he wrote an article explain- 


ing what "trustee control" meant for a university. He said 
that the American university had been degraded from its old 
noble ideal of a community of scholars to a private commercial 
corporation in which professors were employees who could be 
dismissed for lowering its prestige in the public mind. 

Randolph supposed that he had destroyed his chances for 
preferment at Columbia. But, nevertheless, he had won the 
Gilder Fellowship, which enabled him to spend a year in 
Europe; and he sailed in 1913 on the "Rochambeau." There 
was a grand piano in the saloon at which he improvised on 
the first day out, and this served as an introduction to the 
other passengers. They got up a little concert, and Randolph 
played at that and for a few singers who were on board, but 
some of the American tourists upset him with their inane re- 
marks and their hazy knowledge of where they were going. 
"I sometimes shudder/' he wrote, "for my country that sends 
such brainless people round the world." He himself went first 
to England where he had introductions, one to William Archer 
that Brander Matthews had given him. Then an English au- 
thor, one of whose books he had reviewed invited him to spend 
a fortnight in Wales. This writer's letters had given him high 
expectations, and Randolph was under the delusion that he 
was a sympathetic amateur psychologist who might become a 
congenial friend. 

What he found was anything but a shy, retiring student of 
psychology, for the writer turned out to be a ruthless man of 
affairs, who listened with stupefied incredulity to Randolph's 
preachments of socialism and gave him in return a creed of 
business success. The stupid and the rotters, this man said, 
had to work for their living while the shrewd could make 
money by buying Canadian real estate. The house was full 
of visitors; there was much riding and fishing and the talk was 


in favour of militarism, imperialism and the preservation of 
all the old English snobberies. Randolph had fallen into the 
midst of a sophisticated literary set, not the big people but 
various little novelists, art-critics, journalists and reactionary 
barristers, and before him paraded the best nearly brilliant 
talk he had heard, shot through with all the illusions of the 
age. He was shown up in this society as a prophet of absurd 
ideals and the possessor of a hazy muddled mind. His host 
could hardly conceal his disgust and amazement, and Ran- 
dolph was left stranded like a young Hosea or Amos at the 
court of a wicked worldly king. At the end of four days, his 
host's wife turned him away on the plea that his room was 
needed for her old father and mother. Of course, this clever 
writer had been in a difficult position. He had been horrified 
by Randolph's deformity, and his other guests had threatened 
to leave, irritated as they were by Randolph's talk. 
4 But, after that, in England, everything turned out well 
enough, though at the end of three months he went away al- 
most cured of all that went under the head of Anglo-Saxon 
civilization. He had assumed that a writer's letters and books 
were a part of himself instead of a quite detachable hobby, 
and he found that Englishmen were gifted in running an in- 
sulated current quite separate from the main stream of their 
personality. The impression he got from the newspapers was 
of an exuberant irrelevance, a vivacity of interest about matters 
that seemed alien to personal and social issues. There seemed 
to be in London no significant discussion, while a continuous 
fire of ideational badinage took its place. One could never dis- 
cover whether or how much an Englishman "cared" about 
anything, and in no country was so large a proportion of the 
literary production a mere hobby of leisurely gentlemen whose 
real interests were quite elsewhere. In fact, one felt that the 


intellectual life of the country was "hobbyized," that ideas were 
taken as sport and sports were taken for serious issues, A sort 
of fatuous cheerfulness seemed to reign everywhere, and Ran- 
dolph became convinced that the good things in the American 
temperament were not English. Rather, they were the fruit of 
a superior cosmopolitanism, which made one more au courant 
with the world in New York than in the most enlightened 
circle in London. 

Meanwhile, Randolph followed his usual practice of flying 
about here and there, picking up samples of every kind of 
phenomenon, supper with a lower middle-class family, a week 
at Oxford with a middle-class family, lunch with a Tory 
leader-writer for the Times, lunch with the Bohemians of the 
New Statesman. He spent an evening with a club of journal- 
ists and one at the house of a classical professor, and he 
lunched with Jewish barristers, took tea with the Webbs and 
had an evening with a surgeon in Harley Street; then he 
talked with Graham Wallas, J. A. Hobson, Alfred Zimmern, 
George Lansbury, Jane Harrison and Havelock Ellis. More- 
over, he went to lectures by Gilbert Murray, Bernard Shaw, 
Chesterton and Sidney Webb. He heard Winston Churchill 
speak at a great liberal demonstration, interrupted constantly 
by suffragettes who were thrown out with the greatest violence. 
The militant suffrage movement, he wrote to a friend, "is the 
only live thing that I can discover in England." Later Profes- 
sor Woodbridge took him to task for underrating England, 
which had "done more for sound politics and government 
than any other modern country." Randolph undoubtedly 
shared the prejudice of many others of his time, who were 
turning away from their inherited pro-English culture. 

The Fabian Society seemed to Randolph to retain the al- 
legiance of its members rather than to enlist the enthusiasm of 


the younger generation; and Sidney Webb lectured, as he 
talked, with the patient air of a man expounding arithmetic 
to backward children. Randolph was present when Mrs. Webb 
swept into the New Statesman office, producing a sudden 
panic of reverent awe among the editorial staff. Mr. Webb 
talked to him informingly and pleasantly, while Mrs. Webb 
went to sleep; and he seemed to think they both enjoyed their 
unpopularity outside their circle of radical politicians and 
writers. Shaw struck him as clear, straight, and fine as an up- 
land wind and summer sun, and he wrote to a friend of "the 
clean strokes he makes down through the binding cords of 
convention and professionalism and hypocrisy and shows the 
possibilities of fearless, straightforward personal human in- 
tercourse." On the other hand, he found Chesterton glutton- 
ous and thick, with something tricky and unsavoury about 
him. To Carl Zigrosser, now at KeppeFs on the way to his 
later career, he wrote that Shaw was certainly "one of the 
great prophets of the day. His prestige and influence here are 
enormous. He is undoubtedly the most influential man in Eng- 
land, and there is a sort of earthquake in the prevailing or- 
der every time he opens his mouth." To H. G. Wells, Ran- 
dolph sent a note, asking if he might see him, and Wells re- 
plied inviting Randolph to his flat at 9:30 that evening. Ran- 
dolph enjoyed the party very much. It consisted of a dozen or 
so, including William Archer and H. W. Nevinson, and they 
were all grouped about an Indian gentleman, discussing art 
and religion, the caste system and East and West. The Indian 
supplied the facts, while Wells played about them with his 
most luminous and beautiful mind. Nothing, Randolph said, 
could have been more genial than his manner towards every- 
one that night Later the name of Randolph Bourne appeared 
in the book that Wells called Boon. He was one of the writers 


of whom Boon spoke when he organized his conference on 
the mind of the race. 

At the Cheshire Cheese, Randolph fell in with Walter 
Lippmann, who was on his way back to New York. He had 
met Lippmann the previous spring, and he said of Drift and 
Mastery, "There is a book one would have given one's soul to 
have written." They walked along the embankment to Chel- 
sea, where they saw Carlyle's house and Whistler's studio 
and had tea at a tea-room by the river. Lippmann must have 
told him, as he told me in London, about the New Republic 
which was just being started. 'We have the opportunity," 
Lippmann wrote to me, "of focussing the young men in Amer- 
ica, and if we succeed we ought to do something that America 
needs very badly. We may be able to define the issues on the 
robust middle plane." This was a project that concerned us 
all; it was the project of the moment A few months later 
Randolph was to be connected with the New Republic. As 
for England, he wrote to Carl Zigrosser, "The whole country 
seems very old and weary, as if the demands of the twentieth 
century were proving entirely too much for its powers and 
it was waiting half cynically and half apathetically for some 
great cataclysm." 

From London he went over to Paris, where he spent another 
three months, "a new world," he wrote, "where the values and 
the issues of life got reinstated for me into something of the 
relatively proper emphasis." He was thinking still of England 
where "you did not know anything about anybody but your 
own class. In France everybody assumed an intelligent interest 
in everything," with "a solid robust air of equality which one 
felt in no other country, certainly not our own ... I soon felt 
an intellectual vivacity, a sincerity and candour, a tendency to 
think emotions and feel ideas that wiped out those irrelevan- 


cies and facetiousnesses and puzzle-interests and sporting at- 
titudes towards life that so got on one's nerves in England." 
To a friend he wrote, 'The irony and vivacity of the French 
temperament delight me," and "1 look with envy on the parks 
and cafes and benches along the boulevards, such admirable 
places for interminable talks and walks." Although he missed 
very much his vivid circle at home, he found France incom- 
parably the most enlightening country for a curious American 
to visit. BrownelFs French Traits was the only American book 
he could find that dealt with a foreign country adequately; 
but he discovered among the Americans there little curiosity 
about the French mind and French culture as a whole. The 
travelling Americans, in short, were a great trial to him. They 
were all concerned with the horrible immorality, contrasting 
it with the purity and beauty of the American home. He 
could never discover why they so unanimously left that Amer- 
ican home and came over to expose themselves to the dangers 
here, or why so many of them 'lived permanently among a 
people whose faithlessness they abhorred, whose political cor- 
ruption they shuddered at, whose abused femininity they shud- 
dered over, whose inefficiency enraged them and whose 
literature they would sooner think of burning than of reading." 
This attitude amazed him, and he wished there were some 
forum, when he got back to America, from which lie could 
preach a few disagreeable truths to his countrymen. 

He seemed to have learned to speak French but only after 
he had given up trying to learn. At the Bibliotheque Ste. 
Genevieve he read sociology; he went to a socialist school and 
he left his name at the Sorbonne as one who would like to 
engage in French conversation with some or any French per- 
son. In consequence he fell in with a girl whose name was 
Madeleine and of whom he wrote in his essay Mon Amie* A 


model, he said, of sparkling youth, she belonged to that France 
which Jean-Christophe, in Holland's novel, found in his friend 
Olivier, a golden world of ideals, a world of flashing enthusi- 
asms and ideas. She was nineteen and had just completed her 
studies, and their first walk was through the dusky richness of 
the Musee de Cluny. She had gone to a convent school where 
the nuns did not care for the theatre or for hooks, which she 
adored; and her dark, lithe, inscrutable personality showed him 
how hard was the gem-like flame with which she burned. None 
of the social currents of the day seemed to have passed her by, 
and she was a symbol of luminous youth, a glowing militant 
of the younger generation who by her courage could have 
shrivelled up the dangers that so beset the timorous. With her 
blazing frankness, she summed up the lucid intelligence with 
which the French mind cut through layers of equivocation. 
The French language, Randolph felt, was made for illumina- 
tion and clear expression, and to have crossed the sea and 
come upon his own ideals and enthusiasms vibrating with so 
intense a fervour seemed to him an astonishing fortune. This 
girl's charm took in all that rare spiritual climate in which one 
absorbs ideas and ideals as the earth drinks in rain. They car- 
ried on their walks in museums and gardens and along the 

Randolph was struck by the soul of modern France which 
pervaded even the walls of convents with its spirit of free 
criticism and its play of the intelligence, which examined and 
ruthlessly cast aside, just as his vibrant, dark-haired, fragile 
friend was casting aside, whatever ideas did not seem to em- 
brace the clear life to be lived. He found the feminist move- 
ment inspiring, for it was going, he hoped, to assert the femi- 
nine point of view, the more personal, social, emotional atti- 
tude, and so soften the conditions of the hard, hierarchical 


civilization which masculine domination had created in Anglo- 
Saxondom. Meanwhile, he poked about the various quarters of 
Paris and talked with as many people as he could meet. Seeing 
"Down with the Republic" posted on the government's of- 
ficial bulletin-board, he was impressed by the political toler- 
ance of the country. It was cheaper to see Moliere at the na- 
tional theatres than it was to go to a moving-picture show, and 
at Loie Fuller's Ecole de Danse at the Odeon he heard De- 
bussy's Sirens and Mussorgsky's Thousand and One Nights, 
"genuine fresh eternal youth, the Arcadia of nymphs and 
fauns/' The French workingman was a rather distinguished- 
looking person in his suit of corduroy, while he talked with 
an unquenchable vivacity that showed the intellectual verve 
behind it. Randolph, who was interested in the "Unanim- 
istes," went to see Jules Romains and found that Romains 
revered Walt Whitman. The Unanimiste school would have 
seemed bizarre to most Americans who were not used to feel- 
ing so keenly social reverberations, the power of the group or 
Ifche intoxication of camaraderie. 

A The French professors of English at the Sorbonne arranged 
for him a soiree at a Society of French Students of English 
and he held forth from the tribunal of one of the amphi- 
theatres on the ideals of French and American youth. Then, 
in reply to questions, he sailed off into an exposition of the 
philosophy of James and the poetry of Whitman. There were 
about forty in the audience, very polite and attentive. To a 
philosophic Brahmin who had studied at Edinburgh, he ex- 
pounded American philosophy, and they became very en- 
thusiastic about the similarity of Eastern and Western ideas. 
When the Brahmin left for India, Randolph presented him 
with a copy of Leaves of Grass to read on the way, so that 
he could see the rapprochement of thought of the very oldest 


Eastern country and the newest Western. The university was 
inspiring just as a spectacle, the big amphitheatres with paint- 
ings by Puvis de Chavannes, the crowds of eager people wait- 
ing at the doors and rushing in for seats half an hour hefore 
the lecture, the concourse of students of all nationalities, men 
and women, wonderful types, in the courts and corridors, the 
distinction and elegant diction of the professors, the tremen- 
dous list of courses and the strong psychological and sociologi- 
cal bias of the thinking. Paris, he thought, must be the 
greatest university in the world, and the treasures of libraries 
and special schools and museums were colossal there. This in- 
comparable university was free to everyone, while Oxford was 
a luxury, and even the University of London, with its poor 
equipment, was costly to the student. 

To the Anglo-Saxon, Randolph thought, life was what peo- 
ple were doing; to the Latin, rather the stream of conscious- 
ness, what individuals and groups were thinking and feeling. 
He sketched out a whole book every other day, but the feeling 
that he ought to study sociology took hold of him and he did 
not even begin to write. The reading of Rousseau's Confessions 
was a genuine event for him after the rather low opinion of 
Rousseau he had got from the English biographers and critics. 
Morley's book, in the light of Rousseau's own story, was cer- 
tainly a literary curiosity. What arrogance these great English 
critics had, he thought, to attempt the biography of men whose 
inner life they were quite incapable of imagining! Reading 
Rousseau, so frank, human, sensitive, sincere, he found him- 
self saying at nearly every page, 'Tes, that is what I would 
have felt, done, said! I could not judge him and his work by 
those standards that the hopelessly moral and complacent Eng- 
lish have imposed upon our American mind. It was a sort of 
moral bath; it cleared up for me a whole new democratic mor- 


ality, and put the last touch upon the old English way of 
looking at the world in which I was brought up and which I 
had such a struggle to get rid of." To another friend he wrote, 
"There is an intellectuality here, a grip and clear-headedness 
far superior to anything we have in Anglo-Saxondom, it seems 
to me. When I read the Independent or Harpers Weekly 
after a long period of French reading of magazines and news- 
papers, I seem to be suddenly plunged into a less real and 
relevant world, a world whose ideas and principles are not 
very clear or well thought out" 

On his way to Italy, Randolph went to Nimes, a town of 
white-grey stone, red roofs and yellowish facades, quite mod- 
ern, yet as charming as one could wish with its quiet provincial 
life and French mellowness and culture. His early morning 
walk about the town and its terraced environs with their olives 
and vineyards under the deepest of blue skies represented, he 
felt, the high mark of his travels for charm and satisfaction 
with life. Meanwhile, he and his travelling companion had 
parted company, the curious bespectacled youth who thought 
Randolph was the height of sentimentality because he re- 
sponded frankly to everything and went about sniffing in his 
delight. Tall, lanky, lugubrious and red-haired, this young man 
prided himself on his stoicism and he was enthusiastic about 
nothing; he followed Randolph grudgingly, unhappy unless 
he was talking about religion or a girl whom he expected to 
meet in Munich. Their parting was mutually happy. 

Randolph himself enjoyed roaming through a little hidden 
village as much as some busy city square, but in Rome he 
found the one city where the ancient and the ultra-modern 
lived side by side, both brimming over with vitality. He spoke 
of "the professional tourist fashion I hate so much ... I really 
haven't the sightseer's instinct, for I prefer to go sauntering 


about the streets, looking at all sorts of charming and obscure 
scenes, than to dash madly about from one celebrated monu- 
ment to another." But Rome had for him a peculiar fascination 
because it was so entirely alive in a modern way and yet had 
all the materials for an imaginative reconstruction of the suc- 
cessive layers of its ancient life. He would have given for 
one little orange-coloured piazza there most of the dark brown 
streets of Florence, which he found over-touristized and hope- 
lessly artificialized: it exploited, he thought, its old life and 
had no genuine throbbing modern life of its own. There, 
however, he encountered Futurism, the crude and glaring 
artistic expression that arose from the intellectual ennui of the 
antique with which the young Italians were surrounded, the 
swarms of uncritical foreigners, the dead museums. Nietzsche 
was raging through the young Italian mind. In Switzerland he 
attended the Berne Exposition, moved by the ideas of social 
planning evidenced by the exhibits he saw there. He had 
taken at Chamonix a long walk at 7500 feet without any ill 
effects. He wrote to a friend at home, "Tell me anything of 
socialistic or literary importance, what happened to the Pater- 
son strike and anything about the I. W. W.; socialistic people 
over here are keen about it. We must keep our eyes open for 
social art of any kind." He had seen the fine Meunier bronzes 
in Brussels. 

Randolph found the atmosphere of Germany unsympathetic, 
though he liked the clean and massive lines of the new Ger- 
man architecture and the boldness and versatility of the house- 
hold art there. With their instinct for order, the Germans made 
their factories and workshops look almost like hospitals or lab- 
oratories. He liked their town-planning charts and their munic- 
ipally-owned apartments and workingmen's cottages in Ulm, 
and it was dramatic to sweep up through the endless billow- 


ing fields and carefully tended forests to the imposing factory 
towns. But there was something in the soul of the people 
which he knew he did not like, a sort of opaqueness and 
sentimentality and a lack of critical sense that put them poles 
apart from the ever-delightful and expressive French. When 
he went on to Sweden, after a midnight flight, he found the 
most advanced civilization, yet without sophistication. A lu- 
minous modern intelligence selected and controlled there, 
never overwhelmed by the chaos of twentieth-century pos- 
sibility. He had got in Europe exactly what he wanted, impres- 
sions of the qualities and superficial aspects of town and coun- 
tryside of the chief countries, the way in which the physical 
body of each country clothed itself, the social psychology of 
the different peoples and their characteristic ways of living. 
He had read contemporary novels and plays, read the news- 
papers, talked with people, gone to church and court-house, 
schools and universities. The tendency, he found, was to con- 
serve the old styles in civic art and to make radical revolu- 
tions in ideas and institutions. Moreover, he had gained a 
new feeling of the toughness and homogeneity of the cultural 
fabric in the different countries, England, France, Italy, Ger- 
many and Sweden. The distinct languages embodied, not 
different sounds for the same meanings, but actually different 
meanings that spoke for the distinct temperaments and psy- 

While he was in Germany, the first world war broke out 
He had been there on July i3th, 1914, with H. W. L. Dana, 
Longfellow's grandson, and the two had stood in the crowd 
under the balcony when the Kaiser declared war. Then he had 
flown to Sweden with a motley horde of scared Scandinavians 
and Russians. He had an interview with the socialist leader 
Branting, and he listened to the moving eloquence with which 


this great man mourned over the wreck of socialistic and hu- 
manitarian hopes. It struck him that most of the tendencies 
of international understanding, democracy and social reform 
had been snapped of! like threads, perhaps never to be pieced 
together again. He had spent his year of observation in the 
last breathless hush before the explosion. The wheels of the 
clock had completely stopped in Europe. The civilization he 
had been admiring seemed about to be torn to shreds, and 
he no longer wished to think about Europe until the war 
was over and life was running there again. 


When Randolph returned from Europe, he had only four 
years to live, but these years were to be packed with living, 
thinking and writing. He appeared in New York in the long 
black student's cape that he was to wear for the rest of his 
life, and as a "prophet of the younger generation/' the name 
that someone bestowed on him, he was to play a lively part 
in the new American renaissance. While the clock of Europe 
seemed to have stopped, the clock of America seemed to have 
resumed the rhythm of the eighteen-fifties, with new writers 
appearing, new magazines, experimental schools, new pic- 
ture-galleries, clubs and little theatres. Poetry: a Magazine of 
Verse emerged with the Little Review, The Smart Set, The 
New Republic and The Masses; new publishers appeared for 
the new books and psychoanalysis flourished, with movements 
for birth control and women's rights. Meanwhile, Randolph 
was obliged to tackle some real problems of livelihood that 
loomed, after a year of ease, threateningly ahead of him. 

There had been in Europe no encouraging signs from home 
for him. His good friends ignored his delicate suggestions for 


a humble place at Columbia, and his bad friends told him that 
he had as much chance of obtaining a post there as Voltaire 
would have had of obtaining a bishopric. "The hand/* one of 
them wrote, "does not instinctively feed the mouth that bites 
it." He felt that he could not give himself whole-heartedly 
to the scholarly labour that would win academic preferment, 
"for I get restless over details," he wrote to Alyse Gregory, 
"and indignant with academic attitudes and ideals." But he 
had previously written from Zermatt, "There is an interesting 
prospect in the way of a new radical paper dangling tanta- 
lizingly before my eyes," a reference to The New Republic 
that was to materialize soon, for Randolph had an article in 
the very first issue. This appeared on November 7th, 1914, 
and the article, called In a Schoolroom, was a reminiscence of 
his old school at Bloomfield. It prefigured Randolph as a writer 
on education. 

His well-wishers, Ellery Sedgwick and Charles A. Beard, 
who had published the previous year his Economic Interpre- 
tation of the Constitution, had persuaded Herbert Croly to 
take Randolph as a contributor and guarantee him at least 
$1000 a year. Croly had himself written The Promise of 
American Life, and, as Randolph said, "The conservation of 
American promise is the present task for this generation of mal- 
contents and aloof men and women." While Randolph 
called his position an "ornamental role," he was glad enough 
to have it and to keep it. '1 feel," he wrote, "as if I were at- 
tending an incomparable school of journalism. I get in an 
occasional article and editorial and more frequent book re- 
views. I spend almost my whole time writing for them, but 
produce much more than they use." Croly believed in having 
editors go away and write books on full salary outside the 
office. "I thank God," Randolph said, "every day for Croly and 


wonder how soon the burdens of his office will make him lay 
down the sceptre in favour of Philip Littell." Randolph was 
not at ease with this literary editor. "I am irresistibly led to put 
Philip Littell in a class" that Wells wrote about in The Re- 
search Magnificent, "those who have given up as priggish 
and unnatural the expectation to lead a noble life/* Randolph 
surmised this both from LittelFs writing and from "that suave 
and discreet disapproval which I feel him to be shedding 
around the more fervent things which I send to the office of 
The New Re'public." With Francis Hackett, on the other 
hand, he was on cordial terms. 

A reformer by instinct, as Randolph called himself, he saw 
It as one of his goals to revitalize American education, and 
The New Republic presently sent him to Gary, Indiana, to 
write a series of articles on the "Gary System." This was the 
day of Madame Montessori, of Ellen Key's Century of the 
Child and of Mrs. Maritta Johnson's "organic education" at 
Fairhope, Alabama. It was the day especially of John Dewey's 
theories, which were embodied in the schools at Gary. The 
United States Steel Corporation had founded the town in 
1906 as the site for its new plant: it was a waste of sand-dunes 
and scrub-oak swamps at the southern end of Lake Michigan, 
thirty miles from Chicago. There, under the direction of Wil- 
liam Wirt, the Froebel, Pestalozzi and Emerson schools under- 
took to educate the "whole child," physically, artistically and 
manually as well as intellectually. These "work-study-and- 
play schools" were a development of the time, envisaging edu- 
cation not as a preparation for life but as identical with living, 
based on the cultivation of interest rather than discipline, 
play rather than drudgery and the scientific rather than the 
cultural emphasis. There were gymnasiums, swimming-pools, 
drawing and music studios, science laboratories, machine 


shops, playgrounds and gardens, even museums and zoos; 
and the system tried to take the place of the old household 
community life that provided the practical education of which 
city children were deprived today. In these "schools of to- 
morrow/' the children cared for flowers, plants and gardens; 
they studied the habits of animals in the zoo, beginning the 
study of the sciences while their minds were still plastic and 
their Interest In natural phenomena was still keen. The old 
schools assumed that children were empty vessels to be filled 
by knowledge, whereas, in fact, they were not empty vessels 
at all, nor were they automatic machines that could be wound 
up and set running on a track by a teacher. They lived as 
wholes far more than older people did, and they could not 
be made to become minds and rninds alone for four or five 
hours a day without stultification. In Ernest, or Parent for 
a Day, Randolph wrote a charming character-sketch of a little 
boy who had been committed to him for twenty-four hours. 
"I always find it almost impossible," he said, "to resist the offer 
of a new experience," and "I could always maintain the 
amused aloofness which is my usual attitude towards chil- 
dren. The lively, spontaneous Ernest was a case in point of 
what a little boy is and ought to be/' 

To Randolph, an ardent disciple of Dewey, the Gary schools 
seemed for a while what he called "the biggest thing in the 
country today." He remembered the restless pushing curiosity 
that characterized his own childhood in a world where every 
passing train was a marvel or a delight, when a walk down- 
town meant casting himself adrift into an adventurous country 
where anything might happen. When he became familiar 
with the town, the fairies were banished to remoter regions 
until they finally disappeared altogether. But to keep alive the 
wonder of childhood and its flexibility appeared to him the 


great goal in education, not to think of oneself as a cupboard 
in which were stored bundles of knowledge or to be one of 
those "good" children who grow up as bigoted conventional 
men. For the "bad" children were those who had more initia- 
tive than the rest, and to them the careful network of dis- 
cipline and order was simply a direct and irresistible challenge. 
In the old-fashioned school the prizes went to the docile and 
unquestioning, and it seemed to him that "progressive educa- 
tion" and John Dewey's teachings were one of the most reas- 
suring signs of the moment. They were all concerned with 
the future, and "concern for the future," Randolph wrote, 
"is so new a thing in human history that we are hardly yet 
at home with the feeling." But, arranging the articles for his 
book, The Gary Schools, saddened him with the banality of 
the undertaking. He had tried to make them inoffensive to 
teachers and to quench all unqualified enthusiasm, and the 
result was that he felt he had been duller than the most cau- 
tious regular schoolman. He was lost for a while in the mass 
of his loosely connected notes. "I admire order and precision 
immensely," he wrote to one of his friends, "and it makes 
me angry not to achieve them in a subject about which I am 
so enthusiastic. Can one do these things without blushing?" 
The truth was that educational reform did not concern 
him half as much as the spiritual realities about which he 
was also writing, but he said, "The reformer got such a ter- 
rific start in my youth over the artist that Fm afraid the latter 
is handicapped for life." Yet he worked over his reviews with 
a marked feeling for style, sometimes rewriting a sentence a 
dozen times before it satisfied him. While his prose had an 
effect of effortless ease, it caused him pain and anxiety, lucid 
and flexible as it always was. He had vowed never to read a 
book that did not interest and delight him and he found many 


such books among the new writers. Some of these were prob- 
lem novels about the younger generation, and he was espe- 
cially drawn to authors who emphasized spiritual experiences 
or, like Jean-Christophe, artistic aspirations. Among these 
were Pelle the Conqueror ; the Danish prose epic, the Jacob 
Staid trilogy, Gilbert Cannon, Gustave Frennsen and Archi- 
bashev's Sanine; nor could one forget O Pioneers! "one of that 
very small group of epics of youthful talent that grows great 
with quest and desire." Of Willa Gather, Randolph said, "The 
appearance of dramatic imagination in any form in this coun- 
try is something to make us all drop our work and run to see/' 
He looked in literature for "a tang, a bitterness, an intellectual 
fibre/' for "the effort of reason and the adventure of beauty"; 
and his scorn for the pedantic and the conventional amounted 
almost to an obsession. He had read, in Paris, Rornain Rol- 
land's Vie de Tolstoy, short but illuminating and written 
with the verve and glow of a sane hero-worship; and he liked 
The Tragic Comedians, "not sticky and fishy and pretentious 
enough for the true Meredithian, I believe." Then, on a 
steamer, he had read James's The American, absolutely 
charmed by its smooth and golden art. He started novels by 
Gissing and Masefield "and gave up the flabby things in sheer 
revulsion"; but he read, in German translations, some stories 
by Gorky and Andriev, and found them powerful and haunt- 
ing with a tang of real life "that we Americans are afraid 

Randolph had been converted in college from the career of 
a man of letters to a fiery zeal for artistic and literary propa- 
ganda in the service of radical ideas, and he had then begun 
to feel the vigour of literary form and the value of sincerity 
and freshness of style. He read Nietzsche with a high fervour 
and a sense of illumination, but novels especially appealed to 


him and he found in Theodore Dreiser "our only novelist 
who tries to plumb far below the conventional superstructure": 
his hero was "the desire within us that pounds in manifold 
guise against the iron walls of experience . . . He writes of 
the erotic with an almost religious solemnity, and he seemed 
strange and rowdy only because he made sex human, and 
American tradition had never made it human. It had only 
made it either sacred or vulgar, and when these categories 
no longer worked we fell under the dubious and perverting 
magic of the psychoanalysts. " Dreiser, Randolph said, was 
"a true hyphenate, a product of the conglomerate Americanism 
that springs from other roots than the English tradition. Do 
we realize how rare it is to find a talent that is thoroughly 
American and wholly un-English? There stirs in Dreiser's 
books a new American quality. It is not at all German. It is an 
authentic attempt to make something artistic out of the chaotic 
materials that lie around us in American life. Dreiser interests 
because we can watch him grope and feel his clumsiness." In 
The Art of Theodore Dreiser, he said, "You are seeing the 
vacuous, wistful, spiritually rootless Middle Western life 
through the eyes of a naive but very wise boy . . . He feels 
a holy mission to slay the American literary superstition that 
men and women are not sensual beings." 

Preferring, like Constance Rourke, the life-giving elements 
of literature, bonae literae rather than belles lettres, Randolph 
praised Dostoievsky for jolting out of the American imagina- 
tion its stiltedness and preconceived notions of human psy- 
chology. "We are adrift," he said, "on a far wider sea than our 
forefathers. We are far more adventurous in personal relations, 
far more aware of the bewildering variousness of human na- 
ture. If you have once warmed to Dostoievsky you can never 
go back to the older classic fiction on which we were brought 


up ... When once you have felt the sinister, irrational turn 
of human thoughts, and the subtle interplay of impression and 
desire, and the crude impingement of circumstance, you find 
yourself,unless you keep conscious watch, feeling a shade 
of contempt for the Scott and Balzac and Dickens and Thack- 
eray and Trollope who were the authoritative showmen of 
life for our middle-class relatives. [Dostoievsky] is healthy be- 
cause he has no sense of any dividing line between the normal 
and the abnormal, or even between the sane and the insane 
. . . Dostoievsky has a strange, intimate power which breaks in 
your neat walls and shows how much more subtle and incon- 
sequent your flowing life is than even your introspection has 
thought. " Always with American writing in mind, he added, 
"If we are strong enough to hear him, this is the decisive force 
we need on our American creative outlook." 

Meanwhile, on his return from Europe, Randolph had gone 
to live in one of the Phipps model tenements on East 3ist 
Street. The windows overlooked the East River, and Carl 
Zigrosser lived with him. The kitchen was the largest and 
lightest room in the apartment: an Indian print table-cover 
and a row of books disguised the gas-range. There he ex- 
perienced fully again the "golden glow of friendship/' as he 
put it in one of his letters,"The handicapped man arrives 
at a much richer and wider intimacy with his friends than 
do ordinary men with their light surface friendships, based 
on good fellowship or the convenience of the moment." There 
came Ellery Sedgwick, the editor who had published his 
earliest essays, and there carne Ridgely Torrence, who said that 
Randolph's blue eyes seemed to shoot out flames when he 
was excited. One day Vachel Lindsay read aloud there from 
the manuscript of General William Booth Enters into Heaven. 
This was "great poetrygreater claptrap," Randolph said, for 


anything savouring of orthodox religion outraged him, and he 
resented the fact that, in spite of its Christian imagery, the 
poem stirred him profoundly. In The New Republic, he spoke 
of Lindsay's "powerful originality/' but he also said that Lind- 
say's poems were "all tumbled in with an astonishing insensi- 
tiveness to what is banal and what is strong." He referred to 
"that Springfield which [Lindsay] idealizes with a certain 
pathetic unconvincingness." 

To this apartment came some of the young women to whom 
Randolph was especially drawn, for one, Alyse Gregory 
whom he described as "a splendid girl from Connecticut who 
is doing suffrage work, speaking at fairs and on street comers 
and organizing parades and pageants." Alyse Gregory was 
to become the managing editor of The Dial and the wife of 
Llewelyn Powys. To her he once wrote, "Everybody would 
be much worse off if you were not in New York. A whole 
society more or less depends on you for its social focus and 
would be lost and disintegrated without your presence, and 
I should be desolate indeed. I realize how little there would 
be left of me without my New York friends and the warmth 
of that Columbia and Greenwich Village atmosphere . . . 
I should like to hear more about your ideas on people. I am 
interested in nothing else, and all my studies are valueless 
except as they throw light on people's souls and personalities 
. . . What you say about men disburdening themselves of their 
disappointments and sufferings with women and women not 
having the same advantage with men is profoundly true. Men 
are habitual exploiters of the sympathy of women." When later 
Alyse Gregory wrote her novel, Hester Craddock, she made 
Randolph one of her chief characters. There, in Edwin Pal- 
lant, appeared the grotesque litde dwarf, as the children saw 
him, with the thin spindle legs and the long black cape, al- 


ways surrounded by young women who flew away at the 
first mention of love* He liked to explore every recess of their 
emotions, and, with his subtle divinations, interested in Dos- 
toievsky, he seemed to throw light on everything his mind 
touched. One thing he could never bear was to be left with- 
out a companion, and Hester, repelled by his physical shape, 
was attracted and awed by his mind. A brilliant philosophic 
writer, with a congenital vein of malice, he seemed to hold 
her under a spell. 

Another visitor was Beulah Amidon, who was to be con- 
nected with The Survey and who said that Randolph was 
"in a constant turmoil of emotional upheavals and frustra- 
tion, devotion, disillusionment, anger, misunderstanding, 
anxiety/' To her he spoke of the "closed rooms" in which 
everybody lived and the difficulty of opening doors or even 
windows to one's friends; and she said that he and she talked 
six or seven hours at a time, from dinner, on occasion, until 
four in the morning, "and always there was more to say. My 
mind/' Beulah Amidon said, "seemed full of exciting things 
when I was with him"; and he wrote to her, 'When I drop a 
stone into your pool, I always get a ripple." Later she said, 
"There was no redeeming feature in his appearance, even 
his eyes had no magnetism, and his hands were clumsy and 
undistinguished. And yet when he talked one forgot the mis- 
shapen body, the scarred head and face, the awkward ges- 
tures. So many topics kindled him, not only the few things 
in which he passionately believed but the books he read, the 
people he met, flags on Fifth Avenue, a ferry-boat trip across 
the harbour, Greenwich Village history, the Greek drama- 
tists, there is no end to the list." She was eighteen and at 
Barnard when they first met To another girl he wrote, "You 
will probably like me better if you don't see me. There have 


been one or two people to whom I gave much pain by ap- 
pearing in my uninspiring reality after apparently a much 
nicer person had been created out of The Atlantic. So I warn 
you." But more than one who came to know him said that, 
after the first moment, one ceased to think of his deformity, 
and he himself had written in A Philosophy of Handicap, 
"as one gets older, the fact of one's disabilities fades dimmer 
and dimmer away from consciousness. " 

Still another Barnard girl said, "Randolph certainly had an 
unfailing instinct for feminine looks! And spirit!" To her he 
wrote, "Please don't get in the habit of calling experiences 
'queer' that you don't think a Sunday-school teacher would 
consider exactly normal. Call them novel, picturesque, charm- 
ing, interesting, vital, but not queer. That is a word which 
has been so often applied to my own ideas, character and ac- 
tions that I shudder every time I hear it." And with a girl from 
Indiana whom he persuaded to come to Barnard but whom he 
never actually saw (for she had come when he was in Europe) 
he carried on a long correspondence. "I know the bewildering, 
cramping effect of not having anyone to talk to or understand," 
he wrote in one letter. "At college I met for the first time 
not only one person but many who thought as I did and 
formed an interesting social group in which the members 
constantly stimulated one another. Most of the professors were 
more or less in sympathy with you so that you found yourself 
no longer an alien, but one in thought with the people who 
are doing the thinking of the world." 

Again, "Speaking of circles," he wrote, "there is a most 
delightful group of young women here who constitute a real 
'salon/ Three or four of them live together in an old house 
down in the Greenwich section, while the rest have rooms in 
the neighbourhood and come to the house for meals. They 


are all social workers or magazine writers in a small way. They 
are decidedly emancipated and advanced (and so thoroughly 
healthy and zestful). They have an amazing combination of 
wisdom and youthfulness, of humour and ability and inno- 
cence and self-reliance, which absolutely belies everything 
you will read in the story-books or any other description of 
womankind. They are of course all self-supporting and inde* 
pendent, and they enjoy the adventure of life; the full, 
audacious way in which they go about makes you wonder 
if the new woman isn't to be a very splendid sort of person, 
and whether much of this talk about the hard road which a 
woman finds in the world, the dangers and difficulties and 
constraints, is really in the nature of things and not the re- 
flexion of her own timidities and constraints and conventions." 
But evidently Randolph had some doubts about this corre- 
spondence with a woman he never met, for to someone else 
he wrote, "I am very hard-hearted, but when a correspondence, 
begun on a highly intellectual plane of apparent understand- 
ing of my ideas and a very pleasing radiant sympathy with 
them, suddenly takes a swoop to the personal, it makes me 
very uncomfortable, and I see the dangers which sensible pru- 
dent people feel when they refuse to begin such a corre- 
spondence, or rather continue it at all. But my zest for the 
experimental life, a life lived in conflict with my natural con- 
stitutional timidity, makes me unable to resist interesting 
episodes of all kinds, correspondence with unknown women 
among them." 

No doubt one of these young women was the "Sophon- 
isba" he wrote about in a character-sketch and of whom he 
said, "I think the most delightful Bohemians are those who 
have been New England Puritans first/' Probably younger 
than she had been at eleven, she had escaped from a town set- 


ting of elm-shaded streets, and she was engaged at various 
times in settlement work, writing and a position in a pub- 
lishing house. Her allegiance had gone quickly to Freud, and 
once, in a summer flight to Jung in Zurich, she had sat for 
many hours absorbing his theories from a grave, ample, formi- 
dably abstract and unhumorous fraiilein assistant. With her 
own blazing candour, she was a feminist to the core, and as 
you dropped in upon her to follow her work from week to 
week, you seemed to move in a maze of editorial conspiracy. 
She made the acceptance of an article an exciting event and 
her talk was all of the great causes that were just beginning, 
the great articles that were called off at the last minute, the 
delayed cheques and the magazines that had gone down with 
all on board. With her gay little blasphemies and bold femi- 
nine irreverences, she lived dizzily on a crust that might break 
at any moment and precipitate her on the intolerable ease of 
her dutifully loving family. 


When summer came round, Randolph wrote to another 
young woman, "Do you know of any attractive place in New 
England where one might go with the expectation of meet- 
ing somebody interesting 1 ?" It was Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant 
to whom he had written: he had met her through The New 
Republic for which she was writing literary criticism and 
especially articles on France. She told him about Dublin, New 
Hampshire, where she found a log cabin for him that be- 
longed to one of her friends; and there with a friend of his 
own, whom he described as "Fergus," Randolph presently re- 
paired. Fergus, who stayed for several weeks and of whom he 
wrote a literary portrait, spent much of his time in New York 


in the art museums, discovering tastes and delights he had not 
known were in him. Why had no one told him of the joy 
of sitting and reading Plato in these glorious rooms? His 
central interest was in music, and he had been a professional 
violin teacher; then, giving this up as uninspiring drudgery, 
he spent his time composing songs. But his main unconscious 
interest was the art of living. 

For Randolph, a whole day was scarcely long enough for 
a real conversation, and he quoted Lady Gregory who said, 
"The lack of a conversable person is the abomination of 
misery." He complained of one or two girls who were un- 
willing to sit up all night talking with him. He had encoun- 
tered "those funny prejudices about sitting up over the fire till 
morning, all speaking of a fussy sophistication and old-maid- 
ishness that I despise." But now in Dublin he found good mas- 
culine society, the "people of quick roving intelligence who 
carry their learning lightly" and whom he liked above all, 
people "who use their learning as fuel to warm them into 
sympathy with all sorts and conditions of men." The Raphael 
Pumpellys were there, and the Abbott Thayers who lived in 
a nest of studios and half -furnished rooms, serious, imprac- 
tical, unworldly people, Abbott Thayer seemed to Randolph 
"a winsome and Emersonian old person." George de Forest 
Brush used Randolph's barn as a studio. 

At Peterboro, not far away, in the MacDowell Colony, 
Ridgely Torrence showed him MacDowell's grave and cabin, 
looking out over the pines towards the westering sun, with 
"all the atmosphere," Randolph wrote, "of a holy place, silent 
and undisturbed. In it was composed the noblest music yet 
thought in this country. Very noble too is the great rock in 
the little hedge-close that marks the grave. There is a high 
plateau with meadows that remind me of Switzerland and 


a background of forests with a great sweep of mountains." 
In Dublin also in the summer lived Amy Lowell, who 
"seemed to share with the Germans the faculty of letting 
off dynamite bombs in peaceful social groups, Amy Lowell, 
with her delightful zest for life, witty and keen and ready to 
spread out the contents of her mind before you." Randolph, 
reading Emerson and Nietzsche, wrote reviews for The New 
Republic in which he got down on paper the large vague 
feeling of a new time that all the young shared in those days. 
In one book he reviewed, by Mrs. Gerould, he found the 
same note one found in Galsworthy, that of people cultivated 
outside of the humanly animal sphere, yet in no genuinely new 
angelic sphere. "Much good art is wasted," he wrote to Eliza- 
beth Sergeant, "in trying to touch you with the infinite pathos 
of such lives, when they are merely dull. The theme is 
usually the renunciation of individual desire in obedience to 
some higher immemorial social law which transcends the 
petty wilfulness of the one person. But such a law ought to 
transfigure those who obey it, and the hollowness of it all 
is shown by the fact that it never does, at least in English 
fiction and in the Puritan life I see around me." Of his own 
positive self r Randolph said, "I never feel so degraded as when 
I have renounced." 

In Dublin, Randolph felt confident, strong and serene, and 
he wrote to Alyse Gregory, "I am becoming a kind of lotus- 
eater, very much reconciled to life, forgetting that I am poor, 
or that anybody is poor or ever has been. A society that is rich 
and also cultivated is a very demoralizing thing. I have never 
come across this kind of people. Perhaps they don't exist out- 
side of New England. There are a few nouveaux from St. 
Louis and Baltimore, just enough to furnish the dark back- 
ground, but the general atmosphere here is most charming. 


Look around you as you will, you will not find a false or ugly 
note in the place, woods, houses, roads, lake. The occasional 
flashy houses are hidden in the trees. The mountain looms 
grandly from many points, and all my best friends seem to 
have appropriated the most charming houses and the best 
views . . . You get invited to dinners and teas, where you do 
not feel your lack of clothes, and you don't care whether you 
make a hit or not . . . There may be other American summer 
places with such a tone, but I have never seen them." 

Again he wrote to Alyse Gregory, "We are getting all 
wrapped into the fortunes of an artist family which lives in 
the woods, in a romantic warren of studios and big low rough 
rooms, with great fireplaces, and windows that frame deli- 
cious pictures of pine trees and mountain and sunset. [These 
Abbott Thayers] are all such charming, simple, wistful, un- 
worldly people, with whom you can sit silently before the 
fire and know you understand them/' Abbott Thayer was 
writing his book on protective colouration, which was so use- 
ful in the war, and he showed Randolph and Fergus his 
colour diagrams and demonstrations and told a great many 
stories. One night after supper they unearthed an antique 
piano that had been brought over from Germany about 1848, 
and Randolph and Fergus with his violin played Schubert 
songs for an hour out of an old Liederbuch. "Mr. Thayer's 
appreciation was almost embarrassingly ecstatic, and he prof- 
fered sketches and dinners and thanks if we would come two 
or three times a week and do it again. I liked his simple 
emotional ways and his telling us we had 'watered his souT. 
He took us down to the road with the quaintest of lanterns and 
spoke constantly of the music." But later, Randolph wrote to 
Elizabeth Sergeant, "Mr. Thayer's head was so full of pie- 
bald warships and the conversion of college presidents to 


protective colouration that he couldn't any longer let his emo- 
tional nature be stirred by our Schubert and Bach"; and he 
continued, "Mr. Thayer finishes a portrait of his daughter 
Nancy, Titian-like, with rich draperies and classic cairn. How 
amazing that so radical a mind should make his art so imita- 
tive! He seems completely untouched by the art-tendencies of 
the day, living only with the Italian masters and working de- 
votedly after their principles/' 

One morning George de Forest Brush stopped, probably 
astonished to see them up so early, and talked long and 
charmingly on violins and violinists. He was full of socialistic 
ideas and the raciest tangiest talk. On another peculiarly 
heavenly morning, Mr. Thayer took them out in his boat, and, 
having got to the middle of the lake, discoursed on art and 
religion. Meanwhile, they went their own comfortable ways. 
One morning Randolph lay in bed and saw the most glorious 
orange dawn, deep orange springing from the deepest of the 
hills, with the picturesque village silhouetted against it. In 
the afternoon he went to his field again, warmer and even 
lovelier, and then to the Thayers. He had an hour watching 
the mountain turn purple in the sunset, and the golden clouds 
through the Western pines, and afterwards a talk by the fire 
about country houses and Dublin views: "supper and some 
Schubert on the piano and a walk under the belated moon 
along the lake wood-road, with mysterious shadows and sud- 
den white forms of birches and queer luminous patches in 
the forest and the calm outline of the hills under the stars." 
One day he discovered a new road and walked along it, with 
tantalizing views through the trees, until he came to the 
fairest of meadows with a view like nothing so much as the 
view across the Roman Campagna from the Janiculum, the 
same valley, the same contours of hills, even jagged Mount 


Soracte, called in New Hampshire Crotched Mountain. Only 
the city and St. Peter's were absent. He lay in the warm grass 
for hours, dreaming and hearing the foxes barking in the 
woods behind him. But his conscience told him of some 
retribution due for these stolen delights, books not read, 
thought not achieved, articles not written. 

One day there was a musicale at the Raphael Pumpellys', 
with a Danish cellist, and tea later on a grassy terrace bounded 
by a stone wall. It overlooked the mountain and the sunset, 
and there were girls in bright Italian costumes, a most de- 
lightful picture. On another evening Randolph dined with 
Amy Lowell when Edwin Arlington Robinson was there 
and they both read poems. Randolph had gone to her house in 
considerable trepidation, expecting to be overawed and pum- 
melled, but instead he spent a wholly delightful evening. 
Amy Lowell walked up to him as one of the oldest of friends 
and they had a truly grand gossip. She was surprisingly fair- 
minded and a lover of all sorts of queer and little people whom 
she touched off inimitably; but later she told Louis Untermeyer 
that she despised the "weakling/' He had come to Sevenells 
in Brookline and was terrified by her dogs, and she insisted 
then that his deformity showed itself in his "twisted mentality 
and tortured style/' She said, "Everything he writes shows he 
is a cripple." On another evening in Dublin, Randolph and 
Fergus had a party for Mrs. E. H. James, who had been a 
bright spot of Randolph's visit to Paris. Mrs. James's husband, 
a nephew of Henry and William James, was a visionary inter- 
national socialist, "founding red republics in various countries 
when he was not libelling King George." Mrs. James was a 
fine example of the best Boston idealism combined with cosmo- 
politan radicalism, of the bluest Boston blood, with serious 
almost tragic feeling, with little of intelligent training to carry 


it all off yet with a sheer nobility of emotion really doing it. 
She was a most distinguished and charming woman with 
great dramatic talent, which she displayed by reciting to little 
groups of friends plays of Synge or UArlesienne or Racine's 
Attalie or, on occasion, The Trojan Women. Later, in Boston, 
where Randolph often saw her, she started a socialistic salon 
to discuss the Industrial Relations report, and Randolph's 
relatively greater acquaintance with books and the placing of 
people made him, as he said, a fountain of light there. 

When Fergus left, Randolph was joined in Dublin by the 
old Yankee artist Eastman Chase, who castigated George de 
Forest Brush and consigned him to limbo, even calling him a 
"fake" for his imitations. But he thought that Abbott Thayer 
would last as a real artist A Bohemian New Englander, East- 
man Chase had a studio in MacDougal Alley and came up to 
Dublin when he had no work in New York. He did the cook- 
ing and he and Randolph spent hours walking and talking po- 
ets and music and pictures before the fire. Seventy-four years 
old and quite untouched, he had once had a picture-gallery 
in Boston and he knew everybody and everything interesting, 
a rare old character, emphatically not, Randolph said, of the 
older generation. When work called him back to New York, 
he walked to Peterboro, eight miles, to get his train, and 
Randolph walked with him a couple of miles down the de- 
lightful Dublin hill with its little old houses and pleasant 
meadows. There were rounded hills in the distance that re- 
minded him of Wales and here and there lovely old flower 
gardens, bright with purples and yellows. 

Randolph and Fergus had amused themselves with thoughts 
of building a house in Dublin and coming back there always 
to live. But, as it turned out, they were not encouraged to 
return another summer. They were too exciting for Abbott 


Thayer, and, as Randolph said, "I talk too much." But when 
Mr. Thayer's daughter Gladys came to New York, Randolph 
offered to find a studio for her. She had just marched in a 
suffrage parade in Boston, led by what she called "a hag-like 
lady in regal dress of gold brocade, riding on a black steed 
just in front of us (O.K. as far up as her neck)." She added, 
"Seeing the prim red-nosed antis with their unbearably smug 
and pampered demeanour I felt once and for all which was 
the great and human side and the lines of progress." Randolph, 
meanwhile, went to Boston to give a lecture and to visit Mrs. 
James. He wrote from Cambridge to Alyse Gregory, "Here 
I am seeing some of the New Republic's friends who terrify 
me when I see them in New York but who make me wholly 
buoyant here. Felix Frankfurter, for instance, who teaches 
law at Harvard, and Harold Laski, an Oxford Jew, now 
teaching history at Harvard, an incredibly brilliant specimen 
of the young English radical school. These two, with Walter 
Lippmann, make up a Jewish trinity which is the wonder 
of the world, or at least my world." He continued, "Boston 
seems so smiling and restful and yet modernly intelligent. 
I lose all that hectic, anxious note of New York. People here 
have much more time. One feels so much more of a person." 
Years later, Harold Laski wrote to Dorothy Teall, who was 
writing a biography of Randolph, "I thought of him then as 
the most incisively radical of all the people connected with 
the New Republic. He had not Croly's learning, nor Lipp- 
mann's magical style, but none of them felt wrong to be 
wrong as clearly as he did ... He seemed to me the most 
growing mind, and also the most courageous, of all his group 
. . . His talk with me in Cambridge was a great day for me." 


Randolph, who had lectured in Boston, was presently in- 
vited to lecture at the University of Wisconsin, and there he 
wrote, "I renounce Boston for Madison as my city of refuge. 
There was charm in four days of stimulating and exclusively 
masculine society, a rather rare experience for me," He met 
Max Eastman there and liked him, "His tempo seems even 
slower than mine"; and, sitting around in Horace Kallen's 
room, he said, "I shouldn't have had my confidence always 
damped by thickly cynical Columbia and rapid, sure New 
Republic." He encountered on every hand the new vision of 
the coining generation, and it was there he met Karen, the 
Norwegian girl who "did not think but felt in slow sensuous 
outlines; you could feel her feelings cautiously putting out 
long streamers at you. If you were in the mood, a certain sub- 
terranean conversation was not impossible with her." She was 
as inscrutable in anger as she was in her friendliness, and, 
as she never went to her classes, he had long walks with her 
by the lake. She was twenty-five and wore picturesque peasant 
costumes, and she said things like this, "My mother keeps 
writing and asking if I know any young men, so she will 
know how much money to send me for clothes." Randolph, 
telling one of his friends about her, asked, "How do you like 
such little flashes of primitive sociology?" 

Karen was one of those girls whom Willa Gather wrote 
about, who had grown up on farms in the Middle West, 
Scandinavians, Bohemians, Germans who showed her, as 
they showed Randolph, how the melting-pot failed to melt 
them. Among these young people, both men and women, he 
had found many of his true friends, acclimatized Austrians, 
acclimatized Italians, who kept up the cultural traditions of 


their homelands, and he did not want these distinctive quali- 
ties to be washed out into a tasteless, colourless fluid of uni- 
formity. All unawares, America had been building the first 
international nation, it was destined to be a federation of 
cultures, and nothing seemed more important than to shake 
off the incubus of English traditions and ideas. English snob- 
beries and literary styles, English ethics and superstitions had 
been the cultural food that Americans had drunk in with their 
mothers' milk, and the English today nagged and disliked 
the Americans as people dislike their younger brothers. They 
thought of Americans as cultural colonials still, and could a 
transnational America put up with this? 

Randolph had written to Carl Zigrosser that he liked the 
English better than the Americans in Paris. Instead of stay- 
ing at home, he said, and appreciating their own genius, the 
Americans rushed to Europe and sat at the feet of old masters, 
attended lectures by illiterates at the Bureau of University 
Travel and expected culture to rub off on them somehow. 
The French conserved their genius, listened to nothing but 
French music, filled their galleries with French pictures, 
created the most charming statues to every writer and artist, 
and consequently had a rich and delightful culture that 
saturated the nation. 'We have, I am sure," he continued, 
"at least one genius in every form of art that is as good, ex- 
cepting Rodin, as any French genius living, but where are 
our statues and our praise? Our uninspired millionaires are 
paying millions for some Italian painting of the fifteenth 
century, or presenting priceless sets of armour to some museum. 
It is enough to make angels weep." 

There was enough truth in this to make the point he had 
in mind, that a certain cultural chauvinism was the most harm- 
less of patriotisms and absolutely necessary for a true life of 


civilization. "The Frenchman's attitude towards the things 
of culture is one of daily appreciation and intimacy, not the 
attitude of reverence with which we Americans approach 
alien art and which penalizes cultural heresy with us . . 
Culture is not an acquired familiarity with things outside, 
but an inner and constantly operating taste, a fresh and 
responsive power of discrimination, and the insistent judging 
of everything that comes to our minds and senses . . . Our 
humility causes us to be taken at our own face value, and for 
all this patient fixity of gaze upon Europe, we get little reward 
except to be ignored, or to have our interest somewhat con- 
temptuously dismissed as parasitic . . . This cultural humility 
of ours astonished and still astonishes Europe . . . Such 
grovelling humility can only have the effect of maMng us 
feeble imitators, instead of making us assert, with all the 
power at our command, the genius and individuality which 
we already possess in quantity, if we would only see it . . . 
Is it not a tragedy that the American artist feels the impera- 
tive need of foreign approval before he can be assured of his 
attainment? The only remedy for this deplorable situation 
is the cultivation of a new American nationalism. We need 
that keen introspection into the beauties and vitalities and 
sincerities of our own life and ideals that characterizes the 

All this was written before the two world wars changed 
the relations between America and Europe, before the great 
burst of creative activity in the American twenties and before 
the wars had blighted the creative life in Europe. Randolph 
spoke truly when he said, "Our cultural humility before the 
civilizations of Europe is the chief obstacle which prevents 
us from producing any true indigenous culture of our own," 
and "By fixing our eyes humbly on the ages that are past, 


and on foreign countries, we effectively protect ourselves from 
that inner taste which is the only sincere 'culture' . . . We 
should turn our eyes upon our own art for a time, shut our- 
selves in with our own genius, and cultivate with an intense 
and partial pride what we have already achieved against the 
obstacles of our cultural humility. Only then can we take 
our rightful place among the cultures of the world, to which 
we are entitled if we would hut recognize it." For "in the 
contemporary talent that Europe is exhibiting, or even in the 
genius of the last half -century, we will go far to find greater 
poets than our Walt Whitman, philosophers than William 
James, essayists than Emerson and Thoreau, composers than 
MacDowell, sculptors than Saint-Gaudens. Their works have 
expressed the American ideals and qualities, our pulsating 
democracy, the vigour and daring of our pioneer spirit, our 
sense of camaraderie, our dynamism, our hospitality to all the 
world." This "almost sounds as if I were practising for an 
essay," he wrote to Alyse Gregory in a letter in which he said, 
"Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, William James could only 
have been written here; their spirit is really indigenous, ut- 
terly unlike that of any other country." Elsewhere he spoke of 
Whitman as "the glorious prophet of the true and perfect 
fusion of physical and spiritual camaraderie," and he shared 
Thoreau's belief that men have an infinite range of capacities, 
possibilities and choices. To another friend he wrote, "I am 
very fond of Walden. I see a thread running through Thoreau, 
Emerson, Whitman and William James, a sense of a back- 
ground, mystical, inscrutable but healing and beneficent, my 
idea of religion." 

Many of these ideas he expressed in his essay Our Cultural 
Humility, but he had also written in a letter from Paris, "I 
realized with a start the other day that in all my literary pan- 


theon there was not a single English writer, except perhaps 
Hazlitt and Lamb, Hazlitt, because of his artistic sensitiveness 
and superb psychology and undeviating radicalism (for while 
all that traitorous crew Wordsworth and Coleridge turned 
renegade, Hazlitt stood doggedly faithful to the French Revo- 
lution), and Lamb for his irony and exquisite charm. Of all 
the rest of the English classical canon, I don't think, outside 
of some poems of Keats and Browning, and some of the 
Elizabethans, that I ever read a page with real pleasure." 

In the same letter Randolph wrote (to Alyse Gregory), 
"There is only one situation that I ever found really inspires 
me to write, and that is a shady garden with a sympathetic 
friend flitting about to make the atmosphere luminous with 
personality. I have only had it twice in my life." One of his 
sisters, meanwhile, had married the Rev. Lawrence Fenninger, 
later of the Union Theological Seminary, but at present the 
chaplain of the Hampton Institute, for coloured people, in 
Virginia. Randolph went down, in 1916, to visit his sister and 
brother-in-law, "the liveliest kind of modern chaplain," he 
wrote to Elizabeth Sergeant, "very modern in his theology and 
sociology." He found Hampton a most interesting school to 
look at and a Utopia of a place to live in, the only school he 
knew of where practically everything was worth the doing 
and all the energy went into living value. He took very kindly 
to the black man and was delighted when his sister invited the 
black commandant and his wife to dinner, and he said, "I 
think the Southern white man's policy of keeping down a race 
whose infectious personal qualities he never was really able to 
resist is the least defensible thing in the world. The thing is 
full of ghastly ironies, and I shall unburden myself of it some 
day." The teachers dropped in to see a mild celebrity, and one 
rather gay lady was much interested in what she conceived he 


hadn't said about the girl in Mon Amie. On this essay evi- 
dently rested much of his fame. 

The South, he said, while the vast Northern development 
went on, still remained an English colony, stagnant and com- 
placent, having progressed culturally scarcely beyond the early 
Victorian era. It was culturally sterile because it had had no 
advantage of cross-fertilization such as the Northern states had 
had. But meanwhile, travelling about the country, he had 
been struck again by the uncouthness of the general scene. 
What little he had observed of Connecticut town life from 
the train on his way to Danbury seemed almost too gro- 
tesquely squalid and frowsy to be true. He had learned to do 
what he supposed all Americans did, that is, pass through 
streets and cities without seeing anything or allowing anything 
at least to sink in. Whereas on the Continent he was always 
absorbing and assimilating, here he found himself constantly 
rejecting, denying the admission of the squalor and vulgarity 
that pressed upon him from every side. The only thing one 
could do was to sting people slowly into new tastes and new 
ideals, and meanwhile certainly not let one's own soul be 
poisoned by the hostile environment. When he thought of the 
German cities, beautiful and nobly planned, ours were more 
hideous than anyone cared or dared to say, a wilderness of 
dirty frame houses, gaunt factories and isolated tenements in 
all stages of decrepitude. To be sure, these were interspersed 
with trim rows of cottages and bright apartment-houses and 
here and there an imposing church or school. Our cities and 
isolated farms were mute witnesses that Americans had never 
learned how to live. Town-planning seemed to Randolph the 
most fascinating of current interests, and the study that packed 
into itself more historical and sociological stimulation than al- 
most any other study he knew. For the rest, the cultural back- 


ground of the well-to-do American household, with its "nice" 
people, its sentimental fiction and popular music, its amiable 
religiosity and vague moral optimism, was far more alien to the 
stern and secular realism of modern university teaching than 
most people were willing to admit. So he wrote in his essay 
Our Unplanned Cities. 


It was in 1915 that I first met Randolph. I was connected 
with the Century Company at that time, and the editor of the 
Century Magazine asked me to write to him suggesting an 
article that he wished to publish. The subject was the impos- 
sibility of dividing things into black and white, and Randolph 
wrote to me, "Only my usual shiftlessness has prevented me 
from following your suggestion. I had an idea of working in 
my favourite 'scientific curve of distribution/ and showing that 
from the modern point of view all classifications into black 
and white were inaccurate, because things shaded off into each- 
other by degrees. I was then going to take up some of our 
social institutions and show how they were organized on the 
'black and white' plan, and suggest how a popular apprecia- 
tion of the new idea would put us into a receptive mood for 
social changes. If you think that this idea, worked out in a 
not too heavy way, would make a good paper, I will drive 
myself to it again." I don't think this article was ever written, 
but Randolph made his point in the essay on Dostoievsky in 
whom one was never conscious of a disparity between black 
and white. In this respect Dostoievsky was a parent of much 
contemporary novel-writing. 

From that time on, I saw much of Randolph, and I de- 
lighted even in the sharp tongue for which he had a reputation. 


There was a good deal of malice in his composition which I 
thoroughly enjoyed. His life up to 1915, as well as most of his 
older friends, were unknown to me, even by name, but he 
had a way of touching us all off that I heartily relished because 
his wit was unfailing. He was just as likely as not to give you 
a pleasant nip across the table, and, having a tender feeling 
for any good phrase, at anyone's expense, including rny own, 
I liked this. Besides, it belonged to his mental constitution and 
was partly due to his physical state, a little like Alexander 
Pope's. At the time of The Seven Arts we were thrown closely 
together. James Oppenheim, Waldo Frank and I were the 
editors of this, and at a certain point we drew Randolph in, 
only to have his articles destroy the paper. For when in April, 
1917, the United States entered the war, Randolph's contri- 
butions were all pacifistic, and the owner, who was the busi- 
ness manager, withdrew her subsidy, so that the magazine 
instantly foundered. In order to establish it, she had sold her 
great collection of Whistlers, and I could see how the wind 
blew when she caused the flag to be flown at half-mast in 
honour of the death of Joseph H. Choate. In politics she was 
an orthodox Republican who could not bear to oppose the war, 
although, when she lost her post, she lost her reason for being 
and drowned herself a few weeks later. Nor could I share the 
feeling of our editor-in-chief James Oppenheim or of my friend 
Randolph Bourne. I could not see why a magazine of art 
should destroy itself by opposing the war, and, for the rest, I 
asked myself, what would have become of us if Germany had 
dominated Europe? If it had not been for wars, we should 
never have had a country. But Randolph's rationality could 
not comprehend the irrationality of war. "Of the emotions that 
take the place of thought he had little grasp," Elsie Clews 
Parsons later wrote in A Pacifist Patriot, "nor of the emotional 


gratifications that are brought by war to the irrational. As 
an unmitigated intellectual, his understanding of irrational 
groups, wage-earner as well as millionaire, remained limited/' 
Randolph had read too well Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd 
and Trotter's Instinct of the Herd, books that absorbed us all 
in those days. He hated the "herd" as opposed to personality 
which all but disappeared in the universally-engulfing war- 
spirit. Yet The Seven Arts had been really worth preserving. 
As Remain Rolland wrote to us, he whose Jean-Christophe 
was one of the Scriptures of that generation, it was "the work 
of Americans who lived at the centre of the life of the world" 
and its purpose was "to achieve the fertile union of its great 
thoughts." It spoke for the young world of Randolph's own 
desire, a new international life, an interweaving of groups in 
all countries who shared the same culture and the same vision; 
and, although James Oppenheim wrote pacifist editorials and 
John Reed wrote This Unpopular War, it was really Ran- 
dolph, ironically enough, who killed it. Robert Frost, who was 
on the staff of the magazine, expressed this fact in a jingle, 

In the Dawn of Creation that morning 
I remember I gave you fair warning 

The arts are but six. 

You add on Politics 
And the seven will all die a-Bourning.* 

Elsie Clews Parsons, the daughter of Henry Clews, the 
banker, was an ethnologist who delighted in comparing the 
customs of primitive peoples with the customs of New York 
society. Randolph had met her through The New Republic, 
and, visiting her at Lenox, he said she had "ousted Miss Low- 
ell from my bright foreground . . . After all, I am an ethnolo- 

* Communicated to me by Louis Untermeyer, who was also one of 
the staff. 


gist, and she is so clever and stimulating a one that she sets 
one's thoughts tumbling all over each other . . . such a fine 
adventurousness and command of life as she radiates. If you 
are interested in rare persons, there she is," he wrote to Eliza- 
beth Shepley Sergeant. Elsie Clews Parsons spoke of the "tag- 
ging-on spouse problem" and told the story of a Barnard girl, 
thirsting for intellectual discussion, who accosted a young 
man in one of her classes with an opening, "Lovely weather 
we're having!" He replied, "Yes, my wife thinks it's charming," 
showing the non-existence of any conception of social freedom 
in graduate schools. 

Meanwhile, The New 'Republic more or less closed its doors 
to Randolph, so that he was forced to do only translating and 
book-reviewing for The Dial. He had once looked upon trans- 
lations, at least from the classics, as "implements of deadly sin 
that boys used to cheat with": his horror of them was "such 
as a saint might feel towards a parody of the Bible." The New 
Re'puUic had never known just what to do with him and had 
been getting restive under the burden of paying him a hun- 
dred dollars a month for work they could not find space for, 
and now his anti-war position gave them an excuse for getting 
rid of him altogether. Feeling himself that war was what he 
once called an "upper-class sport," he ridiculed its programme 
of a "cosmically efficacious and well-bred war." He broke with 
John Dewey who had provided, he said, the theoretical basis 
for armed preparedness . . . "To those of us who have taken 
Dewey's philosophy almost as our American religion, it never 
occurred that values would be subordinated to technique . . . 
Surely that philosophy of Dewey's which we have been fol- 
lowing so uncritically for so long breaks down almost noisily 
when it is used to grind out interpretation for the present 
crisis." Ellery Sedgwick wrote to Randolph that he could no 


longer publish him after the hubbub of the Seven Arts arti- 
cles; he even refused the superb essay on Cardinal Newman, 
The Uses of Infallibility. Randolph argued that Newman put 
dogma in a sort of storage-vault, while the interesting aspects 
of life were left for discussion in the arena. Then The Dial 
also refused to publish him, although, when Schofield Thayer 
and Sibley Watson bought it, they planned, just before his 
death, to make Randolph the political editor. Gilbert Seldes 
later repeated a remark of Schofield Thayer that if Randolph 
had lived he would have made him editor-in-chief. "The maga- 
zines I write for die violent deaths," Randolph said, "and all 
my thoughts seem unprintable. If I start to write on public 
matters I discover that my ideas are seditious, and if I start to 
write a novel I discover that my outlook is immoral if not ob- 
scene. What then is a literary man to do if he has to make his 
living by his pen?" One might have said of him what Whit- 
man said of Thomas Paine, "The tree with the best apples gets 
the worst clubbing/' 

It was small consolation to Randolph that Jane Addams 
wrote in praise of his article The War and the Intellectuals, 
asking if the Women's Peace Party might make reprints of it, 
for lie thought of Jane Addams as a Lady Bountiful, con- 
descending to her neighbours and exploiting their old-world 
customs, crafts and music. Meanwhile, where was he living at 
this time? "All my friends," he wrote to Alyse Gregory, "seem 
to be living in the most charming apartments in a most ad- 
mirably married way. I flit around from one to the other, a 
homeless, helpless waif, eternally passing out into the cold 
from their warm and confident firesides. It takes a strong soul 
to handle one's own freedom." He lived for a while at 42 Bank 
Street, in two small rooms, and he camped out for a few weeks 
in Milligan Place in the half-furnished rooms of a friend who 


was away. No doubt it was in one of these places that the 
young girl went to see him in Babette Deutsch's novel, A 
Brittle Heaven. There, as "Mark Gideon/' he lived in his 
"narrow room, with its books, its huge desk, its sagging couclv 
its single piece of brilliant Indian embroidery to light the 
cracked wall." His retreat was "a sufficient cave for the 
anchoret that the war had made him . * . His articles, his 
serenely ironic, lucidly analytic articles, were being flung back 
at him even by his old friends, the liberals. He was blacklisted 
. . . He hated the war. It was destroying everything he cared 
about, the life of the mind, the contacts between races, the 
give and take of science, of art, the difficult business of rooting 
out the evils that stemmed from the old accepted economic 
system . . . He had a fiendish way of knowing what you were 
thinking and feeling even about yourself, even when you 
covered it up with the subtlest and most diverting camouflage. 
Mark [Randolph] took the leanest hint, the merest shadow of 
evidence, and worked backward from it, building, as he went, 
the whole fabric of your life. He would tell the books you had 
read, the books you had only tried and pretended to read. He 
knew the streets you walked most and the streets you'd never 
heard of." In some such way most of Randolph's friends, espe- 
cially women, remembered him. 

Randolph seemed to be nowhere wanted. He was generally 
barred out, and a Western business man named Bourne wrote 
to say that Randolph had disgraced the family name. He was 
excoriated and rejected. He had been classified, he wrote to his 
mother, as totally and permanently, mentally and physically, 
unfit for military service; but, facing the "state-obsessed herd" 
and "one hundred per cent Americanism," he continued to say 
that the duty of liberals was to remain apathetic to the war. 
Between the war and American promise one had to choose, 


for the effect of the war would be to impoverish American 
promise, and one should turn one's energies to promoting what 
was truly hest in the country's life. The advocates of prepared- 
ness had "been willing to spend millions on a universal military 
service that was neither universal nor educational nor produc- 
tive, and could one not begin to organize a true national serv- 
ice that would help one to serve creatively toward the toning 
up of American life? For him, resentment against the war 
meant a vital consciousness of what we were seeking in life 
in America, and the spirit of William James, with its gay 
passion for ideas, had suggested a moral equivalent of war. 
Randolph asked, how can we all together serve America by 
really enhancing its life? William James, that inspiring prophet 
of the rising generation, had proposed a productive army of 
youth, warring against nature, and not against man, finding 
in drudgery, toil and danger the values that war and prepara- 
tion for war had given. Randolph had in his mind a picture 
of a host of eager young people swarming over the land, 
spreading the knowledge of health, the knowledge of domes- 
tic science, gardening, tree planting, the care of roads. They 
might even come to the forcible rebuilding of slovenly farms 
and an imposition of cleanliness upon the American country- 

Like Professor Rene Harding in Wyndham Lewis's Self- 
Condemned, Randolph had believed that the twentieth cen- 
tury was intended to be a new model The liberal idealism of 
the nineteenth century would have eventuated in a twentieth- 
century rebirth, would have produced a new age of social jus- 
tice, of tolerance, intelligence and decency, abolishing forever 
the evils of the bad old times, child labour, slavery, cruel 
sports, duelling and the ill treatment of animals. We had been 
standing, Randolph wrote, at the threshold of a better time. 


The door was opening into promise, and now came this ir- 
relevance of war. The monster had slammed the door, and it 
might be a thousand years before it opened again; for men 
stupid enough to resort to war were too stupid to make peace. 
In this difficult time, when the fluid years were over, the light 
that had been in liberals had become darkness, Randolph said, 
and all sorts of sinister forces were still at work in what we 
had supposed was an emancipating era. It seemed to him that 
we were on a leaky boat, rudderless, captainless, pilotless, with 
engines going at full speed. If the enterprise went on, the 
work, so blithely undertaken for the defence of democracy, 
would have crushed out the only genuinely precious thing in 
the nation, the hope and ardent idealism of its youth. 

"It is no fun being a free man in a slave-world/' Randolph 
wrote to one of his friends when Paul Rosenfeld was drafted 
and he went to live in Irving Place in Paul's old rooms there. 
Paul had introduced Randolph to Scriabine whose Preludes 
and Nocturnes he was very fond of, and he said that Ran- 
dolph "could manage the terrible stretches easily with his long 
fingers." Randolph could get his mind off the war at times, he 
could play duets with Waldo Frank, Waldo playing the cello 
and Randolph the piano, and he wrote, a month before he 
died, a fine criticism of George W. Cable in The Dial. But he 
had begun to write a book about the State that he was to leave 
unfinished. "Country," he said, "is a conception of peace, of 
tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a 
conception of power, of competition. It signifies a group in its 
aggressive aspects . . . War is the health of the State. It auto- 
matically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible 
forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the gov- 
ernment in coercing into obedience the minority groups and 
individuals which lack the larger herd sense ... In this great 


herd-machinery, dissent is like sand in the bearings. The State 
ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push towards military 
unity ... All of which goes to show that the State represents 
all the automatic, arbitrary, coercive, belligerent forces within 
a social group. It is a sort of complexus of everything most 
distasteful to the modern free creative spirit, the feeling for 
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. War is the health 
of the State ... It is the most noxious of all the evils that 
afflict man . . . Too many of the prophets [of war] are men 
who have lived rather briskly among the cruelties and thin- 
nesses of American civilization and have shown no obvious 
horror and pity at the exploitations and the arid quality of the 
life lived here around us. Few of them had used their vision 
to create literature impelling us toward a more radiant Amer- 
ican future . . . Their idealism is too new and bright to affect 
us, for it comes from men who never cared very particularly 
about great creative American ideas . . . Never having felt 
responsibility for labour wars and oppressed masses and ex- 
cluded races at home, they had a large fund of idle emotional 
capital to invest in the oppressed nationalities and ravaged 
villages of Europe. Hearts that had felt only ugly contempt for 
democratic strivings at home beat in tune with the struggle 
for freedom abroad." 

It was this book on the State that led John Dos Passes to 
write his poetical sketch of Randolph Bourne, 

If any man has a ghost 

Bourne has a ghost, 

a tiny twisted imscared ghost in a black cloak 

hopping along the grimy old brick and brownstone streets 

still left in downtown New York, 

crying out in a shrill soundless giggle: 

War is the health of the State. 


No doubt it was this book on the State that Emma Goldman 
had in mind when she said that Randolph "towered mountains 
high over the rest of the American young intelligentsia/' 
Emma Goldman was writing in Berlin thirteen years after 
she had been deported from the United States. 

Later, Theodore Dreiser paid tribute to Randolph. "In 1913 
or 1914," Dreiser wrote, "there appeared a critic whose work 
interested me greatly. It was humanly sensitive as well as 
aesthetic. The view was large and the underlying natural un- 
derstanding appeared to have been edged and clarified by ex- 
perience. There was a gaiety, an optimism, a high sense of 
beauty and even a poetry of phrase;" and Dreiser described 
his meeting with Randolph: "It was an evening in late No- 
vember or December or, possibly, January. I was in the vicinity 
of the old Night Court that stood at Tenth Street and Sixth 
Avenue. It was dark, and snow was falling, and, as I turned 
the corner at Sixth Avenue, I encountered as badly deformed 
and, at the moment, as I accepted it, as frightening a dwarf as 
I had ever seen. His body was so misshapen, the legs thin, 
the chest large, the arms long, the head deep sunk between the 
bony shoulders. More, the head was preternaturally large, with 
eyes the character of which I did not grasp at the moment. I 
did note, however, that the skull and even the mouth appeared 
to be a little askew; large ears flattened against the large skull, 
and, on top of that, a soft hat, of what colour I do not recall." 
Then there came "a knock on the door one late afternoon. 
There stood this same dwarf ... He surveyed me now with 
what I saw to be large, clear and impressive blue eyes. He 
sat hunched in the chair I had given him, one knee crossed 
over the other, and continued to look at me with eyes which 
now were about all that I could see; and somehow the dwarfed 
body had by now as completely vanished as though it had 


never been and, in its place, was a mind, strong, tender, dis- 
arming, a mind that had suffered and had learned through suf- 
fering. It was truly a beautiful hour that he made for me . . . 
We passed into a warm, sympathetic understanding, and then, 
strangely enough, I saw before me, and even afterward, not a 
dwarf at all, but a tall, strong, powerful man whose body 
matched the fine mind that occupied it." 


Years before, Randolph had written in Youth and Life, 
"When we have acclimated ourselves to youth, suddenly death 
looms up as the greatest of dangers in our adventure of life. 
It puzzles and shocks and saddens by its irreversibility and 
mystery. That we should be taken out of this world to which 
we are so perfectly adapted, and which we enjoy and feel 
intimate with, is an incredible thing . . . The feeling of the 
precariousness of life gives the young man a sense of its pre- 
ciousness; nothing shocks him quite so much as that it should 
be ruthlessly and instantly snatched away." 

Randolph, who had always felt the rush of time past him, 
had gone to live a few days before his death at 18 West 8th 
Street, over the old City and Country School. There lived two 
young women, Agnes de Lima, engaged to be married, and 
Esther Cornell, with whom Randolph was in love. A Bryn 
Mawr girl, related to the founder of Cornell University, she 
had been on the stage in Kismet and The Silent Voice. She 
was extremely pretty, imaginative, gay, resilient, with eyes a 
greenish blue and copper-gold hair. She had an uncanny per- 
ception and insight into character, and Randolph had written 
to her from Hampton Institute, "I go on having delusions of 
grandeur that you could love me and be happy with me. All 


my life I have alternated delusions of greatness with the most 
cowering and abject feelings of worthlessness . . . Oh, what 
an adventure it would be to try to get the most out of life 
together!" Again he had written, "I loathe loggy knowledge, 
but your quality means light and air to me." In a fragment of 
another letter, written to some unknown person, he had writ- 
ten, "I did not spurn marriage without children. In that case, 
marriage seems, in the present state of public opinion, an ex- 
asperating but necessary evil, a sort of minimum socially- 
stamped ticket-of -leave to travel without annoyance. This is its 
use, and probably a valuable one." He had said, "I don't think 
my spirit is naturally roaming. But it has had to be restless 
because it does so awfully want an abiding place and has not 
found it. Or, if it did, it was torn and harried and treated more 
like a wayfarer taken in for the night than the friend found 
at last" 

With Esther Cornell, he carried on his courtship largely 
through his music, Chopin's Preludes, Hugo Wolff's songs 
and MacDowell, and with her and Agnes de Lima he under- 
took to walk up to Martha's Vineyard in September, 1918. 
Esther had been taking lessons in "rhythmic dancing," and 
she was swaying and leaping about the rocks when they 
reached Cos Cob and saw a gunboat in the bay. There was a 
submarine scare at the time, and Randolph was afraid she 
might be supposed to be signalling; and indeed, the gunboat 
began to move along with them as they walked. At the end 
of two weeks they reached Martha's Vineyard, where they 
took rooms at the eastern end of the island, and, when Agnes 
de Lima was called back to New York, Esther and Randolph 
were left there alone. They were stopped in the street by a 
naval officer who cross-examined them and went to Boston 
with them in the train. But, lunching at the station, he tele- 


phoned his chief and reported that they were "just a couple oF 
nuts." Randolph's letters had been opened hy the censor and 
a trunk of his manuscripts had been lost between New York 
and Old Greenwich. Then he was challenged to explain a tele- 
gram which contained the mysterious word "Perfide." It looked 
like a code-word; there was nothing in English it could mean. 
But, nevertheless, he was not molested further. 

About this time Randolph said to another girl that there 
were only eleven days' meals he could count on. He said this 
in irony but there were people who took his irony as matter 
of fact, and this was the secret of many of the fantastic stories 
that were told about him. He had, in fact, a philosophy of 
irony that, as he said, "forced his friends to move their rusty 
limbs and unhinge the creaking doors of their minds." Irony 
was thought to be synonymous with cynicism, and there were 
those who thought Randolph was cynical; whereas to him it 
had the free happy play of the Greek spirit, letting fresh air 
and light into the minds of others. "It was to the Greek," he 
said, "an incomparable method of intercourse, the rub of mind 
against mind by the simple use of simulated ignorance," and 
the ironist was always critically awake. Actually, driven to the 
wall as he was, he still had fairly large sums of money in two 
banks; and, when Esther Cornell all but promised to marry 
him, he was looking forward happily. But he was caught in the 
flu epidemic in December, 1918. He had said to Agnes de 
Lima, "One in every three persons gets it, so one of us three 
will"; and, owing to his narrow chest, he died almost instantly. 
When he was dying he asked for an eggnog and exclaimed 
with pleasure over its gorgeous saffron colour. 

Randolph was thirty-two years old. He was buried in Bloom- 
field from the Presbyterian church there. It was a dreary day, 
with a cold rain falling. The Abbott Thayers came to the 


funeral with others of his older friends; and Norman Thomas, 
at the time a clergyman, conducted the service. Lewis Mum- 
ford wrote, a little later, "Randolph Bourne was precious to us 
because of what he was rather than because of what he had 
actually written." In him one found "that mingling of pas- 
sionate resolve and critical enquiry which was the very spirit 
of youth in America in 1914." 

(continued from front flap) 

and a friend of Thomas Jefferson as 
well as of Robert Owen and of Mrs, 
Trollope, who joined her colony in 
Tennessee. There are also essays on 
John Lloyd Stephens, explorer and 
archaeologist, who discovered the 
Maya ruins in Yucatan; George Cat- 
lin, painter of the Indians; Lt. Charles 
Wilkes, naval officer and world cir- 
cumnavigator; Charles Godfrey Le- 
land, poet, folklorist and student of 
gypsy lore and witchcraft; the painter 
Maurice Prendergast; and Randolph 
Bourne, another essay which presents 
much new material drawn from un- 
published letters. 

Written in Van Wyck Brooks's in- 
imitable manner and utilizing impor- 
tant new source materials, here is one 
of the most delightful volumes by this 
distinguished biographer and historian 
of American culture.