Friday, December 21, 2012

Elihu Root Secretary of War


By L. A. Coolidge

Elihu Root
In July, 1899, President McKinley faced a serious problem. The war with Spain had been fought and won. Within the short period of a year the United States had accepted the responsibility for the present control and future development of Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines. The regular army of the United States under emergency legislation was more than double in size what it had been a few months before. In­stead of being located at a few coast forti­fications and a few frontier posts, it was scattered in active service over half the globe. The War Department had suddenly de­veloped into the most important of all gov­ernment departments, with tasks before it far transcending any questions of mere mili­tary administration. Almost unconsciously and as a matter of administrative convenience, the War Department had become re­sponsible for the government of the islands which had formed the colonial dependencies of Spain—islands inhabited by millions of people of different races, religions, laws and traditions. It had become responsible for the proper inauguration of a new stage of national development—a task demanding great foresight great executive genius and extraordi­nary politi­cal wisdom. At that mo­ment the Secretary of War re­signed, and President McKinley found him­self confronted with the necessi­ty of choos­ing a suc­cessor.

The selec­tion was one which could not be light­ly made. The Presi­dent recognized that no ordinary man could meet all the requirements of the position. It may be doubted whether he really ex­pected to find a man who would be fully equal to the many exactions that would be made upon a new war secretary.

The best he could hope, after determining which of the functions of the department would be of greatest immediate importance, was to secure one who could be trusted to meet that pressing requirement. The most urgent question was that of the administra­tion of the new possessions, involving as it did the preservation of order and the substi­tution of an American system of government for the mediaeval systems which had pre­vailed for centuries under the rule of Spain. For this task he concluded that he needed first of all a lawyer of preeminent ability. He selected Elihu Root.

Wu Ting-fang


By L. A. Coolidge

 His Excellency Wu Ting-Fang and Madame Wu
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, PEKIN, Nov. 30, 1896.
THE HONORABLE RICHARD OLNEY,
Secretary of State,
SIR:—
    I have the honor to inform you that Mr. Wu Ting-fang has been appointed Chinese Minister to the United States, and will probably reach his post in April next. He was admitted to the bar in London, practiced law in Hongkong, and for several years has been serving the ex-Viceroy, Li Hung-Chang, at Tientsin. He speaks English perfectly.
Lo Feng-lu has been appointed Minister to England, Italy and Belgium. This gentleman was interpreter to Li Hung-Chang for many years and accompanied him on his recent tour.
    Yang-yu, present Chinese Minister to the United States, has been appointed Minister to Russia.
    Hwang Tsun-hsien has been appointed Minister to Germany.
    I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
CHARLES DENBY.

Thus simply and formally was Wu Ting-fang, the present representative of the Chinese Government in Washington, in­troduced to the Government of the United States. There had been Chinese ministers before—all of them men of good ability; all of them men of high standing at home; and all of them so little in touch with the affairs of the country to which they were accredit­ed, that they were regarded popularly as objects of curiosity - it is to be feared sometimes as objects of derision by the unthinking.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, New York Society Leader

By Charles Stokes Wayne

Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish
Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, as the acknowledged leader of the spectacular element of New York society, occupies a uniquely conspicuous position. The little realm over which she rules is but a small part of the great social world; but it is set upon a hill. She and her subjects, engaged apparently in a continuous performance, are ever in the public eye. Their comings and goings, their routes and fetes, their loves and their aversions, their marriages and their divorces, the clothes they wear, the wines they drink, the pranks they play, the jests they utter, all are chronicled in the newspapers. The conservative old Knickerbocker and some of the new, but staid people, sneer at Mrs. Fish's followers, who, in return, only laugh and set about some new device of entertainment to excite the envy, even if contemptuous, of  their detractors.

By force of her aggressive independence rather than by tact has Mrs. Fish attained to the sovereignty that is hers. Family and money have been efficacious aids in the process of elevation, but there are women of more distinguished ancestry and possessing greater income—women, too, of far superior diplomatic equipment – who have struggled in vain for the eminence that Mrs. Fish has reached without seeming effort; reached, in fact, while flying in the face of all precedent, in that she truckled to none, spoke her mind freely on all occasions, put no check on her incisive wit, was a law unto herself, dinner and made enemies faster than she made friends.

Tall, dark and florid, with a figure calculated to display to advantage the sumptuous adornment with which she provides it, Mrs. is distinguee rather than beautiful. Mrs. Fish's jewels are among the handsomest in New York. She does not affect a tiara, but wears in her hair a magnificent diamond spray. About her neck circles a collar of pearls three inches deep. Suspended from it in front, by a thread of diamonds four inches long, is a diamond cluster that, viewed across the horseshoe at the Metropol­itan Opera House, looks like an enormous single stone. Extending diagonally down her corsage she wears a row of buttons of diamonds set around sapphires, each sapphire as large as one's finger nail. A festoon of diamonds from the left shoulder to the front of the corsage completes the display.

Naturalist John Muir

John Muir
By Adeline Knapp

A King of Outdoors: I know no other phrase that so aptly designates John Muir, naturalist, explorer and writer; nor do I know any man to whom the phrase is so applicable.

He has been styled "the Californian Thoreau," and Emerson, who knew and liked him, once went so far as to call him "a more wonderful man than Thoreau." It is doubtful, however, whether Emerson him­self knew exactly what he meant by that rather impossible expression. The two men are wholly different in essentials of thought, so that it would be hard to institute any real comparison be­tween them.

For twenty-five years John Muir has made out of doors his realm. For more than half this time he lived and wandered alone over the high Sierras, through the Yosemite Valley, and among the glaciers of California and Alaska, studying, sketching, and climbing. At night he sometimes rested luxuriously, wrapped in a half-blanket be­side a camp fire; sometimes, when fuel was wanting, and the way too arduous to admit of carrying his piece of blanket, he hollowed for himself a snug nest in the snow. He is no longer a young man, but when last I saw him he was making plans to go again to the North, to explore the four new glaciers dis­covered last summer by the Harriman Expedition.

"What do you come here for?" two Alaskan Indians once asked him, when they had accompanied him as far, through peril­ous ways, as he could hire or coax them to go.

"To get knowledge," was his reply.

The Indians grunted; they had no words to express their opinion of this extraordi­nary lunatic. They turned back and left him to venture alone across the great glacier which now bears his name. So trifling a matter as their desertion could not deter him from his purpose. He built a cabin at the edge of the glacier and there settled to work, and to live for two long years. He made daily trips over that icy region of deep gorges, rugged descents and vast moraines, taking notes and making sketches, until he had obtained the knowledge, and the understanding of knowledge, that he was after. Muir Gla­cier is the largest glacier discharging in­to the wonderful Gla­cier Bay on the Alas­kan coast. Being the most accessible one in that region, tourists are allowed to go ashore to climb upon its sheer, icy cliffs, and watch the many icebergs that go tum­bling down from it. This is a thrilling ex­perience to the globe trotter, but to dwell there beside the gla­cier, to study the phenomena, encounter perils, alone and un­aided, is an experience that few besides John Muir would court.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Admiral George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay

Admiral Dewey on deck of Olympia at
Battle of Manila Bay
by Nick Vulich.

Other than Theodore Roosevelt, Admiral George Dewey was the biggest hero to come out of the Spanish American War.

His victory at the Battle of Manila completely took the world by surprise.  All eyes were focused on the fighting in Cuba, when Dewey sailed into Manila Bay and virtually destroyed the Spanish fleet.

At 5:35 on the morning of May 1, 1898, Dewey let out those famous words, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley!" The U.S. Asiatic Squadron commenced fire.  The squadron first fired their starboard guns, then their port guns, while circling around the Spanish fleet.

Within six hours the entire Spanish Fleet under the command of Admiral Montojo was destroyed or captured.  Dewey's losses were one dead, six injured.  Spanish losses were 161 dead, 210 injured.

After the battle Dewey controlled all of the waters around Manila, but he did not have enough troops to engage the Spanish in a battle on land.  Dewey soon received assistance from Filipino insurgent Emilio Aguinaldo and was able to hold off the Spanish until more American troops were sent to help.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Observatory of the Vatican Padre Denza Padre Lais


By J. A. Zahm

The Leonine Tower
It was not merely because astronomy was a fascinating science that it was studied with ardor by saints and doctors. Aside from the inspiration afforded by the contemplation of the wonders of the starry vault, there were also practical considerations which moved the authori­ties at Rome to encourage the study of the heavenly bodies. Chief among these were the demands of chronology, and the necessity of accurately regulating the various festivals of the ecclesiastical year. As far back as the time of St. Polycarp, in the second century, there was a dispute as to the time when Easter should be celebrated. The question was taken up by Pope Leo the Great, and, later on, by Nicholas V, Sixtus IV, and Leo X, but without any satisfactory re­sults. Not until 1582 was the contro­versy settled, when Gregory III pro­mulgated the reformed calendar and made it obligatory throughout the Catholic world.

The building in which the work of the reformation of the calendar was executed forms a portion of the immense pile of buildings in Rome known as the Vatican.  The upper portion of the structure, in honor of its projector, Gregory XIII is called the Gregorian tower. Connected with the Vatican library, and, indeed, forming a part of this wing of the papal palace, it rises considerably above the adjacent portions of the edifice. It is a large and massive structure, containing more than a score of spacious apartments, and is, in every way, well adapted for the purposes of astronomical work.

The room in which the calendar was reformed is preserved in essentially the same condition in which it existed in the time of Gregory XIII. It is remarkable not only for its size, but also for the beau­tiful frescos which adorn the walls and ceiling. These, although several cen­turies old, are still in an excellent state of preservation, and fully in keeping with the other admirable works of art, which constitute so conspicuous a fea­ture of the magnificent palace of the Vatican.

Alberto Santos Dumont and His Air Ship - The Santos Dumont VI


By W. L. McAlpin

Santos Dumont’s Sixth Air Ship
In all the years that men have sought to navigate the air, none has accom­plished so much as a young Brazilian, Alberta Santos Dumont, whose feats have been the talk of the civilized world for many months. He has come nearer than anyone else to solving the last great problem that the ingenuity of man has set itself to conquer.

Highly trained scientific minds long ago declared that the flying machine was in sight. They have laid down certain scientific principles—as, for instance, that the air ship of the future would be a dirigible balloon; but it remained for a youth born in South America in the last quarter of the nineteenth century to fly through the air, propelling his machine in what direction he chose, and mounting or descending at will. His experiments have been a prodigious stride in advance, and the end is not yet. What he has done has been achieved at the expense of much study, many trials many failures, and no small personal risk.

It has often been predicted that we who are now living will see air ships fly­ing through space just as ships sail the sea; but those who have studied the problem most thoroughly, and whose judg­ment is not warped by visions, have no hope of witnessing any such development. The passenger air ship is as yet only a theoretical possibility.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lost Gold Mines of the American West


By Charles Michelson

Examining gold from the Pegleg Mine
On a hilltop in southern California, in sight of the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad, there is gold enough to satisfy the most avaricious man that ever loved the yellow god, ready to the hand of any one who will pick it up. It lies there in lumps, un­covered on the ground, much of it pure enough to be exchanged for coin at the mint. No fierce savages bar the way to it; no legal prohibitions make it inac­cessible; it is not on any Indian reservation or other preserve whence any man might be prevented from taking it.

To make it easier for a seeker after this gold, I am at liberty to state that it lies between latitude 32:30 and 34, not further east than 115:30, nor fur­ther west than 117. In order that the hunter may identify the place, I can further inform him that the scattered nuggets are on the rounding peak of the highest of three hills, none of which is particularly hard to climb. To show the accessibility of the peak and the presence of the gold on its summit, it is sufficient to say that the treasure place has been visited at different times dur­ing the last fifty years by at least four people, one of them a woman. Each brought away as many bits of gold as could be conveniently carried, and told of the great quantity that remains. I am informed that specimens of these nuggets are on exhibition in various mining museums in the West.

It is possible to be still more explicit as to the locality. From the gold strewn hilltop the smoke of the railroad trains can be seen as they pass near Salton station. To reach the spot, one can go west from Fort Yuma on the old Los Angeles trail, which approximately fol­lows the Mexican line, to a point near where it turns north. From this point the way lies a little to the eastward of Warner's Pass. If he is on the right road, the three peaks will loom before him; let him climb the highest one, and if he finds beneath his feet pebbles and cobbles of dark gold, then he may know he has found the lost Pegleg mine, the search for which has cost as many lives as most battles, and suffering and dis­appointment beyond reckoning.

Trade of train Robbery Train Robbers of the West

By Charles Michelson

Black Jack, a lone train robber
Train robbery has been a recognized branch of criminal industry for nearly forty years, yet the advance in it has been far less than might be ex­pected of a pursuit that has, at one time or another, attracted the shrewdest, as well as the most daring and enterpri­sing of the criminals of America. The gross receipts by train robbery have averaged not far from one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, and, as not more than twenty thieves or­dinarily share this booty, it is not diffi­cult to understand why men follow it in spite of its dangers. The large pro­portion of the best exponents of the craft are dead or in penitentiaries, but the train robber is a lord in the king­dom of crime. In all the penitentiaries of the West he rules the common run of lawbreakers.

The flashest burglar in stripes, even if he has the red device of murder on his coat of arms, is glad to maneuver to be­come cell mate to the man who is there because he held up a train. For him the caged thieves and thugs fetch and carry and offer their tribute of tobacco and contraband comforts and to him is offered the captaincy of projected jail breaks. But the industry is appallingly conservative. 

In forty years there has been only one conspicuous advance. It has not kept pace with the progress of related arts. For this reason, it has become the most hazardous of crimes—not in the commission, that is astonishingly easy; but in the getting away. In a country cobwebbed with telegraph lines and honeycombed with detective agencies, with their disheartening out­posts of stool pigeons and informers, es­cape is yearly getting more difficult.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

London Clubs


By Alfred Kinnear

The Carlton Club, the greatest of English clubs
No city in all the world has so many clubs as London. Nowhere have the social, the political, and the literary elements of national life been so closely associated with Clubland as in the me­tropolis of Great Britain. The somber, richly upholstered club houses of today are the outgrowth of the taverns and the coffee houses. They are the lineal descendants of the Mitre and of Jack Straw's Castle, of the pock pits and the gambling hells.

Present day Clubland extends in a zig­zag course from the bottom of Waterloo Place along Pall Mall, up St. James' Street, to the middle of Piccadilly. It occupies that quarter of fashionable London through which Don Juan drove on his first arrival in the capital city of England.

Over the stones still rattling, up Pall Mall,
Through crowds and carriages—but waxing thinner
As thunder'd knockers broke the long seal'd spell
Of doors 'gainst duns, and to an early dinner
Admitted a small party, as night fell—
Don Juan, our young diplomatic sinner,
Pursued his path, and drove past some hotels,
St. James' Palace and St. James' "Hells."

Today those broad streets are flanked by stately buildings, mixed with curious, unpretending edifices—the shops of hatters and of wine merchants, of saddlers and silversmiths, of dealers in ancient sporting prints and of one lonely pawnbroker. Even the tawdry, draggle tailed tavern pushes its beery head out between the most exclusive clubs of modern existence—the bait house of the gentleman's gentleman, el­bowing its way into line with the jealous­ly guarded home of the aristocracy of England. Tankards of ale at six cents a pint can be bought by the lounger from the street corner beneath the very windows of the Reform Club. The prime minister of England, the most noble the Marquis of Salisbury, as he looks out from the drawing room of his town house in Arlington Street, gazes over into the bleary eye of a common public house. St. James', with all of its aristocratic exclusiveness, has more of the curious anomalies of a true democracy than has Fifth Avenue.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dynamite Factory at Ardeer Scotland Making Dynamite Nitroglycerin

By H. J. W. Dam

A Nitroglycerin Hill at Ardeer
The great dynamite factory at Ardeer in Scotland, the largest of its kind, is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Considering the unique and dramatic conditions that prevail among its workers, the neglect of Ardeer hitherto by novelists and dramatists is sur­prising. This may be due, however, to the fact that it is exceedingly difficult for a stranger to obtain access to the factory, while, once inside, the surroundings are rather trying to sensitive nerves. For six hours a day and two days in succession your life depends, at every moment, upon a thermometer.

Great is the thermometer at Ardeer! Nitroglycerin, a teaspoonful of which would blow you to fragments, surrounds you in hundreds and thousands of gallons. It is making itself in huge tanks, gurgling merrily along open leaden gutters, falling ten feet in brown waterfalls, so to speak, into tanks of soda solution, and bubbling so furiously in other cylinders, through the in-rush of cold air from below, that it seems to be boiling. It is being drawn off from large porcelain taps like ale, poured into boxes, and rattled along tramways. In the form of dynamite, it is being rubbed with great force through brass sieves, jammed into cartridges, and flung into boxes; and in the form of blasting gela­tin, it is being torn by metal rods, forced through sausage machines, and cut, wrapped, and tossed into hoppers—all these processes proceeding as rapidly as if it were ordinary olive-oil instead of the deadliest explosive known to man.

English War Correspondents in South Africa Boer War


By Fred A. McKenzie

Winston Spencer Churchill
Pessimists sometimes tell us that life has become a uniform drab, and that all romance has passed away in the dull routine of modern ex­istence. When they say this, they for­get the profession of war-correspondent. Here we have a calling, unknown sixty years ago, that is as full of excitement, uncertainty, and romance as the most greedy adventure seeker could desire. The "special" of a great journal has the world as his field of operations. One month he is witnessing the triumph of modern artillery in a battle between a Chinese and a Jap­anese fleet; the next, he is tracing the ways of Russian diplomacy in Peking. Soon afterwards, he may be hurry­ing off to a minor rebellion in South America, or picturing a phase of the struggle between East and West in the Balkans.

He wakes up each morning conscious that before night he may be off on a journey of ten thousand miles. His prepara­tions for long travel are al­ways made. One special ar­tist, Mr. Melton Prior, has two outfits ready at home, which he calls his "hot" and his "cold" outfits. If his edi­tor asks him to take the after­noon boat express to St. Pe­tersburg, and go from there to Nova Zembla, he has only to send a brief wire home, "Please bring cold bag Cha­ring Cross, twelve mid-day," and he is ready. If Timbuktu is his destination, he needs only substitute "hot" for "cold." In the office of one London daily paper a bag is kept always ready for any man who has instantly to go off to the ends of the earth. Such preparations are ne­cessary. Take one instance alone. Last autumn, Mr. H. S. Pearse, the well-known correspondent of the London Daily News, strolled late one evening into his office. "Things are looking more serious in South Africa. You had better get out as soon as possible." "I'll just have time to catch the train for the South-African mail," he replied. He caught his train, and within three weeks was in the battlefields of Natal.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bluejay Visits the Ghosts


By George Bird Grinnell.

In a certain village there lived Ioi and her younger brother, Bluejay. One night the ghosts went out to buy a wife. They bought Ioi. The presents that they gave for her were not sent back; they were kept. So at night she was mar­ried, and when day came, Ioi was gone from her father's house. For a long time Bluejay did nothing; but at length he felt lonely, and after a year had passed he said, "I am going to look for my elder sister." He started for the country of the ghosts, and on his way he began to ask every one whom he saw, "Where does a person go when he dies?" He asked all the trees, but they could not tell him He asked all the birds, but they could not tell him. At last he asked a Wedge, and the Wedge said, "If you will pay me, I will carry you there." He paid, and the Wedge carried him to the coun­try of the ghosts.

They came to a large village, but no smoke rose from the houses; only from the last house — a big one — they saw smoke rising. Bluejay went into this house, and there he saw his elder sister. She said to him, "Ah, my younger brother, where do you come from? Are you dead?" He answered, "No, I am not dead; the Wedge brought me here on its back."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skirting the Balkans Stamboul, The City of Mosques

by Robert Hichens.

Mosque of Suleiman at Constantinople
Stamboul is wonderfully various. Compressed between two seas, it con­tains sharp, even brutal, contrasts of beauty and ugliness, grandeur and squalor, purity and filth, silence and uproar, the most delicate fascination and a fierceness that is barbaric. It can give you peace or a sword. The sword is sharp and cruel; the peace is profound and exquisite.
Every day early I escaped from the up­roar of Pera and sought in Stamboul a place of forgetfulness. There are many such places in the city and on its outskirts: the mosques, the little courts and gardens of historic tombs; the strange and forgot­ten Byzantine churches, lost in the maze of wooden houses; the cemeteries, vast and melancholy, where the dead sleep in the midst of dust and confusion, guarded by giant cypresses; the lonely and shadowed ways by the walls and the towers ; the poetic glades and the sun-kissed terraces of Seraglio Point.

Santa Sophia stands apart from all other buildings, unique in beauty, with the faint face of the Christ still visible on its wall, Christian in soul, though now for long dedicated to the glory of Allah and of his prophet. I shall not easily forget my dis­appointment when I stood for the first time in its shadow. I had been on Serag­lio Point, and, strolling by the famous royal gate to look at the lovely fountain of Sultan Achmet, I saw an enormous and ugly building, decorated with huge stripes of red paint, towering above me as if fain to obscure the sun. The immensity of it was startling. I asked its name.

"Santa Sophia."

I looked away to the fountain, letting my eyes dwell on its projecting roof and its fretwork of gold, its lustrous blue and green tiles, splendid ironwork, and plaques of gray and brown marble.

Skirting the Balkans In Constantinople Turkey

by Robert Hichens.

The Grand Bazaar in Constantinople
Constantinople is beautiful and hateful. It fascinates and it re­pels. And it bewilders—how it bewil­ders! No other city that I have seen has so confused and distressed me. For days I could not release myself from the obses­sion of its angry tumult. Much of it seems to be in a perpetual rage, pushing, struggling, fighting, full of ugly determi­nation to do—what? One does not know, one cannot even surmise what it desires, what is its aim, if, indeed, it has any aim. These masses of dark-eyed, suspicious, glittering people thronging its streets, rushing down its alleys, darting out of its houses, calling from its windows, mutter­ing in its dark and noisome corners, gath­ering in compact, astonishing crowds in its great squares before its mosques, blacken­ing even its waters, amid fierce noises of sirens from its innumerable steamers and yells from its violent boatmen, what is it that they want? Whither are they go­ing in this brutal haste, these Greeks, Cor­sicans, Corfiotes, Montenegrins, Armeni­ans, Jews, Albanians, Syrians, Egyptians, Arabs, Turks? They have no time or desire to be courteous, to heed anyone but themselves. They push you from the pavement. They elbow you in the road. Upon the two bridges they crush past you, careless if they tread upon you or force you into the mud. If you are in a caique, traveling over the waters of the Golden Horn, they run into you. Caique bangs into caique. The boatmen howl at one an­other, and somehow pull their craft free. If you are in a carriage, the horses slither round the sharp corners, and you come abruptly face to face with another car­riage, dashing on as yours is dashing, care­lessly, scornfully, reckless apparently of traffic and of human lives. There seems to be no plan in the tumult, no conception of anything wanted quietly, toward which any one is moving with a definite, simple purpose. The noise is beyond all descrip­tion. London, even New York, seems to me almost peaceful in comparison with Constantinople. There is no sound of dogs. They are all dead. But even their sickly howling, of which one has heard much, must surely have been overpowered by the uproar one hears to-day,except perhaps in the dead of night.

Skirting the Balkans Athens and Olympia


by Robert Hichens.

Temple of Zeus at Olympia
There are two ways of going from Athens to Delphi: by sea from the Piraeus to Itea and thence by carriage or by motor. Despite the rough surfaces of the roads and the terrors of dust, I chose the latter; and I was well rewarded. For the drive is a glorious one, though very long and fatiguing, and it enabled me to see a grand monument which many trav­elers miss—the Lion of Chaeronea, which gazes across a vast plain in a solitary place between Thebes and Delphi.

Leaving Athens early one morning, I followed the Via Sacra, left Eleusis be­hind me, traversed the Thriasian plain, the heights of Mount Geraneia, and the rich cultivated plain of Boeotia, passed through the village of Kriekouki, and ar­rived at Thebes. There I halted for an hour. After leaving Thebes, the journey became continually more and more inter­esting as I drew near to Parnassus: over the plain of Livadia, through the village and khan of Gravia, where one hundred and eighty Greeks fought heroically against three thousand Turks in 1821, over the magnificent Pass of Amblema, across the delightful olive-covered plain of Krissa, and up the mountain to Delphi.

Throughout this wonderful journey, during which I saw country alternately intimate and wild, genial and majestic, and at one point almost savage, I had only one deception: that was on the Pass of Amblema, which rises to more than eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. Delphi, I felt, ought to be there. Delphi, I believed, must be there, hidden some­where among the rocks and the fir-woods, where wolves lurk, and where the eagle circles and swoops above peaks which are cold and austere. Only when we began to descend in serpentine curves, when I saw far below me great masses of olive-trees, and, beyond, the shining of the sea, did I realize that I was mistaken, and that Delphi lay far beyond, in a region less tragically wild, more rustic, even more tender.

Skirting the Balkans Environs of Athens


By Robert Hichens

Temple of Athene, Island of Aegina
Upon the southern slope of the  Acropolis, beneath the limestone precipices and the great golden-brown walls above which the Parthenon shows its white summit, are many ruins; among them the Theater of Dionysus and the Odeum of Herodes Atticus, the rich Marathonian who spent much of his money in the beautification of Athens, and who taught rhetoric to two men who eventually became Roman emperors. The Theater of Dionysus, in which Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides produced their dramas, is of stone and silver-white mar­ble. Many of the seats are arm-chairs, and are so comfortable that it is no uncom­mon thing to see weary travelers, who have just come down from the Acropolis, resting in them with almost unsuitable airs of unbridled satisfaction.

It is evident to anyone who examines this great theater carefully that the Greeks considered it important for the body to be at ease while the mind was at work; for not only are the seats perfectly adapted to their purpose, but ample room is given for the feet of the spectators, the distance be­tween each tier, and the tier above it being wide enough to do away with all fear of crowding and inconvenience. The marble arm-chairs were assigned to priests, whose names are carved upon them. In the thea­ter I saw one high arm-chair, like a throne, with lion's feet. This is Roman, and was the seat of a Roman general. The fronts of the seats are pierced with small holes, which allow the rain-water to es­cape. Below the stage there are some sculptured figures, most of them headless. One which is not is a very striking and powerful, though almost sinister, old man, in a crouching posture. His rather round forehead resembles the very characteristic foreheads of the Montenegrins.

Herodes Atticus restored this theater. Before his time it had been embellished by Lycurgus of Athens, the orator, and disciple of Plato. It is not one of the glori­ously placed theaters of the Greeks, but from the upper tiers of seats there is a view across part of the At­tic plain to the isola­ted grove of cypresses where the famous Schliemann is buried, and beyond to gray Hymettus.

Skirting the Balkan Peninsula In and Near Athens Greece

by Robert Hichens.

Parthenon at Athens
What Greece is like in spring, I do not know, when rains have fallen round Athens and the country is green, when the white dust perhaps does not whirl through Constitution Square and over the garden about the Zappeion, when the intensity of the sun is not fierce on the road to the bare Acropolis, and the guar­dians of the Parthenon, in their long coats the color of a dervish's hat, do not fall asleep in the patches of shade cast on the hot ground by Doric columns. I was there at the end of the summer, and many said to me, "You should come in spring, when it is green."

Greece must be very different then, but can it be much more beautiful?

Disembark at the Piraeus at dawn, take a carriage, and drive by Phalerum, the bathing-place of the Athenians, to Athens at the end of the summer, and though for just six months no rain has fallen, you will enter a bath of dew. The road is dry and dusty, but there is no wind, and the dust lies still. The atmosphere is mar­velously clear, as it is, say, at Ismailia in the early morning. The Hellenes, when they are talking quite naturally, if they speak of Europe, always speak of it as a continent in which Greece is not included. They talk of "going to Europe." They say to the English stranger, "You come to us fresh from Europe." And as you drive toward Athens you understand.