IT is an odd sort of fortune to have lived an out-of-the-way or adventurous life. There is always a temptation to tell of it, and not always a reasonable surety that others share the interest in it of the conteur himself. It would, indeed, be a nice problem in the descriptive geometry of narrative to determine the exact point where the lines of the two interests meet, — that of the narrator and that of the people who have to endure the narration. I cannot say that I ever hope to solve this problem ; and in the present instance, especially, I would respectfully submit its solution to the acuter intellects of others. Those persons, for example, who were good-natured enough to read in the last July number of this magazine the account of my juvenile experiences as a negro minstrel can decide for themselves whether it is worth their while to accompany the same adventurous youth across the ocean, with such scant provision for the voyage and for a two years’ sojourn in the Old World as they will see stated in the title of this paper, There is certainly some merit in telling the truth, for it is hard work when one is his own hero, and not what is sometimes termed a moral hero at that. I can claim this merit from the start, with a meekness almost bordering on honesty ; since it happens that I am forced into veracity by the fact that there are scores of people yet in the prime of life who are cognizant of the main events of this narrative.
I cannot tell when the idea of going abroad first came into my mind, but, in a little journal kept in my thirteenth year while travelling with the minstrels, I find the fact that I was going to Europe alluded to as a matter of which there was not the shadow of a doubt. There is a jolly sort of beggar in San Francisco who says hope is worth twenty-five dollars a month. It must be that I shared with him his principal income during the four years of college life which almost immediately succeeded my wanderings as a minstrel, and which launched me again on the world at twenty. What else besides the hope of Continental travel sustained me during those four years I cannot now say. My pecuniary resources for that whole period were so small that they have tapered entirely out of my remembrance. Leaving college, I had served, I recollect, but a few months in the post-office of Toledo, Ohio, when I took a deliberate account of my savings one morning, and was gratified. I found in my possession too large a sum to permit of deferring the realization of my long-cherished dream another day. Counting my money over and over, I could make no less of it than onie hundred and eighty-one dollars, in new United States treasury notes; and I resigned “ mine office,” not with the heart-broken feeling of Richelieu, in the play, but still, like him, with the lingering cares of Europe on my mind.
Not the smallest fraction of this vast sum, I had resolved, should be squandered on the ephemeral railroads of our younger civilization. My treasury notes were to be dedicated, green, votive offerings, on the older shrines of our race. But the city of Toledo is situated about seven hundred miles from the sea, and it now became an interesting question how this distance was to be compassed for — nothing. To a good-natured friend of mine in one ot the railroad offices I explained, nt considerable length, and with no lack, I flatter myself, of boyish eloquence, the great advantage that would accrue to me from a residence in Europe which the liberality of the companies, in the matter of furnishing passes, would tend to prolong, I think he became my convert, for he came to me, several hours afterward, with a long face, and gave me to understand that the railroad officials were in the habit of building no dreams of æsthetics that were not founded on a ground-plan of dollars and cents. At this I became — I do not know which to say — desperately vindictive or vindictively desperate. Any way, the unfeeling conduct of those corporations induced, then and there, a state of mind which led me into an adventure the least calculated, probably, of any in this history to establish my claims as a moral hero. The next morning I brought my trunk down to the depot and had it checked through to New York. The rules seem not to have been so strictly observed then as they are now. The baggagemaster in this instance, at least, taking for granted that I had already secured my ticket, did not ask me to show it; and I was at liberty to stroll about the station all day, listlessly. Just before dusk a cattle-train arrived from the West and brought with it a lucky thought. I scanned the faces of the drovers till I found one that looked benevolent, and the owner of it I engaged in conversation. He was going on East with his cattle the next morning, and I made a plain statement of my case to him. When I had done, he patted me on the back in such a cordial and stalwart manner, that — as soon as I could get my breath — I took it all as a good augury. And so it was. I wish I could reproduce more of the dialogue which took place between this honest Westerner and myself, at that first interview. Some of it, at least, I never shall forget, it impressed me as so extraordinary at the time. I can, however, convey no idea of the contrast between his mild, kindly face and his harsh bovine voice, it may help you to a kind of silhouette view of the situation, if you will take the pains to imagine the frequent excursions of my puzzled attention from his face to his voice, during the scene which immediately followed. He had given me to understand that he had eight car-loads of live stock, and that he was entitled to a drover’s pass for every four carloads. Then he suddenly paused, thrust both hands into the pockets of his longskirted coat, and, feeling about in those spacious alcoves for a silent moment as if in search of something, he asked, in an abrupt bass which seemed to issue from the depths of the coat-tails themselves: —
“ How air you — on cattle ? ”
That was before the days of Mr. Bergh and his excellent society ; but, having consulted the speaker’s benevolent face and not his voice, as the last authority on the meaning of his question, I answered that I was very kind to cattle as a general thing. That, he assured me, was not exactly what he meant ; he wanted to know whether I had ever done any “ droving.” On my intimating that, although I had not had much experience, I was perfectly willing to be of service, “Never mind, never mind, ’ he said ; “ but can you play cards :
“ No,” was my ingenuous reply.
“Now that’s bad,” and he scratched his head vigorously. “ Can you smoke, then ? ”
“ A little,” faltered I
My new-made friend seemed much pleased by this response, and continued : —
“All right; you jist git a lot of clay pipes and some tobaccy, and I ’ll git you a pass ! ”
As I was turning in utter bewilderment to have his strange prescription filled, “ I say, look a here,” he said ; “ take off all that nice harness, or you can’t pass for no cattle-man! I ’ll lend you some old clothes and a pair of big boots. These stock conductors is right peert, they air. You ’ll have to smoke a heap, and lay around careless in the caboose or they ’ll find you out.”
The next morning I took my seat in what he called the “ caboose,” — a sort of passenger-car at the end of the train. When we had been under way about an hour, the burden of my own conscience, or of my friend’s boots, or the contemplation of my unsightly disguise, or the amount of tobacco I had smoked, made me deathly sick, — which, on the whole, was rather a fortunate circumstance. It explained to the conductor why I did not get out at the way-stations to tend my cattle, and it also enabled me to hide my face from the conductor, to whom I happened to be known. I found, as most boys do, that I could smoke better the farther I got from home. What with stopping to let our cattle rest and other delays, it look us nearly a week to reach New York ; but before three days had passed I could perform the astonishing feat of putting my friend’s boots out of the car window, and of smoking serenely the while, without touching my pipe with my hands. All the hotels at which we stopped along the route seemed, like the Crêmeries of Paris, to exult in the importance of a specialité; and that was that they were supported almost entirely by drovers, and assumed, without a single exception that I can call to mind, the device and title of “ The Bull’s Head.” There was a smack of old times in the homely comforts as well as in the moderate charges of these quiet taverns. My expenses on the whole journey from Toledo to the sea were, if I recollect aright, a little over three dollars.
At New York I found that I should be obliged to pay 130 for exchange on my money. This I did, after buying a through third-class ticket to London for thirty-three dollars in currency. My memories of a steerage passage across the Atlantic are rather vivid than agreeable. Among all my fellowpassengers in that unsavory precinct I found only one philosopher. He was a British officer who took a third-class ticket that he might spend the difference between that and a cabin fare for English porter, which he imbibed from morning to night. He announced as his firm belief, after much observation upon the high cheekbones of our countrymen, that the Americans in a few years would degenerate to Indians,— the natural human types of this continent.
It was during the World’s Fair that I arrived in London. My whole life there might be written down under the general title of “ The Adventures of a Straw Hat,” for the one which I wore was the signal for all the sharpers of that great city to practise their arts upon me. They took me for some country youth come up to see the Exhibition, and the number of skittle alleys and thief dens into which they enticed me was, to say the least, remarkable. Through the friendly advice of a police detective, I was finally prevailed upon to purchase a new English hat, and with this, as a sort of aegis, I passed out of the British dominions, without being robbed.— and, indeed, without much of which to be robbed.
At Paris I witnessed the magnificent fetes of the Emperor, and took the thirdclass cars for Strasburgnnd Heidelberg. At this latter city, with a sum equal to nearly eighty dollars in gold, ! proposed, for an indefinite series of years, to become a student of the far-famed Karl-Rupert University. I was not happy in Heidelberg, therefore, till I had experienced the mystery of academic matriculation. All I can recall of that long ceremony now is, that I had the honor of shaking hands — sancte dataque dextra pollicitus est is the language in which my diploma speaks of me, commemorating, I believe, that impressive moment — over my passport with a large-mustached German official ; and that I furthermore had the privilege of paying a fee of eleven guldens and twenty-six kreutzers,— a little over four and a half dollars.
After much search and many unintelligible appeals in bad German, through wellnigh every dingy street of Heidelberg, I finally secured a room for two guldens — eighty cents — a month : and such a room ! It was on the story next to the clouds. It seemed to be cut into the high gable of the gray old German house by some freak or afterthought of the architect. It was reached by interminable staircases and through a long hall, or passage-way, whose unplastered walls were hung with the rubbish of many generations. It was just large enough to permit of my turning round, after furnishing nooks and corners for a bed, bookcase, washstand, and small, semicircular table; but all was neat and clean, for my room was subject, like the rest of the German world, to the regular Saturday’s inundation of soap and water. Directly opposite, on the other side of the narrow street, but far, far below, was the shop of a sausage-maker. If I had been an enthusiast in mechanics, I should have found much consolation in this fact, as well as a great deal " to lead hope on ”; because a sausagemaker’s apprentice is really, if not perpetual motion itself, a strong inductive argument in favor of its future discovery. The one to whom I have alluded kept up a continual hacking, day and night, week-day and Sunday. The sound of his meat-axe met my ears the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night ; it was, in fact, my matin and my angelus bell.
But, by a principle of compensation, which is one of the kindliest things in nature, this little nook had advantages of which prouder apartments could not boast. I never had, before or since, a room in which I could apply myself to study so assiduously or with so great a zest. It seemed to be haunted with the great spirits of those who have trimmed their lamps in garrets and left the world better for their toils. This may have been a boyish hallucination, but I shall always believe that the most glorious view of the famous Heidelberg castle, the Molkenkur, and the lofty peak of the Kaiserstuhl, is to be had from the one narrow window of my aerial niche in the dark German gable. The old castle frowned down upon me from the brow of the mountain just above my head ; and often of an evening have I leaned upon my little window-sill, and gazed up at its ruined battlements and ivy - mantled towers. As they grew dimmer and grayer in the waning light, the rents and seams of centuries disappeared, and the palace of the old Electors used to stand before me in its ancient pride.
It may not be generally known that the day-laborer of America has better food and more of it than many a wealthy burgher of Central Europe. Only the very few, in Germany, can indulge in beefsteaks for breakfast. I soon learned to conform myself to the cup of coffee and piece of dry bread of the German’s morning repast. But as 1 became better acquainted, and gradually more impecunious. I left the cafe where I had before partaken of these luxuries, and betook myself to a baker’s shop, where a breakfast of the same kind was furnished me, in company with marketwomen and others, for four kreutzers,
—about three cents. If I could sometimes have wished for a more liberal allowance of sugar in my coffee, in this humble refectory, I never could complain of a lack of sweetness in the morning gossip of the baker’s redcheeked daughter. But the search for the very cheapest place to get my dinner was not the work of one day, or unattended with some difficulty and much skirmishing. I bethought myself of my sausage-making friend across the way. Indeed, it was a long while before I became so used to the staccato music of his meat-axe as to keep from thinking of him most of the time. Engaged as he was in the active production of food, he must certainly, I argued, know something of cheap dinners. I therefore made a descent on the meatshop one day. No notice whatever was taken of my knock ; so, pushing the door open, I stood be tore a dwarfed, long-aproned, pale-faced boy, who turned his hungry eyes upon me, but did not cease his hacking. I launched forth in the kind— I may say, the peculiar kind — of colloquial German I had learned in my three weeks’sojourn in his country. After I had talked some time, the boy, giving no rest to his meat-axe, but every once in a while looking furtively over his shoulder, asked, “Do you want any Wurst?”
“Sausage? No, no.” And I began again, in my original German, and explained at greater length that I was in search of a place to get a cheap dinner. The boy laid down his meataxe, eyed me a few seconds in awful silence, then glanced apprehensively over his shoulder, took up his meataxe again, and went to work more lustily than ever. There was this much about it : either the boy was deaf, or we stood somewhat in the relation of the two English girls in Hood’s story, — he could speak German and did not understand it, and I could understand German and not speak it. Still, rather pleased than otherwise at such a chance to air my newly acquired speech, and on the whole not a little gratified with my quick mastery of the language, I began in a higher key, and, approaching nearer and nearer, demanded in the sausage-maker’s ear whether he knew of a place to get a cheap dinner. Down went the meat-axe again, and, with eyes and mouth wide open, the boy stood speechless before me. Thus we were both inanely staring at each other, when the back door flew open, and a burly lump of tumid humanity stumbled through it with a curse, wanting to know why the boy was not at work. The poor apprentice caught up his cleaver again, and I faced the man who had just entered.
“ Do you want any Wurst ? ” he asked.
“ No, no.” And I went over the whole story once more, with such perspicuity as shipwrecked patience would naturally inspire in a person thoroughly at sea in a language. In the thick of my oration I detected a cloudy gleam of intelligence spreading itself over the red face of my hearer. My eloquence had touched him at last. I had not quite reached my peroration, when —
“ Doch ! ” interrupted my fat friend, as he pulled me briskly to the door. “ You see that shop, three houses farther down the street ? ”
“Yes,” said I
“You are sure you see the right one ? ”
“ Yes, yes.”
“ Well, you go right down there. There is a Frenchman down there. His wife is from Italy. I think, may be, he can understand the Russian language : I can't ! ”
It was at that moment, I think, I learned to make the distinction between the degrees of benefit one derives from a book-knowledge of a language : it may help you to understand others, but it can hardly be said to help others to understand you. While on this subject, I may be pardoned, I hope, for telling of the more expeditious way I adopted to acquire the other modern tongues, which my subsequent poverty rather than any extraordinary ambition induced me to learn, in order to preserve the disguise of which I shall tell you presently. On going into an unfamiliar country for the first time, I shut myself up in some cheap garret, with a grammar, for a couple of weeks. Then I sallied forth with a pocket-dictionary, and captured some worthless young fellow without friends or employment. To this luckless person I cleaved without mercy. I followed him—if I could not make him follow me—everywhere, and talked at him and made him talk. I argued with him over his three sous’ worth of chocolate, if we were in France, or over his boiled beans and olive-oil, if we were in Italy. I asked him questions about everything, if we walked together in the streets ; and, by the way, is it not truly wonderful how much one has to say, when he has a difficulty in saying it ? You may have noticed that a man who stutters, or has a hair-lip, is always talking. He who learns a new language is invariably troubled with the same fruitful suggestiveness, and often, too, with a more distressful execution. If, therefore, the patience of my friendless tutor would sometimes flag, I would attempt to make him understand my glowing accounts of the comparative wealth of such vagrants as he was in my own prosperous, poor man’s country, advising him to immigrate. This occasionally would have the effect of restoring him to a feeble interest in life. But if he would still persist in his low spirits, and find himself on the verge of asking me why I did not myself go back to my Eldorado of good-for-nothings, where he, no doubt, heartily wished me, then, at that last critical stage of his gloom, I would soothe and cheer him with a penny cigar. Generally speaking, this will not fail thoroughly to overcome your Old World vagabond. He will talk, and even listen, after that. The only difficulty is to know just when to administer to him the cigar : he must not be pampered or spoiled by undue indulgence and luxury. At first, when I commenced my experiments on these unfortunate beings, and I could see them wince under my laceration of their helpless mother-tongue, I had slight qualms of conscience. Learning to quiet these at last, however, I fastened myself on the most intelligent vagrant at hand, with an almost faultless precalculation of my man, and subjected him to my tortures with a triumphant sense of virtue in the act, far transcending, I fancy, that experienced by your enthusiastic savant, when substantiating some pet theory on a living criminal. Nothing, I am sure, ever before impressed me so highly with the modest merit that may lie concealed in vagrancy. It would be positively surprising to any one who has not enjoyed the advantage of this desperate method of mastering the colloquial speech of a country, if I should tell how soon I was enabled by it to drop my humble tutor, and moving out of his neighborhood to some other city in the same State, to utilize and practise upon more pretending persons, in a higher grade of society.
But I must get back to Heidelberg, where the sympathetic reader will not, I trust, have imgained that I went all this time withoutdinners, because the search for one which should be the ultima Thule of cheapness was embarrassing and adventurous. I found a place, at last, where a homely abundant midday meal was furnished me in a private family, for one gulden and twenty-six kreutzers per week, — a fraction over eight cents a day. My supper I took at a Gasthaus, in company with some theological students, at the cost of about four cents. Many of my countrymen, who have spent large sums in endeavoring to live cheaply in the same city, will of course believe nothing of this. They have paid dearly for the privilege of being Americans. They date their experiences from hotels supplied with waiters who speak our language, and have dealt at shops on whose windows they have seen blazoned in golden letters, “ ENGLISH SPOKEN.” They have, in reality, paid the teacher who taught these waiters and those shop-keepers to murder our own vernacular. r
By matriculating at the great University of Heidelderg, I became endowed with all the time-honored privileges of students. I could not be arrested or taken through the streets, if I had been guilty of an ordinary crime ; I could not be confined in a common prison or go to a common hospital, the university having those institutions for its own particular benefit. And poverty seemed there to have lost its curse. The very fact of my being a student put me on a social scale above that of the wealthy merchant. This, however, may have been only in the estimation of the collegians themselves. A fellow-student thought some of going to America, and propounded the following question : “But when I arrive, I shall not have any money, and I shall know nothing of the language of the country ; what shall I do ? ” “ Go to work ! ” said I.
“ What ? manual labor ! I am too aristocratic ! ” That young man, let me add, was then living on an income of one hundred and ten dollars a year. The German student must have his pipe, his beer, and a life of pleasure, at whatever sacrifice. If he is rich, he pays some attention to his personal appearance. You will see him adorned with boots of immense length ; corps caps and ribbons ; the number of his duels scored on his red face in ungainly sword-scars ; and followed by a retinue of sinecurists, in the shape of great ugly worthless dogs. His life is a continued sacrifice to the merry gods. He is rarely seen at lectures. Indeed, there is one society or club at the university, the first article of whose constitution reads that, “No member shall, at any time, or on any pretence whatever, after matriculation, be seen in the university building.” On the other hand, if the student is poor, he pays very slight attention to what he wears. He does not the less, however, devote a great portion of his time to beer, tobacco, and the pursuit of pleasure. You will see him at the most frequented beer-houses every night. If you go to the opera, you will observe him also stalking thither, shiveringly, through the wind, his tight pantaloons striking his crane-like legs about midships between his feet and knees, and his shoulders shrugged up in the vain attempt to get more warmth out of an extremely short coat. He looks more like the impersonation of Famine, striding about among men, than the good, honest-hearted fellow that he is. For with all his faults, as our more Puritanical education may lead us to call them, the German student is an honest, generous, noble-hearted fellow. He sees beyond the smoke of his own pipe, and has deeper thoughts than those inspired by beer. His heart swells beyond the bounds of his petty state. His sympathies are as broad as the old German Empire. It is too true, perhaps, that when, in maturer manhood, he becomes angestellt in some life-office in the gift of his little prince, his liberalism slumbers or dies out; but that does not affect the sincerity of his youthful sentiment.
I am sure that I never spoke with one of them, on the subject, who had not some dream of a great united Germany. There was no more interested watcher of our late civil strife than the German student. He felt that the battle then waging for the right of self-government had a connection with his hopes for the future of his own severed land. Germany’s wrongs and the sigh for universal liberty are the burden of his many songs. No higher and no more appropriate eulogy on the German student can be pronounced than to say that, in his university days at least, he is true to the spirit of one of his most beautiful and most popular melodies, “ To the bold deed, the free word, the generous action, woman’s love, and the fatherland.”
By the laws of German universities, a matriculated student is not obliged to pay for more than the lectures of one professor during a semester, — that is, six months. I managed, therefore, to pay for the cheapest and attended as many more as I liked ; so about ten dollars a year were my collegiate expenses. To confess the truth, my calendar and that of the university did not always agree. I often took vacations in session time, in the shape of long excursions on foot, and sometimes disappeared from Heidelberg for weeks together. My Hausfrnu — she that received the princely income of eighty cents a month for my room — at first showed symptoms of anxiety about me ; but she soon learned to be surprised at no wild freak of her aerial lodger. By these tours on foot, — the only philosophical way of travelling, — and by the occasional aid of the cheap third-class cars of that country, I visited all parts of Germany, and learned more of the language, character, and habits of its odd, warm-souled people than I ever could have learned at the great hotels and in the first-class railway carriages. During the long vacations, and especially after leaving Heidelberg altogether, I extended my explorations into remoter parts, — into the Tyrol, Switzerland, Italy, and France. I travelled in a way in which probably no American has ever travelled before or since, namely, disguised as a Handwerksbursche,—a wandering tradesman. Any one who has been in Europe will not ask why a stranger in that land should need to pass himself off as a poor native, if he wants to save money. On the Continent, as a general rule, a man in broadcloth, not personally known to the shop or hotel keeper, pays two prices; whereas a person speaking English, even if clad in fustian, pays three prices ; and I should like to see him help himself. The English language has come to be mistaken for a gold-mine all through Europe. These wandering tradesmen, these Handwerksburschen, let me say, — for they are unknown to nations under free, constitutional governments,— are a sort of fossil remains of feudalism. They are young fellows, half journeymen, half apprentices, who are obliged to wander for two or three years from city to city, working at their trades.
They finally return to their homes, weary and poor; having learned little but the rough side of the world,— to make what is called their “ masterpiece. : If this pass muster, they are entitled to style themselves masters of their trades. They grow out of that old illiberal principle which compels the son to follow in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather. Yet, for all the narrow-minded enactments and regulations to crush their spirit and make them miserable, they always walk on the sunny side of nature. They are a jovial set of vagabonds, who have rarely the chance to be dishonest, if they had the inclination. Disguised in the blouse of their class, — something like our Western “ warmus,” except that it is of thin blue stuff, — I have spent many a happy hour, toiling along the same road with them, listening to their stories and merry songs. If I meet one of them on the highway, he stops, offers me his hand, and exchanges a kindly word. He takes out his pipe, asks me to fill mine from his tobacco-pouch, and tells me all he knows of the road passed over. He never lodges in a city, unless he has work there. The village inn is his castle; here he obtains his bed at night and his breakfast in the morning for seven kreutzers, — not quite five cents ; and trudges on, smoking and singing, through all Europe. This is the Handwerksburscbe, poor, but merry ; the knight-errant of the bundle and staff; the troubadour and minnesinger of the nineteenth century.
In Switzerland, for instance, where almost every one travels as a pedestrian, and where hundreds of our countrymen every year blister their inexperienced feet at the rates of from ten to thirty francs a day, I have journeyed sumptuously — thanks to my disguise — for thirty sous. When addressed in French, if my broken speech was noticed. it was supposed that I was from one of the German cantons ; and, in the same manner, if my bad German was detected, I was set down as from one of the French cantons. This gratuitous naturalization on one day and expatriation on the next had no bad effect whatever on my health, whereas it had the best possible result on my purse. My blouse was a protection, not only to the respectable suit of clothes which I wore under it, but against all the impositions practised upon travellers. When I arrived at a large city or watering-place, I generally hired a little room for a week, found a cheap place to get my meals, and, after settling prices for everything in advance, divested myself of my disguise, and “did” the galleries and promenades, to the accompaniment of kid gloves and immaculate linen
But the glory of pedestrianism is not in cities ; it is in the broad highway, on the banks of mighty rivers, or in the narrow footpath winding over mountains. There is such pleasure and pride in the consciousness that one can go where and when one will, without waiting on coaches or trains. Thirty, forty, or fifty good miles left behind in one day, by the means of locomotion nature has given to every one, are not only a consolation to sleep upon at a village inn, but make the sleep sounder and sweeter. I defy any man not to be proud of his strength, when he finds — as almost every one will, after a little practice — that he can make thirty miles on foot, day after day, with perfect ease. It is, however, just to state that village inns are not always paradises. The hostess sometimes has more lodgers in her beds than she receives money for; but a practised eye generally detects such places at a glance, and rarely exposes the body to their perils. Every village has at least one respectable inn. Before my personal history had taught me this wisdom by excruciating example, I had good reason to believe that the tortures of the Vehmgericht, the old secret tribunal of Germany, were not the things of the past which the world thought them. I had frequent occasion, too, for what might be called an equanimity of stomach. I arrived one evening, for instance, at a small desolate village in the remote eastern part of Bavaria, near the Austrian border. I was weary and hungry, but before mine host of the inn would have anything to do with me, he sent me on a wild chase through innumerable narrow, crooked alleys, in search of the burgomaster to deliver my passport into his hands and obtain his gracious permission to remain over night in the place. The entrance to the mansion of that dignitary was through a cattle-yard. He had probably never before in his life heard of the language of my passport, but that did not prevent his looking at it with an official air of infinite wisdom. I returned to the inn at last, fortified with the requisite credentials. The hostess now appeared, and asked me what I would eat, addressing me familiarly in the second person singular. Her long, tank frame was attired in the abominable costume of the Bavarian peasantry. I could compare her to nothing but a giant specimen of the Hungarian heron, which I need hardly say is not a pretty bird. The same room served as parlor and kitchen. I sat patiently and watched her kindling the fire in the great earthen stove, indulging my mind, as hungry people are wont to do, with rich visions of imaginary banquets. What was my horror to see her take the eggs, which I had ordered, break them one by one into her greasy, leathern apron, and commence beating them vigorously with a pewter spoon ! As soon as I recovered my presence of mind, I considered the folly of remonstrating with her, and, with a great effort, I mildly remarked that she had misunderstood me ; I wanted my eggs boiled. By this stratagem, I preserved my disguise and achieved a cleanly meal in defiance of the leathern apron.
In the mean time, the condition of my finances was becoming hourly more desperate. I had written to innumerable American newspapers, offering to produce a letter a day for five dollars a week, and making all sorts of struggling tenders of brain-work, from which, as a general rule, I heard nothing at all. At last Christmas came, and found me back at Heidelberg, utterly penniless ; over five thousand miles from home, in a country where for a stranger to obtain work was simply hopeless ; since the boys in that densely populated land have to pay for the privilege of learn ing to carry bundles, —a pursuit which is there for three years a necessary introduction to becoming a salesman of the smallest wares. To obtain a situation as beggar was still more hopeless, the competition of native dwarfs and cripples being altogether too powerful for an able-bodied alien. So here was the end of my one hundred and eightyone dollars in currency. I had made what is called the tour of Europe ; and I now had the prospect of immediate starvation for my pains. And yet that Christmas day was, by all odds, the happiest day of my life. For, just at fifteen minutes past eleven o’clock, A. M., the postman knocked at the door and handed me very unexpectedly a letter, containing about twenty-five dollars in our money. It came from an American paper, to which I had written, at least, twenty letters for publication, and twenty-five letters asking for money ; so it was undoubtedly the twenty-five dunning letters that were paid for. And I shall never be so rich or happy again.
So much has been written about the holidays in Germany, that I cannot be expected to say anything new on the subject. It may, however, have been forgotten by some that the Weinachten of the fatherland commence on what we call “ Christmas eve.” This is the great night for children. It is their feast. It is the time they have been looking forward to with such wild, glad, gorgeous anticipation. It is the night of the Christmas-tree; and, in all Germany there is no child so poor as not to get something from its green boughs. Besides this night, Christmas has two whole days, to which respectively there seems to be a logical apportionment of two very important kinds of enjoyment. The first day is assigned to boundless eating, and the second —mildly speaking—to getting drunk; and it is due to the zeal of the Southern Germans, at least, to say that they observe this order of ceremonies with scrupulous exactness. Now, it may be sentimental, or something worse, but I confess I like to dwell upon the time when twenty-five dollars made me perfectly happy. Memory, you may have observed, has a way of painting frescos with the clouds of distant skies that are even prettier than the lay-figures and life-forms which served for the real models. It was. for instance, a quiet little scene of domestic joy, that Christmas of my student life in Germany; yet, somehow, it has grouped itself in my remembrance like the masterpiece of Cornelius, the largest fresco of them all. Frau Hirtel was the domestic little body of whom I rented my airy apartment. Fraülein Anna was her rosy daughter; and this little sunbeam in the house was the only child of the family that I had ever seen ; though many and many a time, the name of Karl, the only son and brother, was upon their lips. Karl was a Handwerksbursche, — one of those houseless tradesmen, before dwelt upon ; and on this Christmas Karl was expected home from his long, long wanderings. The illuminated tree on the night before had been laden with many a gift of affectionate remembrance for the absent Karl. As we sat down to the Christmas dinner, there was a vacant place at the table, and in the hearts of the disappointed mother and sister. They could not touch a morsel.
“ Are you sure he will come, mamma ? ” asked the little Anna, after a long silence.
“ Yes, my child, unless something has happened ; for the way is long from Frankfort, and the poor boy’s feet must be sore with his long, long journey.”
“ What, mamma, if he should n’t come ? ”
Frau Hirtel’s face became very pale, whether at the little Anna’s question, or at the sudden ringing of the shopbell, as the door swung open and shut. The next instant Karl was in the middle of the room. His pack and staff fell at his feet, and Frau Hirtel and the Fraülein Anna sprang into his arms. It was not the merry dinner that succeeded, or the Glίίhwein that made the evening glad, but this one picture which dwells most in my memory. The joy that shone on the careworn and duststained face of the returned wanderer, reflected in those of his mother and sister as they stood in that long embrace, has no parallel that I know of in the history of the return of exiled kings.
With my twenty-five dollars, I lived cheaper than ever, and for some months longer continued my studies at the university. But one morning I received a letter from the same generous American newspaper, enclosing a draft for fifty dollars, together with a very earnest request that the editor should hear no more from me on any account whatever. This good fortune was too much for my mental equilibrium. Heidelberg was too small for me. I started the next day for a trip down the Rhine, deck passage. At Rotterdam I betook myself again to the third-class cars, and occasionally to the bundle and staff. Thus I went through Holland and Belgium, walking leisurely one day over the historic dead of Waterloo. Arriving finally at Paris, I resolved there to take up my residence. By means of a cheap lodging in the old Latin Quarter, and of a cheaper restaurant on the Boulevard Sevastopol, I managed to subsist for several months.
It was here in Paris that I first met my good friend, George Alfred Townsend, the well-known war-correspondent. To him I was afterward indebted for a short, romantic sketch of my life, in which he says, I believe, among other complimentary things, that the faculty of Heidelberg gave me my tuition for nothing, but that I would not stay with them and study, because I thought it too dear! But, seriously, I owe Mr. Townsend a real debt of gratitude, for it was he who suggested that I should write an account of certain of my experiences for one of the London magazines. After the questionable success of my multifarious attempts with American newspapers, I trembled at the temerity of the idea. Yet my money was becoming daily and by no means beautifully less. Neither Mr. Townsend nor anybody else but myself was aware that, at the time of his suggestion, my cash capital consisted of one gold napoleon, a silver five-franc piece, and some three or four sous ; and even this sum had dwindled considerably before I could muster courage to make the attempt. At last, in a fit of desperation, I sat down one morning, with the equivalent of about two dollars in my pocket, and commenced my article. In three days more it was on it’s way to London with an enclosure of British stamps, enough to pay for the letter which should tell me whether it was accepted or rejected.
I shall not dwell long on the painful suspense of the succeeding five or six days ; though I do not remember now my grounds for expecting an answer in so short a period. Up to that time I will venture to say there was not a happier person in the gay capital of France than I had been ; for it is one of the peculiar charms of Paris that it affords abundant amusement for him who spends forty francs a month, as I did, or forty thousand a month, as some do. I cannot explain now, any more than you can believe in, my happiness then. I know only that the beautiful city was delightful, and that I was delighted. The palaces, the galleries, the gardens, the parks, the music, and the wonderful diorama of the evening Boulevards were free, — as free to me, the vagabond stranger, as they were to the greatest prince ; and I had the additional, though not necessarily comfortable, assurance that I always carried away from them a better appetite for the next meal than did even his inscrutable majesty, the Emperor himself. But now that I had the growing cares of authorship on my mind, it dwelt more and more upon the waning disks of my franc-pieces, as they swelled for a time illusively into sous, and then tapered into centimes and disappeared from my gaze forever. At this period I found myself occasionally strolling down to the Seine, and looking over from Pont Neuf at the flood below, swollen with the late rains, and listening to the strange sound it made in the wake of the old stone arches, as it rushed on toward the Morgue, — the famous dead-house, where hundreds of suicides are displayed every year. Have you ever heard the last “bubbling groan” of a drowning man? It you have, you will understand the feeling with which, after listening long and steadily to the low rumble of the eddying water, I have received the impression more than once on that old bridge, that I heard the same fatal gurgling sound in the river beneath ; and you will understand the feeling, also, I think, with which, at such times, I cast a hasty glance at the Morgue, not far distant, and hurried on to the more cheerful neighborhood of the garden of the Tuileries. I would not have you believe that the idea of suicide ever crossed my mind. I merely went and looked into the Seine, on that queer, unexplained principle which impels miserable people, the world over, to haunt wharves and bridges, and to gaze listlessly into water. I have sometimes thought, when I saw servant-girls and others out of employ looking, for instance, from the bridge of boats at Manheim into the Rhine, as into the window of an intelligenceoffice,— I have sometimes thought, I say, that if dogs do go mad from gazing into water, as I think was once believed, they are very miserable dogs, and very much disgusted with the world, before they do it. One day, — the fourth of my suspense, if I remember, — when I was more despondent and hungry than usual, I went and looked in through the grating of the Morgue itself. If I had ever had the least thought of throwing myself into the Seine, this horrible sight would have cured me as thoroughly of it as it did of my appetite for the rest of that day. I feel some diffidence about mentioning a plan — happily abandoned, as you shall see, before put into further execution — which suggested itself to my mind during that hungry week, namely, to visit the Morgue once a day for purposes of economy ; but, luckily, I discovered about this time that the smoking of cigarettes made of cheap French tobacco would perform the same service of taking away the appetite, and I adopted the latter more agreeable means to that end. The fifth and sixth days after sending my article I did scarcely anything but wait about the office for my letter. Finally, a note arrived from Paternoster Row, with just one line of the worst penmanship in it that has ever yet met my eyes ; and the painful suspense was only intensified. The writer evidently said something about my article, but what I despaired of making out. I took the note to my friends, and they were divided about it; some said that the article was rejected, and some that it was accepted. The majority, however, favored the latter opinion, to which, at last, myself was brought, and I was happy. Not long afterward I received a draft from the publishers for a sum which seemed to me at that time almost fabulous, for the amount of work done. After a hearty meal, and as soon as I had time to think, I considered my fortune made. I was now arrived at the appalling dignity of magazinist, — contributor to the widest circulated periodical in the language. I packed my trunk immediately, and started for Italy.
I stayed at Florence all winter, living on the cheapest of food, indeed, but with the very best of company. I haunted the galleries and studios so much that the artists took me for a devotee of art, and never asked me how I lived. At dusk it was my custom to steal away toward my dinner, passing Michael Angelo’s David, forever about to throw the stone across the famous old Piazza, and gliding down a by-street till I came to the market. There, in a little cook-shop, amid the filth and noise of the very raggedest of Florence, I partook of my maccaroni, or, it I was fastidious, of my boiled beans and olive-oil, for seven centesimi, — one cent and two fifths of a cent; my bread made of chestnuts for two centesimi, — two fifths of a cent; and my half-glass of wine for seven centesimi, — my dinner, with a scrap of meat, averaging five cents, and rarely exceeding ten. My glass of wine may be considered an extravagance. It was not. I could stand the bustle, the uncleanliness, and even the staring at a passably well-dressed person in such an unaccustomed place ; but I could not stand the positive amazement expressed by young men and old women, old men and young women, beggars and organ artists, the day when I omitted wine. It was too much for endurance. Public opinion was against me. 1 pretended to have forgotten to order my wine, and turned off the whole affair with a laugh. Many and many a time I have seen a poor old creature, who was often my next neighbor at table, pay two centesimi for bread and seven centesimi for wine, and that was her whole meal. This experience has always helped me to believe the account of that strange incident in the history of the Florentines, given, I think, by Machiavelli, in which it is related that during the Republican days of Florence, when there was a hostile army making an inroad on their territories, the doughty republicans, having gone out to meet it, lay encamped some time not far from Lucca ; and that, suddenly, when the enemy was almost upon them, they revolted, turned around, and marched home again, to let their territory and the fortunes of their city take care of themselves, because the Florentine army had unfortunately got out of wine ! Sometimes I spent my evenings at the cafe, where I always took my breakfast, and where for three soldi, — three cents, — invested in coffee or chocolate, I could sit as long as I liked, reading the papers, or listening to the talk of my artist friends. It was always cheaper for me to go to the opera— taking a very high seat, by the way — than to have a light and a fire in my room. I have seen an opera with a hundred or more people on the stage at a time, in a theatre as large as, and some say larger than, there is in London or Paris, and all it cost me was eight cents. Thus I lived on in the city of art and olives. When my money began to give out again, I thought I would condescend to transmit another article to the London magazine which had made my fortune before. I transmitted another article ; and at the time when I ought to have heard from it I was reduced to the sum of forty francs. Receiving, at last, an envelope with the Paternoster mark upon it, I restrained my joy, and opened it leisurely, making merely the mental resolution that I would dine in state that day ; for this was a longer article than the first one, and the sum which it would bring must be simply enormous. Then I proceeded to read the following letter : —
“ DEAR SIR : — Your article entitled -is respectfully declined ” !
This time starvation was sure ; but I had set my heart on seeing Rome. I thought there would be a sort of melancholy satisfaction in having visited the capital of the ancient world before going to any other new one. I therefore took the next open-topped car for the sea-shore, having previously put my first rough draft of my unfortunate article into a new wrapper, and shipped it off to the editor of a less pretending periodical, published at Edinburgh. I do not remember how or why, but the night after I left Florence I had to he over at Pisa, where I came near being robbed of what little money I had at a miserable, cheap trattoria, not far from the famous Leaning Tower. 1 found a fierce-mustached bandit of a fellow in my room in the middle of the night, stealthily approaching the head of my bed, and scared him away, I shall always believe, by the bad Anglo-Italian in which I expressed my sense of surprise and concern at his untimely and extraordinary conduct. Two days afterward I took a fourth-class, that is, deck passage on the French steamer, sailing down the Mediterranean from Leghorn. I stayed a week at Rome, and came very near staying much longer. It was, indeed, by a miraculous chance that I ever left the Eternal City. I had not money enough to pay the Pontifical tax on departing travellers. It is too long a story to tell here, but I slipped through the fingers of the police, and, arriving at Leghorn again, I had not the ten cents to pay the boatman to take me ashore from the steamer. My trunk, by the way, I had left at Leghorn before starting for Rome ; so that was out of danger, and came properly to hand afterward. As my lucky star would have it, an American bark was lying at anchor in the bay. It was the first time I had seen the “ star-spangled banner ” for two years, and I flew to it for protection. I directed the boatman to take me to the American ship. Standing in the bow of the smaller craft, as soon as she reached the greater one I sprang up the side, and the boatman sprang after me. He detained half of my coat, but I reached the deck, where I kept him at bay with a belaying-pin till some one on the ship was roused ; for it was early in the morning. The ten cents were paid over to the clamorous Italian by a hearty tar, who was moved to see an American in distress, “ with his mainsail carried away,”— I think that is the way the tar phrased it.
The captain of the ship was a warmhearted old fellow from down in Maine. He offered to take me home before I asked him. I had a boyish love of independence, and proposed to work. He said he would n;t be bothered with me ; he would take me as his only passenger. We settled the matter at last by my contracting grandly to owe him fifty dollars in “greenbacks.” Our vessel was about twenty years old, and laden with rags and great blocks of marble. We had a terrible storm in the Mediterranean, in which we came near going down. The old craft seemed, however, to have some secret understanding with fate ; for, having shifted her cargo, she floated, wellnigh on her beam-ends, the rest of that desolate ten weeks through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic. I arrived at Boston finally, without a cent. I had directed that all letters should be forwarded from my address at Florence to the care of the merchant to whom our ship was consigned. What was my surprise, then, to be handed by that gentleman an envelope enclosing a draft on London, in pay for the almost-forgotten article, which I had sent in sheer desperation, if not in comprehensive revenge, to that Edinburgh magazine ! Greenbacks were then at their heaviest discount, and English exchange at its highest premium. And thus it happened that I sold my draft for American money enough to pay the good-hearted captain and the patriotic tar, and to take me back to Toledo, my starting-place, after an absence of over two years, at the total expense of a little more than three hundred dollars.
Here, at the proper end of my pilgrimage and of this narrative, while I am figuratively taking off my sandal shoon and hanging up my pilgrim staff, let me say that, although 1 did not set out with any higher purpose than to tell just such a story as I might tell under oath, still I think I discern in these adventures what I may term an ex post facto moral. Let not the reader, however, practise and amuse his ingenuity by attempting to detect this in the pilgrim himself; for, personally, he feels as free from a moral as any pilgrim he has ever seen has been free from superfluous linen. While, therefore, he would not advise any young man to follow directly in his footsteps, yet he hopes he has shown that there are means and modes of travel unknown to the guide-books ; that there are cheap ways for the student and man of limited means to see and learn much for little money. The sight of a sunrise from the Rigid is certainly more than compensation for putting up with a poor breakfast. And the candid traveller, however light his purse, needs never return dyspeptic or misanthropic. Pure air and hearty exercise in the Alps and on the Danube cannot fail to do him physical good ; while he will find in the human nature with which he comes in contact in every land the sum of the good invariably preponderating over that of the evil.