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"Such a climate (to quote the words of a letter to the present writer), "I suppose, does not exist anywhere else. Eden probably may have been like it, and it may bless the second Paradise. I am infatuated, I know, about that group of islands. But shivering in our own foggy, murky islands, rasped and aggravated by east winds, depressed by sunless gloom, you cannot imagine the influence of a climate in which cold and heat, floods and drought, all that we call weather, are alike unknown; where the sun smites not by day nor the moon by night. I don't agree with D'Israeli that happiness is atmosphere,' but people seem to feel more amiable under the glittering blue of Hawaii, amidst the glories of an endless summer."
Her 'Six Months in the Sandwich Islands,' published in 1875, was her first book of travels. It was not an unknown field, but Mrs Bishop, with her characteristic love of detail, filled up graphically what other visitors had left little
more than in outline. She brought us much closer than any previous writer to the marvellous volcanoes and fire-fountains of the islands, which she explored with much care, and found, as others have found, so singular as to baffle description. But her usual experience in the Hawaiian Archipelago was like a vision of Paradise, and it made her think sadly of English slums. Of a particular day spent at Hilo she says:
"The atmosphere and scenery were so glorious that it was possible to think of nothing all day, but just allow one's self passively to drink in sensations of exquisite pleasure. I wish all the hard-worked people at home, who lead joyless lives in sunless alleys, could just have one such day, and enjoy it as I did, that they might know how fair God's earth is, and how far fairer His Paradise must be, if even from this we cannot conceive of the things which He hath prepared for them that love Him.' I
never before felt so sad for those whose lives are passed amidst unpropitious surroundings, or so thankful for my own capacity of enjoying nature."
Returning by San Francisco and the American continent, Mrs Bishop found a new outlet for her adventurous spirit among the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. 'A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains' is the record of this excursion. She had found the beautiful in Hawaii, and now in the Rocky Mountains the sublime. From a convenient centre she would sally forth on horseback and ride fifty miles a-day.
"The scenery that can thus be seen is indescribably magnificent, and seems to dwarf all other. Its features are unique-pine the only foliage. It has a vastness, grandeur, solitude, mystery, under the spell of which one is constantly kept, and there is an undoubted peculiarity in the rarefied air, the steppe or plain from above the level of the sea." range rises being 5000 feet
Her mode of life she thus delineates in a letter to the present writer :
"I am well as long as I live on horseback, go to bed at eight, sleep out-of-doors, or in an unchinked log cabin, and lead in all respects a completely unconventional life. But each time that for a few days at Honolulu or San Francisco I have become civilised, I have found myself rapidly going down again. I know all the mysteries of camping life, can find a blind trail with something of Indian instinct, and I have the character of a very expert horseman. I write horseman, because I have been living for ten months where sidesaddles are not recognised, and if you saw me on my mustang, and a peaked Mexican saddle with great wooden stirrups and Mexican spurs, if you did not say it was 'neither brute nor human,' you would say 'neither man
'Untrodden Tracks in Japan' records a far more daring undertaking than any of the preceding. Many a traveller has described what is ordinarily to be found in the "Land of the Morning Sun," but Miss Bird was perhaps the very first European to explore the island of Yezo or Yesso, the second largest of the 3500 islands that constitute the Japanese empire. The island is one mass of mountains, and for a lady who was suffering from weakness of the spine, the toil and pain and peril of the undertaking were something appalling. For though she travelled ostensibly in one of the rude carriages of the country, she had to get out ever so often in the day whenever a pass had to be ascended or descended; and even when she remained sitting, she was not sure of her seat, the vehicle might be overturned in a sea of mud, as it was on one occasion, soaking and ruining her garments, in which, wet as they were, she had to spend the night. The inhabitants of Yezo are not Japanese, but the remains of an earlier race whom the Japs dispossessed of the island of Nippon, the chief part of the country. They are a primitive and attractive people, retaining some interesting customs from a remote antiquity, and some simple virtues. It sometimes appalled her to think that she was utterly alone and unprotected among a barbarous people. But the Ainos, as they are called, are of so gentle and harmless a disposition that she found she could go among them with perfect safety.
The Malay Peninsula was the next sphere of her travels-the "Aurea Chersonesus" of Ptolemy,
the "Golden Chersonese" of Milton. Perhaps the Peninsula of Malacca would have been rather a
meagre subject for a whole volume, but as "the way thither" is included, we have an interesting glimpse of the Chinese empire, and of two of its chief cities, Hong-Kong and Canton. Of the peninsula itself, too, it must be said that many fairly intelligent persons have very misty conceptions, which our author helps to make more accurate. It would puzzle not a few to tell in what country Penang and Singapore are situated, and how they came into British possession. But Mrs Bishop's main interest is in the natives of the peninsula, and here she has much to tell us of no little interest. It seems characteristic of the lady traveller to make and record those minute, varied, and vivid observations of life, character, and customs, of which her books are full. No man would be so painstaking and so patient. If the tracks which she follows along the peninsula are not wholly unbeaten, the European feet that have trodden them are but few. And after all, it is only the west side of the peninsula that has been fully explored; the east side on our maps is still but a skeleton.
In her latest publication, which contains her travels in Persia, Kurdistan, and adjacent countries, Mrs Bishop comes for the first time into close contact with Mohammedanism. She had seen a little of it in the Malay Peninsula, but more now. And her impression of it is very bad. We have no room to follow her tracks through these countries; but one thing calls for special notice at a time when the civilised world stands aghast at the Armenian atrocities. Mrs Bishop had seen and heard enough of the disgraceful treatment of Armenian Christians by the Kurds to make her blood boil. Many a scandalous
tale of oppression, robbery, cruelty, and perfidy had she heard; when she returned to this country, her heart was full of their woes; she strove by conversation, by lectures, by articles, to arouse public attention, and if we remember rightly she addressed a meeting of Members of Parliament, to give them information of what she had seen and heard.
In all her varied peregrinations Mrs Bishop has come much in contact with Christian missions and missionaries. Her interest in their work is intelligent rather than enthusiastic: its difficulties cannot escape her; the failings of many of its agents are obvious enough; but she has strong faith in the cause, and great admiration for the many devoted men and women who are working so heartily for the welfare of their race.
The last two or three years have been spent by Mrs Bishop in Corea, Japan, and China. She has visited Corea no less than four times, once before the war, and then after it, being very desirous to learn what effect the war had had on the Coreans.
So keen was her interest in that people that, having heard that some of them had passed over from Corea into Russia, and were doing well, she made a journey to Vladivostock to make personal inquiries. The rapidity with which she flits from one country to another, and from one end of a country to another, makes it hard to follow all her wanderings. The last we have heard of her is that she had started on a four months' journey up the Yangtse river, a distance of three thousand miles. The book which she is now preparing will deal with these regions, but especially with Corea, and will no doubt contain much new and interesting information.
When we announce the name of Miss Constance Frederika Gordon Cumming as our next lady traveller, we shall doubtless be felt by many of our readers to be bringing them into the company of a personal friend. If we must make a distinction between travellers and tourists, we are afraid that in strictness Miss Gordon Cumming would rank among the latter, for in her wanderings it is chiefly ground more or less familiar that she has traversed. But she has visited so many countries, and written of them so fully and so well, as to entitle her to a kind of emeritus rank among travellers. Indeed there is not a quarter of the globe where she has not been, and about which she has not written. Her 'prentice hand she tried on her own country, following the track of Samuel Johnson 'In the Hebrides'; 'From Cornwall to Egypt' brought her to Africa; her two largest works, 'In the Himalayas' and 'Wanderings in China,' grapple with the two greatest empires of Asia; she has certainly been in Japan, though we do not think she has written about that country; 'Granite Crags' describes no doubt a very limited part, but still a part of the great American continent, being mainly concerned with the Yōsemité Valley in California; and over and above, her 'At Home in Fiji' shows that she has been among the islands of the South Pacific, as her 'Fire-Fountains ' evidences her acquaintance with those of the North Pacific Ocean. We may well rank her among the farthest travelled, whether of the women or men of our time; and she has the great merit of having not rushed from country to country, but of having stayed long enough in each to get steeped as it were in its ways and features, and thus
to be able to reproduce it not mechanically but in living form.
As a writer Miss Gordon Cumming is undoubtedly the most popular of our lady travellers. Her style is clear, fluent, and animated; she has the artist faculty of grouping details effectively, and drawing a picture in true perspective, giving you a good
idea of the tout ensemble. But more remarkable, perhaps, is the cheerful tone in which she writes: full of enjoyment herself, she communicates her happy feelings to her readers, and on you go in her company enjoying everything. No doubt she is an optimist, and wherever she goes she sees the best of everything. And if her colours sometimes are rather too bright, and her feelings too sanguine, it is surely a pardonable defect. Miss Gordon Cumming has the knack of mingling her personality with her narrative; you do not forget her in the story she tells; but so far from this being an offensive property of her style, it is really an advantage: it gives reality and animation to her writing, and impregnates it the more with her own feeling.
And there is likewise the play of humour-not too frequent, but sufficient to brighten here and there a languid page. And it matters not if the laugh be directed against herself. In 'Granite Crags' she tells of her party
"halting for luncheon at a pretty cottage covered with trailing hops; a cheery peasant woman, like an English farmer's wife, came out to greet us, and to welcome us to a 'square meal' with good roast-meat, and the invariable big teapot. I profited by some spare minutes to work at my sketch of the 'Dead Giant,' whereat the old lady was vastly entertained. "Why,' said she, 'you must be the lady I hear them talk of who makes
pictures just like a man! And-why, dear me, you wear a man's hat! Why, I do believe you are a man! Come now, do tell me, aren't you a man really?' I tried hard to make her believe that it was quite correct for English ladies to wear wide-brimmed soft felt hats, but the effort was hopeless. Neither she nor any of the women in the valley could believe it, and I felt really glad when an essentially feminine and goldenhaired Englishwoman arrived there, wearing a ditto. Why my poor little water-colour paint-box should be considered masculine I cannot say, but it attracted great notice in the valley, as something quite unknown even to most of the tourists,-the artistmasculine, armed with cumbersome oil paints, being the only specimen of the genus known in the Sierras.”
We should be doing great injustice to Miss Gordon Cumming if we did not take emphatic notice of a feature that elevates her travels above the level of mere pleasure-adventures-her spirit of humanity, and lively interest in all that is fitted to brighten and elevate the lives of the races among whom she has been. In this, as in other particulars, Mrs Bishop and she thoroughly agree. In Christian missions she is deeply interested, and no more pleasing or gratifying view of a missionary transformation could be found anywhere than in her book‘At Home in Fiji.' The degraded condition of women in India deeply impressed her, and the work of Zenana missions and of female medical missions found in her a very cordial friend. But of all the manifestations of a philanthropic spirit which her books present, none is so interesting as her episode in Wanderings in China' on teaching the blind to read. We have reason to know that her efforts in this cause have not been limited to writing a chapter of a book, but that she
has sought earnestly to promote it in many ways at home.
The Polar Gleams' of Miss Helen Peel, a daughter of Sir Robert, though an extremely pleasant book to read, need not detain us long. With the exception of a tolerably full description of the ways of life of the natives of Northern Siberia, it contains little with which Arctic voyagers have not already made us familiar. Its interest is chiefly as a picture of the experiences of a young lady to whom the gaieties of fashionable life and the luxurious sensations of the yacht had become alike insipid, and who, having an invitation to join some vessels under contract to deliver 1600 tons of rails for the great railway that is to cross Siberia, jumped at the offer, and at short notice, as her friends put it, was "off to the North Pole." Not that she actually fulfilled the oft-expressed hope of eating strawberries and cream at that point of the earth's surface; but having touched latitude 74° N., she was probably as near it as any of her country women have ever been. So excited was she by the prospect of her journey that she forgot to provide fur dresses appropriate to the Arctic regions; but, after all, the cold did not harass her.
It was on board the steam-yacht Blencathra, once the Pandora, under the experienced command of Captain Wiggins, that Miss Peel bore off towards the realms of perpetual ice and snow; and if a comfortable ship and a skilful commander could only have counteracted the miseries of seasickness, there would have been nothing but pleasure in all the voyage. Yet her buoyant spirit refused to be subdued even by days of misery; and when she passed the dim shores of Novaia
Zemlia and was actually floating on the Kara Sea-the first lady that had ever been there-when the waters of the Yenisei river lapped the ship, and when she could date her letters with the dismal name of Siberia, her joy was exuberant. It was a great sorrow when the ship's head was turned homewards. But a better opportunity presented itself of enjoying the coasts and fiords of Norway. When the Blencathra ceased to hug the shore and launched out into the North Sea, the sensation was hardly less terrible than that which must have been experienced when, according to the ballad, Sir Patrick Spens set sail on the return voyage from "Norroway":
"They hadna sailed a league, a league, A league but barely three, When the lift grew dark, and the wind grew loud,
And gurly grew the sea."
"No sooner were we in the North Sea than my miseries began afresh. Squalls and hail-storms raged with violence, and we were rolled about unmercifully. I was indeed wretched. Keeping as best I could to my berth, I felt, although so near, I might never see my home again; and my fear was greater than I can describe. Hours dragged on; the three days seemed endless. For want of fresh air and something to do, I opened my porthole to cool my excitement; but before I had time to realise this act of thoughtlessness, I found myself thoroughly cooled down and well drenched as a punishment for such imprudence. A huge wave had worked itself into my cabin; volumes of water simply inundated me and my berth. However, without losing presence of mind, I used all my strength to close the port-hole. I was completely cured of sea-sickness!"
Without claiming an unusual share of the gift of prophecy, we think we may safely predict that this will not be the last of