Page images


the skull-cap worn beneath it, for his camera ; instantly the throng which I paid three dollars; but those rushed at him and tried to peer into of the best quality, made of human the strange little box, when I seized hair and the finest bamboo, cost as my opportunity. Hearing the click, much as one hundred and fifty dollars the crowd turned and scurried back (nearly £15).

to me, when my companion in turn On reaching the main streets we took them. Then, shouldering our resolved to patronise the tramway way through the laughing mob, and purchased tickets at the small intensely amused at their own defeat, office at one of the stopping-places. we jumped on another tramcar and A car soon came up and we took our were rattled back through the city seats. The genial young Japanese and out by the gate where we had conductor spoke a little English and, originally entered.

originally entered. From here evidently proud of his accomplish- walked back to the Station Hotel. ment, entered into conversation with Thus ended our brief glimpse of us. Noting the Corean hat which I the capital of Corea. We returned had just purchased, he said to me, to Chelmulpo, and on the same even“You have buy?” On my replying ing our steamer sailed for Japan. in the affirmative he continued, The following day found us in the “How much you pay ?” I told him,

I told him, magnificent natural harbour of Fusan, whereupon he burst out laughing. & land-locked bay surrounded by an "Oh, you dam fool” he cried and amphitheatre of rounded hills. A slapped me genially on the back, large fleet could shelter there with rather to my astonishment. How ease, and a few forts would make ever, his mirth was contagious, and I the place impregnable. Its position joined in the laugh against myself, on the south-east corner of Corea, while our Corean fellow-passengers, within a day's steam of Japan, makes though ignorant of the joke, all it & point of special interest to the cackled merrily.

Japanese, who would strongly resist The car shot along through the its passing into the hands of any wide, dingy streets, over small bridges powerful and possibly hostile nation. crossing broad drains, and out through Fusan was the last spot of ground the tunnel-like arch of the gate in they possessed on Corean soil after the city wall into the country beyond. their invasion in former times. For The road narrowed down until the centuries they have maintained a luxuriant foliage of the trees met small colony in the town, which is, overhead, and the line ended about a to all intents and purposes, a Japanese mile from the walls. On our return settlement. Almost the only steamers we left the car at the gate, to take which visit the port are the vessels photographs, but we had not reckoned of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha which on the insatiable curiosity of the ply between Taku and Nagasaki or Corean. A crowd speedily gathered ; Vladivostok, and Japan, and Japanese and no

camera in engineers are building a railway position than

throng of men, across Corea from Seoul to Fusan. women, and children pressed closely It would be but natural that the up and strove hard to look in through Russians should cast envious the lens. Entreaties and curses prov- eye on Fusan; and equally natural ing equally unintelligible to the good- is it that Japan should object to humoured mob, at last we employed their establishing themselves in a strategy. One of our number raised harbour so magnificently equipped





by Nature and so near to her own officials have left him thriftless and consts.

lazy. Of what use is it to endeavour The docile, phlegmatic Corean to lift himself from the slough of counts for little in the schemes of poverty when, at the first appearance more powerful nations. His country of wealth, he will be forced, under has been for centuries the cockpit of pain of imprisonment, torture, or Eastern Asia; and only his want death, to disgorge the fruits of his of active patriotism and his prompt toil? Thus commerce is left to the submission to his conquerors have foreigner; and the Corean is content saved him from extermination. Cheer- with a bare livelihood and asks but ful and hard-working by nature, long a peaceful existence. years of oppression by corrupt



I AM perfectly well aware that A search of this kind is about the tramps are not generally supposed to best test of a man's character. If he be specially gifted with imagination, is charitable, easy to be imposed upon, nor with much love for the pic- and in no great hurry, he will search turesque; yet from my personal ex- leisurely, taking out the different periences of these tattered nomads, articles deliberately, one by one. He I have found them to be almost as will most likely bring out his own richly endowed with those qualities pipe and tobacco pouch, and, while as their outward appearance would handing over the match-box, also suggest. And surely, it must require press upon his unfortunate brother some imagination to concoct those a pipe-full of the weed. If he does pitiful tales by which tramps gener- all this without becoming excited or ally succeed in lightening the pockets losing his temper, then the borrower of the unsophisticated but charitable is pretty sure of a credulous ear to pedestrian. Like the victims of the his oral fiction, and at the end of Sirens, if you are tempted to stand the narration, perhaps half-a-crown to and listen to one of these dulcet help him along his weary way. strains you are lost, or at least you I am by nature a patient listener have parted with something which to the woes of the tatterdemalion may, or may not, be valuable to you, fraternity. Perhaps a strain of the according to the fashion in which you same Bohemian blood runs in my regard filthy lucre.

veins. I admire, as they do, lonely You are passing along a road when roads and pleasing landscapes. I am one of these interesting specimens of fond, as they are, of perpetual change, the picturesque meets you and accosts and enjoy uncertainty as they do. you with this preliminary request : Method becomes obnoxious when it is “ Please, sir, could you oblige me forced upon me. I like, as they do, with a light ?" Now a light is what old coats and disreputable trousers, no smoker can possibly refuse if he and value much more the chance has one about him. You must stop pipe of borrowed tobacco than I do and begin to search your pockets as my own special brand, naturally, and as readily, for the Of course I do not always give full tramp, as you would for an ordinary credence to the stories which they traveller. It is what you would ask, favour me with, although I am if you wanted the article, and met generally filled with admiration at some one on a lonely road who seemed the invention displayed. This, joined likely to give it.

to the histrionic gifts exhibited by While the intended victim is rum- the narrators, generally lures from me maging in search of the match-box, à certain fee, as my tribute to their which has got into some out-of-the- abilities. It is so pleasant to sit way corner of his pocket, the tat- down by the side of a stile, in a tered prowler is studying his probable country road on summer afterprospects before beginning business. noon, with an expert liar beside one,


[ocr errors]



modulating his trained voice to a He has grown up as a professional pathetic self-pitiful strain, all the roadster all his life. His mode of while watching you with his crafty existence, is one void of care and eyes to see the effect of his sad story: responsibility. As rule, it is It is pleasant to have your ears almost as rare to see a dead tramp as: tickled in this soothing manner, it is to see a dead donkey. They while your eyes are gratified by the a hardy and long enduring spectacle he presents to you, his race, and may be met of all ages, stage effect as it were ; à figure, from helpless babyhood to sturdy draped by Time, in a fashion of its and unwashed veteranism ; but I. own, with æsthetic bleachings of never yet encountered

very colours and gradations of tones suf- decrepit specimen, although I have ficiently subtle to charm the most met many who could feign all the critical perceptions, with fringes and ailments of poor humanity to serve, fluttering edges, patches, and addi- the purpose of the moment. tions to suit the convenience of the If it is a youthful tramp, he will wearer, that no costumier could begin conversation by asking how far imitate, unless perhaps he were of it is to the town beyond the one you Chinese or Japanese extraction. have just left, also perhaps the time.

The real professional is not to be He will not shock you by asking for mistaken, when once you get to know a light, as he prefers leaving you him thoroughly, for the temporary under the impression that he has not tramp,—that is to say the tramp who get acquired this bad habit. He is a lives by the road for the mechanic virtuous, if humble, young man, who out of work, who may be merely has lost both his parents and means seeking for employment.

of living by the collapse of a coalThe real article never wastes his mine, and is generally dirty enough valuable time in seeking for work, to make this statement seem feasible. and he would despise a mate who He is looking out for work, and has would dream about such an undesir- been on the outlook since that deable consummation to his day's march plorable accident in the mine. He nearer home.

has tramped all that day, and the day Possibly such an adept began life before, without breaking his fast, as the brat of a beggar, and was while his last meal consisted only of initiated into his honourable craft a dry crust. At this juvenile stage with his first lispings, having served in his life the tramp has to content before that date as an unspeakable himself with coppers, being too young object for compassion ; therefore the and inexperienced to get up pathos road is his only and true home. Such strong enough to draw forth silver a one will avoid Unions as much as from his patrons. He has not prache possibly can, because he does not tised enough to be able to drop a tear like to work for his night's shelter. with subdued effect; it is the middleHe has rarely any need to go into aged widower who can do that to persuch places. If he knows his trade fection. at all, night seldom falls upon him This adept accosts you pleasantly, without finding him fully provided, and while you are searching for the and there are jolly places where match, remarks cheerfully about the tramps congregate at nights by the condition of the crops and the state way, and compare notes like the of the weather. He is a hopeful merry mendicant pilgrims of yore. wanderer so far as the prospect of



future work is concerned. If he can if he cannot raise commiseration in manage to get a sickle, on trust, until your bosom. He will not leave you, he can afford to purchase one, he is when once he has got a hearing, until sure of a job at bean-cutting, which he has roused either the one emotion will carry him along first-rate until or the other. As rags are his stock the hopping-season begins. He has in trade, the raggeder your dog can got his pipe filled and lighted at make him the better prospect he has your expense, yet still he lingers, with the next customer; therefore, as extending his confidences, and glid- he has no cause for resentment, he ing gracefully into the pathetic. A does not feel it. broken leg was the first of his disas- I am taking up my subject from & ters, followed by the loss of his dear natural history point of view, and wife, and a lingering illness which wish to deal with it dispassionately gradually reduced his wardrobe to its and fairly. I do not look upon the present state of dilapidation. He tramp in the same light as I would exbibits his pawn-tickets as vouchers regard a whom unmerciful of the truth of his tale. They are all disaster has driven from the ranks of there, silent witnesses of his former respectability into the hopeless mire respectability, although of no more of destitution. Such a one is not a use, having run out their time ; a tramp, although he may be compelled vest, nine pence, a coat, fifteen pence, to consort with them, and most likely and so on.

“The price of that sickle may have to die among them. Such and a bed for to-night, is the whole a hopeless wreck, with his bitter that is wanted to make a man once hatreds, disappointed ambitions, envy. more out of as miserable a wreck as ings, withering wishes, and impotent

a you might meet in a day's march,” desires, can no more be compared he concludes, wiping the furtive tear with the pure-bred mendicant than away with his rag of a handkerchief. can a wild tiger-cat newly caged be If lucky, the bereaved one walks off, compared with the domestic favourite with the tears of gratitude in his who serves to ornament our hearthleery eyes, and the price of that sickle

rugs. in his twine-tied pocket, while the Like the cat, it has taken many affected donor feels, for the passing generations to form the nature, as moment, a better man as he once well &8 to harden the hide, of the more turns a dewy gaze towards tramp,-in fact to make him the spreading Nature.

object that he is. A Romany has Of all the variety of tramps whom some of the qualities necessary, but I have come upon in my wanderings he is too conservative and tribal, after the picturesque, I never yet met with too many traditions to hinder either a vindictive or a grateful one. his progress towards the traitless You may blaspheme at one of them perfection required. He is not until you are on the verge of a fit cosmopolitan enough in his ideas. of apoplexy, and he will only reply He does something occasionally for a gratefully, “ Bless yer, sir, for them living, —plaiting rushes, telling forkind words." Set the house-dog after tunes, painting his caravan, househim to the further dilapidation of breaking, or poaching—each of which his time-worn habiliments ; you can- requires exertion and brain.power. not hurt his feelings or rouse him up The genuine tramp has grown beyond to the point of harbouring revenge.

all effort. He can lie Auently, beAbuse is what he naturally expects, cause to do this requires no effort,

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »