E. Katherine (Emily Katherine) Bates.

Kaleidoscope: shifting scenes from east to west online

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Eontion :


[All Eights Reserved.]

Richard Clay and Sons, Limited,
london and bungay.










It has always appeared to me that one of the most
beautiful sayings attributed to Madame de S^.vigne is com-
prised in five French words, " Tout connu, tout sera
pardonnS." If it were not gilding the lily, I would add,
" Tout connu, tout sera compris."

They teach us a lesson valuable in all relations of life —
more especially valuable in literature, where the character
of a country, or of an individual, is in question — namely,
that no man or woman can write a worthy criticism upon
any subject with which he or she has not some strong

A rabid Evangelical clergyman might as well attempt a
Life of Shelley as for any one to write upon America or our
own colonies who is not conscious of some bond of attraction
between himself and these countries.

Mr. Froude, in his popular Oceana, went to the other
extreme, as many think, of fulsome flattery, and yet failed to
please everybody.

Possibly the butter was too thickly spread, even for colonial
throats, or perhaps the general howl of indignation arose, in


the first place, amongst those who were unfortunately, but
inevitably, left out of the account altogether, to consume
their dry bread in the background.

However this may be, poor Froude's name in Australasia
is as the red rag to the Colonial bull.

No doubt, in the case of New Zealand, his very pessimistic
account of that country's financial state came too near the
truth to be pleasant.

Although Froude may have rightly considered it his duty
to warn the " old country " of the rotten condition of many
New Zealand investments, there is still something to be
said from the point of view of New Zealand capitalists who
maintain that many investments of a perfectly bond fide
character, suffering merely from temporary depression, were
hopelessly wrecked by the wild panic which set in on the
publication of Ocearia.

America is a country which arouses my admiration, interest
and sympathy.

I went to the Colonies expecting to have all three at least
equally excited, and the result was disappointment; the
practical outcome of this being that the months I had
intended to^ spend in Australia dwindled down to weeks.

Australia, as a whole, appears to me, I must confess, most
uninteresting ; a second or third rate England, with the sub-
stitution of a "climate" for our own fogs and bitter winds.

Many will say, " But surely Australia is very like America ? "
So it is — as a caricature. It has all the "bumptiousness"


and self-assertion of America without her originaHty ; all
the energy for money-grubbing without her enthusiastic
ambition to possess what is noblest in art and literature
when the money is made.

I met some few Australians (jpur et simple) who were alto-
gether charming, and I trust will remain friends for life,
but I believe they would be the first to indorse my opinion
of the people as a whole.

I spoke to many young Colonial girls on the subject, who
were bewailing the too brief Paradise of a visit to the
" old country," and saw how much those who had
any intelligence deplored the empty, unsatisfactory life
surrounding them.

" It has taken us quite a year to settle back into the old
grooves again," said one young lady to me, speaking of a late
visit with her mother and sisters to England.

"You have so much in the old country, and we have
nothing here but sunshine, and one gets too much even of
that in the long, hot summer days."

It is not so much the absence of art that one deplores in
Australia. That is inevitable in such a young country. It
is the absence of all enthusiasm for it and interest in it.

" The proof of the pudding is in the eating." These
rich people, who will give thousands of pounds to build
palaces to live in, consider five shillings quite " an out-
side price " for any musical or dramatic entertainment.
The consequence of this is, that the best artists have at


length learnt wisdom, and decline " to go through so
much to do so little," as the child said about learning' his

Mary Anderson lately cancelled her Australian engage-
ment, and neither Irving nor Ellen Terry seems likely to
make one. A leading Melbourne newspaper, in mentioning
the small success of a really fine pianiste who had been
giving some musical recitals in that city, added in a patroniz-
ing way, " Madame S. is certainly a delightful iJianistc, but
we do not care much about music just now in Melbourne ;
we have had enough of it for the present" — as though a
lame man should boast of his infirmity, or a bHnd man rejoice
that he could not see the sun !

The Boston Quartett Society, admitted to be one of the
finest in the world, returned bankrupt from a colonial tour,
although I believe a Christy Minstrel entertainment drew
large houses at the same time.

The enterprising manager of the latter, whom I came
across in Tasmania, boasted of his success to me.

" / know how to fetch them," he said. " None of your
sonata and Beethoven business in Australia. It loon't go doivn
there. Black a man's face and give him a comic song to
sing : that is the only way to draw an audience out here."

I fear there is too much truth in this assertion.

Mechanical head-work, here as elsewhere, is at a terrible
discount. There are only three possibilities open to the
fortune seeker : —


(1) Exceptional luck or exceptional shrewdness in specu-
lation ;

(2) Strong muscles for labourers' work ; or

(3) An amount of brain power that would make its mark
anywhere, but would rise to the top of the tree here, where
the competition of real talent is of course less than with us.

Mediocre ability seems to fare much the same here as in
England ; that is to say, it pays its way and does no more.
Mind or muscle above par win all the prizes.

Were I a man, with strong physical or mental endowments,
I would certainly choose Australia as the best theatre for the
exercise of them ; but I would not spend an unnecessary
penny in the country.

I should practise strict economy during my years of
" exile," and the moment I had " made my pile " should
take the first ship back to the old country.

This, by the way, is one of the prettiest things about
Australians. Even grey-headed men who have never left their
own shores, young men and maidens, all talk of England as
"home" or the "old country."

If a man of sixty who has never previously set foot outside
of Sydney or Melbourne, sail for England, it is always spoken
of as his " going home," — a little bit of poetry that fits in
queerly enough with the prose of life out here.

And now, having shown by these remarks, taken in con-
junction with my opening sentences, that I am absolutely and
hopelessly disqualified as a critic on matters colonial, what


remains for a thoroughly consistent vjoman to do but here-
with commence, or rather continue, her criticisms on the
subject ?

I shall, however, pass with a light hand over a country of
which I saw little, because I cared less, and after tanying a
while in the far more home-like and congenial atmosphere of
New Zealand, take my readers with me over some beaten
tracks in China, Japan, and Alaska; trusting to the magic of
individual experience to shed some new interest over well
known scenes.

Every one travels over the whole world nowadays. The
unknown in geography has vanished, as time and space seem
to be vanishing in these days of telephones and phonographs.

It is not to what one writes about, but to the way in
which one writes about it, that an author must trust nowadays
for his success.

Verily " there is nothing new under the sun," but every
man and woman can avoid being a bore if he or she will
speak and write simply and truthfully of what each one really
saw or thought ; without straining after fine effects or correct-
ing individual experience by the light of what other people
expect you to say or think, or to have seen, under any given
















JAPAN {continued) 187









Start for Tasmania-^Reasons for avoiding Red Sea route — Shaw Savill
line — S.S. Ionic — Cliques on board ship — Conversational diffi-
culties — Entertainments on board — Teneriffe, Santa Cniz, the Peak
— A mild dose of the Tropics— The Cape of Good Hope, Table Rock,
and the Twelve Apostles — Rough weather at sea — Accidents on
board — Poor Jonah ! — Arrival in Hobart Town — Difficulties of a
sea captain's life — A new career suggested for superannuated
captains — Mount Wellington — Agricultural possibilities of Tasmania
• — Absence of men — Social life — " Hen Conventions " — Small-pox
outbreak — A honeymoon in quarantine — The domain — Botanical
Gardens — Exquisite flowers— A trip to New Norfolk— Salmon
preserves — Gorgeous birds — On the Huon River^Tasmanian coal —
Franklin — An enterprising young woman — An intelligent jeweller
— Hobart Cathedral — A subtle sermon — Sir John Franklin In

Having made up my mind to joiu the friend with whom
I. had previously travelled in America, in the Australasian
Colonies, I took passage to Hobart, Tasmania, in one of the
two- direct lines which ply between London, Plymouth, and


New Zealand ; touching at Teneriffe, the Cape of Good
Hope, and Hobart en route.

My reason for avoiding the more popular line by the Suez
Canal lay in the time of year when I was leaving England.

It seemed to me that the Red Sea in the month of
August must suggest a very "thin sheet of tissue paper"
between ourselves and the infernal regions.

There is in fact one. ghastly story told (and I have reason
to know, an authentic one) of a certain voyage made by
one of the Orient line of steamers, when no less than nine
unfortunate men and women (including the doctor) suc-
cumbed to the terrible heat of the Red Sea in that month.

This no doubt was a very exceptional case. Still it
seemed wiser to be upon the safe side, and I had no
reason to regret my choice of the " Shaw, Savill and
Albion " line, or the Fate which carried me on board the
Io7iic, one of the three steamers chartered by that line
from the White Star Company.

Curiously enough — from the bad sailor point of view —
this second experience of a White Star steamer, landed
me after " forty-two days out " with a perfect immunity
from seasickness.

Of the voyage itself, I must confess that my recollections
are scarcely rose-tinted, in spite of this lucky escape.
Cliques are doubtless the invariable and inevitable result
of a long sea-voyage. In fact, any old traveller, gifted
with observation, who has been on board ship even for a


week, will be able to gauge pretty accurately the probable
" fortuitous combination of atoms of humanity."

Some trifle — the choice of a seat at dinner, the position
of a deck chair next to your own, some small civility ex-
changed with a fellow passenger — will suffice to begin an
acquaintance which may develop into a friendship, and is
pretty sure to form the nucleus of a clique. Emerging
after breakfast, one naturally foregathers with those to
whom one has already spoken ; walks the deck with them
and sits near them, when the tropical heat makes walking
a nuisance.

A few more, perchance, are added to the charmed circle,
and so the much-abused " clique " is formed, and one's
companionship for the voyage becomes a fait accompli.
Judicious travellers will always take care to make their
deck acquaintances apart from those who sit near them
in the dining-saloon, or they will find a forty-two days'
voyage too crucial a test of their conversational powers. It
is quite difficult enough to find material for a hundred
and forty-six meals, without providing " deck padding " in
addition to this.

I remember a dear old lady friend of mine, spending some
months in a Roman j^cnsion, where she had been given the
place of honour next to the lady of the house, requested at
last to be allowed to go down to the bottom of the table
and work her way up again, so as to relieve them both
from the perpetual rcchauffd of old subjects of conversation,

B 2


It seemed to me a daring^ but "rand idea, and mig-ht be
imitated with advantage on many ocean trips to the rehef
of all parties concerned.

I should suggest a sort of " general post " every week,
and think this would go far to break up some of the too
solid lumps of ship society.

The only practical drawback lies in the question of
stewards' " tips," but this could be easily arranged through
a general dinner and breakfast fund, to be equally divided
at the end of the voyage.

Although " cliques " on board are inevitable, still there
are cliques and cliques.

Because you j&nd special sympathy with certain human
beings in a crowd and prefer their society, it is surely not
necessary to glare at the rest of the world as though their
very existence were an insult to you ; nor to ignore the
courtesies and amenities of life, endeavouring to monopolize
for yourselves or your friends the best of everything that
may be going in the way of the most comfortable seats at
the various entertainments or the most prominent " parts "
in those entertainments.

It is thig absence of the courtesy which marks the conduct
of well-bred people towards each other, and ujDon which
society hangs, that accounts for much of the heart-burning
and many of the disagreeables attending a long voyage with
a mixed company.

Ours was almost exclusively a " colonial mixture," and


the behaviour of its component parts did not tend to bias
one in favour of the country beforehand. Here, as every-
where else, the men of course have the best of it. A man
can take shelter from the strife of feminine tongues, in that
city of refuge, the " smoking-room," and there philosophize
at his ease over the small wars that may be raging down
below, even though his own womankind should be foremost
in the fray.

Our kind and genial captain certainly did his best to
" resolve " all the discords, and draw the canopy of peace
around the whole thirty first-class passengers, but his efforts
scarcely met with deserved success.

For the first week, I struggled manfully against the tide,
endeavouring to be pleasant and genial to everybody. After
that, I recognized the hopelessness of the attempt, and
floated with the " English contingent " — almost the only
two thorough gentlewomen in our saloon.

When entertainments, musical, dancing, or dramatic, are
given on board these ocean steamers, it is customary for
the first and second saloon passengers to send reciprocal in-
vitations, and I thought that we might have taken many a
lesson in good manners from the latter.

When ive gave a concert in our saloon, there seemed
to be a general scramble amongst us for the best seats ;
whilst our second-class guests were allowed to wander in
unwelcomed, and seat themselves as best they might, and
often in very inferior places.


When they gave an entertainment, all the best seats
were left unoccupied until our arrival ; one of the gentlemen
stood at the entrance to the saloon to receive and welcome
us, and show us to the best places at his disposal. Surely
a practical reminder that money and good manners are
oftentimes divorced !

Having left Plymouth on Saturday, August 13th, we
sighted Tenerifife about 6 A.M. on Thursday, August 18th.
Unfortunately, Santa Cruz, where we dropped anchor, is the
least beautiful part of the island. Orotave, which has become
of late years so popular a health resort, is some miles from
the port, a hilly and beautiful drive over to the other side
of the island.

We landed in small boats, which rocked and tossed in a
way to make one appreciate the calm start from Plymouth
and the apparent immovability of the Ionic. Alas ! appear-
ances are deceitful ! Later we became well acquainted with
the rolling powers of our " steady old steamer ! "

At Teneriffe we breakfasted at a small hotel, walked
through a hot baking little square, and a dull little hilly
town, where ironmongers and basket and straw hat makers
seemed to "divide the honours" of manufacture.

The public garden looked mournful and deserted, but a
few pretty tropical plants and shrubs held up their heads in
defiance of dust and heat, and brightened the scene.

Our few passengers for Orotave were quickly disembarked,
some provisions taken in, and we returned to our ship with


the curious feeling of relief that one experiences on similar
occasions after a few hot tiring hours on shore.

Steaming out of the harbour at noon, we had a grand
view of the famous Peak of TenerifFe looming high above
our heads, and so once more out at sea, and Heigh ho for
the Tropics !

I must say the Tropics treated us very well on this occasion.
We had certainly four or five days of uncomfortable heat,
when the daily walks were abandoned, and deck chairs were
at a premium, but out of the eight days within this region
two or three were positively cool, and I had good reason to
congratulate myself on the choice of route.

On Tuesday, September 4th, we sighted the Cape of Good
Hope, every passenger on board being up at 6 a.m. or earlier,
to watch this most interesting coast-Hne.

The curiously-shaped mountains known as the " Lion's
Head," the " Twelve Apostles," &c., were in turn recognized
as we steamed into the bay, whilst high above the town
towered the famous Table Rock, whose outline on this perfect
summer's morning lay clear and sharp against a cloudless
blue sky.

Few are so fortunate as we were, in seeing this curious
rock to advantage, for it is generally enveloped in clouds
and mist.

Cape Town lies in horse-shoe form round the bay, and
under shelter of this rock, and must be extremely hot and
relaxing in consequence.


Far away on the opposite coast stretches the beautiful
deep blue, mysterious-looking range of the Kiraberley
Mountains, losing itself in the dim, dim distance.

This also is the road to the Diamond Mines, and to the
famous Weinberg, whence comes the Costantia wine. Un-
fortunately we had not time to take this drive, which occupies
from four to five hours.

So we engaged some very shady-looking hansom cabs, and
drove round the dusty hot colonial town, on the Kluft

Sunday seems to be strictly observed here, so the town was
empty and forsaken, and we saw little of interest, except
some women dressed in grand yellow and green silk dresses
with enormous crinolines.

The population appeared to be a motley collection of Dutch
Boers, Hottentots, and English.

The " west end " of Cape Town consists of some pretty
villa-like houses, stretching far away to the left, as you face
the harbour from the town.

The heat on the morning of our visit was intense,
although it was only spring-time here. If the summer heat
is in any sort of proportion to it, it must be unbearable. I
find, however, that the seasons are almost as variable and
changeable out here as in Old England, and the experience
of one year seems no criterion for the next.

Returning to our ship about noon, we sailed for Hobart,
eighteen or nineteen days without further sight of land.


After leaving the Cape the weather became rovigh, cold,
and dreary. The constant rolling of the ship is most
irritating and trying to the nerves, even when it has no
worse results.

To perform a sort of impromptu " sword dance " amongst
bags and portmanteaus in your cabin three or four times
a day does not tend to raise the spirits or calm the

White suits, straw hats, tropical garments in general were
laid aside, and every available rug and wrap produced. It
is difficult to make people believe or remember that nearly
every sea-voyage has a greater proportion of cold than hot
days. Nothing is more difficult than to realize when you are
very hot that you will ever again feel very cold, and con-
sequently many people who should know better, start ill
prepared to meet the biting winds that are sure to come
before the voyage is ended.

Four or five little unprotected children, going to Hobart
under charge of the second saloon stewardess, suffered
terribly in this way, and would have suffered more had this
kind woman not begged and borrowed flannels and shawls
from the passengers in their behalf.

They were being sent on to join their father and mother
(the former an Enghsh officer) in Tasmania, and I suppose
the relations who packed them off must have had rather
vague geographical notions. Probably they had heard that
Hobart had a fine warm climate, and never remembered the


bitter cold of the very southerly route taken by this direct
line of steamers.

It was very quaint to see the youngest of the flock, a
sweet, dark-eyed little witch of four years old, trailing
about the deck in a " grown-up " Shetland shawl which
made quite a long train for her. She was the pet and
darling of the whole ship, and a terrible little flirt withal,
but we all succumbed to the witchery of her dark eyes
and the bribery of her kisses.

Even our most stiff and pompous old Colonial (a very
mine of wealth if you could buy him at your price and
sell him at his own) unbent when this tiny sorceress
clambered on his knee, and I actually heard him one day
giving her a true and faithful account of the " little pigs
going to market."

The old gentleman had been somewhat of a "gay
Lothario " in younger days, and lived upon this reputa-
tion, taking great pains to hide the dilapidations of Time
under a very lively and devoted manner to the fair sex.
So it was rather hard upon him, when the little puss, in
return for the history of the pigs, put one caressing tiny
hand upon the old beau's few remaining grey hairs, and
said, in a patronizing way, " You9' hair is beginning to
groiu ! "

This voyage brought the usual casualties when the
rough weather had fairly set in. One afternoon was
especially disastrous. One young lady was thrown violently


down against tlie bulwarks by a tremendous wave, having
her cheek cut completely open just below the Une of the
eye. A lady's maid was knocked down by the same wave,
but escaped with a severe sprain; and a young man
standing near them also fell, and was badly strained in
the back.

There seems to be a special Providence over children
on board ship, but one little girl of five years old had
her head cut open by tumbling down the " companion
way," one evening when we were all sitting quietly at

By far the saddest and most serious catastrophe, how-
ever, happened to a young Scotch lady on her way to
New Zealand to help a married brother and his wife in
bringing up a large young family. Paralysis of the optic
nerve came on quite suddenly one afternoon, a fortnight
after leaving England ; and for the rest of the voyage
she had to remain a prisoner in her cabin, with eyes
thickly bandaged, and the " dead light " fastened down day
and night. Of course we took it in turns to try and
relieve the tedium of her existence under these distressing
circumstances, but talking in pitch darkness is not an easy
matter, and those who are sensitive to " atmospheres " w^U
find their conversational powers at a very low ebb if they
are ever forced to make the experiment.

The weather continued so determinedly rough and bad
that we began to look with suspicion upon the only cleric on


board — a very harmless young curate, going out to the
colonies for two years in search of health — who gained the
sobriquet of " Jonah " by resenting so deeply the captain's

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Online LibraryE. Katherine (Emily Katherine) BatesKaleidoscope: shifting scenes from east to west → online text (page 1 of 17)