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Following The Equator
A Journey Around The World

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CHAPTER XVI.

Melbourne and its Attractions—The Melbourne Cup Races—Cup Day—Great Crowds—Clothes Regardless of Cost—The Australian Larrikin—Is He Dead?—Australian Hospitality—Melbourne Wool-brokers—The Museums—The Palaces—The Origin of Melbourne

There is a Moral sense, and there is an Immoral Sense. History shows us that the Moral Sense enables us to perceive morality and how to avoid it, and that the Immoral Sense enables us to perceive immorality and how to enjoy it.
—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

Melbourne spreads around over an immense area of ground. It is a stately city architecturally as well as in magnitude. It has an elaborate system of cable-car service; it has museums, and colleges, and schools, and public gardens, and electricity, and gas, and libraries, and theaters, and mining centers, and wool centers, and centers of the arts and sciences, and boards of trade, and ships, and railroads, and a harbor, and social clubs, and journalistic clubs, and racing clubs, and a squatter club sumptuously housed and appointed, and as many churches and banks as can make a living. In a word, it is equipped with everything that goes to make the modern great city. It is the largest city of Australasia, and fills the post with honor and credit. It has one specialty; this must not be jumbled in with those other things. It is the mitred Metropolitan of the Horse-Racing Cult. Its race-ground is the Mecca of Australasia. On the great annual day of sacrifice—the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes’s Day—business is suspended over a stretch of land and sea as wide as from New York to San Francisco, and deeper than from the northern lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; and every man and woman, of high degree or low, who can afford the expense, put away their other duties and come. They begin to swarm in by ship and rail a fortnight before the day, and they swarm thicker and thicker day after day, until all the vehicles of transportation are taxed to their uttermost to meet the demands of the occasion, and all hotels and lodgings are bulging outward because of the pressure from within. They come a hundred thousand strong, as all the best authorities say, and they pack the spacious grounds and grandstands and make a spectacle such as is never to be seen in Australasia elsewhere.

It is the “Melbourne Cup” that brings this multitude together. Their clothes have been ordered long ago, at unlimited cost, and without bounds as to beauty and magnificence, and have been kept in concealment until now, for unto this day are they consecrate. I am speaking of the ladies’ clothes; but one might know that.

And so the grand-stands make a brilliant and wonderful spectacle, a delirium of color, a vision of beauty. The champagne flows, everybody is vivacious, excited, happy; everybody bets, and gloves and fortunes change hands right along, all the time. Day after day the races go on, and the fun and the excitement are kept at white heat; and when each day is done, the people dance all night so as to be fresh for the race in the morning. And at the end of the great week the swarms secure lodgings and transportation for next year, then flock away to their remote homes and count their gains and losses, and order next year’s Cup-clothes, and then lie down and sleep two weeks, and get up sorry to reflect that a whole year must be put in somehow or other before they can be wholly happy again.

The Melbourne Cup is the Australasian National Day. It would be difficult to overstate its importance. It overshadows all other holidays and specialized days of whatever sort in that congeries of colonies. Overshadows them? I might almost say it blots them out. Each of them gets attention, but not everybody’s; each of them evokes interest, but not everybody’s; each of them rouses enthusiasm, but not everybody’s; in each case a part of the attention, interest, and enthusiasm is a matter of habit and custom, and another part of it is official and perfunctory. Cup Day, and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an enthusiasm which are universal—and spontaneous, not perfunctory. Cup Day is supreme—it has no rival. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, which can be named by that large name—Supreme. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, whose approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation and preparation and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one; but this one does it.

In America we have no annual supreme day; no day whose approach makes the whole nation glad. We have the Fourth of July, and Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Neither of them can claim the primacy; neither of them can arouse an enthusiasm which comes near to being universal. Eight grown Americans out of ten dread the coming of the Fourth, with its pandemonium and its perils, and they rejoice when it is gone—if still alive. The approach of Christmas brings harassment and dread to many excellent people. They have to buy a cart-load of presents, and they never know what to buy to hit the various tastes; they put in three weeks of hard and anxious work, and when Christmas morning comes they are so dissatisfied with the result, and so disappointed that they want to sit down and cry. Then they give thanks that Christmas comes but once a year. The observance of Thanksgiving Day—as a function—has become general of late years. The Thankfulness is not so general. This is natural. Two-thirds of the nation have always had hard luck and a hard time during the year, and this has a calming effect upon their enthusiasm.

We have a supreme day—a sweeping and tremendous and tumultuous day, a day which commands an absolute universality of interest and excitement; but it is not annual. It comes but once in four years; therefore it cannot count as a rival of the Melbourne Cup.

In Great Britain and Ireland they have two great days—Christmas and the Queen’s birthday. But they are equally popular; there is no supremacy.

I think it must be conceded that the position of the Australasian Day is unique, solitary, unfellowed; and likely to hold that high place a long time.

The next things which interest us when we travel are, first, the people; next, the novelties; and finally the history of the places and countries visited. Novelties are rare in cities which represent the most advanced civilization of the modern day. When one is familiar with such cities in the other parts of the world he is in effect familiar with the cities of Australasia. The outside aspects will furnish little that is new. There will be new names, but the things which they represent will sometimes be found to be less new than their names. There may be shades of difference, but these can easily be too fine for detection by the incompetent eye of the passing stranger. In the larrikin he will not be able to discover a new species, but only an old one met elsewhere, and variously called loafer, rough, tough, bummer, or blatherskite, according to his geographical distribution. The larrikin differs by a shade from those others, in that he is more sociable toward the stranger than they, more kindly disposed, more hospitable, more hearty, more friendly. At least it seemed so to me, and I had opportunity to observe. In Sydney, at least. In Melbourne I had to drive to and from the lecture-theater, but in Sydney I was able to walk both ways, and did it. Every night, on my way home at ten, or a quarter past, I found the larrikin grouped in considerable force at several of the street corners, and he always gave me this pleasant salutation:

“Hello, Mark!”

“Here’s to you, old chap!

“Say—Mark!—is he dead?”—a reference to a passage in some book of mine, though I did not detect, at that time, that that was its source. And I didn’t detect it afterward in Melbourne, when I came on the stage for the first time, and the same question was dropped down upon me from the dizzy height of the gallery. It is always difficult to answer a sudden inquiry like that, when you have come unprepared and don’t know what it means. I will remark here—if it is not an indecorum—that the welcome which an American lecturer gets from a British colonial audience is a thing which will move him to his deepest deeps, and veil his sight and break his voice. And from Winnipeg to Africa, experience will teach him nothing; he will never learn to expect it, it will catch him as a surprise each time. The war-cloud hanging black over England and America made no trouble for me. I was a prospective prisoner of war, but at dinners, suppers, on the platform, and elsewhere, there was never anything to remind me of it. This was hospitality of the right metal, and would have been prominently lacking in some countries, in the circumstances.

And speaking of the war-flurry, it seemed to me to bring to light the unexpected, in a detail or two. It seemed to relegate the war-talk to the politicians on both sides of the water; whereas whenever a prospective war between two nations had been in the air theretofore, the public had done most of the talking and the bitterest. The attitude of the newspapers was new also. I speak of those of Australasia and India, for I had access to those only. They treated the subject argumentatively and with dignity, not with spite and anger. That was a new spirit, too, and not learned of the French and German press, either before Sedan or since. I heard many public speeches, and they reflected the moderation of the journals. The outlook is that the English-speaking race will dominate the earth a hundred years from now, if its sections do not get to fighting each other. It would be a pity to spoil that prospect by baffling and retarding wars when arbitration would settle their differences so much better and also so much more definitely.

No, as I have suggested, novelties are rare in the great capitals of modern times. Even the wool exchange in Melbourne could not be told from the familiar stock exchange of other countries. Wool brokers are just like stockbrokers; they all bounce from their seats and put up their hands and yell in unison—no stranger can tell what—and the president calmly says “Sold to Smith & Co., threpence farthing—next!”—when probably nothing of the kind happened; for how should he know?

In the museums you will find acres of the most strange and fascinating things; but all museums are fascinating, and they do so tire your eyes, and break your back, and burn out your vitalities with their consuming interest. You always say you will never go again, but you do go. The palaces of the rich, in Melbourne, are much like the palaces of the rich in America, and the life in them is the same; but there the resemblance ends. The grounds surrounding the American palace are not often large, and not often beautiful, but in the Melbourne case the grounds are often ducally spacious, and the climate and the gardeners together make them as beautiful as a dream. It is said that some of the country seats have grounds—domains—about them which rival in charm and magnitude those which surround the country mansion of an English lord; but I was not out in the country; I had my hands full in town.

And what was the origin of this majestic city and its efflorescence of palatial town houses and country seats? Its first brick was laid and its first house built by a passing convict. Australian history is almost always picturesque; indeed, it is so curious and strange, that it is itself the chiefest novelty the country has to offer, and so it pushes the other novelties into second and third place. It does not read like history, but like the most beautiful lies. And all of a fresh new sort, no mouldy old stale ones. It is full of surprises, and adventures, and incongruities, and contradictions, and incredibilities; but they are all true, they all happened.





CHAPTER XVII.

The British Empire—Its Exports and Imports—The Trade of Australia—To Adelaide—Broken Hill Silver Mine—A Roundabout road—The Scrub and its Possibilities for the Novelist—The Aboriginal Tracker—A Test Case—How Does One Cow-Track Differ from Another?

The English are mentioned in the Bible: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

When we consider the immensity of the British Empire in territory, population, and trade, it requires a stern exercise of faith to believe in the figures which represent Australasia’s contribution to the Empire’s commercial grandeur. As compared with the landed estate of the British Empire, the landed estate dominated by any other Power except one—Russia—is not very impressive for size. My authorities make the British Empire not much short of a fourth larger than the Russian Empire. Roughly proportioned, if you will allow your entire hand to represent the British Empire, you may then cut off the fingers a trifle above the middle joint of the middle finger, and what is left of the hand will represent Russia. The populations ruled by Great Britain and China are about the same—400,000,000 each. No other Power approaches these figures. Even Russia is left far behind.

The population of Australasia—4,000,000—sinks into nothingness, and is lost from sight in that British ocean of 400,000,000. Yet the statistics indicate that it rises again and shows up very conspicuously when its share of the Empire’s commerce is the matter under consideration. The value of England’s annual exports and imports is stated at three billions of dollars,—[New South Wales Blue Book.]—and it is claimed that more than one-tenth of this great aggregate is represented by Australasia’s exports to England and imports from England. In addition to this, Australasia does a trade with countries other than England, amounting to a hundred million dollars a year, and a domestic intercolonial trade amounting to a hundred and fifty millions.

In round numbers the 4,000,000 buy and sell about $600,000,000 worth of goods a year. It is claimed that about half of this represents commodities of Australasian production. The products exported annually by India are worth a trifle over $500,000,000.1 Now, here are some faith-straining figures:

Indian production (300,000,000 population), $500,000,000.
 Australasian production (4,000,000 population),    $300,000,000.

That is to say, the product of the individual Indian, annually (for export some whither), is worth $1.75; that of the individual Australasian (for export some whither), $75! Or, to put it in another way, the Indian family of man and wife and three children sends away an annual result worth $8.75, while the Australasian family sends away $375 worth.

There are trustworthy statistics furnished by Sir Richard Temple and others, which show that the individual Indian’s whole annual product, both for export and home use, is worth in gold only $7.50; or, $37.50 for the family-aggregate. Ciphered out on a like ratio of multiplication, the Australasian family’s aggregate production would be nearly $1,600. Truly, nothing is so astonishing as figures, if they once get started.

We left Melbourne by rail for Adelaide, the capital of the vast Province of South Australia—a seventeen-hour excursion. On the train we found several Sydney friends; among them a Judge who was going out on circuit, and was going to hold court at Broken Hill, where the celebrated silver mine is. It seemed a curious road to take to get to that region. Broken Hill is close to the western border of New South Wales, and Sydney is on the eastern border. A fairly straight line, 700 miles long, drawn westward from Sydney, would strike Broken Hill, just as a somewhat shorter one drawn west from Boston would strike Buffalo. The way the Judge was traveling would carry him over 2,000 miles by rail, he said; southwest from Sydney down to Melbourne, then northward up to Adelaide, then a cant back northeastward and over the border into New South Wales once more—to Broken Hill. It was like going from Boston southwest to Richmond, Virginia, then northwest up to Erie, Pennsylvania, then a cant back northeast and over the border—to Buffalo, New York.

But the explanation was simple. Years ago the fabulously rich silver discovery at Broken Hill burst suddenly upon an unexpectant world. Its stocks started at shillings, and went by leaps and bounds to the most fanciful figures. It was one of those cases where the cook puts a month’s wages into shares, and comes next month and buys your house at your own price, and moves into it herself; where the coachman takes a few shares, and next month sets up a bank; and where the common sailor invests the price of a spree, and the next month buys out the steamship company and goes into business on his own hook. In a word, it was one of those excitements which bring multitudes of people to a common center with a rush, and whose needs must be supplied, and at once. Adelaide was close by, Sydney was far away. Adelaide threw a short railway across the border before Sydney had time to arrange for a long one; it was not worth while for Sydney to arrange at all. The whole vast trade-profit of Broken Hill fell into Adelaide’s hands, irrevocably. New South Wales law furnishes for Broken Hill and sends her Judges 2,000 miles—mainly through alien countries—to administer it, but Adelaide takes the dividends and makes no moan.

We started at 4.20 in the afternoon, and moved across level plains until night. In the morning we had a stretch of “scrub” country—the kind of thing which is so useful to the Australian novelist. In the scrub the hostile aboriginal lurks, and flits mysteriously about, slipping out from time to time to surprise and slaughter the settler; then slipping back again, and leaving no track that the white man can follow. In the scrub the novelist’s heroine gets lost, search fails of result; she wanders here and there, and finally sinks down exhausted and unconscious, and the searchers pass within a yard or two of her, not suspecting that she is near, and by and by some rambler finds her bones and the pathetic diary which she had scribbled with her failing hand and left behind. Nobody can find a lost heroine in the scrub but the aboriginal “tracker,” and he will not lend himself to the scheme if it will interfere with the novelist’s plot. The scrub stretches miles and miles in all directions, and looks like a level roof of bush-tops without a break or a crack in it—as seamless as a blanket, to all appearance. One might as well walk under water and hope to guess out a route and stick to it, I should think. Yet it is claimed that the aboriginal “tracker” was able to hunt out people lost in the scrub. Also in the “bush”; also in the desert; and even follow them over patches of bare rocks and over alluvial ground which had to all appearance been washed clear of footprints.

From reading Australian books and talking with the people, I became convinced that the aboriginal tracker’s performances evince a craft, a penetration, a luminous sagacity, and a minuteness and accuracy of observation in the matter of detective-work not found in nearly so remarkable a degree in any other people, white or colored. In an official account of the blacks of Australia published by the government of Victoria, one reads that the aboriginal not only notices the faint marks left on the bark of a tree by the claws of a climbing opossum, but knows in some way or other whether the marks were made to-day or yesterday.

And there is the case, on record where A., a settler, makes a bet with B., that B. may lose a cow as effectually as he can, and A. will produce an aboriginal who will find her. B. selects a cow and lets the tracker see the cow’s footprint, then be put under guard. B. then drives the cow a few miles over a course which drifts in all directions, and frequently doubles back upon itself; and he selects difficult ground all the time, and once or twice even drives the cow through herds of other cows, and mingles her tracks in the wide confusion of theirs. He finally brings his cow home; the aboriginal is set at liberty, and at once moves around in a great circle, examining all cow-tracks until he finds the one he is after; then sets off and follows it throughout its erratic course, and ultimately tracks it to the stable where B. has hidden the cow. Now wherein does one cow-track differ from another? There must be a difference, or the tracker could not have performed the feat; a difference minute, shadowy, and not detectible by you or me, or by the late Sherlock Holmes, and yet discernible by a member of a race charged by some people with occupying the bottom place in the gradations of human intelligence.





CHAPTER XVIII.

The Gum Trees—Unsociable Trees—Gorse and Broom—A universal Defect—An Adventurer—Wanted L200, got L20,000,000—A Vast Land Scheme—The Smash-up—The Corpse Got Up and Danced—A Unique Business by One Man—Buying the Kangaroo Skin—The Approach to Adelaide—Everything Comes to Him who Waits—A Healthy Religious sphere—What is the Matter with the Specter?

It is easier to stay out than get out.
—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

The train was now exploring a beautiful hill country, and went twisting in and out through lovely little green valleys. There were several varieties of gum trees; among them many giants. Some of them were bodied and barked like the sycamore; some were of fantastic aspect, and reminded one of the quaint apple trees in Japanese pictures. And there was one peculiarly beautiful tree whose name and breed I did not know. The foliage seemed to consist of big bunches of pine-spines, the lower half of each bunch a rich brown or old-gold color, the upper half a most vivid and strenuous and shouting green. The effect was altogether bewitching. The tree was apparently rare. I should say that the first and last samples of it seen by us were not more than half an hour apart. There was another tree of striking aspect, a kind of pine, we were told. Its foliage was as fine as hair, apparently, and its mass sphered itself above the naked straight stem like an explosion of misty smoke. It was not a sociable sort; it did not gather in groups or couples, but each individual stood far away from its nearest neighbor. It scattered itself in this spacious and exclusive fashion about the slopes of swelling grassy great knolls, and stood in the full flood of the wonderful sunshine; and as far as you could see the tree itself you could also see the ink-black blot of its shadow on the shining green carpet at its feet.

On some part of this railway journey we saw gorse and broom—importations from England—and a gentleman who came into our compartment on a visit tried to tell me which—was which; but as he didn’t know, he had difficulty. He said he was ashamed of his ignorance, but that he had never been confronted with the question before during the fifty years and more that he had spent in Australia, and so he had never happened to get interested in the matter. But there was no need to be ashamed. The most of us have his defect. We take a natural interest in novelties, but it is against nature to take an interest in familiar things. The gorse and the broom were a fine accent in the landscape. Here and there they burst out in sudden conflagrations of vivid yellow against a background of sober or sombre color, with a so startling effect as to make a body catch his breath with the happy surprise of it. And then there was the wattle, a native bush or tree, an inspiring cloud of sumptuous yellow bloom. It is a favorite with the Australians, and has a fine fragrance, a quality usually wanting in Australian blossoms.

The gentleman who enriched me with the poverty of his information about the gorse and the broom told me that he came out from England a youth of twenty and entered the Province of South Australia with thirty-six shillings in his pocket—an adventurer without trade, profession, or friends, but with a clearly-defined purpose in his head: he would stay until he was worth L200, then go back home. He would allow himself five years for the accumulation of this fortune.

“That was more than fifty years ago,” said he. “And here I am, yet.”

As he went out at the door he met a friend, and turned and introduced him to me, and the friend and I had a talk and a smoke. I spoke of the previous conversation and said there was something very pathetic about this half century of exile, and that I wished the L200 scheme had succeeded.

“With him? Oh, it did. It’s not so sad a case. He is modest, and he left out some of the particulars. The lad reached South Australia just in time to help discover the Burra-Burra copper mines. They turned out L700,000 in the first three years. Up to now they have yielded L20,000,000. He has had his share. Before that boy had been in the country two years he could have gone home and bought a village; he could go now and buy a city, I think. No, there is nothing very pathetic about his case. He and his copper arrived at just a handy time to save South Australia. It had got mashed pretty flat under the collapse of a land boom a while before.” There it is again; picturesque history—Australia’s specialty. In 1829 South Australia hadn’t a white man in it. In 1836 the British Parliament erected it—still a solitude—into a Province, and gave it a governor and other governmental machinery. Speculators took hold, now, and inaugurated a vast land scheme, and invited immigration, encouraging it with lurid promises of sudden wealth. It was well worked in London; and bishops, statesmen, and all sorts of people made a rush for the land company’s shares. Immigrants soon began to pour into the region of Adelaide and select town lots and farms in the sand and the mangrove swamps by the sea. The crowds continued to come, prices of land rose high, then higher and still higher, everybody was prosperous and happy, the boom swelled into gigantic proportions. A village of sheet iron huts and clapboard sheds sprang up in the sand, and in these wigwams fashion made display; richly-dressed ladies played on costly pianos, London swells in evening dress and patent-leather boots were abundant, and this fine society drank champagne, and in other ways conducted itself in this capital of humble sheds as it had been accustomed to do in the aristocratic quarters of the metropolis of the world. The provincial government put up expensive buildings for its own use, and a palace with gardens for the use of its governor. The governor had a guard, and maintained a court. Roads, wharves, and hospitals were built. All this on credit, on paper, on wind, on inflated and fictitious values—on the boom’s moonshine, in fact. This went on handsomely during four or five years. Then all of a sudden came a smash. Bills for a huge amount drawn by the governor upon the Treasury were dishonored, the land company’s credit went up in smoke, a panic followed, values fell with a rush, the frightened immigrants seized their gripsacks and fled to other lands, leaving behind them a good imitation of a solitude, where lately had been a buzzing and populous hive of men.

Adelaide was indeed almost empty; its population had fallen to 3,000. During two years or more the death-trance continued. Prospect of revival there was none; hope of it ceased. Then, as suddenly as the paralysis had come, came the resurrection from it. Those astonishingly rich copper mines were discovered, and the corpse got up and danced.

The wool production began to grow; grain-raising followed—followed so vigorously, too, that four or five years after the copper discovery, this little colony, which had had to import its breadstuffs formerly, and pay hard prices for them—once $50 a barrel for flour—had become an exporter of grain.

The prosperities continued. After many years Providence, desiring to show especial regard for New South Wales and exhibit loving interest in its welfare which should certify to all nations the recognition of that colony’s conspicuous righteousness and distinguished well-deserving, conferred upon it that treasury of inconceivable riches, Broken Hill; and South Australia went over the border and took it, giving thanks.

Among our passengers was an American with a unique vocation. Unique is a strong word, but I use it justifiably if I did not misconceive what the American told me; for I understood him to say that in the world there was not another man engaged in the business which he was following. He was buying the kangaroo-skin crop; buying all of it, both the Australian crop and the Tasmanian; and buying it for an American house in New York. The prices were not high, as there was no competition, but the year’s aggregate of skins would cost him L30,000. I had had the idea that the kangaroo was about extinct in Tasmania and well thinned out on the continent. In America the skins are tanned and made into shoes. After the tanning, the leather takes a new name—which I have forgotten—I only remember that the new name does not indicate that the kangaroo furnishes the leather. There was a German competition for a while, some years ago, but that has ceased. The Germans failed to arrive at the secret of tanning the skins successfully, and they withdrew from the business. Now then, I suppose that I have seen a man whose occupation is really entitled to bear that high epithet—unique. And I suppose that there is not another occupation in the world that is restricted to the hands of a sole person. I can think of no instance of it. There is more than one Pope, there is more than one Emperor, there is even more than one living god, walking upon the earth and worshiped in all sincerity by large populations of men. I have seen and talked with two of these Beings myself in India, and I have the autograph of one of them. It can come good, by and by, I reckon, if I attach it to a “permit.”

Approaching Adelaide we dismounted from the train, as the French say, and were driven in an open carriage over the hills and along their slopes to the city. It was an excursion of an hour or two, and the charm of it could not be overstated, I think. The road wound around gaps and gorges, and offered all varieties of scenery and prospect—mountains, crags, country homes, gardens, forests—color, color, color everywhere, and the air fine and fresh, the skies blue, and not a shred of cloud to mar the downpour of the brilliant sunshine. And finally the mountain gateway opened, and the immense plain lay spread out below and stretching away into dim distances on every hand, soft and delicate and dainty and beautiful. On its near edge reposed the city.

We descended and entered. There was nothing to remind one of the humble capital, of huts and sheds of the long-vanished day of the land-boom. No, this was a modern city, with wide streets, compactly built; with fine homes everywhere, embowered in foliage and flowers, and with imposing masses of public buildings nobly grouped and architecturally beautiful.

There was prosperity, in the air; for another boom was on. Providence, desiring to show especial regard for the neighboring colony on the west called Western Australia—and exhibit loving interest in its welfare which should certify to all nations the recognition of that colony’s conspicuous righteousness and distinguished well-deserving, had recently conferred upon it that majestic treasury of golden riches, Coolgardie; and now South Australia had gone around the corner and taken it, giving thanks. Everything comes to him who is patient and good, and waits.

But South Australia deserves much, for apparently she is a hospitable home for every alien who chooses to come; and for his religion, too. She has a population, as per the latest census, of only 320,000-odd, and yet her varieties of religion indicate the presence within her borders of samples of people from pretty nearly every part of the globe you can think of. Tabulated, these varieties of religion make a remarkable show. One would have to go far to find its match. I copy here this cosmopolitan curiosity, and it comes from the published census:

Church of England, 89,271
Roman Catholic, 47,179
Wesleyan, 49,159
Lutheran, 23,328
Presbyterian, 18,206
Congregationalist, 11,882
Bible Christian, 15,762
Primitive Methodist, 11,654
Baptist, 17,547
Christian Brethren, 465
Methodist New Connexion,    39
Unitarian, 688
Church of Christ, 3,367
Society of Friends, 100
Salvation Army, 4,356
New Jerusalem Church, 168
Jews, 840
Protestants (undefined),    5,532
Mohammedans, 299
Confucians, etc, 3,884
Other religions, 1,719
Object, 6,940
Not stated, 8,046
 Total, 320,431

The item in the above list “Other religions” includes the following as returned:

Agnostics, Atheists, Believers in Christ, Buddhists, Calvinists, Christadelphians, Christians, Christ’s Chapel, Christian Israelites, Christian Socialists, Church of God, Cosmopolitans, Deists, Evangelists, Exclusive Brethren, Free Church, Free Methodists, Freethinkers, Followers of Christ, Gospel Meetings, Greek Church, Infidels, Maronites, Memnonists, Moravians, Mormons, Naturalists, Orthodox, Others (indefinite), Pagans, Pantheists, Plymouth Brethren, Rationalists, Reformers, Secularists, Seventh-day Adventists, Shaker, Shintoists, Spiritualists, Theosophists, Town (City) Mission, Welsh Church, Huguenot, Hussite, Zoroastrians, Zwinglian,

About 64 roads to the other world. You see how healthy the religious atmosphere is. Anything can live in it. Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, Infidels, Mormons, Pagans, Indefinites they are all there. And all the big sects of the world can do more than merely live in it: they can spread, flourish, prosper. All except the Spiritualists and the Theosophists. That is the most curious feature of this curious table. What is the matter with the specter? Why do they puff him away? He is a welcome toy everywhere else in the world.






CHAPTER XIX.

The Botanical Gardens—Contributions from all Countries—The Zoological Gardens of Adelaide—The Laughing Jackass—The Dingo—A Misnamed Province—Telegraphing from Melbourne to San Francisco—A Mania for Holidays—The Temperature—The Death Rate—Celebration of the Reading of the Proclamation of 1836—Some old Settlers at the Commemoration—Their Staying Powers—The Intelligence of the Aboriginal—The Antiquity of the Boomerang

Pity is for the living, Envy is for the dead.
—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

The successor of the sheet-iron hamlet of the mangrove marshes has that other Australian specialty, the Botanical Gardens. We cannot have these paradises. The best we could do would be to cover a vast acreage under glass and apply steam heat. But it would be inadequate, the lacks would still be so great: the confined sense, the sense of suffocation, the atmospheric dimness, the sweaty heat—these would all be there, in place of the Australian openness to the sky, the sunshine and the breeze. Whatever will grow under glass with us will flourish rampantly out of doors in Australia.—[The greatest heat in Victoria, that there is an authoritative record of, was at Sandhurst, in January, 1862. The thermometer then registered 117 degrees in the shade. In January, 1880, the heat at Adelaide, South Australia, was 172 degrees in the sun.]

When the white man came the continent was nearly as poor, in variety of vegetation, as the desert of Sahara; now it has everything that grows on the earth. In fact, not Australia only, but all Australasia has levied tribute upon the flora of the rest of the world; and wherever one goes the results appear, in gardens private and public, in the woodsy walls of the highways, and in even the forests. If you see a curious or beautiful tree or bush or flower, and ask about it, the people, answering, usually name a foreign country as the place of its origin—India, Africa, Japan, China, England, America, Java, Sumatra, New Guinea, Polynesia, and so on.

In the Zoological Gardens of Adelaide I saw the only laughing jackass that ever showed any disposition to be courteous to me. This one opened his head wide and laughed like a demon; or like a maniac who was consumed with humorous scorn over a cheap and degraded pun. It was a very human laugh. If he had been out of sight I could have believed that the laughter came from a man. It is an odd-looking bird, with a head and beak that are much too large for its body. In time man will exterminate the rest of the wild creatures of Australia, but this one will probably survive, for man is his friend and lets him alone. Man always has a good reason for his charities towards wild things, human or animal when he has any. In this case the bird is spared because he kills snakes. If L. J. will take my advice he will not kill all of them.

In that garden I also saw the wild Australian dog—the dingo. He was a beautiful creature—shapely, graceful, a little wolfish in some of his aspects, but with a most friendly eye and sociable disposition. The dingo is not an importation; he was present in great force when the whites first came to the continent. It may be that he is the oldest dog in the universe; his origin, his descent, the place where his ancestors first appeared, are as unknown and as untraceable as are the camel’s. He is the most precious dog in the world, for he does not bark. But in an evil hour he got to raiding the sheep-runs to appease his hunger, and that sealed his doom. He is hunted, now, just as if he were a wolf. He has been sentenced to extermination, and the sentence will be carried out. This is all right, and not objectionable. The world was made for man—the white man.

South Australia is confusingly named. All of the colonies have a southern exposure except one—Queensland. Properly speaking, South Australia is middle Australia. It extends straight up through the center of the continent like the middle board in a center-table. It is 2,000 miles high, from south to north, and about a third as wide. A wee little spot down in its southeastern corner contains eight or nine-tenths of its population; the other one or two-tenths are elsewhere—as elsewhere as they could be in the United States with all the country between Denver and Chicago, and Canada and the Gulf of Mexico to scatter over. There is plenty of room.

A telegraph line stretches straight up north through that 2,000 miles of wilderness and desert from Adelaide to Port Darwin on the edge of the upper ocean. South Australia built the line; and did it in 1871-2 when her population numbered only 185,000. It was a great work; for there were no roads, no paths; 1,300 miles of the route had been traversed but once before by white men; provisions, wire, and poles had to be carried over immense stretches of desert; wells had to be dug along the route to supply the men and cattle with water.

A cable had been previously laid from Port Darwin to Java and thence to India, and there was telegraphic communication with England from India. And so, if Adelaide could make connection with Port Darwin it meant connection with the whole world. The enterprise succeeded. One could watch the London markets daily, now; the profit to the wool-growers of Australia was instant and enormous.

A telegram from Melbourne to San Francisco covers approximately 20,000 miles—the equivalent of five-sixths of the way around the globe. It has to halt along the way a good many times and be repeated; still, but little time is lost. These halts, and the distances between them, are here tabulated.—[From “Round the Empire.” (George R. Parkin), all but the last two.]

MILES: 
Melbourne-Mount Gambier,    300
Mount Gambier-Adelaide, 270
Adelaide-Port Augusta, 200
Port Augusta-Alice Springs, 1,036
Alice Springs-Port Darwin, 898
Port Darwin-Banjoewangie, 1,150
Banjoewangie-Batavia, 480
Batavia-Singapore, 553
Singapore-Penang, 399
Penang-Madras, 1,280
Madras-Bombay, 650
Bombay-Aden, 1,662
Aden-Suez, 1,346
Suez-Alexandria, 224
Alexandria-Malta, 828
Malta-Gibraltar, 1,008
Gibraltar-Falmouth, 1,061
Falmouth-London, 350
London-New York, 2,500
New York-San Francisco, 3,500

I was in Adelaide again, some months later, and saw the multitudes gather in the neighboring city of Glenelg to commemorate the Reading of the Proclamation—in 1836—which founded the Province. If I have at any time called it a Colony, I withdraw the discourtesy. It is not a Colony, it is a Province; and officially so. Moreover, it is the only one so named in Australasia. There was great enthusiasm; it was the Province’s national holiday, its Fourth of July, so to speak. It is the pre-eminent holiday; and that is saying much, in a country where they seem to have a most un-English mania for holidays. Mainly they are workingmen’s holidays; for in South Australia the workingman is sovereign; his vote is the desire of the politician—indeed, it is the very breath of the politician’s being; the parliament exists to deliver the will of the workingman, and the government exists to execute it. The workingman is a great power everywhere in Australia, but South Australia is his paradise. He has had a hard time in this world, and has earned a paradise. I am glad he has found it. The holidays there are frequent enough to be bewildering to the stranger. I tried to get the hang of the system, but was not able to do it.

You have seen that the Province is tolerant, religious-wise. It is so politically, also. One of the speakers at the Commemoration banquet—the Minister of Public Works-was an American, born and reared in New England. There is nothing narrow about the Province, politically, or in any other way that I know of. Sixty-four religions and a Yankee cabinet minister. No amount of horse-racing can damn this community.

The mean temperature of the Province is 62 deg. The death-rate is 13 in the 1,000—about half what it is in the city of New York, I should think, and New York is a healthy city. Thirteen is the death-rate for the average citizen of the Province, but there seems to be no death-rate for the old people. There were people at the Commemoration banquet who could remember Cromwell. There were six of them. These Old Settlers had all been present at the original Reading of the Proclamation, in 1836. They showed signs of the blightings and blastings of time, in their outward aspect, but they were young within; young and cheerful, and ready to talk; ready to talk, and talk all you wanted; in their turn, and out of it. They were down for six speeches, and they made 42. The governor and the cabinet and the mayor were down for 42 speeches, and they made 6. They have splendid grit, the Old Settlers, splendid staying power. But they do not hear well, and when they see the mayor going through motions which they recognize as the introducing of a speaker, they think they are the one, and they all get up together, and begin to respond, in the most animated way; and the more the mayor gesticulates, and shouts “Sit down! Sit down!” the more they take it for applause, and the more excited and reminiscent and enthusiastic they get; and next, when they see the whole house laughing and crying, three of them think it is about the bitter old-time hardships they are describing, and the other three think the laughter is caused by the jokes they have been uncorking—jokes of the vintage of 1836—and then the way they do go on! And finally when ushers come and plead, and beg, and gently and reverently crowd them down into their seats, they say, “Oh, I’m not tired—I could bang along a week!” and they sit there looking simple and childlike, and gentle, and proud of their oratory, and wholly unconscious of what is going on at the other end of the room. And so one of the great dignitaries gets a chance, and begins his carefully prepared speech, impressively and with solemnity—

“When we, now great and prosperous and powerful, bow our heads in reverent wonder in the contemplation of those sublimities of energy, of wisdom, of forethought, of——”

Up come the immortal six again, in a body, with a joyous “Hey, I’ve thought of another one!” and at it they go, with might and main, hearing not a whisper of the pandemonium that salutes them, but taking all the visible violences for applause, as before, and hammering joyously away till the imploring ushers pray them into their seats again. And a pity, too; for those lovely old boys did so enjoy living their heroic youth over, in these days of their honored antiquity; and certainly the things they had to tell were usually worth the telling and the hearing.

It was a stirring spectacle; stirring in more ways than one, for it was amazingly funny, and at the same time deeply pathetic; for they had seen so much, these time-worn veterans, and had suffered so much; and had built so strongly and well, and laid the foundations of their commonwealth so deep, in liberty and tolerance; and had lived to see the structure rise to such state and dignity and hear themselves so praised for their honorable work.

One of these old gentlemen told me some things of interest afterward; things about the aboriginals, mainly. He thought them intelligent—remarkably so in some directions—and he said that along with their unpleasant qualities they had some exceedingly good ones; and he considered it a great pity that the race had died out. He instanced their invention of the boomerang and the “weet-weet” as evidences of their brightness; and as another evidence of it he said he had never seen a white man who had cleverness enough to learn to do the miracles with those two toys that the aboriginals achieved. He said that even the smartest whites had been obliged to confess that they could not learn the trick of the boomerang in perfection; that it had possibilities which they could not master. The white man could not control its motions, could not make it obey him; but the aboriginal could. He told me some wonderful things—some almost incredible things—which he had seen the blacks do with the boomerang and the weet-weet. They have been confirmed to me since by other early settlers and by trustworthy books.

It is contended—and may be said to be conceded—that the boomerang was known to certain savage tribes in Europe in Roman times. In support of this, Virgil and two other Roman poets are quoted. It is also contended that it was known to the ancient Egyptians.

One of two things is apparent, either some one with a boomerang arrived in Australia in the days of antiquity before European knowledge of the thing had been lost, or the Australian aboriginal reinvented it. It will take some time to find out which of these two propositions is the fact. But there is no hurry.







CHAPTER XX.

A Caller—A Talk about Old Times—The Fox Hunt—An Accurate Judgment of an Idiot—How We Passed the Custom Officers in Italy

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

From diary:
Mr. G. called. I had not seen him since Nauheim, Germany—several years ago; the time that the cholera broke out at Hamburg. We talked of the people we had known there, or had casually met; and G. said:

“Do you remember my introducing you to an earl—the Earl of C.?”

“Yes. That was the last time I saw you. You and he were in a carriage, just starting—belated—for the train. I remember it.”

“I remember it too, because of a thing which happened then which I was not looking for. He had told me a while before, about a remarkable and interesting Californian whom he had met and who was a friend of yours, and said that if he should ever meet you he would ask you for some particulars about that Californian. The subject was not mentioned that day at Nauheim, for we were hurrying away, and there was no time; but the thing that surprised me was this: when I introduced you, you said, ‘I am glad to meet your lordship again.’ The ‘again’ was the surprise. He is a little hard of hearing, and didn’t catch that word, and I thought you hadn’t intended that he should. As we drove off I had only time to say, ‘Why, what do you know about him?’ and I understood you to say, ‘Oh, nothing, except that he is the quickest judge of——’ Then we were gone, and I didn’t get the rest. I wondered what it was that he was such a quick judge of. I have thought of it many times since, and still wondered what it could be. He and I talked it over, but could not guess it out. He thought it must be fox-hounds or horses, for he is a good judge of those—no one is a better. But you couldn’t know that, because you didn’t know him; you had mistaken him for some one else; it must be that, he said, because he knew you had never met him before. And of course you hadn’t had you?”

“Yes, I had.”

“Is that so? Where?”

“At a fox-hunt, in England.”

“How curious that is. Why, he hadn’t the least recollection of it. Had you any conversation with him?”

“Some—yes.”

“Well, it left not the least impression upon him. What did you talk about?”

“About the fox. I think that was all.”

“Why, that would interest him; that ought to have left an impression. What did he talk about?”

“The fox.”

“It’s very curious. I don’t understand it. Did what he said leave an impression upon you?”

“Yes. It showed me that he was a quick judge of—however, I will tell you all about it, then you will understand. It was a quarter of a century ago 1873 or ‘74. I had an American friend in London named F., who was fond of hunting, and his friends the Blanks invited him and me to come out to a hunt and be their guests at their country place. In the morning the mounts were provided, but when I saw the horses I changed my mind and asked permission to walk. I had never seen an English hunter before, and it seemed to me that I could hunt a fox safer on the ground. I had always been diffident about horses, anyway, even those of the common altitudes, and I did not feel competent to hunt on a horse that went on stilts. So then Mrs. Blank came to my help and said I could go with her in the dog-cart and we would drive to a place she knew of, and there we should have a good glimpse of the hunt as it went by.

“When we got to that place I got out and went and leaned my elbows on a low stone wall which enclosed a turfy and beautiful great field with heavy wood on all its sides except ours. Mrs. Blank sat in the dog-cart fifty yards away, which was as near as she could get with the vehicle. I was full of interest, for I had never seen a fox-hunt. I waited, dreaming and imagining, in the deep stillness and impressive tranquility which reigned in that retired spot. Presently, from away off in the forest on the left, a mellow bugle-note came floating; then all of a sudden a multitude of dogs burst out of that forest and went tearing by and disappeared in the forest on the right; there was a pause, and then a cloud of horsemen in black caps and crimson coats plunged out of the left-hand forest and went flaming across the field like a prairie-fire, a stirring sight to see. There was one man ahead of the rest, and he came spurring straight at me. He was fiercely excited. It was fine to see him ride; he was a master horseman. He came like a storm till he was within seven feet of me, where I was leaning on the wall, then he stood his horse straight up in the air on his hind toe-nails, and shouted like a demon:

“‘Which way’d the fox go?’

“I didn’t much like the tone, but I did not let on; for he was excited, you know. But I was calm; so I said softly, and without acrimony:

“‘Which fox?'

“It seemed to anger him. I don’t know why; and he thundered out:

“‘WHICH fox? Why, THE fox? Which way did the FOX go?’

“I said, with great gentleness—even argumentatively:

“‘If you could be a little more definite—a little less vague—because I am a stranger, and there are many foxes, as you will know even better than I, and unless I know which one it is that you desire to identify, and——’

“‘You’re certainly the damdest idiot that has escaped in a thousand years!’ and he snatched his great horse around as easily as I would snatch a cat, and was away like a hurricane. A very excitable man.

“I went back to Mrs. Blank, and she was excited, too—oh, all alive. She said:

“‘He spoke to you!—didn’t he?’

“‘Yes, it is what happened.’

“‘I knew it! I couldn’t hear what he said, but I knew he spoke to you! Do you know who it was? It was Lord C., and he is Master of the Buckhounds! Tell me—what do you think of him?’

“‘Him? Well, for sizing-up a stranger, he’s got the most sudden and accurate judgment of any man I ever saw.’

“It pleased her. I thought it would.”

G. got away from Nauheim just in time to escape being shut in by the quarantine-bars on the frontiers; and so did we, for we left the next day. But G. had a great deal of trouble in getting by the Italian custom-house, and we should have fared likewise but for the thoughtfulness of our consul-general in Frankfort. He introduced me to the Italian consul-general, and I brought away from that consulate a letter which made our way smooth. It was a dozen lines merely commending me in a general way to the courtesies of servants in his Italian Majesty’s service, but it was more powerful than it looked. In addition to a raft of ordinary baggage, we had six or eight trunks which were filled exclusively with dutiable stuff—household goods purchased in Frankfort for use in Florence, where we had taken a house. I was going to ship these through by express; but at the last moment an order went throughout Germany forbidding the moving of any parcels by train unless the owner went with them. This was a bad outlook. We must take these things along, and the delay sure to be caused by the examination of them in the custom-house might lose us our train. I imagined all sorts of terrors, and enlarged them steadily as we approached the Italian frontier. We were six in number, clogged with all that baggage, and I was courier for the party—the most incapable one they ever employed.

We arrived, and pressed with the crowd into the immense custom-house, and the usual worries began; everybody crowding to the counter and begging to have his baggage examined first, and all hands clattering and chattering at once. It seemed to me that I could do nothing; it would be better to give it all up and go away and leave the baggage. I couldn’t speak the language; I should never accomplish anything. Just then a tall handsome man in a fine uniform was passing by and I knew he must be the station-master—and that reminded me of my letter. I ran to him and put it into his hands. He took it out of the envelope, and the moment his eye caught the royal coat of arms printed at its top, he took off his cap and made a beautiful bow to me, and said in English:

“Which is your baggage? Please show it to me.”

I showed him the mountain. Nobody was disturbing it; nobody was interested in it; all the family’s attempts to get attention to it had failed—except in the case of one of the trunks containing the dutiable goods. It was just being opened. My officer said:

“There, let that alone! Lock it. Now chalk it. Chalk all of the lot. Now please come and show me the hand-baggage.”

He plowed through the waiting crowd, I following, to the counter, and he gave orders again, in his emphatic military way:

“Chalk these. Chalk all of them.”

Then he took off his cap and made that beautiful bow again, and went his way. By this time these attentions had attracted the wonder of that acre of passengers, and the whisper had gone around that the royal family were present getting their baggage chalked; and as we passed down in review on our way to the door, I was conscious of a pervading atmosphere of envy which gave me deep satisfaction.

But soon there was an accident. My overcoat pockets were stuffed with German cigars and linen packages of American smoking tobacco, and a porter was following us around with this overcoat on his arm, and gradually getting it upside down. Just as I, in the rear of my family, moved by the sentinels at the door, about three hatfuls of the tobacco tumbled out on the floor. One of the soldiers pounced upon it, gathered it up in his arms, pointed back whence I had come, and marched me ahead of him past that long wall of passengers again—he chattering and exulting like a devil, they smiling in peaceful joy, and I trying to look as if my pride was not hurt, and as if I did not mind being brought to shame before these pleased people who had so lately envied me. But at heart I was cruelly humbled.

When I had been marched two-thirds of the long distance and the misery of it was at the worst, the stately station-master stepped out from somewhere, and the soldier left me and darted after him and overtook him; and I could see by the soldier’s excited gestures that he was betraying to him the whole shabby business. The station-master was plainly very angry. He came striding down toward me, and when he was come near he began to pour out a stream of indignant Italian; then suddenly took off his hat and made that beautiful bow and said:

“Oh, it is you! I beg a thousands pardons! This idiot here—-” He turned to the exulting soldier and burst out with a flood of white-hot Italian lava, and the next moment he was bowing, and the soldier and I were moving in procession again—he in the lead and ashamed, this time, I with my chin up. And so we marched by the crowd of fascinated passengers, and I went forth to the train with the honors of war. Tobacco and all.