Page images

studies of the great works of the Creator, in one of the most sublime ecenes which the Divine Hand has produced, alone with his Maker, save for the timid companionship of some simple wild people of the country, Henri Mouhot passed away, thousands of leagues from his home, and without any knowledge of whether his fate would ever be made known to those who watched and waited for him at the other side of the world. His native servants took care of his papers, and they readied his brother's hands in safety. That gentleman has compiled from them a narrative which affords us some wonderful glimpses of the distant land of Siam, of Cambodia, and Laos, and of human life among the savage tribes which inhabit the mysterious district lying between those countries and Cochin-China. M. Mouhot sailed from Singapore to the Menam, or Mother of Waters, on which Bangkok, the capital of Siam, is built—a river so deep and beautiful, that the largest ships coast along its banks in perfect safety, and graceful trees bend their branches over the decks, and the never-silent eong of the gorgeous birds enlivens the dream-like voyage. Bangkok is "the Venice of the East," and its almost amphibious inhabitants are very numerous. The whole country was beautiful, but to the naturalist its chief charm lay in the distant mountain-lands; the misty space wooed him with a thousand hints of strange animal life, of rare plants and flowers, of unknown mosses, undiscovered shells, unfamiliar insects, to be given to his exultant grasp, to be Btudied. in solitude, and explained aud discussed in the communion of science. But Bangkok was to be his head-quarters, whence expeditions were to be organized; there was much to see there, and notably, the first king, a gentleman of grand and courteous bearing and varied attainments, who received M. Mouhot with distinction, and was attired in large trousers, a short jacket, aud a copper helmet, probably worn in compliment to his own complexion.

As we read about the Siamese and their two kings, the impression they create is quite different to that received from other eastern nations. They are more worthy people, it' servile in action and gesture ; they are less false, less fawning;

they impress us with an idea that they possess self-respect, which is never conveyed by their Celestial neighbors. It is refreshing to find a king of Siam who is a profound and accomplished scholar —a linguist, familiar not only with the dialects of Siam and Indo-China, but also with ancient Sanscrit and English— who is a journalist, too, and writes for the Hong-Kong papers, and is a member of the Asiatic Society in London—a learned body of whose awful attributes we are all aware. The second king is the brother of the first, and is almost as fine a fellow.

A splendid prospect lay before the naturalist as he planned out his journey through the fertile valley of Siam, beyond which lies the great mountaiuchain, covered with perpetual snow, which stretches from Yunam to China. Like two huge giants joining their arms, and encircling an object dear to both, are this chain and that which lies to the west, as far as the Malay Peninsula; and the great river Menam, fertile and fertilizing Mother of Waters, traverses the smiling level from north to south, and pours out her lavish flood into the Gulf of Siam. The great river is the home of the people, and its fish forms their chief and plentiful food. The ethnologist, the philologist, and the historian may find ample materials for study in records which date from five centuries before the Christian era; while the naturalist revels in the treasures of nature, and the artist and antiquary pause and ponder over rains probably unsurpassed in grandeur aud beauty throughout the world.

We embark upon the Menam, in M. Mouhot's boat, in company with two boatmen, one an Anamite, the other a Cambodian, and both Christians, M. Mouhot himself, an ape, a perroquet, aud a dog, and suffer severely from mosqui! toes all the way to Aynthia. The liquid highway is anything but select, for it is the period of the religioW fetes of the Siajnese, who worship Buddha; aud the j river is crowded with long boats, gaily decked with many-colored flags, and gorgeously attired rowers, who try to pass each other, and utter exciting cries. From some of the boats, sweet music floats out over the water, and one, remarkable for its magnificent gilding, is laden with presents for the pagodas. At Aynthia are marvelous ruins, of gigantic extent, and wonderful grace and beauty, telling of strength, and skill, and labor; of-faith, zeal, reverence, and wealth; while over them, in all the unfettered luxuriance of the tropics, is spread the profuse ornament of tangled vegetation. At Aynthia is a "park" of elephants, extremely wonderful to see, in which the huge creatures stand patiently in drilled ranks behind the stockades. There are myriads of beautiful insects, and one peculiar spider, from which a silken thread may be drawn out, by taking hold of the end hanging from its body, to any extent; only go on until you are tired, the thread will not come to an end, or break. If poor Piuto had ventured to spin such a yarn, his character would have been worse than even it is.

At Ayuthia there is gorgeous sunlight, and air unspeakably clear, and pure, and fragrant; there is such bountiful and constant sunshine, that man has but to sow and plant, and reap—he knows no further care of husbandry; delicious fruits abound, and a lew bamboos suffice for shelter. M. Mouhot revels in its beauties awhile, and then goes on his way, with a kindly escort of natives, and a supply of elephants, into the solitude and depth of the woods, where an almost overpowering harmony reigns triumphant, as the birds sing in concert all day, and are accompanied by the measured, sharp, metallic cries of the innumerable insects, sounding like an array of goldsmiths at work. At Mount Phrabat, he comes to the famous temple containing the footprint of Samoiia-Kodom, the Buddha of | Indo-China, reared amid a scene of surpassing beauty and magnificence, where some convulsion of nature has heaved up enormous rocks, and pile.d them into a thousand grand and fantastic forms, j And the temple! The description of it is like a glimpse of the glories of Apocalyptic promise: the walls covered with arabesques of glittering crystal; the punels and cornices gilt; the massive doors of ebony and ivory, exquisitely wrought, aud inlaid with mother-of-pearl; the floors covered with silver matting. Under a catafalque in the centre is the sacred footprint The natives present different features. As the traveler proceeds

through the Laotian forest, they nre more slender, more active, and darker than the Siamese, and of wonderful intrepidity as hunters; a quality of great value in a country which swarms with tigers, leopards, tiger-cats, jaguars, and wild boars. As M. Mouhot journeyed on through the forest, there lay ever before him the magnificent panorama of the mountain-chain, whose peaks melted into the vapory rosetints of the horizon, and whose peculiar structure and color displayed the marvelous richness of the vegetation, while above all hung the cloudless, deep blue sky. Great peace fell upon the traveler's spirit as he pursued his way, and put more and more distance between himself and the civilization of the West. We find no traces in the meagre records of his journey of the revolting features of savage life; his kindly nature made him regard all human creatures kindly; and his eager and inquiring spirit invested everything with a sustaining interest, which kept weariness and despondency at bay.

The journey by land was less interesting and beautiful than the voyage on the great gulf, where the boat glided about among fairy islands, some inhabited by eagles only, others the dwelling-places of the iguana, and rustling with the strange sounds made by these creatures, as they trailed their loathly limbs over the dead leaves and fallen branches. Towards evening, the boat would be suffered to ground upon the mud, whence arose a strong sulphuric odor, as though a submarine volcano slept its threatening sleep beneath. One day the odor was explained, and M. Mouhot's supposition realized, for, as they floated slowly upon the broad water, under the burning sun, the waves suddenly arose, and tossed and boiled around them, and toyed with the little bark in rough and ghastly play; and then an immense jet of steam and water was flung into the air. Nature works unremittingly and rapidly in those distant laboratories, and the geological changes of the entire territory are easily to be traced. From the great gulf, they entered the Chantabour river, and rowed along its banks, rich with all the treasures of the tropics in animal and vegetable life. The splendid forest trees reared their lofty heads above the deep swifl stream, and spread their giant arms to the parasites which bound them in intertwining wreaths of blossom and trailing foliage. The stirless air was laden with perfumes, and bright with the wings of myriads of insects, which, like living jewels, flashed out their brief life in the sunshine. Innumerable monkeys jumped about in the trees, chattering and shrieking, or formed themselves, by adhesive links of limb and tail, into a chain, ■whose first coil was fastened to the branch of a huge tree, while the last hung, tempting, but unattainable, witiiin a few inches of the terrible jaws of a beguiled and hungry crocodile. This touch of nature must have afforded infinite amusement to the French philosopher, whose collections gained largely from this voyage. But his destination was far more distant, even to the forests of the savage Stiens, feared and abhorred by the natives of Cambodia.

"Do you know," said a missionary to the traveler, "whither you are going? Ask the Cambodians, and propose to some of them to accompany you; you will not find one." But the priest warned the enthusiast in vain; he knew he should find laud and fresh water shells in those terrible forests, which he could find nowhere else, and he went on. "May God be with the poor traveler," prayed the missionary as his last adieu, when the little party went on their way, and he saw them no more. They sojourned I three months among the savage Stiens, I in constant peril from man, beast, reptile and climate. Their dwelling was in the forest surrounded by elephants, buffaloes, wild boars, rhinoceroses, and ti-1 gers, whose footprints were to be found everywhere. They lived as in a besieged place, with guns always loaded, and ever on the alert against the enemy. The mos-1 quitoes gave them no respite ; and when j they avoided scorpions, serpents, and centipedes, they were fallen upon by leeches, and leisurely drained of blood which they could ill spare. M. Mouhot would sit down to write the result of his day's explorations to the agreeable accompaniment of a tiger's roaring round his dwelling, as he inspected the pigs, through the cracks in the fence of planks and bamboo, or the portentous trampling of a rhinoceros, as he trod down all ob- ,

Ktw Seiukb—Vol. II., No. 2.

stacles in his progress towards the garden, where he intended to sup. In this terrible place they found missionaries, who lent them every possible assistance and comfort, and the naturalist studied to his heart's content, though his absolute discoveries were limited to some beautiful new species of insects and landshells. It is very solemn and affecting to find him speculating upon the probabilities of his ever being able to make his observations upon the savage people known to the public; upon whether the notes, scribbled by torch-light on his knee, at the foot of a forest tree, are ever destined to be put into a readable form, or whether some kind person will take charge of them, when he shall have fallen a victim to pestilence or some ferocious beast. The end was as yet far off, but knowing it as we do, there is a tone of sadness in these simple lines.

Victoria Magazine.


THEfan—this jewel which women know how to make use of with such grace—is an article of the toilet much too important to be left without an historian. The history of the headdress, the ceinture, and various other portions of female attire have been given, while that of the fan alone seems to have been neglected.

In Spain and at Naples—a city much more Spanish than Italian — the fan is the little messenger of love. It is through its medium that the lady accepts or refuses the rendezvous which her lover seeks. It is by this that she fixes the trysting hour; and nothing can be imagined more charming, more coquetish, than the manner in which she manoeuvres her fan—the mute interpreter of her secret soul—between her rose-tipped fingers.

In France the fan plays a more open, and frequently a more serious part. Even in the age in which we live two political incidents have given to the blows of this pretty toy a celebrity which will not be forgotten. The first of these blows was given, so says public report, by the hand of the Duchess de Berri to an usher of the palace, and in this manner: The Duchess gave a ball in her own private


apartments, and the invitations had been huge fan instead of a sceptre. But we

sent by herself to persons whom she honored with her particular friendship.

must not imagine that this fun had the form and elegance of those which ladies

An usher of the palace, however, believ- m:ike use of at the present day. It was

ed himself permitted, and took the liberty to slip into this select circle. The Duchess de Berri soon became aware of his presence, and advanced towards him, not only to advertise him of her displeasure, but likewise to intimate to him that he must leave her apartments. The Duchess was young, impulsive—a Nea

simply half of an enormous board, cut round and painted with a variety of the most brilliant colors. This kind of screen was fastened to the end of a long biiton, and carried in the hand like a staudaid.

Fans were very common as fly-flappers in Egypt, and men and women equally

politan—and allowed herself, perhaps a made use of them. They were formed tittle too much, to show that she was of- of the plumes of the ostrich, fastened on fended: and as she held her fan in her an ornamental handle with an appropriate hand, and fluttered it vehemently while motto inscribed on it. The priests of speaking, she unguardedly hit with it Isis always carried one suspended round the arm of the usher. A cry was there- the neck like an amulet; but when Isis

became a Greek divinity, this fan changed form into that of the caduceus of Mercury, and the feathers of the ostrich were replaced by those of a bird consecrated to the goddess.

In Greece the ladies adopted peacocks' feathers, whicli had been for some time

upon raised, so loud against the young Duchess for driving an usher of the palace from her presence with blows of her fan, that the poor Princess was in despair at the accusation, and could hardly pardon herself for this imaginary crime.

The other blow of the fan was that

which the Dey of Algiers permitted him- i used by the inhabitants of Asia Minor.

Thus, in the Orestes of Euripides, a Phrygian slave relates that he had touched with a light • breeze the cheeks and hair

self to give, and which cost him the regency.

The history of the fan ought to com-! mence almost with that of the world, of sleeping Helen, by means of a fan Probably it was necessity which gave formed from the feathers of the bird of birth to it; not to make an object of Juno. We find on one of the Etruscan amusement of it, but as a means of cool- vases in the museum of the house, the ing the surrounding air for a few seconds picture of this Ian, which was made with when the heat became oppressive. j peacocks' feathers of unequal lengths,

No doubt large leaves were at.first em- ranged in a half circle, held together by ployed for this purpose; but the leaf, thin bands of gold, fastened on a golden fragile in its constituent parts, could not handle.

last long. It was soon replaced by the As to the Roman ladies, they borrowwings of birds, spreading wide like the ed, to all appearance, the fashion of their sails of a ship; and these, in their turn, tans from every country, if we may judge

gave place to a number of single feathers fastened together, tied or sewed in a bunch, which served gently to agitate the air.

These fans played a prominent part in i the sacred ceremonies of the ancients.

by the different sorts of fans to be seou on the frescoes of Pompeii; as well as that on the fresco in the museum at Naples, which represents the Nymphs playing at hide-and-seek with the Loves. The young girl who covers the eyes of Love

The priests made use of them to preserve (for this one is not blind), places a fan of from the pollution of flies the animals peacocks' leathers before her face ; while, sacrificed on the altars of the divinities among her companions, there is one who

for whom they officiated.

Still later the fan became one of the principal insignias of royalty. On the frescoes which decorate a temple at Thebes, we see Pharaoh Beneses III., who

holds iu her hand a fan made of ostrich plumes.

From others of the frescoes at Herculaneum and Pompeii, we perceive that the Romans made use of fans formed out

reigned in Egypt 300 years before the of thin little pieces of wood; and some birth of our Lord, carrying iu his hand a ( of these frescoes lead us even to suppose

that the leaves of the palm-tree were put to the same purpose.

But, the true kingdom of the fan is China; for the Chinese are the first people who made fans that could bend and were pliable. Those of the Egyptians, of the Romans, of the Greeks, &c, were of one piece of wood—more or less elegant, more or less light, but invariably iu the shape of a small portable firescreen, of which the form—square, round, pointed or oval—remained immovable.

It was at the commencement of the Christian era that a Chinese named ChiKi-Long, and who had acquired a great reputation for the manufacture of fans, imagined the idea of bringing them to perfection by beating out gold fine as the wings of the grasshopper ; placing these thin leaves the one beside the other— retaining them together by a narrow ribbon of gold—and then painting on either | side gods and goddesses, extraordinary animals, and rare birds of exquisite plumage, in such a manner that these little golden valves,* while agitating the air, might, always present to the eye curious and interesting objects.

As to the folded fans of pliable material, they are due to the Japanese, without doubt ; for one of the images of their gods—that one which presides over hap- I piness—has between his hands a folded fan, and this image dates from about the same epoch in which flourished the Chinese inventor, Chi-Ki-Long. These first fans of the Japanese were of silk, and on them were written verses; but they were not used by women, and they still preserve them for religious ceremonies.

The Chinese maintain that the original invention of the fan is due to one of their emperors, Won-Wang, the first sovereign of the Tcheon dynasty. It appears also that among the Chinese as well as the Egyptians, fans were made use of in war as standards, or for rallying signals.

For a long time the Chinese empress had alone the right of wearing a fan. With this single exception, all the fans were consecrated to the worship of the idols of the country, and women who infringed this prohibition were punished

* Langucttes (for—golden tongues, or valves.

with death. It was only during the reign of the Emperor Hoiian-Fi, that the members of the Imperial Academy were honored by the gift of a bamboo fan, with permission to make use of it.

As to France, the history of the fan remains a blank, until after the return of the crusaders from the East. These pilgrims and soldiers of the Cross introduced it into Europe: but the Spaniards and the Italians availed themselves of this pretty toy, and carried it into their domestic circles, long before the French did, the latter regarding it as a piece of useless luxury. Anne of Brittany, however, having appeared with a fan in her hand on her marriage day with Louis XI I., not only the ladies of her court but also all the noble provincial dames adopted the appendage of the fan which, from, that period claims the right of having its history rooted in France.

Nevertheless the large fan—that is to say theJiab/'Mam—early became a principal insignia of papacy; but since the end of the thirteenth century it was no longer used at divine service, although formerly it was held during the holy mass near the officiating priest, to shield him from the rays of the sun, and to brush away the flies which might divert his attention from his sacred duties.

In the first ages of the French monastery, the,finbelluin was found in the sanctuaries of churches and abbeys, and certain privileges were supposed to be attached to it. Thus, when Blanche of Castile fixed herself at Poissy for her accouchment, she begged the Prior of the rich Abbey—which Poissy then possessed—to lend her the flabellum of the convent, that she might fasten it to her bed.

This flabellum, which presided at the birth of St. Louis, is mentioned in the work of Monsieur de Sommerard, "Les Arts au Moyen-Age." It was simply formed of a large strip of folded vellum, covered with figures representing sainted men and sainted women, with golden glories round their heads, and for whom the occupants of the Abbey had a deep devotion; while above them, in the air, the Virgin Mary and Child, surrounded by angels and the magi, appeared to take their flight towards heaven.

The only fan that was seen among the

« PreviousContinue »