warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/iovannet/public_html/explorion/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

E.V. Lucas

The Parsees have made Bombay their own, more surely even than the Scotch possess Calcutta. Numerically very weak, they are long-headed and far- sighted beyond any Indian and are better qualified to traffick and to control. All the cotton mills are theirs, and theirs the finest houses in the most beautiful sites. When that conflict begins between the Hindus and the Mohammedans which will render India a waste and a shambles, it is the Parsees who will occupy the high places - until a more powerful conqueror arrives.

I ought not to write about Japan at all, for I was there but three short weeks, and rain or snow fell almost all the time, and I sailed for America on the very day that the cherry blossom festivities began. But - well, there is only one Fujiyama, and it is surpassingly beautiful and satisfying - the perfect mountain - and I should feel contemptible if I did not add my eulogy of it - my gratitude - to all the others.

Since, then, I am to say something of Fuji, let the way be paved.

Coming by chance upon the Robert Louis Stevenson memorial at San Francisco, on the edge of Chinatown, I copied its inscription, and in case any reader of these notes may have forgotten its trend I copy it again here; for I do not suppose that its application was intended to cease with the Californian city. It is counsel addressed to the individual, but since nations are but individuals in quantity such ideals cannot be repeated amiss:

I had been to the Metropolitan Museum looking at beautiful things and rejoicing in them.

And then I had to catch a train and go far into the country, to Paul Smith's.

And as the light lessened and the brooding hour set in I looked out of the window and reconstructed some of the lovely things I had seen - the sculptures and the paintings, the jewels and the porcelain: all the fine flower of the arts through the ages.

The selective processes of the memory are very curious. It has been decreed that one of my most vivid recollections of Bombay should be that of the embarrassment and half-amused self-consciousness of an American business man on the platform of the railway station for Delhi. Having completed his negotiatory visit he was being speeded on his way by the native staff of the firm, who had hung him with garlands like a sacrificial bull.

One is immediately struck, on landing at Kobe - and continually after - by the littleness of Japan. The little flimsy houses, the little flimsy shops, the small men, the toylike women, the tiny children, as numerous and like unto each other as the pebbles on the shore - these are everywhere. But although small of stature the Japanese men are often very powerfully built and many of them suggest great strength. They are taking to games, too. While I was in the country baseball was a craze, and boys were practising pitching and catching everywhere, even in the streets of the cities.

I heard many stories in America, where every one is a raconteur, but none was better than this, which my San Francisco host narrated, from his own experience, as the most perfect example of an honest answer ever given. When a boy, he said, he was much in the company of an old trapper in the Californian mountains. During one of their expeditions together he noticed that a camp meeting was to be held, and out of curiosity he persuaded Reuben to attend it with him.

I believe that few statements about America would so surprise English people as that it has beautiful architecture. I was prepared to find Boston and Cambridge old-fashioned and homelike - Oliver Wendell Holmes had initiated me; I had a distinct notion of the cool spaciousness of the White House and the imposing proportions of the Capitol and, of course, I knew that one had but to see the skyscrapers of New York to experience the traditional repulsion! But of the church of St. Thomas on Fifth Avenue I had heard nothing, nor of Mr.

"If you can be in India only so short a time as seven weeks," said an artist friend of mine - and among his pictures is a sombre representation of the big sacred bull that grazes under the walls of Delhi Fort - "why not stay in Delhi all the while? You will then learn far more of India than by rushing about." I think he was right, although it was not feasible to accept the advice.

My first experience of Japanese scenery of any wildness was gained while shooting the rapids of the Katsuragava, an exciting voyage among boulders in a shallow and often very turbulent stream in a steep and craggy valley a few miles from Kyoto. Previous to this expedition I had seen, from the train, only the trim rice fields, - each a tiny parallelogram with its irrigation channels as a boundary, so carefully tended that there is not a weed in the whole country. Japan is cut up into these absurd little squares, of which twenty and more would go into an ordinary English field.

Syndicate content