EN ROUTE FOR INDIA
"What! Really, to India?" So my friends in Jena exclaimed, and so I myself exclaimed, how often I know not, when at the end of last winter (1880-81), and under the immediate influence of our dreary North German February, I had finally made up my mind to spend the next winter in the tropical sunshine of Ceylon, that island of wonders. A journey to India is no longer an elaborate business, it is true; in these travel-loving and never-resting times there is no quarter of the globe that is spared by the tourist. We rush across the remotest seas in the luxurious steamships of our days in a relatively shorter time and with less "circumstance" and danger than, a hundred years since, attended the much-dreaded "Italian tour," which is now an every-day affair. Even "a voyage round the world in eighty days" has become a familiar idea, and many a youthful citizen of the world, who is rich enough to do it, flatters himself that he can, by a journey round the world occupying less than a year's time, acquire a more comprehensive and manysided education than by ten years spent at the best schools.
A voyage to India can lay no claim to any special interest, particularly as an abundant supply of the best literature exists on that wonderful land; and I ought perhaps to offer some exceptional excuse for inviting the reader to accompany me on my six months' journey to and through Ceylon. You who do so, worthy or fair reader, must permit me to initiate you into my own personal interests as a student and lover of nature, since these and these alone gave occasion to the expedition on which we are about to start.
That every naturalist who has made it his life-task to study the forms of organic life on the earth, should desire to see for himself all the marvels of tropical nature, is self-evident; it must be one of his dearest wishes. For it is only between the tropics, and under the stimulating influence of a brighter sun and greater heat, that the animal and vegetable life on our globe reach that highest and most marvellous variety of form, compared to which the fauna and flora of our temperate zone appear but a pale and feeble phantom. Even as a boy, when my favourite reading was an old collection of travels, I delighted in nothing so much as in the primaeval forests of India and Brazil; and when, somewhat later, Humboldt's ..Aspects of Nature,"*1 Schleiden's "Plant Life,"*2 Kittlitz's " Aspects of Vegetation,"*3 and Darwin's "Naturalist's Voyage," incited and determined my tastes and influenced my whole life, a voyage in the tropics became the goal of my most eager desires. At first I could only hope to make such a journey as a medical man; and it was principally with this view, that, as a young student, now thirty years ago, I determined on adding medicine to my favourite studies in botany and zoology. But many years were to pass by before the cherished dream was to be realized.
When, twenty-five years since, I had completed my medical course, all the endeavours I made to carry out my project of travelling as a doctor fell to the ground. At last I thought myself fortunate when, in 1859, I was able to make a prolonged tour in Italy, and to spend a year on the beautiful shores of the Mediterranean, which I learnt to love while devoting myself to the study of the multiform inhabitants of its waters. After my return, a regular avocation and a sudden alteration in my private circumstances threw all further projects of travel into the background. At Easter, 1861, I was appointed to a professorship in the University, which I have now held for twenty years, spending my vacations, after the example of my illustrious master and friend, Johannes Müller, in excursions to the sea coast, for purposes of study. A special passion for the most interesting branch of zoology: the lower orders of marine creatures, and above all Zoophytes and Protozoa - to which Müller himself had directed my attention in Helgoland, in 1854 - led me in the course of the next twenty years to visit the most dissimilar shores of Europe. In the preface to my work on the Medusae, I have given a brief account of the various spots on the coast where, during this period, I fished, dredged and observed, worked with the microscope, and made drawings. But still the varied shores of the peerless Mediterranean, in many respects unique. always proved the most attractive.
Twice, however, I was enabled to outstep the limits of this delightful province. I spent the winter of 1866-67 in the Canary Isles, for the most part in the volcanic and almost barren rock of Lancerote; and early in 1873, I made a wonderful excursion in an Egyptian man-of-war, from Suez to Tur, to visit the coral-reefs of the Red Sea, and I there wrote my monograph on the corals of the Arabian coast.*4 On both occasions I very nearly reached the tropical zone, and lived at a few degrees only to the north of it; but in each case I was within reach of a region which is but meagrely endowed with its principal charm, the glory of tropical vegetation.
The more the naturalist sees and enjoys of the beauties of Nature on this globe, the more he longs to extend the domain of sight. After a delightful autumn visit, which I paid in 1880 to the castle of Portofino, near Genoa - a pleasure I owe to the kind hospitality of the English consul, Mr. Montagu Brown - I returned loaded with a mass of interesting zoological and botanical experiences to the quiet little town of Jena. But, only a few weeks later, accident threw into my hands - not for the first time - the beautiful work on Ceylon, by Ransonnet, *5 the Viennese painter, and my recollections of the charms of Portofino made the more splendid marvels of the cinnamon island seem doubly and overpoweringly attractive. though I had often before dwelt on them with wistful yearning. I looked up the various routes to India. and discovered, to my joy, that "the struggle for existence" among the various lines of steampackets had. within the last few years considerably reduced the high fares, and had probably also diminished the various discomforts of the voyage. But tempting above all was an announcement that the Austrian Lloyd's Company had now opened a double service of steamships to India from Trieste, both of which touched at Ceylon. I had the most favourable recollections of this company's vessels from many passages on the Mediterranean, and by their agency I could hope to attain my end most safely, comfortably, and easily.
The sea voyage from Trieste to Ceylon, via Egypt and Aden, occupies about four weeks; six days are spent in the passage from Trieste to Port Said, two in the Suez Canal, six in the Red Sea, and eleven in crossing the Indian ocean from Aden to Ceylon. Three or four days are spent at the different ports touched at. Thus, if I could obtain six months' leave of absence, I might allow two months for the voyages out and home, and reckon on four months' stay in Ceylon itself. With its fine climate and the good order prevailing in this beautiful island, the journey offered no prospects of danger. Besides, I reflected that I was already eight and forty, and that consequently it was high time to undertake the journey, if it was ever to be accomplished at all. Various circumstances, which are of no importance here, favoured a prompt decision; so by Easter, 1881, I had sketched a plan of my journey, and at once began my preparations for carrying it out. The leave of absence, as well as a considerable sum of money for beginning a collection of the Natural History of India, was liberally granted by the grand ducal government of Weimar. In order to qualify myself to make the best use of the short time at my disposal, I read all the most important works on Ceylon and its natural products; above all, the admirable description, which to this day retains its value, in Carl Ritter's classical work*6 and Sir Emerson Tennent's important book, "Ceylon, an account of the island, physical, historical, and topographical."*7 I also looked through a number of traveller's narratives, old and new, which contained some account of the island.
I then inspected, repaired, and completed the various instruments and apparatus for examining and collecting specimens which always formed part of my paraphernalia in my voyages along the coast, and I added considerably to their number. I took advantage of the summer months to learn and practice various arts which I deemed might prove especially useful and desirable on this journey - such as oil-painting, photography, the use of a gun, of nets and traps, soldering metal, etc. As the climate seemed to render it advisable that I should not start before the middle of October, I spent the autumn holidays in Jena, busied in making preparations and in packing my very considerable apparatus. Although the special object of my journey was to be restricted within the limits of my own departments of study, more particularly animal and plant life, there were many other questions in natural history to which I might be able to render subsidiary aid, and which I must be more or less ready to investigate.
The naturalist who in these days betakes himself to the coast to carry on his studies of animal and plant life no longer finds his microscope, his dissecting knife, and a few other simple instruments a sufficient equipment, as he would have done twenty or even ten years since. The methods of biological, and more particularly of microscopical research, have been developed and perfected within the last decade in a very remarkable degree; an elaborate and extensive array of instruments of the most various kinds is indispensable to enable him at all to meet the requirements of the present day.
In fact, no less than sixteen trunks and cases were shipped at Trieste as my luggage. Two of these were filled with books - none but the most necessary scientific works; two others contained a microscope and instruments for observations in physics and the study of anatomy. In two other cases I had apparatus for collecting and materials for preserving specimens; soldered tins, containing different kinds of spirit and other antiseptic fluids, carbolic acid, arsenic and the like. Then two cases contained nothing but glass phials - of these I had some thousands - and two more were packed with nets and appliances of every kind for snaring and catching the prey; trawls and dredging nets for raking the bottom of the sea, sweeping and landing nets for skimming the surface. A photographic apparatus had a chest to itself. and one was filled with materials for oil and watercolour painting, drawing and writing; another was packed with a nest of forty tin cases, one inside the other, and so arranged that when I should have filled one with specimens I could myself easily solder down the flat tin lid. Then another contained ammunition for my double-barrelled gun - a thousand cartridges with different sizes of shot. Most of these fourteen cases were covered with tin and soldered down in order to protect their contents from damp, come what might, during the long sea voyage. Finally, in two tin trunks I had clothes and linen to last me during my six months' wanderings.
In view of this somewhat considerable outfit, which it had cost me no small care and trouble to prepare and pack, even before I left Jena, I may think it particularly fortunate that one wish that I had eagerly cherished at the beginning of my enterprise failed of fulfilment. It is a well-known fact that among all the recent investigations of marine life none have yielded such grand and surprising results as the deep-sea soundings which we owe to the English naturalists, Sir Wyville Thomson, Carpenter, John Murray, Moseley and others. While, twenty years ago, the depths of the ocean were supposed to be devoid of life, and an universally accepted dogma asserted that organic life ceased at a depth of two thousand fathoms below the surface of the sea, the brilliant researches of English voyagers during the last ten years have proved the contrary. It has been found that the bottom of the sea, as far down as it could be investigated - to a depth of twenty-seven thousand feet - is thickly peopled with animals of various orders; for the most part with creatures hitherto unknown to science, and displaying at different zones of depth a valiation corresponding to that of the zones of vegetation at different levels on mountain heights.
All deep-sea soundings, however, and, particularly the very remarkable and unprecedented researches of the "Challenger expedition," had been made in the Atlantic ocean and some small areas of the Pacific; the immense province of the Indian ocean, on the other hand, remained unexplored, or excepting at most a small tract at the very south. An undreamed wealth of new and unknown deep-sea creatures no doubt remained to be discovered by the happy naturalist who should be the first to cast the improved deep-sea net now in use in the unexplored depths of the Indian ocean. It was, therefore, certainly excusable if a wish to find these hidden treasures influenced my first sketch of my journey. Why should not I be the first to make the trial - perhaps to fail, like so many others - still, at any rate to try? Deep-sea sounding is. to be sure, a very expensive amusement. even when it is undertaken in the simplest and least expensive manner possible, as I should have done it. I could not, in any case, think of making such an attempt out of my own modest private resources. However, I might try to obtain means for such a purpose from different institutions founded for the encouragement of scientific discovery. The most important and influential institution of this kind in Germany is the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, and many travellers have received considerable assistance, partly out of its own ample funds and partly out of the Humboldt endowment of which it has the control.
When, at Easter, 1881, I took the opportunity of a short visit to Berlin to discuss my approaching journey to Ceylon with my friends there, I was strongly urged by them to apply for the travelling allowance granted out of the Humboldt fund, at that time unemployed; particularly as it had then accumulated to a very considerable sum. I must confess that it was with much reluctance that I consented to act on my benevolent friends' suggestion. For, on one hand, I had hitherto achieved all my scientific excursions, during more than five and twenty years, without any help of the kind, and had learnt the art of carrying out the object of my journey, even in very narrow circumstances, and with the most moderate private means; and, on the other hand, the most influential members of the Berlin Academy were, as was well-known, the most vehement opponents of the doctrine of evolution, while I, for many years, had been deeply interested in its advancement and development. It was there that an attempt had been made to set a barrier to its irresistible progress, of which the motto should have been "Ignorabimur et restringamur," to which I had retorted, "Impavidi progrediamur;" and I knew beforehand that this challenge would never be forgiven. I was therefore not surprised when, a few months later, my Berlin friends were informed that the Academy had simply refused the application.
This annihilated my hopes of deep-sea discovery in the Indian ocean; it is still left to another and a more fortunate man to raise its treasures of zoology from "the vasty deep." I could only hope that the surface of the tropical seas might yield so much that was new and interesting that the short time granted me might not exhaust them; and, at any rate, standing entirely on my own feet, that first of blessings would be mine on which I had long since learnt to set due value, perfect freedom and independence.
In contrast to these and other unpleasant experiences in preparing for my journey, I am so happy as to be able to express my most heartfelt thanks to the far more numerous circle of those kind friends who, so soon as they heard of my scheme, accorded me their warmest sympathy and did all in their power to encourage and promote it. Foremost of these I must name Charles Darwin and Dr. Paul Rottenburg, of Glasgow; Sir Wyville Thomson and John Murray, of Edinburgh; Professor Eduard Suess, of Vienna; Baron von Konigsbrunn, of Gratz; Heinrich Krauseneck, and Captain Radonetz (of the Austrian Navy), of Trieste. I feel no less bound to express my grateful acknowledgments to the grand ducal administration of Weimar for its generous encouragement of the objects of my journey, and especially to his Royal Highness the Grand Duke Carl Alexander of Saxe Weimar, Rector magnificentissimus of the University of Jena, and to the prince his son. By their kind offices I had an introduction from the English Colonial Secretary to the Governor of Ceylon; I was also abundantly supplied with other recommendations. Finally, let me here offer the right hand of friendship to my many good friends and colleagues at Jena, who all in their several ways command my gratitude for their assistance in my undertaking.
When, at last, all my preparations were completed, and twelve of my cases, which had been forwarded some weeks previously, were reported safe at Trieste, I left my quiet home at Jena on the morning of October the 8th. The parting was no trifle; I felt keenly what for many weeks had been growing upon me with increasing anxiety - that a separation for six months from wife and children, with five thousand miles of land and sea to part us, was no light matter for the father of a family at the age of eight and forty. How differently could I have started, without a shadow of care, in the vigour of youth twenty-five years since, when such an expedition was the height of my hopes and I would have dared everything to achieve it. Twenty years of teaching had of course made me familiar with the problems of my own department of zoological research, and being acquainted beforehand with the special questions on which my journey was to throw light, I could no doubt solve them better and in a shorter time now, when I had experience to aid me, than a quarter of a century earlier; thus I might look forward to fuller results. But was not I myself by so many years older? Had I not lost so much of my elasticity of mind and vigour of body? And would the actual living wonders of the most luxuriant tropical scene make as vivid impression on me now, when I had so far mastered the more abstract generalizations of natural science, as they undoubtedly would have made then? Had I not once more reached a stage - as I had often done before where my excited imagination had conjured up a magical picture which, when I approached the sober reality, would vanish into vacancy, like the Fata Morgana?
These and similar reflections, mingled with sadness at parting from my family and home, floated across my mind like dark clouds as I was carried along the Saale railway from Jena to Leipzig, early on the 8th October; and a cold, dim, autumn fog hung round me, filling and shrouding the pretty Saale valley. Only the highest points of our Muschel kalk hills stood out above the rolling sea of mist - on the right the lengthy slope of the Hausberg with its "redly gleaming summit," the proud pyramid of the Jenzig, and the romantic ruins of Kunitzburg; on the left the wooded heights of Rauthal, and farther on Goethe's favourite retreat, delightful Dornburg. I registered a solemn promise to my old and beloved mountain friends, that I would return in spring, in good health and loaded with treasures from India; and they, in ratification, sent me back a morning greeting, for even as we swept past their feet, the haze rolled away from their heads and sides before my eyes, and the victorious sun mounted in golden radiance, while the clouds cleared from the sky; a most exquisite autumn morning sun shone out in all its beauty, and the dewdrops twinkled like beads on the delicately fringed cups of the lovely dark blue gentians which abundantly gemmed the grassy slopes on each side of our iron road.
I took advantage of a few hours' detention in Leipzig to fill up some deficiencies in my outfit, and to refresh myself with gazing in the picture gallery at the masterpieces of the landscape painters, Preller, Calame, Gudin, Saal and others. In the afternoon I proceeded to Dresden, and from thence, by the night express, reached Vienna in twelve hours. After a short rest I set out again by the southern line of railway for Gratz. It was a splendid autumn Sunday, and the Alp-like scenery of Semmering smiled in perfect beauty. Here, in the wooded gorges and on the flowery downs of lovely Steiermark, I had botanized, twenty-four years before, with really passionate zeal: every height of the Schneeberg and of the Rax-Alp was fresh in my memory. The young M.D. had devoted himself far more eagerly to the interesting flora of Vienna, than to the learned clinical lectures of Oppolzer and Skoda, of Hebra and Siegmund. When drying the prodigious quantities of exquisite and minute Alpine plants which I collected on the hills of Semmering, often had I dreamed of the widely different and gigantic flora of India and Brazil, which display the plasmic force of vegetable vitality with such dissimilarity of form and size; and now, in a few weeks, that dream would be realized in tangible actuality!
At Gratz, where I spent a day, I found capital accommodation at the Elephant Hotel. The first inn where it was my fate to put up on my way to India could have had no more appropriate name; for, not only is the elephant one of the most important and interesting of Indian beasts, but it is the badge of the island of Ceylon. And I took it as of good omen for my future acquaintance with the real elephants which I hoped so soon to see, both tame and wild, that the Elephant at Gratz should, meanwhile, entertain me so hospitably and comfortably. I will take this opportunity of introducing an incidental remark for the use and benefit of such travellers as, like myself, look rather for kind attention at an inn than for a crowd of black-coated waiters. During my many years' wanderings, having had occasion to pass the night in hotels and inns of every degree, it has struck me that the character of these public refuges may be, to a certain extent, guessed at, merely from their name and sign. I divide them into three classes: the zoologico-botanical, the dubious, and the dynastic. Now by far the best inns, on an average, are those with zoologico-botanical signs, such as the Golden Lion, the Black Bear, White Horse, Red Bull, Silver Swan, Blue Carp, Green Tree, Golden Vine, etc. You cannot count so confidently on good and cheap entertainment in such inns as I have designated as dubious, belonging neither to the first class nor the third; they have a great variety of names, often that of the owner himself, and are too miscellaneous as to quality for any general rules to be given for judging of them. On the other hand, I have had, for the most part, the saddest experience - more especially of the converse relation of bad entertainment and high prices - of those hotels which I call dynastic; such as the Czar of Russia, King of Spain, Elector of Hesse, Prince Carl, and so on. Of course I do not pretend that this classification is of universal application; but, on the whole, I believe that all iudicious and unpretentious travellers, particularly the young, will find it justified, especially artists, painters, and naturalists. And the Elephant at Gratz was perfectly worthy of its place of honour in the zoological class.
I had been tempted to spend a day in Gratz by the friendly invitation of a distinguished landscape painter residing there, Baron Hermann von Konigsbrunn. He had written to me some months since, saying that he had heard of my proposed voyage to Ceylon, that he had passed eight months there of great enjoyment, twenty-eight years before, and had made a large collection of sketches and pictures, more particularly studies of the vegetation, which might perhaps prove interesting to me. This kind communication was of course most welcome. I myself could have no better preparation for sketching in Ceylon than looking through the Gratz painter's portfolios. He had made a tour through the palm forests and fern-clad gullies of the cinnamon isle, in 1853, in the society of Captain von Friedan and Professor Schmarda, of Vienna. The professor has given a full account of his residence in the island in his "Voyage round the World."
Unfortunately the numerous very admirable drawings which Baron von Konigsbrunn made on the spot, and which were intended to illustrate Schmarda's travels, have never been published. This is the more to be regretted because they are among the best and most highly finished works of the kind that I have ever seen. Even Alexander von Humboldt - certainly a competent judge - who laid them before King Frederick William IV, spoke of them in terms of the highest praise. Konigsbrunn's studies in Ceylon combine two qualities which almost seem incompatible, and which unfortunately are very rarely met with together in works of this kind, though both are equally necessary to give them the true stamp of perfect resemblance: on one hand, the greatest truth to nature in rendering with conscientious exactitude all the details of form; on the other, a delightful artistic freedom in the treatment of each part, and effective composition of the picture as a whole. Many works by our most famous landscape painters, which fulfil the second of these conditions, utterly fail in the first. On the other hand, many studies of vegetation, as represented by practised botanists, are painfully devoid of the artist's independent feeling for beauty. But one is just as necessary as the other- the botanist's analytical and objective eye, the artist's synthetical and subjective mind. If a landscape is to be a real work of art it must, like a portrait, combine perfect truth and nature in the details with a broad grasp of the character of the model as a whole and this is conspicuous in the highest degree in Konigsbrunn's pictures of Ceylon. In these respects they quite come up to the mark of Kittlitz's famous work "The Aspects of Vegetation," which Alexander von Humboldt declared to be in his day, an unapproachable model beside which few could hold their own. I may, perhaps, venture in this place to express my best thanks to an artist who is as amiable and modest as he is original and gifted, and at the same time a hope that his noble works may ere long find their way out of the peaceful obscurity of his studio and meet with public notice and the recognition they deserve.
After taking an affectionate leave of many old and new friends in Gratz, I set out southwards again on October 11th for Trieste direct. An elderly man took his seat opposite to me in the carriage, whom I recognized as an Englishman at the first glance, and who, in the course of half an hour's conversation, introduced himself as a personage of the greatest interest to me - Surgeon-General Dr. J. Macbeth. He had served for thirty-three years as surgeon to the English forces in India, had taken his share of toil in several wars and in all parts of India, from Afghanistan to Malacca, and from the Himalayas to Ceylon. His wide experience of the country and people, as well as his observations as a medical man and a naturalist, were to me of course highly interesting and instructive, and I almost regretted that, at ten o'clock that evening, our arrival at Trieste put an end to our conversation.
The three days in Trieste before the Lloyd's steamer was to sail, were for the most part taken up in anxieties concerning my outfit and luggage, which I had deferred till the last. I stayed at the house of my dear and honoured friend, Heinrich Krauseneck (a nephew of my father's old friend and comrade, the Prussian general, famous in the war for liberty). The warm and friendly reception which I had already found here on many former occasions was now especially comforting to me, and greatly softened the pain of quitting Europe. Other kind friends also met me with their wonted heartiness, and once more I bid farewell to the great Austrian port and emporium with a feeling of leaving a portion of my German home behind me. And the hours flew by so quickly that I could not even pay a visit to the poetic site of Miramar, that matchless castle by the sea, whose beauty and situation seem to point it out as the most fitting scene for an act in the tragedy of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. What a subject for some dramatist of the future!
Nor was there time even for an excursion to the neighbouring bay of Muggia. This lovely bay, teeming with marine life, is rendered famous to naturalists by Johannes Muller's discovery of the singular univalve Entoconcha mirabilis, which lives inside the Holothuria. On former visits to Trieste I had often dredged there, and almost always with success; but now the prospect of Indian fishing threw the Mediterranean into the background. Besides, my ponderous baggage absorbed all my attention. By the day before the start all the cases were safe on board the ship, and all my preparations were complete. With regard both to the packing and transport of all this luggage, as well as in all that regarded my personal accommodation and comfort as a passenger, I met with the kindest attention and most efficient aid from the directors of the Austrian Lloyd's Company, particularly with reference to the scientific aim and object of my journey. That liberal and intelligent body having already afforded special assistance and facilities to other scientific voyagers, I hoped for some such help in my own expedition. This I received to the very fullest extent, and I am doing no more than my duty in recording here my heartiest and sincerest gratitude to the chairman of the company, Baron Marco di Morpurgo, as well as to the board of directors, and among them particularly my distinguished friend, Captain Radonetz, of the Austrian navy. Not only was I provided with a special and most effective letter of recommendation to each and all of the company's agents and officers, not only was one of the best first-class cabins on board the ship I sailed in devoted to my exclusive use, but a considerable reduction in expense was allowed me and every possible comfort ensured.
And now on board at last, on the fine, safe steamship which is to carry me in four weeks to the shores of India. I had my choice of two first-class vessels belonging to the company, both starting on October 15 th from Trieste for India via the Suez canal. The first, the Helios, touches only at Aden and proceeds direct to Bombay; there it remains for eight days and then goes on to Ceylon, Singapore and Hong Kong. The second steamer, the Polluce, on its way from Suez down the Red Sea, touches at Djedda, the port for Mecca, and then proceeds from Aden to Ceylon and on to Calcutta. I selected the Helios, as this would give me an opportunity of seeing Bombay and a part of the Indian peninsula, which I otherwise could scarcely have accomplished. Moreover, the Helios was the finer, swifter, and larger vessel, quite new, and of a most inviting appearance. Finally, the name of the ship attracted me strangly, for could the good ship which was to transport me within the short space of one month as if it were Faust's magical cloak, from the grey and foggy shore of my northern home, to the sunlit and radiant palmgroves of India, have a name of better omen than that of the everyouthful Sun-god? Was it not my very purpose to see what the all powerful and procreating Sun could call into life in the teeming earth and seas of the tropics? Nomen sit omen! And, after all, why should not I cherish my scrap of superstition like any other man? Moreover, I could surely count on the good graces of the Helios, since I had already called a whole class of humble phosphorescent Protozoa Heliozoa - creatures of the Sun - and only a few weeks previously, when completing my new system of classification of the Radiolaria, had named a number of new genera of these elegant atoms in honour of Helios: Heliophacus, Heliosestrum, Heliostylus, Heliodrymus, etc. So, I beseech thee, adored Sungod, that this my zoological tribute may find favour in thine eyes! Guide me, safe and sound, to India, that I may labour in thy light, and return home under thy protection in the spring!
The Austrian Lloyd's steamship Helios is one of their largest and finest vessels, and as that floating hotel was for a whole month my most comfortable, clean and hospitable home, I must here give some account of her build and accommodation. She is long, narrow and three-masted; her length being 300 feet (English), her breadth 35 feet, and her depth, from deck to keel, 26 feet. Above this a saloon is built, nine feet high. She registers 2380 tons; the engines are of 1200 horse-power (400 nominal). The forepart contains the second cabins with a saloon; and over it, the stalls for our floating cattle farm, including a few cows and calves, a flock of fine Hungarian sheep with long twisted horns, and a large number of fowls and ducks. The middle portion of the vessel is occupied by the mighty engines, which work not only the screw, but the rudder, the various cranes, and the machinery for the electric light; the apparatus for distilling drinking water is also connected with them, and behind is a large hold for storing the passengers' luggage. The after-part of the ship is principally occupied by the best cabins, which have two spacious and airy saloons, one above and one below the deck; an open gallery runs round the upper saloon, and the cabins open into the lower one. Half a dozen sleeping cabins, more roomy and pleasant than the others, adjoin the upper saloon, and one of these was assigned to me. All the cabins are well furnished, have good-sized windows and electric bells. Behind the upper saloon there is a smoking-room; there are baths and other conveniences, which are absolutely indispensable to the luxury-loving travellers of the present day, more particularly a large ice-room at the bottom of the hold. The kitchen and apothecary's stores, and most of the officers' cabins, are in the middle. Comfortable divans, fitted with leather cushions, run round the upper saloon, with two rows of wide tables, where some of the passengers are engaged in eating, playing games, writing, painting, and other occupations. In fine weather they sit for the most part on the upper deck or roof of thesaloon. which is shaded from the fiery shafts of the Helios of the tropics by a double canvas awning, and by curtains at the sides. Here they can walk up and down, or lean over the railing and gaze into the blue sea. or lie at full length in the long Chinese cane chairs, and dream as they stare at the sky.
On the very first day of the passage, with a somewhat rough sea, we discovered that the vessel rode the waves in capital style, and particularly that she hardly rolled at all. The perfect cleanliness on board was a pleasure in itself, and the absence of that horrible smell, compounded of the odours of the kitchen. the engine-room, and the cabins, which is a prevailing characteristic of the older vessels, and contributes far more to produce sea-sickness than the rolling or pitching of the ship; and in fact I, as well as most of the other passengers. escaped sea-sickness throughout the voyage. The weather was uninterruptedly fine, and the sea calm. Of all the many voyages I have ever made. this which was the longest, was also the pleasantest. Excellent company contributed in no small degree to make it agreeable, and the friendliness of the amiable and cultivated officers of the ship. I have the pleasure of expressing my warmest thanks to them all. and particularly to Captain Lazzarich and Dr. Jovanovich, the ship's surgeon, for their obliging kindness during the whole passage. The service and entertainment also left nothing to be desired, as I have usually found to be the case on board the Austrian Lloyd's steamships.
The regular service by steam between Europe and India is carried on by four different companies. First, the Austrian Lloyd's ships from Trieste; secondly, the Italian Rubattino Company from Genoa to Naples; thirdly, the French Messageries Maritimes of Marseilles; and fourthly. the English Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which carries the weekly overland mails from England, via Brindisi and Suez. It is also used by most of the English, and by all to whom the highest possible speed is a matter of importance. The regular mail steamships of the P. and O. make from eleven to twelve nautical miles an hour, while the other companies make at the most from eight to ten; the Helios averaged nine. This considerable difference in speed is simply a question of money. The additional cost of high speed is out of all direct proportion. A steamship which makes twelve instead of eight miles an hour - one-third more - consumes, not one-third more coals, but three times as many; not twelve loads of coals instead of eight, but twenty-four. This enormous disproportion is covered in the case of the P. and O. by a special subsidy from the English Government, since it is, of course, of the first importance that the weekly mails between England and India should be conveyed with the greatest possible dispatch. Other companies, who have not this compensation, cannot compete with the P. and O. But then a first-class through ticket from Brindisi to Bombay costs £66, and by the Austrian Lloyd's £44 a difference of one-third, making a difference in the double journey of £44; and for that sum a pleasant little tour may be accomplished in Switzerland next autumn, after the return home.
Greater speed is, however, the only advantage offered by the English company. The service and comfort are conspicuously inferior to those on the vessels of the other three, and the officers and men - from the captain and the first-lieutenant to the steward and cabin servants - are not, as a rule, distinguished by their polite and obliging conduct. Besides this, these ships are usually crowded, and the passengers' servants are chiefly native "boys," who are officious rather than helpful. This is an inconvenience also met with on board the French Messagerie vessels, which, in other respects, are admirable. The Italian Rubbattino vessels, on the other hand, leave much to be desired as to comfort and cleanliness in the cabins. I give these remarks for the benefit of other travellers to India, from information derived from several Passengers whom I asked, both on this and on former journeys, and whose reports agreed, though much more than half of my authorities were themselves English. Thus the Austrian Lloyd's ships are the most to be recommended, and next to these the Rubattino line, or the Messageries Maritimes; the P. and O. standing lowest on the list.
The party who had assembled on board the Helios by noon on October I5th - and who were all going to disembark at Bombay, with the exception of a Hungarian count who was bound for Singapore, and myself - consisted chiefly of English, some being officers and civil servants and others merchants. The smaller half were Germans and Austrians, some of them merchants and some missionaries. The fair sex was but feebly represented by one German and five English women. Our amiable countrywomen contributed materially to the pleasures of conversation, and her singing in the evenings to the piano delighted the whole company. She had been spending the summer with her children at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, and was now returning for the winter to her husband at Bombay - a half-yearly alternation of her affection as a mother and as a wife, which, unfortunately, is a duty with most English and German women in India, who watch over the growth and education of their children. Most families of the educated class are forced to send their children to England or Germany after the first few years of their life, not merely on account of the unfavourable effects of a tropical climate on the delicate constitutions of European children born in India, but, even more, to avoid the evil moral influence incurred at every moment through intercourse with the natives, and to gain the benefit of a well-directed education.
Besides my charming fellow-countrywoman, there were English ladies on board who, like her, travelled regularly between Europe and Bombay, passing the summer with their children and the winter with their husbands. But, quite irrespective of the two months spent in travelling, this must be a very uncomfortable mode of family life, and it is very natural that a European merchant should strive above everything to shorten his residence in India as much as possible, and gain as quickly as may be such a fortune as will enable him to return to his northern home. A passion for that home is to almost all of them the guiding star of their indefatigable activity, however much they may become spoilt in some respects by the ease and luxury of a residence in India.
As is always the case on long sea voyages, the passengers were fairly acquainted within a day or two and segregated into groups who settled into closer intimacy. The German and English missionaries. and with them an American, Mr. Rowe, who has written a capital book called "Everyday Life in India." formed a party by themselves; a second consisted of the English officers. civilians and merchants; a third of the German and Austrian passengers, who were joined by the captain and doctor and myself. The weather was almost always serene, the sky bright and cloudless, the sea calm or but slightly ruffled, and our good ship reached its stopping places punctually to its time. Sea-sickness claimed but few victims, and those only for a short while; but then, on the other hand, the very monotony of a perfectly calm passage increased for most of the passengers the inevitable tedium. Every occupation usually taken up as a remedy had lost its effect by the end of the first week: reading and writing, chess and cards, piano and singing; and the five meals which, on board Indian steamships, divide the day into five periods, gained in importance every day. Unfortunately the limited capacity of a poor German professor's stomach is in my case aggravated by a weak constitution. Although I am rarely sea-sick, and then only in very rough weather when the motion of the ship is considerable, I always lose my appetite on a long sea voyage, while most other passengers find theirs increase in direct proportion to their days on board. However, I could with the greater ease constitute myself an impartial observer of the colossal capacities of others, and of the incredible pitch which what physiologists style hypertrophy can reach at sea; the absorption, that is to say, of superfluous quantities of food and drink absolutely unnecessary for the maintenance of a healthy frame. I had long wondered with silent envy at the amazing powers in this respect of our more fortunate cousins on the other side of the English channel, on land as well as at sea, far transcending those of most Germans; but what I saw an English major accomplish on board the Helios surpassed everything I ever saw before. Not only did this worthy gentleman consume a double allowance at each of the five regular meals, and wash it down with a few bottles of wine and beer, but he contrived to fill up the short intervals between them, in a most ingenious manner, with snacks and biscuits and a variety of drinks. This gastronomical marvel appeared to me to have reached the extreme limits of such development as consists in the uninterrupted activity of the organs of digestion; and I am inclined to believe that this activity was kept up throughout the night, for quite early in the morning I have seen him reeling, totally incapable, out of his cabin-door. Indeed, I repeatedly heard it asserted that most of those English who sicken and die in India incur their fate through such intemperance.
The five grand meals on board the Indian steamships constitute a far too important - indeed, to many of the passengers, the most important - incident of daily life for me to feel it less than a duty to acquaint the curious reader with their composition according to contract. In the morning, at eight, coffee and bread are served; at ten, a serious breakfast with eggs dressed in two ways, two kinds of hot meat, curry and rice, vegetables and fruit; at one, the Indian tiffin - a meal of cold meat, with bread, butter, potatoes and tea; at about five, dinner, consisting of soups, three varieties of meat, with concomitants, puddings, and dessert of fruit and coffee; finally, at eight, tea again, with bread and butter, etc. I limited my own gastronomical efforts to the first, third, and fourth of these tasks, and could never fully perform even those. Most of the passengers, however, never missed one of these entertainments, and after each would go to the upper deck and there promenade for half an hour, or throw themselves into a cane chaise-longue and, while they stretched their limbs, contemplate surrounding nature - the clouds in the sky or the blue waves. A most welcome excitement is occasioned under such circumstances by the sight of some creature breaking the monotonous level of the waters; schools of dolphins. which tumble round the ship in graceful sport. raising their backs high above the water; sea mews and petrels, soaring in wide circles and dipping suddenly for a fish; flying-fish, skimming the smooth surface in shoals, and fluttering like ducks for a longer or shotter space on the glassy water. I myself was delighted above all to recognize my old favourites, the fragile Medusae, whose floating swarms I never failed to find in the Indian seas, as well as in the Mediterranean. I only lamented, as I had so often done before, that the rapid course held by the ship prevented my bringing the lovely sea-nettles on board in a bucket. I met with two large Medusae (Rhizostomae), which are extremely numerous in the Mediterranean-the blue Pilema pulmo, and the golden-brown Cotylorhyiza tuberculata; in the Indian seas. on the other hand, two fine Semostomae were particularly abundant, a rose-coloured Aurelia and a dark-red Pelagia.
Our twenty-four days' passage from Trieste to Bombay was, under these favourable conditions, so normal and uneventful that there is little to be said of it on the whole. The Helios weighed anchor at four in the afternoon of October 15th, and, bidding an affectionate farewell to our Trieste friends, we steamed out in a most beautiful autumn evening and away down the blue Adriatic. On former voyages on this sea I had for most of the time had a view of the picturesque coasts of Istria and Dalmatia, and the rosemary-scented isles of Lissa and Lesina, where, in 1871, I had spent a delicious month in the romantic Franciscan Convent with the worthy Padre Buona Grazia. But on this occasion the Helios took a more westerly course at once, towards the middle of the gulf, since we were to put in to Brindisi to take up some more passengers. Over the heights of Canossa hung a black cloud; the shadow, perhaps but politics are out of place here.
By the morning of the 17th we reached Brindisi and lay there till noon. I spent two or three hours on shore, visited the few insignificant traces of ancient Brindusium and wandered along the ramparts to the railway station. This is no more worthy of the importance of the place than the modern town itself, which, since the opening of the Suez Canal, has risen to be the focus of the world's commerce with the East. Immediately after the arrival of the mail train at Brindisi, the overland post-bags are transferred on board the mail-ships. and even the passengers. whether going to or returning from India. appear to feel no desire to stop in Brindisi, even for a short rest. At any rate, the only hotel is generaly empty and deserted. It was quite characteristic of the place that silence as of the grave reigned in the station, and that excepting the telegraph clerk and one porter, not a soul was to be seen at ten o.clock on a Monday morning. The flat coast near Brindisi. with its market gardens and cane plantations, and here and there a few scattered datepalms, offers little of interest. An ancient convent to the south of the town, with a tall, slender tower and a fine cupola, is the only subject for the sketch-book. forming a pretty picture, surrounded as it is with a garden run wild and a foreground of opuntias and agaves.
An English general with his family and servants, whom we were to have taken up, failed to appear, their luggage having been left behind by the railway officials; so we steamed away again without them, the same afternoon. On the following morning, in the same calm and sunny weather, we passed the Ionian Islands. I was glad to lend a greeting to stately Cephalonia with its forest-crowned head, the proud Monte Nero. I had spent a never-to-be-forgotten day in April, 1877, under the guidance of the kindest of hosts, the German Consul Tool, of Argostoli - on its snowy summit. lulled by the rustling branches of the spreading Pinus Cephalonica, while we encamped among the huge trunks of this noble fir, which is found on this island and nowhere else. Farther on we sighted Zante, "Fior di Levante," and steamed so close to its picturesque southern shores that we could plainly see the long row of vaulted caves and chines in the riven red marble cliffs of its rocky coast. In the afternoon the highlands of Arcadia were visible to the left. and to the right the solitary island of Stamphania; late in the evening we passed Navarino, famous for its battle. No less lovely and picturesque were the views we had of the fine island of Candia, along whose deeply indented southern coast we were steaming almost the whole day of October 19th, still under the most beautiful lights. Thin white clouds, chased by a fresh breeze. swept across the deep blue sky, and threw fleeting shadows over the huge rocky mass of the noble island. The snow-crowned peak of Ida, the many-fabled throne of the gods, looked down on us, sometimes veiled in clouds and sometimes clear of them. After passing the two Gaudo Islands the same evening, on the following day there was only sea in sight. The proximity of the African coast made itself felt by a considerable increase of warmth, and we exchanged the warm clothing we had hitherto worn for light summer garments.
When we came on deck on the morning of the 21st, nothing was as yet to be seen of the Egyptian coast; but the Mediterranean had already lost its incomparably pure deep-blue colour, and was faintly tinged with green. The farther we advanced the stronger did this green hue appear; by midday it passed into a dirty yellow-green, the effect of the muddy waters of the Nile. At the same time we came among a crowd of little sails belonging for the most part to Arab fishing-boats. A large sea turtle, Chelonia caouana, swam in front of our vessel, while numerous land birds flew on board. At noon we saw the lighthouse of Damietta; at four o'clock the Arab pilot came out to us in a small steam launch, and an hour later we were at anchor at Port Said, the northern station of the Suez Canal. As the Helios was to take in coals and provisions to last till Bombay was reached, it lay here a whole day. I went on shore in the evening with some of the passengers, and amused myself with watching the gay outdoor life of an Egyptian town. I met in a cafe with the doctor and some of the passengers of the Polluce (Austrian Lloyd's), which was to proceed to Ceylon and Calcutta direct, and which had arrived here at the same time as ourselves.
On the following morning, the 22nd, I climbed to the top of the lighthouse of Port Said. It is one of the highest in the world - 160 feet high - and its electric light is visible at a distance of twenty-one nautical miles. Its strong walls are built of blocks of the same concrete as the mole of the harbour - immense cubes of artificial stone, composed of seven parts of desert sand and one part of French hydraulic lime. The view from the top did not in any respect answer my expectations, for, beyond Port Said itself and its immediate neighbourhood of flat sand, nothing is to be seen but water on every side. I next visited the magnificent artificial harbours which have been constructed at enormous cost and pains to secure the northern entrance of the Suez Canal. Not only was it necessary to dredge out the harbour basin itself to a great depth, but two colossal dams of stone run parallel far out into the sea, to defy the two archfoes of the hardly-won possession: the muddy sediment which is carried eastward from the mouths of the Nile by the strong current from the west, and the clouds of sand which are blown into the sea by the prevailing north-west winds. The western mole is, therefore, about three thousand metres (more than a mile and three-quarters) long, and much more strongly constructed than the eastern, which is of about half the length. Above thirty thousand blocks of concrete were used in making it, each measuring ten cubic metres (or thirteen cubic yards), and weighing twenty thousand kilogrammes (between nineteen and twenty tons).
From the harbour I walked to the Arab quarter of the town, which is divided from the European settlement at Port Said by a broad strip of desert; but both alike consist of parallel streets, regularly crossed by others at right angles. The motley and picturesque bustle of the dirty Arab quarter offers the same variety of quaint and original pictures as every other small Egyptian town, such as the suburbs of Alexandria and Cairo. The European quarter consists chiefly of rows of shops; the whole population is about ten thousand. The hopes formed at the first building of the town, that it might blossom into magnificence, have not been altogether realized; the splendid and palatial Hotel des Pays Bas, opened in 1876, is already neglected and unfrequented.
So much has already been said and written about the Suez Canal, the modern wonder of the world, that I will devote no space to repeating we1l-known facts, but limit myself to a few remarks on its present condition. When I was in Suez in 1873, three years after the passage had been opened, pessimist views as to its success were in the ascendant; it was believed that the cost and difficulty of keeping it open must always be greater than the probable revenue. Eight years have entirely reversed this; not only has the solvency of this great work been amply proved, but its income has reached an unexpected figure, and continues to increase steadily. The English Government, when, in 1875, to the great consternation of the French, it acquired the larger portion of the shares, did a great stroke of business, not merely from a political, but from a financial point of view. The maintenance of the Canal, however, particularly as regards the dredging which is perpetually necessary, is at all times very costly; but the increase of revenue is so steady and so large that it may be expected in a short time to yield a considerable surplus. One great obstacle to rapidity of transit lies in the fact that for most of its length the breadth of the Canal allows of only one large vessel navigating it, and that drawing not more than twenty-four to twenty-five feet of water. At intervals, however, deep bays have been constructed, where ships meeting each other find room to pass, and here one vessel has frequently to lie several hours till the other has gone by. It is probable that in the course of the next century the Canal will either be dug out to more than twice its present width, or even be divided into two, so that two trains of ships, one proceeding northward and the other southward, may constantly pass without delay or interruption.
The whole length of the Canal is 160 kilometres, about 99 English miles; the width at the surface is from 265 to 360 feet, but at the bottom of the trench it is no more than 72 feet. The passage generally occupies from sixteen to twenty hours, but it is prolonged when several ships have to be allowed to pass at the different stations, or when a ship, as not unfrequently happens, sticks in the mud. We ourselves lost a whole day not far from Suez, because an English steamer had run aground and could not float again until she had partly unloaded. Every vessel that passes through the Canal is guided by a pilot, whose chief duty it is to see that the speed at no time exceeds five miles an hour, as otherwise the heavy wash would seriously damage the banks. As a rule, ships navigate the Canal by daylight only, or, under a full moon, during part of the night. The Helios had to pay about two thousand francs in tolls (£80); ten francs per ton, and twelve francs per head for passengers.
We got through the greater part of the Suez Canal in the course of the 23rd. Morning rose over Lake Menzaleh refreshingly cool and bright, and the sandbanks in the lake were crowded with pelicans, flamingoes, herons, and other water-birds. Beyond Lake Ballah we got into the narrowest part of the Canal, which is cut through El Gisr, or "the threshold." This is the highest ridge of the Isthmus of Suez, lying at an average height of fifty feet above the level of the sea. The high sand dykes on each side of the Canal are here densely covered in spots with grey-green tamarisk shrubs. Numbers of naked Arab children made their appearance, begging for bakhshish, and some of the boys played the flute and danced with a good deal of grace. About noon we passed the deserted town of Ismailia, founded by Lesseps, and in the evening cast anchor in the large Bitter Lake.
After dark the chief engineer of the Helios made some experiments with the electric light, which were a brilliant success. In obedience to his kind bidding, I inspected his newly constructed apparatus in the lower engine-room; its motor was worked by the steam engine that also worked the screw. I here met with a slight accident, which might have had very serious consequences. While the details of the apparatus were being explained to me, in taking a step nearer to see it better, my right foot slipped on the smooth floor, and at the same moment my left leg, which was lifted to move, was struck just below the knee by the motor of the electric apparatus, making 1200 revolutions in a minute. I fell, and was afraid the bone must be broken; however, I happily had only received a severe contusion. But if I had fallen in the other direction, the machine must inevitably have pounded me to atoms. I immediately applied compresses with ice, and continued to do so for two days, which to a great extent averted any serious consequences; still, the limb remained much swollen for fully a fortnight, and I did not recover the use of it till shortly before we reached Bombay. Of all the imaginable perils of a voyage in the tropics such an accident as this was the last I should have thought of, and it was all the more vexatious, because it occurred just as we were entering the Red Sea, and compelled me to lie below in my cabin for several days.
The Red Sea is dreaded by all Indian voyagers as the hottest and most unpleasant part of the passage; and although we were already at the coolest season of the year, we had ample reason to be convinced of the justice of this opinion. The northern third of the Red Sea, or Arabian Gulf, lies, it is true, outside the tropic, but for all this it must be regarded throughout its whole length as a truly tropical sea. Its character is invariable from Suez to Perim, from 30o to 18o N.lat.; its flora and fauna are almost the same, and its physical peculiarities identical throughout. The difference between the two extremes of the gulf, which is three
hundred miles from north to south, is far less conspicuous in every particular than that between the Red Sea at Suez and the Mediterranean at Port Said, although they are divided only by the narrow bridge of the isthmus. But this narrow bridge which joins Asia to Africa has existed for millions of years, and, as a consequence, the animal and plant life in the two neighbouring seas have developed quite independently of each other. Those of the Mediterranean have affinities with the creatures of the Atlantic; those of the Red Sea, on the other hand, belong to the Indian Ocean.*8
Both the shores of the Red Sea, both the Eastern or Arabian coast and the western or Egyptian, are for by far the greater part bare of all vegetation, and everywhere desolate, parched, and barren, nor does any large river shed its waters into the gulf. Beyond the coast on each side lie long stretches of mountains, which likewise are among the wildest and most desolate on the face of the earth; and between these high, sun-baked parallel ranges lies the narrow Arabian Gulf, like a ditch shut in between high walls, so that the intense heat which is radiated from the waterless sand-hills and cliffs gives rise to no vegetable products. In the hot summer months the thermometer in the shade at noon rises to about 50o centigrade, and the officers of the Helios, who had made the voyage at that season, assured me that this infernal heat had seemed so perfectly unendurable that they had feared it might affect their reason. Even now, at the end of October. it was bad enough. For the greater part of the day the thermometer on deck stood at 28o to 31o under the double awning, rising once to 40o, and in the airy (?) cabins it marked 30o to 35o night and day. At the same time the hot breeze itself was oppressively sultry, and every attempt to find refreshment was vain. To have such a draught, at any rate, as was possible, every window and port-hole was open day and night; air was conveyed from the deck to the lower part of the ship by means of chimney-like ventilators, and, finally, the Indian punkah in the saloons was kept in constant motion. This was very effectually contrived on board our ship by two rows of fan-shaped frames stretched with stuff, which swung on horizontal poles that ran along the whole length of the saloon and were moved by the engine. The air given by these huge fans, and an enormous consumption of iced water, considerably mitigated our sufferings from the tremendous heat.
Our vessel was detained for a day shortly before we reached Suez by a steamship having run aground, so it was not till noon on the 25th that we were lying in the Suez roads, and we remained but a few hours. By next morning we found ourselves opposite Tur, an interesting Arab town lying at the foot of Mount Sinai. In March, 1873, I had derived infinite enjoyment from an examination of the fine coral reef hard by. I had then been on board an Egyptian man-of-war, generously placed at my disposal for this delightful trip by the Khedive, Ismail Pasha, and I was so enchanted by the glories and wonders of this submarine coralgarden that my old longing to see the not remote splendours of India had come over me with aggravated force - "Ah! if only I could see the marvellous shores of Ceylon, surrounded with corals!" And now, eight years afterwards, here I was on my way thither!
In the bright gleam of dawn I saw the picturesque peaks of the Sinaitic peninsula glide by, which I had before seen in the purple glow of the evening sun. Of the six days of misey in the Red Sea which now ensued there is little to be said. Our vessel kept steadily to the middle channel, so we saw very little of either coast. At seven in the evening of the 27th we crossed the tropic of Cancer, and I breathed for the first time the glowing atmosphere of tropical nature. While the starry sky bent over us in unclouded brilliancy, a heavy black storm-cloud hung over the Arabian coast to the eastward, parted every instant and almost incessantly by vivid flashes or broad pale sheets of lightning. No thunder was heard nor did any refreshing rain pass over us. The same spectacle was repeated every evening over the eastern horizon, while to the west it was perfectly clear, and day after day only light fleecy clouds ever floated across the deep blue sky. During the first three nights in the tropics the thermometer never fell below 32o centigrade in the saloons or cabins, while all stood open. I and most of the other gentlemen slept on deck, where the temperature was at least four degrees lower and we also had a breath of air. We passed the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb in the night of October 30th, and the island of Perim, fortified by the English the Gibraltar of the Red Sea. By ten in the morning of the 31st we had cast anchor in the Gulf of Aden.
Aden, as everybody knows, is built on a rocky peninsula, connected with the mainland of Arabia by a narrow isthmus, just like Gibraltar. It was taken and fortified by the English so long ago as 1839, and of late years this great emporium on the route to India has grown to immense importance, particularly since the opening of the Canal. The population already numbers more than thirty thousand. Most ships stop here to take in coal and victuals; we were already provided at Port Said, for we did not know whether communication with Aden was considered safe, an epidemic of cholera having broken out there about two months since. We were told, however, that all danger was now over. No sooner had we arrived than the Helios was surrounded by Arab boats, whose dark-brown passengers clambered on board to offer the produce of the country for sale - ostrich feathers and eggs, lion and leopard skins, antelope horns, huge saws from the sawfish, prettily woven baskets, bowls, and so forth. But the sellers were far more interesting than their merchandise: some of them genuine Arabs, some negroes, some Somalis and Abyssinians. Most were dark brown in colour, verging in some on copper-colour or bronze, and in others nearly black. Their black curly hair was in many cases stained red with henna or white - washed with chalk. The garments of most consisted merely of a white cloth round the loins. Most amusing, too, were the swarms of little brownish-black boys from eight to twelve years old, who came out singly or in pairs in little canoes formed of a tree-trunk burnt hollow, and displayed their diving powers. We threw small silver coins overboard, which they dived for and caught with amazing skill, and struggled under water for them with the greatest energy.
As we did not land we saw but little of the town and fortifications. The barren volcanic rock on which the houses are scattered seemed to be deeply riven, and in some places highly picturesque; the prevailing colour of the bare lava is dark brown. No form of vegetation clothes its stark and naked sides to qualify the heat of the tropical sun, though here and there isolated and meagre plantations were to be seen. A residence in this scorching rock-settlement during the summer is the purgatory of the English garrison, and it is not without reason that the officers call it the "Devil's Punch bowl." The aspect of the naked lava cliffs reminded me forcibly of Lancerote in the Canary Islands.
After a stay of six hours the Helios quitted inhospitable Aden to proceed on her way to Bombay. The eight days' passage across the Indian Ocean again offered no incident worthy of record. We all rejoiced in the exquisite autumn weather; the refreshing north-west monsoon told upon us more and more every day. We perceived its influence with keen satisfaction as soon as we were out of the Red Sea. Although, even now, the thermometer never fell below 2o5 centigrade, and generally stood at 18o at noon, the fresh breeze felt like a different atmosphere, and, above all, the nights were no longer sultry, as in the Red Sea, but deliciously cool. The sea was in constant motion under the fresh breath of the monsoon; its colour was a delicate blue-green, or sometimes a greenish lapis-lazuli, but never the pure deep blue of the Mediterranean: in the Red Sea the blue had verged on violet. The sky was sometimes quite clear, sometimes dappled with light clouds. At noon numerous masses of clouds invariably gathered and packed, towering above each other, and riding from the north-east towards the south-west. The Indian sunset afforded the most gorgeous effects of light, an ever new and ever splendid spectacle, vanishing only too quickly before our eyes. For hours together I could stand forward by the bowsprit and watch the shoals of flying fish which constantly fluttered up close to the ship and shot across just above the water, like swallows.
Still, nothing could prove so strongly attractive as my beloved Medusae, which appeared in the mornings between nine and twelve at first singly and then in swarms: blue Rhizostoma, rose-coloured Aurelia and reddish-brown Pelagia. I regretted extremely being unable to fish up and examine the remarkable social Medusae or Siphonophorae. called Porpita, and of which numerous fine specimens werc seen, though always singly, on November 4.
On some evenings the beautiful phenomenon of a phosphorescent sea was finer than I ever had seen it. The whole ocean, as far as the eye could reach, was one continuous and sparkling sea of light. A microscopical investigation of the water in a bucket showed that the greater number of the phosphorescent creatures were minute crustaceans, and the rest were Medusae, Salpae. Annelidae, etc., but the brightest light proceeded from the Pyrosoma. I Ipent the greater part of three weeks of enforced idleness in writing this account of them.