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ludicrous, and a remarkable faculty of retaining vividly to the last the freshness of first impressions, he sat down and told his story with the pen very much as he would have told it to his intimates with the tongue, had he encountered them just after emerging from one of his many adventures.
It happened to the writer of these lines to meet him in London on his return homeward from his eastern travels, when he had no expectation of becoming an author (though for the sake of his friends he had kept memoranda of his observations); and many an hour was agreeably occupied in listening to his stories, particularly of his journey through Idumea, related almost precisely as they were afterwards given to the world. Indeed the publication of his first volumes of travels atforded a remarkable proof of the intrinsic worth of the book, as well as a most unexpected and gratifying instance of literary success: that which was prepared, chiefly for the sake of personal friends, passed rapidly through several editions ; and a work unheralded by previous laudatory announcement, and not bearing on its title-page a name established in the world of letters, obtained, by virtue of its contents alone, a wide-spread celebrity, and conferred on its author the character of a popular American writer.
It was not learned, but it was truthful and intelligible to the mass of readers, and this insured its success. We are inclined to believe that the unexpected reception of this first attempt, made our author a traveller on our own continent. In repeated conversations with the present writer, the attention of Mr. Stephens was called to the ruins of Guatemala and Yucatan, as represented in the works of Del Rio and Waldeck. His was just the enthusiasm of character to be captivated by the thought of explorations where so little was known; and his diplomatic appointment to Guatemala by President Van Buren afforded him precisely the field he wanted, with the advantages his work might derive from official station. He used laughingly to say that he travelled over all Guatemala looking for the government to which he was accredited, and which he never could find ; while his journeyings enabled him to discover something which would probably prove more interesting to his countrymen than any diplomatic correspondence. And it was more interesting, not merely to his countrymen, but to the learned of Europe also. His travels in Central America and Yucatan are unquestionably the richest contribution ever made by any one man to the subject of American Antiquities.
Those who knew him are aware that he possessed in an eminent degree, many, if not all the requisites necessary for precisely such a work as he had undertaken. His single deficiency was, that he had not had time to acquire the learning of a well read antiquary. But he had all things else that were needed. Sustained by his enthusiasm, he could and would endure an incredible amount of bodily fatigue; his perseverance was indomitable ; indeed energy of character was probably the strongest element of his nature. He possessed also, with a large knowledge of men, extraordinary tact in his intercourse with them, and a courage, moral and physical, which nothing could daunt. Το this we may add, an ever-ready power of accommodating himself to circumstances, and making the best of them, with a good humor that laughed at inconveniences when they were remediless, and a generous kindliness of heart, prompt to respond to human suffering. He had large sympathies with his kind. . There was about him, too, a truthfulness which made its impression even on the shortest acquaintance. Every one, therefore, who knew him was satisfied that he would use no traveller's privilege; that what he related as facts within his own knowledge might be implicitly relied on, even to the measurement of an inch in the length of a wall. These were the qualities which he carried into the work of an explorer among our buried cities; and the results of the employment of these qualities, told in his own unpretending manner, often relieved by an outbreak of his quick sense of the ludicrous, have made, and will long continue to make, his books of American travels a source at once of information and amusement, that will last until a fresher interest is created by fresh explorations and newer discoveries; but let who will succeed him in the field, not one will be more truthful than John L. Stephens.
His life was spent in action; and it is a sad thought that the very enthusiasm and energy which formed in him such marked characteristics, probably contributed, in no small degree, to send him to the grave at the comparatively early age of forty-seven. His travels in Central America subjected him to exposure and disease, of which, at the time, he thought less than they deserved. They doubtless gave to his constitution a blow which but little fitted it to encounter fresh exposure on the Isthmus of Panama, whither he was led by the same unconquerable energy and perseverance which had marked his previous career. The great work of connecting the two oceans proceeded too
slowly for his enthusiastic nature. He home but to die; but he has left his mark saw its importance, and resolved that upon
the age in which he lived. The it should be finished speedily. As railroad is nearly completed, and the first President of the Company he repaired iron track between the Atlantic and Pain person to the spot, and enduring toil
, cific is henceforth indelibly connected and exposure, and sickness, returned with the name of John L. Stephens.
PORTRAIT of my grandmother of popular homage was over, he called, in
hangs upon my parlor wall. It was his decay, for the full-wigged portrait tataken at least sixty-five years since, and ken when he was the fashion, and wrote represents the venerable lady, whom I re under it “quantum mutatus ab illo !" member in my childhood, in spectacles Alas ! how changed from that! The feeland comely cap, as a young and blooming ing in the superannuated man about town girl. She is sitting upon an old-fashioned seems hardly genuine, and like every sofa, by the side of a prim aunt of hers, 'thing those men did, has a slight theatriand with her back to the open window. cal air. But it was touching to see my Her costume is quaint, but handsome. grandmother steal quietly up to her porIt consists of a cream-colored dress made trait, on still summer mornings when evhigh in the throat, ruffled around the ery one had left the house, and I, the neck, and over the bosom and the shoul only child, played, disregarded, and look ders. The waist is just under her shoul at it wistfully and long. She held her ders, and the sleeves are tight, tighter hand over her eyes to shade them from than any of our coat sleeves, and also the light that streamed in at the window, ruffled at the wrist. Around the plump and I have seen her stand at least a quarand rosy neck, which I remember as ter of an hour gazing steadfastly at the shrivelled and sallow, and hidden under picture. She said nothing, she made no a decent lace handkerchief, hangs, in motion, she shed no tear, but when she the picture, a necklace of large ebony turned away there was always a pensive beads. There are two curls upon the sweetness in her face that made it not less forehead, and the rest of the hair flows lovely than the face of her youth. I have away in ringlets down her neck. The learned since what her thoughts must hands hold an open book : the eyes look have been,—how that long, wistful glance up from it with tranquil sweetness, and annihilated time and space, how forms and through the open window behind you see faces unknown to any other, rose in suda quiet landscape,-a hill, a tree, the den resurrection around her,-how she glimpse of a river, and a few peaceful sum loved, suffered, struggled and conquered mer clouds. Often in my younger days, again ; how many a jest that I shall never when my grandmother sat by the fire af hear, how many a game that I shall never ter dinner lost in thought, -perhaps re play, how many a song that I shall never membering the time when the picture was sing, were all renewed and remembered a portrait-I have curiously compared as my grandmother contemplated her picher wasted face with the blooming beauty ture. of the girl, and tried to detect the like My own thoughts were of a very dif
It was strange how the resem ferent character. I, too, used to study blance would sometimes appear: how, as that portrait, but my aim was to discover I gazed and gazed upon her old face, age why it made my old friend look unlike disappeared before my eager glance, as any young person I had ever seen. Had snow melts in the sunshine, revealing the it been the likeness of Helen or of Aspaflowers of a forgotten spring.
sia, I said to myself, when I began to stuIt was saddest of all to see my grand- dy Greek, it would not be surprising that mother herself contemplating the portrait. it did not resemble my cousin Maude, but The story is told of old Wycherly, the why Maude's grandmother less than sevwit and dramatist, that when his brief day enty years ago should look like no girl I
ever saw, was a great mystery to me. It “ Well,” says Flamingo, " I suppose the was none the less so when Smith took me significance of carrying a muff in winter, to his father's house to see the “ family is to keep the hands warm. The size is a portraits.” Among these there were some matter of convenience.” of the same strange young women, and I “Not at all; it is a matter of whim, or racked my fancy again, to discover why of fashion, which only concerns the form, they were so different from our young and has nothing to do with the essence. women. Smith suddenly explained the Last winter Maude carried a muff as large whole mystery
as a bearskin, and next winter she will “What an odd, old-fashioned style of wear thread-gloves, if it is the fashion." dress," said Smith.
And it is the truth. Flamingo can It was a very obvious remark, and so never get any nearer to his profound reawas the fact of gravitation very obvious son in fashion than this, that people imibefore the apple hit Newton on the nose. itate the dress of one whom they acknowI looked at my grandmother's picture ledge as a leader, just as boys imitate the with new eyes, and saw why a human handwriting, and collegians the rhetorical being, of the female species, sixty years style of certain persons whom they adago was so entirely different from the mire. Fashion is a kind of hero-worship, same creature now. Fashion was the he says. “Poetical young men turn down Magician. Fashion was the great com their collars and drink gin and water bemander who said "wear ruffles," and they cause Childe Harold did it." Fashion were worn; elevate the waist," and it is imitation founded in genuine reverence. was elerated; “powder the hair," and it Your tailor pads and puffs and squeezes, was powdered. For a few days after says philosophical Flamingo. Why does Smith's remark, it really seemed as if he do it? To make your figure somefashion were the secret of history. Had what resemble what is called the ideal Marshal Turenne marched to victory in figure of the Apollo, or some other type the uniform of the “Light-Guard,” or that of fine manly form. The individual tailor of " Duryee's Regiment," I trembled, to knows nothing of this principle, but neverthink how much prestige he would neces theless, that is the reason of the pigeonsarily lose. The horse-hair wig and the breasted waistcoats and the stuffed coats polished armor began to seem too large a which he makes. Fine tailoring co-opepart of Marshal Turenne; and as I pon rates with fine arts, says Flamingo. It dered on the portraits of the beautiful la tries to make a man as handsome as a dies of the Court, they seemed to me only statue. paint, patch, and scratch. Then those But this, I confess, seems to me seeing Elizabethan towers upon the head! How much more in a picture than the painter gladly my fancy fled from them and meant. I will not deny that it is often rested contentedly in the close, comely, truly so, and that there is beauty in a Grisette-ish little cap of Mary, Queen of work, according as it is seen, and even Scots.
more and a different beauty than was inWho makes the fashion then, since so tended. Yet I still recur to the inquiry, much depends upon it? That is a ques Who makes the fashion ? because I cannot tion which I cannot get answered. My believe that there is any very profound philosophical friends have their theories reason for my trowsers being cut straight about it. Flamingo, in his lofty way, this winter, when they lapped a little over says that every fashion has a profound the foot a year ago. Nor do I fancy there significance, and that if you could really is any especial mystery in the fact that see the reasons of things as you walk the skirts of my street-coat must now down Broadway, you would enjoy in a hang to the calves of my legs, when last sedate and instructive manner the glitter year they scarcely fell below my waist. ing varieties of costume,,in fact, he says, What would induce my cousin Maude to you would distil a drop of the honey of receive visitors this morning in the coswisdom from every flower of folly that tume of my grandmother's portrait ? Yet blooms in that gay parterre.
it is much more simple and picturesque * Exactly," I say to Flamingo," but you than any thing Maude will wear. The miss the point. Here comes my cousin only reason she can give is, that it is "out Maude in her new suit of furs. She fol of fashion." Who put it out ? And who, lows the fashion which, this winter, pre from time to time, continues to put "out scribes small muffs. You see she can of fashion” what is graceful and pictuscarcely squeeze those darling hands into
resque, and to put " in fashion very that bit of a muff, which is no larger than graceless and clumsy contrivances ? The a good-sized cuff. Now what, pray, is the other day my aunt Jane entertained the profound significance of that absurdity little folk who came to take tea with of my cousin Maude's ???
Clara by coming down in her bridal hat.
There was one burst of laughter from ball to-night, in the coat your father was young and old.
“ You may laugh,” said married in ? You remember it, with the aunt Jane, smiling, “but when I went to long swallow tail, and the lappets upon church, after my marriage, in that hat, I the waist; or would you even wear the assure you it was the envy and despair of waistcoat you wore to her first ball, seven the whole town; and, by next Sunday, years ago
o? Being a young man, I natuthe church was full of all kinds of imita-' rally say, no. Or if Claude Fay, who is a tions of it.” When the little people came lover of my cousin Maude's, wished to seto take leave of aunt Jane, she said to cure her favor, would he be likely to array them, “ keep the bonnets you are wearing himself in a
“green, half-trimmed frock to-night for twenty years, and then you and breeches, lined with silk," or will laugh as heartily at them as you do Queen's blue dress suit," or “a half-dress at my bridal hat to night." Should we suit of ratteen, lined with satin," or even a not? Here is Claude Fay in the very pair of silk stocking-breeches, and anplenitude of this winter's fashion. Let other pair of a bloom-color ?" Yet Oliver him walk down Broadway twenty, or ten
Goldsmith donned all this gear to win the this suit, which to-day all smiles of the Jessamy Bride. And, couwe young men envy and admire so much, sin Maude! the Jessamy Bride found it if he dare!
“impossible not to love and respect his Not many years ago our mothers all goodness of heart.” She thought less of wore leg-of-mutton sleeves,—stiff, starch the ratteen coat, than the true human ed, clumsy wings, opposed to every feeling heart it covered, and when he, who, in his of propriety and sense of beauty. Then credulous and childlike way, had loved and came the sleeves puffed about the shoulder honored her, lay dead in his solitary room, and upper part of the arm.
Aunt Jane, the Jessamy Bride carried from his coffin I remember, used to wear under-sleeves, a lock of the poet's hair. or circular cushions, stuffed with down, or Now, why would not Claude Fay wear feathers, or something else, to make the what Oliver Goldsmith wore ? Simply and puff of the outer sleeve sufficiently promi- only, because it is not the fashion. And nent; they used to sit in these deformed why shouldn't it be the fashion to wear dresses, and laugh by the hour over bloom-colored breeches now? Is it, after Queen Anne's hoops and heels, and the all, more than a whim? Hlas fashion any Chinese coiffure of Louis XIV's ladies. deeper foundation than the love of change? And to-day at dinner, as cousin Maude I find myself in October giving away held her plate for a cut of roast turkey, all the cravats I bought in June. They and dipped her falling-lace under-sleeve are quite as handsome as then, and would into a dish of gravy, and then draggled it be equally available for the next season. over the table-cloth, she was shouting But I have done with them, I am tired of with laughter at the idea of my mother them. My younger brother, Hal, may in those other sleeves. Maude hates the wear them, but I would rather go through Bloomers, because they are contemporary, next summer in a black silk ribbon, than but merely derides the high heels and use the ties I liked so much this season. short skirts of earlier days. This she did I doubt if you can make more of it than vehemently one day last week, as I es love of change. Uncle Solomon and his corted her up the Fifth Avenue, and, at set were great judges of wine.
At least, the same moment, her skirts were sweep they said so, and I know that they were ing the mud and offal of the street, to the great drinkers. I dined often at uncle's great saving of the scavenger's salary, but, table and saw much of the set. They unhappily, to the great disgust of every swore by Madeira. Sherry was a thin, wodecent person. “My dear coz.," Maude man's wine; and they quaffed foaming says to me, one must be in the fashion.” glasses of the sparkling ruby liquor. This - But who makes it?" inquire I desperately. was ten years ago. How they laughed at "Don't be a fool, John," she replies, and
Clarence's death in a butt of Malmsey. from this pious devotee, I can get no other “Why,” said Uncle Solomon, “a man who account of the goddess.
loved such a wine deserved no better fate.” After such little passages with her, I " There couldn't be but one worse fate stroll slowly homeward to my bachelor than being drowned in Malmsey," said cigar, and wonder why Maude will be so jolly old bottle-nosed Crabtoe, Uncle Sol.'s subservient to Fashion. But often enough partner. 6 And what is that ?" asked I I turn upon myself, and demand if I am timorously, " Why, drowning Malmsey in not equally so, if we are not all more or yourself,” cried Crabtoe. Falstaff and his thodox in that faith than in any other. I friends fared no better. "Sack and sugar," say to myself, Wowd you now wear Farm said another of this dogmatic crew, " oh! er Bullock's bell-crowned beaver down Lord !" So they drained their Madeira, Broadway? Would you go to Mrs. Bounce's and cracked their nuts. Wine-drinking, I
inferred, was a matter of taste and not of nose had, in the meanwhile, blossomed so fashion: or, perhaps, of country. But I brilliantly, that the set called it the burndevoutly clung to Madeira and the Crabtoe ing bush.
“Why don't you take in your doctrines, and when I heard from a young sign, Crabtoe ?" said Uncle Sol., "good friend, that his father, who had lived sev wine needs no bush !" and they all roared eral years in England, always drank Sher again. Yet six years had swept away ry to his dinner, I grieved for his father, much prejudice and much wine. I found as for a man who had become uncivilized. them drinking Claret, Rhenish, and SherThe next time I dined with Uncle Solo ry, to a man. There was a bottle of very mon, I spoke of French wines, and Ger old Madeira introduced as a curiosity, and man and Italian wines. They were damn every man took a thimble-full. But ed directly. They were “stuff,” and “ex " the staple tipple,” as Claude Fay calls it, ecrable," and "women's wine,” and many was light wine. "Light wine's all the go other disagreeable things. Madeira was
now, my boy,” said Uncle Sol. “Why ?" the wine for a man. Amen,” thundered said 'I. "Oh! I don't know: it's the fashion. Crabtoe, but broke off suddenly, smarting We don't swig and guzzle as we used to with a twinge of the gout. Claret is
do," replied he. your gouty wine,” cried Uncle Sol. “Your This seems very ridiculous. Rhenish is vinegar,” said another guest. mere puppets which this magician Fashion " And your Italian wines, muddy sweet moves at will ? Are we lay-figures only, ened water," added a very rich gentleman draped by this capricious Fairy? "I at the foot of the table, who had never will not submit,” cried I, "'tis unmanly. travelled farther than Saratoga.
Peach-bloom breeches are as good as my Uncle Sol. and his set were fairly en gray trowsers. I will be bold, I will be titled to their opinion, and might drink free, I will be what wine they preferred. But why this Out of the fashion, if you dare," said monstrous contempt and commiseration Claude Fay, who heard me. for other tastes than theirs ? Are not sweet And was he not right again? Is it not Tokay and the Rhenish wines, the wines easier to stretch the truth a little, than to of history and poetry? Did any old drink wear a high black-satin stock? Yet that ing Baron, whose exploits in emptying was the top of fashion when the first gentlebeakers have made wine-drinking an histo men in Europe wore it. Show me a man ric fact, ever condescend to the fire that bold enough to be out of fashion, not for burned in Uncle Sol.'s ruby Madeira ? a freak, or a bet, or for an occasion, but, Would Horace have exchanged a single if you choose to say so, upon principle, sip of his exquisite Falernian for a tun of and I will show you a hero. We none such lava? Was the wine of Cyprus, of us like it. We like to have our hats which old Crabtoe pishes at as cordial, and boots and waistcoats in the fashion. ever drunk by modern traveller without We are averse to having our wives and emotion ? To hear Uncle Sol. and his set, daughters — how much more our misyou would have fancied that no one ever tresses-say-"oh! how old-fashioned.” drank wine with understanding, until this Nothing more completely describes a blessed club of diners-out met for the pur
woman than that term. To pose. It imposed upon me for a long say “ an old-fashioned gentleman,” is to time, and I had a secret pity for men who evoke a grave and courtly figure in the did not believe in Madeira. But I pre- mind, with an amplitude of ruffle and a sently crossed the sea myself, and dis generous coat, bowing, as if bowing were covered what good wine was. I drank one of the cardinal virtues, and addressing the pure vintage of the Rhine, and the a woman as if he were Solomon's ambasDanube, and the Arno, the Sicilian shore, sador to the Queen of Sheba. There is a and the broad fields of France; and tasted certain quaint grace about it, which is the grape and its blossom, the sun,
the characteristic and winning. The "oldcountry, and the climate, in each wine I fashioned ” manner, like the costume of quaffed. I remembered those tables at my grandmother in her portrait, instantly home flaming with hot wines, and a brief restores the old times and the old society. glimpse of cool claret at the end of dinner, But you and I study it and enjoy it, as introduced as a curiosity. I saw the lithe, we do Egyptian specimens. We have mercurial Frenchmen, of all men the most no wish to be Pharaoh nor Ptolemy. nimble, and who live on claret, and re Is it not, after all, mere whim? When membered Uncle Sol.'s decree, “ Claret is Uncle Joseph died, Aunt Jane went Four youty wine.” Uncle Sol., I laughed into prodigious mourning. She was hung harder at you than ever you did at Cla in black, like a city at a public funeral.
Well, when I came home after six She darkened the sunshine as she walked. years' absence, I dined one day with the Every rustle of her widow's sable shook remnant of the old set. Old Crabtoe's out gloom. Smiles died upon the face of