GREAT JOURNEYS (by PENGUIN)

THE CUSTOMS OF THE KINGDOMS OF INDIA – MARCO POLO.

1. (…) it loosens the bowels and makes a thorough purge; but after that it does them good and makes them put on flesh. (p.1)

2. There are even women among them who specialize in lamentation and are daily on hire to bewail the lost ones of other men and women. (p.4)

3. Drink one drop of it and you void your bowel ten times over. (p.5)

4. ‘It is because you employ this member in sin and lechery that you cover it and are ashamed of it.’ (p.42)

5. The reason they give for burning their dead is that if a body were not burnt it would breed worms; and when the worms had eaten it, they would inevitably die. And they say that by their death the souls of the deceased would incur great sin. That is their justification for cremating the dead. And they firmly maintain that worms have souls. (p.44)

6. Everything there is different from what it is with us and excels both in size and beauty. (p.53)

7. For our part, as to how we took leave of the Great Khan, you have heard in the prologue of this book, in the chapter that tells of the troubles encountered by Messer Maffeo and Messer Niccolo and Messer Marco in getting his leave to depart and of the happy chance that led to our departure. And you must know that, but for this chance, we might never have got away for all our pains, so that there is little likelihood that we should ever have returned to our own country. But I believe it was God’s will that we should return, so that men might know the things that are in the world, (…) (p.85)

THE SHIPWRECKED MEN – CABEZA DE VACA.

1. We were in such a state that our bones could easily be counted and we looked like death itself. (p.45)

2. But when it pleased our God our Lord to take us to those Indians, they respected us and held us to be precious, as the former ones had done, and even a little more so. This astonished us somewhat, while it clearly shows how, in order to bring those people to Christianity and obedience unto Your Imperial Majesty, they should be well treated, and not otherwise. (p.125)

3. That whoreson dog of a French renegade has lost a fat morsel, God knows! (p.143)

TO THE HOLY SHRINES – SIR RICHARD BURTON.

1. In the East, man wants but rest and shade: upon the banks of a bubbling stream, or under the cool shelter of a perfumed tree, he is perfectly happy, smoking a pipe, or sipping a cup of coffee, or drinking a glass of sherbet, but above all things deranging body and mind as little as possible; the trouble of conversations, the displeasures of memory, and the vanity of thought being the most unpleasant interruptions to his Kayf. No wonder that ‘Kayf’ is a word untranslatable in our mother-tongue! (p.5)

2. In the hour of imminent danger, he has only to become a maniac, and he is safe; a madman in the East, like a notably eccentric character in the West, is allowed to say or do whatever the spirit directs. (p.9)

3. When he spoke, his voice was affectedly gruff; he had a sad knack of sneering, and I never saw him thoroughly sober. (p.34)

4. Then by his favour, for you improved the occasion, you were allowed to spend the hours of darkness on a wooden bench, in the adjacent long gallery, together with certain little parasites, for which polite language has no name. (p.49)

5. Immense was the confusion at the eventful hour of our departure. (p.64)

6. (…) women are shrieking and talking with inconceivable power, (…) (p.64)

7. (…) for an hour or so we stand in the thick of a human storm. (p.64)

8. (…) and the men scold and swear, because in such scenes none may be silent. (p.64)

9. (…) and there was not a slipper nor a show amongst the party. (p.68)

IN THE HEART OF THE AMAZON FOREST – WALTER HENRY BATES.

1. (…) her figure was almost faultless, and the blue mouth, instead of being a disfigurement, gave quite a captivating finish to her appearance. (p.47)

2. The desire, however, of seeing again my parents and enjoying once more the rich pleasures of intellectual society, had succeeded in overcoming the attractions of a region which may be fittingly called a Naturalist’s Paradise. (p.106)

3. Recollections of English climate, scenery, and modes of life came to me with a vividness I had never before experienced, during the eleven years of my absence. Pictures of startling clearness rose up of the gloomy winters, the long grey twilights, murky atmosphere, elongated shadows, chilly springs, and sloppy summers; of factory chimneys and crowds of grimy operatives, rung to work in early morning by factory cares, and slavish conventionalities. To live again amidst these dull scenes, I was quitting a country of perpetual summer, where my life had been spent like that of three-fourths of the people – in gipsy fashion – on the endless streams or in the boundless forests. I was leaving the equator, where the well-balanced forces of Nature maintained a land-surface and climate that seemed to be typical of mundane order and beauty, to sail towards the North Pole, where lay my home under crepuscular skies somewhere about fifty-two degrees of latitude. It was natural to feel a little dismayed at the prospect of so great a change; but now, after three years of renewed experience of England, I find how incomparably superior is civilised life, where feelings, tastes, and intellect find abundant nourishment, to the spiritual sterility of half-savage existence, even though it be passed in the garden of Eden. (p.107)

4. The superiority of the bleak north to tropical regions, however, is only on their social aspect, for I hold to the opinion that, although humanity can reach an advanced state of culture only by battling with the inclemencies of nature in high latitudes, it is under the equator alone that the perfect race of the future will attain to complete fruition of man’s beautiful heritage, the earth. (p.108)

BORNEO, CELEBES, ARU – ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE.

1. She swam beautifully, and kept looking back as if expecting I would follow her, screaming violently all the time; while a number of men and boys were laughing at her ignorant terror. (p.43)

2. They were mostly fine young fellows, and I could not help admiring the simplicity and elegance of their costume. Their only dress is the long ‘chawat,’ or waist-cloth, which hangs down before and behind. It is generally of blue cotton, ending in three broad bands of red, blue, and white. Those who can afford it wear a handkerchief on the head, which is either red, with a narrow border of gold lace, or of three colours, like the ‘chawat.’ The large flat moon-shaped brass earrings, the heavy necklace of white or black beads, rows of brass rings on the arms and legs, and armlets of white shell, all serve to relieve and set off the pure reddish brown skin and jet-black hair. Add to this the little pouch containing materials for betel-chewing, and a long slender knife, both invariably worn at the side, and you have the everyday dress of the young Dyak gentleman. (p.44)

3. If I had to fix on two only, as representing the perfection of the two classes, I should certainly choose the Durian and the Orange as the king and queen of fruits. (p.57)

4. Almost all tropical countries produce Bamboos, and wherever they are found in abundance the natives apply them to a variety of uses. Their strength, lightness, smoothness, straightness, roundness and hollowness, the facility and regularity with which they can be split, their many different sizes, the varying length of their joints, the ease with which they can be cut and with which holes can be made through them, their hardness outside, their freedom from any pronounced taste or smell, their great abundance, and the rapidity of their growth and increase, are all qualities which render them useful for a hundred different purposes, to serve which other materials would require much more labour and preparation. The Bamboo is one of the most wonderful and most beautiful productions of the tropics, and one of nature’s most valuable gifts to uncivilized man. (p.59)

5. I also got hold of a little impudent rascal of twelve or fourteen, who could speak some Malay, to carry my gun or insect-net and make himself generally useful. Ali had by this time become a pretty good bird-skinner, so that I was fairly supplied with servants. (p.72)

6. While I ate, three men, two women, and four children watched every motion, and never took eyes off me until I had finished. (p.75)

7. (…) I begged a plate and a basin from my host, filled the former with water, and standing the latter in it placed my box on the top, and then felt secure for the night; a few inches of clean water or oil being the only barrier these terrible pests are not able to pass. (p.76)

8. There was a strange mixture of the terrible and the ludicrous in our situation. We might at any moment have a much stronger shock, which would bring down the house over us, or – what I feared more – cause a landslip, and send us down into the deep ravine on the very edge of which the village is built; yet I could not help laughing each time we ran out at a slight shock, and then in a few moments ran in again. The sublime and the ridiculous were here literally but a step apart. On the one hand, the most terrible and destructive of natural phenomena was in action around us – the rocks, the mountains, the solid earth were trembling and convulsed, and we were utterly impotent to guard against the danger that might at any moment overwhelm us. On the other hand was the spectacle of a number of men, women, and children running in and out of their houses, on what each time proved a very unnecessary alarm, as each shock ceased just as it became strong enough to frighten us. It seemed really very much like ‘playing at earthquakes,’ and made many of the people join me in a hearty laugh, even while reminding each other that it really might be no laughing matter. (p.81)

9. But I miscalculated my apathy, for I could not sleep much. (p.81)

10. The sensation produced an earthquake is never to be forgotten. We feel ourselves in the grasp of a power to which the wildest fury of the winds and waves are as nothing; yet the effect is more a thrill of awe than the terror which the more boisterous war of the elements produces. There is a mystery and an uncertainty as to the amount of danger we incur, which gives greater play to the imagination, and to the influences of hope and fear. These remarks apply only to a moderate earthquake. A severe one is the most destructive and the most horrible catastrophe to which human beings can be exposed. (p.82)

11. I myself had hoped rather than expected ever to reach this ‘Ultima Thule’ of the East: and when I found that I really could do so now, had I but courage to trust myself for a thousand miles’ voyage in a Bugis prau, and for six or seven months among lawless traders and ferocious savages, I felt somewhat as I did when, a schoolboy, I was for the first time allowed to travel outside the stage-coach, to visit that scene of all that is strange and new and wonderful to young imaginations – London! (p.85)

12. The remainder of my stay was fully occupied in laying in stories, engaging servants, and making every other preparation for an absence of seven months from even the outskirts of civilization. (p.85)

13. It was covered with fine cane mats, for the manufacture of which Macassar is celebrated; against the further wall were arranged my guncase, insect-boxes, clothes, and books; my mattress occupied the middle, and next the door were my canteen, lamp, and little store of luxuries for my voyage; while guns, revolver, and hunting knife hung conveniently from the roof. During these four miserable days I was quite jolly in this little snuggery more so than I should have been if confined the same time to the gilded and uncomfortable saloon of a first-class steamer. Then, how comparatively sweet was everything on board – no paint, no tar, no new rope, (vilest of smells to the qualmish!) no grease, or oil, or varnish; but instead of these, bamboo and rattan, and coir rope and palm thatch; pure vegetable fibres, which smell pleasantly if they smell at all, and recall quiet scenes in the green and shady forest. (p.87)

14. It was only while gazing at my that their tongues were moderately quiet, because their eyes were fully occupied. (p.93)

15. One funny old man, who bore a ludicrous resemblance, to a friend of mine at home, was almost indignant. (p.95)

16. The stings and bites and ceaseless irritation caused by these pests of the tropical forests, would be borne uncomplainingly; but to be kept prisoner by them in so rich and unexplored a country where rare and beautiful creatures are to be met with in every forest ramble – a country reached by such a long and tedious voyage, and which might not in the present century be again visited for the same purpose – is a punishment too severe for a naturalist to pass over in silence. (p.100)

17. We recommend this style to the consideration of those of the fair sex who still bore holes in their ears and hang rings thereto. (p.102)

CAN-CANS, CATS AND CITIES OF ASH – MARK TWAIN.

1. (…) with brass rings in their ears, and fraud in their hearts, (…) (p.5)

2. Nobody comes here, and nobody goes away. (p.10)

3. And they have a swarm of rusty, dusty, battered apostles standing around the filagree work, some on one leg and some with one eye out but a gamey look in the other, and some with two or three fingers gone, and some with not enough nose left to blow – all of them crippled and discouraged, and fitter subjects for the hospital than the cathedral. (p.12)

4. We wanted something thoroughly and uncompromisingly foreign – foreign from top to bottom – foreign from centre to circumference – foreign inside and outside and all around – nothing any where about it to dilute its foreigness – nothing to remind us of any other people or any other land under the sun. And lo! in Tangier we have found it. (p.17)

5. (…) as black as Moses; (…) (p.18)

6. Here were no scenes but summer scenes, and no disposition inspired by them but to lie at full length on the mail sacks, in the grateful breeze, and dreamily smoke the pipe of peace – what other, where all was repose and contentment? (p.34)

7. The Old Travelers – those delightful parrots who have ‘been here before,’ and know more about the country than Louis Napoleon knows now or ever will know, – tell us these things, and we believe them because they are pleasant things to believe, and because they are plausable and savor of the rigid subjection to law and order which we behold about us every where.

But we love the Old Travelers. We love to hear them prate, and drivel and lie. We can tell them the moment we see them. They always throw out a few feelers; they never cast themselves adrift till they have sounded every individual and know that he has not traveled. Then they open their throttle-valves, and howthey do brag, and sneer, and swell, and soar, and blaspheme the sacred name of Truth! Their central idea, their grand aim, is to subjugate you, keep you down, make you feel insignificant and humble in the blaze of their cosmopolitan glory! They will not let you know any thing. They sneer at your most inoffensive suggestions: they laugh unfeelingsly at your treasured dreams of foreign lands; they brand the statements of your traveled aunts and uncles as the stupidest absurdities; they deride your most trusted authors and demolish the fair images they have set up for your willing worship with the pitiless ferocity of the fanatic iconoclast! But still I love the Old Travelers. I love them for their witless platitudes; for their supernatural ability to bore; for their delightful asinine vanity; for their luxuriant fertility of imagination; for their startling, their brilliant, their overwhelming mendacity! (p.38)

8. The streets generally are four or five to eight feet wide and as crooked as a corkscrew. You go along one of these gloomy cracks, and look up and behold the sky like a mere ribbon of light, far above your head, where the tops of the tall houses on either side of the street bend almost together. You feel as if you were at the bottom of some tremendous abyss, with all the world far above you. You wind in and out and here and there, in the most mysterious way, and have no more idea of the points of the compass than if you were a blind man. (p.62)

9. We are ready to move again, though we are not really tired, yet, of the narrow passages of this old marble cave. Cave is a good word – when speaking of Genoa under the stars. When we have been prowling at midnight through the gloomy crevices they call streets, where no foot falls but ours were echoing, where only ourselves were abroad, and lights appeared only at long intervals and at a distance, and mysteriously disappeared again, and the houses at our elbows seemed to stretch upward farther than ever toward the heavens, the memory of a cave I used to know at home was always in my mind, with its lofty passages, its silence and solitude, its shrouding gloom, its sepulchral echoes, its flitting lights, and more than all, its sudden revelations of branching crevices and corridors where we least expected them. (p.65)

10. Men lived long times, in the olden time, and struggled feverishly through them, toiling like slaves, in oratory, in generalship, or in literature, and then laid them down and died, happy in the possession of an enduring history and a deathless name. Well, twenty little centuries flutter away, and what is left of these things? A crazy inscription on a block of stone, which snuffy antiquaries bother over and tangle up and make nothing out of but a bare name (which they spell wrong) – no history, no tradition, no poetry – nothing that can give it even a passing interest. (p.95)

A JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE – ANTON CHECKHOV.

1. My face is covered with fish scales because of all the wind and rain, (…) (p.5)

2. I won’t describe Tomsk. All Russian towns are the same. Tomsk is a dull and rather drunken sort of place; no beautiful women at all, and Asiatic lawlessness. The most notable thing about Tomsk is that governors come here to die. (p.5)

3. You mustn’t complain if my letters are short, slapdash or dry, because one is not always oneself while on the road and cannot write exactly as one would wish. (p. 5)

4. The Japanese start at Blagoveshchensk, or rather Japanese women, diminutive brunettes with big, weird hair-dos. They have beautiful figures and are, as I saw for myself, rather short in the haunch. They dress beautifully. The ‘ts’ sound predominates in their language. When, to satisfy your curiosity, you have intercourse with a Japanese woman, you being to understand Skalkovsky, who is said to have had his photograph taken with a Japanese whore. (p.31)

5. It is now getting on for midnight, darkness is on the face of the waters and the wind is blowing. (p.37)

6. When I remember that I am over six thousand miles away from the world I know, I feel overwhelmed with lethargy, as though it will be a hundred years before I return home. (p.37)

7. I could not see the wharf and buildings through the darkness and the smoke drifting across the sea, and could barely distinguish dim lights at the post, two of which were red. The horrifying scene, compounded of darkness, the silhouettes of mountains, smoke, flames and fiery sparks, was fantastic. On my left monstrous fires were burning, above them the mountains, and beyond the mountains a red glow rose to the sky from remote conflagrations. It seeemed that all of Sakhalin was on fire. (p.44)

8. And all were covered with smoke, as in hell. (p.44)

9. The surface is leaden, over it there hangs a monotonous grey sky, and the savage waves batter the wild treeless shore. The waves roar, and once in a great while the black shape of a whale or a seal flashes through them. (p.56)

10. It was quiet in the warehouse and in my soul, (…) (p.64)

11. During my entire sojourn on Sakhalin only in the settlers’ barracks near the mine and here, in Derbinskoye, on that rainy, muddy morning, did I live through moments when I felt that I saw before me the extreme limits of man’s degradation, lower than which he cannot go. (p.65)

12.The exile resorts to deceit in order to evade hard labour orvcorporal punishment and to secure a piece of bread, a pinch of tea, salt or tobacco, because experience has proved to him that deceit is the best and most dependable strategy in the struggle for existence. Thievery is common and is regarded as a legitimate business. (p.91)

13. Then follows utter silence. (p.103)

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