in his mind various plans for the accomplishment of this
"If you would do me the honor to listen," I said, scornful of his paltry attempt at wit, "you would see that the book is the object of my travelling. I travel to write. I do not write because I have travelled. I am not going to subordinate my book to my adventures. My adventures are going to be arranged beforehand with a view to my book."
"A most original way of getting up a book!"
"Not in the least. It is the most common thing in the world. Look at our dear British cousins."
"And see them make guys of themselves. They visit a magnificent country that is trying the experiment of the world, and write about their shaving-soap and their babies' nurses."
"Just where they are right. Just why I like the race, from Trollope down. They give you something to take hold of. I tell you, Halicarnassus, it is the personality of the writer, and not the nature of the scenery or of the institutions, that makes the interest. It stands to reason. If it were not so, one book would be all that ever need be written, and that book would be a census report. For a republic is a republic, and Niagara is Niagara forever; but tell how you stood on the chain-bridge at Niagara--if there is one there--and bought a cake of shaving-soap from a tribe of Indians at a fabulous price, or how your baby jumped from the arms of the careless nurse into the Falls, and immediately your own individuality is thrown around the scenery, and it acquires a human interest. It is always five miles from one place to another, but that is mere almanac and statistics. Let a poet walk the five miles, and narrate his experience with birds and bees and flowers and grasses and water and sky, and it becomes literature. And let me tell you further, sir, a book of travels is just as interesting as the person who writes it is interesting. It is not the countries, but the persons, that are 'shown up.' You go to France and write a dull book. I go to France and write a lively book. But France is the same. The difference is in ourselves."
Halicarnassus glowered at me. I think I am not using strained or extravagant language when I say that he glowered at me. Then he growled out,--
"So your book of travels is just to put yourself into pickle."
"Say, rather," I answered, with sweet humility,--"say, rather, it is to shrine myself in amber. As the insignificant fly, encompassed with molten glory, passes into a crystallized immortality, his own littleness uplifted into loveliness by the beauty in which he is imprisoned, so I, wrapped around by the glory of my land, may find myself niched into a fame which my unattended and naked merit could never have claimed."