Great Nebraska

Naturalists and Scientists

Edith Schwartz Clements

Letters, 1911

Aug. 19, 1911



August 19th On the way to Glasgow

We are “on the way” but are by no means sure of arriving as a general railway strike
is on. We have so far been very fortunate in travelling just ahead of the trouble & hope to get the steamer for Ireland before it catches up with us.
The situation is very serious indeed for people at Liverpool, Manchester, & London. So much at present for current history. I can summarize the past from last reports
to present, by repeating that it has been most enjoyable [?] boat-rides, motor-rides, & [??] beautiful [??] in charabanes: five-seated coaches, drawn by three or four horses. We would drive
to a spot, walk some, drive again & so on. The only “hard” days wre the two climbs:
one up “Cross Fell” about 3,000 ft & the other Ben Lawers, 4,000 ft. We at least , enjoyed these immensely, as teh weather was cool & our mountain
muscles used. The fat people & the older ones groaned & protested, especially, as
on Cross Fell, our guide took us half way down the mountain into a valley & we had to drink up
again! We had expected to go on down the valley on the return. (You can tell by my
writing when the train has stopped & when it is careering along.).

We enjoyed Edinburgh very much because it is a beautiful city with a



splendid castle & because we had half a day to do as we pleased. We utilized it by
putting up soiled clothes. Fritz washing his head & I shopping. My wardrobe is showing distressing signs of wear &
soil & needs replenishing. In the afternoon we went to the botanic gardens & were
entertained at dinner by Prof. Balvour in princely style; six kinds of wine and champagne besides the elaborate menu I enclose.
The food was delicious. the “omelette anrhm” came on all ablaze with delicate blue flame — very pretty.
There were 14 of us at table. I w was taken in first by the [son?] of the house, a charming young fellow from Oxford. Fritz sat at Mrs. Balfour‘s left & Mrs. Cowles at our hosts left. We are invited to visit indefinitely when next we come to Edinburgh. The house commands a magnificent view of Edinburgh & the castle.

Scotland is very beautiful with its rolling, or mountainous country with beautiful woods,
which have been scanty or lacking so far. Some of the trees are magnificent — one
maple in the hotel garden at Dunkeld 8-10 ft. in diameter – i.E.​ the trunk. The region also is most interesting historically & romantically. We are
seeing the



very places described in “Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush”, the Lady of the Lake” Macbeth”
& some of Scott’s works. Of course, everywhere, are traces of “Queen Mary” the lakes
among the wooded hills are charming. At the Birman Hotel at Dunkeld, just as we were finishing dinner, there was a sudden wild burst of weird music &
a genuine Highlander in kilts walked in playing the bag-pipes. It was a revelation
in the way of bag-pipe music. Our leader had gotten this man to come a long ways from
the Duke of Alhull‘s estate to play for us! The most beautiful castle I have seen is in a lovely valley
near there & we saw its owner on the road! — a real lord! Thrillin’! And I almost
ran into him & his “lady” the next day at Lawers where their car stopped for tea. But I’m “agin ’em.” I don’t believe in a few “bloated
‘ristocrats” owning every foot of this beautiful land , while the poor are “ground
under foot.” They say that a thriving chicken industry was started near Manchester, but the expense necessary to keep a man continually in the field to protect the
chickens from raids of the foxes which



are preserved by the nobility for the grand sport of hunting destroyed the industry.
That is the main reason for these vast preserves which could be made into agriculturally or dairy-districts. The nobles must have their grouses & foxes & pheasants kept for
shooting! “Me for American!”

I saw such a cunning little boy this morning at Callander, dressed in kilts & Scotch cap, just as Mother used to dress Murray- Yesterday, we
drove thru’ the “Lady of the Lake” country, over the very path the chieftain’s took
& gazed as well upon Ellen’s Isle. I wish every minute that I knew more history &
literature & geology.

We have had beautiful weather & everyone has kept well & good-natured. I believed I have not yet introduced you to the members of the “International Phytogeographical Excursion” & will do so at once. As it turns out, there is one other woman in the party. Mrs. Cowles of Chicago. The committee finally decided to invite me, because they had invited
me. None of the other wives were asked, tho’ some wished very much to come.



Aug 19

Mrs. Cowles: shorter than I weight (140-145); plain, a Bromide & a chatterbox. Generally liked
because of good-nature, friendliness & an ability to say an infinite deal of nothing.
She is usually given the seat of honor & the most attention at new places. I began
to feel a little uncomfortable over this until Fritz suggested the comforting & plausible reason that she is taken for much the elder.
She does look forty & is 34. (So she says).

Dr. Cowles (Chicago University) Homely, good-natured & nice. Can tell a funny story excellently.

Dr. Drude (Dresden) A “perfect dear,” 59. Sunshiny, thoughtful, says the most unexpectedly funny things.
Is always wandering about with his head in the clouds, or getting lost from the party
because he has gone off on a sudden search for milk, of which he can drink quarts.
Favorite word “Also) (Ger. therefore)

Prof. Schrueter (Zürich) Picturesque with iron gray hair curling quite long in his neck — beard to match.
Also a “dear” — very thoughtful & kind. Entertaining with conundrums & tricks: a fund
of information on any subject. Favorite word “Ah, indeed.”

Dr. Rübel (Zürich) His student (34) Rosy, blond, fresh & smiling — my idea of a typical Englishman.
Speaks perfect English. Favorite word “Ah.”



Dr. Graebner (Berlin) Good-natured – fat (about 225-250 lbs.) has no “sideways” Typical Byzantine architecture:
all curves).

Dr. Lindman (Stockholm) Slender – gray, with Imperial met, with tenor voice.

Prof. Massart (Brussels) Brown-eyed, brown-bearded, good-looking. Very quiet, but with definite opinions
whenever expressed. Very courteous. Conversation: “Qui Madame; Non, Madame.

Dr. Ostenfeld (Copenhagen) Smooth-faces, squarely build, quiet.

Mr. Tansley (Cambridge) Tall, slender, loosely built, drooping moustache, wistful eyes; a queer mixture
of idealist & materialist. Exceedingly shy & self-deprecatory. Admires Fritz exceedingly for being a consistent idealist. We are the only ones of the party who
refust all alcoholic drinks, of which there is always abundance. Though eight of the
men never smoke, some of the others are always at it. We have had more difficulty
in getting drinking water on the Isles than on the continent, though we expected quite
the contrary. How I detest the “fizzy” things they offer as substitutes! Next time,



Aug 19

we shall each carry a Thermos bottle about with us!

Deary me. I have entirely forgotten Mr. Druce of Oxford. My size, gray with twinkling dark eyes & no end of anecdotes at which he himself
laughs the most uproariously; Independently wealthy, with house, godson & motor-car;
a bachelor &globe-trotter. Seems to be on familiar terms with many “Lady So & So’s”
& have visited at their houses. He knows the British flora thoroughly & is always
an incident of the trip to have him pass on the name of a flower, have the foreign
systematists disagree & a warm & protracted discussion ensue. I get so disgusted when
half the party wastes time & wards over so unimportant a question; one which can,
after all be settled only by comparison with the “type” in some herbarium. What difference
does it make whether one variety has a few more leaf-hairs than another? I am so glad
Fritz is turning more & more to the practical aspects of botany. Those & the



beauty & wonder of the plant-structures are of rl real value, while the name is a mere handle, or means to an end — not the end itself.

Dublin: August 20 & The strike is declared & it is doubtful whether we can get out of here
to-morrow​. We reached the boat from Glasgow without trouble & had a perfectly smooth journey
over. Scottish cities are dark, dirty, uninviting with no greenery — such a contrast to Germany. And such swarms of dirty, neglected, abject human beings!
“It’s the drink” & the saloon.

The Germans were clean, sober, well-kept, with all their beer innocently drunk — but
get in the land of saloons, whiskey & such string things & the contrast is appalling.
Ireland is the same as Scotland. I do not care to visit either again. And oh, I am so glad I am American!

We saw a wonderful group of fossil tree-ferns, in the position where they were discovered
in the rock at Glasgow. They opened up a whole world of wonder & imagination.