Fragrance in the Writings of Joel Cook

Western countries
By Joel Cook


Everywhere in Fez is the sound of plashing fountains and running waters, the special solace of the Moors. There is an entire district of the most delicious gardens growing lemons and oranges, apricots and pomegranates, and having in all directions diminutive streams passing over fern-covered rocks, bubbling in the fountain basins, and making the air savory with the moisture and perfume. This is on the higher surface, away from the narrow crowded streets of the lower town, and here the rich Fez merchants have their arbor-shaded and vine-embowered rural homes. Going out the gates and up on the hills overlooking the city, the visitor gets a lovely view of the winding valley that encloses the long and narrow place, with its glistening white roofs and border of groves and gardens, looking like a broad streak of white embedded in a border of the most vivid green.

The approach to the bay of Naples, of which Ischia and Capri are the outer guardians, is beautiful. This is Campania, its coast strikingly bold and rocky, being carved into deep bays guarded by noble headlands, and dotted with historic places. The hilly Campanian district, including Salerno and Naples, is largely volcanic, extremely fertile, and has a most equable climate, the people being so proud of its attractions, that they call it Campagna felice. On the shore of the Salerno Gulf, are the remains of Psestum, now called Pesto, the Greek city of the sixth century B. C, which the Romans extolled for its rose gardens, none now existing however. But amid the ruins, still grow wild some of the famous Psestum roses, rich in perfume, and blooming twice a year. This was the ancient Poseidonia, the city of Poseidon or Neptune, on the border between Campania and Lucania.

A grand arched gateway leads into the courtyard, its panels of rich tiling and wonderful overhanging roof of tier upon tier of carved wood, being regarded as perhaps the finest in the empire. Tall grayishyellow walls rise above and all around this architectural gem. Upon the right hand side is a drinking fountain. In the interior of the caravansary, three tiers of galleries surround the courtyard, the balustrades being of the finest workmanship in cedar, which has turned dark with age. White columns divide the panels of these balconies, supporting the tier above and having capitals of finely moulded plaster. The upper tier is almost entirely enclosed by small horseshoe arches in cedar wood, delicately carved. The shops and offices of the best class of Fez merchants surround the courtyard, where their business is carried on, and caravans of camels coming from afar, enter the grand gateway to kneel and discharge their loads of merchandise. Nearby in a bazaar the cedar-wood carpenters ply their trade, making the whole region sweet with the scent of the wood.

The people who come to Monaco with schemes to "break the bank" are myriad, but somehow they do not do it. No finer place exists in the world, for the " Societe" knows it must keep up the attractions. All this goes along in a region of surpassing beauty, which Tennyson years ago described as "a gem, basking, glowing in the sunlight." The buildings and grounds are embellished in every way. There are reading and conversation rooms, a picture gallery, winter garden, tennis courts and all kinds of amusements, while outside the Casino entrance aro imposing statues of Music, executed by Sara Bernhardt and Dancing by Gustave Dore. The gaming proceeds amid the most gorgeous beauties of nature, developed in the richest glow of light and color, with the scent of magnolias and orange blossoms, plashing fountains, the sound of delicious music, and the gentle murmur of the deep blue Mediterranean down by the curving shore. This paradise has been well described as the Garden of Eden of the modern world, but the thought of how it is maintained gives a forceful reminder of Poe's " City in the Sea ".

Beyond, are the scanty remains of the Phoenician settlement of Tharros. On the fertile slopes to the northward of Oristano, sheltered from the winds by the mountain ranges, are extensive orange and lemon plantations, their fragrance perfuming the air, and displaying groves of the finest trees in existence.

This "Key to the Mediterranean" is a fortress, winter-resort, town and seaport combined, controlling the passage to Egypt, the Levant and the Orient, and the important traffic of the Suez Canal. The town has narrow streets and crowded houses, terraced up the slopes of the Rock, to a height of nearly three hundred feet above the water, and developing into the attractive villas of its southern suburb, where the balmy air favors the growth of shrubbery and flowers, decking the window-sills, nodding over the walls, and climbing up the cliffs around the casemates of the guns. There are huge oleanders and cactus plants, tall hedges of geranium and heliotrope, and almost all the time a delicious bloom and fragrance.

Upon reaching the summit, a dense steam cloud appears in front, and a strong odor of sulphur and alkali prevails. This makes respiration difficult, but by moving around the side of the crater to windward, a location can be obtained, where the cloud is blown to the other side. Creeping along and peering over the edge, the abyss may be looked into, though little can be seen of the interior. The dark and stained walls go steeply down, but are soon lost to view in the steaming and bad-smelling cauldron below. In rifts in the lava the stones are hot, and the pungent vapor quickly fills the eyes with tears, and it will ruin clothing in only a brief exposure. Metals are blackened, and fabrics soon turn rust-color.

Switzerland, picturesque and descriptive
By Joel Cook
Nearer the southern shore and not far from Stresa, is the most noted of the group, the Isola Bella. This island originally was a barren rock of mica slate rising from the lake. Count Vitaliano Borromeo, who lived during the seventeenth century, converted it into a beautiful terraced garden displaying every feature of the luxuriant tropical vegetation of Italy. The construction is in ten terraces, rising in a pyramid, one above the other to a height of about one hundred feet, and crowned by the Chateau. Stone staircases connect the terraces, and the walls dividing and bordering them are crowned with statues, obelisks, vases and ornaments, and covered with oranges, lemons and citrons that are trained upon them, loading the air with fragrance. There are brilliant flower beds, exquisite ferns growing in shady nooks, hanging festoons of bignonia, and the entire wealth of the varied Italian flora is displayed. All the soil had to be originally brought to the rock, and it has to be renewed to maintain fertility.

All along the Rhine from Lake Constance westward to Basle and northward beyond Baden-Baden, its eastern border is the famous Black Forest, the charming Schwarzwald of German song and story. This mountain range extends for nearly one hundred miles, its western and southern slopes and spurs declining somewhat precipitously toward the plain adjoining the Rhine, while to the eastward the descent is more gradual. The western portions present charming landscapes, the lower parts abounding in fragrant pine forests, while the upper surfaces are largely grass-grown pastures.

America and her insular possessions, Volume 3
By Joel Cook

"Land of forest-clad mountains, of fairy-like streams,
Of low, pleasant valleys where the bright sunlight gleams
Athwart fleecy clouds gliding over the hills,
'Midst the fragrance of pines and the murmur of rills.

"A land of bright sunsets, whose glories extend
From horizon to zenith, there richly to blend
The hues of the rainbow, with clouds passing by—
Right well art thou christened 'The Land of the Sky.'

"A land of pure water, as pure as the air;
A home for the feeble, a home for the fair;
Where the wild roses bloom, while their fragrance combines
With health-giving odors from balsamic pines.

"The pure, healthful breezes, the life-giving air,
The beauteous landscapes, oft new, ever fair,
Are gifts that have come from the Father on high;
To Him be all praise for ' The Land of the Sky.'"

The Pine Barrens and sand hills of South Carolina stretch southwestward from the Congaree to the Savannah River, and in this region is the popular winter resort of Aiken, surrounded by vast forests of fragrant pines growing in a soil of white sand, the town being a gem in the way of gardens and shrubbery which, with the balmy atmosphere, make it additionally attractive.

England, picturesque and descriptive: A reminiscence of foreign travel
By Joel Cook

At Holywell, now the second town in North Wales, is the shrine to which pilgrims have been going for many centuries. At the foot of a steep hill, from an aperture in the rock, there rushes forth a torrent of water at the rate of eighty-four hogsheads a minute; whether the season be wet or be dry, the sacred stream gushing forth from St. Winifrede's Well varies but little, and around it grows the fragrant moss known as St. Winifrede's Hair. " The spring has valuable medicinal virtues, and an elegant dome covering it supports a chapel. The little building is an exquisite Gothic structure built by Henry VII.