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Eighty Years And More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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all my family. Whereas, heretofore, friends were continually suggesting
suitable matches for me and painting the marriage relation in the most
dazzling colors, now that state was represented as beset with dangers
and disappointments, and men, of all God's creatures as the most
depraved and unreliable. Hard pressed, I broke my engagement, after
months of anxiety and bewilderment; suddenly I decided to renew it, as
Mr. Stanton was going to Europe as a delegate to the World's
Anti-slavery Convention, and we did not wish the ocean to roll between

Thursday, May 10, 1840, I determined to take the fateful step, without
the slightest preparation for a wedding or a voyage; but Mr. Stanton,
coming up the North River, was detained on "Marcy's Overslaugh," a bar
in the river where boats were frequently stranded for hours. This delay
compelled us to be married on Friday, which is commonly supposed to be a
most unlucky day. But as we lived together, without more than the usual
matrimonial friction, for nearly a half a century, had seven children,
all but one of whom are still living, and have been well sheltered,
clothed, and fed, enjoying sound minds in sound bodies, no one need be
afraid of going through the marriage ceremony on Friday for fear of bad
luck. The Scotch clergyman who married us, being somewhat superstitious,
begged us to postpone it until Saturday; but, as we were to sail early
in the coming week, that was impossible. That point settled, the next
difficulty was to persuade him to leave out the word "obey" in the
marriage ceremony. As I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I
supposed I was entering into an equal relation, that point, too, was
conceded. A few friends were invited to be present and, in a simple
white evening dress, I was married. But the good priest avenged himself
for the points he conceded, by keeping us on the rack with a long prayer
and dissertation on the sacred institution for one mortal hour. The Rev.
Hugh Maire was a little stout fellow, vehement in manner and speech, who
danced about the floor, as he laid down the law, in the most original
and comical manner. As Mr. Stanton had never seen him before, the hour
to him was one of constant struggle to maintain his equilibrium. I had
sat under his ministrations for several years, and was accustomed to his
rhetoric, accent, and gestures, and thus was able to go through the
ordeal in a calmer state of mind.

Sister Madge, who had stood by me bravely through all my doubts and
anxieties, went with us to New York and saw us on board the vessel. My
sister Harriet and her husband, Daniel C. Eaton, a merchant in New York
city, were also there. He and I had had for years a standing game of
"tag" at all our partings, and he had vowed to send me "tagged" to
Europe. I was equally determined that he should not. Accordingly, I
had a desperate chase after him all over the vessel, but in vain. He had
the last "tag" and escaped. As I was compelled, under the circumstances,
to conduct the pursuit with some degree of decorum, and he had the
advantage of height, long limbs, and freedom from skirts, I really stood
no chance whatever. However, as the chase kept us all laughing, it
helped to soften the bitterness of parting.

[Illustration: H.B. Stanton] [Illustration: MRS. STANTON AND DAUGHTER,

Fairly at sea, I closed another chapter of my life, and my thoughts
turned to what lay in the near future. James G. Birney, the anti-slavery
nominee for the presidency of the United States, joined us in New York,
and was a fellow-passenger on the Montreal for England. He and my
husband were delegates to the World's Anti-slavery Convention, and both
interested themselves in my anti-slavery education. They gave me books
to read, and, as we paced the deck day by day, the question was the
chief theme of our conversation.

Mr. Birney was a polished gentleman of the old school, and was
excessively proper and punctilious in manner and conversation. I soon
perceived that he thought I needed considerable toning down before
reaching England. I was quick to see and understand that his criticisms
of others in a general way and the drift of his discourses on manners
and conversation had a nearer application than he intended I should
discover, though he hoped I would profit by them. I was always grateful
to anyone who took an interest in my improvement, so I laughingly told
him, one day, that he need not make his criticisms any longer in that
roundabout way, but might take me squarely in hand and polish me up as
speedily as possible. Sitting in the saloon at night after a game of
chess, in which, perchance, I had been the victor, I felt complacent
and would sometimes say:

"Well, what have I said or done to-day open to criticism?"

So, in the most gracious manner, he replied on one occasion:

"You went to the masthead in a chair, which I think very unladylike. I
heard you call your husband 'Henry' in the presence of strangers, which
is not permissible in polite society. You should always say 'Mr.
Stanton.' You have taken three moves back in this game."

"Bless me!" I replied, "what a catalogue in one day! I fear my Mentor
will despair of my ultimate perfection."

"I should have more hope," he replied, "if you seemed to feel my rebukes
more deeply, but you evidently think them of too little consequence to
be much disturbed by them."

As he found even more fault with my husband, we condoled with each other
and decided that our friend was rather hypercritical and that we were as
nearly perfect as mortals need be for the wear and tear of ordinary
life. Being both endowed with a good degree of self-esteem, neither the
praise nor the blame of mankind was overpowering to either of us. As the
voyage lasted eighteen days--for we were on a sailing vessel--we had
time to make some improvement, or, at least, to consider all friendly

At this time Mr. Birney was very much in love with Miss Fitzhugh of
Geneseo, to whom he was afterward married. He suffered at times great
depression of spirits, but I could always rouse him to a sunny mood by
introducing her name. That was a theme of which he never grew weary,
and, while praising her, a halo of glory was to him visible around my
head and I was faultless for the time being. There was nothing in our
fellow-passengers to break the monotony of the voyage. They were all
stolid, middle-class English people, returning from various parts of the
world to visit their native land.

When out of their hearing, Mr. Birney used to ridicule them without
mercy; so, one day, by way of making a point, I said with great
solemnity, "Is it good breeding to make fun of the foibles of our
fellow-men, who have not had our advantages of culture and education?"
He felt the rebuke and blushed, and never again returned to that
subject. I am sorry to say I was glad to find him once in fault.

Though some amusement, in whatever extraordinary way I could obtain it,
was necessary to my existence, yet, as it was deemed important that I
should thoroughly understand the status of the anti-slavery movement in
my own country, I spent most of my time reading and talking on that
question. Being the wife of a delegate to the World's Convention, we all
felt it important that I should be able to answer whatever questions I
might be asked in England on all phases of the slavery question.

The captain, a jolly fellow, was always ready to second me in my
explorations into every nook and cranny of the vessel. He imagined that
my reading was distasteful and enforced by the older gentlemen, so he
was continually planning some diversion, and often invited me to sit
with him and listen to his experiences of a sailor's life.

But all things must end in this mortal life, and our voyage was near
its termination, when we were becalmed on the Southern coast of England
and could not make more than one knot an hour. When within sight of the
distant shore, a pilot boat came along and offered to take anyone ashore
in six hours. I was so delighted at the thought of reaching land that,
after much persuasion, Mr. Stanton and Mr. Birney consented to go.
Accordingly we were lowered into the boat in an armchair, with a
luncheon consisting of a cold chicken, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of
wine, with just enough wind to carry our light craft toward our
destination. But, instead of six hours, we were all day trying to reach
the land, and, as the twilight deepened and the last breeze died away,
the pilot said: "We are now two miles from shore, but the only way you
can reach there to-night is by a rowboat."

As we had no provisions left and nowhere to sleep, we were glad to avail
ourselves of the rowboat. It was a bright moonlight night, the air
balmy, the waters smooth, and, with two stout oarsmen, we glided swiftly
along. As Mr. Birney made the last descent and seated himself, doubtful
as to our reaching shore, turning to me he said: "The woman tempted me
and I did leave the good ship." However, we did reach the shore at
midnight and landed at Torquay, one of the loveliest spots in that
country, and our journey to Exeter the next day lay through the most
beautiful scenery in England.

As we had no luggage with us, our detention by customs officers was
brief, and we were soon conducted to a comfortable little hotel, which
we found in the morning was a bower of roses. I had never imagined
anything so beautiful as the drive up to Exeter on the top of a coach,
with four stout horses, trotting at the rate of ten miles an hour. It
was the first day of June, and the country was in all its glory. The
foliage was of the softest green, the trees were covered with blossoms,
and the shrubs with flowers. The roads were perfect; the large,
fine-looking coachman, with his white gloves and reins, his rosy face
and lofty bearing and the postman in red, blowing his horn as we passed
through every village, made the drive seem like a journey in fairyland.
We had heard that England was like a garden of flowers, but we were
wholly unprepared for such wealth of beauty.

In Exeter we had our first view of one of the great cathedrals in the
Old World, and we were all deeply impressed with its grandeur. It was
just at the twilight hour, when the last rays of the setting sun,
streaming through the stained glass windows, deepened the shadows and
threw a mysterious amber light over all. As the choir was practicing,
the whole effect was heightened by the deep tones of the organ
reverberating through the arched roof, and the sound of human voices as
if vainly trying to fill the vast space above. The novelty and solemnity
of the surroundings roused all our religious emotions and thrilled every
nerve in our being. As if moved by the same impulse to linger there a
while, we all sat down, silently waiting for something to break the
spell that bound us. Can one wonder at the power of the Catholic
religion for centuries, with such accessories to stimulate the
imagination to a blind worship of the unknown?

Sitting in the hotel that evening and wanting something to read, we
asked the waiter for the daily papers. As there was no public table or
drawing room for guests, but each party had its own apartment, we needed
a little change from the society of each other. Having been, as it were,
shut from the outside world for eighteen days, we had some curiosity to
see whether our planet was still revolving from west to east. At the
mention of papers in the plural number, the attendant gave us a look of
surprise, and said he would get "it." He returned saying that the
gentleman in No. 4 had "it," but he would be through in fifteen minutes.
Accordingly, at the end of that time, he brought the newspaper, and,
after we had had it the same length of time, he came to take it to
another party. At our lodging house in London, a paper was left for half
an hour each morning, and then it was taken to the next house, thus
serving several families of readers.

The next day brought us to London. When I first entered our lodging
house in Queen Street, I thought it the gloomiest abode I had ever seen.
The arrival of a delegation of ladies, the next day, from Boston and
Philadelphia, changed the atmosphere of the establishment, and filled me
with delightful anticipations of some new and charming acquaintances,
which I fully realized in meeting Emily Winslow, Abby Southwick,
Elizabeth Neal, Mary Grew, Abby Kimber, Sarah Pugh, and Lucretia Mott.
There had been a split in the American anti-slavery ranks, and delegates
came from both branches, and, as they were equally represented at our
lodgings, I became familiar with the whole controversy. The potent
element which caused the division was the woman question, and as the
Garrisonian branch maintained the right of women to speak and vote in
the conventions, all my sympathies were with the Garrisonians, though
Mr. Stanton and Mr. Birney belonged to the other branch, called
political abolitionists. To me there was no question so important as the
emancipation of women from the dogmas of the past, political, religious,
and social. It struck me as very remarkable that abolitionists, who felt
so keenly the wrongs of the slave, should be so oblivious to the equal
wrongs of their own mothers, wives, and sisters, when, according to the
common law, both classes occupied a similar legal status.

Our chief object in visiting England at this time was to attend the
World's Anti-slavery Convention, to meet June 12, 1840, in Freemasons'
Hall, London. Delegates from all the anti-slavery societies of civilized
nations were invited, yet, when they arrived, those representing
associations of women were rejected. Though women were members of the
National Anti-slavery Society, accustomed to speak and vote in all its
conventions, and to take an equally active part with men in the whole
anti-slavery struggle, and were there as delegates from associations of
men and women, as well as those distinctively of their own sex, yet all
alike were rejected because they were women. Women, according to English
prejudices at that time, were excluded by Scriptural texts from sharing
equal dignity and authority with men in all reform associations; hence
it was to English minds pre-eminently unfitting that women should be
admitted as equal members to a World's Convention. The question was
hotly debated through an entire day. My husband made a very eloquent
speech in favor of admitting the women delegates.

When we consider that Lady Byron, Anna Jameson, Mary Howitt, Mrs. Hugo
Reid, Elizabeth Fry, Amelia Opie, Ann Green Phillips, Lucretia Mott, and
many remarkable women, speakers and leaders in the Society of Friends,
were all compelled to listen in silence to the masculine platitudes on
woman's sphere, one may form some idea of the indignation of
unprejudiced friends, and especially that of such women as Lydia Maria
Child, Maria Chapman, Deborah Weston, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, and
Abby Kelly, who were impatiently waiting and watching on this side, in
painful suspense, to hear how their delegates were received. Judging
from my own feelings, the women on both sides of the Atlantic must have
been humiliated and chagrined, except as these feelings were outweighed
by contempt for the shallow reasoning of their opponents and their
comical pose and gestures in some of the intensely earnest flights of
their imagination.

The clerical portion of the convention was most violent in its
opposition. The clergymen seemed to have God and his angels especially
in their care and keeping, and were in agony lest the women should do or
say something to shock the heavenly hosts. Their all-sustaining conceit
gave them abundant assurance that their movements must necessarily be
all-pleasing to the celestials whose ears were open to the proceedings
of the World's Convention. Deborah, Huldah, Vashti, and Esther might
have questioned the propriety of calling it a World's Convention, when
only half of humanity was represented there; but what were their
opinions worth compared with those of the Rev. A. Harvey, the Rev. C.
Stout, or the Rev. J. Burnet, who, Bible in hand, argued woman's
subjection, divinely decreed when Eve was created.

One of our champions in the convention, George Bradburn, a tall
thick-set man with a voice like thunder, standing head and shoulders
above the clerical representatives, swept all their arguments aside by
declaring with tremendous emphasis that, if they could prove to him that
the Bible taught the entire subjection of one-half of the race to the
other, he should consider that the best thing he could do for humanity
would be to bring together every Bible in the universe and make a grand
bonfire of them.

It was really pitiful to hear narrow-minded bigots, pretending to be
teachers and leaders of men, so cruelly remanding their own mothers,
with the rest of womankind, to absolute subjection to the ordinary
masculine type of humanity. I always regretted that the women themselves
had not taken part in the debate before the convention was fully
organized and the question of delegates settled. It seemed to me then,
and does now, that all delegates with credentials from recognized
societies should have had a voice in the organization of the convention,
though subject to exclusion afterward. However, the women sat in a low
curtained seat like a church choir, and modestly listened to the French,
British, and American Solons for twelve of the longest days in June, as
did, also, our grand Garrison and Rogers in the gallery. They scorned a
convention that ignored the rights of the very women who had fought,
side by side, with them in the anti-slavery conflict. "After battling so
many long years," said Garrison, "for the liberties of African slaves, I
can take no part in a convention that strikes down the most sacred
rights of all women." After coming three thousand miles to speak on the
subject nearest his heart, he nobly shared the enforced silence of the
rejected delegates. It was a great act of self-sacrifice that should
never be forgotten by women.

Thomas Clarkson was chosen president of the convention and made a few
remarks in opening, but he soon retired, as his age and many infirmities
made all public occasions too burdensome, and Joseph Sturge, a Quaker,
was made chairman. Sitting next to Mrs. Mott, I said:

"As there is a Quaker in the chair now, what could he do if the spirit
should move you to speak?"

"Ah," she replied, evidently not believing such a contingency possible,
"where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

She had not much faith in the sincerity of abolitionists who, while
eloquently defending the natural rights of slaves, denied freedom of
speech to one-half the people of their own race. Such was the
consistency of an assemblage of philanthropists! They would have been
horrified at the idea of burning the flesh of the distinguished women
present with red-hot irons, but the crucifixion of their pride and
self-respect, the humiliation of the spirit, seemed to them a most
trifling matter. The action of this convention was the topic of
discussion, in public and private, for a long time, and stung many women
into new thought and action and gave rise to the movement for women's
political equality both in England and the United States.

As the convention adjourned, the remark was heard on all sides, "It is
about time some demand was made for new liberties for women." As Mrs.
Mott and I walked home, arm in arm, commenting on the incidents of the
day, we resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and
form a society to advocate the rights of women. At the lodging house on
Queen Street, where a large number of delegates had apartments, the
discussions were heated at every meal, and at times so bitter that, at
last, Mr. Birney packed his valise and sought more peaceful quarters.
Having strongly opposed the admission of women as delegates to the
convention it was rather embarrassing to meet them, during the intervals
between the various sessions, at the table and in the drawing room.

These were the first women I had ever met who believed in the equality
of the sexes and who did not believe in the popular orthodox religion.
The acquaintance of Lucretia Mott, who was a broad, liberal thinker on
politics, religion, and all questions of reform, opened to me a new
world of thought. As we walked about to see the sights of London, I
embraced every opportunity to talk with her. It was intensely gratifying
to hear all that, through years of doubt, I had dimly thought, so freely
discussed by other women, some of them no older than myself--women, too,
of rare intelligence, cultivation, and refinement. After six weeks'
sojourn under the same roof with Lucretia Mott, whose conversation was
uniformly on a high plane, I felt that I knew her too well to sympathize
with the orthodox Friends, who denounced her as a dangerous woman
because she doubted certain dogmas they fully believed.

As Mr. Birney and my husband were invited to speak all over England,
Scotland, and Ireland, and we were uniformly entertained by orthodox
Friends, I had abundant opportunity to know the general feeling among
them toward Lucretia Mott. Even Elizabeth Fry seemed quite unwilling to
breathe the same atmosphere with her. During the six weeks that many of
us remained in London after the convention we were invited to a
succession of public and private breakfasts, dinners, and teas, and on
these occasions it was amusing to watch Mrs. Fry's sedulous efforts to
keep Mrs. Mott at a distance. If Mrs. Mott was on the lawn, Mrs. Fry
would go into the house; if Mrs. Mott was in the house, Mrs. Fry would
stay out on the lawn. One evening, when we were all crowded into two
parlors, and there was no escape, the word went round that Mrs. Fry felt
moved to pray with the American delegates, whereupon a profound silence
reigned. After a few moments Mrs. Fry's voice was heard deploring the
schism among the American Friends; that sol many had been led astray by
false doctrines; urging the Spirit of All Good to show them the error of
their way, and gather them once more into the fold of the great Shepherd
of our faith. The prayer was directed so pointedly at the followers of
Elias Hicks, and at Lucretia Mott in particular, that I whispered to
Lucretia, at the close, that she should now pray for Mrs. Fry, that her
eyes might be opened to her bigotry and uncharitableness, and be led by
the Spirit into higher light. "Oh, no!" she replied, "a prayer of this
character, under the circumstances, is an unfair advantage to take of a
stranger, but I would not resent it in the house of her friends."

In these gatherings we met the leading Quaker families and many other
philanthropists of different denominations interested in the
anti-slavery movement. On all these occasions our noble Garrison spoke
most effectively, and thus our English friends had an opportunity of
enjoying his eloquence, the lack of which had been so grave a loss in
the convention.

We devoted a month sedulously to sightseeing in London, and, in the line
of the traveler's duty, we explored St. Paul's Cathedral, the British
Museum, the Tower, various prisons, hospitals, galleries of art, Windsor
Castle, and St. James's Palace, the Zoological Gardens, the schools and
colleges, the chief theaters and churches, Westminster Abbey, the Houses
of Parliament, and the Courts. We heard the most famous preachers,
actors, and statesmen. In fact, we went to the top and bottom of
everything, from the dome of St. Paul to the tunnel under the Thames,
just then in the process of excavation. We drove through the parks,
sailed up and down the Thames, and then visited every shire but four in
England, in all of which we had large meetings, Mr. Birney and Mr.
Stanton being the chief speakers. As we were generally invited to stay
with Friends, it gave us a good opportunity to see the leading families,
such as the Ashursts, the Alexanders, the Priestmans, the Braithwaites,
and Buxtons, the Gurneys, the Peases, the Wighams of Edinburgh, and the
Webbs of Dublin. We spent a few days with John Joseph Gurney at his
beautiful home in Norwich. He had just returned from America, having
made a tour through the South. When asked how he liked America, he said,
"I like everything but your pie crust and your slavery."

Before leaving London, the whole American delegation, about forty in
number, were invited to dine with Samuel Gurney. He and his brother,
John Joseph Gurney, were, at that time, the leading bankers in London.
Someone facetiously remarked that the Jews were the leading bankers in
London until the Quakers crowded them out.

One of the most striking women I met in England at this time was Miss
Elizabeth Pease. I never saw a more strongly marked face. Meeting her,
forty years after, on the platform of a great meeting in the Town Hall
at Glasgow, I knew her at once. She is now Mrs. Nichol of Edinburgh,
and, though on the shady side of eighty, is still active in all the
reforms of the day.

It surprised us very much at first, when driving into the grounds of
some of these beautiful Quaker homes, to have the great bell rung at the
lodge, and to see the number of liveried servants on the porch and in
the halls, and then to meet the host in plain garb, and to be welcomed
in plain language, "How does thee do, Henry?" "How does thee do
Elizabeth?" This sounded peculiarly sweet to me--a stranger in a strange
land. The wealthy English Quakers we visited at that time, taking them
all in all, were the most charming people I had ever seen. They were
refined and intelligent on all subjects, and though rather conservative
on some points, were not aggressive in pressing their opinions on
others. Their hospitality was charming and generous, their homes the
beau ideal of comfort and order, the cuisine faultless, while peace
reigned over all. The quiet, gentle manner and the soft tones in
speaking, and the mysterious quiet in these well-ordered homes were like
the atmosphere one finds in a modern convent, where the ordinary duties
of the day seem to be accomplished by some magical influence.

Before leaving London we spent a delightful day in June at the home of
Samuel Gurney, surrounded by a fine park with six hundred deer roaming
about--always a beautiful feature in the English landscape. As the
Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Morpeth had expressed a wish to Mrs. Fry
to meet some of the leading American abolitionists, it was arranged that
they should call at her brother's residence on this occasion. Soon after
we arrived, the Duchess, with her brother and Mrs. Fry, in her state
carriage with six horses and outriders, drove up to the door. Mr. Gurney
was evidently embarrassed at the prospect of a lord and a duchess under
his roof. Leaning on the arm of Mrs. Fry, the duchess was formally
introduced to us individually. Mrs. Mott conversed with the
distinguished guests with the same fluency and composure as with her own
countrywomen. However anxious the English people were as to what they
should say and do, the Americans were all quite at their ease.

As Lord Morpeth had some interesting letters from the island of Jamaica
to read to us, we formed a circle on the lawn to listen. England had
just paid one hundred millions of dollars to emancipate the slaves, and
we were all interested in hearing the result of the experiment. The
distinguished guest in turn had many questions to ask in regard to
American slavery. We found none of that prejudice against color in
England which is so inveterate among the American people; at my first
dinner in England I found myself beside a gentleman from Jamaica, as
black as the ace of spades. After the departure of the duchess, dinner
was announced. It was a sumptuous meal, most tastefully served. There
were half a dozen wineglasses at every plate, but abolitionists, in
those days, were all converts to temperance, and, as the bottles went
around there was a general headshaking, and the right hand extended
over the glasses. Our English friends were amazed that none of us drank
wine. Mr. Gurney said he had never before seen such a sight as forty
ladies and gentlemen sitting down to dinner and none of them tasting
wine. In talking with him on that point, he said:

"I suppose your nursing mothers drink beer?"

I laughed, and said, "Oh, no! We should be afraid of befogging the
brains of our children."

"No danger of that," said he; "we are all bright enough, and yet a cask
of beer is rolled into the cellar for the mother with each newborn

Colonel Miller from Vermont, one of our American delegation, was in the
Greek war with Lord Byron. As Lady Byron had expressed a wish to see
him, that her daughter might know something of her father's last days,
an interview was arranged, and the colonel kindly invited me to
accompany him. His account of their acquaintance and the many noble
traits of character Lord Byron manifested, his generous impulses and
acts of self-sacrifice, seemed particularly gratifying to the daughter.
It was a sad interview, arranged chiefly for the daughter's
satisfaction, though Lady Byron listened with a painful interest. As the
colonel was a warm admirer of the great poet, he no doubt represented
him in the best possible light, and his narration of his last days was
deeply interesting. Lady Byron had a quiet, reserved manner, a sad face,
and a low, plaintive voice, like one who had known deep sorrow. I had
seen her frequently in the convention and at social teas, and had been
personally presented to her before this occasion. Altogether I thought
her a sweet, attractive-looking woman.

We had a pleasant interview with Lord Brougham also. The Philadelphia
Anti-slavery Society sent him an elaborately carved inkstand, made from
the wood of Pennsylvania Hall, which was destroyed by a pro-slavery mob.
Mr. Birney made a most graceful speech in presenting the memento, and
Lord Brougham was equally happy in receiving it.

One of the most notable characters we met at this time was Daniel
O'Connell. He made his first appearance in the London convention a few
days after the women were rejected. He paid a beautiful tribute to woman
and said that, if he had been present when the question was under
discussion, he should have spoken and voted for their admission. He was
a tall, well-developed, magnificent-looking man, and probably one of the
most effective speakers Ireland ever produced. I saw him at a great
India meeting in Exeter Hall, where some of the best orators from
France, America, and England were present. There were six natives from
India on the platform who, not understanding anything that was said,
naturally remained listless throughout the proceedings. But the moment
O'Connell began to speak they were all attention, bending forward and
closely watching every movement. One could almost tell what he said from
the play of his expressive features, his wonderful gestures, and the
pose of his whole body. When he finished, the natives joined in the
general applause. He had all Wendell Phillips' power of sarcasm and
denunciation, and added to that the most tender pathos. He could make
his audience laugh or cry at pleasure. It was a rare sight to see him
dressed in "Repeal cloth" in one of his Repeal meetings. We were in
Dublin in the midst of that excitement, when the hopes of new liberties
for that oppressed people all centered on O'Connell. The enthusiasm of
the people for the Repeal of the Union was then at white-heat. Dining
one day with the "Great Liberator," as he was called, I asked him if he
hoped to carry that measure.

"No," he said, "but it is always good policy to claim the uttermost and
then you will be sure to get something."

Could he have looked forward fifty years and have seen the present
condition of his unhappy country, he would have known that English greed
and selfishness could defeat any policy, however wise and far-seeing.
The successive steps by which Irish commerce was ruined and religious
feuds between her people continually fanned into life, and the nation
subjugated, form the darkest page in the history of England. But the
people are awakening at last to their duty, and, for the first time,
organizing English public sentiment in favor of "Home Rule." I attended
several large, enthusiastic meetings when last in England, in which the
most radical utterances of Irish patriots were received with prolonged
cheers. I trust the day is not far off when the beautiful Emerald Isle
will unfurl her banner before the nations of the earth, enthroned as the
Queen Republic of those northern seas!

We visited Wordsworth's home at Grasmere, among the beautiful lakes, but
he was not there. However, we saw his surroundings--the landscape that
inspired some of his poetic dreams, and the dense rows of hollyhocks of
every shade and color, leading from his porch to the gate. The gardener
told us this was his favorite flower. Though it had no special beauty in
itself, taken alone, yet the wonderful combination of royal colors was
indeed striking and beautiful. We saw Harriet Martineau at her country
home as well as at her house in town. As we were obliged to converse
with her through an ear trumpet, we left her to do most of the talking.
She gave us many amusing experiences of her travels in America, and her
comments on the London Convention were rich and racy. She was not an
attractive woman in either manner or appearance, though considered great
and good by all who knew her.

We spent a few days with Thomas Clarkson, in Ipswich. He lived in a very
old house with long rambling corridors, surrounded by a moat, which we
crossed' by means of a drawbridge. He had just written an article
against the colonization scheme, which his wife read aloud to us. He was
so absorbed in the subject that he forgot the article was written by
himself, and kept up a running applause with "hear!" "hear!" the English
mode of expressing approbation. He told us of the severe struggles he
and Wilberforce had gone through in rousing the public sentiment of
England to the demand for emancipation in Jamaica. But their trials were
mild, compared with what Garrison and his coadjutors had suffered in

Having read of all these people, it was difficult to realize, as I
visited them in their own homes from day to day, that they were the same
persons I had so long worshiped from afar!



After taking a view of the wonders and surroundings of London we spent a
month in Paris. Fifty years ago there was a greater difference in the
general appearance of things between France and England than now. That
countries only a few hours' journey apart should differ so widely was to
us a great surprise. How changed the sights and sounds! Here was the old
diligence, lumbering along with its various compartments and its
indefinite number of horses, harnessed with rope and leather, sometimes
two, sometimes three abreast, and sometimes one in advance, with an
outrider belaboring the poor beasts without cessation, and the driver
yelling and cracking his whip. The uproar, confusion, and squabbles at
every stopping place are overwhelming; the upper classes, men and women
alike, rushing into each other's arms, embrace and kiss, while drivers
and hostlers on the slightest provocation hurl at each other all the
denunciatory adjectives in the language, and with such vehemence that
you expect every moment to see a deadly conflict. But to-day, as fifty
years ago, they never arrive at that point. Theirs was and is purely an
encounter of words, which they keep up, as they drive off in opposite
directions, just as far as they can hear and see each other, with
threats of vengeance to come. Such an encounter between two Englishmen
would mean the death of one or the other.

All this was in marked contrast with John Bull and his Island. There the
people were as silent as if they had been born deaf and dumb. The
English stagecoach was compact, clean, and polished from top to bottom,
the horses and harness glossy and in order, the well-dressed, dignified
coachman, who seldom spoke a loud word or used his whip, kept his seat
at the various stages, while hostlers watered or changed the steeds; the
postman blew his bugle blast to have the mail in readiness, and the
reserved passengers made no remarks on what was passing; for, in those
days, Englishmen were afraid to speak to each other for fear of
recognizing one not of their class, while to strangers and foreigners
they would not speak except in case of dire necessity. The Frenchman was
ready enough to talk, but, unfortunately, we were separated by different
languages. Thus the Englishman would not talk, the Frenchman could not,
and the intelligent, loquacious American driver, who discourses on
politics, religion, national institutions, and social gossip was unknown
on that side of the Atlantic. What the curious American traveler could
find out himself from observation and pertinacious seeking he was
welcome to, but the Briton would waste no breath to enlighten Yankees as
to the points of interest or customs of his country.

Our party consisted of Miss Pugh, Abby Kimber, Mr. Stanton, and myself.
I had many amusing experiences in making my wants known when alone,
having forgotten most of my French. For instance, traveling night and
day in the diligence to Paris, as the stops were short, one was
sometimes in need of something to eat. One night as my companions were
all asleep, I went out to get a piece of cake or a cracker, or whatever
of that sort I could obtain, but, owing to my clumsy use of the
language, I was misunderstood. Just as the diligence was about to start,
and the shout for us to get aboard was heard, the waiter came running
with a piping hot plate of sweetbreads nicely broiled. I had waited and
wondered why it took so long to get a simple piece of cake or biscuit,
and lo! a piece of hot meat was offered me. I could not take the
frizzling thing in my hand nor eat it without bread, knife, or fork, so
I hurried off to the coach, the man pursuing me to the very door. I was
vexed and disappointed, while the rest of the party were convulsed with
laughter at the parting salute and my attempt to make my way alone. It
was some time before I heard the last of the "sweetbreads."

When we reached Paris we secured a courier who could speak English, to
show us the sights of that wonderful city. Every morning early he was at
the door, rain or shine, to carry out our plans, which, with the aid of
our guidebook, we had made the evening before. In this way, going
steadily, day after day, we visited all points of interest for miles
round and sailed up and down the Seine. The Palace of the Tuileries,
with its many associations with a long line of more or less unhappy
kings and queens, was then in its glory, and its extensive and beautiful
grounds were always gay with crowds of happy people. These gardens were
a great resort for nurses and children and were furnished with all
manner of novel appliances for their amusement, including beautiful
little carriages drawn by four goats with girls or boys driving, boats
sailing in the air, seemingly propelled by oars, and hobby horses
flying round on whirligigs with boys vainly trying to catch each other.
No people have ever taken the trouble to invent so many amusements for
children as have the French. The people enjoyed being always in the open
air, night and day. The parks are crowded with amusement seekers, some
reading and playing games, some sewing, knitting, playing on musical
instruments, dancing, sitting around tables in bevies eating, drinking,
and gayly chatting. And yet, when they drive in carriages or go to their
homes at night, they will shut themselves in as tight as oysters in
their shells. They have a theory that night air is very injurious,--in
the house,--although they will sit outside until midnight. I found this
same superstition prevalent in France fifty years later.

We visited the Hotel des Invalides just as they were preparing the
sarcophagus for the reception of the remains of Napoleon. We witnessed
the wild excitement of that enthusiastic people, and listened with deep
interest to the old soldiers' praises of their great general. The ladies
of our party chatted freely with them. They all had interesting
anecdotes to relate of their chief. They said he seldom slept over four
hours, was an abstemious eater, and rarely changed a servant, as he
hated a strange face about him. He was very fond of a game of chess, and
snuffed continuously; talked but little, was a light sleeper,--the
stirring of a mouse would awaken him,--and always on the watch-tower.
They said that, in his great campaigns, he seemed to be omnipresent. A
sentinel asleep at his post would sometimes waken to find Napoleon on
duty in his place.

The ship that brought back Napoleon's remains was the _Belle Poule_
(the beautiful hen!), which landed at Cherbourg, November 30, 1840. The
body was conveyed to the Church of the Invalides, which adjoins the
tomb. The Prince de Joinville brought the body from Saint Helena, and
Louis Philippe received it.

At that time each soldier had a little patch of land to decorate as he
pleased, in which many scenes from their great battles were illustrated.
One represented Napoleon crossing the Alps. There were the cannon, the
soldiers, Napoleon on horseback, all toiling up the steep ascent,
perfect in miniature. In another was Napoleon, flag in hand, leading the
charge across the bridge of Lodi. In still another was Napoleon in
Egypt, before the Pyramids, seated, impassive, on his horse, gazing at
the Sphinx, as if about to utter his immortal words to his soldiers:
"Here, forty centuries look down upon us." These object lessons of the
past are all gone now and the land used for more prosaic purposes.

I little thought, as I witnessed that great event in France in 1840,
that fifty-seven years later I should witness a similar pageant in the
American Republic, when our nation paid its last tributes to General
Grant. There are many points of similarity in these great events. As men
they were alike aggressive and self-reliant. In Napoleon's will he
expressed the wish that his last resting place might be in the land and
among the people he loved so well. His desire is fulfilled. He rests in
the chief city of the French republic, whose shores are washed by the
waters of the Seine. General Grant expressed the wish that he might be
interred in our metropolis and added: "Wherever I am buried, I desire
that there shall be room for my wife by my side." His wishes, too, are
fulfilled. He rests in the chief city of the American Republic, whose
shores are washed by the waters of the Hudson, and in his magnificent
mausoleum there is room for his wife by his side.

Several members of the Society of Friends from Boston and Philadelphia,
who had attended the World's Anti-slavery Convention in London, joined
our party for a trip on the Continent. Though opposed to war, they all
took a deep interest in the national excitement and in the pageants that
heralded the expected arrival of the hero from Saint Helena. As they all
wore military coats of the time of George Fox, the soldiers, supposing
they belonged to the army of some country, gave them the military salute
wherever we went, much to their annoyance and our amusement.

In going the rounds, Miss Pugh amused us by reading aloud the
description of what we were admiring and the historical events connected
with that particular building or locality. We urged her to spend the
time taking in all she could see and to read up afterward; but no, a
history of France and Galignani's guide she carried everywhere, and,
while the rest of us looked until we were fully satisfied, she took a
bird's-eye view and read the description. Dear little woman! She was a
fine scholar, a good historian, was well informed on all subjects and
countries, proved an invaluable traveling companion, and could tell more
of what we saw than all the rest of us together.

On several occasions we chanced to meet Louis Philippe dashing by in an
open barouche. We felt great satisfaction in remembering that at one
time he was an exile in our country, where he earned his living by
teaching school. What an honor for Yankee children to have been taught,
by a French king, the rudiments of his language.

Having been accustomed to the Puritan Sunday of restraint and solemnity,
I found that day in Paris gay and charming. The first time I entered
into some of the festivities, I really expected to be struck by
lightning. The libraries, art galleries, concert halls, and theaters
were all open to the people. Bands of music were playing in the parks,
where whole families, with their luncheons, spent the day--husbands,
wives, and children, on an excursion together. The boats on the Seine
and all public conveyances were crowded. Those who had but this one day
for pleasure seemed determined to make the most of it. A wonderful
contrast with that gloomy day in London, where all places of amusement
were closed and nothing open to the people but the churches and drinking
saloons. The streets and houses in which Voltaire, La Fayette, Mme. de
Stael, Mme. Roland, Charlotte Corday, and other famous men and women
lived and died, were pointed out to us. We little thought, then, of all
the terrible scenes to be enacted in Paris, nor that France would emerge
from the dangers that beset her on every side into a sister republic. It
has been a wonderful achievement, with kings and Popes all plotting
against her experiment, that she has succeeded in putting kingcraft
under her feet and proclaimed liberty, equality, fraternity for her

After a few weeks in France, we returned to London, traveling through
England, Ireland, and Scotland for several months. We visited the scenes
that Shakespeare, Burns, and Dickens had made classic. We spent a few
days at Huntingdon, the home of Oliver Cromwell, and visited the estate
where he passed his early married life. While there, one of his great
admirers read aloud to us a splendid article in one of the reviews,
written by Carlyle, giving "The Protector," as his friend said, his true
place in history. It was long the fashion of England's historians to
represent Cromwell as a fanatic and hypocrite, but his character was
vindicated by later writers. "Never," says Macaulay, "was a ruler so
conspicuously born for sovereignty. The cup which has intoxicated almost
all others sobered him."

We saw the picturesque ruins of Kenilworth Castle, the birthplace of
Shakespeare, the homes of Byron and Mary Chaworth, wandered through
Newstead Abbey, saw the monument to the faithful dog, and the large
dining room where Byron and his boon companions used to shoot at a mark.
It was a desolate region. We stopped a day or two at Ayr and drove out
to the birthplace of Burns. The old house that had sheltered him was
still there, but its walls now echoed to other voices, and the fields
where he had toiled were plowed by other hands. We saw the stream and
banks where he and Mary sat together, the old stone church where the
witches held their midnight revels, the two dogs, and the bridge of Ayr.
With Burns, as with Sappho, it was love that awoke his heart to song. A
bonny lass who worked with him in the harvest field inspired his first
attempts at rhyme. Life, with Burns, was one long, hard struggle. With
his natural love for the beautiful, the terrible depression of spirits
he suffered from his dreary surroundings was inevitable. The interest
great men took in him, when they awoke to his genius, came too late for
his safety and encouragement. In a glass of whisky he found, at last,
the rest and cheer he never knew when sober. Poverty and ignorance are
the parents of intemperance, and that vice will never be suppressed
until the burdens of life are equally shared by all.

We saw Melrose by moonlight, spent several hours at Abbotsford, and
lingered in the little sanctum sanctorum where Scott wrote his immortal
works. It was so small that he could reach the bookshelves on every
side. We went through the prisons, castles, and narrow streets of
Edinburgh, where the houses are seven and eight stories high, each story
projecting a few feet until, at the uppermost, opposite neighbors could
easily shake hands and chat together. All the intervals from active
sight-seeing we spent in reading the lives of historical personages in
poetry and prose, until our sympathies flowed out to the real and ideal
characters. Lady Jane Grey, Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, Ellen
Douglas, Jeanie and Effie Deans, Highland Mary, Rebecca the Jewess, Di
Vernon, and Rob Roy all alike seemed real men and women, whose shades or
descendants we hoped to meet on their native heath.

Here among the Scotch lakes and mountains Mr. Stanton and I were
traveling alone for the first time since our marriage, and as we both
enjoyed walking, we made many excursions on foot to points that could
not be reached in any other way. We spent some time among the Grampian
Hills, so familiar to every schoolboy, walking, and riding about on
donkeys. We sailed up and down Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond. My husband
was writing letters for some New York newspapers on the entire trip, and
aimed to get exact knowledge of all we saw; thus I had the advantage of
the information he gathered. On these long tramps I wore a short dress,
reaching just below the knee, of dark-blue cloth, a military cap of the
same material that shaded my eyes, and a pair of long boots, made on the
masculine pattern then generally worn--the most easy style for walking,
as the pressure is equal on the whole foot and the ankle has free play.
Thus equipped, and early trained by my good brother-in-law to long
walks, I found no difficulty in keeping pace with my husband.

Being self-reliant and venturesome in our explorations, we occasionally
found ourselves involved in grave difficulties by refusing to take a
guide. For instance, we decided to go to the top of Ben Nevis alone. It
looked to us a straightforward piece of business to walk up a mountain
side on a bee line, and so, in the face of repeated warnings by our
host, we started. We knew nothing of zigzag paths to avoid the rocks,
the springs, and swamps; in fact we supposed all mountains smooth and
dry, like our native hills that we were accustomed to climb. The
landlord shook his head and smiled when we told him we should return at
noon to dinner, and we smiled, too, thinking he placed a low estimate on
our capacity for walking. But we had not gone far when we discovered the
difficulties ahead. Some places were so steep that I had to hold on to
my companion's coat tails, while he held on to rocks and twigs, or
braced himself with a heavy cane. By the time we were halfway up we were
in a dripping perspiration, our feet were soaking wet, and we were
really too tired to proceed. But, after starting with such supreme
confidence in ourselves, we were ashamed to confess our fatigue to each
other, and much more to return and verify all the prognostications of
the host and his guides. So we determined to push on and do what we had
proposed. With the prospect of a magnificent view and an hour's
delicious rest on the top, we started with renewed courage. A steady
climb of six hours brought us to the goal of promise; our ascent was
accomplished. But alas! it was impossible to stop there--the cold wind
chilled us to the bone in a minute. So we took one glance at the world
below and hurried down the south side to get the mountain between us and
the cold northeaster.

When your teeth are chattering with the cold, and the wind threatening
to make havoc with your raiment, you are not in a favorable condition to
appreciate grand scenery. Like the king of France with twice ten
thousand men, we marched up the hill and then, marched down again. We
found descending still more difficult, as we were in constant fear of
slipping, losing our hold, and rolling to the bottom. We were tired,
hungry, and disappointed, and the fear of not reaching the valley before
nightfall pressed heavily upon us. Neither confessed to the other the
fatigue and apprehension each felt, but, with fresh endeavor and words
of encouragement, we cautiously went on. We accidentally struck a trail
that led us winding down comfortably some distance, but we lost it, and
went clambering down as well as we could in our usual way. To add to our
misery, a dense Scotch mist soon enveloped us, so that we could see but
a short distance ahead, and not knowing the point from which we started,
we feared we might be going far out of our way. The coming twilight,
too, made the prospect still darker. Fortunately our host, having less
faith in us than we had in ourselves, sent a guide to reconnoiter, and,
just at the moment when we began to realize our danger of spending the
night on the mountain, and to admit it to each other, the welcome guide
hailed us in his broad accent. His shepherd dog led the way into the
beaten path. As I could hardly stand I took the guide's arm, and when we
reached the bottom two donkeys were in readiness to take us to the

We did not recover from the fatigue of that expedition in several days,
and we made no more experiments of exploring strange places without
guides. We learned, too, that mountains are not so hospitable as they
seem nor so gently undulating as they appear in the distance, and that
guides serve other purposes besides extorting money from travelers. If,
under their guidance, we had gone up and down easily, we should always
have thought we might as well have gone alone. So our experience gave us
a good lesson in humility. We had been twelve hours on foot with nothing
to eat, when at last we reached the hotel. We were in no mood for
boasting of the success of our excursion, and our answers were short to
inquiries as to how we had passed the day.

Being tired of traveling and contending about woman's sphere with the
Rev. John Scoble, an Englishman, who escorted Mr. Birney and Mr. Stanton
on their tour through the country, I decided to spend a month in Dublin;
while the gentlemen held meetings in Cork, Belfast, Waterford, Limerick,
and other chief towns, finishing the series with a large, enthusiastic
gathering in Dublin, at which O'Connell made one of his most withering
speeches on American slavery; the inconsistency of such an "institution"
with the principles of a republican government giving full play to his
powers of sarcasm. On one occasion, when introduced to a slaveholder, he
put his hands behind his back, refusing to recognize a man who bought
and sold his fellow-beings. The Rev. John Scoble was one of the most
conceited men I ever met. His narrow ideas in regard to woman, and the
superiority of the royal and noble classes in his own country, were to
me so exasperating that I grew more and more bellicose every day we
traveled in company. He was terribly seasick crossing the Channel, to my
intense satisfaction. As he always boasted of his distinguished
countrymen, I suggested, in the midst of one of his most agonizing
spasms, that he ought to find consolation in the fact that Lord Nelson
was always seasick on the slightest provocation.

The poverty in Ireland was a continual trial to our sensibilities;
beggars haunted our footsteps everywhere, in the street and on the
highways, crouching on the steps of the front door and on the
curbstones, and surrounding our carriage wherever and whenever we
stopped to shop or make a visit. The bony hands and sunken eyes and
sincere gratitude expressed for every penny proved their suffering real.
As my means were limited and I could not pass one by, I got a pound
changed into pennies, and put them in a green bag, which I took in the
carriage wherever I went. It was but a drop in the ocean, but it was all
I could do to relieve that unfathomed misery. The poverty I saw
everywhere in the Old World, and especially in Ireland, was a puzzling
problem to my mind, but I rejected the idea that it was a necessary link
in human experience--that it always had been and always must be.

As we drove, day by day, in that magnificent Phoenix Park, of fifteen
hundred acres, one of the largest parks, I believe, in the world, I
would often put the question to myself, what right have the few to make
a pleasure ground of these acres, while the many have nowhere to lay
their heads, crouching under stiles and bridges, clothed in rags, and
feeding on sea-weed with no hope, in the slowly passing years, of any
change for the better? The despair stamped on every brow told the sad
story of their wrongs. Those accustomed to such everyday experiences
brush beggars aside as they would so many flies, but those to whom such
sights are new cannot so easily quiet their own consciences. Everyone in
the full enjoyment of all the blessings of life, in his normal
condition, feels some individual responsibility for the poverty of
others. When the sympathies are not blunted by any false philosophy, one
feels reproached by one's own abundance. I once heard a young girl,
about to take her summer outing, when asked by her grandmother if she
had all the dresses she needed, reply, "Oh, yes! I was oppressed with a
constant sense of guilt, when packing, to see how much I had, while so
many girls have nothing decent to wear."

More than half a century has rolled by since I stood on Irish soil, and
shed tears of pity for the wretchedness I saw, and no change for the
better has as yet come to that unhappy people--yet this was the land of
Burke, Grattan, Shiel, and Emmett; the land into which Christianity was
introduced in the fifth century, St. Patrick being the chief apostle of
the new faith. In the sixth century Ireland sent forth missionaries from
her monasteries to convert Great Britain and the nations of Northern
Europe. From the eighth to the twelfth century Irish scholars held an
enviable reputation. In fact, Ireland was the center of learning at one
time. The arts, too, were cultivated by her people; and the round
towers, still pointed out to travelers, are believed to be the remains
of the architecture of the tenth century. The ruin of Ireland must be
traced to other causes than the character of the people or the Catholic
religion. Historians give us facts showing English oppressions
sufficient to destroy any nation.

The short, dark days of November intensified, in my eyes, the gloomy
prospects of that people, and made the change to the _Sirius_ of the
Cunard Line, the first regular Atlantic steamship to cross the ocean,
most enjoyable. Once on the boundless ocean, one sees no beggars, no
signs of human misery, no crumbling ruins of vast cathedral walls, no
records of the downfall of mighty nations, no trace, even, of the mortal
agony of the innumerable host buried beneath her bosom. Byron truly

"Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow--
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now."

When we embarked on the _Sirius_, we had grave doubts as to our safety
and the probability of our reaching the other side, as we did not feel
that ocean steamers had yet been fairly tried. But, after a passage of
eighteen days, eleven hours, and fifteen minutes, we reached Boston,
having spent six hours at Halifax. We little thought that the steamer
_Sirius_ of fifty years ago would ever develop into the magnificent
floating palaces of to-day--three times as large and three times as
swift. In spite of the steamer, however, we had a cold, rough, dreary
voyage, and I have no pleasant memories connected with it. Our
fellow-passengers were all in their staterooms most of the time. Our
good friend Mr. Birney had sailed two weeks before us, and as Mr.
Stanton was confined to his berth, I was thrown on my own resources. I
found my chief amusement in reading novels and playing chess with a
British officer on his way to Canada. When it was possible I walked on
deck with the captain, or sat in some sheltered corner, watching the
waves. We arrived in New York, by rail, the day before Christmas.
Everything looked bright and gay in our streets. It seemed to me that
the sky was clearer, the air more refreshing, and the sunlight more
brilliant than in any other land!



We found my sister Harriet in a new home in Clinton Place (Eighth
Street), New York city, then considered so far up town that Mr. Eaton's
friends were continually asking him why he went so far away from the
social center, though in a few months they followed him. Here we passed
a week. I especially enjoyed seeing my little niece and nephew, the only
grandchildren in the family. The girl was the most beautiful child I
ever saw, and the boy the most intelligent and amusing. He was very fond
of hearing me recite the poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes entitled "The
Height of the Ridiculous," which I did many times, but he always wanted
to see the lines that almost killed the man with laughing. He went
around to a number of the bookstores one day and inquired for them. I
told him afterward they were never published; that when Mr. Holmes saw
the effect on his servant he suppressed them, lest they should produce
the same effect on the typesetters, editors, and the readers of the
Boston newspapers. My explanation never satisfied him. I told him he
might write to Mr. Holmes, and ask the privilege of reading the original
manuscript, if it still was or ever had been in existence. As one of my
grand-nephews was troubled in exactly the same way, I decided to appeal
myself to Dr. Holmes for the enlightenment of this second generation. So
I wrote him the following letter, which he kindly answered, telling us
that his "wretched man" was a myth like the heroes in "Mother Goose's


"I have a little nephew to whom I often recite 'The Height of the
Ridiculous,' and he invariably asks for the lines that produced the
fatal effect on your servant. He visited most of the bookstores in
New York city to find them, and nothing but your own word, I am
sure, will ever convince him that the 'wretched man' is but a
figment of your imagination. I tried to satisfy him by saying you
did not dare to publish the lines lest they should produce a
similar effect on the typesetters, editors, and the readers of the
Boston journals.

"However, he wishes me to ask you whether you kept a copy of the
original manuscript, or could reproduce the lines with equal power.
If not too much trouble, please send me a few lines on this point,
and greatly oblige,

"Yours sincerely,



"I wish you would explain to your little nephew that the story of
the poor fellow who almost died laughing was a kind of a dream of
mine, and not a real thing that happened, any more than that an old
woman 'lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn't know
what to do,' or that Jack climbed the bean stalk and found the
giant who lived at the top of it. You can explain to him what is
meant by imagination, and thus turn my youthful rhymes into a text
for a discourse worthy of the Concord School of Philosophy. I have
not my poems by me here, but I remember that 'The Height of the
Ridiculous' ended with this verse:

"Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can."

"But tell your nephew he mustn't cry about it any more than because
geese go barefoot and bald eagles have no nightcaps. The verses are
in all the editions of my poems.

"Believe me, dear Mrs. Stanton,

"Very Truly and Respectfully Yours,


After spending the holidays in New York city, we started for Johnstown
in a "stage sleigh, conveying the United States mail," drawn by spanking
teams of four horses, up the Hudson River valley. We were three days
going to Albany, stopping over night at various points; a journey now
performed in three hours. The weather was clear and cold, the sleighing
fine, the scenery grand, and our traveling companions most entertaining,
so the trip was very enjoyable. From Albany to Schenectady we went in
the railway cars; then another sleighride of thirty miles brought us to
Johnstown. My native hills, buried under two feet of snow, tinted with
the last rays of the setting sun, were a beautiful and familiar sight.
Though I had been absent but ten months, it seemed like years, and I was
surprised to find how few changes had occurred since I left. My father
and mother, sisters Madge and Kate, the old house and furniture, the
neighbors, all looked precisely the same as when I left them. I had
seen so much and been so constantly on the wing that I wondered that all
things here should have stood still. I expected to hear of many births,
marriages, deaths, and social upheavals, but the village news was
remarkably meager. This hunger for home news on returning is common, I
suppose, to all travelers.

Our trunks unpacked, wardrobes arranged in closets and drawers, the
excitement of seeing friends over, we spent some time in making plans
for the future.

My husband, after some consultation with my father, decided to enter his
office and commence the study of the law. As this arrangement kept me
under the parental roof, I had two added years of pleasure, walking,
driving, and riding on horseback with my sisters. Madge and Kate were
dearer to me than ever, as I saw the inevitable separation awaiting us
in the near future. In due time they were married and commenced
housekeeping--Madge in her husband's house near by, and Kate in Buffalo.
All my sisters were peculiarly fortunate in their marriages; their
husbands being men of fine presence, liberal education, high moral
character, and marked ability. These were pleasant and profitable years.
I devoted them to reading law, history, and political economy, with
occasional interruptions to take part in some temperance or anti-slavery

Eliza Murray and I had classes of colored children in the Sunday school.
On one occasion, when there was to be a festival, speaking in the
church, a procession through the streets, and other public performances
for the Sunday-school celebration, some narrow-minded bigots objected to
the colored children taking part. They approached Miss Murray and me
with most persuasive tones on the wisdom of not allowing them to march
in the procession to the church. We said, "Oh, no! It won't do to
disappoint the children. They are all dressed, with their badges on, and
looking forward with great pleasure to the festivities of the day.
Besides, we would not cater to any of these contemptible prejudices
against color." We were all assembled in the courthouse preparatory to
forming in the line of march. Some were determined to drive the colored
children home, but Miss Murray and I, like two defiant hens, kept our
little brood close behind us, determined to conquer or perish in the
struggle. At last milder counsels prevailed, and it was agreed that they
might march in the rear. We made no objection and fell into line, but,
when we reached the church door, it was promptly closed as the last
white child went in. We tried two other doors, but all were guarded. We
shed tears of vexation and pity for the poor children, and, when they
asked us the reason why they could not go in, we were embarrassed and
mortified with the explanation we were forced to give. However, I
invited them to my father's house, where Miss Murray and I gave them
refreshments and entertained them for the rest of the day.

The puzzling questions of theology and poverty that had occupied so much
of my thoughts, now gave place to the practical one, "what to do with a
baby." Though motherhood is the most important of all the
professions,--requiring more knowledge than any other department in
human affairs,--yet there is not sufficient attention given to the
preparation for this office. If we buy a plant of a horticulturist we
ask him many questions as to its needs, whether it thrives best in
sunshine or in shade, whether it needs much or little water, what
degrees of heat or cold; but when we hold in our arms for the first
time, a being of infinite possibilities, in whose wisdom may rest the
destiny of a nation, we take it for granted that the laws governing its
life, health, and happiness are intuitively understood, that there is
nothing new to be learned in regard to it. Yet here is a science to
which philosophers have, as yet, given but little attention. An
important fact has only been discovered and acted upon within the last
ten years, that children come into the world tired, and not hungry,
exhausted with the perilous journey. Instead of being thoroughly bathed
and dressed, and kept on the rack while the nurse makes a prolonged
toilet and feeds it some nostrum supposed to have much needed medicinal
influence, the child's face, eyes, and mouth should be hastily washed
with warm water, and the rest of its body thoroughly oiled, and then it
should be slipped into a soft pillow case, wrapped in a blanket, and
laid to sleep. Ordinarily, in the proper conditions, with its face
uncovered in a cool, pure atmosphere, it will sleep twelve hours. Then
it should be bathed, fed, and clothed in a high-necked, long-sleeved
silk shirt and a blanket, all of which could be done in five minutes. As
babies lie still most of the time the first six weeks, they need no
dressing. I think the nurse was a full hour bathing and dressing my
firstborn, who protested with a melancholy wail every blessed minute.

Ignorant myself of the initiative steps on the threshold of time, I
supposed this proceeding was approved by the best authorities. However,
I had been thinking, reading, observing, and had as little faith in the
popular theories in regard to babies as on any other subject. I saw
them, on all sides, ill half the time, pale and peevish, dying early,
having no joy in life. I heard parents complaining of weary days and
sleepless nights, while each child, in turn, ran the gauntlet of red
gum, jaundice, whooping cough, chicken-pox, mumps, measles, scarlet
fever, and fits. They all seemed to think these inflictions were a part
of the eternal plan--that Providence had a kind of Pandora's box, from
which he scattered these venerable diseases most liberally among those
whom he especially loved. Having gone through the ordeal of bearing a
child, I was determined, if possible, to keep him, so I read everything
I could find on the subject. But the literature on this subject was as
confusing and unsatisfactory as the longer and shorter catechisms and
the Thirty-nine Articles of our faith. I had recently visited our dear
friends, Theodore and Angelina Grimke-Weld, and they warned me against
books on this subject. They had been so misled by one author, who
assured them that the stomach of a child could only hold one
tablespoonful, that they nearly starved their firstborn to death. Though
the child dwindled, day by day, and, at the end of a month, looked like
a little old man, yet they still stood by the distinguished author.
Fortunately, they both went off, one day, and left the child with Sister
"Sarah," who thought she would make an experiment and see what a child's
stomach could hold, as she had grave doubts about the tablespoonful
theory. To her surprise the baby took a pint bottle full of milk, and
had the sweetest sleep thereon he had known in his earthly career. After
that he was permitted to take what he wanted, and "the author" was
informed of his libel on the infantile stomach.

So here, again, I was entirely afloat, launched on the seas of doubt
without chart or compass. The life and well-being of the race seemed to
hang on the slender thread of such traditions as were handed down
by-ignorant mothers and nurses. One powerful ray of light illuminated
the darkness; it was the work of Andrew Combe on "Infancy." He had,
evidently watched some of the manifestations of man in the first stages
of his development, and could tell, at least, as much of babies as
naturalists could of beetles and bees. He did give young mothers some
hints of what to do, the whys and wherefores of certain lines of
procedure during antenatal life, as well as the proper care thereafter.
I read several chapters to the nurse. Although, out of her ten children,
she had buried five, she still had too much confidence in her own wisdom
and experience to pay much attention to any new idea that might be
suggested to her. Among other things, Combe said that a child's bath
should be regulated by the thermometer, in order to be always of the
same temperature. She ridiculed the idea, and said her elbow was better
than any thermometer, and, when I insisted on its use, she would
invariably, with a smile of derision, put her elbow in first, to show
how exactly it tallied with the thermometer. When I insisted that the
child should not be bandaged, she rebelled outright, and said she would
not take the responsibility of nursing a child without a bandage. I
said, "Pray, sit down, dear nurse, and let us reason together. Do not
think I am setting up my judgment against yours, with all your
experience. I am simply trying to act on the opinions of a
distinguished physician, who says there should be no pressure on a child
anywhere; that the limbs and body should be free; that it is cruel to
bandage an infant from hip to armpit, as is usually done in America; or
both body and legs, as is done in Europe; or strap them to boards, as is
done by savages on both continents. Can you give me one good reason,
nurse, why a child should be bandaged?"

"Yes," she said emphatically, "I can give you a dozen."

"I only asked for one," I replied.

"Well," said she, after much hesitation, "the bones of a newborn infant
are soft, like cartilage, and, unless you pin them up snugly, there is
danger of their falling apart."

"It seems to me," I replied, "you have given the strongest reason why
they should be carefully guarded against the slightest pressure. It is
very remarkable that kittens and puppies should be so well put together
that they need no artificial bracing, and the human family be left
wholly to the mercy of a bandage. Suppose a child was born where you
could not get a bandage, what then? Now I think this child will remain
intact without a bandage, and, if I am willing to take the risk, why
should you complain?"

"Because," said she, "if the child should die, it would injure my name
as a nurse. I therefore wash my hands of all these new-fangled notions."

So she bandaged the child every morning, and I as regularly took it off.
It has been fully proved since to be as useless an appendage as the
vermiform. She had several cups with various concoctions of herbs
standing on the chimney-corner, ready for insomnia, colic, indigestion,
etc., etc., all of which were spirited away when she was at her dinner.
In vain I told her we were homeopathists, and afraid of everything in
the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms lower than the two-hundredth
dilution. I tried to explain the Hahnemann system of therapeutics, the
philosophy of the principle _similia similibus curantur_, but she had no
capacity for first principles, and did not understand my discourse. I
told her that, if she would wash the baby's mouth with pure cold water
morning and night and give it a teaspoonful to drink occasionally during
the day, there would be no danger of red gum; that if she would keep the
blinds open and let in the air and sunshine, keep the temperature of the
room at sixty-five degrees, leave the child's head uncovered so that it
could breathe freely, stop rocking and trotting it and singing such
melancholy hymns as "Hark, from the tombs a doleful sound!" the baby and
I would both be able to weather the cape without a bandage. I told her I
should nurse the child once in two hours, and that she must not feed it
any of her nostrums in the meantime; that a child's stomach, being made
on the same general plan as our own, needed intervals of rest as well as
ours. She said it would be racked with colic if the stomach was empty
any length of time, and that it would surely have rickets if it were
kept too still. I told her if the child had no anodynes, nature would
regulate its sleep and motions. She said she could not stay in a room
with the thermometer at sixty-five degrees, so I told her to sit in the
next room and regulate the heat to suit herself; that I would ring a
bell when her services were needed.

The reader will wonder, no doubt, that I kept such a cantankerous
servant. I could get no other. Dear "Mother Monroe," as wise as she was
good, and as tender as she was strong, who had nursed two generations of
mothers in our village, was engaged at that time, and I was compelled to
take an exotic. I had often watched "Mother Monroe" with admiration, as
she turned and twisted my sister's baby. It lay as peacefully in her
hands as if they were lined with eider down. She bathed and dressed it
by easy stages, turning the child over and over like a pancake. But she
was so full of the magnetism of human love, giving the child, all the
time, the most consoling assurance that the operation was to be a short
one, that the whole proceeding was quite entertaining to the observer
and seemingly agreeable to the child, though it had a rather surprised
look as it took a bird's-eye view, in quick succession, of the ceiling
and the floor. Still my nurse had her good points. She was very pleasant
when she had her own way. She was neat and tidy, and ready to serve me
at any time, night or day. She did not wear false teeth that rattled
when she talked, nor boots that squeaked when she walked. She did not
snuff nor chew cloves, nor speak except when spoken to. Our discussions,
on various points, went on at intervals, until I succeeded in planting
some ideas in her mind, and when she left me, at the end of six weeks,
she confessed that she had learned some valuable lessons. As the baby
had slept quietly most of the time, had no crying spells, nor colic, and
I looked well, she naturally came to the conclusion that pure air,
sunshine, proper dressing, and regular feeding were more necessary for
babies than herb teas and soothing syrups.

Besides the obstinacy of the nurse, I had the ignorance of physicians
to contend with. When the child was four days old we discovered that the
collar bone was bent. The physician, wishing to get a pressure on the
shoulder, braced the bandage round the wrist. "Leave that," he said,
"ten days, and then it will be all right." Soon after he left I noticed
that the child's hand was blue, showing that the circulation was
impeded. "That will never do," said I; "nurse, take it off." "No,
indeed," she answered, "I shall never interfere with the doctor." So I
took it off myself, and sent for another doctor, who was said to know
more of surgery. He expressed great surprise that the first physician
called should have put on so severe a bandage. "That," said he, "would
do for a grown man, but ten days of it on a child would make him a
cripple." However, he did nearly the same thing, only fastening it round
the hand instead of the wrist. I soon saw that the ends of the fingers
were all purple, and that to leave that on ten days would be as
dangerous as the first. So I took that off.

"What a woman!" exclaimed the nurse. "What do you propose to do?"

"Think out something better, myself; so brace me up with some pillows
and give the baby to me."

She looked at me aghast and said, "You'd better trust the doctors, or
your child will be a helpless cripple."

"Yes," I replied, "he would be, if we had left either of those bandages
on, but I have an idea of something better."

"Now," said I, talking partly to myself and partly to her, "what we want
is a little pressure on that bone; that is what both those men aimed at.
How can we get it without involving the arm, is the question?"

"I am sure I don't know," said she, rubbing her hands and taking two or
three brisk turns round the room.

"Well, bring me three strips of linen, four double." I then folded one,
wet in arnica and water, and laid it on the collar bone, put two other
bands, like a pair of suspenders, over the shoulders, crossing them both
in front and behind, pinning the ends to the diaper, which gave the
needed pressure without impeding the circulation anywhere. As I finished
she gave me a look of budding confidence, and seemed satisfied that all
was well. Several times, night and day, we wet the compress and
readjusted the bands, until all appearances of inflammation had

At the end of ten days the two sons of Aesculapius appeared and made
their examination and said all was right, whereupon I told them how
badly their bandages worked and what I had done myself. They smiled at
each other, and one said:

"Well, after all, a mother's instinct is better than a man's reason."

"Thank you, gentlemen, there was no instinct about it. I did some hard
thinking before I saw how I could get a pressure on the shoulder without
impeding the circulation, as you did."

Thus, in the supreme moment of a young mother's life, when I needed
tender care and support, I felt the whole responsibility of my child's
supervision; but though uncertain at every step of my own knowledge, I
learned another lesson in self-reliance. I trusted neither men nor books
absolutely after this, either in regard to the heavens above or the
earth beneath, but continued to use my "mother's instinct," if "reason"
is too dignified a term to apply to woman's thoughts. My advice to every
mother is, above all other arts and sciences, study first what relates
to babyhood, as there is no department of human action in which there is
such lamentable ignorance.

At the end of six weeks my nurse departed, and I had a good woman in her
place who obeyed my orders, and now a new difficulty arose from an
unexpected quarter. My father and husband took it into their heads that
the child slept too much. If not awake when they wished to look at him
or to show him to their friends, they would pull him out of his crib on
all occasions. When I found neither of them was amenable to reason on
this point, I locked the door, and no amount of eloquent pleading ever
gained them admittance during the time I considered sacred to the baby's
slumbers. At six months having, as yet, had none of the diseases
supposed to be inevitable, the boy weighed thirty pounds. Then the
stately Peter came again into requisition, and in his strong arms the
child spent many of his waking hours. Peter, with a long, elephantine
gait, slowly wandered over the town, lingering especially in the busy
marts of trade. Peter's curiosity had strengthened with years, and,
wherever a crowd gathered round a monkey and hand organ, a vender's
wagon, an auction stand, or the post office at mail time, there stood
Peter, black as coal, with "the beautiful boy in white," the most
conspicuous figure in the crowd. As I told Peter never to let children
kiss the baby, for fear of some disease, he kept him well aloft,
allowing no affectionate manifestations except toward himself.

My reading, at this time, centered on hygiene. I came to the
conclusion, after much thought and observation, that children never
cried unless they were uncomfortable. A professor at Union College, who
used to combat many of my theories, said he gave one of his children a
sound spanking at six weeks, and it never disturbed him a night
afterward. Another Solomon told me that a very weak preparation of opium
would keep a child always quiet and take it through the dangerous period
of teething without a ripple on the surface of domestic life. As
children cannot tell what ails them, and suffer from many things of
which parents are ignorant, the crying of the child should arouse them
to an intelligent examination. To spank it for crying is to silence the
watchman on the tower through fear, to give soothing syrup is to drug
the watchman while the evils go on. Parents may thereby insure eight
hours' sleep at the time, but at the risk of greater trouble in the
future with sick and dying children. Tom Moore tells us "the heart from
love to one, grows bountiful to all." I know the care of one child made
me thoughtful of all. I never hear a child cry, now, that I do not feel
that I am bound to find out the reason.

In my extensive travels on lecturing tours, in after years, I had many
varied experiences with babies. One day, in the cars, a child was crying
near me, while the parents were alternately shaking and slapping it.
First one would take it with an emphatic jerk, and then the other. At
last I heard the father say in a spiteful tone, "If you don't stop I'll
throw you out of the window." One naturally hesitates about interfering
between parents and children, so I generally restrain myself as long as
I can endure the torture of witnessing such outrages, but at length I
turned and said:

"Let me take your child and see if I can find out what ails it."

"Nothing ails it," said the father, "but bad temper."

The child readily came to me. I felt all around to see if its clothes
pinched anywhere, or if there were any pins pricking. I took off its hat
and cloak to see if there were any strings cutting its neck or choking
it. Then I glanced at the feet, and lo! there was the trouble. The boots
were at least one size too small. I took them off, and the stockings,
too, and found the feet as cold as ice and the prints of the stockings
clearly traced on the tender flesh. We all know the agony of tight
boots. I rubbed the feet and held them in my hands until they were warm,
when the poor little thing fell asleep. I said to the parents, "You are
young people, I see, and this is probably your first child." They said,
"Yes." "You don't intend to be cruel, I know, but if you had thrown
those boots out of the window, when you threatened to throw the child,
it would have been wiser. This poor child has suffered ever since it was
dressed this morning." I showed them the marks on the feet, and called
their attention to the fact that the child fell asleep as soon as its
pain was relieved. The mother said she knew the boots were tight, as it
was with difficulty she could get them on, but the old ones were too
shabby for the journey and they had no time to change the others.

"Well," said the husband, "if I had known those boots were tight, I
would have thrown them out of the window."

"Now," said I, "let me give you one rule: when your child cries,
remember it is telling you, as well as it can, that something hurts it,
either outside or in, and do not rest until you find what it is.
Neither spanking, shaking, or scolding can relieve pain."

I have seen women enter the cars with their babies' faces completely
covered with a blanket shawl. I have often thought I would like to cover
their faces for an hour and see how they would bear it. In such
circumstances, in order to get the blanket open, I have asked to see the
baby, and generally found it as red as a beet. Ignorant nurses and
mothers have discovered that children sleep longer with their heads
covered. They don't know why, nor the injurious effect of breathing over
and over the same air that has been thrown off the lungs polluted with
carbonic acid gas. This stupefies the child and prolongs the unhealthy

One hot day, in the month of May, I entered a crowded car at Cedar
Rapids, Ia., and took the only empty seat beside a gentleman who seemed
very nervous about a crying child. I was scarcely seated when he said:

"Mother, do you know anything about babies?"

"Oh, yes!" I said, smiling, "that is a department of knowledge on which
I especially pride myself."

"Well," said he, "there is a child that has cried most of the time for
the last twenty-four hours. What do you think ails it?"

Making a random supposition, I replied, "It probably needs a bath."

He promptly rejoined, "If you will give it one, I will provide the
necessary means."

I said, "I will first see if the child will come to me and if the mother
is willing."

I found the mother only too glad to have a few minutes' rest, and the
child too tired to care who took it. She gave me a suit of clean
clothes throughout, the gentleman spread his blanket shawl on the seat,
securing the opposite one for me and the bathing appliances. Then he
produced a towel, sponge, and an india-rubber bowl full of water, and I
gave the child a generous drink and a thorough ablution. It stretched
and seemed to enjoy every step of the proceeding, and, while I was
brushing its golden curls as gently as I could, it fell asleep; so I
covered it with the towel and blanket shawl, not willing to disturb it
for dressing. The poor mother, too, was sound asleep, and the gentleman
very happy. He had children of his own and, like me, felt great pity for
the poor, helpless little victim of ignorance and folly. I engaged one
of the ladies to dress it when it awoke, as I was soon to leave the
train. It slept the two hours I remained--how much longer I never heard.

A young man, who had witnessed the proceeding, got off at the same
station and accosted me, saying:

"I should be very thankful if you would come and see my baby. It is only
one month old and cries all the time, and my wife, who is only sixteen
years old, is worn out with it and neither of us know what to do, so we
all cry together, and the doctor says he does not see what ails it."

So I went on my mission of mercy and found the child bandaged as tight
as a drum. When I took out the pins and unrolled it, it fairly popped
like the cork out of a champagne bottle. I rubbed its breast and its
back and soon soothed it to sleep. I remained a long time, telling them
how to take care of the child and the mother, too. I told them
everything I could think of in regard to clothes, diet, and pure air. I
asked the mother why she bandaged her child as she did. She said her
nurse told her that there was danger of hernia unless the abdomen was
well bandaged. I told her that the only object of a bandage was to
protect the navel, for a few days, until it was healed, and for that
purpose all that was necessary was a piece of linen four inches square,
well oiled, folded four times double, with a hole in the center, laid
over it. I remembered, next day, that I forgot to tell them to give the
child water, and so I telegraphed them, "Give the baby water six times a
day." I heard of that baby afterward. It lived and flourished, and the
parents knew how to administer to the wants of the next one. The father
was a telegraph operator and had many friends--knights of the
key--throughout Iowa. For many years afterward, in leisure moments,
these knights would "call up" this parent and say, over the wire, "Give
the baby water six times a day." Thus did they "repeat the story, and
spread the truth from pole to pole."



In the autumn of 1843 my husband was admitted to the bar and commenced
the practice of law in Boston with Mr. Bowles, brother-in-law of the
late General John A. Dix. This gave me the opportunity to make many
pleasant acquaintances among the lawyers in Boston, and to meet,
intimately, many of the noble men and women among reformers, whom I had
long worshiped at a distance. Here, for the first time, I met Lydia
Maria Child, Abby Kelly, Paulina Wright, Elizabeth Peabody, Maria
Chapman and her beautiful sisters, the Misses Weston, Oliver and
Marianna Johnson, Joseph and Thankful Southwick and their three bright
daughters. The home of the Southwicks was always a harbor of rest for
the weary, where the anti-slavery hosts were wont to congregate, and
where one was always sure to meet someone worth knowing. Their
hospitality was generous to an extreme, and so boundless that they were,
at last, fairly eaten out of house and home. Here, too, for the first
time, I met Theodore Parker, John Pierpont, John G. Whittier, Emerson,
Alcott, Lowell, Hawthorne, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel E. Sewall, Sidney Howard
Gay, Pillsbury, Foster, Frederick Douglass, and last though not least,
those noble men, Charles Hovey and Francis Jackson, the only men who
ever left any money to the cause of woman suffrage. I also met Miss
Jackson, afterward Mrs. Eddy, who left half her fortune, fifty thousand
dollars, for the same purpose.

I was a frequent visitor at the home of William Lloyd Garrison. Though
he had a prolonged battle to fight in the rough outside world, his home
was always a haven of rest. Mrs. Garrison was a sweet-tempered,
conscientious woman, who tried, under all circumstances, to do what was
right. She had sound judgment and rare common sense, was tall and
fine-looking, with luxuriant brown hair, large tender blue eyes,
delicate features, and affable manners. They had an exceptionally fine
family of five sons and one daughter. Fanny, now the wife of Henry
Villard, the financier, was the favorite and pet. All the children, in
their maturer years, have fulfilled the promises of their childhood.
Though always in straitened circumstances, the Garrisons were very
hospitable. It was next to impossible for Mr. Garrison to meet a friend
without inviting him to his house, especially at the close of a

I was one of twelve at one of his impromptu tea parties. We all took it
for granted that his wife knew we were coming, and that her preparations
were already made. Surrounded by half a dozen children, she was
performing the last act in the opera of Lullaby, wholly unconscious of
the invasion downstairs. But Mr. Garrison was equal to every emergency,
and, after placing his guests at their ease in the parlor, he hastened
to the nursery, took off his coat, and rocked the baby until his wife
had disposed of the remaining children. Then they had a consultation
about the tea, and when, basket in hand, the good man sallied forth for
the desired viands, Mrs. Garrison, having made a hasty toilet, came
down to welcome her guests. She was as genial and self-possessed as if
all things had been prepared. She made no apologies for what was lacking
in the general appearance of the house nor in the variety of the
_menu_--it was sufficient for her to know that Mr. Garrison was happy in
feeling free to invite his friends. The impromptu meal was excellent,
and we had a most enjoyable evening. I have no doubt that Mrs. Garrison
had more real pleasure than if she had been busy all day making
preparations and had been tired out when her guests arrived.

The anti-slavery conventions and fairs, held every year during the
holidays, brought many charming people from other States, and made
Boston a social center for the coadjutors of Garrison and Phillips.
These conventions surpassed any meetings I had ever attended; the
speeches were eloquent and the debates earnest and forcible. Garrison
and Phillips were in their prime, and slavery was a question of national
interest. The hall in which the fairs were held, under the auspices of
Mrs. Chapman and her cohorts, was most artistically decorated. There one
could purchase whatever the fancy could desire, for English friends,
stimulated by the appeals of Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Pease, used
to send boxes of beautiful things, gathered from all parts of the
Eastern Continent. There, too, one could get a most _recherche_ luncheon
in the society of the literati of Boston; for, however indifferent many
were to slavery _per se_, they enjoyed these fairs, and all classes
flocked there till far into the night. It was a kind of ladies' exchange
for the holiday week, where each one was sure to meet her friends. The
fair and the annual convention, coming in succession, intensified the
interest in both. I never grew weary of the conventions, though I
attended all the sessions, lasting, sometimes, until eleven o'clock at
night. The fiery eloquence of the abolitionists, the amusing episodes
that occurred when some crank was suppressed and borne out on the
shoulders of his brethren, gave sufficient variety to the proceedings to
keep the interest up to high-water mark.

There was one old man dressed in white, carrying a scythe, who imagined
himself the personification of "Time," though called "Father Lampson."
Occasionally he would bubble over with some prophetic vision, and, as he
could not be silenced, he was carried out. He usually made himself as
limp as possible, which added to the difficulty of his exit and the
amusement of the audience. A ripple of merriment would unsettle, for a
moment, even the dignity of the platform when Abigail Folsom, another
crank, would shout from the gallery, "Stop not, my brother, on the order
of your going, but go." The abolitionists were making the experiment, at
this time, of a free platform, allowing everyone to speak as moved by
the spirit, but they soon found that would not do, as those evidently
moved by the spirit of mischief were quite as apt to air their vagaries
as those moved by the spirit of truth.

However, the Garrisonian platform always maintained a certain degree of
freedom outside its regular programme, and, although this involved extra
duty in suppressing cranks, yet the meeting gained enthusiasm by some
good spontaneous speaking on the floor as well as on the platform. A
number of immense mass meetings were held in Faneuil Hall, a large,
dreary place, with its bare walls and innumerable dingy windows. The
only attempt at an ornament was the American eagle, with its wings
spread and claws firmly set, in the middle of the gallery. The gilt was
worn off its beak, giving it the appearance, as Edmund Quincy said, of
having a bad cold in the head.

This old hall was sacred to so many memories connected with the early
days of the Revolution that it was a kind of Mecca for the lovers of
liberty visiting Boston. The anti-slavery meetings held there were often
disturbed by mobs that would hold the most gifted orator at bay hour
after hour, and would listen only to the songs of the Hutchinson family.
Although these songs were a condensed extract of the whole anti-slavery
constitution and by-laws, yet the mob was as peaceful under these paeans
to liberty as a child under the influence of an anodyne. What a welcome
and beautiful vision that was when the four brothers, in blue broadcloth
and white collars, turned down _a la_ Byron, and little sister Abby in
silk, soft lace, and blue ribbon, appeared on the platform to sing their
quaint ballads of freedom! Fresh from the hills of New Hampshire, they
looked so sturdy, so vigorous, so pure, so true that they seemed fitting
representatives of all the cardinal virtues, and even a howling mob
could not resist their influence. Perhaps, after one of their ballads,
the mob would listen five minutes to Wendell Phillips or Garrison until
he gave them some home thrusts, when all was uproar again. The Northern
merchants who made their fortunes out of Southern cotton, the
politicians who wanted votes, and the ministers who wanted to keep peace
in the churches, were all as much opposed to the anti-slavery agitation
as were the slaveholders themselves. These were the classes the mob
represented, though seemingly composed of gamblers, liquor dealers, and
demagogues. For years the anti-slavery struggle at the North was carried
on against statecraft, priestcraft, the cupidity of the moneyed classes,
and the ignorance of the masses, but, in spite of all these forces of
evil, it triumphed at last.

I was in Boston at the time that Lane and Wright, some metaphysical
Englishmen, and our own Alcott held their famous philosophical
conversations, in which Elizabeth Peabody took part. I went to them
regularly. I was ambitious to absorb all the wisdom I could, but,
really, I could not give an intelligent report of the points under
discussion at any sitting. Oliver Johnson asked me, one day, if I
enjoyed them. I thought, from a twinkle in his eye, that he thought I
did not, so I told him I was ashamed to confess that I did not know what
they were talking about. He said, "Neither do I,--very few of their
hearers do,--so you need not be surprised that they are incomprehensible
to you, nor think less of your own capacity."

I was indebted to Mr. Johnson for several of the greatest pleasures I
enjoyed in Boston. He escorted me to an entire course of Theodore
Parker's lectures, given in Marlborough Chapel. This was soon after the
great preacher had given his famous sermon on "The Permanent and
Transient in Religion," when he was ostracised, even by the Unitarians,
for his radical utterances, and not permitted to preach in any of their
pulpits. His lectures were deemed still more heterodox than that sermon.
He shocked the orthodox churches of that day--more, even, than Ingersoll
has in our times.

The lectures, however, were so soul-satisfying to me that I was
surprised at the bitter criticisms I heard expressed. Though they were
two hours long, I never grew weary, and, when the course ended, I said
to Mr. Johnson:

"I wish I could hear them over again."

"Well, you can," said he, "Mr. Parker is to repeat them in
Cambridgeport, beginning next week." Accordingly we went there and heard
them again with equal satisfaction.

During the winter in Boston I attended all the lectures, churches,
theaters, concerts, and temperance, peace, and prison-reform conventions
within my reach. I had never lived in such an enthusiastically literary
and reform latitude before, and my mental powers were kept at the
highest tension. We went to Chelsea, for the summer, and boarded with
the Baptist minister, the Rev. John Wesley Olmstead, afterward editor of
_The Watchman and Reflector_. He had married my cousin, Mary Livingston,
one of the most lovely, unselfish characters I ever knew. There I had
the opportunity of meeting several of the leading Baptist ministers in
New England, and, as I was thoroughly imbued with Parker's ideas, we had
many heated discussions on theology. There, too, I met Orestes Bronson,
a remarkably well-read man, who had gone through every phase of
religious experience from blank atheism to the bosom of the Catholic
Church, where I believe he found repose at the end of his days. He was
so arbitrary and dogmatic that most people did not like him; but I
appreciated his acquaintance, as he was a liberal thinker and had a
world of information which he readily imparted to those of a teachable
spirit. As I was then in a hungering, thirsting condition for truth on
every subject, the friendship of such a man was, to me, an inestimable
blessing. Reading Theodore Parker's lectures, years afterward, I was
surprised to find how little there was in them to shock anybody--the
majority of thinking people having grown up to them.

While living in Chelsea two years, I used to walk (there being no public
conveyances running on Sunday) from the ferry to Marlborough Chapel to
hear Mr. Parker preach. It was a long walk, over two miles, and I was so
tired, on reaching the chapel, that I made it a point to sleep through
all the preliminary service, so as to be fresh for the sermon, as the
friend next whom I sat always wakened me in time. One Sunday, when my
friend was absent, it being a very warm day and I unusually fatigued, I
slept until the sexton informed me that he was about to close the doors!
In an unwary moment I imparted this fact to my Baptist friends. They
made all manner of fun ever afterward of the soothing nature of Mr.
Parker's theology, and my long walk, every Sunday, to repose in the
shadow of a heterodox altar. Still, the loss of the sermon was the only
vexatious part of it, and I had the benefit of the walk and the
refreshing slumber, to the music of Mr. Parker's melodious voice and the
deep-toned organ.

Mrs. Oliver Johnson and I spent two days at the Brook Farm Community
when in the height of its prosperity. There I met the Ripleys,--who
were, I believe, the backbone of the experiment,--William Henry
Channing, Bronson Alcott, Charles A. Dana, Frederick Cabot, William
Chase, Mrs. Horace Greeley, who was spending a few days there, and many
others, whose names I cannot recall. Here was a charming family of
intelligent men and women, doing their own farm and house work, with
lectures, readings, music, dancing, and games when desired; realizing,
in a measure, Edward Bellamy's beautiful vision of the equal conditions
of the human family in the year 2000. The story of the beginning and end
of this experiment of community life has been told so often that I will
simply say that its failure was a grave disappointment to those most
deeply interested in its success. Mr. Channing told me, years after,
when he was pastor of the Unitarian church in Rochester, as we were
wandering through Mount Hope one day, that, when the Roxbury community
was dissolved and he was obliged to return to the old life of
competition, he would gladly have been laid under the sod, as the
isolated home seemed so solitary, silent, and selfish that the whole
atmosphere was oppressive.

In 1843 my father moved to Albany, to establish my brothers-in-law, Mr.
Wilkeson and Mr. McMartin, in the legal profession. That made Albany the
family rallying point for a few years. This enabled me to spend several
winters at the Capital and to take an active part in the discussion of
the Married Woman's Property Bill, then pending in the legislature.
William H. Seward, Governor of the State from 1839 to 1843, recommended
the Bill, and his wife, a woman of rare intelligence, advocated it in
society. Together we had the opportunity of talking with many members,
both of the Senate and the Assembly, in social circles, as well as in
their committee rooms. Bills were pending from 1836 until 1848, when the
measure finally passed.

My second son was born in Albany, in March, 1844, under more favorable
auspices than the first, as I knew, then, what to do with a baby.
Returning to Chelsea we commenced housekeeping, which afforded me
another chapter of experience. A new house, newly furnished, with
beautiful views of Boston Bay, was all I could desire. Mr. Stanton
announced to me, in starting, that his business would occupy all his
time, and that I must take entire charge of the housekeeping. So, with
two good servants and two babies under my sole supervision, my time was
pleasantly occupied.

When first installed as mistress over an establishment, one has that
same feeling of pride and satisfaction that a young minister must have
in taking charge of his first congregation. It is a proud moment in a
woman's life to reign supreme within four walls, to be the one to whom
all questions of domestic pleasure and economy are referred, and to hold
in her hand that little family book in which the daily expenses, the
outgoings and incomings, are duly registered. I studied up everything
pertaining to housekeeping, and enjoyed it all. Even washing day--that
day so many people dread--had its charms for me. The clean clothes on
the lines and on the grass looked so white, and smelled so sweet, that
it was to me a pretty sight to contemplate. I inspired my laundress with
an ambition to have her clothes look white and to get them out earlier
than our neighbors, and to have them ironed and put away sooner.

As Mr. Stanton did not come home to dinner, we made a picnic of our noon
meal on Mondays, and all thoughts and energies were turned to speed the
washing. No unnecessary sweeping or dusting, no visiting nor
entertaining angels unawares on that day--it was held sacred to soap
suds, blue-bags, and clotheslines. The children, only, had no deviation
in the regularity of their lives. They had their drives and walks,
their naps and rations, in quantity and time, as usual. I had all the
most approved cook books, and spent half my time preserving, pickling,
and experimenting in new dishes. I felt the same ambition to excel in
all departments of the culinary art that I did at school in the
different branches of learning. My love of order and cleanliness was
carried throughout, from parlor to kitchen, from the front door to the
back. I gave a man an extra shilling to pile the logs of firewood with
their smooth ends outward, though I did not have them scoured white, as
did our Dutch grandmothers. I tried, too, to give an artistic touch to
everything--the dress of my children and servants included. My dining
table was round, always covered with a clean cloth of a pretty pattern
and a centerpiece of flowers in their season, pretty dishes, clean
silver, and set with neatness and care. I put my soul into everything,
and hence enjoyed it. I never could understand how housekeepers could
rest with rubbish all round their back doors; eggshells, broken dishes,
tin cans, and old shoes scattered round their premises; servants ragged
and dirty, with their hair in papers, and with the kitchen and dining
room full of flies. I have known even artists to be indifferent to their
personal appearance and their surroundings. Surely a mother and child,
tastefully dressed, and a pretty home for a framework, is, as a picture,
even more attractive than a domestic scene hung on the wall. The love of
the beautiful can be illustrated as well in life as on canvas. There is
such a struggle among women to become artists that I really wish some of
their gifts could be illustrated in clean, orderly, beautiful homes.

Our house was pleasantly situated on the Chelsea Hills, commanding a
fine view of Boston, the harbor, and surrounding country. There, on the
upper piazza, I spent some of the happiest days of my life, enjoying, in
turn, the beautiful outlook, my children, and my books. Here, under the
very shadow of Bunker Hill Monument, my third son was born. Shortly
after this Gerrit Smith and his wife came to spend a few days with us,
so this boy, much against my will, was named after my cousin. I did not
believe in old family names unless they were peculiarly euphonious. I
had a list of beautiful names for sons and daughters, from which to
designate each newcomer; but, as yet, not one on my list had been used.
However, I put my foot down, at No. 4, and named him Theodore, and, thus
far, he has proved himself a veritable "gift of God," doing his
uttermost, in every way possible, to fight the battle of freedom for

During the visit of my cousin I thought I would venture on a small,
select dinner party, consisting of the Rev. John Pierpont and his wife,
Charles Sumner, John G. Whittier, and Joshua Leavitt. I had a new cook,
Rose, whose viands, thus far, had proved delicious, so I had no anxiety
on that score. But, unfortunately, on this occasion I had given her a
bottle of wine for the pudding sauce and whipped cream, of which she
imbibed too freely, and hence there were some glaring blunders in the
_menu_ that were exceedingly mortifying. As Mr. Smith and my husband
were both good talkers, I told them they must cover all defects with
their brilliant conversation, which they promised to do.

Rose had all the points of a good servant, phrenologically and
physiologically. She had a large head, with great bumps of caution and
order, her eyes were large and soft and far apart. In selecting her,
scientifically, I had told my husband, in triumph, several times what a
treasure I had found. Shortly after dinner, one evening when I was out,
she held the baby while the nurse was eating her supper, and carelessly
burned his foot against the stove. Then Mr. Stanton suggested that, in
selecting the next cook, I would better not trust to science, but
inquire of the family where she lived as to her practical virtues. Poor
Rose! she wept over her lapses when sober, and made fair promises for
the future, but I did not dare to trust her, so we parted. The one
drawback to the joys of housekeeping was then, as it is now, the lack of
faithful, competent servants. The hope of co-operative housekeeping, in
the near future, gives us some promise of a more harmonious domestic

One of the books in my library I value most highly is the first volume
of Whittier's poems, published in 1838, "Dedicated to Henry B. Stanton,
as a token of the author's personal friendship, and of his respect for
the unreserved devotion of exalted talents to the cause of humanity and
freedom." Soon after our marriage we spent a few days with our gifted
Quaker poet, on his farm in Massachusetts.

I shall never forget those happy days in June; the long walks and
drives, and talks under the old trees of anti-slavery experiences, and
Whittier's mirth and indignation as we described different scenes in the
World's Anti-slavery Convention in London. He laughed immoderately at
the Tom Campbell episode. Poor fellow! he had taken too much wine that
day, and when Whittier's verses, addressed to the convention, were
read, he criticised them severely, and wound up by saying that the soul
of a poet was not in him. Mr. Stanton sprang to his feet and recited
some of Whittier's stirring stanzas on freedom, which electrified the
audience, and, turning to Campbell, he said: "What do you say to that?"
"Ah! that's real poetry," he replied. "And John Greenleaf Whittier is
its author," said Mr. Stanton.

I enjoyed, too, the morning and evening service, when the revered mother
read the Scriptures and we all bowed our heads in silent worship. There
was, at times, an atmosphere of solemnity pervading everything, that was
oppressive in the midst of so much that appealed to my higher nature.
There was a shade of sadness in even the smile of the mother and sister,
and a rigid plainness in the house and its surroundings, a depressed
look in Whittier himself that the songs of the birds, the sunshine, and
the bracing New England air seemed powerless to chase away, caused, as I
afterward heard, by pecuniary embarrassment, and fears in regard to the
delicate health of the sister. She, too, had rare poetical talent, and
in her Whittier found not only a helpful companion in the practical
affairs of life, but one who sympathized with him in the highest flights
of which his muse was capable. Their worst fears were realized in the
death of the sister not long after. In his last volume several of her
poems were published, which are quite worthy the place the brother's
appreciation has given them. Whittier's love and reverence for his
mother and sister, so marked in every word and look, were charming
features of his home life. All his poems to our sex breathe the same
tender, worshipful sentiments.

Soon after this visit at Amesbury, our noble friend spent a few days
with us in Chelsea, near Boston. One evening, after we had been talking
a long time of the unhappy dissensions among anti-slavery friends, by
way of dissipating the shadows I opened the piano, and proposed that we
should sing some cheerful songs. "Oh, no!" exclaimed Mr. Stanton, "do
not touch a note; you will put every nerve of Whittier's body on edge."
It seemed, to me, so natural for a poet to love music that I was
surprised to know that it was a torture to him.

From our upper piazza we had a fine view of Boston harbor. Sitting there
late one moonlight night, admiring the outlines of Bunker Hill Monument
and the weird effect of the sails and masts of the vessels lying in the
harbor, we naturally passed from the romance of our surroundings to
those of our lives. I have often noticed that the most reserved people
are apt to grow confidential at such an hour. It was under such
circumstances that the good poet opened to me a deeply interesting page
of his life, a sad romance of love and disappointment, that may not yet
be told, as some who were interested in the events are still among the

Whittier's poems were not only one of the most important factors in the
anti-slavery war and victory, but they have been equally potent in
emancipating the minds of his generation from the gloomy superstitions
of the puritanical religion. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his eulogy of
Whittier, says that his influence on the religious thought of the
American people has been far greater than that of the occupant of any

As my husband's health was delicate, and the New England winters proved
too severe for him, we left Boston, with many regrets, and sought a more
genial climate in Central New York.



In the spring of 1847 we moved to Seneca Falls. Here we spent sixteen
years of our married life, and here our other children--two sons and two
daughters--were born.

Just as we were ready to leave Boston, Mr. and Mrs. Eaton and their two
children arrived from Europe, and we decided to go together to
Johnstown, Mr. Eaton being obliged to hurry to New York on business, and
Mr. Stanton to remain still in Boston a few months. At the last moment
my nurse decided she could not leave her friends and go so far away.
Accordingly my sister and I started, by rail, with five children and
seventeen trunks, for Albany, where we rested over night and part of the
next day. We had a very fatiguing journey, looking after so many trunks
and children, for my sister's children persisted in standing on the
platform at every opportunity, and the younger ones would follow their
example. This kept us constantly on the watch. We were thankful when
safely landed once more in the old homestead in Johnstown, where we
arrived at midnight. As our beloved parents had received no warning of
our coming, the whole household was aroused to dispose of us. But now in
safe harbor, 'mid familiar scenes and pleasant memories, our slumbers
were indeed refreshing. How rapidly one throws off all care and anxiety
under the parental roof, and how at sea one feels, no matter what the
age may be, when the loved ones are gone forever and the home of
childhood is but a dream of the past.

After a few days of rest I started, alone, for my new home, quite happy
with the responsibility of repairing a house and putting all things in
order. I was already acquainted with many of the people and the
surroundings in Seneca Falls, as my sister, Mrs. Bayard, had lived there
several years, and I had frequently made her long visits. We had quite a
magnetic circle of reformers, too, in central New York. At Rochester
were William Henry Channing, Frederick Douglass, the Anthonys, Posts,
Hallowells, Stebbins,--some grand old Quaker families at
Farmington,--the Sedgwicks, Mays, Mills, and Matilda Joslyn Gage at
Syracuse; Gerrit Smith at Peterboro, and Beriah Green at Whitesboro.

The house we were to occupy had been closed for some years and needed
many repairs, and the grounds, comprising five acres, were overgrown
with weeds. My father gave me a check and said, with a smile, "You
believe in woman's capacity to do and dare; now go ahead and put your
place in order." After a minute survey of the premises and due
consultation with one or two sons of Adam, I set the carpenters,
painters, paper-hangers, and gardeners at work, built a new kitchen and
woodhouse, and in one month took possession. Having left my children
with my mother, there were no impediments to a full display of my
executive ability. In the purchase of brick, timber, paint, etc., and in
making bargains with workmen, I was in frequent consultation with Judge
Sackett and Mr. Bascom. The latter was a member of the Constitutional
Convention, then in session in Albany, and as he used to walk down
whenever he was at home, to see how my work progressed, we had long
talks, sitting on boxes in the midst of tools and shavings, on the
status of women. I urged him to propose an amendment to Article II,
Section 3, of the State Constitution, striking out the word "male,"
which limits the suffrage to men. But, while he fully agreed with all I
had to say on the political equality of women, he had not the courage to
make himself the laughing-stock of the convention. Whenever I cornered
him on this point, manlike he turned the conversation to the painters
and carpenters. However, these conversations had the effect of bringing
him into the first woman's convention, where he did us good service.

In Seneca Falls my life was comparatively solitary, and the change from
Boston was somewhat depressing. There, all my immediate friends were
reformers, I had near neighbors, a new home with all the modern
conveniences, and well-trained servants. Here our residence was on the
outskirts of the town, roads very often muddy and no sidewalks most of
the way, Mr. Stanton was frequently from home, I had poor servants, and
an increasing number of children. To keep a house and grounds in good
order, purchase every article for daily use, keep the wardrobes of half
a dozen human beings in proper trim, take the children to dentists,

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