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Letters of a Traveller by William Cullen Bryant

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end will be the wisest pretend not to foresee.

Letter XXII.


Edinburgh, _July_ 17, 1845.

I Had been often told, since I arrived in England, that in Edinburgh, I
should see the finest city I ever saw. I confess that I did not feel quite
sure of this, but it required scarcely more than a single look to show me
that it was perfectly true. It is hardly possible to imagine a nobler site
for a town than that of Edinburgh, and it is built as nobly. You stand on
the edge of the deep gulf which separates the old and the new town, and
before you on the opposite bank rise the picturesque buildings of the
ancient city--

"Piled deep and massy, close and high,"

looking, in their venerable and enduring aspect, as if they were parts of
the steep bank on which they stand, an original growth of the rocks; as
if, when the vast beds of stone crystallized from the waters, or cooled
from their fusion by fire, they formed themselves by some freak of nature
into this fantastic resemblance of the habitations of men. To the right
your eyes rest upon a crag crowned with a grand old castle of the middle
ages, on which guards are marching to and fro; and near you to the left,
rises the rocky summit of Carlton Hill, with its monuments of the great
men of Scotland. Behind you stretch the broad streets of the new town,
overlooked by massive structures, built of the stone of the Edinburgh
quarries, which have the look of palaces.

"Streets of palaces and walks of slate,"

form the new town. Not a house of brick or wood exists in Edinburgh; all
are constructed of the excellent and lasting stone which the earth
supplies almost close to their foundations. High and solid bridges of this
material, with broad arches, connect the old town with the new, and cross
the deep ravine of the Cowgate in the old town, at the bottom of which you
see a street between prodigiously high buildings, swarming with the poorer
population of Edinburgh.

From almost any of the eminences of the town you see spread below you its
magnificent bay, the Frith of Forth, with its rocky islands; and close to
the old town rise the lofty summits of Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crag, a
solitary, silent, mountainous district, without habitations or inclosures,
grazed by flocks of sheep. To the west flows Leith-water in its deep
valley, spanned by a noble bridge, and the winds of this chilly climate
that strike the stately buildings of the new town, along the cliffs that
border this glen, come from the very clouds. Beyond the Frith lie the
hills of Fifeshire; a glimpse of the blue Grampian ridges is seen where
the Frith contracts in the northwest to a narrow channel, and to the
southwest lie the Pentland hills, whose springs supply Edinburgh with
water. All around you are places the names of which are familiar names of
history, poetry, and romance.

From this magnificence of nature and art, the transition was painful to
what I saw of the poorer population. On Saturday evening I found myself at
the market, which is then held in High-street and the Netherbow, just as
you enter the Canongate, and where the old wooden effigy of John Knox,
with staring black eyes, freshly painted every year, stands in its pulpit,
and still seems preaching to the crowd. Hither a throng of sickly-looking,
dirty people, bringing with them their unhealthy children, had crawled
from the narrow wynds or alleys on each side of the street. We entered
several of these wynds, and passed down one of them, between houses of
vast height, story piled upon story, till we came to the deep hollow of
the Cowgate. Children were swarming in the way, all of them, bred in that
close and impure atmosphere, of a sickly appearance, and the aspect of
premature age in some of them, which were carried in arms, was absolutely
frightful. "Here is misery," said a Scotch gentleman, who was my
conductor. I asked him how large a proportion of the people of Edinbugh
belonged to that wretched and squalid class which I saw before me. "More
than half," was his reply. I will not vouch for the accuracy of his
statistics. Of course his estimate was but a conjecture.

In the midst of this population is a House of Refuge for the Destitute,
established by charitable individuals for the relief of those who may be
found in a state of absolute destitution of the necessaries of life. Here
they are employed in menial services, lodged and fed until they can be
sent to their friends, or employment found for them. We went over the
building, a spacious structure, in the Canongate, of the plainest Puritan
architecture, with wide low rooms, which, at the time of the union of
Scotland with England, served as the mansion of the Duke of Queensbury.
The accommodations of course are of the humblest kind. We were shown into
the sewing-room, were we saw several healthy-looking young women at work,
some of them barefooted. Such of the inmates as can afford it, pay for
their board from three and sixpence to five shillings a week, besides
their labor.

In this part of the city also are the Night Asylums for the Houseless.
Here, those who find themselves without a shelter for the night, are
received into an antechamber, provided with benches, where they first get
a bowl of soup, and are then introduced into a bathing-room, where they
are stripped and scoured. They are next furnished with clean garments and
accommodated with a lodging on an inclined plane of planks, a little
raised from the floor, and divided into proper compartments by strips of
board. Their own clothes are, in the mean time, washed, and returned to
them when they leave the place.

It was a very different spectacle from the crowd in the Saturday evening
market, that met my eyes the next morning in the clean and beautiful
streets of the new town; the throng of well-dressed church-goers passing
each other in all directions. The women, it appeared to me, were rather
gaily dressed, and a large number of them prettier than I had seen in some
of the more southern cities.

I attended worship in one of the Free Churches, as they are called, in
which Dr. Candlish officiates. In the course of his sermon, he read long
portions of an address from the General Assembly of the Free Church of
Scotland, appointing the following Thursday as a day of fasting and
prayer, on account of the peculiar circumstances of the time, and more
especially the dangers flowing from the influence of popery, alluding to
the grant of money lately made by parliament to the Roman Catholic College
at Maynooth. The address proposed no definite opposition, but protested
against the measure in general, and, as it seemed to me, rather vague
terms. In the course of the address the title of National Church was
claimed for the Free Church, notwithstanding its separation from the
government, and the era of that separation was referred to in phrases
similar to those in which we speak of our own declaration of national
independence. There were one or two allusions to the persecutions which
the Free Church had suffered, and something was said about her children
being hunted like partridges upon the mountains; but it is clear that if
her ministers have been hunted, they have been hunted into fine churches;
and if persecuted, they have been persecuted into comfortable livings.
This Free Church, as far as I can learn, is extremely prosperous.

Dr. Candlish is a fervid preacher, and his church was crowded. In the
afternoon I attended at one of the churches of the established or endowed
Presbyterian Church, where a quiet kind of a preacher held forth, and the
congregation was thin.

This Maynooth grant has occasioned great dissatisfaction in England and
Scotland. If the question had been left to be decided by the public
opinion of these parts of the kingdom, the grant would never have been
made. An immense majority, of all classes and almost all denominations,
disapprove of it. A dissenting clergyman of one of the evangelical
persuasions, as they are called, said to me--"The dissenters claim nothing
from the government; they hold that it is not the business of the state to
interfere in religious matters, and they object to bestowing the public
money upon the seminaries of any religious denomination." In a
conversation which I had with an eminent man of letters, and a warm friend
of the English Church, he said: "The government is giving offense to many
who have hitherto been its firmest supporters. There was no necessity for
the Maynooth grant; the Catholics would have been as well satisfied
without it as they are with it; for you see they are already clamoring for
the right to appoint through their Bishops the professors in the new
Irish colleges. The Catholics were already establishing their schools, and
building their churches with their own means: and this act of applying the
money of the nation to the education of their priests is a gratuitous
offense offered by the government to its best friends." In a sermon which
I heard from the Dean of York, in the magnificent old minster of that
city, he commended the liberality of the motives which had induced the
government to make the grant, but spoke of the measure as one which the
friends of the English Church viewed with apprehension and anxiety.

"They may dismiss their fears," said a shrewd friend of mine, with whom I
was discussing the subject. "Endowments are a cause of lukewarmness and
weakness. Our Presbyterian friends here, instead of protesting so
vehemently against what Sir Robert Peel has done, should thank him for
endowing the Catholic Church, for in doing it he has deprived it of some
part of its hold upon the minds of men."

There is much truth, doubtless, in this remark. The support of religion to
be effectual should depend upon individual zeal. The history of the
endowed chapels of dissenting denominations in England is a curious
example of this. Congregations have fallen away and come to nothing, and
it is a general remark that nothing is so fatal to a sect as a liberal
endowment, which provides for the celebration of public worship without
individual contributions.

Letter XXIII.

The Scottish Lakes.

Glasgow, _July_ 19, 1845.

I must not leave Scotland without writing you another letter.

On the 17th of this month I embarked at Newhaven, in the environs of
Edinburgh, on board the little steamer Prince Albert, for Stirling. On our
way we saw several samples of the Newhaven fishwives, a peculiar race,
distinguished by a costume of their own; fresh-colored women, who walk the
streets of Edinburgh with a large wicker-basket on their shoulders, a
short blue cloak of coarse cloth under the basket, short blue petticoats,
thick blue stockings, and a white cap. I was told that they were the
descendants of a little Flemish colony, which long ago settled at
Newhaven, and that they are celebrated for the readiness and point of
their jokes, which, like those of their sisters of Billingsgate, are not
always of the most delicate kind. Several of these have been related to
me, but on running them over in my mind, I find, to my dismay, that none
of them will look well on paper. The wit of the Newhaven fishwives seems
to me, however, like that of our western boatmen, to consist mainly in
the ready application of quaint sayings already current among themselves.

It was a wet day, with occasional showers, and sometimes a sprinkling of
Scotch mist. I tried the cabin, but the air was too close. The steamboats
in this country have but one deck, and that deck has no shelter, so I was
content to stand in the rain for the sake of the air and scenery. After
passing an island or two, the Frith, which forms the bay of Edinburgh,
contracts into the river Forth. We swept by country seats, one of which
was pointed out as the residence of the late Dugald Stewart, and another
that of the Earl of Elgin, the plunderer of the Parthenon; and castles,
towers, and churches, some of them in ruins ever since the time of John
Knox, and hills half seen in the fog, until we came opposite to the Ochil
mountains, whose grand rocky buttresses advanced from the haze almost to
the river. Here, in the windings of the Forth, our steamer went many times
backward and forward, first towards the mountains and then towards the
level country to the south, in almost parallel courses, like the track of
a ploughman in a field. At length we passed a ruined tower and some
fragments of massy wall which once formed a part of Cambus Kenneth Abbey,
seated on the rich lands of the Forth, for the monks, in Great Britain at
least, seem always to have chosen for the site of their monasteries, the
banks of a stream which would supply them with trout and salmon for
Fridays. We were now in the presence of the rocky hills of Stirling, with
the town on its declivity, and the ancient castle, the residence of the
former kings of Scotland, on its summit.

We went up through the little town to the castle, which is still kept in
perfect order, and the ramparts of which frown as grimly over the
surrounding country as they did centuries ago. No troops however are now
stationed here; a few old gunners alone remain, and Major somebody, I
forget his name, takes his dinners in the banqueting-room and sleeps in
the bed-chamber of the Stuarts. I wish I could communicate the impression
which this castle and the surrounding region made upon me, with its
vestiges of power and magnificence, and its present silence and desertion.
The passages to the dungeons where pined the victims of state, in the very
building where the court held its revels, lie open, and the chapel in
which princes and princesses were christened, and worshiped, and were
crowned and wed, is turned into an armory. From its windows we were shown,
within the inclosure of the castle, a green knoll, grazed by cattle, where
the disloyal nobles of Scotland were beheaded. Close to the castle is a
green field, intersected with paths, which we were told was the
tilting-ground, or place of tournaments, and beside it rises a rock, where
the ladies of the court sat to witness the combats, and which is still
called the Ladies' Rock. At the foot of the hill, to the right of the
castle, stretches what was once the royal park; it is shorn of its trees,
part is converted into a race-course, part into a pasture for cows, and
the old wall which marked its limits is fallen down. Near it you see a
cluster of grassy embankments of a curious form, circles and octagons and
parallelograms, which bear the name of King James's Knot, and once formed
a part of the royal-gardens, where the sovereign used to divert himself
with his courtiers. The cows now have the spot to themselves, and have
made their own paths and alleys all over it. "Yonder, to the southwest of
the castle," said a sentinel who stood at the gate, "you see where a large
field has been lately ploughed, and beyond it another, which looks very
green. That green field is the spot where the battle of Bannockburn was
fought, and the armies of England were defeated by Bruce." I looked, and
so fresh and bright was the verdure, that it seemed to me as if the earth
was still fertilized with the blood of those who fell in that desperate
struggle for the crown of Scotland. Not far from this, the spot was shown
us where Wallace was defeated at the battle of Falkirk. This region is now
the scene of another and an unbloody warfare; the warfare between the Free
Church and the Government Church. Close to the church of the
establishment, at the foot of the rock of Stirling, the soldiers of the
Free Church have erected their place of worship, and the sound of hammers
from the unfinished interior could be heard almost up to the castle.

We took places the same day in the coach for Callander, in the Highlands.
In a short time we came into a country of hillocks and pastures brown and
barren, half covered with ferns, the breckan of the Scotch, where the
broom flowered gaudily by the road-side, and harebells now in bloom, in
little companies, were swinging, heavy with the rain, on their slender

Crossing the Teith we found ourselves in Doune, a Highland village, just
before entering which we passed a throng of strapping lasses, who had just
finished their daily task at a manufactory on the Teith, and were
returning to their homes. Between Doune and Callander we passed the woods
of Cambus-More, full of broad beeches, which delight in the tenacious
mountain soil of this district. This was the seat of a friend of the Scott
family, and here Sir Walter in his youth passed several summers, and
became familiar with the scenes which he has so well described in his Lady
of the Lake. At Callander we halted for the night among a crowd of
tourists, Scotch, English, American, and German, more numerous than the
inn at which we stopped could hold. I went out into the street to get a
look at the place, but a genuine Scotch mist covering me with water soon
compelled me to return. I heard the people, a well-limbed brawny race of
men, with red hair and beards, talking to each other in Gaelic, and saw
through the fogs only a glimpse of the sides of the mountains and crags
which surrounded the village.

The next morning was uncommonly bright and clear, and we set out early for
the Trosachs. We now saw that the village of Callander lay under a dark
crag, on the banks of the Teith, winding pleasantly among its alders, and
overlooked by the grand summit of Benledi, which rises to the height of
three thousand feet. A short time brought us to the stream

"Which, daughter of three mighty lakes,
From Vennachar in silver breaks,"

and we skirted the lake for nearly its whole length. Loch Vennachar lies
between hills of comparatively gentle declivity, pastured by flocks, and
tufted with patches of the prickly gorse and coarse ferns. On its north
bank lies Lanrick Mead, a little grassy level where Scott makes the tribe
of Clan Alpine assemble at the command of Roderick Dhu. At a little
distance from Vennachar lies Loch Achray, which we reached by a road
winding among shrubs and low trees, birches, and wild roses in blossom,
with which the air was fragrant. Crossing a little stone bridge, which our
driver told us was the Bridge of Turk, we were on the edge of Loch Achray,
a little sheet of water surrounded by wild rocky hills, with here and
there an interval of level grassy margin, or a grove beside the water.
Turning from Loch Achray we reached an inn with a Gaelic name, which I
have forgotten how to spell, and which if I were to spell it, you could
not pronounce. This was on the edge of the Trosachs, and here we

It is the fashion, I believe, for all tourists to pass through the
Trosachs on foot. The mob of travellers, with whom I found myself on the
occasion--there were some twenty of them--did so, to a man; even the
ladies, who made about a third of the number, walked. The distance to Loch
Katrine is about a mile and a half, between lofty mountains, along a glen
filled with masses of rock, which seem to have been shaken by some
convulsion of nature from the high steeps on either side, and in whose
shelves and crevices time had planted a thick wood of the birch and ash.

But I will not describe the Trosachs after Walter Scott. Head what he says
of them in the first canto of his poem. Loch Katrine, when we reached it,
was crisped into little waves, by a fresh wind from the northwest, and a
boat, with four brawny Highlanders, was waiting to convey us to the head
of the lake. We launched upon the dark deep water, between craggy and
shrubby steeps, the summits of which rose on every side of us; and one of
the rowers, an intelligent-looking man, took upon himself the task of
pointing out to us the places mentioned by the poet. "There," said he, as
we receded from the shore, "is the spot in the Trosachs where Fitz James
lost his gallant gray." He then repeated, in a sort of recitation,
dwelling strongly on the rhyme, the lines in the Lady of the Lake which
relate that incident. "Yonder is the island where Douglass concealed his
daughter. Under that broad oak, whose boughs almost dip into the water,
was the place where her skiff was moored. On that rock, covered with
heath, Fitz James stood and wound his bugle. Near it, but out of sight, is
the silver strand where the skiff received him on board."

Further on, he pointed out, on the south side of the lake, half way up
among the rocks of the mountain, the place of the Goblin Cave, and still
beyond it

"The wild pass, where birches wave,
Of Beal-a-nam-bo."

On the north shore, the hills had a gentler slope, and on their skirts,
which spread into something like a meadow, we saw a solitary dwelling. "In
that," said he, "Rob Roy was born." In about two hours, our strong-armed
rowers had brought us to the head of the lake. Before we reached it, we
saw the dark crest of Ben Lomond, loftier than any of the mountains around
us, peering over the hills which formed the southern rampart of Loch
Katrine. We landed, and proceeded--the men on foot and the women on ponies
--through a wild craggy valley, overgrown with low shrubs, to Inversnaid,
on Loch Lomond, where a stream freshly swollen by rains tumbled down a
pretty cascade into the lake. As we descended the steep bank, we saw a man
and woman sitting on the grass weaving baskets; the woman, as we passed,
stopped her work to beg; and the children, chubby and ruddy, came running
after us with "Please give me a penny to buy a scone."

At Iversnaid we embarked in a steamboat which took us to the northern
extremity of the lake, where it narrows into a channel like a river. Here
we stopped to wait the arrival of a coach, and, in the mean time, the
passengers had an hour to wander in the grassy valley of Glenfalloch,
closed in by high mountains. I heard the roar of mountain-streams, and
passing northward, found myself in sight of two torrents, one from the
east, and the other from the west side of the valley, throwing themselves,
foaming and white, from precipice to precipice, till their waters, which
were gathered in the summit of the mountains, reached the meadows, and
stole through the grass to mingle with those of the lake.

The coach at length arrived, and we were again taken on board the steamer,
and conveyed the whole length of Loch Lomond to its southern extremity. We
passed island after island, one of which showed among its thick trees the
remains of a fortress, erected in the days of feudal warfare and robbery,
and another was filled with deer. Towards the southern end of the lake,
the towering mountains, peak beyond peak, which overlook the lake, subside
into hills, between which the stream called Leven-water flows out through
a rich and fertile valley.

Coaches were waiting at Balloch, where we landed, to take us to Dumbarton.
Near the lake we passed a magnificent park, in the midst of which stood a
castle, a veritable castle, a spacious massive building of stone, with a
tower and battlements, on which a flag was flying. "It belongs to a
dry-goods merchant in Glasgow," said the captain of the steamboat, who was
in the coach with us; "and the flag is put up by his boys. The merchants
are getting finer seats than the nobility." I am sorry to say that I have
forgotten both the name of the merchant and that of his castle. He was, as
I was told, a liberal, as well as an opulent man; had built a school-house
in the neighborhood, and being of the Free Church party, was then engaged
in building a church.

Near Renton, on the banks of the Leven, I saw a little neighborhood,
embosomed in old trees. "There," said our captain, "Smollet was born." A
column has been erected to his memory in the town of Renton, which we saw
as we passed. The forked rock, on which stands Dumbarton Castle, was now
in sight overlooking the Clyde; we were whirled into the town, and in a
few minutes were on board a steamer which, as evening set in, landed us at

I must reserve what I have to tell of Glasgow and Ayrshire for yet another

Letter XXIV.


Dublin, _July_ 24, 1845.

I promised another letter concerning Scotland, but I had not time to write
it until the Irish Channel lay between me and the Scottish coast.

When we reached Glasgow on the 18th of July, the streets were swarming
with people. I inquired the occasion, and was told that this was the
annual fair. The artizans were all out with their families, and great
numbers of country people were sauntering about. This fair was once, what
its name imports, an annual market for the sale of merchandise; but it is
now a mere holiday in which the principal sales, as it appeared to me,
were of gingerbread and whisky. I strolled the next morning to the Green,
a spacious open ground that stretches along the Clyde. One part of it was
occupied with the booths and temporary theatres and wagons of showmen,
around and among which a vast throng was assembled, who seemed to delight
in being deafened with the cries of the showmen and the music of their
instruments. In one place a band was playing, in another a gong was
thundering, and from one of the balconies a fellow in regal robes and a
pasteboard crown, surrounded by several persons of both sexes in tawdry
stage-dresses, who seemed to have just got out of bed and were yawning and
rubbing their eyes, was vociferating to the crowd in praise of the
entertainment which was shortly to be offered them, while not far off the
stentor of a rival company, under a flag which announced a new pantomime
for a penny, was declaiming with equal vehemence. I made my way with
difficulty through the crowd to the ancient street called the Salt Market,
in which Scott places the habitation of Baillie Jarvie. It was obstructed
with little stalls, where toys and other inconsiderable articles were
sold. Here at the corner of one of the streets stands the old tower of the
Tolbooth where Rob Roy was confined, a solid piece of ancient
architecture. The main building has been removed and a modern house
supplies its place; the tower has been pierced below for a thoroughfare,
and its clock still reports the time of day to the people of Glasgow. The
crowd through which I passed had that squalid appearance which marks
extreme poverty and uncertain means of subsistence, and I was able to form
some idea of the prodigious number of this class in a populous city of
Great Britain like Glasgow. For populous she is, and prosperous as a city,
increasing with a rapidity almost equal to that of New York, and already
she numbers, it is estimated, three hundred thousand inhabitants. Of
these it is said that full one-third are Irish by birth or born of Irish

The next day, which was Sunday, before going to church, I walked towards
the west part of the city; where the streets are broad and the houses
extremely well-built, of the same noble material as the new town of
Edinburgh; and many of the dwellings have fine gardens. Their sites in
many places overlook the pleasant valley of the Clyde, and I could not
help acknowledging that Glasgow was not without claim to the epithet of
beautiful, which I should have denied her if I had formed my judgment from
the commercial streets only. The people of Glasgow also have shown their
good sense in erecting the statues which adorn their public squares, only
to men who have some just claim to distinction. Here are no statues, for
example, of the profligate Charles II., or the worthless Duke of York, or
the silly Duke of Cambridge, as you will see in other cities; but here the
marble effigy of Walter Scott looks from a lofty column in the principal
square, and not far from it is that of the inventor Watt; while the
statues erected to military men are to those who, like Wellington, have
acquired a just renown in arms. The streets were full of well-dressed
persons going to church, the women for the most part, I must say, far from
beautiful. I turned with the throng and followed it as far as St. Enoch's
church, in Buchanan-street, where I heard a long discourse from a
sensible preacher, Dr. Barr, a minister of the established Kirk of

In the afternoon I climbed one of the steep streets to the north of my
hotel, and found three places of worship, built with considerable
attention to architectural effect, and fresh, as it seemed, from the hands
of the mason. They all, as I was told, belonged to the Free Kirk, which
has lately been rent from the establishment, and threatens to leave it a
mere shadow of a church, like the Episcopal church in Ireland. "Nothing,"
said an intelligent Glasgow friend of mine, "can exceed the zeal of the
friends of the Free Church. One of our Glasgow merchants has just given
fifteen hundred pounds towards the fund for providing _manses_, or
parsonages, for the ministers of that Church, and I know of several who
have subscribed a thousand. In all the colleges of Scotland, the
professors are obliged, by way of test, to declare their attachment to the
Presbyterian Church as by law established. Parliament has just refused to
repeal this test, and the friends of the Free Church are determined to
found a college of their own. Twenty thousand pounds had already been
subscribed before the government refused to dispense with this test, and
the project will now be supported with more zeal than ever."

I went into one of these Free churches, and listened to a sermon from Dr.
Lindsay, a comfortable-looking professor in some new theological school.
It was quite common-place, though not so long as the Scotch ministers are
in the habit of giving; for excessive brevity is by no means their
besetting infirmity. At the close of the exercises, he announced that a
third service would be held in the evening. "The subject," continued he,
"will be the thoughts and exercises of Jonah in the whale's belly."

In returning to my hotel, I passed by another new church, with an
uncommonly beautiful steeple and elaborate carvings. I inquired its name;
it was the new St. John's, and was another of the buildings of the Free

On Monday we made an excursion to the birthplace of Burns. The railway
between Glasgow and Ayr took us through Paisley, worthy of note as having
produced our eminent ornithologist, Alexander Wilson, and along the banks
of Castle Semple Loch, full of swans, a beautiful sheet of water, sleeping
among green fields which shelve gently to its edge. We passed by Irvine,
where Burns learned the art of dressing flax, and traversing a sandy
tract, close to the sea, were set down at Ayr, near the new bridge. You
recollect Burns's dialogue between the "auld brig" of Ayr and the new, in
which the former predicted that vain as her rival might be of her new and
fresh appearance, the time would shortly come when she would be as much
dilapidated as herself. The prediction is fulfilled; the bridge has begun
to give way, and workmen are busy in repairing its arches.

We followed a pleasant road, sometimes agreeably shaded by trees, to
Alloway. As we went out of Ayr we heard a great hammering and clicking of
chisels, and looking to the right we saw workmen busy in building another
of the Free Churches, with considerable elaborateness of architecture, in
the early Norman style. The day was very fine, the sun bright, and the sky
above us perfectly clear; but, as is generally the case in this country
with an east wind, the atmosphere was thick with a kind of dry haze which
veils distant objects from the sight. The sea was to our right, but we
could not discern where it ended and the horizon began, and the mountains
of the island of Arran and the lone and lofty rock of Ailsa Craig looked
at first like faint shadows in the thick air, and were soon altogether
undistinguishable. We came at length to the little old painted kirk of
Alloway, in the midst of a burying ground, roofless, but with gable-ends
still standing, and its interior occupied by tombs. A solid upright marble
slab, before the church, marks the place where William Burns, the father
of the poet, lies buried. A little distance beyond flows the Doon under
the old bridge crossed by Tam O'Shanter on the night of his adventure with
the witches.

This little stream well deserves the epithet of "bonnie," which Burns has
given it. Its clear but dark current, flows rapidly between banks often
shaded with ashes, alders, and other trees, and sometimes overhung by
precipices of a reddish-colored rock. A little below the bridge it falls
into the sea, but the tide comes not up to embitter its waters. From the
west bank of the stream the land rises to hills of considerable height,
with a heathy summit and wooded slopes, called Brown Carrick Hill. Two
high cliffs near it impend over the sea, which are commonly called the
Heads of Ayr, and not far from these stands a fragment of an ancient
castle. I have sometimes wondered that born as Burns was in the
neighborhood of the sea, which I was told is often swelled into prodigious
waves by the strong west winds that beat on this coast, he should yet have
taken little if any of his poetic imagery from the ocean, either in its
wilder or its gentler moods. But his occupations were among the fields,
and his thoughts were of those who dwelt among them, and his imagination
never wandered where his feelings went not.

The monument erected to Burns, near the bridge, is an ostentatious thing,
with a gilt tripod on its summit. I was only interested to see some of the
relics of Burns which it contains, among which is the Bible given by him
to his Highland Mary. A road from the monument leads along the stream
among the trees to a mill, at a little distance above the bridge, where
the water passes under steep rocks, and I followed it. The wild rose and
the woodbine were in full bloom in the hedges, and these to me were a
better memorial of Burns than any thing which the chisel could execute. A
barefoot lassie came down the grassy bank among the trees with a pail, and
after washing her feet in the swift current filled the pail and bore it
again over the bank.

We saw many visitors sauntering about the bridge or entering the
monument; some of them seemed to be country people,--young men with their
sisters and sweethearts, and others in white cravats with a certain
sleekness of appearance I took to be of the profession of divinity. At the
inn beside the Doon, a young woman, with a face and head so round as
almost to form a perfect globe, gave us a dish of excellent strawberries
and cream, and we set off for the house in which Burns was born.

It is a clay-built cottage of the humblest class, and now serves, with the
addition of two new rooms of a better architecture, for an ale-house. Mrs.
Hastings, the landlady, showed us the register, in which we remarked that
a very great number of the visitors had taken the pains to write
themselves down as shoemakers. Major Burns, one of the sons of the poet,
had lately visited the place with his two daughters and a younger brother,
and they had inscribed their names in the book.

We returned to Ayr by a different road from that by which we went to
Alloway. The haymakers were at work in the fields, and the vegetation was
everywhere in its highest luxuriance. You may smile at the idea, but I
affirm that a potato field in Great Britain, at this season, is a prettier
sight than a vineyard in Italy. In this climate, the plant throws out an
abundance of blossoms, pink and white, and just now the potato fields are
as fine as so many flower gardens.

We crossed the old bridge of Ayr, which is yet in good preservation,
though carriages are not allowed to pass over it. Looking up the stream,
we saw solitary slopes and groves on its left bank, and I fancied that I
had in my eye the sequestered spot on the banks of the Ayr, where Burns
and his Highland Mary held the meeting described in his letters, and
parted to meet no more.

Letter XXV.


Dublin, _July_ 25, 1845.

We left Glasgow on the morning of the 22d, and taking the railway to
Ardrossan were soon at the beach. One of those iron steamers which
navigate the British waters, far inferior to our own in commodious and
comfortable arrangements, but strong and safe, received us on board, and
at ten o'clock we were on our way to Belfast. The coast of Ayr, with the
cliff near the birthplace of Burns, continued long in sight; we passed
near the mountains of Arran, high and bare steeps swelling out of the sea,
which had a look of almost complete solitude; and at length Ailsa Craig
began faintly to show itself, high above the horizon, through the thick
atmosphere. We passed this lonely rock, about which flocks of sea-birds,
the solan goose, and the gannet, on long white wings with jetty tips, were
continually wheeling, and with a glass we could discern them sitting by
thousands on the shelves of the rock, where they breed. The upper part of
Ailsa, above the cliffs, which reach more than half-way to the summit,
appears not to be destitute of soil, for it was tinged with a faint

In about nine hours--we were promised by a lying advertisement it should
be six--we had crossed the channel, over smooth water, and were making our
way, between green shores almost without a tree, up the bay, at the bottom
of which stands, or rather lies, for its site is low, the town of Belfast.
We had yet enough of daylight left to explore a part at least of the city.
"It looks like Albany," said my companion, and really the place bears some
resemblance to the streets of Albany which are situated near the river,
nor is it without an appearance of commercial activity. The people of
Belfast, you know, are of Scotch origin, with some infusion of the
original race of Ireland. I heard English spoken with a Scotch accent, but
I was obliged to own that the severity of the Scottish physiognomy had
been softened by the migration and the mingling of breeds. I presented one
of my letters of introduction, and met with so cordial a reception, that I
could not but regret the necessity of leaving Belfast the next morning.

At an early hour the next day we were in our seats on the outside of the
mail-coach. We passed through a well-cultivated country, interspersed with
towns which had an appearance of activity and thrift. The dwellings of the
cottagers looked more comfortable than those of the same class in
Scotland, and we were struck with the good looks of the people, men and
women, whom we passed in great numbers going to their work. At length,
having traversed the county of Down, we entered Lowth, when an immediate
change was visible. We were among wretched and dirty hovels,
squalid-looking men and women, and ragged children--the stature of the
people seemed dwarfed by the poverty in which they have so long lived, and
the jet-black hair and broad faces which I saw around me, instead of the
light hair and oval countenances so general a few miles back, showed me
that I was among the pure Celtic race.

Shortly after entering the county of Lowth, and close on the confines of
Armagh, perhaps partly within it, we traversed, near the village of
Jonesborough, a valley full of the habitations of peat-diggers. Its aspect
was most remarkable, the barren hills that inclose it were dark with heath
and gorse and with ledges of brown rock, and their lower declivities, as
well as the level of the valley, black with peat, which had been cut from
the ground and laid in rows. The men were at work with spades cutting it
from the soil, and the women were pressing the water from the portions
thus separated, and exposing it to the air to dry. Their dwellings were of
the most wretched kind, low windowless hovels, no higher than the heaps of
peat, with swarms of dirty children around them. It is the property of
peat earth to absorb a large quantity of water, and to part with it
slowly. The springs, therefore, in a region abounding with peat make no
brooks; the water passes into the spongy soil and remains there, forming
morasses even on the slopes of the hills.

As we passed out of this black valley we entered a kind of glen, and the
guard, a man in a laced hat and scarlet coat, pointed to the left, and
said, "There is a pretty place." It was a beautiful park along a
hill-side, groves and lawns, a broad domain, jealously inclosed by a thick
and high wall, beyond which we had, through the trees, a glimpse of a
stately mansion. Our guard was a genuine Irishman, strongly resembling the
late actor Power in physiognomy, with the very brogue which Power
sometimes gave to his personages. He was a man of pithy speech,
communicative, and acquainted apparently with every body, of every class,
whom we passed on the road. Besides him we had for fellow-passengers three
very intelligent Irishmen, on their way to Dublin. One of them was a tall,
handsome gentleman, with dark hair and hazel eyes, and a rich South-Irish
brogue. He was fond of his joke, but next to him sat a graver personage,
in spectacles, equally tall, with fair hair and light-blue eyes, speaking
with a decided Scotch accent. By my side was a square-built, fresh-colored
personage, who had travelled in America, and whose accent was almost
English. I thought I could not be mistaken in supposing them to be samples
of the three different races by which Ireland is peopled.

We now entered a fertile district, meadows heavy with grass, in which the
haymakers were at work, and fields of wheat and barley as fine as I had
ever seen, but the habitations of the peasantry had the same wretched
look, and their inmates the same appearance of poverty. Wherever the
coach stopped we were beset with swarms of beggars, the wittiest beggars
in the world, and the raggedest, except those of Italy. One or two green
mounds stood close to the road, and we saw others at a distance. "They are
Danish forts," said the guard. "Every thing we do not know the history of,
we put upon the Danes," added the South of Ireland man. These grassy
mounds, which are from ten to twenty feet in height, are now supposed to
have been the burial places of the ancient Celts. The peasantry can with
difficulty be persuaded to open any of them, on account of a prevalent
superstition that it will bring bad luck. A little before we arrived at
Drogheda, I saw a tower to the right, apparently a hundred feet in height,
with a doorway at a great distance from the ground, and a summit somewhat
dilapidated. "That is one of the round towers of Ireland, concerning which
there is so much discussion," said my English-looking fellow-traveller.
These round towers, as the Dublin antiquarians tell me, were probably
built by the early Christian missionaries from Italy, about the seventh
century, and were used as places of retreat and defense against the

Not far from Drogheda, I saw at a distance a quiet-looking valley. "That,"
said the English-looking passenger, "is the valley of the Boyne, and in
that spot was fought the famous battle of the Boyne." "Which the Irish are
fighting about yet, in America," added the South of Ireland man. They
pointed out near the spot, a cluster of trees on an eminence, where James
beheld the defeat of his followers. We crossed the Boyne, entered
Drogheda, dismounted among a crowd of beggars, took our places in the most
elegant railway wagon we had ever seen, and in an hour were set down in

I will not weary you with a description of Dublin. Scores of travellers
have said that its public buildings are magnificent, and its rows of
private houses, in many of the streets, are so many ranges of palaces.
Scores of travellers have said that if you pass out of these fine streets,
into the ancient lanes of the city, you see mud-houses that scarcely
afford a shelter, and are yet inhabited.

"Some of these," said a Dublin acquaintance to me, "which are now roofless
and no longer keep out the weather, yet show by their elaborate cornices
and their elegant chimney-pieces, that the time has been, and that not
very long since, when they were inhabited by the opulent class." He led me
back of Dublin castle to show me the house in which Swift was born. It
stands in a narrow, dirty lane called Holy's court, close to the
well-built part of the town: its windows are broken out, and its shutters
falling to pieces, and the houses on each side are in the same condition,
yet they are swarming with dirty and ragged inmates.

I have seen no loftier nor more spacious dwellings than those which
overlook St. Stephen's Green, a noble park, planted with trees, under
which the showery sky and mild temperature maintain a verdure all the
year, even in midwinter. About Merrion square, another park, the houses
have scarcely a less stately appearance, and one of these with a strong
broad balcony, from which to address the people in the street, is
inhabited by O'Connell. The park of the University, in the midst of the
city, is of great extent, and the beautiful public grounds called Phenix
Park, have a circumference of eight miles. "Do not suppose," said a friend
to me, "that these spacious houses which you see about you, are always
furnished with a magnificence corresponding to that of their exterior. It
is often the case that a few rooms only of these great ranges of
apartments are provided with furniture, and the rest left empty and
unoccupied. The Irishman of the higher class, as well as of the humbler,
is naturally improvident, generous, fond of enjoying the moment, and does
not allow his income to accumulate, either for the purpose of hoarding or
the purpose of display."

I went into Conciliation Hall, which resembles a New York lecture-room,
and was shown the chair where the autocrat of Ireland, the Liberator, as
they call him, sits near the chairman at the repeal meetings. Conciliation
Hall was at that time silent, for O'Connell was making a journey through
several of the western counties, I think, of Ireland, for the purpose of
addressing and encouraging his followers. I inquired of an intelligent
dissenter what was the state of the public feeling in Ireland, with regard
to the repeal question, and whether the popularity of O'Connell was still
as great as ever.

"As to O'Connell," he answered, "I do not know whether his influence is
increasing, but I am certain that it is not declining. With regard to the
question of repealing the Union, there is a very strong leaning among
intelligent men in Ireland to the scheme of a federal government, in other
words to the creation of an Irish parliament for local legislation,
leaving matters which concern Ireland in common with the rest of the
empire to be decided by the British Parliament."

I mentioned an extraordinary declaration which I had heard made by John
O'Connell on the floor of Parliament, in answer to a speech of Mr. Wyse,
an Irish Catholic member, who supported the new-colleges bill. This
younger O'Connell denounced Wyse as no Catholic, as an apostate from his
religion, for supporting the bill, and declared that for himself, after
the Catholic Bishops of Ireland had expressed their disapproval of the
bill, he inquired no further, but felt himself bound as a faithful member
of the Catholic Church to oppose it.

"It is that declaration," said the gentleman, "which has caused a panic
among those of the Irish Protestants who were well-affected to the cause
of repeal. If the Union should be repealed, they fear that O'Connell,
whose devotion to the Catholic Church appears to grow stronger and
stronger, and whose influence over the Catholic population is almost
without limit, will so direct the legislation of the Irish Parliament as
only to change the religious oppression that exists from one party to the
other. There is much greater liberality at present among the Catholics
than among their adversaries in Ireland, but I can not say how much of it
is owing to the oppression they endure. The fact that O'Connell has been
backward to assist in any church reforms in Ireland has given occasion to
the suspicion that he only desires to see the revenues and the legal
authority of the Episcopal Church transferred to the Catholic Church. If
that should happen, and if the principle avowed by John O'Connell should
be the rule of legislation, scarcely any body but a Catholic will be able
to live in Ireland."

Mr. Wall, to whom our country is indebted for the Hudson River Portfolio,
and who resided in the United States for twenty-two years, is here, and
is, I should think, quite successful in his profession. Some of his later
landscapes are superior to any of his productions that I remember. Among
them is a view on Lough Corrib, in which the ruined castle on the island
of that lake is a conspicuous object. It is an oil painting, and is a work
of great merit. The Dublin Art Union made it their first purchase from the
exhibition in which it appeared. Mr. Wall remembers America with much
pleasure, and nothing can exceed his kindness to such of the Americans as
he meets in Ireland.

He took us to the exhibition of the Royal Hibernian Society. Among its
pictures is a portrait of a lady by Burton, in water-colors, most
surprising for its perfection of execution and expression, its strength of
coloring and absolute nature. Burton is a native of Dublin, and is but
twenty-five years old. The Irish connoisseurs claim for him the praise of
being the first artist in water-colors in the world. He paints with the
left hand. There are several other fine things by him in the exhibition.
Maclise, another Irish artist, has a picture in the exhibition,
representing a dramatic author offering his piece to an actor. The story
is told in Gil Blas. It is a miracle of execution, though it has the fault
of hardness and too equal a distribution of light. I have no time to speak
more at large of this exhibition, and my letter is already too long.

This afternoon we sail for Liverpool.

Letter XXVI.

The Lunatic Asylum at Hanwell.

London, _July_ 28, 1845.

Since we came to England we have visited the Lunatic Asylum at Hanwell, in
the neighborhood of London. It is a large building, divided into numerous
apartments, with the plainest accommodations, for the insane poor of the
county of Middlesex. It is superintended by Dr. Conolly, who is most
admirably fitted for the place he fills, by his great humanity, sagacity,
and ingenuity.

I put these qualities together as necessary to each other. Mere humanity,
without tact and skill, would fail deplorably. The rude and coarse methods
of government which consist in severity, are the most obvious ones; they
suggest themselves to the dullest minds, and cost nothing but bodily
strength to put them in execution; the gentler methods require reflection,
knowledge, and dexterity. It is these which Dr. Conolly applies with
perfect success. He has taken great pains to make himself acquainted, by
personal observation, with the treatment of the insane in different
hospitals, not only in England, but on the continent. He found that to be
the most efficacious which interferes least with their personal liberty,
and on this principle, the truth of which an experience of several years
has now confirmed, he founded the system of treatment at Hanwell.

We had letters to Dr. Conolly, with the kindness and gentleness of whose
manners we were much struck. He conducted us over the several wards of the
Asylum. We found in it a thousand persons of both sexes, not one of whom
was in seclusion, that is to say confined because it was dangerous to
allow him to go at large; nor were they subjected to any apparent
restraint whatever. Some were engaged in reading, some in exercises and
games of skill; of the females some were occupied in sewing, others at
work in the kitchen or the laundry; melancholic patients were walking
about in silence or sitting gloomily by themselves; idiots were rocking
their bodies backward and forward as they sat, but all were peaceable in
their demeanor, and the greatest quiet prevailed. No chastisement of any
kind is inflicted; the lunatic is always treated as a patient, and never
as an offender. When he becomes so outrageous and violent that his
presence can be endured no longer, he is put into a room with padded walls
and floors where he can do himself no mischief, and where his rage is
allowed to exhale. Even the straight jacket is unknown here.

I said that the demeanor of all the patients with whom the Asylum was
swarming was peaceable. There was one exception. On entering one of the
wards, a girl of an earnest and determined aspect, as soon as she saw Dr.
Conolly began to scream violently, and sprang towards him, thrusting aside
the bystanders by main force. Two of the female attendants came
immediately up and strove to appease her, holding her back without
severity, as a mother would restrain her infant. I saw them struggling
with her for some time; how they finally disposed of her I did not
observe, but her screams had ceased before we left the ward.

Among the patients was one who, we were told, was remarkable for his
extravagant love of finery, and whose cell was plastered over with glaring
colored prints and patches of colored paper ornamentally disposed. He wore
on his hat a broad strip of tarnished lace, and had decorated his
waistcoat with several perpendicular rows of pearl buttons.

"You have made your room very fine here," said the doctor.

"Yes," said he, smiling and evidently delighted, "but, my dear sir, all is
vanity--all is vanity, sir, and vexation of spirit. There is but one thing
that we ought to strive for, and that is the kingdom of heaven."

As there was no disputing this proposition, we passed on to another cell,
at the door of which stood a tall, erect personage, who was busy with a
pot of paint and a brush, inscribing the pannels with mottoes and scraps
of verse. The walls of his room were covered with poetry and pithy
sentences. Some of the latter appeared to be of his own composition, and,
were not badly turned; their purport generally was this: that birth is but
a trivial accident, and that virtue and talent are the only true nobility.
This man was found wandering about in Chiswick, full of a plan for
educating the Prince of Wales in a manner to enable him to fill the throne
with credit and usefulness. As his name could not be learned, the
appellation of "Chiswick" was given him, which he had himself adopted,
styling himself Mr. "Chiswick" in his mottoes, but always taking care to
put the name between inverted commas.

As we proceeded, a man rose from his seat, and laying both hands on a
table before him, so as to display his fingers, ornamented with rings made
of black ribbon, in which glass buttons were set for jewels, addressed Dr.
Conolly with great respect, formally setting forth that he was in great
want of a new coat for Sundays, the one he had on being positively unfit
to appear in, and that a better had been promised him. The doctor stopped,
inquired into the case, and the poor fellow was gratified by the assurance
that the promised coat should be speedily forthcoming.

In his progress through the wards Dr. Conolly listened with great patience
to the various complaints of the inmates. One of them came up and told us
that he did not think the methods of the institution judicious. "The
patients," said he, "are many of them growing worse. One in particular,
who has been here for several weeks, I can see is growing worse every
day." Dr. Conolly asked the name of this patient--"I can not tell," said
the man, "but I can bring him to you." "Bring him then," said the doctor;
and after a moment's absence he returned, leading up one of the healthiest
and quietest looking men in the ward. "He looks better to be sure," said
the man, "but he is really worse." A burst of laughter from the patients
who stood by followed this saying, and one of them looking at me
knowingly, touched his forehead to intimate that the objector was not
exactly in his senses.

In one of the female wards we were introduced, as gentlemen from America,
to a respectable-looking old lady in black, who sat with a crutch by her
side. "Are you not lawyers?" she asked, and when we assured her that we
were only Yankees, she rebuked us mildly for assuming such a disguise,
when she knew very well that we were a couple of attorneys. "And you,
doctor," she added, "I am surprised that you should have any thing to do
with such a deception." The doctor answered that he was very sorry she had
so bad an opinion of him, as she must be sensible that he had never said
any thing to her which was not true. "Ah, doctor," she rejoined, "but you
are the dupe of these people."

It was in the same ward, I think, that a well-dressed woman, in a bonnet
and shawl, was promenading the room, carrying a bible and two smaller
volumes, apparently prayer or hymn books. "Have you heard the very
reverend Mr. ----, in ---- chapel?" she asked of my fellow-traveller. I
have unfortunately forgotten the name of the preacher and his chapel. On
being answered in the negative, "Then go and hear him," she added, "when
you return to London." She went on to say that the second coming of the
Saviour was to take place, and the world to be destroyed in a very few
days, and that she had a commission to proclaim the approach of that
event. "These poor people," said she, "think that I am here on the same
account as themselves, when I am only here to prepare the way for the
second coming."

"I'm thinking, please yer honor, that it is quite time I was let out of
this place," said a voice as we entered one of the wards. Dr. Conolly told
me that he had several Irish patients in the asylum, and that they gave
him the most trouble on account of the hurry in which they were to be
discharged. We heard the same request eagerly made in the same brogue by
various other patients of both sexes.

As I left this multitude of lunatics, promiscuously gathered from the poor
and the reduced class, comprising all varieties of mental disease, from
idiocy to madness, yet all of them held in such admirable order by the law
of kindness, that to the casual observer most of them betrayed no symptoms
of insanity, and of the rest, many appeared to be only very odd people,
quietly pursuing their own harmless whims, I could not but feel the
highest veneration for the enlightened humanity by which the establishment
was directed. I considered, also, if the feeling of personal liberty, the
absence of physical restraint, and the power of moral motives, had such
power to hold together in perfect peace and order, even a promiscuous band
of lunatics, how much greater must be their influence over the minds of
men in a state of sanity, and on how false a foundation rest all the
governments of force! The true basis of human polity, appointed by God in
our nature, is the power of moral motives, which is but another term for
public opinion.

Of the political controversies which at present agitate the country, the
corn-law question is that which calls forth the most feeling; I mean on
the part of those who oppose the restrictions on the introduction of
foreign grain--for, on the other side, it appears to me that the battle is
languidly fought. Nothing can exceed the enthusiasm of the adversaries of
the corn-laws. With some of them the repeal of the tax on bread is the
remedy for all political evils. "Free trade, free trade," is the burden of
their conversation, and although a friend of free trade myself, to the
last and uttermost limit, I have been in circles in England, in which I
had a little too much of it. Yet this is an example to prove what a strong
hold the question has taken of the minds of men, and how completely the
thoughts of many are absorbed by it. Against such a feeling as that which
has been kindled in Great Britain, on the corn-law question, no law in our
country could stand. So far as I can judge, it is spreading, as well as
growing stronger. I am told that many of the farmers have become
proselytes of the League. The League is a powerful and prodigiously
numerous association, with ample and increasing funds, publishing able
tracts, supporting well-conducted journals, and holding crowded public
meetings, which are addressed by some of the ablest speakers in the United
Kingdom. I attended one of these at Covent Garden. Stage, pit, boxes, and
gallery of that large building were filled with one of the most
respectable-looking audiences, men and women, I have ever seen. Among the
speakers of the evening were Cobden and Fox. Cobden in physiognomy and
appearance might almost pass for an American, and has a certain New
England sharpness and shrewdness in his way of dealing with a subject. His
address was argumentative, yet there was a certain popular clearness about
it, a fertility of familiar illustration, and an earnest feeling, which
made it uncommonly impressive. Fox is one of the most fluent and ingenious
speakers I ever heard in a popular assembly. Both were listened to by an
audience which seemed to hang on every word that fell from their lips.

The musical world here are talking about Colman's improvement in the
piano. I have seen the instrument which the inventor brought out from
America. It is furnished with a row of brass reeds, like those of the
instrument called the Seraphine. These take up the sound made by the
string of the piano, and prolong it to any degree which is desired. It is
a splicing of the sounds of one instrument upon another. Yet if the
invention were to be left where it is, in Colman's instrument, it could
not succeed with the public. The notes of the reeds are too harsh and
nasal, and want the sweetness and mellowness of tone which belong to the
string of the piano.

At present the invention is in the hands of Mr. Rand, the portrait
painter, a countryman of ours, who is one of the most ingenious
mechanicians in the world. He has improved the tones of the reeds till
they rival, in softness and fullness, those of the strings, and, in fact,
can hardly be distinguished from them, so that the sounds of the two
instruments run into one another without any apparent difference. Mr. Rand
has contrived three or four different machines for making the reeds with
dispatch and precision; and if the difficulty of keeping the strings,
which are undergoing a constant relaxation, in perfect unison with the
reeds can be overcome, I see nothing to prevent the most complete and
brilliant success.

Letter XXVII.

Changes in Paris.

Paris, _August_ 9, 1845.

My last letter was dated at London, in my passage across England. I have
been nearly a fortnight in Paris. In ten years I find a considerable
change in the external aspect of this great capital. The streets are
cleaner, in many of them sidewalks have been made, not always the widest
to be sure, but smoothly floored with the asphaltum of Seyssel, which
answers the purpose admirably; the gutters have been removed from the
middle of the street to the edge of the curbstone, and lately the
curbstone has been made to project over them, so that the foot-passengers
may escape the bespattering from carriage-wheels which he would otherwise
be sure to get in a rainy day, and there are many such days in this
climate--it has rained every day but one since I entered France.

New passages have been cut from street to street, old streets have been
made wider, new streets have been made, with broad sidewalks, and stately
rows of houses hewn from the easily wrought cream-colored stone of the
quarries of the Seine. The sidewalks of the Boulevards, and all the
public squares, wherever carriages do not pass, have been covered with
this smooth asphaltic pavement, and in the Boulevards have been erected
some magnificent buildings, with richly carved pilasters and other
ornaments in relief, and statues in niches, and balconies supported by
stone brackets wrought into bunches of foliage. New columns and statues
have been set up, and new fountains pour out their waters. Among these is
the fountain of Moliere, in the Rue Richelieu, where the effigy of the
comic author, chiseled from black marble, with flowing periwig and
broad-skirted coat, presides over a group of naked allegorical figures in
white marble, at whose feet the water is gushing out.

In external morality also, there is some improvement; public gaming-houses
no longer exist, and there are fewer of those uncleanly nuisances which
offend against the code of what Addison calls the lesser morals. The
police have had orders to suppress them on the Boulevards and the public
squares. The Parisians are, however, the same gay people as ever, and as
easily amused as when I saw them last. They crowd in as great numbers to
the opera and the theatres; the Boulevards, though better paved, are the
same lively places; the guingettes are as thronged; the public gardens are
as full of dancers. In these, as at the New Tivoli, lately opened at
Chateau Rouge in the suburbs, a broad space made smooth for the purpose is
left between tents, where the young grisettes of Paris, married and
unmarried, or in that equivocal state which lies somewhere between, dance
on Sunday evening till midnight.

At an earlier hour on the same day, as well as on other days, at old
Franconi's Hippodrome, among the trees, just beyond the triumphal arch of
Neuilly, imitations of the steeple chase, with female riders who leap over
hedges, and of the ancient chariot-races with charioteers helmeted and
mailed, and standing in gilt tubs on wheels, are performed in a vast
amphiteatre, to a crowd that could scarcely have been contained in the
Colosseum of Home.

I have heard since I came here, two or three people lamenting the physical
degeneracy of the Parisians. One of them quoted a saying from a report of
Marshal Soult, that the Parisian recruits for the army of late years were
neither men nor soldiers. This seems to imply a moral as well as a
physical deterioration. "They are growing smaller and smaller in stature,"
said the gentleman who made this quotation, "and it is difficult to find
among them men who are of the proper height to serve as soldiers. The
principal cause no doubt is in the prevailing licentiousness. Among that
class who make the greater part of the population of Paris, the women of
the finest persons rarely become mothers." Whatever may be the cause, I
witnessed a remarkable example of the smallness of the Parisian stature on
the day of my arrival, which was the last of the three days kept in memory
of the revolution of July. I went immediately to the Champs Elysees, to
see the people engaged in their amusements. Some twenty boys, not fully
grown, as it seemed to me at first, were dancing and capering with great
agility, to the music of an instrument. Looking at them nearer, I saw that
those who had seemed to me boys of fourteen or fifteen, were mature young
men, some of them with very fierce mustaches.

Since my arrival I have seen the picture which Vanderlyn is painting for
the Rotunda at Washington. It represents the Landing of Columbus on the
shores of the New World. The great discoverer, accompanied by his
lieutenant and others, is represented as taking possession of the newly
found country. Some of the crew are seen scrambling for what they imagine
to be gold dust in the sands of the shore, and at a little distance among
the trees are the naked natives, in attitudes of wonder and worship. The
grouping is happy, the expression and action skillfully varied--the
coloring, so far as I could judge in the present state of the picture,
agreeable. "Eight or ten weeks hard work," said the artist, "will complete
it." It is Vanderlyn's intention to finish it, and take it to the United
States in the course of the autumn.

Letter XXVIII.

A Journey through The Netherlands.

Arnheim, Guelderland, _August_ 19, 1848.

After writing my last I was early asleep, that I might set out early the
next morning in the diligence for Brussels. This I did, and passing
through Compeigne, where Joan of Arc was made prisoner--a town lying in
the midst of extensive forests, with here and there a noble group of
trees; and through Noyon, where Calvin was born, and in the old Gothic
church of which he doubtless worshiped; and through Cambray, where Fenelon
lived; and through fields of grain and poppy and clover, where women were
at work, reaping the wheat, or mowing and stacking the ripe poppies, or
digging with spades in their wet clothes, for it had rained every day but
one during the thirteen we were in France, we arrived in the afternoon of
the second day at the French frontier. From this a railway took us in a
few hours to Brussels. Imagine a rather clean-looking city, of large
light-colored buildings mostly covered with stucco, situated on an
irregular declivity, with a shady park in the highest part surrounded by
palaces, and a little lower down a fine old Gothic cathedral, and still
lower down, the old Town Hall, also of Gothic architecture, and scarcely
less venerable, standing in a noble paved square, around which are white
and stately edifices, built in the era of the Spanish dominion;--imagine
handsome shops and a good-looking people, with a liberal sprinkling of
priests, in their long-skirted garments, and throw in the usual proportion
of dirt and misery, and mendicancy, in the corners and by-places, and you
have Brussels before you.

It still rained, but we got a tilbury and drove out to see the
battle-ground of Waterloo. It was a dreary drive beside the wood of
Soignes and through a part of it,--that melancholy-looking forest of
tall-stemmed beeches--beech, beech, nothing but beech--and through the
Walloon villages--Waterloo is one of them--and through fields where wet
women were at work, and over roads where dirty children by dozens were
dabbling like ducks in the puddles. At last we stopped at the village of
Mont St. Jean, whence we walked through the slippery mud to the mound
erected in the midst of the battle-field, and climbed to its top,
overlooking a country of gentle declivities and hollows. Here the various
positions of the French and allied armies during the battle which decided
the fate of an empire, were pointed out to us by a young Walloon who sold
wine and drams in a shed beside the monument. The two races which make up
the population of Belgium are still remarkably distinct, notwithstanding
the centuries which have elapsed since they occupied the same country
together. The Flemings of Teutonic origin, keep their blue eyes and fair
hair, and their ancient language--the same nearly as the Dutch of the
sixteenth century. The Walloons, a Celtic race, or Celtic mixed with
Roman, are still known by their dark hair and black eyes, and speak a
dialect derived from the Latin, resembling that of some of the French
provinces. Both languages are uncultivated, and the French has been
adopted as the language of commerce and literature in Belgium.

If you would see a city wholly Flemish in its character, you should visit
Antwerp, to which the railway takes you in an hour and a half. The
population here is almost without Walloon intermixture, and there is
little to remind you of what you have seen in France, except the French
books in the booksellers' windows. The arts themselves have a character of
their own which never came across the Alps. The churches, the interior of
which is always carefully kept fresh with paint and gilding, are crowded
with statues in wood, carved with wonderful skill and spirit by Flemish
artists, in centuries gone by--oaken saints looking down from pedestals,
and Adam and Eve in the remorse of their first transgression supporting,
by the help of the tree of knowledge and the serpent, a curiously wrought
pulpit. The walls are hung with pictures by the Flemish masters, wherever
space can be found for them. In the Cathedral, is the Descent from the
Cross, by Rubens, which proves, what one might almost doubt who had only
seen his pictures in the Louvre, that he was a true artist and a man of
genius in the noblest sense of the term.

We passed two nights in Antwerp, and then went down the Scheldt in a
steamer, which, in ten hours, brought us to Rotterdam, sometimes crossing
an arm of the sea, and sometimes threading a broad canal. The houses on
each side of these channels, after we entered Holland, were for the most
part freshly painted; the flat plains on each side protected by
embankments, and streaked by long wide ditches full of water, and rows of
pollard willows. Windmills by scores, some grinding corn, but most of them
pumping water out of the meadows and pouring it into the channel, stood on
the bank and were swinging their long arms madly in a high wind.

On arriving at Rotterdam, you perceive at once that you are in Holland.
The city has as many canals as streets, the canals are generally overhung
with rows of elms, and the streets kept scrupulously clean with the water
of the canals, which is salt. Every morning there is a vigorous splashing
and mopping performed before every door by plump servant girls, in white
caps and thick wooden shoes. Our hotel stood fronting a broad sheet of
water like the lagoons at Venice, where a solid and straight stone wharf
was shaded with a row of elms, and before our door lay several huge
vessels fastened to the wharf, which looked as if they were sent thither
to enjoy a vacation, for they were neither loading nor unloading, nor did
any person appear to be busy about them. Rotterdam was at that time in
the midst of a fair which filled the open squares and the wider streets of
the city with booths, and attracted crowds of people from the country.
There were damsels from North Holland, fair as snow, and some of them
pretty, in long-eared lace caps, with their plump arms bare; and there
were maidens from another province, the name of which I did not learn,
equally good-looking, with arms as bare, and faces in white muslin caps
drawn to a point on each cheek. Olycoeks were frying, and waffles baking
in temporary kitchens on each side of the streets.

The country about Rotterdam is little better than a marsh. The soil serves
only for pasture, and the fields are still covered with "yellow blossoms,"
as in the time of Goldsmith, and still tufted with willows. I saw houses
in the city standing in pools of dull blue water, reached by a bridge from
the street: I suppose, however, there might be gardens behind them. Many
of the houses decline very much from the perpendicular; they are, however,
apparently well-built and are spacious. We made no long stay in Rotterdam,
but after looking at its bronze statue of Erasmus, and its cathedral,
which is not remarkable in any other respect than that it is a Gothic
building of brick, stone being scarce in Holland, we took the stage-coach
for the Hague the next day.

Green meadows spotted with buttercups and dandelions, flat and low, lower
than the canals with which the country is intersected, and which bring in
between them, at high tide, the waters of the distant sea, stretched on
every side. They were striped with long lines of water which is constantly
pumped out by the windmills, and sent with the ebb tide through the canals
to the ocean. Herds of cattle were feeding among the bright verdure. From
time to time, we passed some pleasant country-seat, the walls bright with
paint, and the grounds surrounded by a ditch, call it a moat if you
please, the surface of which was green with duck-weed. But within this
watery inclosure, were little artificial elevations covered with a
closely-shaven turf, and plantations of shrubbery, and in the more
extensive and ostentatious of them, were what might be called groves and
forests. Before one of these houses was a fountain with figures, mouths of
lions and other animals, gushing profusely with water, which must have
been pumped up for the purpose, into a reservoir, by one of the windmills.

Passing through Schiedam, still famous for its gin, and Delft, once famous
for its crockery, we reached in a couple of hours the Hague, the cleanest
of cities, paved with yellow brick, and as full of canals as Rotterdam. I
called on an old acquaintance, who received me with a warm embrace and a
kiss on each cheek. He was in his morning-gown, which he immediately
exchanged for an elegant frock coat of the latest Parisian cut, and took
us to see Baron Vorstolk's collection of pictures, which contains some
beautiful things by the Flemish artists, and next, to the public
collection called the Museum. From this we drove to the Chateau du Bois,
a residence of the Dutch Stadtholders two hundred years ago, when Holland
was a republic, and a powerful and formidable one. It is pleasantly
situated in the edge of a wood, which is said to be part of an original
forest of the country. I could believe this, for here the soil rises above
the marshy level of Holland, and trees of various kinds grow irregularly
intermingled, as in the natural woods of our own country. The Chateau du
Bois is principally remarkable for a large room with a dome, the interior
of which is covered with large paintings by Rubens, Jordaens, and other

Our friend took leave of us, and we drove out to Scheveling, where Charles
II. embarked for England, when he returned to take possession of his
throne. Here dwell a people who supply the fish-market of the Hague, speak
among themselves a dialect which is not understood elsewhere in Holland,
and wear the same costume which they wore centuries ago. We passed several
of the women going to market or returning, with large baskets on their
heads, placed on the crown of a broad-brimmed straw bonnet, tied at the
sides under the chin, and strapping creatures they were, striding along in
their striped black and white petticoats. In the streets of Scheveling, I
saw the tallest woman I think I ever met with, a very giantess,
considerably more than six feet high, straddling about the street of the
little village, and scouring and scrubbing the pavement with great
energy. Close at hand was the shore; a strong west wind was driving the
surges of the North Sea against it. A hundred fishing vessels rocking in
the surf, moored and lashed together with ropes, formed a line along the
beach; the men of Scheveling, in knit woollen caps, short blue jackets,
and short trowsers of prodigious width, were walking about on the shore,
but the wind was too high and the sea too wild for them to venture out.
Along this coast, the North Sea has heaped a high range of sand-hills,
which protect the low lands within from its own inundations; but to the
north and south the shore is guarded by embankments, raised by the hand of
man with great cost, and watched and kept in constant repair.

We left the Hague, and taking the railway, in a little more than two hours
were at Amsterdam, a great commercial city in decay, where nearly half of
the inhabitants live on the charity of the rest. The next morning was
Sunday, and taking advantage of an interval of fair weather, for it still
continued to rain every day, I went to the Oudekerk, or Old Church, as the
ancient Cathedral is called, which might have been an impressive building
in its original construction, but is now spoiled by cross-beams, paint,
galleries, partitions, pews, and every sort of architectural enormity. But
there is a noble organ, with a massive and lofty front of white marble
richly sculptured, occupying the west end of the chancel. I listened to a
sermon in Dutch, the delivery of which, owing partly to the disagreeable
voice of the speaker and partly no doubt to my ignorance of the language,
seemed to me a kind of barking. The men all wore their hats during the
service, but half the women were without bonnets. When the sermon and
prayer were over, the rich tones of the organ broke forth and flooded the
place with melody.

Every body visits Broek, near Amsterdam, the pride of Dutch villages, and
to Broek I went accordingly. It stands like the rest, among dykes and
canals, but consists altogether of the habitations of persons in
comfortable circumstances, and is remarkable, as you know, for its
scrupulous cleanliness. The common streets and footways, are kept in the
same order as the private garden-walks. They are paved with yellow bricks,
and as a fair was to open in the place that afternoon, the most public
parts of them were sanded for the occasion, but elsewhere, they appeared
as if just washed and mopped. I have never seen any collection of human
habitations so free from any thing offensive to the senses. Saardam, where
Peter the Great began his apprenticeship as a shipwright, is among the
sights of Holland, and we went the next day to look at it. This also is
situated on a dyke, and is an extremely neat little village, but has not
the same appearance of opulence in the dwellings. We were shown the
chamber in which the Emperor of Russia lodged, and the hole in the wall
where he slept, for in the old Dutch houses, as in the modern ones of the
farmers, the bed is a sort of high closet, or, more properly speaking, a
shelf within the wall, from which a door opens into the room. I should
have mentioned that, in going to Broek, I stopped to look at one of the
farm-houses of the country, and at Saardam I visited another. They were
dairy houses, in which the milk of large herds is made into butter. The
lower story of the dwelling, paved with bricks, is used in winter as a
stable for the cattle; in the summer, it is carefully cleansed and
painted, so that not a trace of its former use remains, and it then
becomes both the dairy and the abode of the family. The story above is as
neat as the hands of Dutch housewives can make it; the parlor, the
dining-room, the little boxes in the wall which hold the beds, are
resplendent with cleanliness.

In going from Amsterdam by railway to Utrecht, we perceived the canals by
which the plains were intersected became fewer and fewer, and finally we
began to see crops of grain and potatoes, a sign that we had emerged from
the marshes. We stopped to take a brief survey of Utrecht. A part of its
old cathedral has been converted into a beautiful Gothic church, the rest
having been levelled many years ago by a whirlwind. But what I found most
remarkable in the city was its public walks. The old walls by which
Utrecht was once inclosed having been thrown down, the rubbish has formed
hillocks and slopes which almost surround the entire city and border one
of its principal canals. On these hillocks and slopes, trees and shrubs
have been planted, and walks laid out through the green turf, until it
has become one of the most varied and charming pleasure-grounds I ever
saw--swelling into little eminences, sinking into little valleys,
descending in some places smoothly to the water, and in others impending
over it. We fell in with a music-master, of whom we asked a question or
two. He happened to know a little German, by the help of which he pieced
out his Dutch so as to make it tolerably intelligible to me. He insisted
upon showing us every thing remarkable in Utrecht, and finally walked us

The same evening the diligence brought us to Arnheim, a neat-looking town
with about eighteen hundred inhabitants, in the province of Guelderland,
where the region retains not a trace of the peculiarities of Holland. The
country west of the town rises into commanding eminences, overlooking the
noble Rhine, and I feel already that I am in Germany, though I have yet to
cross the frontier.

Letter XXIX.

American Artists Abroad.

Rome, _October_, 1845.

You would perhaps like to hear what the American artists on the continent
are doing. I met with Leutze at Duesseldorf. After a sojourn of some days
in Holland, in which I was obliged to talk to the Dutchmen in German and
get my answers in Dutch, with but a dim apprehension of each other's
meaning, as you may suppose, on both sides; after being smoked through and
through like a herring, with the fumes of bad tobacco in the railway
wagons, and in the diligence which took us over the long and monotonous
road on the plains of the Rhine between Arnheim and Duesseldorf--after
dodging as well as we were able, the English travellers, generally the
most disagreeable of the travelling tribe, who swarm along the Rhine in
the summer season, it was a refreshment to stop a day at Duesseldorf and
take breath, and meet an American face or two. We found Leutze engaged
upon a picture, the subject of which is John Knox reproving Queen Mary. It
promises to be a capital work. The stern gravity of Knox, the
embarrassment of the Queen, and the scorn with which the French damsels
of her court regard the saucy Reformer, are extremely well expressed, and
tell the story impressively.

At Duesseldorf, which is the residence of so many eminent painters, we
expected to find some collection, or at least some of the best specimens,
of the works of the modern German school. It was not so, however--fine
pictures are painted at Duesseldorf, but they are immediately carried
elsewhere. We visited the studio of Schroeter--a man with humor in every
line of his face, who had nothing to show us but a sketch, just prepared
for the easel, of the scene in Goethe's Faust, where Mephistophiles, in
Auerbach's cellar, bores the edge of the table with a gimlet, and a stream
of champagne gushes out. Koehler, an eminent artist, allowed us to see a
clever painting on his easel, in a state of considerable forwardness,
representing the rejoicings of the Hebrew maidens at the victory of David
over Goliath. At Lessing's--a painter whose name stands in the first rank,
and whom we did not find at home--we saw a sketch on which he was engaged,
representing the burning of John Huss; yet it was but a sketch, a painting
in embryo.

But I am wandering from the American artists. At Cologne, whither we were
accompanied by Leutze, he procured us the sight of his picture of Columbus
before the Council of Salamanca, one of his best. Leutze ranks high in
Germany, as a young man of promise, devoting himself with great energy and
earnestness to his art.

At Florence we found Greenough just returned from a year's residence at
Graefenberg, whence he had brought back his wife, a patient of Priessnitz
and the water cure, in florid health. He is now applying himself to the
completion of the group which he has engaged to execute for the capitol at
Washington. It represents an American settler, an athletic man, in a
hunting shirt and cap, a graceful garb, by the way, rescuing a female and
her infant from a savage who has just raised his tomahawk to murder them.
Part of the group, the hunter and the Indian, is already in marble, and
certainly the effect is wonderfully fine and noble. The hunter has
approached his enemy unexpectedly from behind, and grasped both his arms,
holding them back, in such a manner that he has no command of their
muscles, even for the purpose of freeing himself. Besides the particular
incident represented by the group, it may pass for an image of the
aboriginal race of America overpowered and rendered helpless by the
civilized race. Greenough's statue of Washington is not as popular as it
deserves to be; but the work on which he is now engaged I am very sure
will meet with a different reception.

In a letter from London, I spoke of the beautiful figure of the Greek
slave, by Powers. At Florence I saw in his studio, the original model,
from which his workmen were cutting two copies in marble. At the same
place I saw his Proserpine, an ideal bust of great sweetness and beauty,
the fair chest swelling out from a circle of leaves of the acanthus. About
this also the workmen were busy, and I learned that seven copies of it
had been recently ordered from the hand of the artist. By its side stood
the unfinished statue of Eve, with the fatal apple in her hand, an earlier
work, which the world has just begun to admire. I find that connoisseurs
are divided in opinion concerning the merit of Powers as a sculptor.

All allow him the highest degree of skill in execution, but some deny that
he has shown equal ability in his conceptions. "He is confessedly," said
one of them to me, who, however, had not seen his Greek slave, "the
greatest sculptor of busts in the world--equal, in fact, to any that the
world ever saw; the finest heads of antiquity are not of a higher order
than his." He then went on to express his regret that Powers had not
confined his labors to a department in which he was so pre-eminent. I have
heard that Powers, who possesses great mechanical skill, has devised
several methods of his own for giving precision and perfection to the
execution of his works. It may be that my unlearned eyes are dazzled by
this perfection, but really I can not imagine any thing more beautiful of
its kind than his statue of the Greek slave.

Gray is at this moment in Florence, though he is soon coming to Rome. He
has made some copies from Titian, one of which I saw. It was a Madonna and
child, in which the original painting was rendered with all the fidelity
of a mirror. So indisputably was it a Titian, and so free from the
stiffness of a copy, that, as I looked at it, I fully sympathized with
the satisfaction expressed by the artist at having attained the method of
giving with ease the peculiarity of coloring which belongs to Titian's

An American landscape painter of high merit is G. L. Brown, now residing
at Florence. He possesses great knowledge of detail, which he knows how to
keep in its place, subduing it, and rendering it subservient to the
general effect. I saw in his studio two or three pictures, in which I
admired his skill in copying the various forms of foliage and other
objects, nor was I less pleased to see that he was not content with this
sort of merit, but, in going back from the foreground, had the art of
passing into that appearance of an infinity of forms and outlines which
the eye meets with in nature. I could not help regretting that one who
copied nature so well, should not prefer to represent her as she appears
in our own fresh and glorious land, instead of living in Italy and
painting Italian landscapes.

To refer again to foreign artists--before I left Florence I visited the
annual exhibition which had been opened in the Academy of the Fine Arts.
There were one or two landscapes reminding me somewhat of Cole's manner,
but greatly inferior, and one or two good portraits, and two or three
indifferent historical pictures. The rest appeared to me decidedly bad;
wretched landscapes; portraits, some of which were absolutely hideous,
stiff, ill-colored, and full of grimace.

Here at Rome, we have an American sculptor of great ability, Henry K.
Brown, who is just beginning to be talked about. He is executing a statue
of Ruth gleaning in the field of Boaz, of which the model has been ready
for some months, and is also modelling a figure of Rebecca at the Well.
When I first saw his Ruth I was greatly struck with it, but after visiting
the studios of Wyatt and Gibson, and observing their sleek imitations of
Grecian art, their learned and faultless statues, nymphs or goddesses or
gods of the Greek mythology, it was with infinite pleasure that my eyes
rested again on the figure and face of Ruth, perhaps not inferior in
perfection of form, but certainly informed with a deep human feeling which
I found not in their elaborate works. The artist has chosen the moment in
which Ruth is addressed by Boaz as she stands among the gleaners. He
quoted to me the lines of Keats, on the song of the nightingale--

"Perchance the self-same song that found a path
To the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien's corn."

She is not in tears, but her aspect is that of one who listens in sadness;
her eyes are cast down, and her thoughts are of the home of her youth, in
the land of Moab. Over her left arm hangs a handful of ears of wheat,
which she has gathered from the ground, and her right rests on the drapery
about her bosom. Nothing can be more graceful than her attitude or more
expressive of melancholy sweetness and modesty than her physiognomy. One
of the copies which the artist was executing--there were two of them--is
designed for a gentleman in Albany. Brown will shortly, or I am greatly
mistaken, achieve a high reputation among the sculptors of the time.

Rosseter, an American painter, who has passed six years in Italy, is
engaged on a large picture, the subject of which is taken from the same
portion of Scripture history, and which is intended for the gallery of an
American gentleman. It represents Naomi with her two daughters-in-law,
when "Orpah kissed her, but Ruth clave unto her." The principal figures
are those of the Hebrew matron and Ruth, who have made their simple
preparations for their journey to the land of Israel, while Orpah is
turning sorrowfully away to join a caravan of her country people. This
group is well composed, and there is a fine effect of the rays of the
rising sun on the mountains and rocks of Moab.

At the studio of Lang, a Philadelphia artist, I saw two agreeable
pictures, one of which represents a young woman whom her attendants and
companions are arraying for her bridal. As a companion piece to this, but
not yet finished, he had upon the easel a picture of a beautiful girl,
decked for espousals of a different kind, about to take the veil, and
kneeling in the midst of a crowd of friends and priests, while one of them
is cutting off her glossy and flowing hair. Both pictures are designed for
a Boston gentleman, but a duplicate of the first has already been painted
for the King of Wirtemberg.

Letter XXX.


Steamer Oregon, Lake Huron, Off Thunder Bay, _July_ 24, 1846.

As I approached the city of Buffalo the other morning, from the east, I
found myself obliged to confess that much of the beauty of a country is
owing to the season. For twenty or thirty miles before we reached Lake
Erie, the fields of this fertile region looked more and more arid and
sun-scorched, and I could not but contrast their appearance with that of
the neighborhood of New York, where in a district comparatively sterile,
an uncommonly showery season has kept the herbage fresh and deep, and made
the trees heavy with leaves. Here, on the contrary, I saw meadows tinged
by the drought with a reddish hue, pastures grazed to the roots of the
grass, and trees spreading what seemed to me a meagre shade. Yet the
harvests of wheat, and even of hay, in western New York, are said to be by
no means scanty.

Buffalo continues to extend on every side, but the late additions to the
city do not much improve its beauty. Its nucleus of well-built streets
does not seem to have grown much broader within the last five years, but
the suburbs are rapidly spreading--small wooden houses, scattered or in
clusters, built hastily for emigrants along unpaved and powdery streets. I
saw, however, on a little excursion which I made into the surrounding
country, that pleasant little neighborhoods are rising up at no great
distance, with their neat houses, their young trees, and their new
shrubbery. They have a fine building material at Buffalo--a sort of brown
stone, easily wrought--but I was sorry to see that most of the houses
built of it, both in the town and country, seemed to have stood for
several years.

We visited the new fort which the government is erecting on the lake, a
little to the north of the town, commanding the entrance of Niagara river.
It is small, but of wonderful apparent strength, with walls of prodigious
thickness, and so sturdy in its defences that it seemed to me one might as
well think of cannonading the cliffs of Weehawken. It is curious to see
how, as we grow more ingenious in the means of attack, we devise more
effectual means of defence. A castle of the middle ages, in which a grim
warrior of that time would hold his enemies at bay for years, would now be
battered down before breakfast. The finest old forts of the last century
are now found to be unsafe against attack. That which we have at St.
Augustine was an uncommonly good sample of its kind, but when I was in
Florida, three or four years since, an engineer of the United States was
engaged in reconstructing it. Do mankind gain any thing by these
improvements, as they are called, in the art of war? Do not these more
dreadful engines of attack on the one side, and these more perfect means
of protection on the other, leave the balance just where it was before?

On Tuesday evening, at seven o'clock, we took passage in the steamer
Oregon, for Chicago, and soon lost sight of the roofs and spires of
Buffalo. A lady of Buffalo on her way to Cleveland placed herself at the
piano, and sang several songs with such uncommon sweetness and expression
that I saw no occasion to be surprised at what I heard of the concert of
Leopold de Meyer, at Buffalo, the night before. The concert room was
crowded with people clinging to each other like bees when they swarm, and
the whole affair seemed an outbreak of popular enthusiasm. A veteran
teacher of music in Buffalo, famous for being hard to be pleased by any
public musical entertainment, found himself unable to sit still during the
first piece played by De Meyer, but rose, in the fullness of his delight,
and continued standing. When the music ceased, he ran to him and shook
both of his hands, again and again, with most uncomfortable energy. At the
end of the next performance he sprang again on the platform and hugged the
artist so rapturously that the room rang with laughter. De Meyer was to
give another concert on Tuesday evening at Niagara Falls, and the people
of Buffalo were preparing to follow him.

The tastes of our people are certainly much changed within the last twenty
years. A friend of ours used to relate, as a good joke, the conversation
of two men, who came to the conclusion that Paganini was the greatest man
in the world. They were only a little in advance of their age. If such are
the honors reaped by De Meyer, we shall not be astonished if Sivori, when
he comes over, passes for the greatest man of his time.

The next morning found us with the southern shore of Lake Erie in sight--a
long line of woods, with here and there a cluster of habitations on the
shore. "That village where you see the light-house," said one of the
passengers, who came from the hills of Maine, "is Grand River, and from
that place to Cleveland, which is thirty miles distant, you have the most
beautiful country under the sun--perfectly beautiful, sir; not a hill the
whole way, and the finest farms that were ever seen; you can buy a good
farm there for two thousand dollars." In two or three hours afterward we
were at Cleveland, and I hastened on shore.

It is situated beyond a steep bank of the lake, nearly as elevated as the
shore at Brooklyn, which we call Brooklyn Heights. As I stood on the edge
of this bank and looked over the broad lake below me, stretching beyond
the sight and quivering in the summer wind, I was reminded of the lines of

--"Along the bending line of shore
Such hue is thrown as when the peacock's neck
Assumes its proudest tint of amethyst,
Embathed in emerald glory."

But it was not only along the line of the shore that these hues
prevailed; the whole lake glowed with soft amethystine and emerald tinges,
in irregular masses, like the shades of watered silk. Cleveland stands in
that beautiful country without a hill, of which my fellow-passenger
spoke--a thriving village yet to grow into a proud city of the lake
country. It is built upon broad dusty ways, in which not a pebble is seen
in the fat dark earth of the lake shore, and which are shaded with
locust-trees, the variety called seed-locust, with crowded twigs and
clustered foliage--a tree chosen, doubtless, for its rapid growth, as the
best means of getting up a shade at the shortest notice. Here and there
were gardens filled with young fruit-trees; among the largest and hardiest
in appearance was the peach-tree, which here spreads broad and sturdy
branches, escapes the diseases that make it a short-lived tree in the
Atlantic states, and produces fruit of great size and richness. One of my
fellow-passengers could hardly find adequate expressions to signify his
high sense of the deliciousness of the Cleveland peaches.

I made my way to a street of shops: it had a busy appearance, more so than
usual, I was told, for a company of circus-riders, whose tents I had seen
from a distance on the lake, was in town, and this had attracted a throng
of people from the country. I saw a fruit-stall tended by a man who had
the coarsest red hair I think I ever saw, and of whom I bought two or
three enormous "bough apples," as he called them. He apologized for the
price he demanded. "The farmers," said he, "know that just now there is a
call for their early fruit, while the circus people are in town, and they
make me pay a 'igh price for it." I told him I perceived he was no Yankee.
"I am a Londoner," he replied; "and I left London twelve years ago to
slave and be a poor man in Ohio." He acknowledged, however, that he had
two or three times got together some property, "but the Lord," he said,
"laid his hand on it."

On returning to the steamer, I found a party of country people, mostly
young persons of both sexes, thin and lank figures, by no means equal, as
productions of the country, to their bough apples. They passed through the
fine spacious cabin on the upper deck, extending between the state-rooms
the whole length of the steamer. At length they came to a large mirror,
which stood at the stern, and seemed by its reflection to double the
length of the cabin. They walked on, as if they would extend their
promenade into the mirror, when suddenly observing the reflection of their
own persons advancing, and thinking it another party, they politely made
way to let it pass. The party in the mirror at the same moment turned to
the same side, which first showed them the mistake they had made. The
passengers had some mirth at their expense, but I must do our visitors the
justice to say that they joined in the laugh with a very good grace.

The same evening, at twelve o'clock, we were at Detroit. "You must lock
your state-rooms in the night," said one of the persons employed about
the vessel, "for Detroit is full of thieves." We followed the advice,
slept soundly, and saw nothing of the thieves, nor of Detroit either, for
the steamboat was again on her passage through Lake St. Clair at three
this morning, and when I awoke we were moving over the flats, as they are
called, at the upper end of the lake. The steamer was threading her way in
a fog between large patches of sedge of a pea-green color. We had waited
several hours at Detroit, because this passage is not safe at night, and
steamers of a larger size are sometimes grounded here in the day-time.

I had hoped, when I began, to bring down the narrative of my voyage to
this moment, but my sheet is full, and I shall give you the remainder in
another letter.

Letter XXXI.

A Trip from Detroit to Mackinaw.

Steamer Oregon, Lake Michigan, _July_ 25, 1846.

Soon after passing the flats described in my last letter, and entering the
river St. Clair, the steamer stopped to take in wood on the Canadian side.
Here I went on shore. All that we could see of the country was a road
along the bank, a row of cottages at a considerable distance from each
other along the road, a narrow belt of cleared fields behind them, and
beyond the fields the original forest standing like a long lofty wall,
with its crowded stems of enormous size and immense height, rooted in the
strong soil--ashes and maples and elms, the largest of their species.
Scattered in the foreground were numbers of leafless elms, so huge that
the settlers, as if in despair of bringing them to the ground by the ax,
had girdled them and left them to decay and fall at their leisure.

We went up to one of the houses, before which stood several of the family
attracted to the door by the sight of our steamer. Among them was an
intelligent-looking man, originally from the state of New York, who gave
quick and shrewd answers to our inquiries. He told us of an Indian
settlement about twenty miles further up the St. Clair. Here dwell a
remnant of the Chippewa tribe, collected by the Canadian government, which
has built for them comfortable log-houses with chimneys, furnished them
with horses and neat cattle, and utensils of agriculture, erected a house
of worship, and given them a missionary. "The design of planting them
here," saidth esettler, "was to encourage them to cultivate the soil."

"And what has been the success of the plan?" I asked.

"It has met with no success at all," he answered. "The worst thing that
the government could do for these people is to give them every thing as it
has done, and leave them under no necessity to provide for themselves.
They chop over a little land, an acre or two to a family; their squaws
plant a little corn and a few beans, and this is the extent of their
agriculture. They pass their time in hunting and fishing, or in idleness.
They find deer and bears in the woods behind them, and fish in the St.
Clair before their doors, and they squander their yearly pensions. In one
respect they are just like white men, they will not work if they can live

"What fish do they find in the St. Clair?"

"Various sorts. Trout and white-fish are the finest, but they are not so
abundant at this season. Sturgeon and pike are just now in season, and the
pike are excellent."

One of us happening to observe that the river might easily be crossed by
swimming, the settler answered:

"Not so easily as you might think. The river is as cold as a well, and the
swimmer would soon be chilled through, and perhaps taken with the cramp.
It is this coldness of the water which makes the fish so fine at this

This mention of sturgeons tempts me to relate an anecdote which I heard as
I was coming up the Hudson. A gentleman who lived east of the river, a
little back of Tivoli, caught last spring one of these fish, which weighed
about a hundred and sixty pounds. He carried it to a large pond near his
house, the longest diameter of which is about a mile, and without taking
it out of the net in which he had caught it, he knotted part of the meshes
closely around it, and attaching them to a pair of lines like reins, put
the creature into the water. To the end of the lines he had taken care to
attach a buoy, to mark the place of the fish in the pond. He keeps a small
boat, and when he has a mind to make a water-excursion, he rows to the
place where the buoy is floating, ties the lines to the boat and, pulling
them so as to disturb the fish, is drawn backward and forward with great
rapidity over the surface. The pond, in its deepest part, has only seven
feet water, so that there is no danger of being dragged under.

We now proceeded up the river, and in about two hours came to a neat
little village on the British side, with a windmill, a little church, and
two or three little cottages, prettily screened by young trees.
Immediately beyond this was the beginning of the Chippewa settlement of
which we had been told. Log-houses, at the distance of nearly a quarter of
a mile from each other, stood in a long row beside the river, with
scattered trees about them, the largest of the forest, some girdled and
leafless, some untouched and green, the smallest trees between having been
cut away. Here and there an Indian woman, in a blue dress and bare-headed,
was walking along the road; cows and horses were grazing near the houses;
patches of maize were seen, tended in a slovenly manner and by no means
clear of bushes, but nobody was at work in the fields. Two females came
down to the bank, with paddles, and put off into the river in a birch-bark
canoe, the ends of which were carved in the peculiar Indian fashion. A
little beyond stood a group of boys and girls on the water's edge, the
boys in shirts and leggins, silently watching the steamer as it shot by
them. Still further on a group of children of both sexes, seven in number,
came running with shrill cries down the bank. It was then about twelve
o'clock, and the weather was extremely sultry. The boys in an instant
threw off their shirts and leggins, and plunged into the water with
shouts, but the girls were in before them, for they wore only a kind of
petticoat which they did not take off, but cast themselves into the river
at once and slid through the clear water like seals.

This little Indian colony on the edge of the forest extends for several
miles along the river, where its banks are highest and best adapted to the
purpose of settlement. It ends at last just below the village which bears
the name of Fort Saranae, in the neighborhood of which I was shown an
odd-looking wooden building, and was told that this was the house of
worship provided for the Indians by the government.

At Fort Huron, a village on the American side, opposite to Fort Saranae,
we stopped to land passengers. Three Indians made their appearance on the
shore, one of whom, a very large man, wore a kind of turban, and a white
blanket made into a sort of frock, with bars of black in several places,
altogether a striking costume. One of this party, a well-dressed young
man, stopped to speak with somebody in the crowd on the wharf, but the
giant in the turban, with his companion, strode rapidly by, apparently not
deigning to look at us, and disappeared in the village. He was scarcely
out of sight when I perceived a boat approaching the shore with a
curiously mottled sail. As it came nearer I saw that it was a quilt of
patchwork taken from a bed. In the bottom of the boat lay a barrel,
apparently of flour, a stout young fellow pulled a pair of oars, and a
slender-waisted damsel, neatly dressed, sat in the stern, plying a paddle
with a dexterity which she might have learned from the Chippewa ladies,
and guiding the course of the boat which passed with great speed over the

We were soon upon the broad waters of Lake Huron, and when the evening
closed upon us we were already out of sight of land. The next morning I
was awakened by the sound of rain on the hurricane deck. A cool east wind
was blowing. I opened the outer door of my state-room, and snuffed the air
which was strongly impregnated with the odor of burnt leaves or grass,
proceeding, doubtless, from the burning of woods or prairies somewhere on
the shores of the lake. For mile after mile, for hour after hour, as we
flew through the mist, the same odor was perceptible: the atmosphere of
the lake was full of it.

"Will it rain all day?" I asked of a fellow-passenger, a Salem man, in a
white cravat.

"The clouds are thin," he answered; "the sun will soon burn them off."

In fact, the sun soon melted away the clouds, and before ten o'clock I was
shown, to the north of us, the dim shore of the Great Manitoulin Island,
with the faintly descried opening called the West Strait, through which a
throng of speculators in copper mines are this summer constantly passing
to the Sault de Ste. Marie. On the other side was the sandy isle of Bois
Blanc, the name of which is commonly corrupted into Bob Low Island,
thickly covered with pines, and showing a tall light-house on the point
nearest us. Beyond another point lay like a cloud the island of Mackinaw.
I had seen it once before, but now the hazy atmosphere magnified it into a
lofty mountain; its limestone cliffs impending over the water seemed
larger; the white fort--white as snow--built from the quarries of the
island, looked more commanding, and the rocky crest above it seemed almost
to rise to the clouds. There was a good deal of illusion in all this, as
we were convinced as we came nearer, but Mackinaw with its rocks rising
from the most transparent waters that the earth pours out from her
springs, is a stately object in any condition of the atmosphere. The
captain of our steamer allowed us but a moment at Mackinaw; a moment to
gaze into the clear waters, and count the fish as they played about
without fear twenty or thirty feet below our steamer, as plainly seen as
if they lay in the air; a moment to look at the fort on the heights,
dazzling the eyes with its new whiteness; a moment to observe the
habitations of this ancient village, some of which show you roofs and
walls of red-cedar bark confined by horizontal strips of wood, a kind of
architecture between the wigwam and the settler's cabin. A few baskets of
fish were lifted on board, in which I saw trout of enormous size, trout a
yard in length, and white-fish smaller, but held perhaps in higher esteem,
and we turned our course to the straits which lead into Lake Michigan.

I remember hearing a lady say that she was tired of improvements, and only
wanted to find a place that was finished, where she might live in peace. I
think I shall recommend Mackinaw to her. I saw no change in the place
since my visit to it five years ago. It is so lucky as to have no
_back-country_, it offers no advantages to speculation of any sort; it
produces, it is true, the finest potatoes in the world, but none for
exportation. It may, however, on account of its very cool summer climate,
become a fashionable watering-place, in which case it must yield to the
common fate of American villages and improve, as the phrase is.

Letter XXXII.

Journey from Detroit to Princeton.

Princeton, Illinois, _July_ 31, 1846.

Soon after leaving the island of Mackinaw we entered the straits and
passed into Lake Michigan. The odor of burnt leaves continued to accompany
us, and from the western shore of the lake, thickly covered with wood, we
saw large columns of smoke, several miles apart, rising into the hazy sky.
The steamer turned towards the eastern shore, and about an hour before
sunset stopped to take in wood at the upper Maneto island, where we landed
and strolled into the forest. Part of the island is high, but this, where
we went on shore, consists of hillocks and hollows of sand, like the waves
of the lake in one of its storms, and looking as if successive storms had
swept them up from the bottom. They were covered with an enormous growth
of trees which must have stood for centuries. We admired the astonishing
transparency of the water on this shore, the clean sands without any
intermixture of mud, the pebbles of almost chalky whiteness, and the
stones in the edge of the lake, to which adhered no slime, nor green moss,
nor aquatic weed. In the light-green depths, far down, but distinctly
seen, shoals of fish, some of them of large size, came quietly playing
about the huge hull of our steamer.

On the shore were two log-houses inhabited by woodmen, one of whom drew a
pail of water for the refreshment of some of the passengers, from a well
dug in the sand by his door. "It is not so good as the lake water," said
I, for I saw it was not so clear. "It is colder, though," answered the
man; "but I must say that there is no purer or sweeter water in the world
than that of our lake."

Next morning we were coasting the western shore of Lake Michigan, a high
bank presenting a long line of forest. This was broken by the little town
of Sheboygan, with its light-house among the shrubs of the bank, its
cluster of houses just built, among which were two hotels, and its single
schooner lying at the mouth of a river. You probably never heard of
Sheboygan before; it has just sprung up in the forests of Wisconsin; the
leaves have hardly withered on the trees that were felled to make room for
its houses; but it will make a noise in the world yet. "It is the
prettiest place on the lake," said a passenger, whom we left there, with
three chubby and healthy children, a lady who had already lived long
enough at Sheboygan to be proud of it.

Further on we came to Milwaukie, which is rapidly becoming one of the
great cities of the West. It lies within a semicircle of green pastoral
declivities sprinkled with scattered trees, where the future streets are
to be built. We landed at a kind of wharf, formed by a long platform of
planks laid on piles, under which the water flows, and extending to some
distance into the lake, and along which a car, running on a railway, took
the passengers and their baggage, and a part of the freight of the steamer
to the shore.

"Will you go up to town, sir?" was the question with which I was saluted
by the drivers of a throng of vehicles of all sorts, as soon as I reached
the land. They were ranged along a firm sandy beach between the lake and
the river of Milwaukie. On one side the light-green waters of the lake, of
crystalline clearness, came rolling in before the wind, and on the other
the dark thick waters of the river lay still and stagnant in the sun. We
did not go up to the town, but we could see that it was compactly built,
and in one quarter nobly. A year or two since that quarter had been
destroyed by fire, and on the spot several large and lofty warehouses had
been erected, with an hotel of the largest class. They were of a fine
light-brown color, and when I learned that they were of brick, I inquired
of a by-stander if that was the natural color of the material. "They are
Milwaukie brick," he answered, "and neither painted nor stained; and are
better brick besides than are made at the eastward." Milwaukie is said to
contain, at present, about ten thousand inhabitants. Here the belt of
forest that borders the lake stretches back for several miles to the
prairies of Wisconsin. "The Germans," said a passenger, "are already in
the woods hacking at the trees, and will soon open the country to the

We made a short stop at Racine, prettily situated on the bank among the
scattered trees of an oak opening, and another at Southport, a rival town
eleven miles further south. It is surprising how many persons travel, as
way-passengers, from place to place on the shores of these lakes. Five
years ago the number was very few, now they comprise, at least, half the
number on board a steamboat plying between Buffalo and Chicago. When all
who travel from Chicago to Buffalo shall cross the peninsula of Michigan
by the more expeditious route of the railway, the Chicago and Buffalo line
of steamers, which its owners claim to be the finest line in the world,
will still be crowded with people taken up or to be set down at some of
the intermediate towns.

When we awoke the next morning our steamer was at Chicago. Any one who had
seen this place, as I had done five years ago, when it contained less than
five thousand people, would find some difficulty in recognizing it now
when its population is more than fifteen thousand. It has its long rows of
warehouses and shops, its bustling streets; its huge steamers, and crowds
of lake-craft, lying at the wharves; its villas embowered with trees; and
its suburbs, consisting of the cottages of German and Irish laborers,
stretching northward along the lake, and westward into the prairies, and
widening every day. The slovenly and raw appearance of a new settlement
begins in many parts to disappear. The Germans have already a garden in a
little grove for their holidays, as in their towns in the old country, and
the Roman Catholics have just finished a college for the education of
those who are to proselyte the West.

The day was extremely hot, and at sunset we took a little drive along the

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