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Our Hundred Days in Europe by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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[Illustration: OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES AT THE AGE OF 82. From a painting
by Sarah W. Whitman]











* * * * *














* * * * *

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES AT THE AGE OF 82. From a painting by Sarah W.







* * * * *

After an interval of more than fifty years, I propose taking a second
look at some parts of Europe. It is a Rip Van Winkle experiment which I
am promising myself. The changes wrought by half a century in the
countries I visited amount almost to a transformation. I left the
England of William the Fourth, of the Duke of Wellington, of Sir Robert
Peel; the France of Louis Philippe, of Marshal Soult, of Thiers, of
Guizot. I went from Manchester to Liverpool by the new railroad, the
only one I saw in Europe. I looked upon England from the box of a
stage-coach, upon France from the coupe of a diligence, upon Italy from
the cushion of a carrozza. The broken windows of Apsley House were still
boarded up when I was in London. The asphalt pavement was not laid in
Paris. The Obelisk of Luxor was lying in its great boat in the Seine, as
I remember it. I did not see it erected; it must have been an exciting
scene to witness, the engineer standing underneath, so as to be crushed
by the great stone if it disgraced him by falling in the process. As for
the dynasties which have overlaid each other like Dr. Schliemann's
Trojan cities, there is no need of moralizing over a history which
instead of Finis is constantly ending with What next?

With regard to the changes in the general conditions of society and the
advance in human knowledge, think for one moment what fifty years have
done! I have often imagined myself escorting some wise man of the past
to our Saturday Club, where we often have distinguished strangers as our
guests. Suppose there sat by me, I will not say Sir Isaac Newton, for he
has been too long away from us, but that other great man, whom Professor
Tyndall names as next to him in intellectual stature, as he passes along
the line of master minds of his country, from the days of Newton to our
own,--Dr. Thomas Young, who died in 1829. Would he or I be the listener,
if we were side by side? However humble I might feel in such a presence,
I should be so clad in the grandeur of the new discoveries, inventions,
ideas, I had to impart to him that I should seem to myself like the
ambassador of an Emperor. I should tell him of the ocean steamers, the
railroads that spread themselves like cobwebs over the civilized and
half-civilized portions of the earth, the telegraph and the telephone,
the photograph and the spectroscope. I should hand him a paper with the
morning news from London to read by the electric light, I should startle
him with a friction match, I should amaze him with the incredible truths
about anesthesia, I should astonish him with the later conclusions of
geology, I should dazzle him by the fully developed law of the
correlation of forces, I should delight him with the cell-doctrine, I
should confound him with the revolutionary apocalypse of Darwinism. All
this change in the aspects, position, beliefs, of humanity since the
time of Dr. Young's death, the date of my own graduation from college!

I ought to consider myself highly favored to have lived through such a
half century. But it seems to me that in walking the streets of London
and Paris I shall revert to my student days, and appear to myself like a
relic of a former generation. Those who have been born into the
inheritance of the new civilization feel very differently about it from
those who have lived their way into it. To the young and those
approaching middle age all these innovations in life and thought are as
natural, as much a matter of course, as the air they breathe; they form
a part of the inner framework of their intelligence, about which their
mental life is organized. To men and women of more than threescore and
ten they are external accretions, like the shell of a mollusk, the
jointed plates of an articulate. This must be remembered in reading
anything written by those who knew the century in its teens; it is not
likely to be forgotten, for the fact betrays itself in all the writer's
thoughts and expressions.

The story of my first visit to Europe is briefly this: my object was to
study the medical profession, chiefly in Paris, and I was in Europe
about two years and a half, from April, 1833, to October, 1835. I sailed
in the packet ship Philadelphia from New York for Portsmouth, where we
arrived after a passage of twenty-four days. A week was spent in
visiting Southampton, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Wilton, and the Isle of
Wight. I then crossed the Channel to Havre, from which I went to Paris.
In the spring and summer of 1834 I made my principal visit to England
and Scotland. There were other excursions to the Rhine and to Holland,
to Switzerland and to Italy, but of these I need say nothing here. I
returned in the packet ship Utica, sailing from Havre, and reaching New
York after a passage of forty-two days.

A few notes from my recollections will serve to recall the period of my
first visit to Europe, and form a natural introduction to the
experiences of my second. I take those circumstances which happen to
suggest themselves.

After a short excursion to Strasbourg, down the Rhine, and through
Holland, a small steamer took us from Rotterdam across the Channel, and
we found ourselves in the British capital.

The great sight in London is--London. No man understands himself as an
infinitesimal until he has been a drop in that ocean, a grain of sand on
that sea-margin, a mote in its sunbeam, or the fog or smoke which stands
for it; in plainer phrase, a unit among its millions.

I had two letters to persons in England: one to kind and worthy Mr.
Petty Vaughan, who asked me to dinner; one to pleasant Mr. William
Clift, conservator of the Hunterian Museum, who asked me to tea.

To Westminster Abbey. What a pity it could not borrow from Paris the
towers of Notre Dame! But the glory of its interior made up for this
shortcoming. Among the monuments, one to Rear Admiral Charles Holmes, a
descendant, perhaps, of another namesake, immortalized by Dryden in the
"Annus Mirabilis" as

"the Achates of the general's fight."

He accompanied Wolfe in his expedition which resulted in the capture of
Quebec. My relative, I will take it for granted, as I find him in
Westminster Abbey. Blood is thicker than water,--and warmer than marble,
I said to myself, as I laid my hand on the cold stone image of the once
famous Admiral.

To the Tower, to see the lions,--of all sorts. There I found a "poor
relation," who made my acquaintance without introduction. A large
baboon, or ape,--some creature of that family,--was sitting at the open
door of his cage, when I gave him offence by approaching too near and
inspecting him too narrowly. He made a spring at me, and if the keeper
had not pulled me back would have treated me unhandsomely, like a
quadrumanous rough, as he was. He succeeded in stripping my waistcoat of
its buttons, as one would strip a pea-pod of its peas.

To Vauxhall Gardens. All Americans went there in those days, as they go
to Madame Tussaud's in these times. There were fireworks and an
exhibition of polar scenery. "Mr. Collins, the English PAGANINI,"
treated us to music on his violin. A comic singer gave us a song, of
which I remember the line,

"You'll find it all in the agony bill."

This referred to a bill proposed by Sir Andrew Agnew, a noted Scotch
Sabbatarian agitator.

To the opera to hear Grisi. The king, William the Fourth, was in his
box; also the Princess Victoria, with the Duchess of Kent. The king
tapped with his white-gloved hand on the ledge of the box when he was
pleased with the singing.--To a morning concert and heard the real
Paganini. To one of the lesser theatres and heard a monologue by the
elder Mathews, who died a year or two after this time. To another
theatre, where I saw Listen in Paul Pry. Is it not a relief that I am
abstaining from description of what everybody has heard described?

To Windsor. Machinery to the left of the road. Recognized it instantly,
by recollection of the plate in "Rees's Cyclopedia," as Herschel's great
telescope.--Oxford. Saw only its outside. I knew no one there, and no
one knew me.--Blenheim,--the Titians best remembered of its objects on
exhibition. The great Derby day of the Epsom races. Went to the race
with a coach-load of friends and acquaintances. Plenipotentiary, the
winner, "rode by P. Connelly." So says Herring's picture of him, now
before me. Chestnut, a great "bullock" of a horse, who easily beat the
twenty-two that started. Every New England deacon ought to see one Derby
day to learn what sort of a world this is he lives in. Man is a sporting
as well as a praying animal.

Stratford-on-Avon. Emotions, but no scribbling of name on
walls.--Warwick. The castle. A village festival, "The Opening of the
Meadows," a true exhibition of the semi-barbarism which had come down
from Saxon times.--Yorkshire. "The Hangman's Stone." Story told in my
book called the "Autocrat," etc. York Cathedral.--Northumberland.
Alnwick Castle. The figures on the walls which so frightened my man John
when he ran away from Scotland in his boyhood. Berwick-on-Tweed. A
regatta going on; a very pretty show. Scotland. Most to be remembered,
the incomparable loveliness of Edinburgh.--Sterling. The view of the
Links of Forth from the castle. The whole country full of the romance of
history and poetry. Made one acquaintance in Scotland, Dr. Robert Knox,
who asked my companion and myself to breakfast. I was treated to five
entertainments in Great Britain: the breakfast just mentioned; lunch
with Mrs. Macadam,--the good old lady gave me bread, and not a stone;
dinner with Mr. Vaughan; one with Mr. Stanley, the surgeon; tea with Mr.
Clift,--for all which attentions I was then and am still grateful, for
they were more than I had any claim to expect. Fascinated with
Edinburgh. Strolls by Salisbury Crag; climb to the top of Arthur's Seat;
delight of looking up at the grand old castle, of looking down on
Holyrood Palace, of watching the groups on Calton Hill, wandering in the
quaint old streets and sauntering on the sidewalks of the noble avenues,
even at that time adding beauty to the new city. The weeks I spent in
Edinburgh are among the most memorable of my European experiences. To
the Highlands, to the Lakes, in short excursions; to Glasgow, seen to
disadvantage under gray skies and with slippery pavements. Through
England rapidly to Dover and to Calais, where I found the name of M.
Dessein still belonging to the hotel I sought, and where I read Sterne's
"Preface Written in a Desobligeante," sitting in the vehicle most like
one that I could find in the stable. From Calais back to Paris, where I
began working again.

All my travelling experiences, including a visit to Switzerland and
Italy in the summer and autumn of 1835, were merely interludes of my
student life in Paris. On my return to America, after a few years of
hospital and private practice, I became a Professor in Harvard
University, teaching Anatomy and Physiology, afterwards Anatomy alone,
for the period of thirty-five years, during part of which time I paid
some attention to literature, and became somewhat known as the author of
several works in prose and verse which have been well received. My
prospective visit will not be a professional one, as I resigned my
office in 1882, and am no longer known chiefly as a teacher or a

BOSTON, _April_, 1886.


* * * * *


I begin this record with the columnar, self-reliant capital letter to
signify that there is no disguise in its egoisms. If it were a chapter
of autobiography, this is what the reader would look for as a matter of
course. Let him consider it as being such a chapter, and its egoisms
will require no apology.

I have called the record _our_ hundred days, because I was
accompanied by my daughter, without the aid of whose younger eyes and
livelier memory, and especially of her faithful diary, which no fatigue
or indisposition was allowed to interrupt, the whole experience would
have remained in my memory as a photograph out of focus.

We left Boston on the 29th of April, 1886, and reached New York on the
29th of August, four months of absence in all, of which nearly three
weeks were taken up by the two passages; one week was spent in Paris,
and the rest of the time in England and Scotland.

No one was so much surprised as myself at my undertaking this visit. Mr.
Gladstone, a strong man for his years, is reported as saying that he is
too old to travel, at least to cross the ocean, and he is younger than I
am,--just four months, to a day, younger. It is true that Sir Henry
Holland came to this country, and travelled freely about the world,
after he was eighty years old; but his pitcher went to the well once too
often, and met the usual doom of fragile articles. When my friends asked
me why I did not go to Europe, I reminded them of the fate of Thomas
Parr. He was only twice my age, and was getting on finely towards his
two hundredth year, when the Earl of Arundel carried him up to London,
and, being feasted and made a lion of, he found there a premature and
early grave at the age of only one hundred and fifty-two years. He lies
in Westminster Abbey, it is true, but he would probably have preferred
the upper side of his own hearth-stone to the under side of the slab
which covers him.

I should never have thought of such an expedition if it had not been
suggested by a member of my family that I should accompany my daughter,
who was meditating a trip to Europe. I remembered how many friends had
told me I ought to go; among the rest, Mr. Emerson, who had spoken to me
repeatedly about it. I had not seen Europe for more than half a century,
and I had a certain longing for one more sight of the places I
remembered, and others it would be a delight to look upon. There were a
few living persons whom I wished to meet. I was assured that I should be
kindly received in England. All this was tempting enough, but there was
an obstacle in the way which I feared, and, as it proved, not without
good reason. I doubted whether I could possibly breathe in a narrow
state-room. In certain localities I have found myself liable to attacks
of asthma, and, although I had not had one for years, I felt sure that I
could not escape it if I tried to sleep in a state-room.

I did not escape it, and I am glad to tell my story about it, because it
excuses some of my involuntary social shortcomings, and enables me to
thank collectively all those kind members of the profession who trained
all the artillery of the pharmacopoeia upon my troublesome enemy, from
bicarbonate of soda and Vichy water to arsenic and dynamite. One costly
contrivance, sent me by the Reverend Mr. Haweis, whom I have never duly
thanked for it, looked more like an angelic trump for me to blow in a
better world than what I believe it is, an inhaling tube intended to
prolong my mortal respiration. The best thing in my experience was
recommended to me by an old friend in London. It was Himrod's asthma
cure, one of the many powders, the smoke of which when burning is
inhaled. It is made in Providence, Rhode Island, and I had to go to
London to find it. It never failed to give at least temporary relief,
but nothing enabled me to sleep in my state-room, though I had it all to
myself, the upper berth being removed. After the first night and part of
the second, I never lay down at all while at sea. The captain allowed me
to have a candle and sit up in the saloon, where I worried through the
night as I best might. How could I be in a fit condition to accept the
attention of my friends in Liverpool, after sitting up every night for
more than a week; and how could I be in a mood for the catechizing of
interviewers, without having once lain down during the whole return
passage? I hope the reader will see why I mention these facts. They
explain and excuse many things; they have been alluded to, sometimes
with exaggeration, in the newspapers, and I could not tell my story
fairly without mentioning them. I got along well enough as soon as I
landed, and have had no return of the trouble since I have been back in
my own home. I will not advertise an assortment of asthma remedies for
sale, but I assure my kind friends I have had no use for any one of them
since I have walked the Boston pavements, drank, not the Cochituate, but
the Belmont spring water, and breathed the lusty air of my native

My companion and I required an attendant, and we found one of those
useful androgynous personages known as _courier-maids_, who had
travelled with friends of ours, and who was ready to start with us at a
moment's warning. She was of English birth, lively, short-gaited,
serviceable, more especially in the first of her dual capacities. So far
as my wants were concerned, I found her zealous and active in providing
for my comfort.

It was no sooner announced in the papers that I was going to England
than I began to hear of preparations to welcome me. An invitation to a
club meeting was cabled across the Atlantic. One of my countrywomen who
has a house in London made an engagement for me to meet friends at her
residence. A reverend friend, who thought I had certain projects in my
head, wrote to me about lecturing: where I should appear, what fees I
should obtain, and such business matters. I replied that I was going to
England to spend money, not to make it; to hear speeches, very possibly,
but not to make them; to revisit scenes I had known in my younger days;
to get a little change of my routine, which I certainly did; and to
enjoy a little rest, which I as certainly did not, at least in London.
In a word, I wished a short vacation, and had no thought of doing
anything more important than rubbing a little rust off and enjoying
myself, while at the same time I could make my companion's visit
somewhat pleasanter than it would be if she went without me. The visit
has answered most of its purposes for both of us, and if we have saved a
few recollections which our friends can take any pleasure in reading,
this slight record may be considered a work of supererogation.

The Cephalonia was to sail at half past six in the morning, and at that
early hour a company of well-wishers was gathered on the wharf at East
Boston to bid us good-by. We took with us many tokens of their
thoughtful kindness; flowers and fruits from Boston and Cambridge, and a
basket of champagne from a Concord friend whose company is as
exhilarating as the sparkling wine he sent us. With the other gifts came
a small tin box, about as big as a common round wooden match box. I
supposed it to hold some pretty gimcrack, sent as a pleasant parting
token of remembrance. It proved to be a most valued daily companion,
useful at all times, never more so than when the winds were blowing hard
and the ship was struggling with the waves. There must have been some
magic secret in it, for I am sure that I looked five years younger after
closing that little box than when I opened it. Time will explain its
mysterious power.

All the usual provisions for comfort made by seagoing experts we had
attended to. Impermeable rugs and fleecy shawls, head-gear to defy the
rudest northeasters, sea-chairs of ample dimensions, which we took care
to place in as sheltered situations as we could find,--all these were a
matter of course. Everybody stays on deck as much as possible, and lies
wrapped up and spread out at full length on his or her sea-chair, so
that the deck looks as if it had a row of mummies on exhibition. Nothing
is more comfortable, nothing, I should say, more indispensable, than a
hot-water bag,--or rather, _two_ hot-water bags; for they will
burst sometimes, as I found out, and a passenger who has become intimate
with one of these warm bosom friends feels its loss almost as if it were

Passengers carry all sorts of luxuries on board, in the firm faith that
they shall be able to profit by them all. Friends send them various
indigestibles. To many all these well-meant preparations soon become a
mockery, almost an insult. It is a clear case of _Sic(k) vos non
vobis_. The tougher neighbor is the gainer by these acts of kindness;
the generosity of a sea-sick sufferer in giving away the delicacies
which seemed so desirable on starting is not ranked very high on the
books of the recording angel. With us three things were best: grapes,
oranges, and especially oysters, of which we had provided a half barrel
in the shell. The "butcher" of the ship opened them fresh for us every
day, and they were more acceptable than anything else.

Among our ship's company were a number of family relatives and
acquaintances. We formed a natural group at one of the tables, where we
met in more or less complete numbers. I myself never missed; my
companion, rarely. Others were sometimes absent, and sometimes came to
time when they were in a very doubtful state, looking as if they were
saying to themselves, with Lear,--

"Down, thou climbing sorrow,
Thy element's below."

As for the intellectual condition of the passengers, I should say that
faces were prevailingly vacuous, their owners half hypnotized, as it
seemed, by the monotonous throb and tremor of the great sea-monster on
whose back we were riding. I myself had few thoughts, fancies, emotions.
One thing above all struck me as never before,--the terrible solitude of
the ocean.

"So lonely 'twas that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be."

Whole days passed without our seeing a single sail. The creatures of the
deep which gather around sailing vessels are perhaps frightened off by
the noise and stir of the steamship. At any rate, we saw nothing more
than a few porpoises, so far as I remember.

No man can find himself over the abysses, the floor of which is paved
with wrecks and white with the bones of the shrieking myriads of human
beings whom the waves have swallowed up, without some thought of the
dread possibilities hanging over his fate. There is only one way to get
rid of them: that which an old sea-captain mentioned to me, namely, to
keep one's self under opiates until he wakes up in the harbor where he
is bound. I did not take this as serious advice, but its meaning is that
one who has all his senses about him cannot help being anxious. My old
friend, whose beard had been shaken in many a tempest, knew too well
that there is cause enough for anxiety.

What does the reader suppose was the source of the most ominous thought
which forced itself upon my mind, as I walked the decks of the mighty
vessel? Not the sound of the rushing winds, nor the sight of the
foam-crested billows; not the sense of the awful imprisoned force which
was wrestling in the depths below me. The ship is made to struggle with
the elements, and the giant has been tamed to obedience, and is manacled
in bonds which an earthquake would hardly rend asunder. No! It was the
sight of the _boats_ hanging along at the sides of the deck,--the
boats, always suggesting the fearful possibility that before another day
dawns one may be tossing about in the watery Sahara, shelterless,
fireless, almost foodless, with a fate before him he dares not
contemplate. No doubt we should feel worse without the boats; still they
are dreadful tell-tales. To all who remember Gericault's Wreck of the
Medusa,--and those who have seen it do not forget it,--the picture the
mind draws is one it shudders at. To be sure, the poor wretches in the
painting were on a raft, but to think of fifty people in one of these
open boats! Let us go down into the cabin, where at least we shall not
see them.

The first morning at sea revealed the mystery of the little round tin
box. The process of _shaving_, never a delightful one, is a very
unpleasant and awkward piece of business when the floor on which one
stands, the glass in which he looks, and he himself are all describing
those complex curves which make cycles and epicycles seem like
simplicity itself. The little box contained a reaping machine, which
gathered the capillary harvest of the past twenty-four hours with a
thoroughness, a rapidity, a security, and a facility which were a
surprise, almost a revelation. The idea of a guarded cutting edge is an
old one; I remember the "Plantagenet" razor, so called, with the
comb-like row of blunt teeth, leaving just enough of the edge free to do
its work. But this little affair had a blade only an inch and a half
long by three quarters of an inch wide. It had a long slender handle,
which took apart for packing, and was put together with the greatest
ease. It was, in short, a lawn-mower for the masculine growth of which
the proprietor wishes to rid his countenance. The mowing operation
required no glass, could be performed with almost reckless boldness, as
one cannot cut himself, and in fact had become a pleasant amusement
instead of an irksome task. I have never used any other means of shaving
from that day to this. I was so pleased with it that I exhibited it to
the distinguished tonsors of Burlington Arcade, half afraid they would
assassinate me for bringing in an innovation which bid fair to destroy
their business. They probably took me for an agent of the manufacturers;
and so I was, but not in their pay nor with their knowledge. I
determined to let other persons know what a convenience I had found the
"Star Razor" of Messrs. Kampf, of New York, without fear of reproach for
so doing. I know my danger,--does not Lord Byron say, "I have even been
accused of writing puffs for Warren's blacking"? I was once offered pay
for a poem in praise of a certain stove polish, but I declined. It is
pure good-will to my race which leads me to commend the Star Razor to
all who travel by land or by sea, as well as to all who stay at home.

With the first sight of land many a passenger draws a long sigh of
relief. Yet everybody knows that the worst dangers begin after we have
got near enough to see the shore, for there are several ways of landing,
not all of which are equally desirable. On Saturday, May 8th, we first
caught a glimpse of the Irish coast, and at half past four in the
afternoon we reached the harbor of Queenstown. A tug came off, bringing
newspapers, letters, and so forth, among the rest some thirty letters
and telegrams for me. This did not look much like rest, but this was
only a slight prelude to what was to follow. I was in no condition to go
on shore for sight-seeing, as some of the passengers did.

We made our way through the fog towards Liverpool, and arrived at 1.30,
on Sunday, May 9th. A special tug came to take us off: on it were the
American consul, Mr. Russell, the vice-consul, Mr. Sewall, Dr. Nevins,
and Mr. Rathbone, who came on behalf of our as yet unseen friend, Mr.
Willett, of Brighton, England. Our Liverpool friends were meditating
more hospitalities to us than, in our fatigued condition, we were equal
to supporting. They very kindly, however, acquiesced in our wishes,
which were for as much rest as we could possibly get before any attempt
to busy ourselves with social engagements. So they conveyed us to the
Grand Hotel for a short time, and then saw us safely off to the station
to take the train for Chester, where we arrived in due season, and soon
found ourselves comfortably established at the Grosvenor Arms Hotel. A
large basket of Surrey primroses was brought by Mr. Rathbone to my
companion. I had set before me at the hotel a very handsome floral harp,
which my friend's friend had offered me as a tribute. It made melody in
my ears as sweet as those hyacinths of Shelley's, the music of whose
bells was so

"delicate, soft, and intense,
It was felt like an odor within the sense."

At Chester we had the blissful security of being unknown, and were left
to ourselves. Americans know Chester better than most other old towns in
England, because they so frequently stop there awhile on their way from
Liverpool to London. It has a mouldy old cathedral, an old wall, partly
Roman, strange old houses with overhanging upper floors, which make
sheltered sidewalks and dark basements. When one sees an old house in
New England with the second floor projecting a foot or two beyond the
wall of the ground floor, the country boy will tell him that "them
haouses was built so th't th' folks upstairs could shoot the Injins when
they was tryin' to git threew th' door or int' th' winder." There are
plenty of such houses all over England, where there are no "Injins" to
shoot. But the story adds interest to the somewhat lean traditions of
our rather dreary past, and it is hardly worth while to disturb it. I
always heard it in my boyhood. Perhaps it is true; certainly it was a
very convenient arrangement for discouraging an untimely visit. The oval
lookouts in porches, common in our Essex County, have been said to
answer a similar purpose, that of warning against the intrusion of
undesirable visitors. The walk round the old wall of Chester is
wonderfully interesting and beautiful. At one part it overlooks a wide
level field, over which the annual races are run. I noticed that here as
elsewhere the short grass was starred with daisies. They are not
considered in place in a well-kept lawn. But remembering the cuckoo song
in "Love's Labour's Lost," "When daisies pied ... do paint the meadows
with delight," it was hard to look at them as unwelcome intruders.

The old cathedral seemed to me particularly mouldy, and in fact too
high-flavored with antiquity. I could not help comparing some of the
ancient cathedrals and abbey churches to so many old cheeses. They have
a tough gray rind and a rich interior, which find food and lodging for
numerous tenants who live and die under their shelter or their
shadow,--lowly servitors some of them, portly dignitaries others, humble
holy ministers of religion many, I doubt not,--larvae of angels, who
will get their wings by and by. It is a shame to carry the comparison so
far, but it is natural enough; for Cheshire cheeses are among the first
things we think of as we enter that section of the country, and this
venerable cathedral is the first that greets the eyes of great numbers
of Americans.

We drove out to Eaton Hall, the seat of the Duke of Westminster, the
many-millioned lord of a good part of London. It is a palace,
high-roofed, marble-columned, vast, magnificent, everything but
homelike, and perhaps homelike to persons born and bred in such
edifices. A painter like Paul Veronese finds a palace like this not too
grand for his banqueting scenes. But to those who live, as most of us
do, in houses of moderate dimensions, snug, comfortable, which the
owner's presence fills sufficiently, leaving room for a few visitors, a
vast marble palace is disheartening and uninviting. I never get into a
very large and lofty saloon without feeling as if I were a weak solution
of myself,--my personality almost drowned out in the flood of space
about me. The wigwam is more homelike than the cavern. Our wooden houses
are a better kind of wigwam; the marble palaces are artificial caverns,
vast, resonant, chilling, good to visit, not desirable to live in, for
most of us. One's individuality should betray itself in all that
surrounds him; he should _secrete_ his shell, like a mollusk; if he
can sprinkle a few pearls through it, so much the better. It is best,
perhaps, that one should avoid being a duke and living in a
palace,--that is, if he has his choice in the robing chamber where souls
are fitted with their earthly garments.

One of the most interesting parts of my visit to Eaton Hall was my tour
through the stables. The Duke is a famous breeder and lover of the turf.
Mr. Rathbone and myself soon made the acquaintance of the chief of the
stable department. Readers of Homer do not want to be reminded that
_hippodamoio_, horse-subduer, is the genitive of an epithet applied
as a chief honor to the most illustrious heroes. It is the last word of
the last line of the Iliad, and fitly closes the account of the funeral
pageant of Hector, the tamer of horses. We Americans are a little shy of
confessing that any title or conventional grandeur makes an impression
upon us. If at home we wince before any official with a sense of
blighted inferiority, it is by general confession the clerk at the hotel
office. There is an excuse for this, inasmuch as he holds our destinies
in his hands, and decides whether, in case of accident, we shall have to
jump from the third or sixth story window. Lesser grandeurs do not find
us very impressible. There is, however, something about the man who
deals in horses which takes down the spirit, however proud, of him who
is unskilled in equestrian matters and unused to the horse-lover's
vocabulary. We followed the master of the stables, meekly listening and
once in a while questioning. I had to fall back on my reserves, and
summoned up memories half a century old to gain the respect and win the
confidence of the great horse-subduer. He showed us various fine
animals, some in their stalls, some outside of them. Chief of all was
the renowned Bend Or, a Derby winner, a noble and beautiful bay,
destined in a few weeks to gain new honors on the same turf in the
triumph of his offspring Ormonde, whose acquaintance we shall make

The next day, Tuesday, May 11th, at 4.25, we took the train for London.
We had a saloon car, which had been thoughtfully secured for us through
unseen, not unsuspected, agencies, which had also beautified the
compartment with flowers.

Here are some of my first impressions of England as seen from the
carriage and from the cars.--How very English! I recall Birket Foster's
Pictures of English Landscape,--a beautiful, poetical series of views,
but hardly more poetical than the reality. How thoroughly England _is
groomed_! Our New England out-of-doors landscape often looks as if it
had just got out of bed, and had not finished its toilet. The glowing
green of everything strikes me: green hedges in place of our
rail-fences, always ugly, and our rude stone-walls, which are not
wanting in a certain look of fitness approaching to comeliness, and are
really picturesque when lichen-coated, but poor features of landscape as
compared to these universal hedges. I am disappointed in the trees, so
far; I have not seen one large tree as yet. Most of those I see are of
very moderate dimensions, feathered all the way up their long slender
trunks, with a lop-sided mop of leaves at the top, like a wig which has
slipped awry. I trust that I am not finding everything _couleur de
rose_; but I certainly do find the cheeks of children and young
persons of such brilliant rosy hue as I do not remember that I have ever
seen before. I am almost ready to think this and that child's face has
been colored from a pink saucer. If the Saxon youth exposed for sale at
Rome, in the days of Pope Gregory the Great, had complexions like these
children, no wonder that the pontiff exclaimed, Not _Angli_, but
_angeli_! All this may sound a little extravagant, but I am giving
my impressions without any intentional exaggeration. How far these first
impressions may be modified by after-experiences there will be time
enough to find out and to tell. It is better to set them down at once
just as they are. A first impression is one never to be repeated; the
second look will see much that was not noticed before, but it will not
reproduce the sharp lines of the _first proof_, which is always
interesting, no matter what the eye or the mind fixes upon. "I see men
as trees walking." That first experience could not be mended. When
Dickens landed in Boston, he was struck with the brightness of all the
objects he saw,--buildings, signs, and so forth. When I landed in
Liverpool, everything looked very dark, very dingy, very massive, in the
streets I drove through. So in London, but in a week it all seemed
natural enough.

We got to the hotel where we had engaged quarters, at eleven o'clock in
the evening of Wednesday, the 12th of May. Everything was ready for
us,--a bright fire blazing and supper waiting. When we came to look at
the accommodations, we found they were not at all adapted to our needs.
It was impossible to stay there another night. So early the next morning
we sent out our courier-maid, a dove from the ark, to find us a place
where we could rest the soles of our feet. London is a nation of
something like four millions of inhabitants, and one does not feel easy
without he has an assured place of shelter. The dove flew all over the
habitable districts of the city,--inquired at as many as twenty houses.
No roosting-place for our little flock of three. At last the good angel
who followed us everywhere, in one shape or another, pointed the
wanderer to a place which corresponded with all our requirements and
wishes. This was at No. 17 Dover Street, Mackellar's Hotel, where we
found ourselves comfortably lodged and well cared for during the whole
time we were in London. It was close to Piccadilly and to Bond Street.
Near us, in the same range, were Brown's Hotel and Batt's Hotel, both
widely known to the temporary residents of London.

We were but partially recovered from the fatigues and trials of the
voyage when our arrival pulled the string of the social shower-bath, and
the invitations began pouring down upon us so fast that we caught our
breath, and felt as if we should be smothered. The first evening saw us
at a great dinner-party at our well-remembered friend Lady Harcourt's.
Twenty guests, celebrities and agreeable persons, with or without
titles. The tables were radiant with silver, glistening with choice
porcelain, blazing with a grand show of tulips. This was our "baptism of
fire" in that long conflict which lasts through the London season. After
dinner came a grand reception, most interesting, but fatiguing to
persons hardly as yet in good condition for social service. We lived
through it, however, and enjoyed meeting so many friends, known and
unknown, who were very cordial and pleasant in their way of receiving

It was plain that we could not pretend to answer all the invitations
which flooded our tables. If we had attempted it, we should have found
no time for anything else. A secretary was evidently a matter of
immediate necessity. Through the kindness of Mrs. Pollock, we found a
young lady who was exactly fitted for the place. She was installed in
the little room intended for her, and began the work of accepting with
pleasure and regretting our inability, of acknowledging the receipt of
books, flowers, and other objects, and being very sorry that we could
not subscribe to this good object and attend that meeting in behalf of a
deserving charity,--in short, writing almost everything for us except
autographs, which I can warrant were always genuine. The poor young lady
was almost tired out sometimes, having to stay at her table, on one
occasion, so late as eleven in the evening, to get through her day's
work. I simplified matters for her by giving her a set of formulae as a
base to start from, and she proved very apt at the task of modifying
each particular letter to suit its purpose.

From this time forward continued a perpetual round of social
engagements. Breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, teas, receptions with
spread tables, two, three, and four deep of an evening, with receiving
company at our own rooms, took up the day, so that we had very little
time for common sight-seeing.

Of these kinds of entertainments, the breakfast, though pleasant enough
when the company is agreeable, as I always found it, is the least
convenient of all times and modes of visiting. You have already
interviewed one breakfast, and are expecting soon to be coquetting with
a tempting luncheon. If one had as many stomachs as a ruminant, he would
not mind three or four serious meals a day, not counting the tea as one
of them. The luncheon is a very convenient affair: it does not require
special dress; it is informal; it is soon over, and may be made light or
heavy, as one chooses. The afternoon tea is almost a necessity in London
life. It is considered useful as "a pick me up," and it serves an
admirable purpose in the social system. It costs the household hardly
any trouble or expense. It brings people together in the easiest
possible way, for ten minutes or an hour, just as their engagements or
fancies may settle it. A cup of tea at the right moment does for the
virtuous reveller all that Falstaff claims for a good sherris-sack, or
at least the first half of its "twofold operation:" "It ascends me into
the brain; dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapors
which environ it; makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of
nimble, fiery and delectable shapes, which delivered over to the voice,
the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit."

But it must have the right brain to work upon, and I doubt if there is
any brain to which it is so congenial and from which it brings so much
as that of a first-rate London old lady. I came away from the great city
with the feeling that this most complex product of civilization was
nowhere else developed to such perfection. The octogenarian Londoness
has been in society,--let us say the highest society,--all her days. She
is as tough as an old macaw, or she would not have lasted so long. She
has seen and talked with all the celebrities of three generations, all
the beauties of at least half a dozen decades. Her wits have been kept
bright by constant use, and as she is free of speech it requires some
courage to face her. Yet nobody can be more agreeable, even to young
persons, than one of these precious old dowagers. A great beauty is
almost certainly thinking how she looks while one is talking with her;
an authoress is waiting to have one praise her book; but a grand old
lady, who loves London society, who lives in it, who understands young
people and all sorts of people, with her high-colored recollections of
the past and her grand-maternal interests in the new generation, is the
best of companions, especially over a cup of tea just strong enough to
stir up her talking ganglions.

A breakfast, a lunch, a tea, is a circumstance, an occurrence, in social
life, but a dinner is an event. It is the full-blown flower of that
cultivated growth of which those lesser products are the buds. I will
not try to enumerate, still less to describe, the various entertainments
to which we were invited, and many of which we attended. Among the
professional friends I found or made during this visit to London, none
were more kindly attentive than Dr. Priestley, who, with his charming
wife, the daughter of the late Robert Chambers, took more pains to carry
out our wishes than we could have asked or hoped for. At his house I
first met Sir James Paget and Sir William Gull, long well known to me,
as to the medical profession everywhere, as preeminent in their several
departments. If I were an interviewer or a newspaper reporter, I should
be tempted to give the impression which the men and women of distinction
I met made upon me; but where all were cordial, where all made me feel
as nearly as they could that I belonged where I found myself, whether
the ceiling were a low or a lofty one, I do not care to differentiate my
hosts and my other friends. _Fortemque Gyan fortemque Cloanthum_,
--I left my microscope and my test-papers at home.

Our friends, several of them, had a pleasant way of sending their
carriages to give us a drive in the Park, where, except in certain
permitted regions, the common numbered vehicles are not allowed to
enter. Lady Harcourt sent her carriage for us to go to her sister's,
Mrs. Mildmay's, where we had a pleasant little "tea," and met one of the
most agreeable and remarkable of those London old ladies I have spoken
of. For special occasions we hired an unnumbered carriage, with
professionally equipped driver and footman.

Mrs. Bloomfield Moore sent her carriage for us to take us to a lunch at
her house, where we met Mr. Browning, Sir Henry and Lady Layard, Oscar
Wilde and his handsome wife, and other well-known guests. After lunch,
recitations, songs, etc. House full of pretty things. Among other
curiosities a portfolio of drawings illustrating Keeley's motor, which,
up to this time, has manifested a remarkably powerful _vis
inertice_, but which promises miracles. In the evening a grand
reception at Lady Granville's, beginning (for us, at least) at eleven
o'clock. The house a palace, and A---- thinks there were a thousand
people there. We made the tour of the rooms, saw many great personages,
had to wait for our carriage a long time, but got home at one o'clock.

English people have queer notions about iced-water and ice-cream. "You
will surely die, eating such cold stuff," said a lady to my companion.
"Oh, no," she answered, "but I should certainly die were I to drink your
two cups of strong tea." I approved of this "counter" on the teacup, but
I did not think either of them was in much danger.

The next day Rev. Mr. Haweis sent his carriage, and we drove in the
Park. In the afternoon we went to our Minister's to see the American
ladies who had been presented at the drawing-room. After this, both of
us were glad to pass a day or two in comparative quiet, except that we
had a room full of visitors. So many persons expressed a desire to make
our acquaintance that we thought it would be acceptable to them if we
would give a reception ourselves. We were thinking how we could manage
it with our rooms at the hotel, which were not arranged so that they
could be thrown together. Still, we were planning to make the best of
them, when Dr. and Mrs. Priestley suggested that we should receive our
company at their house. This was a surprise, and a most welcome one, and
A---- and her kind friend busied themselves at once about the

We went to a luncheon at Lansdowne House, Lord Rosebery's residence, not
far from our hotel. My companion tells a little incident which may
please an American six-year-old: "The eldest of the four children,
Sibyl, a pretty, bright child of six, told me that she wrote a letter to
the Queen. I said, 'Did you begin, Dear Queen?' 'No,' she answered, 'I
began, Your Majesty, and signed myself, Your little humble servant,
Sibyl.'" A very cordial and homelike reception at this great house,
where a couple of hours were passed most agreeably.

On the following Sunday I went to Westminster Abbey to hear a sermon
from Canon Harford on A Cheerful Life. A lively, wholesome, and
encouraging discourse, such as it would do many a forlorn New England
congregation good to hear. In the afternoon we both went together to the
Abbey. Met our Beverly neighbor, Mrs. Vaughan, and adopted her as one of
our party. The seats we were to have were full, and we had to be stowed
where there was any place that would hold us. I was smuggled into a
stall, going through long and narrow passages, between crowded rows of
people, and found myself at last with a big book before me and a set of
official personages around me, whose duties I did not clearly
understand. I thought they might be mutes, or something of that sort,
salaried to look grave and keep quiet. After service we took tea with
Dean Bradley, and after tea we visited the Jerusalem Chamber. I had been
twice invited to weddings in that famous room: once to the marriage of
my friend Motley's daughter, then to that of Mr. Frederick Locker's
daughter to Lionel Tennyson, whose recent death has been so deeply
mourned. I never expected to see that Jerusalem in which Harry the
Fourth died, but there I found myself in the large panelled chamber,
with all its associations. The older memories came up but vaguely; an
American finds it as hard to call back anything over two or three
centuries old as a sucking-pump to draw up water from a depth of over
thirty-three feet and a fraction. After this A---- went to a musical
party, dined with the Vaughans, and had a good time among American

The next evening we went to the Lyceum Theatre to see Mr. Irving. He had
placed the Royal box at our disposal, so we invited our friends the
Priestleys to go with us, and we all enjoyed the evening mightily.
Between the scenes we went behind the curtain, and saw the very curious
and admirable machinery of the dramatic spectacle. We made the
acquaintance of several imps and demons, who were got up wonderfully
well. Ellen Terry was as fascinating as ever. I remembered that once
before I had met her and Mr. Irving behind the scenes. It was at the
Boston Theatre, and while I was talking with them a very heavy piece of
scenery came crashing down, and filled the whole place with dust. It was
but a short distance from where we were standing, and I could not help
thinking how near our several life-dramas came to a simultaneous
_exeunt omnes_.

A long visit from a polite interviewer, shopping, driving, calling,
arranging about the people to be invited to our reception, and an
agreeable dinner at Chelsea with my American friend, Mrs. Merritt,
filled up this day full enough, and left us in good condition for the
next, which was to be a very busy one.

In the Introduction to these papers, I mentioned the fact that more than
half a century ago I went to the famous Derby race at Epsom. I
determined, if possible, to see the Derby of 1886, as I had seen that of
1834. I must have spoken of this intention to some interviewer, for I
find the following paragraph in an English sporting newspaper, "The
Field," for May 29th, 1886:--

"The Derby has always been the one event in the racing year which
statesmen, philosophers, poets, essayists, and _litterateurs_
desire to see once in their lives. A few years since Mr. Gladstone was
induced by Lord Granville and Lord Wolverton to run down to Epsom on the
Derby day. The impression produced upon the Prime Minister's sensitive
and emotional mind was that the mirth and hilarity displayed by his
compatriots upon Epsom race-course was Italian rather than English in
its character. On the other hand, Gustave Dore, who also saw the Derby
for the first and only time in his life, exclaimed, as he gazed with
horror upon the faces below him, _Quelle scene brutale!_ We wonder
to which of these two impressions Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes inclined, if
he went last Wednesday to Epsom! Probably the well-known, etc., etc.--Of
one thing Dr. Holmes may rest finally satisfied: the Derby of 1886 may
possibly have seemed to him far less exciting than that of 1834; but
neither in 1834 nor in any other year was the great race ever won by a
better sportsman or more honorable man than the Duke of Westminster."

My desire to see the Derby of this year was of the same origin and
character as that which led me to revisit many scenes which I
remembered. I cared quite as much about renewing old impressions as
about getting new ones. I enjoyed everything which I had once seen all
the more from the blending of my recollections with the present as it
was before me.

The Derby day of 1834 was exceedingly windy and dusty. Our party, riding
on the outside of the coach, was half smothered with the dust, and
arrived in a very deteriorated condition, but recompensed for it by the
extraordinary sights we had witnessed. There was no train in those days,
and the whole road between London and Epsom was choked with vehicles of
all kinds, from four-in-hands to donkey-carts and wheelbarrows. My
friends and I mingled freely in the crowds, and saw all the "humours" of
the occasion. The thimble-riggers were out in great force, with their
light, movable tables, the cups or thimbles, and the "little jokers,"
and the coachman, the sham gentleman, the country greenhorn, all
properly got up and gathered about the table. I think we had "Aunt
Sally," too,--the figure with a pipe in her mouth, which one might shy a
stick at for a penny or two and win something, I forget what. The
clearing the course of stragglers, and the chasing about of the
frightened little dog who had got in between the thick ranks of
spectators, reminded me of what I used to see on old "artillery
election" days.

It was no common race that I went to see in 1834. "It is asserted in the
columns of a contemporary that Plenipotentiary was absolutely the best
horse of the century." This was the winner of the race I saw so long
ago. Herring's colored portrait, which I have always kept, shows him as
a great, powerful chestnut horse, well deserving the name of "bullock,"
which one of the jockeys applied to him. "Rumor credits Dr. Holmes," so
"The Field" says, "with desiring mentally to compare his two Derbies
with each other." I was most fortunate in my objects of comparison. The
horse I was about to see win was not unworthy of being named with the
renowned champion of my earlier day. I quote from a writer in the
"London Morning Post," whose words, it will be seen, carry authority
with them:--

"Deep as has hitherto been my reverence for Plenipotentiary, Bay
Middleton, and Queen of Trumps from hearsay, and for Don John, Crucifix,
etc., etc., from my own personal knowledge, I am inclined to award the
palm to Ormonde as the best three-year-old I have ever seen during close
upon half a century's connection with the turf."

Ormonde, the Duke of Westminster's horse, was the son of that other
winner of the Derby, Bend Or, whom I saw at Eaton Hall.

Perhaps some coeval of mine may think it was a rather youthful idea to
go to the race. I cannot help that. I was off on my first long vacation
for half a century, and had a right to my whims and fancies. But it was
one thing to go in with a vast crowd at five and twenty, and another
thing to run the risks of the excursion at more than thrice that age. I
looked about me for means of going safely, and could think of nothing
better than to ask one of the pleasantest and kindest of gentlemen, to
whom I had a letter from Mr. Winthrop, at whose house I had had the
pleasure of making his acquaintance. Lord Rosebery suggested that the
best way would be for me to go in the special train which was to carry
the Prince of Wales. First, then, I was to be introduced to his Royal
Highness, which office was kindly undertaken by our very obliging and
courteous Minister, Mr. Phelps. After this all was easily arranged, and
I was cared for as well as if I had been Mr. Phelps himself. On the
grand stand I found myself in the midst of the great people, who were
all very natural, and as much at their ease as the rest of the world.
The Prince is of a lively temperament and a very cheerful aspect,--a
young girl would call him "jolly" as well as "nice." I recall the story
of "Mr. Pope" and his Prince of Wales, as told by Horace Walpole. "Mr.
Pope, you don't love princes." "Sir, I beg your pardon." "Well, you
don't love kings, then." "Sir, I own I love the lion best before his
claws are grown." Certainly, nothing in Prince Albert Edward suggests
any aggressive weapons or tendencies. The lovely, youthful-looking,
gracious Alexandra, the always affable and amiable Princess Louise, the
tall youth who sees the crown and sceptre afar off in his dreams, the
slips of girls so like many school misses we left behind us,--all these
grand personages, not being on exhibition, but off enjoying themselves,
just as I was and as other people were, seemed very much like their
fellow-mortals. It is really easier to feel at home with the highest
people in the land than with the awkward commoner who was knighted
yesterday. When "My Lord and Sir Paul" came into the Club which
Goldsmith tells us of, the hilarity of the evening was instantly
checked. The entrance of a dignitary like the present Prince of Wales
would not have spoiled the fun of the evening. If there is any one
accomplishment specially belonging to princes, it is that of making the
persons they meet feel at ease.

The grand stand to which I was admitted was a little privileged
republic. I remember Thackeray's story of his asking some simple
question of a royal or semi-royal personage whom he met in the courtyard
of an hotel, which question his Highness did not answer, but called a
subordinate to answer for him. I had been talking some time with a tall,
good-looking gentleman, whom I took for a nobleman to whom I had been
introduced. Something led me to think I was mistaken in the identity of
this gentleman. I asked him, at last, if he were not So and So. "No," he
said, "I am Prince Christian." You are a Christian prince, anyhow, I
said to myself, if I may judge by your manners.

I once made a similar mistake in addressing a young fellow-citizen of
some social pretensions. I apologized for my error.

"No offence," he answered.

_Offence_ indeed! I should hope not. But he had not the "_maniere
de prince_", or he would never have used that word.

I must say something about the race I had taken so much pains to see.
There was a preliminary race, which excited comparatively little
interest. After this the horses were shown in the paddock, and many of
our privileged party went down from the stand to look at them. Then they
were brought out, smooth, shining, fine-drawn, frisky, spirit-stirring
to look upon,--most beautiful of all the bay horse Ormonde, who could
hardly be restrained, such was his eagerness for action. The horses
disappear in the distance.--They are off,--not yet distinguishable, at
least to me. A little waiting time, and they swim into our ken, but in
what order of precedence it is as yet not easy to say. Here they come!
Two horses have emerged from the ruck, and are sweeping, rushing,
storming, towards us, almost side by side. One slides by the other, half
a length, a length, a length and a half. Those are Archer's colors, and
the beautiful bay Ormonde flashes by the line, winner of the Derby of
1886. "The Bard" has made a good fight for the first place, and comes in
second. Poor Archer, the king of the jockeys! He will bestride no more
Derby winners. A few weeks later he died by his own hand.

While the race was going on, the yells of the betting crowd beneath us
were incessant. It must have been the frantic cries and movements of
these people that caused Gustave Dore to characterize it as a brutal
scene. The vast mob which thronged the wide space beyond the shouting
circle just round us was much like that of any other fair, so far as I
could see from my royal perch. The most conspicuous object was a man on
an immensely tall pair of stilts, stalking about among the crowd. I
think it probable that I had as much enjoyment in forming one of the
great mob in 1834 as I had among the grandeurs in 1886, but the last is
pleasanter to remember and especially to tell of.

After the race we had a luncheon served us, a comfortable and
substantial one, which was very far from unwelcome. I did not go to the
Derby to bet on the winner. But as I went in to luncheon, I passed a
gentleman standing in custody of a plate half covered with sovereigns.
He politely asked me if I would take a little paper from a heap there
was lying by the plate, and add a sovereign to the collection already
there. I did so, and, unfolding my paper, found it was a blank, and
passed on. The pool, as I afterwards learned, fell to the lot of the
Turkish Ambassador. I found it very windy and uncomfortable on the more
exposed parts of the grand stand, and was glad that I had taken a shawl
with me, in which I wrapped myself as if I had been on shipboard. This,
I told my English friends, was the more civilized form of the Indian's
blanket. My report of the weather does not say much for the English May,
but it is generally agreed upon that this is a backward and unpleasant

After my return from the race we went to a large dinner at Mr. Phelps's
house, where we met Mr. Browning again, and the Lord Chancellor
Herschell, among others. Then to Mrs. Cyril Flower's, one of the most
sumptuous houses in London; and after that to Lady Rothschild's, another
of the private palaces, with ceilings lofty as firmaments, and walls
that might have been copied from the New Jerusalem. There was still
another great and splendid reception at Lady Dalhousie's, and a party at
Mrs. Smith's, but we were both tired enough to be willing to go home
after what may be called a pretty good day's work at enjoying ourselves.

We had been a fortnight in London, and were now inextricably entangled
in the meshes of the golden web of London social life.


The reader who glances over these papers, and, finding them too full of
small details and the lesser personal matters which belong naturally to
private correspondences, turns impatiently from them, has my entire
sympathy and good-will. He is not one of those for whom these pages are
meant. Having no particular interest in the writer or his affairs, he
does not care for the history of "the migrations from the blue bed to
the brown" and the many Mistress Quicklyisms of circumstantial
narrative. Yet all this may be pleasant reading to relatives and

But I must not forget that a new generation of readers has come into
being since I have been writing for the public, and that a new
generation of aspiring and brilliant authors has grown into general
recognition. The dome of Boston State House, which is the centre of my
little universe, was glittering in its fresh golden pellicle before I
had reached the scriptural boundary of life. It has lost its lustre now,
and the years which have dulled its surface have whitened the dome of
that fragile structure in which my consciousness holds the session of
its faculties. Time is not to be cheated. It is easy to talk of
perennial youth, and to toy with the flattering fictions which every
ancient personage accepts as true so far as he himself is concerned, and
laughs at as foolish talk when he hears them applied to others. When, in
my exulting immaturity, I wrote the lines not unknown to the reading
public under the name of "The Last Leaf", I spoke of the possibility
that I myself might linger on the old bough until the buds and blossoms
of a new spring were opening and spreading all around me. I am not as
yet the solitary survivor of my literary contemporaries, and,
remembering who my few coevals are, it may well be hoped that I shall
not be. But I feel lonely, very lonely, in the pages through which I
wander. These are new names in the midst of which I find my own. In
another sense I am very far from alone. I have daily assurances that I
have a constituency of known and unknown personal friends, whose
indulgence I have no need of asking. I know there are readers enough who
will be pleased to follow me in my brief excursion, _because I am
myself_, and will demand no better reason. If I choose to write for
them, I do no injury to those for whom my personality is an object of
indifference. They will find on every shelf some publications which are
not intended for them, and which they prefer to let alone. No person is
expected to help himself to everything set before him at a public table.
I will not, therefore, hesitate to go on with the simple story of our
Old World experiences.

Thanks to my Indian blanket,--my shawl, I mean,--I found myself nothing
the worse for my manifold adventures of the 27th of May. The cold wind
sweeping over Epsom downs reminded me of our own chilling easterly
breezes; especially the northeasterly ones, which are to me less
disagreeable than the southeasterly. But the poetical illusion about an
English May,--

"Zephyr with Aurora playing,
As he met her once a-Maying,"--

and all that, received a shrewd thrust. Zephyr ought to have come in an
ulster, and offered Aurora a warm petticoat. However, in spite of all
difficulties, I brought off my recollections of the Derby of 1886 in
triumph, and am now waiting for the colored portrait of Ormonde with
Archer on his back,--Archer, the winner of five Derby races, one of
which was won by the American horse Iroquois. When that picture, which I
am daily expecting, arrives, I shall have it framed and hung by the side
of Herring's picture of Plenipotentiary, the horse I saw win the Derby
in 1834. These two, with an old portrait of the great Eclipse, who, as
my engraving of 1780 (Stubbs's) says, "was never beat, or ever had
occation for Whip or Spur," will constitute my entire sporting gallery.
I have not that vicious and demoralizing love of horse-flesh which makes
it next to impossible to find a perfectly honest hippophile. But a racer
is the realization of an ideal quadruped,--

"A pard-like spirit, beautiful and swift;"

so ethereal, so bird-like, that it is no wonder that the horse about
whom those old story-tellers lied so stoutly,--telling of his running a
mile in a minute,--was called Flying Childers.

The roses in Mrs. Pfeiffer's garden were hardly out of flower when I
lunched with her at her pretty villa at Putney. There I met Mr.
Browning, Mr. Holman Hunt, Mrs. Ritchie, Miss Anna Swanwick, the
translator of Aschylus, and other good company, besides that of my

One of my very agreeable experiences was a call from a gentleman with
whom I had corresponded, but whom I had never met. This was Mr. John
Bellows, of Gloucester, publisher, printer, man of letters, or rather of
words; for he is the author of that truly remarkable little manual, "The
Bona Fide Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages." To the
review of this little book, which is dedicated to Prince Lucien
Bonaparte, the "London Times" devoted a full column. I never heard any
one who had used it speak of it except with admiration. The modest
Friend may be surprised to find himself at full length in my pages, but
those who know the little miracle of typography, its conciseness,
completeness, arrangement, will not wonder that I was gratified to see
the author, who sent it to me, and who has written me most interesting
letters on the local antiquities of Gloucester and its neighborhood.

We lunched that day at Lady Camperdown's, where we were happy to meet
Miss Frances Power Cobbe. In the afternoon we went by invitation to a
"tea and talk" at the Reverend Mr. Haweis's, at Chelsea. We found the
house close packed, but managed to get through the rooms, shaking
innumerable hands of the reverend gentleman's parishioners and other
visitors. It was very well arranged, so as not to be too fatiguing, and
we left the cordial gathering in good condition. We drove home with
Bishop and Mrs. Ellicott.

After this Sir James Paget called, and took me to a small and early
dinner-party; and A---- went with my secretary, the young lady of whom I
have spoken, to see "Human Nature," at Drury Lane Theatre.

On the following day, after dining with Lady Holland (wife of Sir Henry,
niece of Macaulay), we went across the street to our neighbor's, Lady
Stanley's. There was to be a great meeting of schoolmistresses, in whose
work her son, the Honorable Lyulph Stanley, is deeply interested. Alas!
The schoolma'ams were just leaving as we entered the door, and all we
saw of them was the trail of their descending robes. I was very sorry
for this, for I have a good many friends among our own schoolmistresses,
--friends whom I never saw, but know through the kind words they have
addressed to me.

No place in London looks more reserved and exclusive than Devonshire
House, standing back behind its high wall, extending along Piccadilly.
There is certainly nothing in its exterior which invites intrusion. We
had the pleasure of taking tea in the great house, accompanying our
American friend, Lady Harcourt, and were graciously received and
entertained by Lady Edward Cavendish. Like the other great houses, it is
a museum of paintings, statues, objects of interest of all sorts. It
must be confessed that it is pleasanter to go through the rooms with one
of the ladies of the household than under the lead of a liveried
servant. Lord Hartington came in while we were there. All the men who
are distinguished in political life become so familiar to the readers of
"Punch" in their caricatures, that we know them at sight. Even those who
can claim no such public distinction are occasionally the subjects of
the caricaturist, as some of us have found out for ourselves. A good
caricature, which seizes the prominent features and gives them the
character Nature hinted, but did not fully carry out, is a work of
genius. Nature herself is a remorseless caricaturist, as our daily
intercourse with our fellow men and women makes evident to us, and as is
curiously illustrated in the figures of Charles Lebrun, showing the
relations between certain human faces and those of various animals.
Hardly an English statesman in bodily presence could be mistaken by any
of "Punch's" readers.

On the same day that we made this quiet visit we attended a great and
ceremonious assembly. There were two parts in the programme, in the
first of which I was on the stage _solus_,--that is, without my
companion; in the second we were together. This day, Saturday, the 29th
of May, was observed as the Queen's birthday, although she was born on
the 24th. Sir William Harcourt gave a great dinner to the officials of
his department, and later in the evening Lady Rosebery held a reception
at the Foreign Office. On both these occasions everybody is expected to
be in court dress, but my host told me I might present myself in
ordinary evening dress. I thought that I might feel awkwardly among so
many guests, all in the wedding garments, knee-breeches and the rest,
without which I ventured among them. I never passed an easier evening in
any company than among these official personages. Sir William took me
under the shield of his ample presence, and answered all my questions
about the various notable personages at his table in a way to have made
my fortune if I had been a reporter. From the dinner I went to Mrs.
Gladstone's, at 10 Downing Street, where A---- called for me. She had
found a very small and distinguished company there, Prince Albert Victor
among the rest. At half past eleven we walked over to the Foreign Office
to Lady Rosebery's reception.

Here Mr. Gladstone was of course the centre of a group, to which I was
glad to add myself. His features are almost as familiar to me as my own,
for a photograph of him in his library has long stood on my revolving
bookcase, with a large lens before it. He is one of a small circle of
individuals in whom I have had and still have a special personal
interest. The year 1809, which introduced me to atmospheric existence,
was the birth-year of Gladstone, Tennyson, Lord Houghton, and Darwin. It
seems like an honor to have come into the world in such company, but it
is more likely to promote humility than vanity in a common mortal to
find himself coeval with such illustrious personages. Men born in the
same year watch each other, especially as the sands of life begin to run
low, as we can imagine so many damaged hour-glasses to keep an eye on
each other. Women, of course, never know who are their contemporaries.

Familiar to me as were the features of Mr. Gladstone, I looked upon him
with astonishment. For he stood before me with epaulets on his shoulders
and a rapier at his side, as military in his aspect as if he had been
Lord Wolseley, to whom I was introduced a short time afterwards. I was
fortunate enough to see and hear Mr. Gladstone on a still more memorable
occasion, and can afford to leave saying what were my impressions of the
very eminent statesman until I speak of that occasion.

A great number of invitations had been given out for the reception at
Lady Rosebery's,--over two thousand, my companion heard it said.
Whatever the number was, the crowd was very great,--so great that one
might well feel alarmed for the safety of any delicate person who was in
the _pack_ which formed itself at one place in the course of the
evening. Some obstruction must have existed _a fronte_, and the
_vis a tergo_ became fearful in its pressure on those who were
caught in the jam. I began thinking of the crushes in which I had been
caught, or which I had read and heard of: the terrible time at the
execution of Holloway and Haggerty, where some forty persons were
squeezed or trampled to death; the Brooklyn Theatre and other similar
tragedies; the crowd I was in at the unveiling of the statue on the
column of the Place Vendome, where I felt as one may suppose Giles Corey
did when, in his misery, he called for "more weight" to finish him. But
there was always a _deus ex machina_ for us when we were in
trouble. Looming up above the crowd was the smiling and encouraging
countenance of the ever active, always present, always helpful Mr.
Smalley. He cleared a breathing space before us. For a short time it was
really a formidable wedging together of people, and if a lady had
fainted in the press, she might have run a serious risk before she could
have been extricated. No more "marble halls" for us, if we had to
undergo the _peine forte et dure_ as the condition of our presence!
We were both glad to escape from this threatened asphyxia, and move
freely about the noble apartments. Lady Rosebery, who was kindness
itself, would have had us stay and sit down in comfort at the
supper-table, after the crowd had thinned, but we were tired with all we
had been through, and ordered our carriage. _Ordered our carriage!_

"I can call spirits from the vasty deep." ...
_But will they come when you do call for them?_"

The most formidable thing about a London party is getting away from it.
"C'est le _dernier_ pas qui coute." A crowd of anxious persons in
retreat is hanging about the windy door, and the breezy stairway, and
the airy hall.

A stentorian voice, hard as that of Rhadamanthus, exclaims,--

"Lady Vere de Vere's carriage stops the way!"

If my Lady Vere de Vere is not on hand, and that pretty quickly, off
goes her carriage, and the stern voice bawls again,--

"Mrs. Smith's carriage stops the way!"

Mrs. Smith's particular Smith may be worth his millions and live in his
marble palace; but if Mrs. Smith thinks her coachman is going to stand
with his horses at that door until she appears, she is mistaken, for she
is a minute late, and now the coach moves on, and Rhadamanthus calls

"Mrs. Brown's carriage stops the way!"

Half the lung fevers that carry off the great people are got waiting for
their carriages.

I know full well that many readers would be disappointed if I did not
mention some of the grand places and bring in some of the great names
that lend their lustre to London society. We were to go to a fine
musical party at Lady Rothschild's on the evening of the 30th of May. It
happened that the day was Sunday, and if we had been as punctilious as
some New England Sabbatarians, we might have felt compelled to decline
the tempting invitation. But the party was given by a daughter of
Abraham, and in every Hebrew household the true Sabbath was over. We
were content for that evening to shelter ourselves under the old

The party, or concert, was a very brilliant affair. Patti sang to us,
and a tenor, and a violinist played for us. How we two Americans came to
be in so favored a position I do not know; all I do know is that we were
shown to our places, and found them very agreeable ones. In the same row
of seats was the Prince of Wales, two chairs off from A----'s seat.
Directly in front of A---- was the Princess of Wales, "in ruby velvet,
with six rows of pearls encircling her throat, and two more strings
falling quite low;" and next her, in front of me, the startling presence
of Lady de Grey, formerly Lady Lonsdale, and before that Gladys Herbert.
On the other side of the Princess sat the Grand Duke Michael of Russia.

As we are among the grandest of the grandees, I must enliven my sober
account with an extract from my companion's diary:--

"There were several great beauties there, Lady Claude Hamilton, a
queenly blonde, being one. Minnie Stevens Paget had with her the pretty
Miss Langdon, of New York. Royalty had one room for supper, with its
attendant lords and ladies. Lord Rothschild took me down to a long table
for a sit-down supper,--there were some thirty of us. The most superb
pink orchids were on the table. The [Thane] of ---- sat next me, and how
he stared before he was introduced! ... This has been the finest party
we have been to, sitting comfortably in such a beautiful ball-room,
gazing at royalty in the flesh, and at the shades of departed beauties
on the wall, by Sir Joshua and Gainsborough. It was a new experience to
find that the royal lions fed upstairs, and mixed animals below!"

A visit to Windsor had been planned, under the guidance of a friend
whose kindness had already shown itself in various forms, and who,
before we left England, did for us more than we could have thought of
owing to any one person. This gentleman, Mr. Willett, of Brighton,
called with Mrs. Willett to take us on the visit which had been arranged
between us.

Windsor Castle, which everybody knows, or can easily learn, all about,
is one of the largest of those huge caverns in which the descendants of
the original cave men, when they have reached the height of human
grandeur, delight to shelter themselves. It seems as if such a great
hollow quarry of rock would strike a chill through every tenant, but
modern improvements reach even the palaces of kings and queens, and the
regulation temperature of the castle, or of its inhabited portions, is
fixed at sixty-five degrees of Fahrenheit. The royal standard was not
floating from the tower of the castle, and everything was quiet and
lonely. We saw all we wanted to,--pictures, furniture, and the rest. My
namesake, the Queen's librarian, was not there to greet us, or I should
have had a pleasant half-hour in the library with that very polite
gentleman, whom I had afterwards the pleasure of meeting in London.

After going through all the apartments in the castle that we cared to
see, or our conductress cared to show us, we drove in the park, along
the "three-mile walk," and in the by-roads leading from it. The
beautiful avenue, the open spaces with scattered trees here and there,
made this a most delightful excursion. I saw many fine oaks, one about
sixteen feet of honest girth, but no one which was very remarkable. I
wished I could have compared the handsomest of them with one in Beverly,
which I never look at without taking my hat off. This is a young tree,
with a future before it, if barbarians do not meddle with it, more
conspicuous for its spread than its circumference, stretching not very
far from a hundred feet from bough-end to bough-end. I do not think I
saw a specimen of the British _Quercus robur_ of such consummate
beauty. But I know from Evelyn and Strutt what England has to boast of,
and I will not challenge the British oak.

Two sensations I had in Windsor park, or forest, for I am not quite sure
of the boundary which separates them. The first was the lovely sight of
the _hawthorn_ in full bloom. I had always thought of the hawthorn
as a pretty shrub, growing in hedges; as big as a currant bush or a
barberry bush, or some humble plant of that character. I was surprised
to see it as a tree, standing by itself, and making the most delicious
roof a pair of young lovers could imagine to sit under. It looked at a
little distance like a young apple-tree covered with new-fallen snow. I
shall never see the word hawthorn in poetry again without the image of
the snowy but far from chilling canopy rising before me. It is the very
bower of young love, and must have done more than any growth of the
forest to soften the doom brought upon man by the fruit of the forbidden
tree. No wonder that

"In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of

with the object of his affections awaiting him in this boudoir of
nature. What a pity that Zekle, who courted Huldy over the apples she
was peeling, could not have made love as the bucolic youth does, when

"Every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale!"

(I will have it _love_-tale, in spite of Warton's comment.) But
I suppose it does not make so much difference, for love transmutes the
fruit in Huldy's lap into the apples of the Hesperides.

In this way it is that the associations with the poetry we remember come
up when we find ourselves surrounded by English scenery. The great poets
build temples of song, and fill them with images and symbols which move
us almost to adoration; the lesser minstrels fill a panel or gild a
cornice here and there, and make our hearts glad with glimpses of
beauty. I felt all this as I looked around and saw the hawthorns in full
bloom, in the openings among the oaks and other trees of the forest.
Presently I heard a sound to which I had never listened before, and
which I have never heard since:--


Nature had sent one cuckoo from her aviary to sing his double note for
me, that I might not pass away from her pleasing show without once
hearing the call so dear to the poets. It was the last day of spring. A
few more days, and the solitary voice might have been often heard; for
the bird becomes so common as to furnish Shakespeare an image to fit
"the skipping king:"--

"He was but as the cuckoo is in June,
Heard, not regarded."

For the lyric poets the cuckoo is "companion of the spring," "darling of
the spring;" coming with the daisy, and the primrose, and the blossoming
sweet-pea. Where the sound came from I could not tell; it puzzled
Wordsworth, with younger eyes than mine, to find whence issued

"that cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky."

Only one hint of the prosaic troubled my emotional delight: I could not
help thinking how capitally the little rogue imitated the cuckoo clock,
with the sound of which I was pretty well acquainted.

On our return from Windsor we had to get ready for another great dinner
with our Minister, Mr. Phelps. As we are in the habit of considering our
great officials as public property, and as some of my readers want as
many glimpses of high life as a decent regard to republican
sensibilities will permit, I will borrow a few words from the diary to
which I have often referred:--

"The Princess Louise was there with the Marquis, and I had the best
opportunity of seeing how they receive royalty at private houses. Mr.
and Mrs. Phelps went down to the door to meet her the moment she came,
and then Mr. Phelps entered the drawing-room with the Princess on his
arm, and made the tour of the room with her, she bowing and speaking to
each one of us. Mr. Goschen took me in to dinner, and Lord Lorne was on
my other side. All of the flowers were of the royal color, red. It was a
grand dinner.... The Austrian Ambassador, Count Karoli, took Mrs. Phelps
in [to dinner], his position being higher than that of even the Duke [of
Argyll], who sat upon her right."

It was a very rich experience for a single day: the stately abode of
royalty, with all its manifold historical recollections, the magnificent
avenue of forest trees, the old oaks, the hawthorn in full bloom, and
the one cry of the cuckoo, calling me back to Nature in her spring-time
freshness and glory; then, after that, a great London dinner-party at a
house where the kind host and the gracious hostess made us feel at home,
and where we could meet the highest people in the land,--the people whom
we who live in a simpler way at home are naturally pleased to be with
under such auspices. What of all this shall I remember longest? Let me
not seem ungrateful to my friends who planned the excursion for us, or
to those who asked us to the brilliant evening entertainment, but I feel
as Wordsworth felt about the cuckoo,--he will survive all the other

"And I can listen to thee yet,
Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again."

Nothing is more hackneyed than an American's description of his feelings
in the midst of the scenes and objects he has read of all his days, and
is looking upon for the first time. To each of us it appears in some
respects in the same way, but with a difference for every individual. We
may smile at Irving's emotions at the first sight of a distinguished
Englishman on his own soil,--the ingenious Mr. Roscoe, as an earlier
generation would have called him. Our tourists, who are constantly going
forward and back between England and America, lose all sense of the
special distinctions between the two countries which do not bear on
their personal convenience. Happy are those who go with unworn,
unsatiated sensibilities from the New World to the Old; as happy, it may
be, those who come from the Old World to the New, but of that I cannot
form a judgment.

On the first day of June we called by appointment upon Mr. Peel, the
Speaker of the House of Commons, and went through the Houses of
Parliament. We began with the train-bearer, then met the housekeeper,
and presently were joined by Mr. Palgrave. The "Golden Treasury" stands
on my drawing-room table at home, and the name on its title-page had a
familiar sound. This gentleman is, I believe, a near relative of
Professor Francis Turner Palgrave, its editor.

Among other things to which Mr. Palgrave called our attention was the
death-warrant of Charles the First. One name in the list of signers
naturally fixed our eyes upon it. It was that of John Dixwell. A lineal
descendant of the old regicide is very near to me by family connection,
Colonel Dixwell having come to this country, married, and left a
posterity, which has resumed the name, dropped for the sake of safety at
the time when he, Goffe, and Whalley, were in concealment in various
parts of New England.

We lunched with the Speaker, and had the pleasure of the company of
Archdeacon Farrar. In the afternoon we went to a tea at a very grand
house, where, as my companion says in her diary, "it took full six men
in red satin knee-breeches to let us in." Another grand personage asked
us to dine with her at her country place, but we were too full of
engagements. In the evening we went to a large reception at Mr. Gosse's.
It was pleasant to meet artists and scholars,--the kind of company to
which we are much used in our aesthetic city. I found our host as
agreeable at home as he was when in Boston, where he became a favorite,
both as a lecturer and as a visitor.

Another day we visited Stafford House, where Lord Ronald Gower, himself
an artist, did the honors of the house, showing us the pictures and
sculptures, his own included, in a very obliging and agreeable way. I
have often taken note of the resemblances of living persons to the
portraits and statues of their remote ancestors. In showing us the
portrait of one of his own far-back progenitors, Lord Ronald placed a
photograph of himself in the corner of the frame. The likeness was so
close that the photograph might seem to have been copied from the
painting, the dress only being changed. The Duke of Sutherland, who had
just come back from America, complained that the dinners and lunches had
used him up. I was fast learning how to sympathize with him.

Then to Grosvenor House to see the pictures. I best remember
Gainsborough's beautiful Blue Boy, commonly so called, from the color of
his dress, and Sir Joshua's Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse, which
everybody knows in engravings. We lunched in clerical company that day,
at the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol's, with the Archbishop of York,
the Reverend Mr. Haweis, and others as guests. I told A---- that she was
not sufficiently impressed with her position at the side of an
archbishop; she was not _crumbling bread_ in her nervous
excitement. The company did not seem to remember Sydney Smith's remark
to the young lady next him at a dinner-party: "My dear, I see you are
nervous, by your crumbling your bread as you do. _I_ always crumble
bread when I sit by a bishop, and when I sit by an archbishop I crumble
bread with both hands." That evening I had the pleasure of dining with
the distinguished Mr. Bryce, whose acquaintance I made in our own
country, through my son, who has introduced me to many agreeable persons
of his own generation, with whose companionship I am glad to mend the
broken and merely fragmentary circle of old friendships.

The 3d of June was a memorable day for us, for on the evening of that
day we were to hold our reception. If Dean Bradley had proposed our
meeting our guests in the Jerusalem Chamber, I should hardly have been
more astonished. But these kind friends meant what they said, and put
the offer in such a shape that it was impossible to resist it. So we
sent out our cards to a few hundreds of persons,--those who we thought
might like invitations. I was particularly desirous that many members of
the medical profession whom I had not met, but who felt well disposed
towards me, should be at this gathering. The meeting was in every
respect a success. I wrote a prescription for as many baskets of
champagne as would be consistent with the well-being of our guests, and
such light accompaniments as a London company is wont to expect under
similar circumstances. My own recollections of the evening, unclouded by
its festivities, but confused by its multitudinous succession of
introductions, are about as definite as the Duke of Wellington's alleged
monosyllabic description of the battle of Waterloo. But A---- writes in
her diary: "From nine to twelve we stood, receiving over three hundred
people out of the four hundred and fifty we invited." As I did not go to
Europe to visit hospitals or museums, I might have missed seeing some of
those professional brethren whose names I hold in honor and whose
writings are in my library. If any such failed to receive our cards of
invitation, it was an accident which, if I had known, I should have
deeply regretted. So far as we could judge by all we heard, our
unpretentious party gave general satisfaction. Many different social
circles were represented, but it passed off easily and agreeably. I can
say this more freely, as the credit of it belongs so largely to the care
and self-sacrificing efforts of Dr. Priestley and his charming wife.

I never refused to write in the birthday book or the album of the
humblest schoolgirl or schoolboy, and I could not refuse to set my name,
with a verse from one of my poems, in the album of the Princess of
Wales, which was sent me for that purpose. It was a nice new book, with
only two or three names in it, and those of musical composers,--
Rubinstein's, I think, was one of them,--so that I felt honored by
the great lady's request. I ought to describe the book, but I only
remember that it was quite large and sumptuously elegant, and that
I copied into it the last verse of a poem of mine called "The Chambered
Nautilus," as I have often done for plain republican albums.

The day after our simple reception was notable for three social events
in which we had our part. The first was a lunch at the house of Mrs.
Cyril Flower, one of the finest in London,--Surrey House, as it is
called. Mr. Browning, who seems to go everywhere, and is one of the
vital elements of London society, was there as a matter of course. Miss
Cobbe, many of whose essays I have read with great satisfaction, though
I cannot accept all her views, was a guest whom I was very glad to meet
a second time.

In the afternoon we went to a garden-party given by the Princess Louise
at Kensington Palace, a gloomy-looking edifice, which might be taken
for a hospital or a poorhouse. Of all the festive occasions which I
attended, the garden-parties were to me the most formidable. They are
all very well for young people, and for those who do not mind the
nipping and eager air, with which, as I have said, the climate of
England, no less than that of America, falsifies all the fine things the
poets have said about May, and, I may add, even June. We wandered about
the grounds, spoke with the great people, stared at the odd ones, and
said to ourselves,--at least I said to myself,--with Hamlet,

"The air bites shrewdly, it is very cold."

[Illustration: Robert Browning.]

The most curious personages were some East Indians, a chocolate-colored
lady, her husband, and children. The mother had a diamond on the side of
her nose, its setting riveted on the inside, one might suppose; the
effect was peculiar, far from captivating. A---- said that she should
prefer the good old-fashioned nose-ring, as we find it described and
pictured by travellers. She saw a great deal more than I did, of course.
I quote from her diary: "The little Eastern children made their native
salaam to the Princess by prostrating themselves flat on their little
stomachs in front of her, putting their hands between her feet, pushing
them aside, and kissing the print of her feet!"

I really believe one or both of us would have run serious risks of
catching our "death o' cold," if we had waited for our own carriage,
which seemed forever in coming forward. The good Lady Holland, who was
more than once our guardian angel, brought us home in hers. So we got
warmed up at our own hearth, and were ready in due season for the large
and fine dinner-party at Archdeacon Farrar's, where, among other guests,
were Mrs. Phelps, our Minister's wife, who is a great favorite alike
with Americans and English, Sir John Millais, Mr. Tyndall, and other
interesting people.

I am sorry that we could not have visited Newstead Abbey. I had a letter
from Mr. Thornton Lothrop to Colonel Webb, the present proprietor, with
whom we lunched. I have spoken of the pleasure I had when I came
accidentally upon persons with whose name and fame I had long been
acquainted. A similar impression was that which I received when I found
myself in the company of the bearer of an old historic name. When my
host at the lunch introduced a stately-looking gentleman as Sir Kenelm
Digby, it gave me a start, as if a ghost had stood before me. I
recovered myself immediately, however, for there was nothing of the
impalpable or immaterial about the stalwart personage who bore the name.
I wanted to ask him if he carried any of his ancestor's "powder of
sympathy" about with him. Many, but not all, of my readers remember that
famous man's famous preparation. When used to cure a wound, it was
applied to the weapon that made it; the part was bound up so as to bring
the edges of the wound together, and by the wondrous influence of the
sympathetic powder the healing process took place in the kindest
possible manner. Sir Kenelm, the ancestor, was a gallant soldier, a
grand gentleman, and the husband of a wonderfully beautiful wife, whose
charms he tried to preserve from the ravages of time by various
experiments. He was also the homoeopathist of his day, the Elisha
Perkins (metallic tractors) of his generation. The "mind cure" people
might adopt him as one of their precursors.

I heard a curious statement which was illustrated in the person of one
of the gentlemen we met at this table. It is that English sporting men
are often deaf on one side, in consequence of the noise of the frequent
discharge of their guns affecting the right ear. This is a very
convenient infirmity for gentlemen who indulge in slightly aggressive
remarks, but when they are hit back never seem to be conscious at all of
the _riposte_,--the return thrust of the fencer.

Dr. Allchin called and took me to a dinner, where I met many
professional brothers, and enjoyed myself highly.

By this time every day was pledged for one or more engagements, so that
many very attractive invitations had to be declined. I will not follow
the days one by one, but content myself with mentioning some of the more
memorable visits. I had been invited to the Rabelais Club, as I have
before mentioned, by a cable message. This is a club of which the late
Lord Houghton was president, and of which I am a member, as are several
other Americans. I was afraid that the gentlemen who met,

"To laugh and shake in Rabelais's easy chair,"

might be more hilarious and demonstrative in their mirth than I, a sober
New Englander in the superfluous decade, might find myself equal to. But
there was no uproarious jollity; on the contrary, it was a pleasant
gathering of literary people and artists, who took their pleasure not
sadly, but serenely, and I do not remember a single explosive guffaw.

Another day, after going all over Dudley House, including Lady Dudley's
boudoir, "in light blue satin, the prettiest room we have seen," A----
says, we went, by appointment, to Westminster Abbey, where we spent two
hours under the guidance of Archdeacon Farrar. I think no part of the
Abbey is visited with so much interest as Poets' Corner. We are all
familiarly acquainted with it beforehand. We are all ready for "O rare
Ben Jonson!" as we stand over the place where he was planted standing
upright, as if he had been dropped into a post-hole. We remember too
well the foolish and flippant mockery of Gay's "Life is a Jest." If I
were dean of the cathedral, I should be tempted to alter the _J_ to
a _G_. Then we could read it without contempt; for life _is_ a
gest, an achievement,--or always ought to be. Westminster Abbey is too
crowded with monuments to the illustrious dead and those who have been
considered so in their day to produce any other than a confused
impression. When we visit the tomb of Napoleon at the Invalides, no
side-lights interfere with the view before us in the field of mental
vision. We see the Emperor; Marengo, Austerlitz, Waterloo, Saint Helena,
come before us, with him as their central figure. So at Stratford,--the
Cloptons and the John a Combes, with all their memorials, cannot make us
lift our eyes from the stone which covers the dust that once breathed
and walked the streets of Stratford as Shakespeare.

Ah, but here is one marble countenance that I know full well, and knew
for many a year in the flesh! Is there an American who sees the bust of
Longfellow among the effigies of the great authors of England without
feeling a thrill of pleasure at recognizing the features of his native
fellow-countryman in the Valhalla of his ancestral fellow-countrymen?
There are many memorials in Poets' Corner and elsewhere in the Abbey
which could be better spared than that. Too many that were placed there
as luminaries have become conspicuous by their obscurity in the midst of
that illustrious company. On the whole, the Abbey produces a distinct
sense of being overcrowded. It appears too much like a lapidary's
store-room. Look up at the lofty roof, which we willingly pardon for
shutting out the heaven above us,--at least in an average London day;
look down at the floor and think of what precious relics it covers; but
do not look around you with the hope of getting any clear, concentrated,
satisfying effect from this great museum of gigantic funereal bricabrac.
Pardon me, shades of the mighty dead! I had something of this feeling,
but at another hour I might perhaps be overcome by emotion, and weep, as
my fellow-countryman did at the grave of the earliest of his ancestors.
I should love myself better in that aspect than I do in this coldblooded
criticism; but it suggested itself, and as no flattery can soothe, so no
censure can wound, "the dull, cold ear of death."

Of course we saw all the sights of the Abbey in a hurried way, yet with
such a guide and expositor as Archdeacon Farrar our two hours' visit was
worth a whole day with an undiscriminating verger, who recites his
lesson by rote, and takes the life out of the little mob that follows
him round by emphasizing the details of his lesson, until "Patience on a
monument" seems to the sufferer, who knows what he wants and what he
does not want, the nearest emblem of himself he can think of. Amidst all
the imposing recollections of the ancient edifice, one impressed me in
the inverse ratio of its importance. The Archdeacon pointed out the
little holes in the stones, in one place, where the boys of the choir
used to play marbles, before America was discovered, probably,--
centuries before, it may be. It is a strangely impressive glimpse
of a living past, like the _graffiti_ of Pompeii. I find it
is often the accident rather than the essential which fixes my attention
and takes hold of my memory. This is a tendency of which I suppose I
ought to be ashamed, if we have any right to be ashamed of those
idiosyncrasies which are ordered for us. It is the same tendency which
often leads us to prefer the picturesque to the beautiful. Mr. Gilpin
liked the donkey in a forest landscape better than the horse. A touch of
imperfection interferes with the beauty of an object and lowers its
level to that of the picturesque. The accident of the holes in the stone
of the noble building, for the boys to play marbles with, makes me a boy
again and at home with them, after looking with awe upon the statue of
Newton, and turning with a shudder from the ghastly monument of Mrs.

What a life must be that of one whose years are passed chiefly in and
about the great Abbey! Nowhere does Macbeth's expression "dusty death"
seem so true to all around us. The dust of those who have been lying
century after century below the marbles piled over them,--the dust on
the monuments they lie beneath; the dust on the memories those monuments
were raised to keep living in the recollection of posterity,--dust,
dust, dust, everywhere, and we ourselves but shapes of breathing dust
moving amidst these objects and remembrances! Come away! The good
Archdeacon of the "Eternal Hope" has asked us to take a cup of tea with
him. The tea-cup will be a cheerful substitute for the funeral urn, and
a freshly made infusion of the fragrant leaf is one of the best things
in the world to lay the dust of sad reflections.

It is a somewhat fatiguing pleasure to go through the Abbey, in spite of
the intense interest no one can help feeling. But my day had but just
begun when the two hours we had devoted to the visit were over. At a
quarter before eight, my friend Mr. Frederick Locker called for me to go
to a dinner at the Literary Club. I was particularly pleased to dine
with this association, as it reminded me of our own Saturday Club, which
sometimes goes by the same name as the London one. They complimented me
with a toast, and I made some kind of a reply. As I never went prepared
with a speech for any such occasion, I take it for granted that I
thanked the company in a way that showed my gratitude rather than my
eloquence. And now, the dinner being over, my day was fairly begun.

This was to be a memorable date in the record of the year, one long to
be remembered in the political history of Great Britain. For on this
day, the 7th of June, Mr. Gladstone was to make his great speech on the
Irish question, and the division of the House on the Government of
Ireland Bill was to take place. The whole country, to the corners of its
remotest colony, was looking forward to the results of this evening's
meeting of Parliament. The kindness of the Speaker had furnished me with
a ticket, entitling me to a place among the "distinguished guests,"
which I presented without modestly questioning my right to the title.

The pressure for entrance that evening was very great, and I, coming
after my dinner with the Literary Club, was late upon the ground. The
places for "distinguished guests" were already filled. But all England
was in a conspiracy to do everything possible to make my visit
agreeable. I did not take up a great deal of room,--I might be put into
a seat with the ambassadors and foreign ministers. And among them I was
presently installed. It was now between ten and eleven o'clock, as
nearly as I recollect. The House had been in session since four o'clock.
A gentleman was speaking, who was, as my unknown next neighbor told me,
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, a leading member, as we all know, of the
opposition. When he sat down there was a hush of expectation, and
presently Mr. Gladstone rose to his feet. A great burst of applause
welcomed him, lasting more than a minute. His clean-cut features, his
furrowed cheeks, his scanty and whitened hair, his well-shaped but not
extraordinary head, all familiarized by innumerable portraits and
emphasized in hundreds of caricatures, revealed him at once to every
spectator. His great speech has been universally read, and I need only
speak of the way in which it was delivered. His manner was forcible
rather than impassioned or eloquent; his voice was clear enough, but
must have troubled him somewhat, for he had a small bottle from which he
poured something into a glass from time to time and swallowed a little,
yet I heard him very well for the most part. In the last portion of his
speech he became animated and inspiriting, and his closing words were
uttered with an impressive solemnity: "Think, I beseech you, think well,
think wisely, think not for a moment, but for the years that are to
come, before you reject this bill."

After the burst of applause which followed the conclusion of Mr.
Gladstone's speech, the House proceeded to the division on the question
of passing the bill to a second reading. While the counting of the votes
was going on there was the most intense excitement. A rumor ran round
the House at one moment that the vote was going in favor of the second
reading. It soon became evident that this was not the case, and
presently the result was announced, giving a majority of thirty against
the bill, and practically overthrowing the liberal administration. Then
arose a tumult of applause from the conservatives and a wild confusion,
in the midst of which an Irish member shouted, "Three cheers for the
Grand Old Man!" which were lustily given, with waving of hats and all
but Donnybrook manifestations of enthusiasm.

I forgot to mention that I had a very advantageous seat among the
diplomatic gentlemen, and was felicitating myself on occupying one of
the best positions in the House, when an usher politely informed me that
the Russian Ambassador, in whose place I was sitting, had arrived, and
that I must submit to the fate of eviction. Fortunately, there were some
steps close by, on one of which I found a seat almost as good as the one
I had just left.

It was now two o'clock in the morning, and I had to walk home, not a
vehicle being attainable. I did not know my way to my headquarters, and
I had no friend to go with me, but I fastened on a stray gentleman, who
proved to be an ex-member of the House, and who accompanied me to 17
Dover Street, where I sought my bed with a satisfying sense of having
done a good day's work and having been well paid for it.


On the 8th of June we visited the Record Office for a sight of the
Domesday Book and other ancient objects of interest there preserved. As
I looked at this too faithful memorial of an inexorable past, I thought
of the battle of Hastings and all its consequences, and that reminded me
of what I have long remembered as I read it in Dr. Robert Knox's "Races
of Men." Dr. Knox was the monoculous Waterloo surgeon, with whom I
remember breakfasting, on my first visit to England and Scotland. His
celebrity is less owing to his book than to the unfortunate connection
of his name with the unforgotten Burke and Hare horrors. This is his
language in speaking of Hastings: "... that bloody field, surpassing far
in its terrible results the unhappy day of Waterloo. From this the Celt
has recovered, but not so the Saxon. To this day he feels, and feels
deeply, the most disastrous day that ever befell his race; here he was
trodden down by the Norman, whose iron heel is on him yet.... To this
day the Saxon race in England have never recovered a tithe of their
rights, and probably never will."

The Conqueror meant to have a thorough summing up of his stolen
property. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says,--I quote it at second
hand,--"So very straitly did he cause the survey to be made, that there
was not a single hyde, nor a yardland of ground, nor--it is shameful to
say what he thought no shame to do--was there an ox or a cow, or a pig
passed by, and that was not down in the accounts, and then all these
writings were brought to him." The "looting" of England by William and
his "twenty thousand thieves," as Mr. Emerson calls his army, was a
singularly methodical proceeding, and Domesday Book is a searching
inventory of their booty, movable and immovable.

From this reminder of the past we turned to the remembrances of home;
A---- going to dine with a transplanted Boston friend and other ladies
from that blessed centre of New England life, while I dined with a party
of gentlemen at my friend Mr. James Russell Lowell's.

I had looked forward to this meeting with high expectations, and they
were abundantly satisfied. I knew that Mr. Lowell must gather about him,
wherever he might be, the choicest company, but what his selection would
be I was curious to learn. I found with me at the table my own
countrymen and his, Mr. Smalley and Mr. Henry James. Of the other
guests, Mr. Leslie Stephen was my only old acquaintance in person; but
Du Maurier and Tenniel I have met in my weekly "Punch" for many a year;
Mr. Lang, Mr. Oliphant, Mr. Townsend, we all know through their
writings; Mr. Burne-Jones and Mr. Alma Tadema, through the frequent
reproductions of their works in engravings, as well as by their
paintings. If I could report a dinner-table conversation, I might be
tempted to say something of my talk with Mr. Oliphant. I like well
enough conversation which floats safely over the shallows, touching
bottom at intervals with a commonplace incident or truism to push it
along; I like better to find a few fathoms of depth under the surface;
there is a still higher pleasure in the philosophical discourse which
calls for the deep sea line to reach bottom; but best of all, when one
is in the right mood, is the contact of intelligences when they are off
soundings in the ocean of thought. Mr. Oliphant is what many of us call
a mystic, and I found a singular pleasure in listening to him. This
dinner at Mr. Lowell's was a very remarkable one for the men it brought
together, and I remember it with peculiar interest. My entertainer holds
a master-key to London society, and he opened the gate for me into one
of its choicest preserves on that evening.

I did not undertake to renew my old acquaintance with hospitals and
museums. I regretted that I could not be with my companion, who went
through the Natural History Museum with the accomplished director,
Professor W. H. Flower. One old acquaintance I did resuscitate. For the
second time I took the hand of Charles O'Byrne, the celebrated Irish
giant of the last century. I met him, as in my first visit, at the Royal
College of Surgeons, where I accompanied Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson. He was
in the condition so longed for by Sydney Smith on a very hot day;
namely, with his flesh taken off, and sitting, or rather standing, in
his bones. The skeleton measures eight feet, and the living man's height
is stated as having been eight feet two, or four inches, by different
authorities. His hand was the only one I took, either in England or
Scotland, which had not a warm grasp and a hearty welcome in it.

A---- went with Boston friends to see "Faust" a second time, Mr. Irving
having offered her the Royal box, and the polite Mr. Bram Stoker serving
the party with tea in the little drawing-room behind the box; so that
she had a good time while I was enjoying myself at a dinner at Sir Henry
Thompson's, where I met Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Browning, and other
distinguished gentlemen. These dinners of Sir Henry's are well known for
the good company one meets at them, and I felt myself honored to be a
guest on this occasion.

Among the pleasures I had promised myself was that of a visit to
Tennyson, at the Isle of Wight. I feared, however, that this would be
rendered impracticable by reason of the very recent death of his younger
son, Lionel. But I learned from Mr. Locker-Lampson, whose daughter Mr.
Lionel Tennyson had married, that the poet would be pleased to see me at
his place, Farringford; and by the kind intervention of Mr.
Locker-Lampson, better known to the literary world as Frederick Locker,
arrangements were made for my daughter and myself to visit him. I
considered it a very great favor, for Lord Tennyson has a poet's
fondness for the tranquillity of seclusion, which many curious explorers
of society fail to remember. Lady Tennyson is an invalid, and though
nothing could be more gracious than her reception of us both, I fear it
may have cost her an effort which she would not allow to betray itself.
Mr. Hallam Tennyson and his wife, both of most pleasing presence and
manners, did everything to make our stay agreeable. I saw the poet to
the best advantage, under his own trees and walking over his own domain.
He took delight in pointing out to me the finest and the rarest of his
trees,--and there were many beauties among them. I recalled my morning's
visit to Whittier at Oak Knoll, in Danvers, a little more than a year
ago, when he led me to one of his favorites, an aspiring evergreen which
shot up like a flame. I thought of the graceful American elms in front
of Longfellow's house and the sturdy English elms that stand in front of
Lowell's. In this garden of England, the Isle of Wight, where everything
grows with such a lavish extravagance of greenness that it seems as if
it must bankrupt the soil before autumn, I felt as if weary eyes and
overtasked brains might reach their happiest haven of rest. We all
remember Shenstone's epigram on the pane of a tavern window. If we find
our "warmest welcome at an inn," we find our most soothing companionship
in the trees among which we have lived, some of which we may ourselves
have planted. We lean against them, and they never betray our trust;
they shield us from the sun and from the rain; their spring welcome is a
new birth, which never loses its freshness; they lay their beautiful
robes at our feet in autumn; in winter they "stand and wait," emblems of
patience and of truth, for they hide nothing, not even the little
leaf-buds which hint to us of hope, the last element in their triple

This digression, suggested by the remembrance of the poet under his
trees, breaks my narrative, but gives me the opportunity of paying a
debt of gratitude. For I have owned many beautiful trees, and loved many
more outside of my own leafy harem. Those who write verses have no
special claim to be lovers of trees, but so far as one is of the
poetical temperament he is likely to be a tree-lover. Poets have, as a
rule, more than the average nervous sensibility and irritability. Trees
have no nerves. They live and die without suffering, without
self-questioning or self-reproach. They have the divine gift of silence.
They cannot obtrude upon the solitary moments when one is to himself the

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