Part 3 out of 7
are to be drained and supplied with water. This has gone into
operation in about one hundred and sixty populous places with the most
In fine, Lord Shaftesbury says, "The best proof that the people are
cared for, and that they know it, appeared in the year 1848. All
Europe was convulsed. Kings were falling like rotten pears. We were as
quiet and happy in England as the President of the United States in
his drawing room."
It is true, that all these efforts united could not radically relieve
the distress of the working classes, were it not for the outlet
furnished by emigration. But Australia has opened as M new world of
hope upon England. And confirmatory of all other movements for the
good of the working classes, come the benevolent efforts of Mrs.
Chisholm and the colonizing society formed under her auspices.
I will say, finally, that the aspect of the religious mind of England,
as I have been called to meet it, is very encouraging in this respect;
that it is humble, active, and practical. With all that has been done,
they do not count themselves to have attained, or to be already
perfect; and they evidently think and speak more of the work that yet
remains to be done than of victories already achieved. Could you, my
dear father, have been with me through the different religious circles
it has been my privilege to enter, from the humble cotter's fireside
to the palace of the highest and noblest, your heart would share with
mine a sincere joy in the thought that the Lord "has much people" in
England. Called by different names, Churchman, Puseyite, Dissenter,
Presbyterian, Independent, Quaker, differing widely, sincerely,
earnestly, I have still found among them all evidence of that true
piety which consists in a humble and childlike spirit of obedience to
God, and a sincere desire to do good to man. It is comforting and
encouraging to know, that while there are many sects and opinions,
there is, after all, but one Christianity. I sometimes think that it
has been my peculiar lot to see the exhibition of more piety and
loveliness of spirit in the differing sects and ranks in England than
they can see in each other. And it lays in my mind a deep foundation
of hope for that noble country. My belief is, that a regenerating
process is going on in England; a gradual advance in religion, of
which contending parties themselves are not aware. Under various forms
all are energizing together, I trust, under the guidance of a superior
spirit, who is gently moderating acerbities, removing prejudices,
inclining to conciliation and harmony, and preparing England to
develop, from many outward forms, the one, pure, beautiful, invisible
church of Christ.
LONDON, June 3.
MY DEAR HUSBAND:--
According to request I will endeavor to keep you informed of all our
goings on after you left, up to the time of our departure for Paris.
We have borne in mind your advice to hasten away to the continent. C.
wrote, a day or two since, to Mrs. C. at Paris, to secure very private
lodgings, and by no means let any one know that we were coming. She
has replied, urging us to come to her house, and promising entire
seclusion and rest. So, since you departed, we have been passing with
a kind of comprehensive skip and jump over remaining engagements. And
first, the evening after you left, came off the presentation of the
inkstand by the ladies of Surrey Chapel.
Our kind Mr. Sherman showed great taste as well as energy in the
arrangements. The lecture room of the chapel was prettily adorned with
flowers. Lord Shaftesbury was in the chair, and the Duchess of Argyle
and the Marquis of Stafford were there. Miss Greenfield sang some
songs, and there were speeches in which each speaker said all the
obliging things he could think of to the rest. Rev. Mr. Binney
complimented the nobility, and Lord Shaftesbury complimented the
people, and all were but too kind in what they said to me--in fact,
there was general good humor in the whole scene.
The inkstand is a beautiful specimen of silverwork. It is eighteen
inches long, with a group of silver figures on it, representing
Religion with the Bible in her hand, giving liberty to the slave. The
slave is a masterly piece of work. He stands with his hands clasped,
looking up to heaven, while a white man is knocking the shackles from
his feet. But the prettiest part of the scene was the presentation of
a _gold pen_, by a band of beautiful children, one of whom made a
very pretty speech. I called the little things to come and stand
around me, and talked with them a few minutes, and this was all the
speaking that fell to my share. Now this, really, was too kind of
these ladies, and of our brotherly friend Mr. S., and I was quite
touched with it; especially as I have been able myself to do so very
little, socially, for any body's pleasure. Mr. Sherman still has
continued to be as thoughtful and careful as a brother could be; and
his daughter, Mrs. B., I fear, has robbed her own family to give us
the additional pleasure of her society. We rode out with her one day
into the country, and saw her home and little family. Saturday morning
we breakfasted at Stafford House, I wish you could have been there.
All was as cool, and quiet, and still there, as in some retreat deep
in the country. We went first into the duchess's boudoir,--you
remember,--where is that beautiful crayon sketch of Lady Constance.
The duchess was dressed in pale blue. We talked with her some time,
before any one came in, about Miss Greenfield. I showed her a simple
note to her grace in which Miss G. tried to express her gratitude, and
which she had sent to me to _correct_ for her. The duchess said,
"0, give it me! it is a great deal better as it is. I like it just as
she wrote it."
People always like simplicity and truth better than finish. After
entering the breakfast room the Duke and Duchess of Argyle, and Lord
Carlisle appeared, and soon after Lord Shaftesbury. We breakfasted in
that beautiful green room which has the two statues, the Eve of
Thorwaldsen and the Venus of Canova. The view of the gardens and trees
from the window gave one a sense of seclusion and security, and made
me forget that we were in great, crowded London. A pleasant talk we
had. Among other things they proposed various inquiries respecting
affairs in America, particularly as to the difference between
Presbyterians and Congregationalists, the influence of the Assembly's
Catechism, and the peculiarities of the other religious denominations.
The Duke of Argyle, who is a Presbyterian, seemed to feel an interest
in those points. He said it indicated great power in the Assembly's
Catechism that it could hold such ascendency in such a free country.
In the course of the conversation it was asked if there was really
danger that the antislavery spirit of England would excite ill feeling
between the two countries.
I said, were it possible that America were always to tolerate and
defend slavery, this might be. But this would be self-destruction. It
cannot, must not, will not be. We shall struggle, and shall overcome;
and when the victory has been gained we shall love England all the
more for her noble stand in the conflict. As I said this I happened to
turn to the duchess, and her beautiful face was lighted with such a
strong, inspired, noble expression, as set its seal at once in my
Lord Carlisle is going to Constantinople to-morrow, or next day, to be
gone perhaps a year. The eastern question is much talked of now, and
the chances of war between Russia and Turkey.
Lord Shaftesbury is now all-engaged upon the _fête_ of the seven
thousand charity children, which is to come off at St. Paul's next
The Duchesses of Sutherland and Argyle were to have attended, but the
queen has just come to town, and the first drawing room will be held
on Thursday, so that they will be unable. His lordship had previously
invited me, and this morning renewed the invitation. Our time to leave
London is fixed for Friday; but, as I am told, there is no sight more
peculiar and beautiful than this _fête_, and I think I can manage
both to go there and be forward with my preparations.
In the afternoon of this day I went with Lord Shaftesbury over the
model lodging houses, which I have described very particularly in a
letter to Mr. C. L. B.
On Thursday, at five P. M., we drove to Stafford House, to go with her
grace to the House of Parliament. What a magnificent building! I say
so, in contempt of all criticism. I hear that all sorts of things are
said against it. For my part, I consider that no place is so utterly
hopeless as that of a modern architect intrusted with a great public
building. It is not his fault that he is modern, but his misfortune.
Things which in old buildings are sanctioned by time he may not
attempt; and if he strikes out _new_ things, that is still worse.
He is fair game for every body's criticism. He builds too high for
one, too low for another; is too ornate for this, too plain for that;
he sacrifices utility to aesthetics, or aesthetics to utility, and
somebody is displeased either way. The duchess has been a sympathizing
friend of the architect through this arduous ordeal. She took pleasure
and pride in his work, and showed it to me as something in which she
felt an almost personal interest.
For my part, I freely confess that, viewed as a national monument, it
seems to me a grand one. What a splendid historic corridor is old
Westminster Hall, with its ancient oaken roof! I seemed to see all
that brilliant scene when Burke spoke there amid the nobility, wealth,
and fashion of all England, in the Warren Hastings trial. That speech
always makes me shudder. I think there never was any thing more
powerful than its conclusion. Then the corridor that is to be lined
with statues of the great men of England will be a noble affair. The
statue of Hampden is grand. Will they leave out Cromwell? There is
less need of a monument to him, it is true, than to most of them. We
went into the House of Lords. The Earl of Carlisle made a speech on
the Cuban question, in the course of which he alluded very gracefully
to a petition from certain ladies that England should enforce the
treaties for the prevention of the slave trade there; and spoke very
feelingly on the reasons why woman should manifest a particular
interest for the oppressed. The Duke of Argyle and the Bishop of
Oxford came over to the place where we were sitting. Her grace
intimated to the bishop a desire to hear from him on the question, and
in the course of a few moments after returning to his place, he arose
and spoke. He has a fine voice, and speaks very elegantly.
At last I saw Lord Aberdeen. He looks like some of our Presbyterian
elders; a plain, grave old man, with a bald head, and dressed in
black; by the by, I believe I have heard that he is an elder in the
National kirk; I am told he is a very good man. You don't know how
strangely and dreamily this House of Lords, as _seen_ to-day,
mixed itself up with my historic recollections of by-gone days. It had
a very sheltered, comfortable parlor-like air. The lords in their
cushioned seats seemed like men that had met, in a social way, to talk
over public affairs; it was not at all that roomy, vast, declamatory
national hall I had imagined.
Then we went into the House of Commons. There is a kind of latticed
gallery to which ladies are admitted--a charming little oriental
rookery. There we found the Duchess of Argyle and others. Lord
Carlisle afterwards joined us, and we went all over the house,
examining the frescoes, looking into closets, tea rooms, libraries,
smoking rooms, committee rooms, and all, till I was thoroughly
initiated. The terrace that skirts the Thames is magnificent. I
inquired if any but members might enjoy it. No; it was only for
statesmen; our short promenade there was, therefore, an act of grace.
On the whole, when this Parliament House shall have gathered the dust
of two hundred years,--when Victoria's reign is among the
myths,--future generations will then venerate this building as one of
the rare creations of old masters, and declare that no modern
structure can ever equal it.
The next day, at three o'clock, I went to Miss Greenfield's first
public morning concert, a bill of which I send you. She comes out
under the patronage of all the great names, you observe. Lady
Hatherton was there, and the Duchess of Sutherland, with all her
Miss Greenfield did very well, and was heard with indulgence, though
surrounded by artists who had enjoyed what she had not--a life's
training. I could not but think what a loss to art is the enslaving of
a race which might produce so much musical talent. Had she had culture
equal to her voice and ear, _no_ singer of any country could have
surpassed her. There could even be associations of poetry thrown
around the dusky hue of her brow were it associated with the triumphs
After concert, the Duchess of S. invited Lady H. and myself to
Stafford House. We took tea in the green library. Lady C. Campbell
was there, and her Grace of Argyle. After tea I saw the Duchess of S.
a little while alone in her boudoir, and took my leave then and there
of one as good and true-hearted as beautiful and noble.
The next day I lunched with Mrs. Malcolm, daughter-in-law of your
favorite traveller, Sir John Malcolm, of Persian memory. You should
have been there. The house is a cabinet of Persian curiosities. There
was the original of the picture of the King of Persia in Ker Porter's
Travels. It was given to Sir John by the monarch himself. There were
also two daggers which the king presented with his own hand. I think
Sir John must somehow have mesmerized him. Then Captain M. showed me
sketches of his father's country house in the Himalaya Mountains:
think of that! The Alps are commonplace; but a country seat in the
Himalaya Mountains is something worth speaking of. There were two
bricks from Babylon, and other curiosities innumerable.
Mrs. M. went with me to call on Lady Carlisle. She spoke much of the
beauty and worth of her character, and said that though educated in
the gayest circles of court, she had always preserved the same
unworldly purity. Mrs. M. has visited Dunrobin and seen the Sutherland
estates, and spoke much of the Duke's character as a landlord, and his
efforts for the improvement of his tenantry.
Lady Carlisle was very affectionate, and invited me to visit Castle
Howard on my return to England.
Thursday I went with Lord Shaftesbury to see the charity children.
What a sight! The whole central part of the cathedral was converted
into an amphitheatre, and the children with white caps, white
handkerchiefs, and white aprons, looked like a wide flower bed. The
rustling, when they all rose up to prayer, was like the rise of a
flock of doves, and when they chanted the church service, it was the
warble of a thousand little brooks. As Spenser says,--
"The angelical, soft, trembling voices made
Unto the instruments respondence meet."
During the course of the services, when any little one was overcome
with sleep or fatigue, he was carefully handed down, and conveyed in a
man's arms to a refreshment room.
There was a sermon by the Bishop of Chester, very evangelical and
practical. On the whole, a more peculiar or more lovely scene I never
saw. The elegant arches of St. Paul's could have no more beautiful
adornment than those immortal flowers.
After service we lunched with a large party, with Mrs. Milman, at the
deanery near by. Mrs. Jameson was there, and Mrs. Gaskell, authoress
of Mary Barton and Ruth. She has a very lovely, gentle face, and looks
capable of all the pathos that her writings show. I promised her a
visit when I go to Manchester. Thackeray was there with his fine
figure, and frank, cheerful bearing. He spoke in a noble and brotherly
way of America, and seemed to have highly enjoyed his visit in our
After this we made a farewell call at the lord mayor's. We found the
lady mayoress returned from the queen's drawing room. From her
accounts I should judge the ceremonial rather fatiguing. Mrs. M. asked
me yesterday if I had any curiosity to see one. I confessed I had not.
Merely to see public people in public places, in the way of parade and
ceremony, was never interesting to me. I have seen very little of
ceremony or show in England. Well, now, I have brought you down to
this time. I have omitted, however, that I went with Lady Hatherton to
call on Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, and was sorry to find him too unwell to
be able to see us. Mrs. Dickens, who was busy in attending him, also
excused herself, and we saw his sister.
To-morrow we go--go to quiet, to obscurity, to peace; to Paris--to
Switzerland: there we shall find the loneliest glen, and, as the Bible
says, "fall on sleep." For our adventures on the way, meanwhile, I
refer you to C.'s journal.
LONDON TO PARIS
June 4, 1853. Bade adieu with regret to dear Surrey parsonage, and
drove to the great south-western station house.
"Paris?" said an official at our cab door. "Paris, by Folkestone and
Boulogne," was our answer. And in a few moments, without any
inconvenience, we were off. Reached Folkestone at nine, and enjoyed a
smooth passage across the dreaded channel. The steward's bowls were
paraded in vain. At Boulogne came the long-feared and abhorred ordeal
of passports and police. It was nothing. We slipped through quite
easily. A narrow ladder, the quay, gens-d'armes, a hall, a crowd,
three whiskers, a glance at the passport, the unbuckling of a bundle,
_voila tout_. The moment we issued forth, however, upon the quay
again, there was a discharge of forty voices shouting in French. For a
moment, completely stunned, I forgot where we were, which way going,
and what we wanted. Up jumped a lively little _gamin_.
"_Monsieur veut aller à Pan's, n'est ce pas?_" "Going to Paris,
are you not, sir?"
"Is monsieur's baggage registered?"
"Does monsieur's wish to go to the station house?"
"Can one find any thing there to eat?"
"Yes, just as at a hotel."
We yielded at discretion, and _garçon_ took possession of us.
"English?" said _garçon_, as we enjoyed the pleasant walk on the
"No. American," we replied.
"Ah!" (his face brightening up, and speaking confidentially,) "you
have a republic there."
We gave the lad a franc, dined, and were off for Paris. The ride was
delightful. Cars seating eight; clean, soft-cushioned, _nice_.
The face of the country, though not striking, was pleasing. There were
many poplars, with their silvery shafts, and a mingling of trees of
various kinds. The foliage has an airy grace--a certain
_spirituelle_ expression--as if the trees knew they were growing
in _la belle France_, and must be refined. Then the air is so
different from the fog and smoke of London. There is more oxygen in
the atmosphere. A pall is lifted. We are led out into sunshine. Fields
are red with a scarlet white-edged poppy, or blue with a flower like
larkspur. Wheat fields half covered with this unthrifty beauty! But
alas! the elasticity is in Nature's works only. The works of man
breathe over us a dismal, sepulchral, stand-still feeling. The
villages have the nightmare, and men wear wooden shoes. The day's
ride, however, was memorable with novelty; and when we saw Mont
Martre, and its moth-like windmills, telling us we were coming to
Paris, it was almost with regret at the swiftness of the hours. We
left the cars, and flowed with the tide into the Salle d'Attente, to
wait till the baggage was sorted. Then came the famous ceremony of
unlocking. The officer took my carpet bag first, and poked his hand
down deep in one end.
"What is this?"
"That is my collar box."
"_Ah, ça_" And he put it back hastily, and felt of my travelling
gown. "What is this?"
"Only a wrapping gown."
"_Ah, ça_" After fumbling a little more, he took sister H.'s bag,
gave a dive here, a poke there, and a kind of promiscuous rake with
his five fingers, and turned to the trunk. There he seemed somewhat
dubious. Eying the fine silk and lace dresses,--first one, then the
other,--"Ah, ah!" said he, and snuffed a little. Then he peeped under
this corner, and cocked his eye under that corner; then, all at once,
plunged his arm down at one end of the trunk, and brought up a little
square box. "What's that?" said he. He unrolled and was about to open
it, when suddenly he seemed to be seized with an emotion of
confidence. "_Non, non_" said he, frankly, and rolled it up,
shoved it back, stuffed the things down, smoothed all over, signed my
ticket, and passed on. We locked up, gave the baggage to porters, and
called a fiacre. As we left the station two ladies met us.
"Is there any one here expecting to see Mrs. C.?" said one of them.
"Yes, madam," said I; "_we_ do."
"God bless you," said she, fervently, and seized me by the hand. It
was Mrs. C. and her sister. I gave He into their possession.
Our troubles were over. We were at home. We rode through streets whose
names were familiar, crossed the Carrousel, passed the Seine, and
stopped before an ancient mansion in the Hue de Verneuil, belonging to
M. le Marquis de Brige. This Faubourg St. Germain is the part of Paris
where the ancient nobility lived, and the houses exhibit marks of
former splendor. The marquis is one of those chivalrous legitimists
who uphold the claims of Henri VI. He lives in the country, and rents
this hotel. Mrs. C. occupies the suite of rooms on the lower floor. We
entered by a ponderous old gateway, opened by the _concierge_,
passed through a large paved quadrangle, traversed a short hall, and
found ourselves in a large, cheerful parlor, looking out into a small
flower garden. There was no carpet, but what is called here a parquet
floor, or mosaic of oak blocks, waxed and highly polished. The sofas
and chairs were covered with a light chintz, and the whole air of the
apartment shady and cool as a grotto. A jardinière filled with flowers
stood in the centre of the room, and around it a group of living
flowers--mother, sisters, and daughters--scarcely less beautiful. In
five minutes we were at home. French life is different from any other.
Elsewhere you do as the world pleases; here you do as you please
yourself. My spirits always rise when I get among the French.
Sabbath, June 5. Headache all the forenoon. In the afternoon we walked
to the Madeleine, and heard a sermon on charity; listened to the
chanting, and gazed at the fantastic ceremonial of the altar. I had
anticipated so much from Henry's description of the organs, that I was
disappointed. The music was fine; but our ideal had outstripped the
real. The strangest part of the performance was the censer swinging at
the altar. It was done in certain parts of the chant, with rhythmic
sweep, and glitter, and vapor wreath, that produced a striking effect.
There was an immense audience--quiet, orderly, and to all appearance
devout. This was the first Romish service I ever attended. It ought to
be impressive here, if any where. Yet I cannot say I was moved by it
Rome-ward. Indeed, I felt a kind of Puritan tremor of conscience at
witnessing such a theatrical pageant on the Sabbath. We soon saw,
however, as we walked home, across the gardens of the Tuileries, that
there is no Sabbath in Paris, according to our ideas of the day.
Monday, June 6. This day was consecrated to knick-knacks. Accompanied
by Mrs. C., whom years of residence have converted into a perfect
_Parisienne_, we visited shop after shop, and store after store.
The politeness of the shopkeepers is inexhaustible. I felt quite
ashamed to spend a half hour looking at every thing, and then depart
without buying; but the civil Frenchman bowed, and smiled, and thanked
us for coming.
In the evening, we rode to L'Arc de Triomphe d'Etoile, an immense pile
of massive masonry, from the top of which we enjoyed a brilliant
panorama. Paris was beneath us, from the Louvre to the Bois de
Boulogne, with its gardens, and moving myriads; its sports, and games,
and light-hearted mirth--a vast Vanity Fair, blazing in the sunlight.
A deep and strangely-blended impression of sadness and gayety sunk
into our hearts as we gazed. All is vivacity, gracefulness, and
sparkle, to the eye; but ah, what fires are smouldering below! Are not
all these vines rooted in the lava and ashes of the volcano side?
Tuesday, June 7. _A la Louvre_! But first the ladies must "shop"
a little. I sit by the counter and watch the pretty Parisian
_shopocracy_. A lady presides at the desk. Trim little grisettes
serve the customers so deftly, that we wonder why awkward men should
ever attempt to do such things. Nay, they are so civil, so evidently
disinterested and solicitous for your welfare, that to buy is the most
natural thing imaginable.
But to the Louvre! Provided with catalogues, I abandoned the ladies,
and strolled along to take a kind of cream-skimming look at the whole.
I was highly elated with one thing. There were three Madonnas with
dark hair and eyes: one by Murillo, another by Carracci, and another
by Guido. It showed that painters were not so utterly hopeless as a
class, and given over by common sense to blindness of mind, as I had
H. begins to recant her heresy in regard to Rubens. Here we find his
largest pieces. Here we find the real originals of several real
originals we saw in English galleries. It seems as though only upon a
picture as large as the side of a parlor could his exuberant genius
find scope fully to lay itself out.
When I met II. at last--after finishing the survey--her cheek was
flushed, and her eye seemed to swim. "Well, H.," said I, "have you
drank deep enough this time?"
"Yes," said she, "I have been _satisfied_, for the first time."
Wednesday, June 8. A day on foot in Paris. Surrendered H. to the care
of our fair hostess. Attempted to hire a boat, at one of the great
bathing establishments, for a pull on the Seine. Why not on the Seine,
as well as on the Thames? But the old Triton demurred. The tide
_marched_ too strong--"_Il marche trop fort._" Onward, then,
along the quays; visiting the curious old book stalls, picture stands,
and flower markets. Lean over the parapet, and gaze upon this modern
Euphrates, rushing between solid walls of masonry through the heart of
another Babylon. The river is the only thing not old. These waters are
as turbid, tumultuous, unbridled, as when forests covered all these
banks--fit symbol of peoples and nations in their mad career,
generation after generation. Institutions, like hewn granite, may wall
them in, and vast arches span their flow, and hierarchies domineer
over the tide; but the scorning waters burst into life unchangeable,
and sweep impetuous through the heart of Vanity Fair, and dash out
again into the future, the same grand, ungovernable Euphrates stream.
I do not wonder Egypt adored her Nile, and Rome her Tiber. Surely, the
life artery of Paris is this Seine beneath my feet! And there is no
scene like this, as I gaze upward and downward, comprehending, in a
glance, the immense panorama of art and architecture--life, motion,
enterprise, pleasure, pomp, and power. Beautiful Paris! What city in
the world can compare with thee?
And is it not chiefly because, either by accident or by instinctive
good taste, her treasures of beauty and art are so disposed along the
Seine as to be visible at a glance to the best effect? As the instinct
of the true Parisienne teaches her the mystery of setting off the
graces of her person by the fascinations of dress, so the instinct of
the nation to set off the city by the fascinations of architecture and
embellishment. Hence a chief superiority of Paris to London. The Seine
is straight, and its banks are laid out in broad terraces on either
side, called _quais,_ lined with her stateliest palaces and
gardens. The Thames forms an elbow, and is enveloped in dense smoke
and fog. London lowers; the Seine sparkles; London shuts down upon the
Thames, and there is no point of view for the whole river panorama.
Paris rises amphitheatrically, on either side the Seine, and the eye
from the Pont d'Austerlitz seems to fly through the immense reach like
an arrow, casting its shadow on every thing of beauty or grandeur
Rapidly now I sped onward, paying brief visits to the Palais de
Justice, the Hotel de Ville, and spending a cool half hour in Notre
Dame. I love to sit in these majestic fanes, abstracting them from the
superstition which does but desecrate them, and gaze upward to their
lofty, vaulted arches, to drink in the impression of architectual
sublimity, which I can neither analyze nor express. Cathedrals do not
seem to me to have been built. They seem, rather, stupendous growths
of nature, like crystals, or cliffs of basalt. There is little
ornament here. That roof looks plain and bare; yet I feel that the air
is dense with sublimity. Onward I sped, crossing a bridge by the Hotel
Dieu, and, leaving the river, plunged into narrow streets. Explored a
quadrangular market; surveyed the old church of St Geneviève, and the
new--now the Pantheon; went onward to the Jardin des Plantes, and
explored its tropical bowers. Many things remind me to-day of New
Orleans, and its levee, its Mississippi, its cathedral, and the
luxuriant vegetation of the gulf. In fact, I seem to be walking in my
sleep in a kind of glorified New Orleans, all the while. Yet I return
to the gardens of the Tuileries and the Place Vendome, and in the
shadow of Napoleon's Column the illusion vanishes. Hundreds of battles
look down upon me from their blazonry.
In the evening I rested from the day's fatigue by an hour in the
garden of the Palais Royal. I sat by one of the little tables, and
called for an ice. There were hundreds of ladies and gentlemen eating
ices, drinking wine, reading the papers, smoking, chatting; scores of
pretty children were frolicking and enjoying the balmy evening. Here
six or eight midgets were jumping the rope, while papa and mamma swung
it for them. Pretty little things, with their flushed cheeks and
sparkling eyes, how they did seem to enjoy themselves! What parent was
ever far from home that did not espy in every group of children his
own little ones--his Mary or his Nelly, his Henry or Charlie? So it
was with me. There was a ring of twenty or thirty singing and dancing,
with a smaller ring in the centre, while old folks and boys stood
outside. But I heard not a single oath, nor saw a rough or rude
action, during the whole time I was there. The boys standing by looked
on quietly, like young gentlemen. The best finale of such a toilsome
day of sightseeing was a warm bath in the Rue du Bac, for the trifling
sum of fifteen sous. The cheapness and convenience of bathing here is
a great recommendation of Paris life. They will bring you a hot bath
at your house for twenty-five cents, and that without bustle or
disorder. And nothing so effectually as an evening bath, as my
experience testifies, cures fatigue and propitiates to dreamless
Thursday, June 9. At the Louvre. Studied three statues half an hour
each--the Venus Victrix, Polyhymnia, and Gladiateur Combattant. The
first is mutilated; but if _disarmed_ she conquers all hearts,
what would she achieve in full panoply? As to the Gladiator, I noted
as follows on my catalogue: A pugilist; antique, brown with age;
attitude, leaning forward; left hand raised on guard, right hand
thrown out back, ready to strike a side blow; right leg bent; straight
line from the head to the toe of left foot; muscles and veins most
vividly revealed in intense development; a wonderful _petrifaction,_ as
if he had been smitten to stone at the instant of striking.
Here are antique mosaics, in which colored stones seem liquefied,
realizing the most beautiful effects of painting--quadrigae, warriors,
arms, armor, vases, streams, all lifelike. Ascending to the hall of
French paintings I spent an hour in studying one picture--La Méduse,
by Géricault. It is a shipwrecked crew upon a raft in mid ocean. I
gazed until all surrounding objects disappeared, and I was alone upon
the wide Atlantic. Those transparent emerald waves are no fiction;
they leap madly, hungering for their prey. That distended sail is
filled with the lurid air. That dead man's foot hangs off in the
seething brine a stark reality. What a fixed gaze of despair in that
father's stony eye! What a group of deathly living ones around that
frail mast, while one with intense eagerness flutters a signal to some
far-descried bark! Coleridge's Ancient Mariner has no colors more
fearfully faithful to his theme. Heaven pities them not. Ocean is all
in uproar against them. And there is no voice that can summon the
distant, flying sail! So France appeared to that prophet painter's
eye, in the subsiding tempests of the revolution. So men's hearts
failed them for fear, and the dead lay stark and stiff among the
living, amid the sea and the waves roaring; and so mute signals of
distress were hung out in the lurid sky to nations afar.
For my part, I remain a heretic. Give to these French pictures the
mellowing effects of age, impregnating not merely the picture, but the
eye that gazes on it, with its subtle quality; let them be gazed at
through the haze of two hundred years, and they will--or I cannot see
why they will not--rival the productions of any past age. I do not
believe that a more powerful piece ever was painted than yon raft by
Gericault, nor any more beautiful than several in the Luxembourg; the
"Décadence de Rome," for example, exhibiting the revels of the Romans
during the decline of the empire. Let this Décadence unroll before the
eyes of men the _cause_, that wreck by Géricault symbolize the
_effect_, in the great career of nations, and the two are
After visiting the Luxembourg, I resorted to the gardens of the
Tuileries. The thermometer was at about eighty degrees in the shade.
From the number of people assembled one would have thought, if it had
been in the United States, that some great mass convention was coming
off. Under the impenetrable screen of the trees, in the dark, cool,
refreshing shade, are thousands of chairs, for which one pays two
cents apiece. Whole families come, locking up their door, bringing the
baby, work, dinner, or lunch, take a certain number of chairs, and
spend the day. As far as eye can reach you see a multitude seated, as
if in church, with other multitudes moving to and fro, while boys and
girls without number are frolicking, racing, playing ball, driving
hoop, &c., but contriving to do it without making a hideous racket.
How French children are taught to play and enjoy themselves without
disturbing every body else, is a mystery. "_C'est gentil_" seems
to be a talismanic spell; and "_Ce n'est pas gentil ça_" is
sufficient to check every rising irregularity. O that some
_savant_ would write a book and tell us how it is done! I gazed
for half an hour on the spectacle. A more charming sight my eyes never
beheld. There were grayheaded old men, and women, and invalids; and
there were beautiful demoiselles working worsted, embroidery, sewing;
men reading papers; and, in fact, people doing every thing they would
do in their own parlors. And all were graceful, kind, and obliging;
not a word nor an act of impoliteness or indecency. No wonder the
French adore Paris, thought I; in no other city in the world is a
scene like this possible! No wonder that their hearts die within them
at thoughts of exile in the fens of Cayenne!
But under all this there lie, as under the cultivated crust of this
fair world, deep abysses of soul, where volcanic masses of molten lava
surge and shake the tremulous earth. In the gay and bustling
Boulevards, a friend, an old resident of Paris, poised out to me, as
we rode, the bullet marks that scarred the houses--significant tokens
of what seems, but is not, forgotten.
At sunset a military band of about seventy performers began playing in
front of the Tuileries. They formed an immense circle, the leader in
the centre. He played the octave flute, which also served as a baton
for marking time. The music was characterized by delicacy, precision,
suppression, and subjugation of rebellious material.
I imagined a congress of horns, clarinets, trumpets, &c., conversing
in low tones on some important theme; nay, rather a conspiracy of
instruments, mourning between whiles their subjugation, and ever and
anon breaking out in a fierce _émeute_, then repressed, hushed,
dying away; as if they had heard of Baron Munchausen's frozen horn,
and had conceived the idea of yielding their harmonies without touch
of human lips, yet were sighing and sobbing at their impotence.
Perhaps I detected the pulses of a nation's palpitating heart,
throbbing for liberty, but trodden down, and sobbing in despair.
In the evening Mrs. C. had her _salon_, a fashion of receiving
one's friends on a particular night, that one wishes could be
transplanted to American soil.
No invitations are given. It is simply understood that on such an
evening, the season through, a lady _receives_ her friends. All
come that please, without ceremony. A little table is set out with tea
and a plate of cake. Behind it presides some fairy Emma or Elizabeth,
dispensing tea and talk, bonbons and bon-mots, with equal grace. The
guests enter, chat, walk about, spend as much time, or as little, as
they choose, and retire. They come when they please, and go when they
please, and there is no notice taken of entree or exit, no time wasted
in formal greetings and leave takings.
Up to this hour we had conversed little in French. One is naturally
diffident at first; for if one musters courage to commence a
conversation with propriety, the problem is how to escape a Scylla in
the second and a Charybdis in the third sentence. Said one of our fair
entertainers, "When I first began I would think of some sentence till
I could say it without stopping, and courageously deliver myself to
some guest or acquaintance." But it was like pulling the string of a
shower bath. Delighted at my correct sentence, and supposing me _au
fait_, they poured upon me such a deluge of French that I held my
breath in dismay. Considering, however, that nothing is to be gained
by half-way measures, I resolved upon a desperate game. Launching in,
I talked away right and left, up hill and down,--jumping over genders,
cases, nouns, and adjectives, floundering through swamps and morasses,
in a perfect steeple chase of words. Thanks to the proverbial
politeness of my friends, I came off covered with glory; the more
mistakes I made the more complacent they grew.
Nothing can surpass the ease, facility, and genial freedom of these
_soirées_. Conceive of our excellent professor of Arabic and
Sanscrit, Count M. fairly cornered by three wicked fairies, and
laughing at their stories and swift witticisms till the tears roll
down his cheeks. Behold yonder tall and scarred veteran, an old
soldier of Napoleon, capitulating now before the witchery of genius
and wit. Here the noble Russian exile forgets his sorrows in those
smiles that, unlike the aurora, warm while they dazzle. And our
celebrated composer is discomposed easily by alert and nimble-footed
mischief. And our professor of Greek and Hebrew roots is rooted to the
ground with astonishment at finding himself put through all the moods
and tenses of fun in a twinkling. Ah, culpable sirens, if the pangs ye
have inflicted were reckoned up unto you,--the heart aches and side
aches,--how could ye repose o' nights?
Saturday, June 11. Versailles! When I have written that one word I
have said all. I ought to stop. Description is out of the question.
Describe nine miles of painting! Describe visions of splendor and
gorgeousness that cannot be examined in months! Suffice it to say that
we walked from hall to hall until there was no more soul left within
us. Then, late in the afternoon we drove away, about three miles, to
the villa of M. Belloc, _directeur de l'Ecole Imperials de
Dessein_. Madame Belloc has produced, assisted by her friend,
Mademoiselle Montgolfier, the best French translation of Uncle Tom's
Cabin. At this little family party we enjoyed ourselves exceedingly,
in the heart of genuine domestic life. Two beautiful married daughters
were there, with their husbands, and the household seemed complete.
Madame B. speaks English well; and thus, with our limited French, we
got on delightfully together. I soon discovered that I had been
sinning against all law in admiring any thing at Versailles. They were
all bad paintings. There might be one or two good paintings at the
Luxembourg, and one or two good modern paintings at the Louvre--the
Méduse, by Géricault, for example: (How I rejoiced that I had admired
it!) But all the rest of the modern paintings M. Belloc declared, with
an inimitable shrug, are poor paintings. There is nothing safely
admirable, I find, but the old masters. All those battles of all
famous French generals, from Charles Hartel to Napoleon, and the
battles in Algiers, by Horace Yernet, are wholly to be snuffed at. In
painting, as in theology, age is the criterion of merit. Yet Vernet's
paintings, though decried by M. le Directeur, I admired, and told him
so. Said I, in French as lawless as the sentiment, "Monsieur, I do not
know the rules of painting, nor whether the picture is according to
them or not; I only know that I like it."
But who shall describe the social charms of our dinner? All wedged
together, as we were, in the snuggest little pigeon hole of a dining
room, pretty little chattering children and all, whom papa held upon
his knee and fed with bonbons, all the while impressing upon them the
absolute necessity of their leaving the table! There the salad was
mixed by acclamation, each member of the party adding a word of
advice, and each, gayly laughing at the advice of the other. There a
gay, red lobster was pulled in pieces among us, with infinite gout;
and Madame Belloc pathetically expressed her fears that we did not
like French cooking. She might have saved herself the trouble; for we
take to it as naturally as ducks take to the water. And then, when we
returned to the parlor, we resolved ourselves into a committee of the
whole on coffee, which was concocted in a trim little hydrostatic
engine of latest modern invention, before the faces of all. And so we
right merrily spent the evening. H. discussed poetry and art with our
kind hosts to her heart's content, and at a late hour we drove to the
railroad, and returned to Paris.
MY DEAR L.:--
At last I have come into dreamland; into the lotus-eater's paradise;
into the land where it is always afternoon. I am released from care; I
am unknown, unknowing; I live in a house whose arrangements seem to me
strange, old, and dreamy. In the heart of a great city I am as still
as if in a convent; in the burning heats of summer our rooms are
shadowy and cool as a cave. My time is all my own. I may at will lie
on a sofa, and dreamily watch the play of the leaves and flowers, in
the little garden into which my room opens; or I may go into the
parlor adjoining, whence I hear the quick voices of my beautiful and
vivacious young friends. You ought to see these girls. Emma might look
like a Madonna, were it not for her wicked wit; and as to Anna and
Lizzie, as they glance by me, now and then, I seem to think them a
kind of sprite, or elf, made to inhabit shady old houses, just as
twinkling harebells grow in old castles; and then the gracious mamma,
who speaks French, or English, like a stream of silver--is she not,
after all, the fairest of any of them? And there is Caroline, piquant,
racy, full of conversation--sharp as a quartz crystal: how I like to
hear her talk! These people know Paris, as we say in America, "like a
book." They have studied it aesthetically, historically, socially.
They have studied French people and French literature,--and studied it
with enthusiasm, as people ever should, who would truly understand.
They are all kindness to me. Whenever I wish to see any thing, I have
only to speak; or to know, I have only to ask. At breakfast every
morning we compare notes, and make up our list of wants. My first, of
course, was the Louvre. It is close by us. Think of it. To one who has
starved all a life, in vain imaginings of what art might be, to know
that you are within a stone's throw of a museum full of its miracles,
Greek, Assyrian, Egyptian, Roman sculptors and modern painting, all
I scarcely consider myself to have seen any thing of art in England.
The calls of the living world were so various and _exigeant_, I
had so little leisure for reflection, that, although I saw many
paintings, I could not study them; and many times I saw them in a
state of the nervous system too jaded and depressed to receive the
full force of the impression. A day or two before I left, I visited
the National Gallery, and made a rapid survey of its contents. There
were two of Turner's masterpieces there, which he presented on the
significant condition that they should hang side by side with their
two finest Claudes. I thought them all four fine pictures, but I liked
the Turners best. Yet I did not think any of them fine enough to form
an absolute limit to human improvement. But, till I had been in Paris
a day or two, perfectly secluded, at full liberty to think and rest, I
did not feel that my time for examining art had really come.
It was, then, with a thrill almost of awe that I approached the
Louvre. Here, perhaps, said I to myself, I shall answer, fully, the
question that has long wrought within my soul, What is art? and what
can it do? Here, perhaps, these yearnings for the ideal will meet
their satisfaction. The ascent to the picture gallery tends to produce
a flutter of excitement and expectation. Magnificent staircases, dim
perspectives of frescoes and carvings, the glorious hall of Apollo,
rooms with mosaic pavements, antique vases, countless spoils of art,
dazzle the eye of the neophyte, and prepare the mind for some grand
enchantment. Then opens on one the grand hall of paintings arranged by
schools, the works of each artist by themselves, a wilderness of
I first walked through the whole, offering my mind up aimlessly to see
if there were any picture there great and glorious enough to seize and
control my whole being, and answer, at once, the cravings of the
poetic and artistic element. For any such I looked in vain. I saw a
thousand beauties, as also a thousand enormities, but nothing of that
overwhelming, subduing nature which I had conceived. Most of the men
there had painted with dry eyes and cool hearts, thinking only of the
mixing of their colors and the jugglery of their art, thinking little
of heroism, faith, love, or immortality. Yet when I had resigned this
longing; when I was sure I should not meet there what I sought, then I
began to enjoy very heartily what there was.
In the first place, I now saw Claudes worthy of the reputation he
bore. Three or four of these were studied with great delight; the
delight one feels, who, conscientiously bound to be delighted,
suddenly comes into a situation to be so. I saw, now, those
atmospheric traits, those reproductions of the mysteries of air, and
of light, which are called so wonderful, and for which all admire
Claude, but for which so few admire Him who made Claude, and who every
day creates around us, in the commonest scenes, effects far more
beautiful. How much, even now, my admiration of Claude was genuine, I
cannot say. How can we ever be sure on this point, when we admire what
has prestige and sanction, not to admire which is an argument against
ourselves? Certainly, however, I did feel great delight in some of
One of my favorites was Rembrandt. I always did admire the gorgeous
and solemn mysteries of his coloring. Rembrandt is like Hawthorne. He
chooses simple and everyday objects, and so arranges light and shadow
as to give them a sombre richness and a mysterious gloom. The House of
Seven Gables is a succession of Rembrandt pictures, done in words
instead of oils. Now, this pleases us, because our life really is a
haunted one; the simplest thing in it is a mystery, the invisible
world always lies round us like a shadow, and therefore this dreamy
golden gleam of Rembrandt meets somewhat in our inner consciousness to
which it corresponds. There were no pictures in the gallery which I
looked upon so long, and to which I returned so often and with such
growing pleasure, as these. I found in them, if not a commanding, a
drawing influence, a full satisfaction for one part of my nature.
There were Raphaels there, which still disappointed me, because from
Raphael I asked and expected more. I wished to feel his hand on my
soul with a stronger grasp; these were too passionless in their
serenity, and almost effeminate in their tenderness.
But Rubens, the great, joyous, full-souled, all-powerful
Rubens!--there he was, full as ever of triumphant, abounding life;
disgusting and pleasing; making me laugh and making me angry; defying
me to dislike him; dragging me at his chariot wheels; in despite of my
protests forcing me to confess that there was no other but he.
This Medici gallery is a succession of gorgeous allegoric paintings,
done at the instance of Mary of Medici, to celebrate the praise and
glory of that family. I was predetermined not to like them for two
reasons: first, that I dislike allegorical subjects; and second, that
I hate and despise that Medici family and all that belongs to them. So
no sympathy with the subjects blinded my eyes, and drew me gradually
from all else in the hall to contemplate these. It was simply the love
of power and of fertility that held me astonished, which seemed to
express with nonchalant ease what other painters attain by laborious
efforts. It occurred to me that other painters are famous for single
heads, or figures, and that were the striking heads and figures with
which these pictures abound to be parcelled out singly, any one of
them would make a man's reputation. Any animal of Rubens, alone, would
make a man's fortune in that department. His fruits and flowers are
unrivalled for richness and abundance; his old men's Leads are
wonderful; and when he chooses, which he does not often, he can even
create a pretty woman. Generally speaking his women are his worst
productions. It would seem that he had revolted with such fury from
the meagre, pale, cadaverous outlines of womankind painted by his
predecessors, the Van Eyks, whose women resembled potato sprouts grown
in a cellar, that he altogether overdid the matter in the opposite
direction. His exuberant soul abhors leanness as Nature abhors a
vacuum; and hence all his women seem bursting their bodices with
fulness, like overgrown carnations breaking out of their green
calyxes. He gives you Venuses with arms fit to wield the hammer of
Vulcan; vigorous Graces whose dominion would be alarming were they
indisposed to clemency. His weakness, in fact, his besetting sin, is
too truly described by Moses:--
"But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked;
Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick,
Thou art covered with fatness."
Scornfully he is determined upon it; he will none of your scruples;
his women shall be fat as he pleases, and you shall like him
In this Medici gallery the fault appears less prominent than
elsewhere. Many of the faces are portraits, and there are specimens
among them of female beauty, so delicate as to demonstrate that it was
not from any want of ability to represent the softer graces that he so
often becomes hard and coarse. My friend, M. Belloc, made the remark
that the genius of Rubens was somewhat restrained in these pictures,
and chastened by the rigid rules of the French school, and hence in
them he is more generally pleasing.
I should compare Rubens to Shakspeare, for the wonderful variety and
vital force of his artistic power. I know no other mind he so nearly
resembles. Like Shakspeare, he forces you to accept and to forgive a
thousand excesses, and uses his own faults as musicians use discords,
only to enhance the perfection of harmony. There certainly is some use
even in defects. A faultless style sends you to sleep. Defects rouse
and excite the sensibility to seek and appreciate excellences. Some of
Shakspeare's finest passages explode all grammar and rhetoric like
skyrockets--the thought blows the language to shivers.
As to Murillo, there are two splendid specimens of his style here, as
exquisite as any I have seen; but I do not find reason to alter the
judgment I made from my first survey.
Here is his celebrated picture of the Assumption of the Virgin, which
we have seen circulated in print shops in America, but which appears
of a widely different character in the painting. The Virgin is rising
in a flood of amber light, surrounded by clouds and indistinct angel
figures. She is looking upward with clasped hands, as in an ecstasy:
the crescent moon is beneath her feet. The whole tone of the picture--
the clouds, the drapery, her flowing hair--are pervaded with this
amber tint, sublimated and spiritual. Do I, then, like it? No. Does it
affect me? Not at all. Why so? Because this is a subject requiring
earnestness; yet, after all, there is no earnestness of religious
feeling expressed. It is a _surface_ picture, exquisitely
painted--the feeling goes no deeper than the canvas. But how do I know
Murillo has no earnestness in the religious idea of this piece? How do
I know, when reading Pope's Messiah, that _he_ was not in
earnest--that he was only most exquisitely reproducing what others had
thought? Does he not assume, in the most graceful way, the language of
inspiration and holy rapture? But, through it all, we feel the
satisfied smirk of the artist, and the fine, sharp touch of his
diamond file. What is done from a genuine, strong, inward emotion,
whether in writing or painting, always mesmerizes the paper, or the
canvas, and gives it a power which every body must feel, though few
know why. The reason why the Bible has been omnipotent, in all ages,
has been because there were the emotions of GOD in it; and of
paintings nothing is more remarkable than that some preserve in them
such a degree of genuine vital force that one can never look on them
with indifference; while others, in which every condition of art seems
to be met, inspire no strong emotion.
Yet this picture is immensely popular. Hundreds stand enchanted before
it, and declare it imbodies their highest ideal of art and religion;
and I suppose it does. But so it always is. The man who has exquisite
gifts of expression passes for more, popularly, than the man with
great and grand ideas who utters but imperfectly. There are some
pictures here by Correggio--a sleeping Venus and Cupid--a marriage of
the infant Jesus and St. Catharine. This Correggio is the poet of
physical beauty. Light and shadow are his god. What he lives for is,
to catch and reproduce fitting phases of these. The moral is nothing
to him, and, in his own world, he does what he seeks. He is a great
popular favorite, since few look for more in a picture than exquisite
beauty understood between us that his sphere is to be earth, and not
heaven; were he to attempt, profanely, to represent heavenly things, I
must rebel. I should as soon want Tom Moore to write me a prayer book.
A large saloon is devoted to the masters of the French school. The
works of no living artists are admitted. There are some large
paintings by David. He is my utter aversion. I see in him nothing but
the driest imitation of the classics. It would be too much praise to
call it reproduction. David had neither heart nor soul. How could he
be and artist?--he who coolly took his portfolio to the guillotine to
take lessons on the dying agonies of its victims--how could he ever
paint any thing to touch the heart?
In general, all French artists appear to me to have been very much
injured by a wrong use of classic antiquity. Nothing could be more
glorious and beautiful than the Grecian development; nothing more
unlike it that the stale, wearisome, repetitious imitations of it in
modern times. The Greek productions themselves have a living power to
this day; but all imitations of them are cold and tiresome. These old
Greeks made such beautiful things, because they did _not_
imitate. That mysterious vitality which still imbues their remains,
and which seems to enchant even the fragments of their marbles, is the
mesmeric vitality of fresh, original conception. Art, built upon this,
is just like what the shadow of a beautiful woman is to the woman. One
gets tired in these galleries of the classic band, and the classic
headdress, and the classic attitude, and the endless repetition of the
classic urn, and vase, and lamp, as if nothing else were ever to be
made in the world except these things.
Again: in regard to this whole French gallery, there is much of a
certain quality which I find it very difficult to describe in any one
word--a dramatic smartness, a searching for striking and peculiar
effects, which render the pictures very likely to please on first
sight, and to weary on longer acquaintance. It seems to me to be the
work of a race whose senses and perceptions of the outward have been
cultivated more than the deep inward emotions. Few of the pictures
seem to have been the result of strong and profound feeling, of habits
of earnest and concentrated thought. There is an abundance of
beautiful little phases of sentiment, pointedly expressed; there is a
great deal of what one should call the picturesque of the
_morale;_ but few of its foundation ideas. I must except from
these remarks the very strong and earnest painting of the Méduse, by
Géricault, which C. has described. That seems to me to be the work of
a man who had not seen human life and suffering merely on the outside,
but had felt, in the very depths of his soul, the surging and
earthquake of those mysteries of passion and suffering which underlie
our whole existence in this world. To me it was a picture too mighty
and too painful--whose power I confessed, but which I did not like to
On the whole, French painting is to me an exponent of the great
difficulty and danger of French life; that passion for the outward and
visible, which all their education, all the arrangements of their
social life, every thing in their art and literature, tends
continually to cultivate and increase. Hence they have become the
leaders of the world in what I should call the minor artistics--all
those little particulars which render life beautiful. Hence there are
more pretty pictures, and popular lithographs, from France than from
any other country in the world; but it produces very little of the
deepest and highest style of art.
In this connection I may as well give you my Luxembourg experience, as
it illustrates the same idea. I like Paul de la Roche, on the whole,
although I think he has something of the fault of which I speak. He
has very great dramatic power; but it is more of the kind shown by
Walter Scott than of the kind shown by Shakspeare. He can reproduce
historical characters with great vividness and effect, and with enough
knowledge of humanity to make the verisimilitude admirably strong; but
as to the deep knowledge with which Shakspeare searches the radical
elements of the human soul, he has it not. His Death of Queen
Elizabeth is a strong Walter Scott picture; so are his Execution of
Strafford, and his Charles I., which I saw in England.
As to Horace Vernet, I do not think he is like either Scott or
Shakspeare. In him this French capability for rendering the outward is
wrought to the highest point; and it is outwardness as pure from any
touch of inspiration or sentiment as I ever remember to have seen. He
is graphic to the utmost extreme. His horses and his men stand from
the canvas to the astonishment of all beholders. All is vivacity,
bustle, dazzle, and show. I think him as perfect, of his kind, as
possible; though it is a _kind_ of art with which I do not
The picture of the Décadence de Rome indicates to my mind a painter
who has studied and understood the classical forms; vitalizing them,
by the reproductive force of his own mind, so as to give them the
living power of new creations. In this picture is a most grand and
melancholy moral lesson. The classical forms are evidently not
introduced because they are classic, but in subservience to the
expression of the moral. In the orgies of the sensualists here
represented he gives all the grace and beauty of sensuality without
its sensualizing effect. Nothing could be more exquisite than the
introduction of the busts of the departed heroes of the old republic,
looking down from their pedestals on the scene of debauchery below. It
is a noble picture, which I wish was hung up in the Capitol of our
nation to teach our haughty people that as pride, and fulness of
bread, and laxness of principle brought down the old republics, so
also ours may fall. Although the outward in this painting, and the
classical, is wrought to as fine a point as in any French picture, it
is so subordinate to the severity of the thought, that while it
pleases it does not distract.
But to return to the Louvre. The halls devoted to paintings, of which
I have spoken, give you very little idea of the treasures of the
institution. Gallery after gallery is filled with Greek, Roman,
Assyrian, and Egyptian sculptures, coins, vases, and antique remains
of every description. There is, also, an apartment in which I took a
deep interest, containing the original sketches of ancient masters.
Here one may see the pen and ink drawings of Claude, divided into
squares to prepare them for the copyist. One compares here with
interest the manners of the different artists in jotting down their
ideas as they rose; some by chalk, some by crayon, some by pencil,
some by water colors, and some by a heterogeneous mixture of all.
Mozart's scrap bag of musical jottings could not have been more
On the whole, cravings of mere ideality have come nearer to meeting
satisfaction by some of these old mutilated remains of Greek sculpture
than any thing which I have met yet. In the paintings, even of the
most celebrated masters, there are often things which are excessively
annoying to me. I scarcely remember a master in whose works I have not
found a hand, or foot, or face, or feature so distorted, or coloring
at times so unnatural, or something so out of place and proportion in
the picture as very seriously to mar the pleasure that I derived from
it. In this statuary less is attempted, and all is more harmonious,
and one's ideas of proportion are never violated.
My favorite among all these remains is a mutilated statue which they
call the Venus de Milon. This is a statue which is so called from
having been dug up some years ago, piecemeal, in the Island of Milos.
There was quite a struggle for her between a French naval officer, the
English, and the Turks. The French officer carried her off like
another Helen, and she was given to Paris, old Louis Philippe being
bridegroom by proxy. _Savans_ refer the statue to the time of
Phidias; and as this is a pleasant idea to me, I go a little further,
and ascribe her to Phidias himself.
The statue is much mutilated, both arms being gone, and part of the
foot. But there is a majesty and grace in the head and face, a union
of loveliness with intellectual and moral strength, beyond any thing
which I have ever seen. To me she might represent Milton's glorious
picture of unfallen, perfect womanhood, in his Eve:--
"Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; wisdom, in discourse with her,
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows.
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her, loveliest, and create an awe
About her, like a guard angelic placed."
Compared with this matchless Venus, that of Medici seems as inane and
trifling as mere physical beauty always must by the side of beauty
baptized, and made sacramental, as the symbol of that which alone is
With regard to the arrangements of the Louvre, they seem to me to be
admirable. No nation has so perfectly the qualifications to care for,
keep, and to show to best advantage a gallery of art as the French.
During the heat of the outburst that expelled Louis Philippe from the
throne, the Louvre was in some danger of destruction. Destructiveness
is a native element of human nature, however repressed by society; and
hence every great revolutionary movement always brings to the surface
some who are for indiscriminate demolition. Moreover there is a strong
tendency in the popular mind, where art and beauty have for many years
been monopolized as the prerogative of a haughty aristocracy, to
identify art and beauty with oppression; this showed itself in England
and Scotland in the general storm which wrecked the priceless beauty
of the ecclesiastical buildings. It was displaying itself in the same
manner in Germany during the time of the reformation, and had not
Luther been gifted with a nature as strongly aesthetic as progressive,
would have wrought equal ruin there. So in the first burst of popular
enthusiasm that expelled the monarchy, the cry was raised by some
among the people, "We shall never get rid of kings till we pull down
the palaces;" just the echo of the old cry in Scotland, "Pull down the
nests, and the rooks will fly away." The populace rushed in to the
splendid halls and saloons of the Louvre, and a general encampment was
made among the pictures. In this crisis a republican artist named
Jeanron saved the Louvre; saved the people the regret that must have
come over them had they perpetrated barbarisms, and Liberty the shame
of having such outrages wrought in her name. Appointed by the
provisional government to the oversight of the Louvre, and well known
among the people as a republican, he boldly came to the rescue. "Am I
not one of you?" he said. "Am I not one of the people? These splendid
works of art, are they not ours? Are they not the pride and glory of
our country? Shall we destroy our most glorious possession in the
first hour of its passing into our hands?"
Moved by his eloquence the people decamped from the building, and left
it in his hands. Empowered to make all such arrangements for its
renovation and embellishment as his artistic taste should desire, he
conducted important repairs in the building, rearranged the halls, had
the pictures carefully examined, cleaned when necessary, and
distributed in schools with scientific accuracy. He had an apartment
prepared where are displayed those first sketches by distinguished
masters, which form one of the most instructive departments of the
Louvre to a student of art. The government seconded all his measures
by liberal supplies of money; and the Louvre is placed in its present
perfect condition by the thoughtful and cherishing hand of the
These facts have been communicated to me from a perfectly reliable
source. As an American, and a republican, I cannot but take pleasure
in them. I mention them because it is often supposed, from the
destructive effects which attend the first advent of democratic
principles where they have to explode their way into existence through
masses of ancient rubbish, that popular liberty is unfavorable to art.
It never could be so in France, because the whole body of the people
are more thoroughly artistic in their tastes and feelings than in most
countries. They are almost slaves to the outwardly beautiful, taken
captive by the eye and the ear, and only the long association of
beauty with tyranny, with suffering, want, and degradation to
themselves, could ever have inspired any of them with even a momentary
bitterness against it.
Monday, June 13. Went this morning with H. and Mrs. C. to the studio
of M. Belloc. Found a general assembly of heads, arms, legs, and every
species of nude and other humanity pertaining to a studio; also an
agreeable jumble of old pictures and new, picture frames, canvas,
brushes, boxes, unfinished sketches, easels, palettes, a sofa, some
cushions, a chair or two, bottles, papers, a stove rusty and fireless,
and all things most charmingly innocent of any profane "clarin' up
The first question which M. Belloc proposed, with a genuine French
air, was the question of "_pose_" or position. It was concluded
that as other pictures had taken H. looking at the spectator, this
should take her looking away. M. Belloc remarked, that M. Charpentier
said H. appeared always with the air of an observer--was always
looking around on every thing. Hence M. Belloc would take her "_en
observatrice, mais pas en curieuse_"--with the air of observation,
but not of curiosity.
At it he went. I stood behind and enjoyed. Rapid creative sketching in
chalk and charcoal. Then a chaos of colors and clouds, put on now with
brushes, now with fingers. "God began with chaos," said he, quoting
Prudhon. "We cannot expect to do better than God."
With intensest enjoyment I watched the chaotic clouds forming on the
canvas round a certain nucleus, gradually resolving themselves into
shape, and lightening up with tints and touches, until a head seemed
slowly emerging from amidst the shadows.
Meanwhile, an animated conversation was proceeding. M. Belloc, in his
rich, glorious French, rolling out like music from an organ, discussed
the problems of his art; while we ever and anon excited him by our
speculations, our theories, our heresies. H. talked in English, and
Mrs. C. translated, and I put in a French phrase sidewise every now
By and by, M. Charpentier came in, who is more voluble, more _ore
rotundo, grandiose_, than M. Belloc. He began panegyrizing Uncle
Tom; and this led to a discussion of the ground of its unprecedented
success. In his thirty-five years' experience as a bookseller, he had
known nothing like it. It surpassed all modern writers. At first he
would not read it; his taste was for old masters of a century or two
ago. "Like M. Belloc in painting," said I. At length, he found his
friend, M. Alfred de Musée, the first intelligence of the age, reading
"What, you too?" said he.
"Ah, ah!" said De Musée; "say nothing about this book! There is
nothing like it. This leaves us all behind--all, all, miles behind!"
M. Belloc said the reason was because there was in it more _genuine
faith_ than in any book. And we branched off into florid eloquence
touching paganism, Christianity, and art.
"Christianity," M. Belloc said, "has ennobled man, but not made him
happier. The Christian is not so happy as the old Greek. The old Greek
mythology is full of images of joy, of lightness, and vivacity; nymphs
and fauns, dryads and hamadryads, and all sportive creations. The arts
that grow up out of Christianity are all tinged with sorrow."
"This is true in part," replied H., "because the more you enlarge a
person's general capacity of feeling, and his quantity of being, the
more you enlarge his capacity of suffering. A man can suffer more than
an oyster. Christianity, by enlarging the scope of man's heart, and
dignifying his nature, has deepened his sorrow."
M. Belloc referred to the paintings of Eustache le Soeur, in the
Louvre, in illustration of his idea--a series based on the experience
of St. Bruno, and representing the effects of maceration and ghostly
penance with revolting horrors.
"This," H. replied, "is not my idea of Christianity. Religion is not
asceticism, but a principle of love to God that beautifies and exalts
common life, and fills it with joy."
M. Belloc ended with a splendid panegyric upon the ancient Greeks, the
eloquence of which I will not mar by attempting to repeat.
Ever and anon H. was amused at the pathetic air, at once genuinely
French and thoroughly sincere, with which the master assured her, that
he was "_désolé_" to put her to so much trouble.
As to Christianity not making men happier, methinks M. Belloc forgets
that the old Greek tragedies are filled with despair and gloom, as
their prevailing characteristic, and that nearly all the music of the
world before Christ was in the minor scale, as since Christ it has
come to be in the major. The whole creation has, indeed, groaned and
travailed in pain together until now; but the mighty anthem has
modulated since the cross, and the requiem of Jesus has been the
world's birthsong of approaching jubilee.
Music is a far better test, moreover, on such a point, than painting,
for just where painting is weakest, namely, in the expression of the
highest moral and spiritual ideas, there music is most sublimely
Altogether this morning in the painter's studio was one of the most
agreeable we ever spent. But what shall I say then of the evening in a
_salon musicale_; with the first violoncello playing in the
world, and the Princess Czartoryski at the piano? We were invited at
eight, but it was nine before we entered our carriage. We arrived at
the hotel of Mrs. Erskine, a sister of Lord Dundalk, and found a very
select party. There were chairs and sofas enough for all without
There was Frankomm of the Conservatoire, with his Stradivarius, an
instrument one hundred and fifty years old, which cost six thousand
dollars. There was his son, a little lad of twelve, who played almost
as well as his father. I wish F. and M. could have seen this. He was
but a year older than F., and yet played with the most astonishing
perfection. Among other things the little fellow performed a
_morceau_ of his own composition, which was full of pathos, and
gave tokens of uncommon ability. His father gave us sonatas of Mozart,
Chopin, &c., and a _polonaise_. The Princess Czartoryski
accompanied on the piano with extraordinary ability.
That was an evening to be remembered a lifetime. One heard, probably,
the best music in the world of its kind, performed under prepared
circumstances, the most perfectly adapted to give effect. There was no
whispering, no noise. All felt, and heard, and enjoyed. I conversed
with the princess and with Frankomm. The former speaks English, the
latter none. I interpreted for H., and she had quite a little
conversation with him about his son, and about music. She told him she
hoped the day was coming when art would be consecrated to express the
best and purest emotions of humanity. He had read Uncle Tom; and when
he read it he exclaimed, "This is genuine Christianity"--"_Ceci est
la vraie Christianisme!_"
The attentions shown to H. were very touching and agreeable. There is
nothing said or done that wearies or oppresses her. She is made to
feel perfectly free, at large, at ease; and the regard felt for her is
manifested in a way so delicate, so imperceptibly fine and
considerate, that she is rather strengthened by it than exhausted.
This is owing, no doubt, to the fact that we came determined to be as
private as possible, and with an explicit understanding with Mrs. C.
to that effect. Instead of trying to defeat her purpose, and force her
into publicity, the few who know of her presence seem to try to help
her carry it out, and see how much they can do for her, consistently
Tuesday, June 14. To-day we dined at six P. M., and read till nine.
Then drove to an evening _salon_--quite an early little party at
Mrs. Putnam's. Saw there Peter Parley and La Rochejaquelin, the only
one of the old nobility that joined Louis Napoleon. Peter Parley is
consul no longer, it seems. We discussed the empire a very little. "To
be, or not to be, that is the question." Opinions are various as the
circles. Every circle draws into itself items of information, that
tend to indicate what it wishes to be about to happen. Still, Peter
Parley and I, and some other equally cautious people, think that
_this_ cannot always last. By _this_, of course, we mean
this "thing"--this empire, so called. Sooner or later it must end in
revolution; and then what? Said a gentleman the other day, "Nothing
holds him up but fear of the RED." [Footnote: That is, fear of the Red
After chatting a while, Weston and I slipped out, and drove to the
Jardin Mabille, a garden in the Champs Elysées, whither thousands go
every night. We entered by an avenue of poplars and other trees and
shrubs, so illuminated by jets of gas sprinkled amongst the foliage as
to give it the effect of enchantment. It was neither moonlight nor
daylight, but a kind of spectral aurora, that made every thing seem
As we entered the garden, we found flower beds laid out in circles,
squares, lozenges, and every conceivable form, with diminutive jets of
gas so distributed as to imitate flowers of the softest tints, and the
most perfect shape. This, too, seemed unearthly, weird. We seemed, in
an instant, transported into some Thalaba's cave, infinitely beyond
the common sights and sounds of every-day life. In the centre of these
grounds there is a circle of pillars, on the top of each of which is a
pot of flowers, with gas jets, and between them an arch of gas jets.
This circle is very large. In the midst of it is another circle,
forming a pavilion for musicians, also brilliantly illuminated, and
containing a large cotillion band of the most finished performers.
Around this you find thousands of gentlemen and ladies strolling
singly, in pairs, or in groups. There could not be less than three
thousand persons present. While the musicians repose, they loiter,
sauntering round, or recline on seats.
But now a lively waltz strikes the ear. In an instant twenty or thirty
couples are whirling along, floating, like thistles in the wind,
around the central pavilion. Their feet scarce touch the smooth-trodden
earth. Round and round, in a vortex of life, beauty, and brilliancy they
go, a whirlwind of delight. Eyes sparkling, cheeks flushing, and gauzy
draperies floating by; while the crowds outside gather in a ring, and
watch the giddy revel. There are countless forms of symmetry and grace,
faces of wondrous beauty, both among the dancers and among the
There, too, are feats of agility and elasticity quite aerial. One
lithe and active dancer grasped his fair partner by the waist. She was
dressed in a red dress; was small, elastic, agile, and went by like
the wind. And now and then, in the course of every few seconds, he
would give her a whirl and a lift, sending her spinning through the
air, around himself as an axis, full four feet from the ground.
Then the music ceases, the crowd dissolves, and floats and saunters
away. On every hand are games of hazard and skill, with balls, tops,
wheels, &c., where, for five cents a trial, one might seek to gain a
choice out of glittering articles exposed to view.
Then the band strike up again, and the whirling dance renews its
vortex; and so it goes on, from hour to hour, till two or three in the
morning. Not that _we_ staid till then; we saw all we wanted to
see, and left by eleven. But it is a scene perfectly unearthly, or
rather perfectly Parisian, and just as earthly as possible; yet a
scene where earthliness is worked up into a style of sublimation the
most exquisite conceivable.
Entrance to this paradise can be had for, gentlemen, a dollar; ladies,
_free_. This tells the whole story. Nevertheless, do not infer
that there are not any respectable ladies there. It is a place so
remarkable, that very few strangers stay long in Paris without taking
a look at it. And though young ladies residing in Paris never go, and
matrons very seldom, yet occasionally it is the case that some ladies
of respectability look in. The best dancers, those who exhibit such
surprising feats of skill and agility, are _professional_--paid
by the establishment.
Nevertheless, aside from the impropriety inherent in the very nature
of waltzing, there was not a word, look, or gesture of immorality or
impropriety. The dresses were all decent; and if there was vice, it
was vice masked under the guise of polite propriety.
How different, I could not but reflect, is all this from the gin
palaces of London! There, there is indeed a dazzling splendor of gas
light. But there is nothing artistic, nothing refined, nothing
appealing to the imagination. There are only hogsheads, and barrels,
and the appliances for serving out strong drink. And there, for one
sole end, the swallowing of fiery stimulant, come the nightly
thousands--from the gay and well dressed, to the haggard and tattered,
in the last stage of debasement. The end is the same--by how different
paths! Here, they dance along the path to ruin, with flowers and
music; there, they cast themselves bodily, as it were, into the lake
Wednesday, June 15. Went in the forenoon to M. Belloc's studio, and
read while H. was sitting.
Then we drove to Madame Roger's, who is one of the leaders of Paris
taste and legislation in dress, and who is said to have refused to
work for a duchess who neglected to return her husband's bow. I sat in
the outer courts while some mysterious affairs were being transacted
in the inner rooms of state.
Then we drove to the Louvre, and visited the remains from Nineveh.
They are fewer in number than those in the British Museum, which I
have not yet seen. But the pair of human-headed, winged bulls are said
to be equal in size to any.
I was very much impressed, not only by the solemn grandeur of the
thought that thirty centuries were looking down upon me out of those
stony eyes, but by what I have never seen noticed, the magnificent
phrenological development of the heads. The brow is absolutely
prodigious--broad, high, projecting, massive. It is the brow of a
divinity indeed, or of a cherub, which I am persuaded is the true
designation of these creatures. They are to me but the earliest known
attempts to preserve the cherubim that formed the fiery portals of the
Eden temple until quenched in the Purges of the deluge.
Out of those eyes of serene, benign, profound reflection, therefore,
not thirty, but sixty centuries look down upon me. I seem to be
standing at those mysterious Eden gates, where Adam and Eve first
guided the worship of a world, amid the sad, yet sublime symbols of a
previous existence in heavenly realms.
After leaving the Louvre H. and I took a _calèche_, or open
two-seat carriage, and drove from thence to the Madeleine, and thence
the whole length of the Boulevards, circling round, crossing the Pont
d'Austerlitz, and coming back by the Avenue de l'Observatoire and the
Then we saw theatres, the Port St. Denis, Port St. Martin, the site of
the Bastille, and the most gay, beautiful, and bustling boulevards of
As we were proceeding along the Boulevard des Italiens, I saw the
street beginning to line with people, the cabs and carriages drawing
to either side and stopping; police officers commanding, directing,
people running, pushing, looking this way and that. "_Qu' y
a-t-il?_" said I, standing up by the driver--"What's the matter?"
"The emperor is coming," said he.
"Well," said I, "draw to one side, and turn a little, so that we can
He did so, and H. and I both stood up, looking round. We saw several
outriders in livery, on the full trot, followed by several carriages.
They came very fast, the outriders calling to the people to get out of
the way. In the first carriage sat the emperor and the empress--he,
cold, stiff, stately, and homely; she, pale, beautiful, and sad. They
rode not two rods from us. There was not a hat taken off, not a single
shout, not a "_Vive l'Empereur_? Without a single token of
greeting or applause, he rode through the ever-forming, ever-dissolving
avenue of people--the abhorred, the tolerated tyrant." Why do they not
cry out?" I said to the coachman, "Why do they not cry, '_Vive
l'Empereur_'?" A most expressive shrug was the answer, and "I do
not know. I suppose, because they do not choose."
Thursday, June 16. Immediately after breakfast we were to visit
Chateau de Corbeville. The carriage came, and H., Mrs. C., and W.
entered. I mounted the box with the "_cocker_," as usual. To be
shut up in a box, and peep out at the window while driving through
such scenes, is horrible. By the way, our party would have been
larger, but for the arrest of Monsieur F., an intimate friend of the
family, which took place at five o'clock in the morning.
He was here yesterday in fine spirits, and he and his wife were to
have joined our party. His arrest is on some political suspicion, and
as the result cannot be foreseen, it casts a shadow over the spirits
of our household.
We drove along through the bright, fresh morning--I enjoying the
panorama of Paris exceedingly--to the Western Railway Station, where
we took tickets for Versailles.
We feel as much at home now, in these continental railroad stations,
as in our own--nay, more so. Every thing is so regulated here, there
is almost no possibility of going wrong, and there is always somebody
at hand whose business it is to be very polite, and tell you just what
A very pleasant half hour's ride brought us to Versailles. There we
took a barouche for the day, and started for the chateau. In about an
hour and a half, through very pleasant scenery, we came to the spot,
where we were met by Madame V. and her daughter, and, alighting,
walked to the chateau through a long avenue, dark with overarching
trees. We were to have a second breakfast at about one o'clock in the
day; so we strolled out to a seat on the terrace, commanding a fine
and very extensive prospect.
Madame V. is the wife of an eminent lawyer, who held the office of
intendant of the civil list of Louis Philippe, and has had the
settlement of that gentleman's pecuniary affairs since his death. At
the time of the _coup d'état_, being then a representative, he
was imprisoned, and his wife showed considerable intrepidity in
visiting him, walking on foot through the prison yard, amongst the
soldiers sitting drunk on the cannon. At present Monsieur V. is
engaged in his profession in Paris.
Madame V. is a pleasant-looking French woman, of highly-cultivated
mind and agreeable manners; accomplished in music and in painting. Her
daughter, about fifteen, plays well, and is a good specimen of a
well-educated French demoiselle, not yet out. They are simply ciphers,
except as developed in connection with and behind shelter of their
mother. She performed some beautiful things beautifully, and then her
mother played a duet with her. We took a walk through the groves, and
sat on the bank, on the brow of a commanding eminence.
A wide landscape was before us, characterized by every beauty of
foliage conceivable, but by none more admirable, to my eye, than the
poplars, which sustain the same relation to French scenery that
spruces do to that of Maine. Reclining there, we could almost see,
besides the ancient territory of the Duke d'Orsay, the celebrated
valley of Chartreuse, where was the famous Abbey of Port Royal, a
valley filled with historic associations. If it had not been for a
hill which stood in the way, we should have seen it. At our leisure we
discussed painting. Before us, a perfect landscape; around us, a deep
solitude and stillness, broken by the sighing of ancient aristocratic
shades, and the songs of birds; within us, emotions of lassitude and
We had found a spot where existence was a blessing; a spot where to
exist was enough; where the "to be" was, for a moment, disjoined from
the inexorable "to do," or "to suffer." How agreeable to converse with
cultivated and refined artistic minds! How delightful to find people
to whom the beautiful has been a study, and art a world in which they
could live, move, and have their being! And yet it was impossible to
prevent a shade of deep sadness from resting on all things--a tinge of
melancholy. Why?--why this veil of dim and indefinable anguish at
sight of whatever is most fair, at hearing whatever is most lovely? Is
it the exiled spirit, yearning for its own? Is it the captive, to whom
the ray of heaven's own glory comes through the crevice of his dungeon
walls? But this is a digression. Returning, we examined the mansion, a
fine specimen of the old French chateau; square-built, with high
Norman roof, and a round, conical-topped tower at each corner. In
front was a garden, curiously laid out in beds, and knots of flowers,
with a fountain in the centre. This garden was enclosed on all sides
by beech trees, clipped into lofty walls of green. The chateau had
once been fortified, but now the remains of the fortifications are
made into terraces, planted with roses and honeysuckles. Here we
heard, for the first time in our lives, the nightingale's song; a
gurgling warble, with an occasional crescendo, _à la_ Jenny Lind.
At five we dined; took carriage at seven, cars at nine, and arrived in
Paris at ten.
Friday, June 17. At twelve o'clock I started for Versailles to visit
the camp at Sartory, where I understood the emperor was to review the
At Versailles I mounted the top of an omnibus with two Parisian
gentlemen. As I opened my umbrella one of them complimented me on
having it. I replied that it was quite a necessary of life. He
answered, and we were soon quite chatty. I inquired about the camp at
Sartory, and whether the emperor was to be there. He said he had heard
He then asked me if we had not a camp near London, showing that he
took me for an Englishman. I replied that there was a camp there,
though I had not seen it, and that I was an American. In reply he
congratulated me that the Americans were far ahead of the English.
I complimented him then in turn on Versailles and its galleries, and
told him there was not a nation on earth that had such monuments of
its own history and greatness. They were highly elated at this, and we
rode along in the best possible humor together. Nothing will make a
Frenchman thoroughly your friend sooner than heartily to praise his
country. It is for this I love them.
Arrived at Sartory I had a long walk to reach the camp; and instead of
inquiring, as I ought to have done, whether the review was to take
place, I took it for granted. I saw bodies of soldiers moving in
various directions, officers galloping about, and flying artillery
trundling along, and heard drums, trumpets, and bands, and thought it
was all right.
A fifteen minutes' walk brought me to the camp, where tents for some
twenty-five thousand whiten the plain far as the eye can reach. There,
too, I saw distant masses of infantry moving. I might have known by
their slouchy way that they were getting home from parade, not
preparing for it. But I thought the latter, and lying down under a
tree, waited for the review to begin.
It was almost three o'clock. I waited and waited. The soldiers did not
come. I waited, and waited, and waited. The soldiers seemed to have
_gone_ more and more. The throne where the emperor was to sit
remained unoccupied. At last it was four o'clock. Thought I, I will
just ask these redcaps here about this.
"Messieurs," said I, "will you be so good as to inform me if the
emperor is to be here to-day?"
"No," they replied, "he comes on Sunday."
"And what is to be done here, then?" I asked.
"Here," they replied, "to-day? Nothing; _c'est fini_--it is all
over. The review was at one o'clock."
There I had been walking from Versailles, and waiting for a parade
some two hours after it was all over, among crowds of people who could
have told me at once if I had not been so excessively modest as not to
About that time an American might have been seen precipitately seeking
the railroad. I had _not_ seen the elephant. It was hot, dusty,
and there was neither cab nor _calèche_ in reach.
I arrived at the railroad station just in time to see the train go out
at one end as I came in at the other. This was conducive to a frame of
mind that scarcely needs remark. Out of that depot (it was half past
four, and at six they dine in Paris) with augmented zeal and decision
I pitched into a cab.
"_A l'autre station, vite, vite!_"--To the other station, quick,
quick! He mounted the box, and commenced lashing his Rosinante, who
was a subject for crows to mourn over, (because they could hope for
nothing in trying to pick him,) and in an ambling, scrambling pace,
composed of a trot, a canter, and a kick, we made a descent like an
avalanche into the station yard. There Richard was himself again. I
assumed at once the air of a gentleman who had seen the review, and
walked about with composure and dignity. No doubt I had seen the
emperor and all the troops. I succeeded in getting home just in the
middle of dinner, and by dint of hard eating caught up at the third
course with the rest.
That I consider a very white day. Some might call it _green_, but
I mark such days with white always.
In the evening we attended the _salon_ of Lady Elgin, a friend of
our hostess. Found there the Marquis de M., whose book on the
spiritual rappings comes out next week. We conversed on the rappings
By the way, her ladyship rents the Hotel de la Rochefoucauld, in the
Rue de Varenne, Faubourg St. Germain.
St. Germain is full of these princely, aristocratic mansions.
Mournfully beautiful--desolately grand. Out of the stern, stony
street, we entered a wide, square court, under a massive arched
gateway, then through the Rez-de-Chaussée, or lower suite of rooms,
passed out into the rear of the house to find ourselves in the garden,
or rather a kind of park, with tall trees, flooded in moonlight,
bathed in splendors, and with their distant, leafy arches (cut with
artistic skill) reminding one of a Gothic temple. Such a magnificent
forest scene in the very heart of Paris!
Saturday, June 18. After breakfast rode out to Arc de Triomphe--de
l'Etoile, and thence round the exterior barriers and boulevards to
Père la Chaise.
At every entrance to the city past the barriers, (which are now only a
street,) there is a gate, and a building marked "Octroi," which means
No carriage can pass without being examined, though the examination is
a mere form.
Père la Chaise did not interest me much, except that from the top of
the hill I gained a good view of the city. It is filled with tombs and
monuments, and laid out in streets. The houses of the dead are smaller
than the houses of the living, but they are made like houses, with
doors, windows, and an empty place inside for an altar, crucifix,
lamps, wreaths, &c. Tombs have no charm for me. I am not at all
interested or inspired by them. They do not serve with me the purpose
intended, viz., of calling up the memory of the departed. On the
contrary, their memory is associated with their deeds, their works,
the places where they wrought, and the monuments of themselves they
have left. Here, however, in the charnel house is commemorated but the
event of their deepest shame and degradation, their total vanquishment
under the dominion of death, the triumph of corruption.
Here all that was visible of them is insulted by the last enemy, in
the deepest, most humiliating posture of contumely.
From Père la Chaise I came home to dinner at six. H., meanwhile, had
been sitting to M. Belloc.
After dinner H. and the two Misses C. rode out to the Bois de
Boulogne, the fashionable drive of Paris.
We saw all the splendid turnouts, and all the _not_ splendid. Our
horse was noted for the springhalt. It is well to have something to
attract attention about one, you know.
Sabbath, June 19. After breakfast went with Miss W. to the temple St.
Marie, to hear Adolphe Monod. Was able to understand him very well.
Gained a new idea of the capabilities of the French language as the
vehicle of religious thought and experience. I had thought that it was
a language incapable of being made to express the Hebrew mind and
feeling of Scripture. I think differently. The language of Canaan can
make its way through all languages, and in the French it has a pathos,
point, and simplicity which are wonderful. There were thoughts in the
sermon which I shall never forget. I feel myself highly rewarded for
The congregation was as large as the church could possibly hold, and
composed of very interesting and intelligent-looking people. His
subject was, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth
willingly, and without upbraiding," &c. It was most touchingly adapted
to the wants of the unhappy French, and of all poor sinners; and it
came home to me in particular, as if it had been addressed to me
singly, so that I could not help crying.
The afternoon and evening spent at home, reading. H. went in the
morning with Madame de T. to the Catholic service, at the church St.
Germaine l'Auxerrois, and her companion pointed out the different
parts of the service.
H. said she was moved with compassion towards these multitudes, who
seem so very earnest and solemn. Their prayer books contain much that
is excellent, if it was not mixed with so much that is idolatrous.
Monday, June 20. Went to have our passport _viséd_. The sky was
black, and the rain pouring in torrents. As I reached the quay the
Seine was rushing dark, and turbidly foaming. I crept into a fiacre,
and was amused, as we rattled on, to see the plight of gay and
glittering Paris. One poor organ grinder, on the Pont National, sat
with his umbrella over his head, and his body behind the parapet,
grinding away, in the howling storm. It was the best use for a hand
organ I ever saw. The gardens of the Tuileries presented a sorry
sight. The sentries slunk within their boxes. The chairs were stacked
and laid on their sides. The paths were flooded; and the classic
statues looked as though they had a dismal time of it, in the general
My passport went through the office of the American embassy,
prefecture of the police, and the _bureau des affaires étrangères_,
and the Swiss legation, and we were all right for the frontier.
Our fair hostesses are all Alpine mountaineers, posted up in mountain
lore. They make you look blank one moment with horror at some escape
of theirs from being dashed down a precipice; the next they run you a
rig indeed over the Righi; anon you shamble through Chamounix, and
break your neck over the Col-de-balme, and, before you are aware, are
among the lacking at Interlachen.
Wednesday, June 22. Adieu to Paris! Ho for Chalons sur Saone! After
affectionate farewells of our kind friends, by eleven o'clock we were
rushing, in the pleasantest of cars, over the smoothest of rails,
through Burgundy that was; I reading to H. out of Dumas'
_Impressions de Voyage_, going over our very route. We arrived at
Chalons at nine in the evening, and were soon established in the Hotel
du Park, in two small, brick-floored chambers, looking out upon the
Thursday, 23. Eight o'clock A. M. Since five we have had a fine bustle
on the quay below our windows. There lay three steamers, shaped, for
all the world, like our last night's rolls. One would think Ichabod
Crane might sit astride one of them and dip his feet in the water.
They ought to be swift. _L'Hirondelle_ (the Swallow) flew at
five; another at six. We leave at nine.
Eleven o'clock. Here we go, down the Saone. Cabin thirty feet by ten,
papered and varnished in invitation of maple. Ladies knitting,
netting, nodding, napping; gentlemen yawning, snoring; children
frolicking; dogs whining. Overhead a constant tramping, stamping, and
screeching of the steam valve. H. suggests an excursion forward. We
heave up from Hades, and cautiously thread the crowded _Al Sirat_
of a deck. The day is fine; the air is filled with golden beams.
More and more beautiful grows the scene as we approach the Rhone--the
river broader, hills more commanding, and architecture tinged with the
Italian. Bradshaw says it equals the Rhine.
At Lyons there was a scene of indescribable confusion. Out of the hold
a man with a rope and hook was hauling baggage up a smooth board.
Three hundred people were sorting their goods without checks. Porters
were shouldering immense loads, four or five heavy trunks at once,
corded together, and stalking off Atlantean. Hatboxes, bandboxes, and
valises burst like a meteoric shower out of a crater. "_A moi, à
moi!_" was the cry, from old men, young women, soldiers,
shopkeepers, and _prêtres_, scuffling and shoving together.
Careless at once of grammar and of grace, I pulled and shouted with
the best, till at length our plunder was caught, corded and poised on
an herculean neck. We followed in the wake, H. trembling lest the cord
should break, and we experience a pre-Alpine avalanche. At length,
however, we breathed more freely in rooms _au quatrième of Hotel de
After dinner we drove to the cathedral. It was St. John's eve. "At
twelve o'clock to-night," said H., "the spirits of all who are to die
this year will appear to any who will go alone into the dark cathedral
and summon them"! We were charmed with the interior. Twilight hid all
the dirt, cobwebs, and tawdry tinsel; softened the outlines, and gave
to the immense arches, columns, and stained windows a strange and
thrilling beauty. The distant tapers, seeming remoter than reality,
the kneeling crowds, the heavy vesper chime, all combined to realize,
H. said, her dreams of romance more perfectly than ever before. We
could not tear ourselves away. But the clash of the sexton's keys, as
he smote them together, was the signal to be gone. One after another
the tapers were extinguished. The kneeling figures rose; and shadowily
we flitted forth, as from some gorgeous cave of grammarye.
Saturday, June 25. Lyons to Genève. As this was our first experience
in the diligence line, we noticed particularly every peculiarity. A
diligence is a large, heavy, strongly-built, well-hung stage,
consisting of five distinct departments,--coupé, berline, omnibus,
banquette, and baggage top.
[Illustration: _of a diligence coach drawn by four horses._]
After setting up housekeeping in our berline, and putting all "to
rights," the whips cracked, bells jingled, and away we thundered by
the arrowy Rhone. I had had the idea that a diligence was a rickety,
slow-moulded antediluvian nondescript, toiling patiently along over
impassable roads at a snail's pace. Judge of my astonishment at
finding it a full-blooded, vigorous monster, of unscrupulous railway
momentum and imperturbable equipoise of mind.
Down the macadamized slopes we thundered at a prodigious pace; up the
hills we trotted with six horses, three abreast; madly through the
little towns we burst, like a whirlwind, crashing across the pebbled
streets, and out upon the broad, smooth road again. Before we had well
considered the fact that we were out of Lyons, we stopped to change
horses. Done in a jiffy; and whoop, crick, crack, whack, rumble, bump,
whirr, whisk, away we blazed, till, ere we knew it, another change,
"Really, H.," said I, "this is not slow. The fact is, we are going
ahead. _I_ call this travelling--never was so comfortable in my
"Nor I," quoth she. "And, besides, we are unwinding the Rhone all
And, sure enough, we were; ever and anon getting a glimpse of him
spread mazily all abroad in some beautiful vale, like a midguard
anaconda done in silver.
At Nantua, a sordid town, with a squalid inn, we dined, at two,
deliciously, on a red shrimp soup; no, not soup, it was a
_potage_; no, a stew; no, a creamy, unctuous mess, muss, or
whatever you please to call it. Sancho Panza never ate his olla
podrida with more relish. Success to mine host of the jolly inn of
Then we thunderbolted along again, shot through a grim fortress,
crossed a boundary line, and were in Switzerland. Vive Switzerland!
land of Alps, glaciers, and freemen!
As evening drew on, a wind sprang up, and a storm seemed gathering on
the Jura. The rain dashed against the panes of the berime, as we rode
past the grim-faced monarch of the "misty shroud." A cold wind went
sweeping by, and the Rhone was rushing far below, discernible only in
the distance as a rivulet of flashing foam. It was night as we drove
into Geneva, and stopped at the Messagerie. I heard with joy a voice
demanding if this were Monsieur Besshare. I replied, not without some
scruples of conscience, "_Oui, monsieur, c'est moi,_" though the
name did not sound exactly like the one to which I had been wont to
respond. In half an hour we were at home, in the mansion of Monsieur
Genève, Monday, June 27. The day dawned clear over this palace of
enchantment. The mountains, the lake, the entire landscape on every
side revealed itself from our lofty windows with transparent
brilliancy. This house is built on high ground, at the end of the lake
near where the Rhone flows out. It is very high in the rooms, and we
are in the fourth story, and have distant views on all four sides. The
windows are very large, and open in leaves, on hinges, like doors,
leaving the entire window clear, as a frame for the distant picture.
In the afternoon we rode out across the Rhone, where it breaks from
the lake, and round upon the ascending shore. It is seldom here that
the Alps are visible. The least mist hides them completely, so that
travellers are wont to record it in their diaries as a great event, "I
saw Mont Blanc to-day." Yesterday there was nothing but clouds and
thick gloom; but now we had not ridden far before H. sprang suddenly,
as if she had lost her senses--her cheeks flushed, and her eye
flashing. I was frightened. "There," said she, pointing out of the
side of the carriage across the lake, "there he is--there's Mont
Blanc." "Pooh," said I, "no such thing." And some trees for a moment
intervened, and shut out the view. Presently the trees opened, and H.
cried, "There, that _white_; don't you see?--there--there!"
pointing with great energy, as if she were getting ready to fly. I
looked and saw, sure enough, behind the dark mass of the Mole, (a huge
blue-black mountain in the foreground,) the granite ranges rising
gradually and grim as we rode; but, further still, behind those gray
and ghastly barriers, all bathed and blazing in the sun's fresh
splendors, undimmed by a cloud, unveiled even by a filmy fleece of
vapor, and oh, so white--so intensely, blindingly white! against the
dark-blue sky, the needles, the spires, the solemn pyramid, the
transfiguration cone of Mont Blanc. Higher, and still higher, those
apocalyptic splendors seemed lifting their spectral, spiritual forms,
seeming to rise as we rose, seeming to start like giants hidden from
behind the black brow of intervening ranges, opening wider the
amphitheatre of glory, until, as we reached the highest point in our
road, the whole unearthly vision stood revealed in sublime
perspective. The language of the Revelation came rushing through my
soul. This is, as it were, a door opened in heaven. Here are some of
those everlasting mountain ranges, whose light is not of the sun, nor
of the moon, but of the Lord God and of the Lamb. Here is, as it were,
a great white throne, on which One might sit before whose face heaven
and earth might flee; and here a sea of glass mingled with fire. Nay,
rather, here are some faint shadows, some dim and veiled resemblances,
which bring our earth-imprisoned spirits to conceive remotely what the
disencumbered eye of the ecstatic apostle gazed upon.
With solemn thankfulness we gazed--thankfulness to God for having
withdrawn his veil of clouds from this threshold of the heavenly
vestibule, and brought us across the Atlantic to behold. And as our
eyes, blinded by the dazzling vision,--which we might reside here
years without beholding in such perfection,--filled with tears, we
were forced to turn them away and hide them, or fasten them upon the
dark range of Jura on the other side of us, until they were able to
gaze again. Thus we rode onward, obtaining new points of view, new
effects, and deeper emotions; nor can time efface the impressions we
received in the depths of our souls.
A lady, at whose door we alighted for a moment to obtain a particular
point of view, told us that at sunset the mountain assumed a peculiar
transparency, with most mysterious hues of blue and purple; so that
she had seen irreligious natures, frivolous and light, when suddenly
called out to look, stand petrified, or rather exalted above
themselves, and irresistibly turning their faces, their thoughts,
their breathings of adoration up to God.
I do not wonder that the eternal home of the glorified should be
symbolized by a Mount Zion. I do not wonder that the Psalmist should
say, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the _hills,_ from whence
cometh my help!" For surely earth cannot present, nor unassisted fancy
conceive, an object more profoundly significant of divine majesty than
these mountains in their linen vesture of everlasting snow.
Tuesday, June 28. The morning dawned clear, warm, and cloudless. A
soft haze rested on the distant landscape, without, however, in the
least dimming its beauty.
At about eleven we set off with two horses in an open carriage, by the
left shore, to visit St. Cergue, and ascend the Jura. All our way was
gradually ascending, and before us, or rather across the lake on one
side, stood the glorious New Jerusalem scene. We were highly favored.
Every moment diminished the intervening mountains, and lifted the
gorgeous pageant higher into the azure.
Every step, every turn, presented it in some new point of view, and
extended the range of observation. New Alps were continually rising,
and diamond-pointed peaks glancing up behind sombre granite bulwarks.
At noon _cocher_ stopped at a village to refresh his horses. We
proceeded to a cool terrace filled with trees, and lulled by the
splash of a fountain, from whence the mountain was in full view. Here
we investigated the mysteries of a certain basket which our provident
hostess had brought with her.
After due refreshment and repose we continued our route, ascending the
Jura, towards the Dôle, which is the highest mountain of that range. A
macadamized road coiled up the mountain side, affording us at every
turning a new and more splendid view of the other shore of the lake.
At length we reached St. Cergue, and leaving the carriage, H. and I,
guided by a peasant girl, went through the woods to the highest point,
where were the ruins of the ancient chateau. Far be it from me to