This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1898
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

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

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

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

[Illustration: H.B. Stanton] [Illustration: MRS. STANTON AND DAUGHTER, 1857.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I suppose your nursing mothers drink beer?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow– Such as creation’s dawn beheld, thou rollest now.”

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



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


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

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

“Yours sincerely,



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

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

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

“Believe me, dear Mrs. Stanton,

“Very Truly and Respectfully Yours,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I only asked for one,” I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, after all, a mother’s instinct is better than a man’s reason.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing ails it,” said the father, “but bad temper.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Mother, do you know anything about babies?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I wish I could hear them over again.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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