Skip Doughty, Tiffany Vergon, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed
SUNNY MEMORIES OF FOREIGN LANDS.
BY MRS. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE,
Author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Etc.
….. “When thou haply seest
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travels, Make me partake of thy happiness.”
IN TWO VOLUMES.
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
Breakfast.–Macaulay.–Hallam.–Milman.–Sir R. Inglis.– Lunch at Surrey Parsonage.–Dinner at Sir E. Buxton’s.
Dinner at Lord Shaftesbury’s.
Stoke Newington.–Exeter Hall.–Antislavery Meeting.
Windsor.–The Picture Gallery.–Eton.–The Poet Gray.
LETTER XXIII. Rev. Mr. Gurney.–Richmond, the Artist.–Kossuth.– Pembroke Lodge.–Dinner at Lord John Russell’s.–Lambeth Palace.
Joseph Sturge.–The “Times” upon Dressmaking.–Duke of Argyle.– Sir David Brewster.–Lord Mahon.–Mr. Gladstone.
London Milliners.–Lord Shaftesbury.
LETTER XXVII. Archbishop of Canterbury’s Sermon to the Ragged Scholars.–Mr. Cobden.–Miss Greenfield’s Concert.–Rev. S. R. Ward. –Lady Byron.–Mrs. Jameson.–George Thompson.–Ellen Crafts.
Model Lodging Houses.–Lodging House Act.–Washing Houses.
LETTER XXIX. Benevolent Movements.–The Poor Laws.–The Insane.– Factory Operatives.–Schools, &c.
LETTER XXX. Presentation at Surrey Chapel.–House of Parliament.– Miss Greenfield’s Second Concert.–Sir John Malcolm.–The Charity Children.–Mrs. Gaskell.–Thackeray.
London to Paris.–Church Music.–The Shops.–The Louvre.–Music at the Tuileries.–A Salon.–Versailles.–M. Belloc.
The Louvre.–The Venus de Milon.
M. Belloc’s Studio.–M. Charpentier.–Salon Musicale.–Peter Parley.–Jardin Mabille.–Remains of Nineveh.–The Emperor.– Versailles.–Sartory.–Père la Chaise.–Adolphe Monod.–Paris to Lyons.–Diligence to Geneva.–Mont Blanc.–Lake Leman.
Route to Chamouni.–Glaciers.
Chamouni.–Rousse, the Mule.–The Ascent.
The Ice Fields.
Chamouni to Martigny.–Humors of the Mules.
Alpine Flowers.–Pass of the Tête Noir.
Ascent to St. Bernard.–The Dogs.
Castle Chillon.–Bonnevard.–Mont Blanc from Geneva.–Luther and Calvin.–Madame De Wette.–M. Fazy.
A Serenade.–Lausanne.–Freyburg.–Berne.–The Staubbach.– Grindelwald.
Wengern Alps.–Flowers.–Glaciers.–The Eiger.
Glaciers.–Interlachen.–Sunrise in the Mountains.–Monument to the Swiss Guards of Louis XVI.–Basle.–Strasbourg.
Frankfort.–Lessing’s “Trial of Huss.”
To Cologne.–The Cathedral.
Cologne.–Church of St. Ursula.–Relics.–Dusseldorf.
To Leipsic.–M. Tauchnitz.–Dresden.–The Gallery.–Berlin.
The Dresden Gallery.–Schoeffer.
Berlin.–The Palace.–The Museum.
Wittenberg.–Luther’s House.–Melanchthon’s House.
Erfurt.–The Cathedral.–Luther’s Cell.–The Wartburg.
The Smoker discomfited.–Antwerp.–The Cathedral Chimes.–To Paris.
Paris.–School of Design.–Egyptian and Assyrian Remains.–Mrs. S. C. Hall.–The Pantheon.–The Madeleine.–Notre Dame.–Béranger.–French Character.–Observance of Sunday.
Seasickness on the Channel.
York.–Castle Howard.–Leeds.–Fountains Abbey.–Liverpool.–Irish Deputation.–Departure.
This letter I consecrate to you, because I know that the persons and things to be introduced into it will most particularly be appreciated by you.
In your evening reading circles, Macaulay, Sidney Smith, and Milman have long been such familiar names that you will be glad to go with me over all the scenes of my morning breakfast at Sir Charles Trevelyan’s yesterday. Lady Trevelyan, I believe I have said before, is the sister of Macaulay, and a daughter of Zachary Macaulay–that undaunted laborer for the slave, whose place in the hearts of all English Christians is little below saintship.
We were set down at Welbourne Terrace, somewhere, I believe, about eleven o’clock, and found quite a number already in the drawing room. I had met Macaulay before, but as you have not, you will of course ask a lady’s first question, “How does he look?”
Well, my dear, so far as relates to the mere outward husk of the soul, our engravers and daguerreotypists have done their work as well as they usually do. The engraving that you get in the best editions of his works may be considered, I suppose, a fair representation of how he looks, when he sits to have his picture taken, which is generally very different from the way any body looks at any other time. People seem to forget, in taking likenesses, that the features of the face are nothing but an alphabet, and that a dry, dead map of a person’s face gives no more idea how one looks than the simple presentation of an alphabet shows what there is in a poem.
Macaulay’s whole physique gives you the impression of great strength and stamina of constitution. He has the kind of frame which we usually imagine as peculiarly English; short, stout, and firmly knit. There is something hearty in all his demonstrations. He speaks in that full, round, rolling voice, deep from the chest, which we also conceive of as being more common in England than America. As to his conversation, it is just like his writing; that is to say, it shows very strongly the same qualities of mind.
I was informed that he is famous for a most uncommon memory; one of those men to whom it seems impossible to forget any thing once read; and he has read all sorts of things that can be thought of, in all languages. A gentleman told me that he could repeat all the old Newgate literature, hanging ballads, last speeches, and dying confessions; while his knowledge of Milton is so accurate, that, if his poems were blotted out of existence, they might be restored simply from his memory. This same accurate knowledge extends to the Latin and Greek classics, and to much of the literature of modern Europe. Had nature been required to make a man to order, for a perfect historian, nothing better could have been put together, especially since there is enough of the poetic fire included in the composition, to fuse all these multiplied materials together, and color the historical crystallization with them.
Macaulay is about fifty. He has never married; yet there are unmistakable evidences in the breathings and aspects of the family circle by whom he was surrounded, that the social part is not wanting in his conformation. Some very charming young lady relatives seemed to think quite as much of their gifted uncle as you might have done had he been yours.
Macaulay is celebrated as a conversationalist; and, like Coleridge, Carlyle, and almost every one who enjoys this reputation, he has sometimes been accused of not allowing people their fair share in conversation. This might prove an objection, possibly, to those who wish to talk; but as I greatly prefer to hear, it would prove none to me. I must say, however, that on this occasion the matter was quite equitably managed. There were, I should think, some twenty or thirty at the breakfast table, and the conversation formed itself into little eddies of two or three around the table, now and then welling out into a great bay of general discourse. I was seated between Macaulay and Milman, and must confess I was a little embarrassed at times, because I wanted to hear what they were both saying at the same time. However, by the use of the faculty by which you play a piano with both hands, I got on very comfortably.
Milman’s appearance is quite striking; tall, stooping, with a keen black eye and perfectly white hair–a singular and poetic contrast. He began upon architecture and Westminster Abbey–a subject to which I am always awake. I told him I had not yet seen Westminster; for I was now busy in seeing life and the present, and by and by I meant to go there and see death and the past.
Milman was for many years dean of Westminster, and kindly offered me his services, to indoctrinate me into its antiquities.
Macaulay made some suggestive remarks on cathedrals generally. I said that I thought it singular that we so seldom knew who were the architects that designed these great buildings; that they appeared to me the most sublime efforts of human genius.
He said that all the cathedrals of Europe were undoubtedly the result of one or two minds; that they rose into existence very nearly contemporaneously, and were built by travelling companies of masons, under the direction of some systematic organization. Perhaps you knew all this before, but I did not; and so it struck me as a glorious idea. And if it is not the true account of the origin of cathedrals, it certainly ought to be; and, as our old grandmother used to say, “I’m going to believe it.”
Looking around the table, and seeing how every body seemed to be enjoying themselves, I said to Macaulay, that these breakfast parties were a novelty to me; that we never had them in America, but that I thought them the most delightful form of social life.
He seized upon the idea, as he often does, and turned it playfully inside out, and shook it on all sides, just as one might play with the lustres of a chandelier–to see them glitter. He expatiated on the merits of breakfast parties as compared with all other parties. He said dinner parties are mere formalities. You invite a man to dinner because you _must_ invite him; because you are acquainted with his grandfather, or it is proper you should; but you invite a man to breakfast because you want to see _him_. You may be sure, if you are invited to breakfast, there is something agreeable about you. This idea struck me as very sensible; and we all, generally having the fact before our eyes that _we_ were invited to breakfast, approved the sentiment.
“Yes,” said Macaulay, “depend upon it; if a man is a bore he never gets an invitation to breakfast.”
“Rather hard on the poor bores,” said a lady.
“Particularly,” said Macaulay, laughing, “as bores are usually the most irreproachable of human beings. Did you ever hear a bore complained of when they did not say that he was the best fellow in the world? For my part, if I wanted to get a guardian for a family of defenceless orphans, I should inquire for the greatest bore in the vicinity. I should know that he would be a man of unblemished honor and integrity.”
The conversation now went on to Milton and Shakspeare. Macaulay made one remark that gentlemen are always making, and that is, that there is very little characteristic difference between Shakspeare’s women. Well, there is no hope for that matter; so long as men are not women they will think so. In general they lump together Miranda, Juliet, Desdemona, and Viola,
“As matter too soft a lasting mark to bear, And best distinguished as black, brown, or fair.”
It took Mrs. Jameson to set this matter forth in her Characteristics of Women; a book for which Shakspeare, if he could get up, ought to make her his best bow, especially as there are fine things ascribed to him there, which, I dare say, he never thought of, careless fellow that he was! But, I take it, every true painter, poet, and artist is in some sense so far a prophet that his utterances convey more to other minds than he himself knows; so that, doubtless, should all the old masters rise from the dead, they might be edified by what posterity has found in their works.
Some how or other, we found ourselves next talking about Sidney Smith; and it was very pleasant to me, recalling the evenings when your father has read and we have laughed over him, to hear him spoken of as a living existence, by one who had known him. Still, I have always had a quarrel with Sidney, for the wicked use to which he put his wit, in abusing good old Dr. Carey, and the missionaries in India; nay, in some places he even stooped to be spiteful and vulgar. I could not help, therefore, saying, when Macaulay observed that he had the most agreeable wit of any literary man of his acquaintance, “Well, it was very agreeable, but it could not have been very agreeable to the people who came under the edge of it,” and instanced his treatment of Dr. Carey. Some others who were present seemed to feel warmly on this subject, too, and Macaulay said,–
“Ah, well, Sidney repented of that, afterwards.” He seemed to cling to his memory, and to turn from every fault to his joviality, as a thing he could not enough delight to remember.
Truly, wit, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. A man who has the faculty of raising a laugh in this sad, earnest world is remembered with indulgence and complacency, always.
There were several other persons of note present at this breakfast, whose conversation I had not an opportunity of hearing, as they sat at a distance from me. There was Lord Glenelg, brother of Sir Robert Grant, governor of Bombay, whose beautiful hymns have rendered him familiar in America. The favorite one, commencing “When gathering clouds around I view,” was from his pen. Lord Glenelg, formerly Sir Charles Grant, himself has been the author of several pieces of poetry, which were in their time quite popular.
The historian Hallam was also present, whose Constitutional History, you will remember, gave rise to one of Macaulay’s finest reviews; a quiet, retiring man, with a benignant, somewhat sad, expression of countenance. The loss of an only son has cast a shadow over his life. It was on this son that Tennyson wrote his “_In Memoriam_.”
Sir Robert H. Inglis was also present, and Mr. S. held considerable conversation with him. Knowing that he was both high tory and high church, it was an agreeable surprise to find him particularly gentle and bland in manners, earnest and devout in religious sentiment. I have heard him spoken of, even among dissenters, as a devout and earnest man. Another proof this of what mistakes we fall into when we judge the characters of persons at a distance, from what we suppose likely to be the effect of their sentiments. We often find the professed aristocrat gentle and condescending, and the professed supporter of forms spiritual.
I think it very likely there may have been other celebrities present, whom I did not know. I am always finding out, a day or two after, that I have been with somebody very remarkable, and did not know it at the time.
After breakfast we found, on consulting our list, that we were to lunch at Surrey parsonage.
Of all the cities I was ever in, London is the most absolutely unmanageable, it takes so long to get any where; wherever you want to go it seems to take you about two hours to get there. From the West End down into the city is a distance that seems all but interminable. London is now more than ten miles long. And yet this monster city is stretching in all directions yearly, and where will be the end of it nobody knows. Southey says, “I began to study the map of London, though dismayed at its prodigious extent. The river is no assistance to a stranger in finding his way; there is no street along its banks, and no eminence from whence you can look around and take your bearings.”
You may take these reflections as passing through my mind while we were driving through street after street, and going round corner after corner, towards the parsonage.
Surrey Chapel and parsonage were the church and residence of the celebrated Kowland Hill. At present the incumbent is the Rev. Mr. Sherman, well known to many of our American clergy by the kind hospitalities and attentions with which he has enriched their stay in London. The church maintains a medium rank between Congregationalism and Episcopacy, retaining part of the ritual, but being independent in its government. The kindness of Mr. Sherman had assembled here a very agreeable company, among whom were Farquhar Tupper, the artist Cruikshank, from whom I received a call the other morning, and Mr. Pilatte, M. P. Cruikshank is an old man with gray hair and eyebrows, strongly marked features, and keen eyes. He talked to me something about the promotion of temperance by a series of literary sketches illustrated by his pencil.
I sat by a lady who was well acquainted with Kingsley, the author of Alton Locke, Hypatia, and other works, with whom I had some conversation with regard to the influence of his writings.
She said that he had been instrumental in rescuing from infidelity many young men whose minds had become unsettled; that he was a devoted and laborious clergyman, exerting himself, without any cessation, for the good of his parish.
After the company were gone I tried to get some rest, as my labors were not yet over, we being engaged to dine at Sir Edward Buxton’s. This was our most dissipated day in London. We never tried the experiment again of going to three parties in one day.
By the time I got to my third appointment I was entirely exhausted. I met here some, however, whom I was exceedingly interested to see; among them Samuel Gurney, brother of Elizabeth Fry, with his wife and family. Lady Edward Buxton is one of his daughters. All had that air of benevolent friendliness which is characteristic of the sect.
Dr. Lushington, the companion and venerable associate of Wilberforce and Clarkson, was also present. He was a member of Parliament with Wilberforce forty or fifty years ago. He is now a judge of the admiralty court, that is to say, of the law relating to marine affairs. This is a branch of law which the nature of our government in America makes it impossible for us to have. He is exceedingly brilliant and animated in conversation.
Dr. Cunningham, the author of World without Souls, was present. There was there also a master of Harrow School.
He told me an anecdote, which pleased me for several reasons; that once, when the queen visited the school, she put to him the inquiry, “whether the educational system of England did not give a disproportionate attention to the study of the ancient classics.” His reply was, “that her majesty could best satisfy her mind on that point by observing what men the public schools of England had hitherto produced;” certainly a very adroit reply, yet one which would be equally good against the suggestion of any improvement whatever. We might as well say, see what men we have been able to raise in America without any classical education at all; witness Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Roger Sherman.
It is a curious fact that Christian nations, with one general consent, in the early education of youth neglect the volume which they consider inspired, and bring the mind, at the most susceptible period, under the dominion of the literature and mythology of the heathen world; and that, too, when the sacred history and poetry are confessedly superior in literary quality. Grave doctors of divinity expend their forces in commenting on and teaching things which would be utterly scouted, were an author to publish them in English as original compositions. A Christian community has its young men educated in Ovid and Anacreon, but is shocked when one of them comes out in English with Don Juan; yet, probably, the latter poem is purer than either.
The English literature and poetry of the time of Pope and Dryden betray a state of association so completely heathenized, that an old Greek or Roman raised from the dead could scarce learn from them that any change had taken place in the religion of the world; and even Milton often pains one by introducing second-hand pagan mythology into the very shadow of the eternal throne. In some parts of the Paradise Lost, the evident imitations of Homer are to me the poorest and most painful passages.
The adoration of the ancient classics has lain like a dead weight on all modern art and literature; because men, instead of using them simply for excitement and inspiration, have congealed them into fixed, imperative rules. As the classics have been used, I think, wonderful as have been the minds educated under them, there would have been more variety and originality without them.
With which long sermon on a short text, I will conclude my letter.
Thursday, May 12. My dear I.:–
Yesterday, what with my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was, as the fashionable saying is, “fairly knocked up.” This expression, which I find obtains universally here, corresponds to what we mean by being “used up.” They talk of Americanisms, and I have a little innocent speculation now and then concerning Anglicisms. I certainly find several here for which I can perceive no more precedent in the well of “English undefiled,” than for some of ours; for instance, this being “knocked up,” which is variously inflected, as, for example, in the form of a participial adjective, as a “knocking up” affair; in the form of a noun, as when they say “such a person has got quite a knocking up,” and so on.
The fact is, if we had ever had any experience in London life we should not have made three engagements in one day. To my simple eye it is quite amusing to see how they manage the social machine here. People are under such a pressure of engagements, that they go about with their lists in their pockets. If A wants to invite B to dinner, out come their respective lists. A says he has only Tuesday and Thursday open for this week. B looks down his list, and says that the days are all closed. A looks along, and says that he has no day open till next Wednesday week. B, however, is going to leave town Tuesday; so that settles the matter as to dining; so they turn back again, and try the breakfasting; for though you cannot dine in but one place a day, yet, by means of the breakfast and the lunch, you can make three social visits if you are strong enough.
Then there are evening parties, which begin at ten o’clock. The first card of the kind that was sent me, which was worded, “At home at ten o’clock,” I, in my simplicity, took to be ten in the morning.
But here are people staying out night after night till two o’clock, sitting up all night in Parliament, and seeming to thrive upon it. There certainly is great apology for this in London, if it is always as dark, drizzling, and smoky in the daytime as it has been since I have been here. If I were one of the London people I would live by gaslight as they do, for the streets and houses are altogether pleasanter by gaslight than by daylight. But to ape these customs under our clear, American skies, so contrary to our whole social system, is simply ridiculous.
This morning I was exceedingly tired, and had a perfect longing to get but of London into some green fields–to get somewhere where there was nobody. So kind Mrs. B. had the carriage, and off we drove together. By and by we found ourselves out in the country, and then I wanted to get out and walk.
After a while a lady came along, riding a little donkey. These donkeys have amused me so much since I have been here! At several places on the outskirts of the city they have them standing, all girt up with saddles covered with white cloth, for ladies to ride on. One gets out of London by means of an omnibus to one of these places, and then, for a few pence, can have a ride upon one of them into the country. Mrs. B. walked by the side of the lady, and said to her something which I did not hear, and she immediately alighted and asked me with great kindness if I wanted to try the saddle; so I got upon the little beast, which was about as large as a good-sized calf, and rode a few paces to try him. It is a slow, but not unpleasant gait, and if the creature were not so insignificantly small, as to make you feel much as if you were riding upon a cat, it would be quite a pleasant affair. After dismounting I crept through a hole in a hedge, and looked for some flowers; and, in short, made the most that I could of my interview with nature, till it came time to go home to dinner, for our dinner hour at Mr. B.’s is between one and two; quite like home. In the evening we were to dine at Lord Shaftesbury’s.
After napping all the afternoon we went to Grosvenor Square. There was only a small, select party, of about sixteen. Among the guests were Dr. McAll, Hebrew professor in King’s College, Lord Wriothesley Russell, brother of Lord John, and one of the private chaplains of the queen, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. McAll is a millenarian. He sat next to C. at table, and they had some conversation on that subject. He said those ideas had made a good deal of progress in the English mind.
While I was walking down to dinner with Lord Shaftesbury, he pointed out to me in the hall the portrait of his distinguished ancestor, Antony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, whose name he bears. This ancestor, notwithstanding his sceptical philosophy, did some good things, as he was the author of the habeas corpus act.
After dinner we went back to the drawing rooms again; and while tea and coffee were being served, names were constantly being announced, till the rooms were quite full.
Among the earliest who arrived was Mr.—-, a mulatto gentleman, formerly British consul at Liberia. I found him a man of considerable cultivation and intelligence, evincing much good sense in his observations.
I overheard some one saying in the crowd, “Shaftesbury has been about the chimney sweepers again in Parliament.” I said to Lord Shaftesbury, “I thought that matter of the chimney sweepers had been attended to long ago, and laws made about it.”
“So we have made laws,” said he, “but people won’t keep them unless we follow them up.”
He has a very prompt, cheerful way of speaking, and throws himself into every thing he talks about with great interest and zeal. He introduced me to one gentleman, I forget his name now, as the patron of the shoeblacks. On my inquiring what that meant, he said that he had started the idea of providing employment for poor street boys, by furnishing them with brushes and blacking, and forming them into regular companies of shoeblacks. Each boy has his’ particular stand, where he blacks the shoes of every passer by who chooses to take the trouble of putting up his foot and paying his twopence. Lord Shaftesbury also presented me to a lady who had been a very successful teacher in the ragged schools; also to a gentleman who, he said, had been very active in the London city missions. Some very ingenious work done in the ragged schools was set on the table for the company to examine, and excited much interest.
I talked a little while with Lord Wriothesley Russell. From him we derived the idea that the queen was particularly careful in the training and religious instruction of her children. He said that she claimed that the young prince should be left entirely to his parents, in regard to his religious instruction, till he was seven years of age; but that, on examining him at that time, they were equally surprised and delighted with his knowledge of the Scriptures. I must remark here, that such an example as the queen sets in the education of her children makes itself felt through all the families of the kingdom. Domesticity is now the fashion in high life. I have had occasion to see, in many instances, how carefully ladies of rank instruct their children. This argues more favorably for the continuance of English institutions than any thing I have seen. If the next generation of those who are born to rank and power are educated, in the words of Fenelon, to consider these things “as a ministry,” which they hold for the benefit of the poor, the problem of life in England will become easier of solution. Such are Lord Shaftesbury’s views, and as he throws them out with unceasing fervor in his conversation and conduct, they cannot but powerfully affect not only his own circle, but all circles through the kingdom. Lady Shaftesbury is a beautiful and interesting woman, and warmly enters into the benevolent plans of her husband. A gentleman and lady with whom I travelled said that Lord and Lady Shaftesbury had visited in person the most forlorn and wretched parts of London, that they might get, by their own eyesight, a more correct gauge of the misery to be relieved. I did not see Lord Shaftesbury’s children; but, from the crayon likenesses which hung upon the walls, they must be a family of uncommon beauty.
I talked a little while with the Bishop of Tuam. I was the more interested to do so because he was from that part of Ireland which Sibyl Jones has spoken of as being in so particularly miserable a condition. I said, “How are you doing now, in that part of the country? There has been a great deal of misery there, I hear.” He said “There has been, but we have just turned the corner, and now I hope we shall see better days. The condition of the people has been improved by emigration and other causes, till the evils have been brought within reach, and we feel that there is hope of effecting a permanent improvement.”
While I was sitting talking, Lord Shaltesbury brought a gentleman and lady, whom he introduced as Lord Chief Justice Campbell and Lady Strathheden. Lord Campbell is a man of most dignified and imposing personal presence; tall, with a large frame, a fine, high forehead, and strongly marked features. Naturally enough, I did not suppose them to be husband and wife, and when I discovered that they were so, expressed a good deal of surprise at their difference of titles; to which she replied, that she did not wonder we Americans were sometimes puzzled among the number of titles. She seemed quite interested to inquire into our manner of living and customs, and how they struck me as compared with theirs. The letter of Mrs. Tyler was much talked of, and some asked me if I supposed Mrs. Tyler really wrote it, expressing a little civil surprise at the style. I told them that I had heard it said that it must have been written by some of the gentlemen in the family, because it was generally understood that Mrs. Tyler was a very ladylike person. Some said, “It does us no harm to be reminded of our deficiencies; we need all the responsibility that can be put upon us.” Others said, “It is certain we have many defects;” but Lord John Campbell said, “There is this difference between our evils and those of slavery: ours exist contrary to law; those are upheld by law.”
I did not get any opportunity of conversing with the Archbishop of Canterbury, though this is the second time I have been in company with him. He is a most prepossessing man in his appearance–simple, courteous, mild, and affable. He was formerly Bishop of Chester, and is now Primate of all England.
It is some indication of the tendency of things in a country to notice what kind of men are patronized and promoted to the high places of the church. Sumner is a man refined, gentle, affable, scholarly, thoroughly evangelical in sentiment; to render him into American phraseology, he is in doctrine what we should call a moderate New School man. He has been a most industrious writer; one of his principal works is his Commentary on the New Testament, in several volumes; a work most admirably adapted for popular use, combining practical devotion with critical accuracy to an uncommon degree. He has also published a work on the Evidences of Christianity, in which he sets forth some evidences of the genuineness of the gospel narrative, which could only have been conceived by a mind of peculiar delicacy, and which are quite interesting and original. He has also written a work on Biblical Geology, which is highly spoken of by Sir Charles Lyell and others. If I may believe accounts that I hear, this mild and moderate man has shown a most admirable firmness and facility in guiding the ship of the establishment in some critical and perilous places of late years. I should add that he is warmly interested in all the efforts now making for the good of the poor.
Among other persons of distinction, this evening, I noticed Lord and Lady Palmerston.
A lady asked me this evening what I thought of the beauty of the ladies of the English aristocracy: she was a Scotch lady, by the by; so the question was a fair one. I replied, that certainly report had not exaggerated their charms. Then came a home question–how the ladies of England compared with the ladies of America. “Now for it, patriotism,” said I to myself; and, invoking to my aid certain fair saints of my own country, whose faces I distinctly remembered, I assured her that I had never seen more beautiful women than I had in America. Grieved was I to be obliged to add, “But your ladies keep their beauty much later and longer.” This fact stares one in the face in every company; one meets ladies past fifty, glowing, radiant, and blooming, with a freshness of complexion and fulness of outline refreshing to contemplate. What can be the reason? Tell us, Muses and Graces, what can it be? Is it the conservative power of sea fogs and coal smoke–the same cause that keeps the turf green, and makes the holly and ivy flourish? How comes it that our married ladies dwindle, fade, and grow thin–that their noses incline to sharpness, and their elbows to angularity, just at the time of life when their island sisters round out into a comfortable and becoming amplitude and fulness? If it is the fog and the sea coal, why, then, I am afraid we never shall come up with them. But perhaps there may be other causes why a country which starts some of the most beautiful girls in the world produces so few beautiful women. Have not our close-heated stove rooms something to do with it? Have not the immense amount of hot biscuits, hot corn cakes, and other compounds got up with the acrid poison of saleratus, something to do with it? Above all, has not our climate, with its alternate extremes of heat and cold, a tendency to induce habits Of in-door indolence? Climate, certainly, has a great deal to do with it; ours is evidently more trying and more exhausting; and because it is so, we should not pile upon its back errors of dress and diet which are avoided by our neighbors. They keep their beauty, because they keep their health. It has been as remarkable as any thing to me, since I have been here, that I do not constantly, as at home, hear one and another spoken of as in miserable health, as very delicate, &c. Health seems to be the rule, and not the exception. For my part, I must say, the most favorable omen that I know of for female beauty in America is, the multiplication of water cure establishments, where our ladies, if they get nothing else, do gain some ideas as to the necessity of fresh air, regular exercise, simple diet, and the laws of hygiene in general.
There is one thing more which goes a long way towards the continued health of these English ladies, and therefore towards their beauty; and that is, the quietude and perpetuity of their domestic institutions. They do not, like us, fade their cheeks lying awake nights ruminating the awful question who shall do the washing next week, or who shall take the chambermaid’s place, who is going to be married, or that of the cook, who has signified her intention of parting with the mistress. Their hospitality is never embarrassed by the consideration that their whole kitchen cabinet may desert at the moment that their guests arrive. They are not obliged to choose between washing their own dishes, or having their cut glass, silver, and china left to the mercy of a foreigner, who has never done any thing but field work. And last, not least, they are not possessed with that ambition to do the impossible in all branches, which, I believe, is the death of a third of the women in America. What is there ever read of in books, or described in foreign travel, as attained by people in possession of every means and appliance, which our women will not undertake, single-handed, in spite of every providential indication to the contrary? Who is not cognizant of dinner parties invited, in which the lady of the house has figured successively as confectioner, cook, dining-room girl, and, lastly, rushed up stairs to bathe her glowing cheeks, smooth her hair, draw on satin dress and kid gloves, and appear in the drawing room as if nothing were the matter? Certainly the undaunted bravery of our American females can never enough be admired. Other women can play gracefully the head of the establishment; but who, like them, could be head, hand, and foot, all at once?
As I have spoken of stoves, I will here remark that I have not yet seen one in England; neither, so far as I can remember, have I seen a house warmed by a furnace. Bright coal fires, in grates of polished steel, are as yet the lares and penates of old England. If I am inclined to mourn over any defection in my own country, it is the closing up of the cheerful open fire, with its bright lights and dancing shadows, and the planting on our domestic hearth of that sullen, stifling gnome, the air-tight. I agree with Hawthorne in thinking the movement fatal to patriotism; for who would fight for an airtight!
I have run on a good way beyond our evening company; so good by for the present.
May 13. Dear father:–
To-day we are to go out to visit your Quaker friend, Mr. Alexander, at Stoke Newington, where you passed so many pleasant hours during your sojourn in England. At half past nine we went into the Congregational Union, which is now in session. I had a seat upon the platform, where I could command a view of the house. It was a most interesting assemblage to me, recalling forcibly our New England associations, and impressing more than ever on my mind how much of one blood the two countries are. These earnest, thoughtful, intelligent-looking men seemed to transport me back to my own country. They received us with most gratifying cordiality and kindness. Most naturally Congregationalism in England must turn with deep interest and sympathy to Congregationalism in America. In several very cordial addresses they testified their pleasure at seeing us among them, speaking most affectionately of you and your labors, and your former visit to England. The wives and daughters of many of them present expressed in their countenances the deepest and most affectionate feeling. It is cheering to feel that an ocean does not divide our hearts, and that the Christians of America and England are one.
In the afternoon we drove out to Mr. Alexander’s. His place is called Paradise, and very justly, being one more of those home Edens in which England abounds, where, without ostentation or display, every appliance of rational enjoyment surrounds one.
We were ushered into a cheerful room, opening by one glass door upon a brilliant conservatory of flowers, and by another upon a neatly-kept garden. The air was fresh and sweet with the perfume of blossoming trees, and every thing seemed doubly refreshing from the contrast with the din and smoke of London. Our chamber looked out upon a beautiful park, shaded with fine old trees. While contemplating the white draperies of our windows, and the snowy robings of the bed, we could not but call to mind the fact, of which we were before aware, that not an article was the result of the unpaid oil of the slave; neither did this restriction, voluntarily assumed, fetter at all the bountifulness of the table, where free-grown sugar, coffee, rice, and spices seemed to derive a double value to our friends from this consideration.
Some of the Quakers carry the principle so far as to refuse money in a business transaction which they have reason to believe has been gained by the unpaid toil of the slave. A Friend in Edinburgh told me of a brother of his in the city of Carlisle, who kept a celebrated biscuit bakery, who received an order from New Orleans for a thousand dollars worth of biscuit. Before closing the bargain he took the buyer into his counting room, and told him that he had conscientious objections about receiving money from slaveholders, and that in case he were one he should prefer not to trade with him. Fortunately, in this case, consistency and interest were both on one side.
Things like these cannot but excite reflection in one’s mind, and the query must arise, if all who really believe slavery to be a wrong should pursue this course, what would be the result? There are great practical difficulties in the way of such a course, particularly in America, where the subject has received comparatively little attention. Yet since I have been in England, I am informed by the Friends here, that there has been for many years an association of Friends in Philadelphia, who have sent their agents through the entire Southern States, entering by them into communication with quite a considerable number scattered through the states, who, either from poverty or principle, raise their cotton by free labor; that they have established a depot in Philadelphia, and also a manufactory, where the cotton thus received is made into various household articles; and thus, by dint of some care and self-sacrifice, many of them are enabled to abstain entirely from any participation with the results of this crime.
As soon as I heard this fact, it flashed upon my mind immediately, that the beautiful cotton lands of Texas are as yet unoccupied to a great extent; that no law compels cotton to be raised there by slave labor, and that it is beginning to be raised there to some extent by the labor of free German emigrants. [Footnote: One small town in Texas made eight hundred bales last year by free labor.] Will not something eventually grow out of this? I trust so. Even the smallest chink of light is welcome in a prison, if it speak of a possible door which courage and zeal may open. I cannot as yet admit the justness of the general proposition, that it is an actual sin to eat, drink, or wear any thing which has been the result of slave labor, because it seems to me to be based upon a principle altogether too wide in extent. To be consistent in it, we must extend it to the results of all labor which is not conducted on just and equitable principles; and in order to do this consistently we must needs, as St. Paul says, go out of the world. But if two systems, one founded on wrong and robbery, and the other on right and justice, are competing with each other, should we not patronize the right?
I am the more inclined to think that some course of this kind is indicated to the Christian world, from the reproaches and taunts which proslavery papers are casting upon us, for patronizing their cotton. At all events, the Quakers escape the awkwardness of this dilemma.
In the evening quite a large circle of friends came to meet us. We were particularly interested in the conversation of Mr. and Mrs. Wesby, missionaries from Antigua. Antigua is the only one of the islands in which emancipation was immediate, without any previous apprenticeship system; and it is the one in which the results of emancipation have been altogether the most happy. They gave us a very interesting account of their schools, and showed us some beautiful specimens of plain needlework, which had been wrought by young girls in them. They confirmed all the accounts which I have heard from other sources of the peaceableness, docility, and good character of the negroes; of their kindly disposition and willingness to receive instruction.
After tea Mr. S. and I walked out a little while, first to a large cemetery, where repose the ashes of Dr. Watts. This burying ground occupies the site of the dwelling and grounds formerly covered by the residence of Sir T. Abney, with whom Dr. Watts spent many of the last years of his life. It has always seemed to me that Dr. Watts’s rank as a poet has never been properly appreciated. If ever there was a poet born, he was that man; he attained without study a smoothness of versification, which, with Pope, was the result of the intensest analysis and most artistic care. Nor do the most majestic and resounding lines of Dryden equal some of his in majesty of volume. The most harmonious lines of Dryden, that I know of, are these:–
“When Jubal struck the chorded shell, His listening brethren stood around,
And wondering, on their faces fell, To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly and so well.”
The first four lines of this always seem to me magnificently harmonious. But almost any verse at random in Dr. Watts’s paraphrase of the one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm exceeds them, both in melody and majesty. For instance, take these lines:–
“Wide as his vast dominion lies,
Let the Creator’s name be known; Loud as his thunder shout his praise,
And sound it lofty as his throne.
Speak of the wonders of that love
Which Gabriel plays on every chord: From all below and all above,
Loud hallelujahs to the Lord.”
Simply as a specimen of harmonious versification, I would place this paraphrase by Dr. Watts above every thing in the English language, not even excepting Pope’s Messiah. But in hymns, where the ideas are supplied by his own soul, we have examples in which fire, fervor, imagery, roll from the soul of the poet in a stream of versification, evidently spontaneous. Such are all those hymns in which he describes the glories of the heavenly state, and the advent of the great events foretold in prophecy; for instance, this verse from the opening of one of his judgment hymns:–
“Lo, I behold the scattered shades;
The dawn of heaven appears;
The sweet immortal morning sheds
Its blushes round the spheres.”
Dr. Johnson, in his Lives of the Poets, turns him off with small praise, it is true, saying that his devotional poetry is like that of others, unsatisfactory; graciously adding that it is sufficient for him to have done better than others what no one has done well; and, lastly, that he is one of those poets with whom youth and ignorance may safely be pleased. But if Dr. Johnson thought Irene was poetry, it is not singular that he should think the lyrics of Watts were not.
Stoke Newington is also celebrated as the residence of De foe. We passed by, in our walk, the ancient mansion in which he lived. New River, which passes through the grounds of our host, is an artificial stream, which is said to have been first suggested by his endlessly fertile and industrious mind, as productive in practical projects as in books.
It always seemed to me that there are three writers which every one who wants to know how to use the English language effectively should study; and these are Shakspeare, Bunyan, and Defoe. One great secret of their hold on the popular mind is their being so radically and thoroughly English. They have the solid grain of the English oak, not veneered by learning and the classics; not inlaid with arabesques from other nations, but developing wholly out of the English nationality.
I have heard that Goethe said the reason for the great enthusiasm with which his countrymen regarded him was, that he _did know how to write German,_ and so also these men knew how to write English. I think Defoe the most suggestive writer to an artist of fiction that the English language affords. That power by which he wrought fiction to produce the impression of reality, so that his Plague in London was quoted by medical men as an authentic narrative, and his Life of a Cavalier recommended by Lord Chatham as an historical authority, is certainly worth an analysis. With him, undoubtedly, it was an instinct.
One anecdote, related to us this evening by our friends, brought to mind with new power the annoyances to which the Quakers have been subjected in England, under the old system of church rates. It being contrary to the conscientious principles of the Quakers to pay these church rates voluntarily, they allowed the officers of the law to enter their houses and take whatever article he pleased in satisfaction of the claim. On one occasion, for the satisfaction of a claim of a few pounds, they seized and sold a most rare and costly mantel clock, which had a particular value as a choice specimen of mechanical skill, and which was worth four or five times the sum owed. A friend afterwards repurchased and presented it to the owner.
We were rejoiced to hear that these church rates are now virtually abolished. The liberal policy pursued in England for the last twenty-five years is doing more to make the church of England, and the government generally, respectable and respected than the most extortionate exactions of violence.
We parted from our kind friends in the morning; came back and I sat a while to Mr. Burnard, the sculptor, who entertained me with various anecdotes. He had taken the bust of the Prince of Wales; and I gathered from his statements that young princes have very much the same feelings and desires that other little boys have, and that he has a very judicious mother.
In the afternoon, Mr. S., Mrs. B., and I had a pleasant drive in Hyde Park, as I used to read of heroines of romance doing in the old novels. It is delightful to get into this fairyland of parks, so green and beautiful, which embellish the West End.
In the evening we had an engagement at two places–at a Highland School dinner, and at Mr. Charles Dickens’s. I felt myself too much exhausted for both, and so it was concluded that I should go to neither, but try a little quiet drive into the country, and an early retirement, as the most prudent termination of the week. While Mr. S. prepared to go to the meeting of the Highland School Society, Mr. and Mrs. B. took me a little drive into the country. After a while they alighted before a new Gothic Congregational college, in St. John’s Wood. I found that there had been a kind of tea-drinking there by the Congregational ministers and their families, to celebrate the opening of the college.
On returning, we called for Mr. S., at the dinner, and went for a few moments into the gallery, the entertainment being now nearly over. Here we heard some Scottish songs, very charmingly sung; and, what amused me very much, a few Highland musicians, dressed in full costume, occasionally marched through the hall, playing on their bagpipes, as was customary in old Scottish entertainments. The historian Sir Archibald Alison, sheriff of Lanarkshire, sat at the head of the table–a tall, fine-looking man, of very commanding presence.
About nine o’clock we retired.
May 15. Heard Mr. Binney preach this morning. He is one of the strongest men among the Congregationalists, and a very popular speaker. He is a tall, large man, with a finely-built head, high forehead, piercing, dark eye, and a good deal of force and determination in all his movements. His sermon was the first that I had heard in England which seemed to recognize the existence of any possible sceptical or rationalizing element in the minds of his hearers. It was in this respect more like the preaching that I had been in the habit of hearing at home. Instead of a calm statement of certain admitted religious facts, or exhortations founded upon them, his discourse seemed to be reasoning with individual cases, and answering various forms of objections, such as might arise in different minds. This mode of preaching, I think, cannot exist unless a minister cultivates an individual knowledge of his people.
Mr. Binney’s work, entitled How to make the best of both Worlds, I have heard spoken of as having had the largest sale of any religious writing of the present day.
May 16. This evening is the great antislavery meeting at Exeter Hall. Lord Shaftesbury in the chair. Exeter Hall stands before the public as the representation of the strong democratic, religious element of England. In Exeter Hall are all the philanthropies, foreign and domestic; and a crowded meeting there gives one perhaps a better idea of the force of English democracy–of that kind of material which goes to make up the mass of the nation–than any thing else.
When Macaulay expressed some sentiments which gave offence to this portion of the community, he made a defence in which he alluded sarcastically to the bray of Exeter Hall.
The expression seems to have been remembered, for I have often heard it quoted; though I believe they have forgiven him for it, and concluded to accept it as a joke.
The hall this night was densely crowded, and, as I felt very unwell, I did not go in till after the services had commenced–a thing which I greatly regretted afterwards, as by this means I lost a most able speech by Lord Shaftesbury.
The Duchess of Sutherland entered soon after the commencement of the exercises, and was most enthusiastically cheered. When we came in, a seat had been reserved for us by her grace in the side gallery, and the cheering was repeated. I thought I had heard something of the sort in Scotland, but there was a vehemence about this that made me tremble. There is always something awful to my mind about a dense crowd in a state of high excitement, let the nature of that excitement be what it will.
I do not believe that there is in all America more vehemence of democracy, more volcanic force of power, than comes out in one of these great gatherings in our old fatherland. I saw plainly enough where Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill came from; and it seems to me there is enough of this element of indignation at wrong, and resistance to tyranny, to found half a dozen more republics as strong as we are.
A little incident that occurred gave me an idea of what such a crowd might become in a confused state of excitement. A woman fainted in a distant part of the house, and a policeman attempted to force a way through the densely-packed crowd. The services were interrupted for a few moments, and there were hoarse surgings and swellings of the mighty mass, who were so closely packed that they moved together like waves. Some began to rise in their seats, and some cried “Order! order!” And one could easily see, that were a sudden panic or overwhelming excitement to break up the order of the meeting, what a terrible scene might ensue.
“What is it?” said I to a friend who sat next to me.
“A pickpocket, perhaps,” said she. “I am afraid we are going to have a row. They are going to give you one of our genuine Exeter Hall _’brays.’_”
I felt a good deal fluttered; but the Duchess of Sutherland, who knew the British lion better than I did, seemed so perfectly collected that I became reassured.
The character of the speeches at this meeting, with the exception of Lord Shaftesbury’s, was more denunciatory, and had more to pain the national feelings of an American, than any I had ever attended. It was the real old Saxon battle axe of Brother John, swung without fear or favor. Such things do not hurt me individually, because I have such a radical faith in my country, such a genuine belief that she will at last right herself from every wrong, that I feel she can afford to have these things said.
Mr. S. spoke on this point, that the cotton trade of Great Britain is the principal support to slavery, and read extracts from Charleston papers in which they boldly declare that they do not care for any amount of moral indignation wasted upon them by nations who, after all, must and will buy the cotton which they raise.
The meeting was a very long one, and I was much fatigued when we returned.
To-morrow we are to make a little run out to Windsor.
I can compare the embarrassment of our London life, with its multiplied solicitations and infinite stimulants to curiosity and desire, only to that annual perplexity which used to beset us in our childhood on thanksgiving day. Having been kept all the year within the limits which prudence assigns to well-regulated children, came at last the governor’s proclamation, and a general saturnalia of dainties for the little ones. For one day the gates of license were thrown open, and we, plumped down into the midst of pie and pudding exceeding all conception but that of a Yankee housekeeper, were left to struggle our way out as best we might.
So here, beside all the living world of London, its scope and range of persons and circles of thought, come its architecture, its arts, its localities, historic, poetic, all that expresses its past, its present, and its future. Every day and every hour brings its’ conflicting allurements, of persons to be seen, places to be visited, things to be done, beyond all computation. Like Miss Edgeworth’s philosophic little Frank, we are obliged to make out our list of what man _must_ want, and of what he _may_ want; and in our list of the former we set down, in large and decisive characters, one quiet day for the exploration and enjoyment of Windsor.
We were solicited, indeed, to go in another direction; a party was formed to go down the Thames with the Right Hon. Sidney Herbert, secretary at war, and visit an emigrant ship just starting for Australia. I should say here, that since Mrs. Chisholm’s labors have awakened the attention of the English public to the wants and condition of emigrants, the benevolent people of England take great interest in the departing of emigrant ships. A society has been formed called the Family Colonization Loan Society, and a fund raised by which money can be loaned to those desiring to emigrate. This society makes it an object to cultivate acquaintance and intimacy among those about going out by uniting them into groups, and, as far as possible, placing orphan children and single females under the protection of families. Any one, by subscribing six guineas towards the loan, can secure one passage. Each individual becomes responsible for refunding his own fare, and, furthermore, to pay a certain assessment in case any individual of the group fails to make up the passage money. The sailing of emigrant ships, therefore, has become a scene of great interest. Those departing do not leave their native shore without substantial proofs of the interest and care of the land they are leaving.
In the party who were going down to-day were Mr. and Mrs. Binney, Mr. Sherman, and a number of distinguished names; among whom I recollect to have heard the names of Lady Hatherton, and Lady Byron, widow of the poet. This would have been an exceedingly interesting scene to us, but being already worn with company and excitement, we preferred a quiet day at Windsor.
For if we took Warwick as the representative feudal estate, we took Windsor as the representative palace, that which imbodies the English idea of royalty. Apart from this, Windsor has been immortalized by the Merry Wives; it has still standing in its park the Herne oak, where the mischievous fairies played their pranks upon old Falstaff.
And the castle still has about it the charm of the poet’s invocation:–
“Search Windsor Castle, elves, within, without, Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room, That it may stand till the perpetual doom In state as wholesome as in state ’tis fit, Worthy the owner, and the owner it.
The several chairs of order, look you, scour With juice of balm and every precious flower, Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest, With loyal blazon evermore be blest.
And nightly, meadow fairies, look you, sing Like to the garter’s compass, in a ring. The expressure that it bears, green let it be, More fertile, fresh, than all the field to see, And Honi soit qui mal y pense, write
In emerald tufts, flowers, purple, blue, and white, Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery, Fairies use flowers for their charactery.”
As if for the loyal purpose of recommending old Windsor, the English skies had cleared up into brightness. About nine o’clock we found ourselves in the cars, riding through a perpetual garden of blooming trees and blossoming hedges; birds in a perfect fury of delight. Our spirits were all elated. Good, honest, cackling Mrs. Quickly herself was not more disposed to make the best of every thing and every body than were we. Mr. S., in particular, was so joyous that I was afraid he would break out into song, after the fashion of Sir Hugh Evans,–
“Melodious birds sung madrigals:
Whenas I sat in Babylon,” &c.
By the by, the fishing ground of Izaak Walton is one of the localities connected with Windsor.
The ride was done all too soon. One should not whirl through such a choice bit of England in the cars; one should rather wish to amble over the way after a sleepy, contemplative old horse, as we used to make rural excursions in New England ere yet railroads were. However, all that’s bright must fade, and this among the rest.
About eleven o’clock we found ourselves going up the old stone steps to the castle. It was the last day of a fair which had been holden in this part of the country, and crowds of the common people were flocking to the castle, men, women, and children pattering up the stairs before and after us.
We went first through the state apartments. The principal thing that interested me was the ball room, which was a perfect gallery of Vandyke’s paintings. Here was certainly an opportunity to know what Vandyke is. I should call him a true court painter–a master of splendid conventionalities, whose portraits of kings are the most powerful arguments for the divine right I know of. Nevertheless, beyond conventionality and outward magnificence, his ideas have no range. He suggests nothing to the moral and ideal part of us. Here again was the picture of King Charles on horseback, which had interested me at Warwick. It had, however, a peculiar and romantic charm from its position at the end of that long, dim corridor, vis-a-vis with the masque of Cromwell, which did not accompany it here, where it was but one among a set of pictures.
There was another, presenting the front side and three quarters face of the same sovereign, painted by Vandyke for Benini to make a bust from. There were no less than five portraits of his wife, Henrietta Maria, in different dresses and attitudes, and two pictures of their children. No sovereign is so profusely and perseveringly represented.
The queen’s audience chamber is hung with tapestry representing scenes from the book of Esther. This tapestry made a very great impression upon me. A knowledge of the difficulties to be overcome in the material part of painting is undoubtedly an unsuspected element of much of the pleasure we derive from it; and for this reason, probably, this tapestry appeared to us better than paintings executed with equal spirit in oils. We admired it exceedingly, entirely careless what critics might think of us if they knew it.
Another room was hung with Gobelin tapestry representing the whole of the tragedy of Medea. First you have Jason cutting down the golden fleece, while the dragon lies slain, and Medea is looking on in admiration. In another he pledges his love to Medea. In a third, the men sprung from the dragon’s teeth are seen contending with each other. In another the unfaithful lover espouses Creusa. In the next Creusa is seen burning in the poisoned shirt, given her by Medea. In another Medea is seen in a car drawn by dragons, bearing her two children by Jason, whom she has stabbed in revenge for his desertion. Nothing can exceed the ghastly reality of death, as shown in the stiffened limbs and sharpened features of those dead children. The whole drawing and grouping is exceedingly spirited and lifelike, and has great power of impression.
I was charmed also by nine landscapes of Zuccarelli, which adorn the state drawing room. Zuccarelli was a follower of Claude, and these pictures far exceed in effect any of Claude’s I have yet seen. The charm of them does not lie merely in the atmospheric tints and effects, as those of Cuyp, but in the rich and fanciful combination of objects. In this respect they perform in painting what the first part of the Castle of Indolence, or Tennyson’s Lotus Eaters, do in poetry– evoke a fairyland. There was something peculiar about their charm for me.
Who can decide how much in a picture belongs to the idiosyncrasies and associations of the person who looks upon it. Artists undoubtedly powerful and fine may have nothing in them which touches the nervous sympathies and tastes of some persons: who, therefore, shall establish any authoritative canon of taste? who shall say that Claude is finer than Zuccarelli, or Zuccarelli than Claude? A man might as well say that the woman who enchants him is the only true Venus for the world.
Then, again, how much in painting or in poetry depends upon the frame of mind in which we see or hear! Whoever looks on these pictures, or reads the Lotus Eaters or Castle of Indolence, at a time when soul and body are weary, and longing for retirement and rest, will receive an impression from them such as could never be made on the strong nerves of our more healthful and hilarious seasons.
Certainly no emotions so rigidly reject critical restraints, and disdain to be bound by rule, as those excited by the fine arts. A man unimpressible and incapable of moods and tenses, is for that reason an incompetent critic; and the sensitive, excitable man, how can he know that he does not impose his peculiar mood as a general rule?
From the state rooms we were taken to the top of the Hound Tower, where we gained a magnificent view of the Park of Windsor, with its regal avenue, miles in length, of ancient oaks; its sweeps of greensward; clumps of trees; its old Herne oak, of classic memory; in short, all that constitutes the idea of a perfect English landscape. The English tree is shorter and stouter than ours; its foliage dense and deep, lying with a full, rounding outline against the sky. Every thing here conveys the idea of concentrated vitality, but without that rank luxuriance seen in our American growth. Having unfortunately exhausted the English language on the subject of grass, I will not repeat any ecstasies upon that topic.
After descending from the tower we filed off to the proper quarter, to show our orders for the private rooms. The state apartments, which we had been looking at, are open at all times, but the private apartments can only be seen in the queen’s absence, and by a special permission, which had been procured for us on this occasion by the kindness of the Duchess of Sutherland.
One of the first objects that attracted my attention when entering the vestibule was a baby’s wicker wagon, standing in one corner; it was much such a carriage as all mothers are familiar with; such as figures largely in the history of almost every family. It had neat curtains and cushions of green merino, and was not royal, only maternal. I mused over the little thing with a good deal of interest. It is to my mind one of the providential signs of our times, that, at this stormy and most critical period of the world’s history, the sovereignty of the most powerful nation on earth is represented by a woman and a mother. How many humanizing, gentle, and pacific influences constantly emanate from this centre!
One of the most interesting apartments was a long corridor, hung with paintings and garnished along the sides with objects of art and _virtu_. Here C. and I renewed a dispute which had for some time been pending, in respect to Canaletto’s paintings. This Canaletto was a Venetian painter, who was born about 1697, and died in London in 1768, and was greatly in vogue with the upper circles in those days. He delighted in architectural paintings, which he represents with the accuracy of a daguerreotype, and a management of perspective, chiaro oscuro, and all the other mysteries of art, such as make his paintings amount to about the same as the reality.
Well, here, in this corridor, we had him in full force. Here was Venice served up to order–its streets, palaces, churches, bridges, canals, and gondolas made as real to our eye as if we were looking at them out of a window. I admired them very warmly, but I could not go into the raptures that C. did, who kept calling me from every thing else that I wanted to see to come and look at this Canaletto. “Well, I see it,” said I; “it is good–it is perfect–it cannot be bettered; but what then? There is the same difference between these and a landscape of Zuccarelli as there is between a neatly-arranged statistical treatise and a poem. The latter suggests a thousand images, the former gives you only information.”
We were quite interested in a series of paintings which represented the various events of the present queen’s history. There was the coronation in Westminster Abbey–that national romance which, for once in our prosaic world, nearly turned the heads of all the sensible people on earth. Think of vesting the sovereignty of so much of the world in a fair young girl of seventeen! The picture is a very pretty one, and is taken at the very moment she is kneeling at the feet of the Archbishop of Canterbury to receive her crown. She is represented as a fair-haired, interesting girl, the simplicity of her air contrasting strangely with the pomp and gorgeous display around. The painter has done justice to a train of charming young ladies who surround her; among the faces I recognized the blue eyes and noble forehead of the Duchess of Sutherland.
Then followed, in due order, the baptism of children, the reception of poor old Louis Philippe in his exile, and various other matters of the sort which go to make up royal pictures.
In the family breakfast room we saw some fine Gobelin tapestry, representing the classical story of Meleager. In one of the rooms, on a pedestal, stood a gigantic china vase, a present from the Emperor of Russia, and in the state rooms before we had seen a large malachite vase from the same donor. The toning of this room, with regard to color, was like that of the room I described in Stafford House–the carpet of green ground, with the same little leaf upon it, the walls, chairs, and sofas covered with green damask. Around the walls of the room, in some places, were arranged cases of books about three feet high. I liked this arrangement particularly, because it gives you the companionship of books in an apartment without occupying that space of the wall which is advantageous for pictures. Moreover, books placed high against the walls of a room give a gloomy appearance to the apartment.
The whole air of these rooms was very charming, suggestive of refined taste and domestic habits. The idea of home, which pervades every thing in England, from the cottage to the palace, was as much suggested here as in any apartments I have seen. The walls of the different rooms were decorated with portraits of the members of the royal family, and those of other European princes.
After this we went through the kitchen department–saw the silver and gold plate of the table; among the latter were some designs which I thought particularly graceful. To conclude all, we went through the stables. The man who showed them told us that several of the queen’s favorite horses were taken to Osborne; but there were many beautiful creatures left, which I regarded with great complacency. The stables and stalls were perfectly clean, and neatly kept; and one, in short, derives from the whole view of the economics of Windsor that satisfaction which results from seeing a thing thoroughly done in the best conceivable manner.
The management of the estate of Windsor is, I am told, a model for all landholders in the kingdom. A society has been formed there, within a few years, under the patronage of the queen, Prince Albert, and the Duchess of Kent, in which the clergy and gentry of the principal parishes in this vicinity are interested, for improving the condition of the laboring classes in this region. The queen and Prince Albert have taken much interest in the planning and arranging of model houses for the laboring people, which combine cheapness, neatness, ventilation, and all the facilities for the formation of good personal habits. There is a school kept on the estate at Windsor, in which the queen takes a very practical interest, regulating the books and studies, and paying frequent visits to it during the time of her sojourn here. The young girls are instructed in fine needlework; but the queen discourages embroidery and ornamental work, meaning to make practical, efficient wives for laboring men. These particulars, with regard to this school, were related to me by a lady living in the vicinity of Windsor.
We went into St. George’s Chapel, and there we were all exceedingly interested and enchained in view of the marble monument to the Princess Charlotte. It consists of two groups, and is designed to express, in one view, both the celestial and the terrestrial aspect of death–the visible and the invisible part of dying. For the visible part, you have the body of the princess in all the desolation and abandonment of death. The attitude of the figure is as if she had thrown herself over in a convulsion, and died. The body is lying listless, simply covered with a sheet, through every fold of which you can see the utter relaxation of that moment when vitality departs, but the limbs have not yet stiffened. Her hand and a part of the arm are hanging down, exposed to view beneath the sheet.
Four figures, with bowed heads, covered with drapery, are represented as sitting around in mute despair. The idea meant to be conveyed by the whole group is that of utter desolation and abandonment. All is over; there is not even heart enough left in the mourners to straighten the corpse for the burial. The mute marble says, as plainly as marble can speak, “Let all go; ’tis no matter now; there is no more use in living–nothing to be done, nothing to be hoped!”
Above this group rises the form of the princess, springing buoyant and elastic, on angel wings, a smile of triumph and aspiration lighting up her countenance. Her drapery floats behind her as she rises. Two angels, one carrying her infant child and the other with clasped hands of exultant joy, are rising with her, in serene and solemn triumph.
Now, I simply put it to you, or to any one who can judge of poetry, if this is not a poetical conception. I ask any one who has a heart, if there is not pathos in it. Is there not a high poetic merit in the mere conception of these two scenes, thus presented? And had we seen it rudely chipped and chiselled out by some artist of the middle ages, whose hand had not yet been practised to do justice to his conceptions, should we not have said this sculptor had a glorious thought within him? But the chiselling of this piece is not unworthy the conception. Nothing can be more exquisite than the turn of the head, neck, and shoulders; nothing more finely wrought than the triumphant smile of the angel princess; nothing could be more artistic than the representation of death in all its hopelessness, in the lower figure. The poor, dead hand, that shows itself beneath the sheet, has an unutterable pathos and beauty in it. As to the working of the drapery,–an inferior consideration, of course,–I see no reason why it should not compare advantageously with any in the British Museum.
Well, you will ask, why are you going on in this argumentative style? Who doubts you? Let me tell you, then, a little fragment of my experience. We saw this group of statuary the last thing before dinner, after a most fatiguing forenoon of sightseeing, when we were both tired and hungry,–a most unpropitious time, certainly,–and yet it enchanted our whole company; what is more, it made us all cry–a fact of which I am not ashamed, yet. But, only the next day, when I was expressing my admiration to an artist, who is one of the authorities, and knows all that is proper to be admired, I was met with,–
“O, you have seen that, have you? Shocking thing! Miserable taste–miserable!”
“Dear me,” said I, with apprehension, “what is the matter with it?”
“0,” said he, “melodramatic, melodramatic–terribly so!”
I was so appalled by this word, of whose meaning I had not a very clear idea, that I dropped the defence at once, and determined to reconsider my tears. To have been actually made to cry by a thing that was melodramatic, was a distressing consideration. Seriously, however, on reconsidering the objection, I see no sense in it. A thing may be melodramatic, or any other _atic_ that a man pleases; so that it be strongly suggestive, poetic, pathetic, it has a right to its own peculiar place in the world of art. If artists had had their way in the creation of this world, there would have been only two or three kinds of things in it; the first three or four things that God created would have been enacted into fixed rules for making all the rest.
But they let the works of nature alone, because they know there is no hope for them, and content themselves with enacting rules in literature and art, which make all the perfection and grace of the past so many impassable barriers to progress in future. Because the ancients kept to unity of idea in their groups, and attained to most beautiful results by doing so, shall no modern make an antithesis in marble? And why has not a man a right to dramatize in marble as well as on canvas, if he can produce a powerful and effective result by so doing? And even if by being melodramatic, as the terrible word is, he can shadow forth a grand and comforting religious idea–if he can unveil to those who have seen only the desolation of death, its glory, and its triumph–who shall say that he may not do so because he violates the lines of some old Greek artist? Where would Shakspeare’s dramas have been, had he studied the old dramatic unities?
So, you see, like an obstinate republican, as I am, I defend my right to have my own opinion about this monument, albeit the guide book, with its usual diplomatic caution, says, “It is in very questionable taste.”
We went for our dinner to the White Hart, the very inn which Shakspeare celebrates in his Merry Wives, and had a most overflowing, merry time of it. The fact is, we had not seen each other for so long that to be in each other’s company for a whole day was quite a stimulant.
After dinner we had a beautiful drive, passing the colleges at Eton, and seeing the boys out playing cricket; had an excellent opportunity to think how true Gray’s poem on the Prospect of Eton is to boy-nature then, now, and forever. We were bent upon looking up the church which gave rise to his Elegy in a Country Churchyard, intending, when we got there, to have a little scene over it; Mr. S., in all the conscious importance of having been there before, assuring us that he knew exactly where it was. So, after some difficulty with our coachman, and being stopped at one church which would not answer our purpose in any respect, we were at last set down by one which looked authentic; embowered in mossy elms, with a most ancient and goblin yew tree, an ivy-mantled tower, all perfect as could be.
There had been a sprinkle of rain,–an ornament which few English days want,–and the westering beams of the sun twinkled through innumerable drops. In fact, it was a pretty place; and I felt such “dispositions to melancholies,” as Sir Hugh Evans would have it, that I half resented Mr. S.’s suggestion that the cars were waiting. However, as he was engaged to speak at a peace meeting in London, it was agreed he should leave us there to stroll, while he took the cars. So away he went; and we, leaning on the old fence, repeated the Elegy, which certainly applies here as beautifully as language could apply.
What a calm, shady, poetical nature is expressed in these lines! Gray seems to have been sent into the world for nothing but to be a poem, like some of those fabulous, shadowy beings which haunted the cool grottoes on Grecian mountains; creatures that seem to have no practical vitality–to be only a kind of voice, an echo, heard for a little, and then lost in silence. He seemed to be in himself a kind of elegy.
From thence we strolled along, enjoying the beautiful rural scenery. Having had a kind invitation to visit Labouchère Park that day, which we were obliged to decline for want of time, we were pleased to discover that we had two more hours, in which we could easily accomplish a stroll there. By a most singular infelicity, our party became separated; and, misunderstanding each other, we remained waiting for W. till it was too late for us to go, while he, on the other hand, supposing us to have walked before him, was redoubling his speed all the while, hoping to overtake us. In consequence of this, he accomplished the walk to Labouchère Park, and we waited in the dismal depot till it was too late to wait any longer, and finally went into London without him.
After all, imagine our chagrin on being informed that we had not been to the genuine churchyard. The gentleman who wept over the scenes of his early days on the wrong doorstep was not more grievously disappointed. However, he and we could both console ourselves with the reflection that the emotion was admirable, and wanted only the right place to make it the most appropriate in the world. The genuine country churchyard, however, was that at Stoke Pogis, which we should have seen had not the fates forbidden our going to Labouchère Park.
The evening after our return from Windsor was spent with our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gurney. Mr. Gurney is rector of Mary-le-Bone parish, one of the largest districts in London; and he is, I have been told, one of the court chaplains; a man of the most cultivated and agreeable manners, earnestly and devoutly engaged in the business of his calling. As one of the working men of the church establishment, I felt a strong interest in his views and opinions, and he seemed to take no less interest in mine, as coming from a country where there is and can be no church establishment. He asked many questions about America; the general style of our preaching; the character of our theology; our modes of religious action; our revivals of religion; our theories of sudden and instantaneous conversion, as distinguished from the gradual conversion of education; our temperance societies, and the stand taken by our clergy in behalf of temperance.
He wished to know how the English style of preaching appeared to me in comparison with that of America. I told him one principal difference that struck me was, that the English preaching did not recognize the existence of any element of inquiry or doubt in the popular mind; that it treated certain truths as axioms, which only needed to be stated to be believed; whereas in American sermons there is always more or less time employed in explaining, proving, and answering objections to, the truths enforced. I quoted Baptist Noel’s sermon in illustration of what I meant.
I asked him to what extent the element of scepticism, with regard to religious truth, had pervaded the mind of England? adding that I had inferred its existence there from such novels as those of Kingsley. He thought that there was much of this element, particularly in the working classes; that they were coming to regard the clergy with suspicion, and to be less under their influence than in former times; and said it was a matter of much solicitude to know how to reach them.
I told him that I had heard an American clergyman, who had travelled in England, say, that dissenters were treated much as free negroes were in America, and added that my experience must have been very exceptional, or the remark much overstated, as I had met dissenting clergymen in all circles of society. He admitted that there might be a good deal of bigotry in this respect, but added that the infrequency of association was more the result of those circumstances which would naturally draw the two parties to themselves, than to superciliousness on the side of the establishment, adding that where a court and aristocracy were in the established church, there would necessarily be a pressure of fashion in its favor, which might at times bring uncomfortable results.
The children were sitting by studying their evening lessons, and I begged Mrs. Gurney to allow me to look over their geographies and atlases; and on her inquiring why, I told her that well-informed people in England sometimes made such unaccountable mistakes about the geography of our country as were quite surprising to me, and that I did not understand how it was that our children should know so much more about England than they about us. I found the children, however, in possession of a very excellent and authentic map of our country. I must say also that the most highly educated people I have met in England have never betrayed any want of information on this subject.
The next morning we had at breakfast two clergymen, members of the established church. They appeared to be most excellent, devout, practical men, anxious to do good, and thoughtfully seeking for suggestions from any quarter which might assist them in their labors. They renewed many of the inquiries which Mr. Gurney had made the evening before.
After breakfast I went with Mr. Gurney and Mr. S. to Richmond’s studio to sit for a likeness, which is to be presented to Mr. S. by several friends. Richmond’s name is one which in this London sphere has only to be announced to explain itself; not to know him argues yourself unknown. He is one of the most successful artists in a certain line of portrait painting that the present day affords. He devotes himself principally to crayon and water-color sketches. His crayon heads are generally the size of life; his water-colors of a small size. He often takes full-lengths in this way, which render not merely the features, but the figure, air, manner, and what is characteristic about the dress. These latter sketches are finished up very highly, with the minuteness of a miniature. His forte consists in seizing and fixing those fleeting traits of countenance, air, and movement, which go so far towards making up our idea of a person’s appearance. Many of the engravings of distinguished persons, with which we are familiar, have come from his designs, such as Wilberforce, Sir Powell Buxton, Elizabeth Fry, and others. I found his studio quite a gallery of notabilities, almost all the _distingués_ of the day having sat to him; so I certainly had the satisfaction of feeling myself in good company. Mr. Richmond looks quite youthful, (but I never can judge of any one’s age here,) is most agreeable in conversation, full of anecdote in regard to all the moving life of London. I presume his power of entertaining conversation is one secret of his successful likenesses. Some portrait painters keep calling on you for expression all the while, and say nothing in the world to awaken it.
From Richmond’s, Mr. S., C., and I drove out to call upon Kossuth. We found him in an obscure lodging on the outskirts of London. I would that some of the editors in America, who have thrown out insinuations about his living in luxury, could have seen the utter bareness and plainness of the reception room, which had nothing in it beyond the simplest necessaries. Here dwells the man whose greatest fault is an undying love of his country. We all know that if Kossuth would have taken wealth and a secure retreat, with a life of ease for himself, America would gladly have laid all these at his feet. But because he could not acquiesce in the unmerited dishonor of his country, he lives a life of obscurity, poverty, and labor. All this was written in his pale, worn face, and sad, thoughtful blue eye. But to me the unselfish patriot is more venerable for his poverty and his misfortunes.
Have we, among the thousands who speak loud of patriotism in America, many men, who, were she enfeebled, despised, and trampled, would forego self, and suffer as long, as patiently for her? It is even easier to die for a good cause, in some hour of high enthusiasm, when all that is noblest in us can be roused to one great venture, than to live for it amid wearing years of discouragement and hope delayed.
There are those even here in England who delight to get up slanders against Kossuth, and not long ago some most unfounded charges were thrown out against him in some public prints. By way of counterpoise an enthusiastic public meeting was held, in which he was presented with a splendid set of Shakspeare.
He entered into conversation with us with cheerfulness, speaking English well, though with the idioms of foreign languages. He seemed quite amused at the sensation which had been excited by Mr. S.’s cotton speech in Exeter Hall. C. asked him if he had still hopes for his cause. He answered, “I hope still, because I work still; my hope is in God and in man.”
I inquired for Madame Kossuth, and he answered, “I have not yet seen her to-day,” adding, “she has her family affairs, you know, madam; we are poor exiles here;” and, fearing to cause embarrassment, I did not press an interview.
When we parted he took my hand kindly, and said, “God bless you, my child.”
I would not lose my faith in such men for any thing the world could give me. There are some people who involve in themselves so many of the elements which go to make up our confidence in human nature generally, that to lose confidence in them seems to undermine our faith in human virtue. As Shakspeare says, their defection would be like “another fall of man.”
We went back to Mr. Gurney’s to lunch, and then, as the afternoon was fine, Mr. and Mrs. Gurney drove with us in their carriage to Pembroke Lodge, the country seat of Lord John Russell. It was an uncommonly beautiful afternoon, and the view from Richmond Hill was as perfect a specimen of an English landscape, seen under the most benignant auspices, as we could hope to enjoy. Orchards, gardens, villas, charming meadows enamelled with flowers, the silver windings of the Thames, the luxuriant outlines of the foliage, varied here and there by the graceful perpendicular of the poplars, all formed one of the richest of landscapes. The brow of the hill is beautifully laid out with tufts of trees, winding paths, diversified here and there with arbors and rustic seats.
Richmond Park is adorned with clumps of ancient trees, among which troops of deer were strolling. Pembroke Lodge is a plain, unostentatious building, rising in the midst of charming grounds. We were received in the drawing room by the young ladies, and were sorry to learn that Lady Russell was so unwell as to be unable to give us her company at dinner. Two charming little boys came in, and a few moments after, their father, Lord John. I had been much pleased with finding on the centre table a beautiful edition of that revered friend of my childhood, Dr. Watts’s Divine Songs, finely illustrated. I remarked to Lord John that it was the face of an old friend. He said it was presented to his little boys by their godfather, Sir George Grey; and when, taking one of the little boys on his knee, he asked him if he could repeat me one of his hymns, the whole thing seemed so New England-like that I began to feel myself quite at home. I hope I shall some day see in America an edition of Dr. Watts, in which the illustrations do as much justice to the author’s sentiments as in this, for in all our modern religious works for children there is nothing that excels these divine songs.
There were only a few guests; among them Sir George Grey and lady; he is nephew to Earl Grey, of reform memory, and she is the eldest daughter of the pious and learned Bishop Ryder, of Lichfield. Sir George is a man of great piety and worth, a liberal, and much interested in all benevolent movements. There was also the Earl of Albemarle, who is a colonel in the army, and has served many years under Wellington, a particularly cheerful, entertaining, conversable man, full of anecdote. He told several very characteristic and comical stories about the Duke of Wellington.
At dinner, among other things, the conversation turned upon hunting. It always seemed to me a curious thing, that in the height of English civilization this vestige of the savage state should still remain. I told Lord Albemarle that I thought the idea of a whole concourse of strong men turning out to hunt a poor fox or hare, creatures so feeble and insignificant, and who can do nothing to defend themselves, was hardly consistent with manliness; that if they had some of our American buffaloes, or a Bengal tiger, the affair would be something more dignified and generous. Thereupon they only laughed, and told stories about fox hunters. It seems that killing a fox, except in the way of hunting, is deemed among hunters an unpardonable offence, and a man who has the misfortune to do it would be almost as unwilling to let it be known as if he had killed a man.
They also told about deer stalking in the highlands, in which exercise I inferred Lord John had been a proficient. The conversation reminded me of the hunting stories I had heard in the log cabins in Indiana, and I amused myself with thinking how some of the narrators would appear among my high-bred friends. There is such a quaint vivacity and droll-cry about that half-savage western life, as always gives it a charm in my recollection. I thought of the jolly old hunter who always concluded the operations of the day by discharging his rifle at his candle after he had snugly ensconced himself in bed; and of the celebrated scene in which Henry Clay won an old hunter’s vote in an election, by his aptness in turning into a political simile some points in the management of a rifle.
Now there is, to my mind, something infinitely more sublime about hunting in real earnest amid the solemn shadows of our interminable forests, than in making believe hunt in parks.
It is undoubtedly the fact, that these out-of-door sports of England have a great deal to do with the firm health which men here enjoy. Speaking of this subject, I could not help expressing my surprise to Lord John at the apparently perfect health enjoyed by members of Parliament, notwithstanding their protracted night labors. He thinks that the session of Parliament this year will extend nearly to August. Speaking of breakfasts, he said they often had delightful breakfasts about three o’clock in the day; this is a total reverse of all our ideas in regard to time.
After dinner Lord and Lady Ribblesdale came in, connections of Lord John by a former marriage. I sat by Lord John on the sofa, and listened with great interest to a conversation between him and Lady Grey, on the working of the educational system in England; a subject which has particularly engaged the attention of the English government since the reign of the present queen. I found a difficulty in understanding many of the terms they used, though I learned much that interested me.
After a while I went to Lady Russell’s apartment, and had an hour of very pleasant conversation with her. It greatly enlarges our confidence in human nature to find such identity of feeling and opinion among the really good of different countries, and of all different circles in those countries. I have never been more impressed with this idea than during my sojourn here in England. Different as the institutions of England and America are, they do not prevent the formation of a very general basis of agreement in so far as radical ideas of practical morality and religion are concerned; and I am increasingly certain that there is a foundation for a lasting unity between the two countries which shall increase constantly, as the increasing facilities of communication lessen the distance between us.
Lady Russell inquired with a good deal of interest after Prescott, our historian, and expressed the pleasure which she and Lord John had derived from his writings.
We left early, after a most agreeable evening. The next day at eleven o’clock we went to an engagement at Lambeth Palace, where we had been invited by a kind note from its venerable master, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lambeth is a stately pile of quaint, antique buildings, rising most magnificently on the banks of the Thames. It is surrounded by beautiful grounds, laid out with choice gardening. Through an ancient hall, lighted by stained-glass windows, we were ushered into the drawing room, where the guests were assembling. There was quite a number of people there, among others the lady and eldest son of the Bishop of London, the Earl and Countess Waldegrave, and the family friends of the archbishop.
The good archbishop was kind and benign, as usual, and gave me his arm while we explored the curiosities of the palace. Now, my dear, if you will please to recollect that the guide book says, “this palace contains all the gradations of architecture from early English to late perpendicular,” you will certainly not expect me to describe it in one letter. It has been the residence of the archbishops of Canterbury from time immemorial, both in the days before the reformation and since.
The chapel was built between the years 1200 and 1300, and there used to be painted windows in it, as Archbishop Laud says, which contained the whole history of the world, from the creation to the day of judgment. Unfortunately these comprehensive windows were destroyed in the civil wars.
The part called the Lollards’ Tower is celebrated as having been the reputed prison of the Lollards. These Lollards, perhaps you will remember, were the followers of John Wickliffe, called Lollards as Christ was called a “Nazarene,” simply because the word was a term of reproach. Wickliffe himself was summoned here to Lambeth to give an account of his teachings, and in 1382, William Courtnay, Archbishop of Canterbury, called a council, which condemned his doctrines. The tradition is, that at various times these Lollards were imprisoned here.
In order to get to the tower we had to go through a great many apartments, passages, and corridors, and terminate all by climbing a winding staircase, steeper and narrower than was at all desirable for any but wicked heretics, who ought to be made as uncomfortable as possible. However, by reasonable perseverance, the archbishop, the bishop’s lady, and all the noble company present found themselves safely at the top. Our host remarked, I think, that it was the second time he had ever been there.
The room is thirteen feet by twelve, and about eight feet high, wainscotted with oak, which is scrawled over with names and inscriptions. There are eight large iron rings in the wall, to which the prisoners were chained; for aught we know, Wickliffe himself may have been one. As our kind host moved about among us with his placid face, we could not but think that times had altered since the days when archbishops used to imprison heretics, and preside over grim, inquisitorial tribunals. We all agreed, however, that, considering the very beautiful prospect this tower commands up and down the Thames, the poor Lollards in some respects might have been worse lodged.
We passed through the guard room, library, and along a corridor where hung a row of pictures of all the archbishops from the very earliest times; and then the archbishop took me into his study, which is a most charming room, containing his own private library: after that we all sat down to lunch in a large dining hall. I was seated between the archbishop and a venerable admiral in the navy. Among other things, the latter asked me if there were not many railroad and steamboat accidents in America. O my countrymen, what trouble do you make us in foreign lands by your terrible carelessness! I was obliged, in candor, to say that I thought there was a shocking number of accidents of that sort, and suggested the best excuse I could think of–our youth and inexperience; but I certainly thought my venerable friend had touched a very indefensible point.
Among other topics discussed in the drawing room, I heard some more _on dits_ respecting spiritual rappings. Every body seems to be wondering what they are, and what they are going to amount to.
We took leave of our kind host and his family, gratefully impressed with the simplicity and sincere cordiality of our reception. There are many different names for goodness in this world; but, after all, true brotherly kindness and charity is much the same thing, whether it show itself by a Quaker’s fireside or in an archbishop’s palace.
Leaving the archbishop’s I went to Richmond’s again, where I was most agreeably entertained for an hour or two. We have an engagement for Playford Hall to-morrow, and we breakfast with Joseph Sturge: it being now the time of the yearly meeting of the Friends, he and his family are in town.
MY DEAR S.:–
The next morning C. and I took the cars to go into the country, to Playford Hall. “And what’s Playford Hall?” you say. “And why did you go to see it?” As to what it is, here is a reasonably good picture before you. As to why, it was for many years the residence of Thomas Clarkson, and is now the residence of his venerable widow and her family.
Playford Hall is considered, I think, the oldest of the fortified houses in England, and is, I am told, the only one that has water in the moat. The water which is seen girdling the wall, in the picture, is the moat: it surrounds the place entirely, leaving no access except across the bridge, which is here represented.
After crossing this bridge, you come into a green court yard filled with choice plants and flowering shrubs, and carpeted with that thick, soft, velvet-like grass which is to be found nowhere else in so perfect a state as in England.
The water is fed by a perpetual spring, whose current is so sluggish as scarcely to be perceptible, but which yet has the vitality of a running stream.
It has a dark and glassy stillness of surface, only broken by the forms of the water plants, whose leaves float thickly over it.
The walls of the moat are green with ancient moss, and from the crevices springs an abundant flowering vine, whose delicate leaves and bright yellow flowers in some places entirely mantle the stones with their graceful drapery.
[Illustration: _of Playford Hall._]
The picture I have given you represents only one side of the moat. The other side is grown up with dark and thick shrubbery and ancient trees, rising and embowering the entire place, adding to the retired and singular effect of the whole. The place is a specimen of a sort of thing which does not exist in America. It is one of those significant landmarks which unite the present with the past, for which we must return to the country of our origin.
Playford Hall is peculiarly English, and Thomas Clarkson, for whose sake I visited it, was as peculiarly an Englishman–a specimen of the very best kind of English mind and character, as this is of characteristic English architecture.
We Anglo-Saxons have won a hard name in the world. There are undoubtedly bad things which are true about us.
Taking our developments as a race, both in England and America, we may be justly called the Romans of the nineteenth century. We have been the race which has conquered, subdued, and broken in pieces other weaker races, with little regard either to justice or mercy. With regard to benefits by us imparted to conquered nations, I think a better story, on the whole, can be made out for the Romans than for us. Witness the treatment of the Chinese, of the tribes of India, and of our own American Indians.
But still there is in Anglo-Saxon blood, a vigorous sense of justice, as appears in our habeas corpus, our jury trials, and other features