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EUROPE SEEN WITH KNAPSACK AND STAFF.
J. BAYARD TAYLOR.
WITH A PREFACE BY N.P. WILLIS.
“Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way, And merrily hent the stile-a;
A merry heart goes all the day, Your sad tires in a mile-a.”
IN TWO PARTS.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by
WILEY AND PUTNAM,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
BY N.P. WILLIS.
The book which follows, requires little or no introduction. It tells its own story, and tells it well. The interest in it, which induces the writer of this preface to be its usher to the public, is simply that of his having chanced to be among the first appreciators of the author’s talent–an appreciation that has since been so more than justified, that the writer is proud to call the author of this book his friend, and bespeak attention to the peculiar energies he has displayed in travel and authorship. Mr. Taylor’s poetical productions while he was still a printer’s apprentice, made a strong impression on the writer’s mind, and he gave them their due of praise accordingly in the newspaper of which he was then Editor. Some correspondence ensued, and other fine pieces of writing strengthened the admiration thus awakened, and when the young poet-mechanic came to the city, and modestly announced the bold determination of visiting foreign lands–with means, if they could be got, but with reliance on manual labor if they could not–the writer, understanding the man, and seeing how capable he was of carrying out his manly and enthusiastic scheme, and that it would work uncorruptingly for the improvement of his mind and character, counselled him to go. He went–his book tells how successfully for all his purposes. He has returned, after two years’ absence, with large knowledge of the world, of men and of manners, with a pure, invigorated and healthy mind, having passed all this time abroad, and seen and accomplished more than most travelers, _at the cost of only $500, and this sum earned on the road_. This, in the writer’s opinion, is a fine instance of character and energy. The book, which records the difficulties and struggles of a printer’s apprentice achieving this, must be interesting to Americans. The pride of the country is in its self-made men.
What Mr. Taylor is, or what he is yet to become, cannot well be touched upon here, but that it will yet be written, and on a bright page, is, of course, his own confident hope and the writer’s confident expectation. The book, which is the record of his progress thus far, is now cordially commended to the public, and it will be read, perhaps, more understandingly after a perusal of the following outline sketch of the difficulties the author had to contend with–a letter written in reply to a note from the writer asking for some of the particulars of his start and progress:
_To. Mr. Willis_,–
MY DEAR SIR:–
Nearly three years ago (in the beginning of 1844) the time for accomplishing my long cherished desire of visiting Europe, seemed to arrive. A cousin, who had long intended going abroad, was to leave in a few months, and although I was then surrounded by the most unfavorable circumstances, I determined to accompany him, at whatever hazard. I had still two years of my apprenticeship to serve out; I was entirely without means, and my project was strongly opposed by my friends, as something too visionary to be practicable. A short time before, Mr. Griswold advised me to publish a small volume of youthful effusions, a few of which had appeared in Graham’s Magazine, which he then edited; the idea struck me, that by so doing, I might, if they should be favorably noticed, obtain a newspaper correspondence which would enable me to make the start.
The volume was published; a sufficient number was sold among my friends to defray all expenses, and it was charitably noticed by the Philadelphia press. Some literary friends, to whom I confided my design, promised to aid me with their influence. Trusting to this, I made arrangements for leaving the printing-office, which I succeeded in doing, by making a certain compensation for the remainder of my time. I was now fully confident of success, feeling satisfied, that a strong will would always make itself a way. After many applications to different editors and as many disappointments, I finally succeeded, about two weeks before our departure, in making a partial engagement. Mr. Chandler of the United States Gazette and Mr. Patterson of the Saturday Evening Post, paid me fifty dollars, each, in advance for twelve letters, to be sent from Europe, with the probability of accepting more, if these should be satisfactory. This, with a sum which I received from Mr. Graham for poems published in his Magazine, put me in possession of about a hundred and forty dollars, with which I determined to start, trusting to future remuneration for letters, or if that should fail, to my skill as a compositor, for I supposed I could at the worst, work my way through Europe, like the German hand werker. Thus, with another companion, we left home, an enthusiastic and hopeful trio.
I need not trace our wanderings at length. After eight months of suspense, during which time my small means were entirely exhausted, I received a letter from Mr. Patterson, continuing the engagement for the remainder of my stay, with a remittance of one hundred dollars from himself and Mr. Graham. Other remittances, received from time to time, enabled me to stay abroad two years, during which I traveled on foot upwards of three thousand miles in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. I was obliged, however, to use the strictest economy–to live on pilgrim fare, and do penance in rain and cold. My means several times entirely failed; but I was always relieved from serious difficulty through unlooked-for friends, or some unexpected turn of fortune. At Rome, owing to the expenses and embarrassments of traveling in Italy, I was obliged to give up my original design of proceeding on foot to Naples and across the peninsula to Otranto, sailing thence to Corfu and making a pedestrian journey through Albania and Greece. But the main object of my pilgrimage is accomplished; I visited the principal places of interest in Europe, enjoyed her grandest scenery and the marvels of ancient and modern art, became familiar with other languages, other customs and other institutions, and returned home, after two years’ absence, willing now, with satisfied curiosity, to resume life in America.
Yours, most sincerely,
J. BAYARD TAYLOR.
II.–A Day in Ireland
III.–Ben Lomond and the Highland Lakes
IV.–The Burns’ Festival
V.–Walk from Edinburgh over the Border and arrival at London
VI.–Some of the “Sights” of London
VII.–Flight through Belgium
VIII.–The Rhine to Heidelberg
IX.–Scenes in and around Heidelberg
X.–A Walk through the Odenwald
XI.–Scenes in Frankfort–An American Composer–The Poet Freiligrath
XII.–A week among the Students
XIII.–Christmas and New Year in Germany
XIV.–Winter in Frankfort–A Fair, an Inundation and a Fire
XV.–The Dead and the Deaf–Mendelssohn the Composer
XVI.–Journey on Foot from Frankfort to Cassel
XVII.–Adventures among the Hartz
XVIII.–Notes in Leipsic and Dresden
XIX.–Rambles in the Saxon Switzerland
XX.–Scenes in Prague
XXI.–Journey through Eastern Bohemia and Moravia to the Danube
XXIII.–Up the Danube
XXIV.–The Unknown Student
XXV.–The Austrian Alps
XXVII.–Through Wurtemberg to Heidelberg
XXVIII.–Freiburg and the Black Forest
XXIX.–People and Places in Eastern Switzerland
XXX.–Passage of the St Gothard and descent into Italy
XXXII.–Walk from Milan to Genoa
XXXIII.–Scenes in Genoa, Leghorn and Pisa
XXXIV.–Florence and its Galleries
XXXV.–A Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa
XXXVI.–Walk to Siena and Pratolino–Incidents in Florence
XXXVII.–American Art in Florence
XXXVIII.–An Adventure on the Great St. Bernard–Walks around Florence
XXXIX.–Winter Traveling among the Appenines
XLI.–Tivoli and the Roman Campagna
XLII.–Tivoli and the Roman Campagna (_continued_)
XLIII.–Pilgrimage to Vaucluse and Journey up the Rhone
XLIV.–Traveling in Burgundy–The Miseries of a Country Diligence
XLV.–Poetical Scenes in Paris
XLVI.–A Glimpse of Normandy
XLVII.–Lockhart, Bernard Barton and Croly–London Chimes and Greenwich Fair
THESE RECORDS OF THE PILGRIMAGE,
WHOSE TOILS AND ENJOYMENTS WE HAVE SHARED TOGETHER,
HIS RELATIVE AND FRIEND.
An enthusiastic desire of visiting the Old World haunted me from early childhood. I cherished a presentiment, amounting almost to belief, that I should one day behold the scenes, among which my fancy had so long wandered. The want of means was for a time a serious check to my anticipations; but I could not content myself to wait until I had slowly accumulated so large a sum as tourists usually spend on their travels. It seemed to me that a more humble method of seeing the world would place within the power of almost every one, what has hitherto been deemed the privilege of the wealthy few. Such a journey, too, offered advantages for becoming acquainted with people as well as places–for observing more intimately, the effect of government and education, and more than all, for the study of human nature, in every condition of life. At length I became possessed of a small sum, to be earned by letters descriptive of things abroad, and on the 1st of July, 1844, set sail for Liverpool, with a relative and friend, whose circumstances were somewhat similar to mine. How far the success of the experiment and the object of our long pilgrimage were attained, these pages will show.
* * * * *
LAND AND SEA.
There are springs that rise in the greenwood’s heart, Where its leafy glooms are cast,
And the branches droop in the solemn air, Unstirred by the sweeping blast.
There are hills that lie in the noontide calm, On the lap of the quiet earth;
And, crown’d with gold by the ripened grain, Surround my place of birth.
Dearer are these to my pining heart, Than the beauty of the deep,
When the moonlight falls in a bolt of gold On the waves that heave in sleep.
The rustling talk of the clustered leaves That shade a well-known door,
Is sweeter far than the booming sound Of the breaking wave before.
When night on the ocean sinks calmly down, I climb the vessel’s prow,
Where the foam-wreath glows with its phosphor light, Like a crown on a sea-nymph’s brow.
Above, through the lattice of rope and spar, The stars in their beauty burn;
And the spirit longs to ride their beams, And back to the loved return.
They say that the sunset is brighter far When it sinks behind the sea;
That the stars shine out with a softer fire– Not thus they seem to me.
Dearer the flush of the crimson west Through trees that my childhood knew. When the star of love with its silver lamp, Lights the homes of the tried and true!
Could one live on the sense of beauty alone, exempt from the necessity of “creature comforts,” a sea-voyage would be delightful. To the landsman there is sublimity in the wild and ever-varied forms of the ocean; they fill his mind with living images of a glory he had only dreamed of before. But we would have been willing to forego all this and get back the comforts of the shore. At New York we took passage in the second cabin of the Oxford, which, as usual in the Liverpool packets, consisted of a small space amid-ships, fitted up with rough, temporary berths. The communication with the deck is by an open hatchway, which in storms is closed down. As the passengers in this cabin furnish their own provisions, we made ourselves acquainted with the contents of certain storehouses on Pine St. wharf, and purchased a large box of provisions, which was stowed away under our narrow berth. The cook, for a small compensation, took on himself the charge of preparing them, and we made ourselves as comfortable as the close, dark dwelling would admit.
As we approached the Banks of Newfoundland, a gale arose, which for two days and nights carried us on, careering Mazeppa-like, up hill and down. The sea looked truly magnificent, although the sailors told us it was nothing at all in comparison with the storms of winter. But we were not permitted to pass the Banks, without experiencing one of the calms, for which that neighborhood is noted. For three days we lay almost motionless on the glassy water, sometimes surrounded by large flocks of sea-gulls. The weed brought by the gulf stream, floated around–some branches we fished up, were full of beautiful little shells. Once a large school of black-fish came around the vessel, and the carpenter climbed down on the fore-chains, with a harpoon to strike one. Scarcely had he taken his position, when they all darted off in a straight line, through the water, and were soon out of sight. He said they smelt the harpoon.
We congratulated ourselves on having reached the Banks in seven days, as it is considered the longest third-part of the passage. But the hopes of reaching Liverpool in twenty days, were soon overthrown. A succession of southerly winds drove the vessel as far north as lat. 55 deg., without bringing us much nearer our destination. It was extremely cold, for we were but five degrees south of the latitude of Greenland, and the long northern twilights came on. The last glow of the evening twilight had scarcely faded, before the first glimmering of dawn appeared. I found it extremely easy to read, at 10 P.M., on the deck.
We had much diversion on board from a company of Iowa Indians, under the celebrated chief “White Cloud,” who are on a visit to England. They are truly a wild enough looking company, and helped not a little to relieve the tedium of the passage. The chief was a very grave and dignified person, but some of the braves were merry enough. One day we had a war-dance on deck, which was a most ludicrous scene. The chief and two braves sat upon the deck, beating violently a small drum and howling forth their war-song, while the others in full dress, painted in a grotesque style, leaped about, brandishing tomahawks and spears, and terminating each dance with a terrific yell. Some of the men are very fine-looking, but the squaws are all ugly. They occupied part of the second cabin, separated only by a board partition from our room. This proximity was any thing but agreeable. They kept us awake more than half the night, by singing and howling in the most dolorous manner, with the accompaniment of slapping their hands violently on their bare breasts. We tried an opposition, and a young German student, who was returning home after two years’ travel in America, made our room ring with the chorus from Der Freischutz–but in vain. They _would_ howl and beat their breasts, and the pappoose _would_ squall. Any loss of temper is therefore not to be wondered at, when I state that I could scarcely turn in my berth, much less stretch myself out; my cramped limbs alone drove off half the night’s slumber.
It was a pleasure, at least, to gaze on their strong athletic frames. Their massive chests and powerful limbs put to shame our dwindled proportions. One old man, in particular, who seemed the patriarch of the band, used to stand for hours on the quarter deck, sublime and motionless as a statue of Jupiter. An interesting incident occurred during the calm of which I spoke. They began to be fearful we were doomed to remain there forever, unless the spirits were invoked for a favorable wind. Accordingly the prophet lit his pipe and smoked with great deliberation, muttering all the while in a low voice. Then, having obtained a bottle of beer from the captain, he poured it solemnly over the stern of the vessel into the sea. There were some indications of wind at the time, and accordingly the next morning we had a fine breeze, which the Iowas attributed solely to the Prophet’s incantation and Eolus’ love of beer.
After a succession of calms and adverse winds, on the 25th we were off the Hebrides, and though not within sight of land, the southern winds came to us strongly freighted with the “meadow freshness” of the Irish bogs, so we could at least _smell_ it. That day the wind became more favorable, and the next morning we were all roused out of our berths by sunrise, at the long wished-for cry of “land!” Just under the golden flood of light that streamed through the morning clouds, lay afar-off and indistinct the crags of an island, with the top of a light-house visible at one extremity. To the south of it, and barely distinguishable, so completely was it blended in hue with the veiling cloud, loomed up a lofty mountain. I shall never forget the sight! As we drew nearer, the dim and soft outline it first wore, was broken into a range of crags, with lofty precipices jutting out to the sea, and sloping off inland. The white wall of the light-house shone in the morning’s light, and the foam of the breakers dashed up at the foot of the airy cliffs. It was worth all the troubles of a long voyage, to feel the glorious excitement which this herald of new scenes and new adventures created. The light-house was on Tory Island, on the north-western coast of Ireland. The Captain decided on taking the North Channel, for, although rarely done, it was in our case nearer, and is certainly more interesting than the usual route.
We passed the Island of Ennistrahul, near the entrance of Londonderry harbor, and at sunset saw in the distance the islands of Islay and Jura, off the Scottish coast. Next morning we were close to the promontory of Fairhead, a bold, precipitous headland, like some of the Palisades on the Hudson; the highlands of the Mull of Cantire were on the opposite side of the Channel, and the wind being ahead, we tacked from shore to shore, running so near the Irish coast, that we could see the little thatched huts, stacks of peat, and even rows of potatoes in the fields. It was a panorama: the view extended for miles inland, and the fields of different colored grain were spread out before us, a brilliant mosaic. Towards evening we passed Ailsa Crag, the sea-bird’s home, within sight, though about twenty miles distant.
On Sunday, the 28th, we passed the lofty headland of the Mull of Galloway and entered the Irish Sea. Here there was an occurrence of an impressive nature. A woman, belonging to the steerage, who had been ill the whole passage, died the morning before. She appeared to be of a very avaricious disposition, though this might indeed have been the result of self-denial, practised through filial affection. In the morning she was speechless, and while they were endeavoring to persuade her to give up her keys to the captain, died. In her pocket were found two parcels, containing forty sovereigns, sewed up with the most miserly care. It was ascertained she had a widowed mother in the north of Ireland, and judging her money could be better applied than to paying for a funeral on shore, the captain gave orders for committing the body to the waves. It rained drearily as her corpse, covered with starred bunting, was held at the gangway while the captain read the funeral service; then one plunge was heard, and a white object, flashed up through the dark waters, as the ship passed on.
In the afternoon we passed the Isle of Man, having a beautiful view of the Calf, with a white stream tumbling down the rocks into the sea; and at night saw the sun set behind the mountains of Wales. About midnight, the pilot came on board, and soon after sunrise I saw the distant spires of Liverpool. The Welsh coast was studded with windmills, all in motion, and the harbor spotted with buoys, bells and floating lights. How delightful it was to behold the green trees on the banks of the Mersey, and to know that in a few hours we should be on land! About 11 o’clock we came to anchor in the channel of the Mersey, near the docks, and after much noise, bustle and confusion, were transferred, with our baggage, to a small steamboat, giving a parting cheer to the Iowas, who remained on board. On landing, I stood a moment to observe the scene. The baggage-wagons, drawn by horses, mules and donkeys, were extraordinary; men were going about crying “_the celebrated Tralorum gingerbread!_” which they carried in baskets; and a boy in the University dress, with long blue gown and yellow knee-breeches, was running to the wharf to look at the Indians.
At last the carts were all loaded, the word was given to start, and then, what a scene ensued! Away went the mules, the horses and the donkeys; away ran men and women and children, carrying chairs and trunks, and boxes and bedding. The wind was blowing, and the dust whirled up as they dashed helter-skelter through the gate and started off on a hot race, down the dock to the depot. Two wagons came together, one of which was overturned, scattering the broken boxes of a Scotch family over the pavement; but while the poor woman was crying over her loss, the tide swept on, scarcely taking time to glance at the mishap.
Our luggage was “passed” with little trouble; the officer merely opening the trunks and pressing his hands on the top. Even some American reprints of English works which my companion carried, and feared would be taken from him, were passed over without a word. I was agreeably surprised at this, as from the accounts of some travellers, I had been led to fear horrible things of custom-houses. This over, we took a stroll about the city. I was first struck by seeing so many people walking in the middle of the streets, and so many gentlemen going about with pinks stuck in their button-holes. Then, the houses being all built of brown granite or dark brick, gives the town a sombre appearance, which the sunshine (when there is any) cannot dispel. Of Liverpool we saw little. Before the twilight had wholly faded, we were again tossing on the rough waves of the Irish Sea.
A DAY IN IRELAND.
On calling at the steamboat office in Liverpool, to take passage to Port Rush, we found that the fare in the fore cabin was but two shillings and a half, while in the chief cabin it was six times as much. As I had started to make the tour of all Europe with a sum little higher than is sometimes given for the mere passage to and fro, there was no alternative–the twenty-four hours’ discomfort could be more easily endured than the expense, and as I expected to encounter many hardships, it was best to make a beginning. I had crossed the ocean with tolerable comfort for twenty-four dollars, and was determined to try whether England, where I had been told it was almost impossible to breathe without expense, might not also be seen by one of limited means.
The fore _cabin_ was merely a bare room, with a bench along one side, which was occupied by half a dozen Irishmen in knee-breeches and heavy brogans. As we passed out of the Clarence Dock at 10 P.M., I went below and managed to get a seat on one end of the bench, where I spent the night in sleepless misery. The Irish bestowed themselves about the floor as they best could, for there was no light, and very soon the Morphean deepness of their breathing gave token of blissful unconsciousness.
The next morning was misty and rainy, but I preferred walking the deck and drying myself occasionally beside the chimney, to sitting in the dismal room below. We passed the Isle of Man, and through the whole forenoon were tossed about very disagreeably in the North Channel. In the afternoon we stopped at Larne, a little antiquated village, not far from Belfast, at the head of a crooked arm of the sea. There is an old ivy-grown tower near, and high green mountains rise up around. After leaving it, we had a beautiful panoramic view of the northern coast. Many of the precipices are of the same formation as the Causeway; Fairhead, a promontory of this kind, is grand in the extreme. The perpendicular face of fluted rock is about three hundred feet in height, and towering up sublimely from the water, seemed almost to overhang our heads.
My companion compared it to Niagara Falls petrified; and I think the simile very striking. It is like a cataract falling in huge waves, in some places leaping out from a projecting rock, in others descending in an unbroken sheet.
We passed the Giant’s Causeway after dark, and about eleven o’clock reached the harbor of Port Rush, where, after stumbling up a strange old street, in the dark, we found a little inn, and soon forgot the Irish Coast and everything else.
In the morning when we arose it was raining, with little prospect of fair weather, but having expected nothing better, we set out on foot for the Causeway. The rain, however, soon came down in torrents, and we were obliged to take shelter in a cabin by the road-side. The whole house consisted of one room, with bare walls and roof, and earthen floor, while a window of three or four panes supplied the light. A fire of peat was burning on the hearth, and their breakfast, of potatoes alone, stood on the table. The occupants received us with rude but genuine hospitality, giving us the only seats in the room to sit upon; except a rickety bedstead that stood in one corner and a small table, there was no other furniture in the house. The man appeared rather intelligent, and although he complained of the hardness of their lot, had no sympathy with O’Connell or the Repeal movement.
We left this miserable hut, as soon as it ceased raining–and, though there were many cabins along the road, few were better than this. At length, after passing the walls of an old church, in the midst of older tombs, we saw the roofless towers of Dunluce Castle, on the sea-shore. It stands on an isolated rook, rising perpendicularly two hundred feet above the sea, and connected with the cliffs of the mainland by a narrow arch of masonry. On the summit of the cliffs were the remains of the buildings where the ancient lords kept their vassals. An old man, who takes care of it for Lord Antrim, on whose property it is situated, showed us the way down to the castle. We walked across the narrow arch, entered the ruined hall, and looked down on the roaring sea below. It still rained, the wind swept furiously through the decaying arches of the banqueting hall and waved the long grass on the desolate battlements. Far below, the sea foamed white on the breakers and sent up an unceasing boom. It was the most mournful and desolate picture I ever beheld. There were some low dungeons yet entire, and rude stairways, where, by stooping down, I could ascend nearly to the top of one of the towers, and look out on the wild scenery of the coast.
Going back, I found a way down the cliff, to the mouth of a cavern in the rock, which extends under the whole castle to the sea. Sliding down a heap of sand and stones, I stood under an arch eighty feet high; in front the breakers dashed into the entrance, flinging the spray half-way to the roof, while the sound rang up through the arches like thunder. It seemed to me the haunt of the old Norsemen’s sea-gods!
We left the road near Dunluce and walked along the smooth beach to the cliffs that surround the Causeway. Here we obtained a guide, and descended to one of the caves which can be entered from the shore. Opposite the entrance a bare rock called Sea Gull Isle, rises out of the sea like a church steeple. The roof at first was low, but we shortly came to a branch that opened on the sea, where the arch was forty-six feet in height. The breakers dashed far into the cave, and flocks of sea-birds circled round its mouth. The sound of a gun was like a deafening peal of thunder, crashing from arch to arch till it rolled out of the cavern.
On the top of the hill a splendid hotel is erected for visitors to the Causeway; after passing this we descended to the base of the cliffs, which are here upwards of four hundred feet high, and soon began to find, in the columnar formation of the rocks, indications of our approach. The guide pointed out some columns which appeared to have been melted and run together, from which Sir Humphrey Davy attributed the formation of the Causeway to the action of fire. Near this is the Giant’s Well, a spring of the purest water, the bottom formed by three perfect hexagons, and the sides of regular columns. One of us observing that no giant had ever drunk from it, the old man answered–“Perhaps not: but it was made by a giant–God Almighty!”
From the well, the Causeway commences–a mass of columns, from triangular to octagonal, lying in compact forms, and extending into the sea. I was somewhat disappointed at first, having supposed the Causeway to be of great height, but I found the Giant’s Loom, which is the highest part of it, to be but about fifty feet from the water. The singular appearance of the columns and the many strange forms which they assume, render it nevertheless, an object of the greatest interest. Walking out on the rocks we came to the Ladies’ Chair, the seat, back, sides and footstool, being all regularly formed by the broken columns. The guide said that any lady who would take three drinks from the Giant’s Well, then sit in this chair and think of any gentleman for whom she had a preference, would be married before a twelvemonth. I asked him if it would answer as well for gentlemen, for by a wonderful coincidence we had each drank three times at the well! He said it would, and thought he was confirming his statement.
A cluster of columns about half-way up the cliff is called the Giant’s Organ–from its very striking resemblance to that instrument, and a single rock, worn by the waves into the shape of a rude seat, is his chair. A mile or two further along the coast, two cliffs project from the range, leaving a vast semicircular space between, which, from its resemblance to the old Roman theatres, was appropriated for that purpose by the Giant. Halfway down the crags are two or three pinnacles of rock, called the Chimneys, and the stumps of several others can be seen, which, it is said, were shot off by a vessel belonging to the Spanish Armada, in mistake for the towers of Dunluce Castle. The vessel was afterwards wrecked in the bay below, which has ever since been called Spanish Bay, and in calm weather the wreck may be still seen. Many of the columns of the Causeway have been carried off and sold as pillars for mantels–and though a notice is put up threatening any one with the rigor of the law, depredations are occasionally made.
Returning, we left the road at Dunluce, and took a path which led along the summit of the cliffs. The twilight was gathering, and the wind blew with perfect fury, which, combined with the black and stormy sky, gave the coast an air of extreme wildness. All at once, as we followed the winding path, the crags appeared to open before us, disclosing a yawning chasm, down which a large stream, falling in an unbroken sheet, was lost in the gloom below. Witnessed in a calm day, there may perhaps be nothing striking about it, but coming upon us at once, through the gloom of twilight, with the sea thundering below and a scowling sky above, it was absolutely startling.
The path at last wound, with many a steep and slippery bend, down the almost perpendicular crags, to the shore, at the foot of a giant isolated rock, having a natural arch through it, eighty feet in height. We followed the narrow strip of beach, having the bare crags on one side and a line of foaming breakers on the other. It soon grew dark; a furious storm came up and swept like a hurricane along the shore. I then understood what Horne means by “the lengthening javelins of the blast,” for every drop seemed to strike with the force of an arrow, and our clothes were soon pierced in every part.
Then we went up among the sand hills, and lost each other in the darkness, when, after stumbling about among the gullies for half an hour, shouting for my companions, I found the road and heard my call answered; but it happened to be two Irishmen, who came up and said–“And is it another gintleman ye’re callin’ for? we heard some one cryin’, and didn’t know but somebody might be kilt.”
Finally, about eleven o’clock we all arrived at the inn, dripping with rain, and before a warm fire concluded the adventures of our day in Ireland.
BEN LOMOND AND THE HIGHLAND LAKES.
The steamboat Londonderry called the next day at Port Rush, and we left in her for Greenock. We ran down the Irish coast, past Dunluce Castle and the Causeway; the Giant’s organ was very plainly visible, and the winds were strong enough to have sounded a storm-song upon it. Farther on we had a distant view of Carrick-a-Rede, a precipitous rock, separated by a yawning chasm from the shore, frequented by the catchers of sea-birds. A narrow swinging bridge, which is only passable in calm weather, crosses this chasm, 200 feet above the water.
The deck of the steamer was crowded with Irish, and certainly gave no very favorable impression of the condition of the peasantry of Ireland. On many of their countenances there was scarcely a mark of intelligence–they were a most brutalized and degraded company of beings. Many of them were in a beastly state of intoxication, which, from the contents of some of their pockets, was not likely to decrease. As evening drew on, two or three began singing and the others collected in groups around them. One of them who sang with great spirit, was loudly applauded, and poured forth song after song, of the most rude and unrefined character.
We took a deck passage for three shillings, in preference to paying twenty for the cabin, and having secured a vacant place near the chimney, kept it during the whole passage. The waves were as rough in the Channel as I ever saw them in the Atlantic, and our boat was tossed about like a plaything. By keeping still we escaped sickness, but we could not avoid the sight of the miserable beings who filled the deck. Many of them spoke in the Irish tongue, and our German friend (the student whom I have already mentioned) noticed in many of the words a resemblance to his mother tongue. I procured a bowl of soup from the steward, but as I was not able to eat it, I gave it to an old man whose hungry look and wistful eyes convinced me it would not be lost on him. He swallowed it with ravenous avidity, together with a crust of bread, which was all I had to give him, and seemed for the time as happy and cheerful as if all his earthly wants were satisfied.
We passed by the foot of Goat Fell, a lofty mountain on the island of Arran, and sped on through the darkness past the hills of Bute, till we entered the Clyde. We arrived at Greenock at one o’clock at night, and walking at random through its silent streets, met a policeman, whom we asked to show us where we might find lodgings. He took my cousin and myself to the house of a poor widow, who had a spare bed which she let to strangers, and then conducted our comrade and the German to another lodging-place.
An Irish strolling musician, who was on board the Dumbarton boat, commenced playing soon after we left Greenock, and, to my surprise, struck at once into “Hail Columbia.” Then he gave “the Exile of Erin,” with the most touching sweetness; and I noticed that always after playing any air that was desired of him, he would invariably return to the sad lament, which I never heard executed with more feeling. It might have been the mild, soft air of the morning, or some peculiar mood of mind that influenced me, but I have been far less affected by music which would be considered immeasurably superior to his. I had been thinking of America, and going up to the old man, I quietly bade him play “Home.” It thrilled with a painful delight that almost brought tears to my eyes. My companion started as the sweet melody arose, and turned towards me, his face kindling with emotion.
Dumbarton Rock rose higher and higher as we went up the Clyde, and before we arrived at the town I hailed the dim outline of Ben Lomond, rising far off among the highlands. The town is at the head of a small inlet, a short distance from the rock, which was once surrounded by water. We went immediately to the Castle. The rock is nearly 500 feet high, and from its position and great strength as a fortress, has been called the Gibraltar of Scotland. The top is surrounded with battlements, and the armory and barracks stand in a cleft between the two peaks. We passed down a green lane, around the rock, and entered the castle on the south side. A soldier conducted us through a narrow cleft, overhung with crags, to the summit. Here, from the remains of a round building, called Wallace’s Tower, from its having been used as a look-out station by that chieftain, we had a beautiful view of the whole of Leven Vale to Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and the Highlands, and on the other hand, the Clyde and the Isle of Bute. In the soft and still balminess of the morning, it was a lovely picture. In the armory, I lifted the sword of Wallace, a two-handed weapon, five feet in length. We were also shown a Lochaber battle-axe, from Bannockburn, and several ancient claymores.
We lingered long upon the summit before we forsook the stern fortress for the sweet vale spread out before us. It was indeed a glorious walk, from Dumbarton to Loch Lomond, through this enchanting valley. The air was mild and clear; a few light clouds occasionally crossing the sun, chequered the hills with sun and shade. I have as yet seen nothing that in pastoral beauty can compare with its glassy winding stream, its mossy old woods, and guarding hills–and the ivy-grown, castellated towers embosomed in its forests, or standing on the banks of the Leven–the purest of rivers. At a little village called Renton, is a monument to Smollett, but the inhabitants seem to neglect his memory, as one of the tablets on the pedestal is broken and half fallen away. Further up the vale a farmer showed us an old mansion in the midst of a group of trees on the bank of the Leven, which he said belonged to Smollett–or Roderick Random, as he called him. Two or three old pear trees were still standing where the garden had formerly been, under which he was accustomed to play in his childhood.
At the head of Leven Vale, we set off in the steamer “Water Witch” over the crystal waters of Loch Lomond, passing Inch Murrin, the deer-park of the Duke of Montrose, and Inch Caillach,
—-“where gray pines wave
Their shadows o’er Clan Alpine’s grave.”
Under the clear sky and golden light of the declining sun, we entered the Highlands, and heard on every side names we had learned long ago in the lays of Scott. Here were Glen Fruin and Bannochar, Ross Dhu and the pass of Beal-ma-na. Further still, we passed Rob Roy’s rock, where the lake is locked in by lofty mountains. The cone-like peak of Ben Lomond rises far above on the right, Ben Voirlich stands in front, and the jagged crest of Ben Arthur looks over the shoulders of the western hills. A Scotchman on board pointed out to us the remarkable places, and related many interesting legends. Above Inversnaid, where there is a beautiful waterfall, leaping over the rock and glancing out from the overhanging birches, we passed McFarland’s Island, concerning the origin of which name, he gave a history. A nephew of one of the old Earls of Lennox, the ruins of whose castle we saw on Inch Murrin, having murdered his uncle’s cook in a quarrel, was obliged to flee for his life. Returning after many years, he built a castle upon this island, which was always after named, on account of his exile, _Far-land_. On a precipitous point above Inversnaid, are two caves in the rock; one near the water is called Rob Roy’s, though the guides generally call it Bruce’s also, to avoid trouble, as the real Bruce’s Cave is high up the hill. It is so called, because Bruce hid there one night, from the pursuit of his enemies. It is related that a mountain goat, who used this probably for a sleeping place, entered, trod on his mantle, and aroused him. Thinking his enemies were upon him, he sprang up, and saw the silly animal before him. In token of gratitude for this agreeable surprise, when he became king, a law was passed, declaring goats free throughout all Scotland–unpunishable for whatever trespass they might commit, and the legend further says, that not having been repealed, it continues in force at the present day.
On the opposite shore of the lake is a large rock, called “Bull’s Rock,” having a door in the side, with a stairway cut through the interior to a pulpit on the top, from which the pastor at Arroquhar preaches a monthly discourse. The Gaelic legend of the rock is, that it once stood near the summit of the mountain above, and was very nearly balanced on the edge of a precipice. Two wild bulls, fighting violently, dashed with great force against the rock, which, being thrown from its balance, was tumbled down the side of the mountain, till it reached its present position. The Scot was speaking with great bitterness of the betrayal of Wallace, when I asked him if it was still considered an insult to turn a loaf of bread bottom upwards in the presence of a Montieth. “Indeed it is, sir,” said he, “I have often done it myself.”
Until last May, travellers were taken no higher up the lake than Rob Roy’s Cave, but another boat having commenced running, they can now go beyond Loch Lomond, two miles up Glen Falloch, to the Inn of Inverarnan, thereby visiting some of the finest scenery in that part of the Highlands. It was ludicrous, however, to see the steamboat on a river scarcely wider than herself, in a little valley, hemmed in completely with lofty mountains. She went on, however, pushing aside the thickets which lined both banks, and I almost began to think she was going to take the shore for it, when we came to a place widened out for her to be turned around in; here we jumped ashore in a green meadow, on which the cool mist was beginning to descend.
When we arose in the morning, at 4 o’clock, to return with the boat, the sun was already shining upon the westward hills, scarcely a cloud was in the sky, and the air was pure and cool. To our great delight Ben Lomond was unshrouded, and we were told that a more favorable day for the ascent had not occurred for two months. We left the boat at Rowardennan, an inn at the southern base of Ben Lomond. After breakfasting on Loch Lomond trout, I stole out to the shore while my companions were preparing for the ascent, and made a hasty sketch of the lake.
We purposed descending on the northern side and crossing the Highlands to Loch Katrine; though it was represented as difficult and dangerous by the guide who wished to accompany us, we determined to run the risk of being enveloped in a cloud on the summit, and so set out alone, the path appearing plain before us. We had no difficulty in following it up the lesser heights, around the base. It wound on, over rock and bog, among the heather and broom with which the mountain is covered, sometimes running up a steep acclivity, and then winding zigzag round a rocky ascent. The rains two days before, had made the bogs damp and muddy, but with this exception, we had little trouble for some time. Ben Lomond is a doubly formed mountain. For about three-fourths of the way there is a continued ascent, when it is suddenly terminated by a large barren plain, from one end of which the summit shoots up abruptly, forming at the north side, a precipice 500 feet high. As we approached the summit of the first part of the mountain, the way became very steep and toilsome; but the prospect, which had before been only on the south side, began to open on the east, and we saw suddenly spread out below us, the vale of Menteith, with “far Loch Ard and Aberfoil” in the centre, and the huge front of Benvenue filling up the picture. Taking courage from this, we hurried on. The heather had become stunted and dwarfish, and the ground was covered with short brown grass. The mountain sheep, which we saw looking at us from the rock above, had worn so many paths along the side, that we could not tell which to take, but pushed on in the direction of the summit, till thinking it must be near at hand, we found a mile and a half of plain before us, with the top of Ben Lomond at the farther end. The plain was full of wet moss, crossed in all directions by deep ravines or gullies worn in it by the mountain rains, and the wind swept across with a tempest-like force.
I met, near the base, a young gentleman from Edinburgh, who had left Rowardennan before us, and we commenced ascending together. It was hard work, but neither liked to stop, so we climbed up to the first resting place, and found the path leading along the brink of a precipice. We soon attained the summit, and climbing up a little mound of earth and stones, I saw the half of Scotland at a glance. The clouds hung just above the mountain tops, which rose all around like the waves of a mighty sea. On every side–near and far–stood their misty summits, but Ben Lomond was the monarch of them all. Loch Lomond lay unrolled under my feet like a beautiful map, and just opposite, Loch Long thrust its head from between the feet of the crowded hills, to catch a glimpse of the giant. We could see from Ben Nevis to Ayr–from Edinburgh to Staffa. Stirling and Edinburgh Castles would have been visible, but that the clouds hung low in the valley of the Forth and hid them from our sight.
The view from Ben Lomond is nearly twice as extensive as that from Catskill, being uninterrupted on every side, but it wants the glorious forest scenery, clear, blue sky, and active, rejoicing character of the latter. We stayed about two hours upon the summit, taking refuge behind the cairn, when the wind blew strong. I found the smallest of flowers under a rock, and brought it away as a memento. In the middle of the precipice there is a narrow ravine or rather cleft in the rock, to the bottom, from whence the mountain slopes regularly but steeply down to the valley. At the bottom we stopped to awake the echoes, which were repeated four times; our German companion sang the Hunter’s Chorus, which resounded magnificently through this Highland hall. We drank from the river Forth, which starts from a spring at the foot of the rock, and then commenced descending. This was also toilsome enough. The mountain was quite wet and covered with loose stones, which, dislodged by our feet, went rattling down the side, oftentimes to the danger of the foremost ones; and when we had run or rather slid down the three miles, to the bottom, our knees trembled so as scarcely to support us.
Here, at a cottage on the farm of Coman, we procured some oat cakes and milk for dinner, from an old Scotch woman, who pointed out the direction of Loch Katrine, six miles distant; there was no road, nor indeed a solitary dwelling between. The hills were bare of trees, covered with scraggy bushes and rough heath, which in some places was so thick we could scarcely drag our feet through. Added to this, the ground was covered with a kind of moss that retained the moisture like a sponge, so that our boots ere long became thoroughly soaked. Several considerable streams were rushing down the side, and many of the wild breed of black Highland cattle were grazing around. After climbing up and down one or two heights, occasionally startling the moorcock and ptarmigan from their heathery coverts, we saw the valley of Loch Con; while in the middle of the plain on the top of the mountain we had ascended, was a sheet of water which we took to be Loch Ackill. Two or three wild fowl swimming on its surface were the only living things in sight. The peaks around shut it out from all view of the world; a single decayed tree leaned over it from a mossy rock, which gave the whole scene an air of the most desolate wildness. I forget the name of the lake; but we learned afterwards that the Highlanders consider it the abode of the fairies, or “men of peace,” and that it is still superstitiously shunned by them after nightfall.
From the next mountain we saw Loch Ackill and Loch Katrine below, but a wet and weary descent had yet to be made. I was about throwing off my knapsack on a rock, to take a sketch of Loch Katrine, which appeared very beautiful from this point, when we discerned a cavalcade of ponies winding along the path from Inversnaid, to the head of the lake, and hastened down to take the boat when they should arrive. Our haste turned out to be unnecessary, however, for they had to wait for their luggage, which was long in coming. Two boatmen then offered to take us for two shillings and sixpence each, with the privilege of stopping at Ellen’s Isle; the regular fare being two shillings. We got in, when, after exchanging a few words in Gaelic, one of them called to the travellers, of whom there were a number, to come and take passage at two shillings–then at one and sixpence, and finally concluded by requesting them all to step on board the shilling boat! At length, having secured nine at this reduced price, we pushed off; one of the passengers took the helm, and the boat glided merrily over the clear water.
It appears there is some opposition among the boatmen this summer, which is all the better for travelers. They are a bold race, and still preserve many of the characteristics of the clan from which they sprung. One of ours, who had a chieftain-like look, was a MacGregor, related to Rob Roy. The fourth descendant in a direct line, now inhabits the Rob Roy mansion, at Glengyle, a valley at the head of the lake. A small steamboat was put upon Loch Katrine a short time ago, but the boatmen, jealous of this new invasion of their privilege, one night towed her out to the middle of the lake and there sunk her.
Near the point of Brianchoil is a very small island with a few trees upon it, of which the boatman related a story that was new to me. He said an eccentric individual, many years ago, built his house upon it–but it was soon beaten down by the winds and waves. Having built it up with like fortune several times, he at last desisted, saying, “bought wisdom was the best;” since when it has been called the Island of Wisdom. On the shore below, the boatman showed us his cottage. The whole family were out at the door to witness our progress; he hoisted a flag, and when we came opposite, they exchanged shouts in Gaelic. As our men resumed their oars again, we assisted in giving three cheers, which made the echoes of Benvenue ring again. Some one observed his dog, looking after us from a projecting rock, when he called out to him, “go home, you brute!” We asked him why he did not speak Gaelic also to his dog.
“Very few dogs, indeed,” said he, “understand Gaelic, but they all understand English. And we therefore all use English when speaking to our dogs; indeed, I know some persons, who know nothing of English, that speak it to their dogs!”
They then sang, in a rude manner, a Gaelic song. The only word I could distinguish was Inch Caillach, the burying place of Clan Alpine. They told us it was the answer of a Highland girl to a foreign lord, who wished to make her his bride. Perhaps, like the American Indian, she would not leave the graves of her fathers. As we drew near the eastern end of the lake, the scenery became far more beautiful. The Trosachs opened before us. Ben Ledi looked down over the “forehead bare” of Ben An, and, as we turned a rocky point, Ellen’s Isle rose up in front. It is a beautiful little turquoise in the silver setting of Loch Katrine. The northern side alone is accessible, all the others being rocky and perpendicular, and thickly grown with trees. We rounded the island to the little bay, bordered by the silver strand, above which is the rock from which Fitz-James wound his horn, and shot under an ancient oak which flung its long grey arms over the water; we here found a flight of rocky steps, leading to the top, where stood the bower erected by Lady Willoughby D’Eresby, to correspond with Scott’s description. Two or three blackened beams are all that remain of it, having been burned down some years ago, by the carelessness of a traveler.
The mountains stand all around, like giants, to “sentinel this enchanted land.” On leaving the island, we saw the Goblin’s Cave, in the side of Benvenue, called by the Gaels, “Coirnan-Uriskin.” Near it is Beal-nam-bo, the pass of cattle, overhung with grey weeping birch trees. Here the boatmen stopped to let us hear the fine echo, and the names of “Rob Roy,” and “Roderick Dhu,” were sent back to us apparently as loud as they were given. The description of Scott is wonderfully exact, though the forest that feathered o’er the sides of Benvenue, has since been cut down and sold by the Duke of Montrose. When we reached the end of the lake it commenced raining, and we hastened on through the pass of Beal-an-Duine, scarcely taking time to glance at the scenery, till Loch Achray appeared through the trees, and on its banks the ivy-grown front of the inn of Ardcheancrochan, with its unpronounceable name.
THE BURNS FESTIVAL.
We passed a glorious summer morning on the banks of Loch Katrine. The air was pure, fresh and balmy, and the warm sunshine glowed upon forest and lake, upon dark crag and purple mountain-top. The lake was a scene in fairy-land. Returning over the rugged battle-plain in the jaws of the Trosachs, we passed the wild, lonely valley of Glenfinlas and Lanric Mead, at the head of Loch Vennachar, rounding the foot of Ben Ledi to Coilantogle Ford. We saw the desolate hills of Uam-var over which the stag fled from his lair in Glenartney, and keeping on through Callander, stopped for the night at a little inn on the banks of the Teith. The next day we walked through Doune, over the lowlands to Stirling. Crossing Allan Water and the Forth, we climbed Stirling Castle and looked on the purple peaks of the Ochill Mountains, the far Grampians, and the battle-fields of Bannockburn and Sheriff Muir. Our German comrade, feeling little interest in the memory of the poet-ploughman, left in the steamboat for Edinburg; we mounted an English coach and rode to Falkirk, where we took the cars for Glasgow in order to attend the Burns Festival, on the 6th of August.
This was a great day for Scotland–the assembling of all classes to do honor to the memory of her peasant-bard. And right fitting was it, too, that such a meeting should be hold on the banks of the Doon, the stream of which he has sung so sweetly, within sight of the cot where he was born, the beautiful monument erected by his countrymen, and more than all, beside “Alloway’s witch-haunted wall!” One would think old Albyn would rise up at the call, and that from the wild hunters of the northern hills to the shepherds of the Cheviots, half her honest yeomanry would be there, to render gratitude to the memory of the sweet bard who was one of them, and who gave their wants and their woes such eloquent utterance.
For months before had the proposition been made to hold a meeting on the Doon, similar to the Shakspeare Festival on the Avon, and the 10th of July was first appointed for the day, but owing to the necessity of further time for preparation, it was postponed until the 6th of August. The Earl of Eglintoun was chosen Chairman, and Professor Wilson Vice-Chairman; in addition to this, all the most eminent British authors were invited to attend. A pavilion, capable of containing two thousand persons, had been erected near the monument, in a large field, which was thrown open to the public. Other preparations were made and the meeting was expected to be of the most interesting character.
When we arose it was raining, and I feared that the weather might dampen somewhat the pleasures of the day, as it had done to the celebrated tournament at Eglintoun Castle. We reached the station in time for the first train, and sped in the face of the wind over the plains of Ayrshire, which, under such a gloomy sky, looked most desolate. We ran some distance along the coast, having a view of the Hills of Arran, and reached Ayr about nine o’clock. We came first to the New Bridge, which had a triumphal arch in the middle, and the lines, from the “Twa Brigs of Ayr:”
“Will your poor narrow foot-path of a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet, Your ruin’d, formless bulk o’ stane and lime, Compare wi’ bonnie brigs o’ modern time?”
While on the arch of the ‘old brig’ was the reply:
“I’ll be a brig when ye’re a shapeless stane.”
As we advanced into the town, the decorations became more frequent. The streets were crowded with people carrying banners and wreaths, many of the houses were adorned with green boughs and the vessels in the harbor hung out all their flags. We saw the Wallace Tower, a high Gothic building, having in front a statue of Wallace leaning on his sword, by Thom, a native of Ayr, and on our way to the green, where the procession was to assemble, passed under the triumphal arch thrown across the street opposite the inn where Tarn O’Shanter caroused so long with Souter Johnny. Leaving the companies to form on the long meadow bordering the shore, we set out for the Doon, three miles distant. Beggars were seated at regular distances along the road, uttering the most dolorous whinings. Both bridges were decorated in the same manner, with miserable looking objects, keeping up, during the whole day, a continual lamentation. Persons are prohibited from begging in England and Scotland, but I suppose, this being an extraordinary day, license was given them as a favor, to beg free. I noticed that the women, with their usual kindness of heart, bestowed nearly all the alms which these unfortunate objects received. The night before, as I was walking through the streets of Glasgow, a young man of the poorer class, very scantily dressed, stepped up to me and begged me to listen to him for a moment. He spoke hurriedly, and agitatedly, begging me, in God’s name, to give him something, however little. I gave him what few pence I had with me, when he grasped my hand with a quick motion, saying: “Sir, you little think how much you have done for me.” I was about to inquire more particularly into his situation, but he had disappeared among the crowd.
We passed the “cairn where hunters found the murdered bairn,” along a pleasant road to the Burns cottage, where it was spanned by a magnificent triumphal arch of evergreens and flowers. To the disgrace of Scotland, this neat little thatched cot, where Burns passed the first seven years of his life, is now occupied by somebody, who has stuck up a sign over the door, “_licensed to retail spirits, to be drunk on the premises_;” and accordingly the rooms were crowded full of people, all drinking. There was a fine original portrait of Burns in one room, and in the old fashioned kitchen we saw the recess where he was born. The hostess looked towards us as if to inquire what we would drink, and I hastened away–there was profanity in the thought. But by this time, the bell of Old Alloway, which still hangs in its accustomed place, though the walls only are left, began tolling, and we obeyed the call. The attachment of the people for this bell, is so great, that a short time ago, when it was ordered to be removed, the inhabitants rose en masse, and prevented it. The ruin, which is close by the road, stands in the middle of the church-yard, and the first thing I saw, on going in the gate, was the tomb of the father of Burns. I looked in the old window, but the interior was filled with rank weeds, and overshadowed by a young tree, which had grown nearly to the eaves.
The crowd was now fast gathering in the large field, in the midst of which the pavilion was situated. We went down by the beautiful monument to Burns, to the “Auld Brig o’ Doon,” which was spanned by an arch of evergreens, containing a representation of Tam O’Shanter and his grey mare, pursued by the witches. It had been arranged that the procession was to pass over the old and new bridges, and from thence by a temporary bridge over the hedge into the field. At this latter place a stand was erected for the sons of Burns, the officers of the day, and distinguished guests. Here was a beautiful specimen of English exclusiveness. The space adjoining the pavilion was fenced around, and admittance denied at first to any, except those who had tickets for the dinner, which, the price being fifteen shillings, entirely prevented the humble laborers, who, more than all, should participate on the occasion, from witnessing the review of the procession by the sons of Burns, and hearing the eloquent speeches of Professor Wilson and Lord Eglintoun. Thus, of the many thousands who were in the field, but a few hundred who were crowded between the bridge and the railing around the pavilion, enjoyed the interesting spectacle. By good fortune, I obtained a stand, where I had an excellent view of the scene. The sons of Burns were in the middle of the platform, with Eglintoun on the right, and Wilson on their left. Mrs. Begg, sister of the Poet, with her daughters, stood by the Countess of Eglintoun. She was a plain, benevolent looking woman, dressed in black, and appearing still active and vigorous, though she is upwards of eighty years old. She bears some likeness, especially in the expression of her eye, to the Poet. Robert Burns, the oldest son, appeared to me to have a strong resemblance of his father, and it is said he is the only one who remembers his face. He has for a long time had an office under Government, in London. The others have but lately returned from a residence of twenty years in India. Professor Wilson appeared to enter into the spirit of the scene better than any of them. He shouted and waved his hat, and, with his fine, broad forehead, his long brown locks already mixed with gray, streaming over his shoulders, and that eagle eye glancing over the vast assemblage, seemed a real Christopher North, yet full of the fire and vigor of youth–“a gray-haired, happy boy!”
About half of the procession consisted of lodges of masons, all of whom turned out on the occasion, as Burns was one of the fraternity. I was most interested in several companies of shepherds, from the hills, with their crooks and plaids; a body of archers in Lincoln green, with a handsome chief at their head, and some Highlanders in their most picturesque of costumes. As one of the companies, which carried a mammoth thistle in a box, came near the platform, Wilson snatched a branch, regardless of its pricks, and placed it on his coat. After this pageant, which could not have been much less than three miles long, had passed, a band was stationed on the platform in the centre of the field, around which it formed in a circle, and the whole company sang, “Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon.” Just at this time, a person dressed to represent Tam O’Shanter, mounted on a gray mare, issued from a field near the Burns Monument and rode along towards Alloway Kirk, from which, when he approached it, a whole legion of witches sallied out and commenced a hot pursuit. They turned back, however, at the keystone of the bridge, the witch with the “cutty sark” holding up in triumph the abstracted tail of Maggie. Soon after this the company entered the pavilion, and the thousands outside were entertained, as an especial favor, by the band of the 87th Regiment, while from the many liquor booths around the field, they could enjoy themselves in another way.
We went up to the Monument, which was of more particular interest to us, from the relics within, but admission was denied to all. Many persons were collected around the gate, some of whom, having come from a great distance, were anxious to see it; but the keeper only said, such were the orders and he could not disobey them. Among the crowd, a grandson of the original Tam O’Shanter was shown to us. He was a raw-looking boy of nineteen or twenty, wearing a shepherd’s cap and jacket, and muttered his disapprobation very decidedly, at not being able to visit the Monument.
There were one or two showers during the day, and the sky, all the time, was dark and lowering, which was unfavorable for the celebration; but all were glad enough that the rain kept aloof till the ceremonies were nearly over. The speeches delivered at the dinner, which appeared in the papers next morning, are undoubtedly very eloquent. I noticed in the remarks of Robert Burns, in reply to Professor Wilson, an acknowledgment which the other speakers forgot. He said, “The Sons of Burns have grateful hearts, and to the last hour of their existence, they will remember the honor that has been paid them this day, by the noble, the lovely and the talented, of their native land–by men of genius and kindred spirit from our sister land–and lastly, they owe their thanks to the inhabitants of the far distant west, a country of a great, free, and kindred people! (loud cheers.)” In connexion with this subject, I saw an anecdote of the Poet, yesterday, which is not generally known. During his connexion with the Excise, he was one day at a party, where the health of Pitt, then minister, was proposed, as “his master and theirs.” He immediately turned down his glass and said, “I will give you the health of a far greater and better man–GEORGE WASHINGTON!”
We left the field early and went back through the muddy streets of Ayr. The street before the railway office was crowded, and there was so dense a mass of people on the steps, that it seemed almost impossible to get near. Seeing no other chance, I managed to take my stand on the lowest steps, where the pressure of the crowd behind and the working of the throng on the steps, raised me off my feet, and in about a quarter of an hour carried me, compressed into the smallest possible space, up the steps to the door, where the crowd burst in by fits, like water rushing out of a bottle. We esteemed ouvselves fortunate in getting room to stand in an open car, where, after a two hours’ ride through the wind and pelting rain, we arrived at Glasgow.
WALK FROM EDINBURG OVER THE BORDER AND ARRIVAL AT LONDON.
We left Glasgow on the morning after returning from the Burns Festival, taking passage in the open cars for Edinburg, for six shillings. On leaving the depot, we plunged into the heart of the hill on which Glasgow Cathedral stands and were whisked through darkness and sulphury smoke to daylight again. The cars bore us past a spur of the Highlands, through a beautiful country where women were at work in the fields, to Linlithgow, the birth-place of Queen Mary. The majestic ruins of its once-proud palace, stand on a green meadow behind the town. In another hour we were walking through Edinburg, admiring its palace-like edifices, and stopping every few minutes to gaze up at some lofty monument. Really, thought I, we call Baltimore the “Monumental City” for its two marble columns, and here is Edinburg with one at every street-corner! These, too, not in the midst of glaring red buildings, where they seem to have been accidentally dropped, but framed in by lofty granite mansions, whose long vistas make an appropriate background to the picture.
We looked from Calton Hill on Salisbury Crags and over the Firth of Forth, then descended to dark old Holyrood, where the memory of lovely Mary lingers like a stray sunbeam in her cold halls, and the fair, boyish face of Rizzio looks down from the canvass on the armor of his murderer. We threaded the Canongate and climbed to the Castle; and finally, after a day and a half’s sojourn, buckled on our knapsacks and marched out of the Northern Athens. In a short time the tall spire of Dalkeith appeared above the green wood, and we saw to the right, perched on the steep banks of the Esk, the picturesque cottage of Hawthornden, where Drummond once lived in poetic solitude. We made haste to cross the dreary waste of the Muirfoot Hills before nightfall, from the highest summit of which we took a last view of Edinburg Castle and the Salisbury Crags, then blue in the distance. Far to the east were the hills of Lammermuir and the country of Mid-Lothian lay before us. It was all _Scott_-land. The inn of Torsonce, beside the Gala Water, was our resting-place for the night. As we approached Galashiels the next morning, where the bed of the silver Gala is nearly emptied by a number of dingy manufactories, the hills opened, disclosing the sweet vale of the Tweed, guarded by the triple peak of the Eildon, at whose base lay nestled the village of Melrose.
I stopped at a bookstore to purchase a view of the Abbey; to my surprise nearly half the works were by American authors. There wore Bryant, Longfellow, Channing, Emerson, Dana, Ware and many others. The bookseller told me he had sold more of Ware’s Letters than any other book in his store, “and also,” to use his own words, “an immense number of the great Dr. Channing.” I have seen English editions of Percival, Willis, Whittier and Mrs. Sigourney, but Bancroft and Prescott are classed among the “standard _British_ historians.”
Crossing the Gala we ascended a hill on the road to Selkirk, and behold! the Tweed ran below, and opposite, in the midst of embowering trees planted by the hand of Scott, rose the grey halls of Abbotsford. We went down a lane to the banks of the swift stream, but finding no ferry, B—- and I, as it looked very shallow, thought we might save a long walk by wading across. F—- preferred hunting for a boat; we two set out together, with our knapsacks on our backs, and our boots in our hands. The current was ice-cold and very swift, and as the bed was covered with loose stones, it required the greatest care to stand upright. Looking at the bottom, through the rapid water, made my head so giddy, I was forced to stop and shut my eyes; my friend, who had firmer nerves, went plunging on to a deeper and swifter part, where the strength of the current made him stagger very unpleasantly. I called to him to return; the next thing I saw, he gave a plunge and went down to the shoulder in the cold flood. While he was struggling with a frightened expression of face to recover his footing, I leaned on my staff and laughed till I was on the point of falling also. To crown our mortification, F—- had found a ferry a few yards higher up and was on the opposite shore, watching us wade back again, my friend with dripping clothes and boots full of water. I could not forgive the pretty Scotch damsel who rowed us across, the mischievous lurking smile which told that she too had witnessed the adventure.
We found a foot-path on the other side, which led through a young forest to Abbotsford. Rude pieces of sculpture, taken from Melrose Abbey, were scattered around the gate, some half buried in the earth and overgrown with weeds. The niches in the walls were filled with pieces of sculpture, and an antique marble greyhound reposed in the middle of the court yard. We rang the bell in an outer vestibule, ornamented with several pairs of antlers, when a lady appeared, who, from her appearance, I have no doubt was Mrs. Ormand, the “Duenna of Abbotsford,” so humorously described by D’Arlincourt, in his “Three Kingdoms.” She ushered us into the entrance hall, which has a magnificent ceiling of carved oak and is lighted by lofty stained windows. An effigy of a knight in armor stood at either end, one holding a huge two-handed sword found on Bosworth Field; the walls were covered with helmets and breastplates of the olden time.
Among the curiosities in the Armory are Napoleon’s pistols, the blunderbuss of Hofer, Rob Roy’s purse and gun, and the offering box of Queen Mary. Through the folding doors between the dining-room, drawing-room and library, is a fine vista, terminated by a niche, in which stands Chantrey’s bust of Scott. The ceilings are of carved Scottish oak and the doors of American cedar. Adjoining the library is his study, the walls of which are covered with books; the doors and windows are double, to render it quiet and undisturbed. His books and inkstand are on the table and his writing-chair stands before it, as if he had left them but a moment before. In a little closet adjoining, where he kept his private manuscripts, are the clothes he last wore, his cane and belt, to which a hammer and small axe are attached, and his sword. A narrow staircase led from the study to his sleeping room above, by which he could come down at night and work while his family slept. The silence about the place is solemn and breathless, as if it waited to be broken by his returning footstep. I felt an awe in treading these lonely halls, like that which impressed me before the grave of Washington–a feeling that hallowed the spot, as if there yet lingered a low vibration of the lyre, though the minstrel had departed forever!
Plucking a wild rose that grew near the walls, I left Abbotsford, embosomed among the trees, and turned into a green lane that led down to Melrose. We went immediately to the Abbey, in the lower part of the village, near the Tweed. As I approached the gate, the porteress came out, and having scrutinized me rather sharply, asked my name. I told her;–“well,” she added, “there is a _prospect_ here for you.” Thinking she alluded to the ruin, I replied: “Yes, the view is certainly very fine.” “Oh! I don’t mean that,” she replied, “a young gentleman left a prospect here for you!”–whereupon she brought out a spy-glass, which I recognized us one that our German comrade had given to me. He had gone on, and hoped to meet us at Jedburgh.
Melrose is the finest remaining specimen of Gothic architecture in Scotland. Some of the sculptured flowers in the cloister arches are remarkably beautiful and delicate, and the two windows–the south and east oriels–are of a lightness and grace of execution really surprising. We saw the tomb of Michael Scott, of King Alexander II, and that of the Douglas, marked with a sword. The heart of Bruce is supposed to have been buried beneath the high altar. The chancel is all open to the sky, and rooks build their nests among the wild ivy that climbs over the crumbling arches. One of these came tamely down and perched upon the hand of our fair guide. By a winding stair in one of the towers we mounted to the top of the arch and looked down on the grassy floor. I sat on the broken pillar, which Scott always used for a seat when he visited the Abbey, and read the disinterring of the magic book, in the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.” I never comprehended its full beauty till then: the memory of Melrose will give it a thrilling interest, in the future. When we left, I was willing to say, with the Minstrel:
“Was never scene so sad and fair!”
After seeing the home and favorite haunt of Scott, we felt a wish to stand by his grave, but we had Ancrum Moor to pass before night, and the Tweed was between us and Dryburgh Abbey. We did not wish to try another watery adventure, and therefore walked on to the village of Ancrum, where a gate-keeper on the road gave us lodging and good fare, for a moderate price. Many of this class practise this double employment, and the economical traveller, who looks more to comfort than luxury, will not fail to patronize them.
Next morning we took a foot-path over the hills to Jedburgh. From the summit there was a lovely view of the valley of the Teviot, with the blue Cheviots in the distance. I thought of Pringle’s beautiful farewell:
“Our native land, our native vale,
A long, a last adieu,
farewell to bonny Teviot-dale,
And Cheviot’s mountains blue!”
The poet was born in the valley below, and one that looks upon its beauty cannot wonder how his heart clung to the scenes he was leaving. We saw Jedburgh and its majestic old Abbey, and ascended the valley of the Jed towards the Cheviots. The hills, covered with woods of a richness and even gorgeous beauty of foliage, shut out this lovely glen completely from the world. I found myself continually coveting the lonely dwellings that were perched on the rocky heights, or nestled, like a fairy pavilion, in the lap of a grove. These forests formerly furnished the wood for the celebrated Jedwood axe, used in the Border forays.
As we continued ascending, the prospect behind us widened, till we reached the summit of the Carter Fell, whence there is a view of great extent and beauty. The Eildon Hills, though twenty-five miles distant, seemed in the foreground of the picture. With a glass, Edinburgh Castle might be seen over the dim outline of the Muirfoot Hills. After crossing the border, we passed the scene of the encounter between Percy and Douglass, celebrated in “Chevy Chase,” and at the lonely inn of Whitelee, in the valley below, took up our quarters for the night.
Travellers have described the Cheviots as being bleak and uninteresting. Although they are bare and brown, to me the scenery was of a character of beauty entirely original. They are not rugged and broken like the Highlands, but lift their round backs gracefully from the plain, while the more distant ranges are clad in many an airy hue. Willis quaintly and truly remarks, that travellers only tell you the picture produced in their own brain by what they see, otherwise the world would be like a pawnbroker’s shop, where each traveller wears the cast-off clothes of others. Therefore let no one, of a gloomy temperament, journeying over the Cheviots in dull November, arraign me for having falsely praised their beauty.
I was somewhat amused with seeing a splendid carriage with footmen and outriders, crossing the mountain, the glorious landscape full in view, containing a richly dressed lady, _fast asleep!_ It is no uncommon thing to meet carriages in the Highlands, in which the occupants are comfortably reading, while being whirled through the finest scenery. And _apropos_ of this subject, my German friend related to me an incident. His brother was travelling on the Rhine, and when in the midst of the grandest scenes, met a carriage containing an English gentleman and lady, both asleep, while on the seat behind was stationed an artist, sketching away with all his might. He asked the latter the reason of his industry, when he answered, “Oh! my lord wishes to see every night what he has passed during the day, and so I sketch as we go along!”
The hills, particularly on the English side, are covered with flocks of sheep, and lazy shepherds lay basking in the sun, among the purple heather, with their shaggy black dogs beside them. On many of the hills are landmarks, by which, when the snow has covered all the trucks, they can direct their way. After walking many miles through green valleys, down which flowed the Red Water, its very name telling of the conflicts which had crimsoned its tide, we came to the moors, and ten miles of blacker, drearier waste I never saw. Before entering them we passed the pretty little village of Otterburn, near the scene of the battle. I brought away a wild flower that grew on soil enriched by the blood of the Percys. On the village inn, is their ancient coat of arms, a lion rampant, on a field of gold, with the motto, “_Esperance en Dieu_.” Scarcely a house or a tree enlivened the black waste, and even the road was marked on each side by high poles, to direct the traveller in winter. We were glad when at length the green fields came again in sight, and the little village of Whelpington Knowes, with its old ivy-grown church tower, welcomed us after the lonely walk.
As one specimen of the intelligence of this part of England, we saw a board conspicuously posted at the commencement of a private road, declaring that “all persons travelling this way will be _persecuted_.” As it led to a _church_, however, there may have been a design in the expression.
On the fifth day after leaving Edinburgh, we reached a hill, overlooking the valley of the Tyne and the German Ocean, as sunset was reddening in the west. A cloud of coal-smoke made us aware of the vicinity of Newcastle. On the summit of the hill a large cattle fair was being held, and crowds of people were gathered in and around a camp of gaudily decorated tents. Fires were kindled here and there, and drinking, carousing and horse-racing were flourishing in full vigor.
We set out one morning to hunt the Roman Wall. Passing the fine buildings in the centre of the city and the lofty monument to Earl Grey, we went towards the western gate and soon came to the ruins of a building, about whose origin there could be no doubt. It stood there, blackened by the rust of ages, a remnant of power passed away. There was no mistaking the massive round tower, with its projecting ornaments, such as are often seen in the ruder works of the Romans. On each side a fragment of wall remained standing, and there appeared to be a chamber in the interior, which was choked up with rubbish. There is another tower, much higher, in a public square in another part of the city, a portion of which is fitted up as a dwelling for the family which takes care of it; but there was such a ridiculous contrast between the ivy-grown top, and the handsome modern windows and doors of the lower story, that it did not impress me half as much as the other, with all its neglect. These are the farthest limits of that power whose mighty works I hope hereafter to view at the seat of her grandeur and glory.
I witnessed a scene at Newcastle that cannot soon be forgotten; as it showed more plainly than I had before an opportunity of observing, the state to which the laboring classes of England are reduced. Hearing singing in the street, under my window, one morning, I looked out and saw a body of men, apparently of the lower class, but decent and sober looking, who were singing in a rude and plaintive strain some ballad, the purport of which I could not understand. On making inquiry, I discovered it was part of a body of miners, who, about eighteen weeks before, in consequence of not being able to support their families with the small pittance allowed them, had “struck” for higher wages. This their employers refused to give them, and sent to Wales, where they obtained workmen at the former price. The houses these laborers had occupied were all taken from them, and for eighteen weeks they had no other means of subsistence than the casual charity given them for singing the story of their wrongs. It made my blood boil to bear those tones, wrung from the heart of poverty by the hand of tyranny. The ignorance, permitted by the government, causes an unheard amount of misery and degradation. We heard afterwards in the streets, another company who played on musical instruments. Beneath the proud swell of England’s martial airs, there sounded to my ears a tone whose gathering murmur will make itself heard ere long by the dull cars of Power.
At last at the appointed time, we found ourselves on board the “London Merchant,” in the muddy Tyne, waiting for the tide to rise high enough to permit us to descend the river. There is great competition among the steamboats this summer, and the price of passage to London is reduced to five and ten shillings. The second cabin, however, is a place of tolerable comfort, and as the steward had promised to keep berths for us, we engaged passage. Following the windings of the narrow river, we passed Sunderland and Tynemouth, where it expands into the German Ocean. The water was barely stirred by a gentle wind, and little resembled the stormy sea I expected to find it. We glided over the smooth surface, watching the blue line of the distant shore till dark, when I went below expecting to enjoy a few hours’ oblivion. But the faithless steward had given up the promised berth to another, and it was only with difficulty that I secured a seat by the cabin table, where I dozed half the night with my head on my arms. It grew at last too close and wearisome; I went up on deck and lay down on the windlass, taking care to balance myself well before going to sleep. The earliest light of dawn awoke me to a consciousness of damp clothes and bruised limbs. We were in sight of the low shore the whole day, sometimes seeing the dim outline of a church, or group of trees over the downs or flat beds of sand, which border the eastern coast of England. About dark, the red light of the Nore was seen, and we hoped before many hours to be in London. The lights of Gravesend were passed, but about ten o’clock, as we entered the narrow channel of the Thames, we struck another steamboat in the darkness, and were obliged to cast anchor for some time. When I went on deck in the gray light of morning again, we were gliding up a narrow, muddy river, between rows of gloomy buildings, with many vessels lying at anchor. It grew lighter, till, as we turned a point, right before, me lay a vast crowd of vessels, and in the distance, above the wilderness of buildings, stood a dim, gigantic dome in the sky; what a bound my heart gave at the sight! And the tall pillar that stood near it–I did not need a second glance to recognize the Monument. I knew the majestic bridge that spanned the river above; but on the right bank stood a cluster of massive buildings, crowned with many a turret, that attracted my eye. A crowd of old associations pressed bewilderingly upon the mind, to see standing there, grim and dark with many a bloody page of England’s history–the Tower of London! The morning sky was as yet but faintly obscured by the coal-smoke, and in the misty light of coming sunrise, all objects seemed grander than their wont. In spite of the thrilling interest of the scene, I could not help thinking of Byron’s ludicrous but most expressive description:
“A mighty mass of brick and smoke and shipping, Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
Can reach; with here and there a sail just skipping In sight, then lost amidst the forestry Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy; A huge dun cupola, like a fool’s-cap crown On a fool’s head,–and there is London town.”
SOME OF THE “SIGHTS” OF LONDON.
In the course of time we came to anchor in the stream; skiffs from the shore pulled alongside, and after some little quarrelling, we were safely deposited in one, with a party who desired to be landed at the Tower Stairs. The dark walls frowned above us as we mounted from the water and passed into an open square on the outside of the moat. The laborers were about commencing work, the fashionable _day_ having just closed, but there was still noise and bustle enough in the streets, particularly when we reached Whitechapel, part of the great thoroughfare, extending through the heart of London to Westminster Abbey and the Parliament buildings. Further on, through Leadenhall street and Fleet street–what a world! Here come the ever-thronging, ever-rolling waves of life, pressing and whirling on in their tumultuous career. Here day and night pours the stream of human beings, seeming amid the roar and din and clatter of the passing vehicles, like the tide of some great combat. How lonely it makes one to stand still and feel that of all the mighty throng which divides itself around him, not a being knows or cares for him! What knows he too of the thousands who pass him by? How many who bear the impress of godlike virtue, or hide beneath a goodly countenance a heart black with crime? How many fiery spirits, all glowing with hope for the yet unclouded future, or brooding over a darkened and desolate past in the agony of despair? There is a sublimity in this human Niagara that makes one look on his own race with something of awe.
We walked down the Thames, through the narrow streets of Wapping, Over the mouth of the Tunnel is a large circular building, with a dome to light the entrance below. Paying the fee of a penny, we descended by a winding staircase to the bottom, which is seventy-three feet below the surface. The carriage-way, still unfinished, will extend further into the city. From the bottom the view of the two arches of the Tunnel, brilliantly lighted with gas, is very fine; it has a much less heavy and gloomy appearance than I expected. As we walked along under the bed of the river, two or three girls at one end began playing on the French horn and bugle, and the echoes, when not too deep to confuse the melody, were remarkably beautiful. Between the arches of the division separating the two passages, are shops, occupied by venders of fancy articles, views of the Tunnel, engravings, &c. In the middle is a small printing press, where, a sheet containing a description of the whole work is printed for those who desire it. As I was no stranger to this art, I requested the boy to let me print one myself, but he had such a bad roller I did not succeed in getting a good impression. The air within is somewhat damp, but fresh and agreeably cool, and one can scarcely realize in walking along the light passage, that a river is rolling above his head. The immense solidity and compactness of the structure precludes the danger of accident, each of the sides being arched outwards, so that the heaviest pressure only strengthens the whole. It will long remain a noble monument of human daring and ingenuity.
St. Paul’s is on a scale of grandeur excelling every thing I have yet seen. The dome seems to stand in the sky, as you look up to it; the distance from which you view it, combined with the atmosphere of London, give it a dim, shadowy appearance, that perfectly startles one with its immensity. The roof from which the dome springs is itself as high as the spires of most other churches–blackened for two hundred years with the coal-smoke of London, it stands like a relic of the giant architecture of the early world. The interior is what one would expect to behold, after viewing the outside. A maze of grand arches on every side, encompasses the dome, which you gaze up at, as at the sky; and from every pillar and wall look down the marble forms of the dead. There is scarcely a vacant niche left in all this mighty hall, so many are the statues that meet one on every side. With the exceptions of John Howard, Sir Astley Cooper and Wren, whose monument is the church itself, they are all to military men. I thought if they had all been removed except Howard’s, it would better have suited such a temple, and the great soul it commemorated.
I never was more impressed with the grandeur of human invention, than when ascending the dome. I could with difficulty conceive the means by which such a mighty edifice had been lifted into the air. That small frame of Sir Christopher Wren must have contained a mind capable of vast conceptions. The dome is like the summit of a mountain; so wide is the prospect, and so great the pile upon which you stand. London lay beneath us, like an ant-hill, with the black insects swarming to and fro in their long avenues, the sound of their employments coming up like the roar of the sea. A cloud of coal-smoke hung over it, through which many a pointed spire was thrust up; sometimes the wind would blow it aside for a moment, and the thousands of red roofs would shine out clearer. The bridged Thames, covered with craft of all sizes, wound beneath us like a ringed and spotted serpent. The scene was like an immense circular picture in the blue frame of the hills around.
Continuing our way up Fleet street, which, notwithstanding the gaiety of its shops and its constant bustle, has an antique appearance, we came to the Temple Bar, the western boundary of the ancient city. In the inside of the middle arch, the old gates are still standing. From this point we entered the new portion of the city, which wore an air of increasing splendor as we advanced. The appearance of the Strand and Trafalgar Square is truly magnificent. Fancy every house in Broadway a store, all built of light granite, the Park stripped of all its trees and paved with granite, and a lofty column in the centre, double the crowd and the tumult of business, and you will have some idea of the view.
It was a relief to get into St. James’s Park, among the trees and flowers again. Here, beautiful winding walks led around little lakes, in which were hundreds of water-fowl, swimming. Groups of merry children were sporting on the green lawn, enjoying their privilege of roaming every where at will, while the older bipeds were confined to the regular walks. At the western end stood Buckingham Palace, looking over the trees towards St. Paul’s; through the grove on the eminence above, the towers of St. James’s could be seen. But there was a dim building, with two lofty square towers, decorated with a profusion of pointed Gothic pinnacles, that I looked at with more interest than these appendages of royalty. I could not linger long in its vicinity, but going back again by the Horse Guards, took the road to _Westminster Abbey_.
We approached by the general entrance, Poet’s Corner. I hardly stopped to look at the elaborate exterior of Henry VIIth’s Chapel, but passed on to the door. On entering, the first thing that met my eyes were the words, “OH RARE BEN JONSON,” under his bust. Near by stood the monuments of Spenser and Gay, and a few paces further looked down the sublime countenance of Milton. Never was a spot so full of intense interest. The light was just dim enough to give it a solemn, religious appearance, making the marble forms of poets and philosophers so shadowy and impressive, that I felt as if standing in their living presence. Every step called up some mind linked with the associations of my childhood. There was the gentle feminine countenance of Thompson, and the majestic head of Dryden; Addison with his classic features, and Gray, full of the fire of lofty thought. In another chamber, I paused long before the ashes of Shakspeare; and while looking at the monument of Garrick, started to find that I stood upon his grave. What a glorious galaxy of genius is here collected–what a constellation of stars whose light is immortal! The mind is completely fettered by their spirit. Everything is forgotten but the mighty dead, who still “rule us from their urns.”
The Chapel of Henry VII., which we next entered, is one of the most elaborate specimens of Gothic workmanship in the world. If the first idea of the Gothic arch sprung from observing the forms of trees, this chapel must resemble the first conceptions of that order, for the fluted columns rise up like tall trees, branching out at the top into spreading capitals covered with leaves, and supporting arches of the ceiling resembling a leafy roof.
The side-chapels are filled with tombs of knightly families, the husband and wife lying on their backs on the tombs, with their hands clasped, while their children, about the size of dolls, are kneeling around. Numberless are the Barons and Earls and Dukes, whose grim effigies stare from their tombs. In opposite chapels are the tombs of Mary and Elizabeth, and near the former that of Darnley. After having visited many of the scenes of her life, it was with no ordinary emotion that I stood by the sepulchre of Mary. How differently one looks upon it and upon that of the proud Elizabeth!
We descended to the Chapel of Edward the Confessor, within the splendid shrine of which repose his ashes. Here we were shown the chair on which the English monarchs have been crowned for several hundred years, Under the seat is the stone, brought from the Abbey of Scone, whereon the Kings of Scotland were crowned. The chair is of oak, carved and hacked over with names, and on the bottom some one has recorded his name with the fact that, he once slept in it. We sat down and rested in it without ceremony. Passing along an aisle leading to the grand hall, we saw the tomb of Aymer de Valence, a knight of the Crusades. Near here is the hall where the Knights of the order of Bath met. Over each seat their dusty banners are still hanging, each with its crest, and their armor is rusting upon the wall. It seemed like a banqueting hall of the olden time, where the knights had left their seats for a moment vacant. Entering the nave, we were lost in the wilderness of sculpture. Here stood the forms of Pitt, Fox, Burke, Sheridan and Watts, from the chisels of Chantry, Bacon and Westmacott. Further down were Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Godfrey Kneller–opposite Andre, and Paoli, the Italian, who died here in exile. How can I convey an idea of the scene? Notwithstanding all the descriptions I had read, I was totally unprepared for the reality, nor could I have anticipated the hushed and breathless interest with which I paced the dim aisles, gazing, at every step, on the last resting place of some great and familiar name. A place so sacred to all who inherit the English tongue, is worthy of a special pilgrimage across the deep. To those who are unable to visit it, a description may be interesting; but so far does it fall short of the scene itself, that if I thought it would induce a few of our wealthy idlers, or even those who, like myself, must travel with toil and privation to come hither, I would write till the pen dropped from my hand.
More than twenty grand halls of the British Museum are devoted to antiquities, and include the Elgin Marbles–the spoils of the Parthenon–the Fellows Marbles, brought from the ancient city of Xanthus, and Sir William Hamilton’s collection of Italian antiquities. It was painful to see the friezes of the Parthenon, broken and defaced as they are, in such a place. Rather let them moulder to dust on the ruin from which they were torn, shining through the blue veil of the Grecian atmosphere, from the summit of the Acropolis!
The National Gallery, on Trafalgar Square, is open four days in the week, to the public. The “Raising of Lazarus,” by Sebastian del Piombo, is considered the gem of the collection, but my unschooled eyes could not view it as such. It is also remarkable for having been transferred from wood to canvass, without injury. This delicate operation was accomplished by gluing the panel on which it was painted, flat on a smooth table, and planing the wood gradually away till the coat of hardened paint alone remained. A proper canvass was then prepared, covered with a strong cement, and laid on the back of the picture, which adhered firmly to it. The owner’s nerves must have had a severe trial, if he had courage to watch the operation. I was enraptured with Murillo’s pictures of St. John and the Holy Family. St. John is represented as a boy in the woods, fondling a lamb. It is a glorious head. The dark curls cluster around his fair brow, and his eyes seem already glowing with the fire of future inspiration. There is an innocence, a childish sweetness of expression in the countenance, which makes one love to gaze upon it. Both of these paintings wore constantly surrounded by ladies, and they certainly deserved the preference. In the rooms devoted to English artists, there are many of the finest works of West, Reynolds, Hogarth and Wilkie.
We spent a day in visiting the _lungs of London_, as the two grand parks have been called. From the Strand through the Regent Circus, the centre of the fashionable part of the city, we passed to Piccadilly, culling on our way to see our old friends, the Iowas. They were at the Egyptian Hall, in connexion with Catlin’s Indian collection. The old braves knew us at once, particularly Blister Feet, who used often to walk a linweon deck with me, at sea. Further along Piccadilly is Wellington’s mansion of Apsley House, and nearly opposite it, in the corner of Hyde Park, stands the colossal statue of Achilles, cast from cannon taken at Salamanca and Vittoria. The Park resembles an open common, with here and there a grove of trees, intersected by carriage roads, it is like getting into the country again to be out on its broad, green field, with the city seen dimly around through the smoky atmosphere. We walked for a mile or two along the shady avenues and over the lawns, having a view of the princely terraces and gardens on one hand, and the gentle outline of Primrose Hill on the other. Regent’s Park itself covers a space of nearly four hundred acres!
But if London is unsurpassed in splendor, it has also its corresponding share of crime. Notwithstanding the large and efficient body of police, who do much towards the control of vice, one sees enough of degradation and brutality in a short time, to make his heart sick. Even the public thorough fares are thronged at night with characters of the lowest description, and it is not expedient to go through many of the narrow bye-haunts of the old city in the day-time. The police, who are ever on the watch, immediately seize and carry off any offender, but from the statements of persons who have had an opportunity of observing, as well as from my own slight experience, I am convinced that there is an untold amount of misery and crime. London is one of the wonders of the world, but there is reason to believe it is one of the curses of the world also; though, in fact, nothing but an active and unceasing philanthropy can prevent any city from becoming so.
_Aug. 22._–I have now been six days in London, and by making good use of my feet and eyes, have managed to become familiar with almost every object of interest within its precincts. Having a plan mapped out for the day, I started from my humble lodgings at the Aldgate Coffee House, where I slept off fatigue for a shilling a night, and walked up Cheapside or down Whitechapel, as the case might be, hunting out my way to churches, halls and theatres. In this way, at a trifling expense, I have perhaps seen as much as many who spend here double the time and ten times the money. Our whole tour from Liverpool hither, by way of Ireland and Scotland, cost us but twenty-five dollars each! although, except in one or two cases, we denied ourselves no necessary comfort. This shows that the glorious privilege of looking on the scenes of the old world need not be confined to people of wealth and leisure. It may be enjoyed by all who can occasionally forego a little bodily comfort for the sake of mental and spiritual gain. We leave this afternoon for Dover. Tomorrow I shall dine in Belgium!
FLIGHT THROUGH BELGIUM.
_Bruges._–On the Continent at last! How strangely look the century-old towers, antique monuments, and quaint, narrow streets of the Flemish cities! It is an agreeable and yet a painful sense of novelty to stand for the first time in the midst of a people whose language and manners are different from one’s own. The old buildings around, linked with many a stirring association of past history, gratify the glowing anticipations with which one has looked forward to seeing them, and the fancy is busy at work reconciling the _real_ scene with the _ideal_; but the want of a communication with the living world about, walls one up with a sense of loneliness he could not before have conceived. I envy the children in the streets of Bruges their childish language.
Yesterday afternoon we came from London through the green wooded lawns and vales of England, to Dover, which we reached at sunset, passing by a long tunnel through the lofty Shakspeare Cliff. We had barely time before it grew dark to ascend the cliff. The glorious coast view looked still wilder in the gathering twilight, which soon hid from our sight the dim hills of France. On the cliff opposite frowned the massive battlements of the Castle, guarding the town, which lay in a nook of the rocks below. As the Ostend boat was to leave at four in the morning, my cousin aroused us at three, and we felt our way down stairs in the dark. But the landlord was reluctant to part with us; we stamped and shouted and rang bells, till the whole house was in an uproar, for the door was double-locked, and the steamboat bell began to sound. At last he could stand it no longer; we gave a quick utterance to our overflowing wrath, and rushed down to the boat but a second or two before it left.
The water of the Channel was smooth as glass and as the sun rose, the far chalky cliffs gleamed along the horizon, a belt of fire. I waved a good-bye to Old England and then turned to see the spires of Dunkirk, which were visible in the distance before us. On the low Belgian coast we could see trees and steeples, resembling a mirage over the level surface of the sea; at length, about ten o’clock, the square tower of Ostend came in sight. The boat passed into a long muddy basin, in which many unwieldy, red-sailed Dutch craft were lying, and stopped beside a high pier. Here amid the confusion of three languages, an officer came on board and took charge of our passports and luggage. As we could not get the former for two or three hours, we did not hurry the passing of the latter, and went on shore quite unincumbered, for a stroll about the city, disregarding the cries of the hackney-coachmen on the pier, “_Hotel d’Angleterre_,” “_Hotel des Bains!_” and another who called out in English, “I recommend you to the Royal Hotel, sir!”
There is little to be seen in Ostend. We wandered through long rows of plain yellow houses, trying to read the French and low Dutch signs, and at last came out on the wall near the sea. A soldier motioned us back as we attempted to ascend it, and muttering some unintelligible words, pointed to a narrow street near. Following this out of curiosity, we crossed the moat and found ourselves on the great bathing beach. To get out of the hands of the servants who immediately surrounded us, we jumped into one of the little wagons and were driven out into the surf.
To be certain of fulfilling the railroad regulations, we took our seats quarter of an hour before the time. The dark walls of Ostend soon vanished and we were whirled rapidly over a country perfectly level, but highly fertile and well cultivated. Occasionally there was a ditch or row of trees, but otherwise there was no division between the fields, and the plain stretched unbroken away into the distance. The twenty miles to Bruges we made in forty minutes. The streets of this antique city are narrow and crooked, and the pointed, ornamented gables of the houses, produce a novel impression on one who has been accustomed to the green American forests. Then there was the endless sound of wooden shoes clattering over the rough pavements, and people talking in that most unmusical of all languages, low Dutch. Walking at random through the streets, we came by chance upon the Cathedral of Notre Dame. I shall long remember my first impression of the scene within. The lofty gothic ceiling arched far above my head and through the stained windows the light came but dimly–it was all still, solemn and religious. A few worshippers were kneeling in silence before some of the shrines and the echo of my tread seemed like a profaning sound. On every side were pictures, saints gilded shrines. A few steps removed one from the bustle and din of the crowd to the stillness and solemnity of the holy retreat.
We learned from the guide, whom we had engaged because he spoke a few words of English, that there was still a _treckshuyt_ line on the canals, and that one boat leaves to-night at ten o’clock for Ghent. Wishing to try this old Dutch method of travelling, he took us about half a mile along the Ghent road to the canal, where a moderate sized boat was lying. Our baggage deposited in the plainly furnished cabin, I ran back to Bruges, although it was beginning to grow dark, to get a sight of the belfry; for Longfellow’s lines had been running through my head all day:
“In the market place of Bruges, stands the belfry old and brown, Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it watches o’er the town.”
And having found the square, brown tower in one corner of the open market square, we waited to hear the chimes, which are said to be the finest in Europe. They rang out at last with a clear silvery tone, most beautifully musical indeed. We then returned to the boat in the twilight. We were to leave in about an hour, according to the arrangement, but as yet there was no sound to be heard, and we were the only tenants. However, trusting to Dutch regularity, we went to sleep in the full confidence of awakening in Ghent.
I awoke once in the night and saw the dark branches of trees passing before the window, but there was no perceptible sound nor motion; the boat glided along like a dream, and we were awakened next morning by its striking against the pier at Ghent. After paying three francs for the whole night journey, the captain gave us a guide to the railroad station, and as we had nearly an hour before the train left, I went to see the Cathedral of St. Bavon. After leaving Ghent, the road passes through a beautiful country, cultivated like a garden. The Dutch passion for flowers is displayed in the gardens around the cottages; even every vacant foot of ground along the railway is planted with roses and dahlias. At Ghent, the morning being fair, we took seats in the open cars. About noon it commenced raining and our situation was soon anything but comfortable. My cousin had fortunately a water-proof Indian blanket with him, which he had purchased in the “Far West,” and by wrapping this around all three of us, we kept partly dry. I was much amused at the plight of a party of young Englishmen, who were in the same car; one of them held a little parasol which just covered his hat, and sent the water in streams down on his back and shoulders.
We had a misty view of Liege, through the torrents of rain, and then dashed away into the wild, mountain scenery of the Meuse. Steep, rocky hills, covered with pine and crowned with ruined towers, hemmed in the winding and swollen river, and the wet, cloudy sky seemed to rest like a canopy on their summits. Instead of threading their mazy defiles, we plunged directly into the mountain’s heart, flew over the narrow valley on lofty and light-sprung arches, and went again into the darkness. At Verviers, our baggage was weighed, examined and transferred, with ourselves, to a Prussian train. There was a great deal of disputing on the occasion. A lady, who had a dog in a large willow basket, was not allowed to retain it, nor would they take it as baggage. The matter was finally compromised by their sending the basket, obliging her to carry the dog, which was none of the smallest, in her arms! The next station bore the sign of the black eagle, and here our passports were obliged to be given up. Advancing through long ranges of wooded hills, we saw at length, in the dull twilight of a rainy day, the old kingly city of Aix la Chapelle on a plain below us. After a scene at the custom-house, where our baggage was reclaimed with tickets given at Verviers, we drove to the _Hotel du Rhin_, and while warming our shivering limbs and drying our damp garments, felt tempted to exclaim with the old Italian author: “O! holy and miraculous tavern!”