Letters from England 1846-1849 by Elizabeth Davis Bancroft

This etext was prepared by Jane Duff and proofed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk from the 1904 Smith, Elder and Co. edition. LETTERS FROM ENGLAND 1846-1849 LETTER: TO W.D.B. AND A.B. LIVERPOOL, October 26, 1846 My dear sons: Thank God with me that we are once more on TERRA FIRMA. We arrived yesterday morning at
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

This etext was prepared by Jane Duff and proofed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk from the 1904 Smith, Elder and Co. edition.


LIVERPOOL, October 26, 1846

My dear sons: Thank God with me that we are once more on TERRA FIRMA. We arrived yesterday morning at ten o’clock, after a very rough voyage and after riding all night in the Channel in a tremendous gale, so bad that no pilot could reach us to bring us in on Saturday evening. A record of a sea voyage will be only interesting to you who love me, but I must give it to you that you may know what to expect if you ever undertake it; but first, I must sum it all up by saying that of all horrors, of all physical miseries, tortures, and distresses, a sea voyage is the greatest . . . The Liverpool paper this morning, after announcing our arrival says: “The GREAT WESTERn, notwithstanding she encountered throughout a series of most severe gales, accomplished the passage in sixteen days and twelve hours.”

To begin at the moment I left New York: I was so absorbed by the pain of parting from you that I was in a state of complete apathy with regard to all about me. I did not sentimentalize about “the receding shores of my country;” I hardly looked at them, indeed. Friday I was awoke in the middle of the night by the roaring of the wind and sea and SUCH motion of the vessel.

The gale lasted all Saturday and Sunday, strong from the North, and as we were in the region where the waters of the Bay of Fundy run out and meet those of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, afterwards we had a strong cross sea. May you never experience a “cross sea.” . . . Oh how I wished it had pleased God to plant some little islands as resting-places in the great waste of waters, some resting station. But no, we must keep on, on, with everything in motion that your eye could rest on. Everything tumbling about . . . We lived through it, however, and the sun of Sunday morn rose clear and bright. A pilot got on board about seven and at ten we were in Liverpool.

We are at the Adelphi. Before I had taken off my bonnet Mr. Richard Rathbone, one of the wealthiest merchants here, called to invite us to dine the next day . . . Mrs. Richard Rathbone has written that beautiful “Diary of Lady Willoughby,” and, what is more, they say it is a perfect reflect of her own lovely life and character. When she published the book no one knew of it but her husband, not even her brothers and sisters, and, of course, she constantly heard speculations as to the authenticity of the book, and was often appealed to for her opinion. She is very unpretending and sweet in her manners; talks little, and seems not at all like a literary lady.

I like these people in Liverpool. They seem to me to think less of fashion and more of substantial excellence than our wealthy people. I am not sure but the existence of a higher class above them has a favorable effect, by limiting them in some ways. There is much less show of furniture in the houses than with us, though their servants and equipages are in much better keeping. I am not sorry to be detained here for a few days by my illness to become acquainted with them, and I think your father likes it also, and will find it useful to him. Let me say, while I think of it, how much I was pleased with the GREAT WESTERN. That upper saloon with the air passing through it was a great comfort to me. The captain, the servants, the table, are all excellent. Everything on board was as nice as in the best hotel, and my gruels and broths beautifully made. One of the stewardesses did more for me than I ever had done by any servant of my own . . . Your father and Louisa were ill but three or four days, and then your father read Tacitus and talked to the ladies, while Louisa played with the other children.

The Adelphi, my first specimen of an English hotel, is perfectly comfortable, and though an immense establishment, is quiet as a private house. There is none of the bustle of the Astor, and if I ring my bedroom bell it is answered by a woman who attends to me assiduously. The landlord pays us a visit every day to know if we have all we wish.

LONDON, Sunday, November 1

Here I am in the mighty heart, but before I say one word about it I will go on from Wednesday evening with my journal. On Thursday, though still very feeble, I dined at Green Bank, the country-seat of Mr. William Rathbone. I was unwilling to leave Liverpool without sharing with your father some of the hospitalities offered to us and made a great effort to go. The place is very beautiful and the house full of comfortable elegance.

The next morning we started for Birmingham, ninety-seven miles from Liverpool, on our way to London, as I am unable to travel the whole way in a day. On this railway I felt for the first time the superiority of England to our own country. The cars are divided into first, second, and third classes. We took a first-class car, which has all the comforts of a private carriage.

Just as we entered Birmingham I observed the finest seat, surrounded by a park wall and with a very picturesque old church, that I had seen on the way. On enquiring of young Mr. Van Wart, who came to see us in Birmingham (the nephew of Washington Irving), whose place it was, he said it was now called Aston Hall and was owned by Mr. Watt, but it was formerly owned by the Bracebridges, and was the veritable “Bracebridge Hall,” and that his uncle had passed his Christmas there.

On arriving here we found our rooms all ready for us at Long’s Hotel, kept by Mr. Markwell, a wine merchant. The house is in New Bond Street, in the very centre of movement at the West End, and Mr. Markwell full of personal assiduity, which we never see with us. He comes to the carriage himself, gives me his arm to go upstairs, is so much obliged to us for honoring his house, ushers you in to dinner, at least on the first day, and seats you, etc., etc.

Do not imagine us in fresh, new-looking rooms as we should be in New York or Philadelphia. No, in London even new things look old, but almost everything IS old. Our parlor has three windows down to the floor, but it is very dark. The paint is maple color, and everything is dingy in appearance. The window in my bedroom looks like a horn lantern, so thick is the smoke, and yet everything is scrupulously clean. On our arrival, Boyd, the Secretary of Legation, soon came, and stayed to dine with us at six. Our dinner was an excellent soup, the boiled cod garnished with fried smelts, the roast beef and a FRICANDEAU with sweet breads, then a pheasant, and afterwards, dessert.

This morning Mr. Bates came very early to see us, and then Mr. Joseph Coolidge, who looks very young and handsome; then Mr. Colman, who also looks very well, Mr. Boyd and a Mr. Haight, of New York, and Mr. Gair, son of Mr. Gair of Liverpool, a pleasing young man.

Monday Evening

This morning came Mr. Aspinwall, then Captain Wormeley, then Dr. Holland, then Mrs. Bates, then Mr. Joseph Jay and his sister, then Tom Appleton, Mrs. and Miss Wormeley, and Mrs. Franklin Dexter. Dr. Holland came a second time to take me a drive, but Mrs. Bates being with me he took your father. Mrs. Bates took me to do some shopping, and to see about some houses. They are very desirous we should be in their neighborhood, in Portland Place, but I have a fancy myself for the new part of town. I have been so used all my life to see things fresh and clean-looking, that I cannot get accustomed to the London dinge, and some of the finest houses look to me as though I would like to give them a good scouring. Tell Cousin M. never to come to England, she would be shocked every minute, with all the grandeur. A new country is cleaner-looking, though it may not be so picturesque.

I got your letters when I arrived here, and I wish this may give you but a little pleasure they gave me. Pray never let a steamer come without a token from both of you . . . With love to Grandma and Uncle Thomas, believe me, with more love than ever before, ELIZABETH D. BANCROFT

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, November 3, 1846

. . . This day, at five, your father had his first interview with Lord Palmerston, who will acquaint the Queen with his arrival, and after she has received him we shall leave our cards upon all the ministers and CORPS DIPLOMATIQUE.

November 4th

Your father had a most agreeable dinner at Lord Holland’s. He met there Lord and Lady Palmerston, Lord Morpeth, Lord de Mauley, Mr. Harcourt, a son of the Archbishop of York, etc. He took out Lady Holland and Lord Morpeth, Lady Palmerston, the only ladies present. Holland House is surrounded by 200 acres in the midst of the western part of London, or rather Kensington. Lord Holland has no children, and the family dies with him. They dined in the room in which Addison died.

To-day, to my surprise, came Lady Palmerston, which was a great courtesy, as it was my place to make the first visit. She is the sister of Lord Melbourne. Lord de Mauley has also been here. . . . To-day I have been driving through some of the best streets in London, and my ideas of its extent and magnificence are rising fast. The houses are more picturesque than ours, and some of them most noble. The vastness of a great capital like this cannot burst upon one at once. Its effect increases daily. The extent of the Park, surrounded by mansions which look, some of them, like a whole history in themselves, has to-day quite dazzled my imagination.

November 5th

This morning, Thursday, came an invitation to dine with Lord and Lady Palmerston on Saturday. Sir George Grey, another of the ministers, came to see us to-day and Lord Mahon. Your father and I have been all the morning looking at houses, and have nearly concluded upon one in Eaton Square. We find a hotel very expensive, and not very comfortable for us, as your father is very restive without his books about him. Mr. Harcourt also came to see us to- day. I mention as many of the names of our visitors as I can recollect, as it will give you some idea of the composition of English society . . . This moment a large card in an envelope has been brought me, which runs thus: “The Lord Steward has received Her Majesty’s commands to invite Mr. Bancroft to dinner at Windsor Castle on Thursday, 12th November, to remain until Friday, 13th.” I am glad he will dine there before me, that he may tell me the order of performances.

Friday, November 6th

. . . We had to-day a delightful visit from Rogers, the Poet, who is now quite old, but with a most interesting countenance. He was full of cordiality, and, at parting, as he took my hand, said: “Our acquaintance must become friendship.” Mr. Harcourt came again and sat an hour with us, and has introduced your father at the Traveller’s Club and the Athenaeum Club. To-night came my new lady’s maid, Russell. She dresses hair beautifully, but is rather too great a person to suit my fancy.

Sunday Evening, November 8th

On Friday evening we met at Mrs. Wormeley’s a cosy little knot of Americans. The Dexters were staying there and there were Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson and Miss Pratt, Mr. and Mrs. Aspinwall, Mr. and Miss Jay, Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, Mr. Colman, Mr. Pickering, etc.

Wednesday Evening

On Monday we came to our HOME, preferring it to the hotel, though it is not yet in order for our reception, and we have not yet all our servants. Last evening we dined with Lord Morpeth at his father’s house. His family are all out of town, but he remains because of his ministerial duties. Lord Morpeth took me out and I sat between him and Sir George Grey. Your father took out Lady Theresa Lewis, who is a sister of Lord Clarendon. She was full of intelligence and I like her extremely. Baron and Lady Parke (a distinguished judge), Lady Morgan, Mr. Mackintosh, Dr. and Mrs. Holland (Sidney Smith’s daughter), and Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Dexter, with several others were the party.

During dinner one gentleman was so very agreeable that I wondered who he could be, but as Lord Palmerston had told me that Mr. Macaulay was in Edinburgh, I did not think of him. After the ladies left the gentlemen, my first question to Mrs. Holland was the name of her next neighbor. “Why, Mr. Macaulay,” was her answer, and I was pleased not to have been disappointed in a person of whom I had heard so much. When the gentlemen came in I was introduced to him and talked to him and heard him talk not a little.

These persons all came the next day to see us, which gave rise to fresh invitations.

This morning we have been driving round to leave cards on the CORPS DIPLOMATIQUE, and Mr. Harcourt has taken me all over the Athenaeum Club-house, a superb establishment. They have given your father an invitation to the Club, a privilege which is sometimes sought for years, Mr. Harcourt says. . . . Have I not needed all my energies? We have been here just a fortnight, and I came so ill that I could hardly walk. We are now at housekeeping, and I am in the full career in London society. They told me I should see no one until spring, but you see we dine out or go out in the evening almost every day. . . . For the gratification of S.D. or Aunt I., who may wonder how I get along in dress matters, going out as I did in my plain black dress, I will tell you that Mrs. Murray, the Queen’s dressmaker, made me, as soon as I found these calls and invitations pouring in, two dresses. One of black velvet, very low, with short sleeves, and another of very rich black watered silk, with drapery of black tulle on the corsage and sleeves. . . . I have fitted myself with several pretty little head-dresses, some in silver, some with plumes, but all white, and I find my velvet and silk suit all occasions. I do not like dining with bare arms and neck, but I must.

Tuesday, November 17th

Last evening we passed at the Earl of Auckland’s, the head of the Admiralty. The party was at the Admiralty, where there is a beautiful residence for the first lord. . . . I had a long talk with Lord Morpeth last evening about Mr. Sumner, and told him of his nomination. He has a strong regard for him. . . . Not a moment have I had to a London “lion.” I have driven past Westminster, but have not been in it. I have seen nothing of London but what came in my way in returning visits.

LONDON, November 17, 1846

My dear Uncle: I cannot help refreshing the remembrance of me with you and dear Aunty by addressing a separate letter to you. . . . Yesterday we hailed with delight our letters from home. . . . One feels in a foreign land the absence of common sympathies and interests, which always surround us in any part of our own country. And yet nothing can exceed the kindness with which we have been received here.

Last evening I went to my first great English dinner and it was a most agreeable one. . . . It seems a little odd to a republican woman to find herself in right of her country taking precedence of marchionesses, but one soon gets used to all things. We sat down to dinner at eight and got through about ten. When the ladies rose, I found I was expected to go first. After dinner other guests were invited and to the first person who came in, about half-past ten, Lady Palmerston said: “Oh, thank you for coming so early.” This was Lady Tankerville of the old French family of de Grammont and niece to Prince Polignac. The next was Lady Emily de Burgh, the daughter of the Marchioness of Clanricarde, a beautiful girl of seventeen. She is very lovely, wears a Grecian braid round her head like a coronet, and always sits by her mother, which would not suit our young girls. Then came Lord and Lady Ashley, Lord Ebrington, and so many titled personages that I cannot remember half.

The dinner is much the same as ours in all its modes of serving, but they have soles and turbot, instead of our fishes, and their pheasants are not our pheasants, or their partridges our partridges. Neither have we so many footmen with liveries of all colours, or so much gold and silver plate. . . . The next morning Mr. Bancroft breakfasted with Dr. Holland to meet the Marquis of Lansdowne alone. [Thursday] he went down to Windsor to dine with the Queen. He took out to dinner the Queen’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, the Queen going with the Prince of Saxe-Weimar, who was paying a visit at the Castle. He talked German to the Duchess during dinner, which I suspect she liked, for the Queen spoke of it to him afterwards, and Lord Palmerston told me the Duchess said he spoke very pure German. While he was dining at Windsor I went to a party all alone at the Countess Grey’s, which I thought required some courage.

Of all the persons I see here the Marquis of Lansdowne excites the most lively regard. His countenance and manners are full of benevolence and I think he understands America better than anyone else of the high aristocracy. I told him I was born at Plymouth and was as proud of my pure Anglo-Saxon Pilgrim descent as if it were traced from a line of Norman Conquerors. Nearly all the ministers and their wives came to see us immediately, without waiting for us to make the first visit, which is the rule, and almost every person whom we have met in society, which certainly indicates an amiable feeling toward our country. We could not well have received more courtesy than we have done, and it has been extended freely and immediately, without waiting for the forms of etiquette. Pray say to Mr. Everett how often we hear persons speak of him, and with highest regard. I feel as if we were reaping some of the fruits of his sowing.

Mr. Bancroft sends you a pack of cards, one of the identical two packs with which the Queen played Patience the evening he was at Windsor. They were the perquisite of a page who brought them to him. He was much pleased with the Queen and thought her much prettier than any representation of her which we have seen, and with a very sweet expression. Lady Holland had been staying two or three days at Windsor, and was to leave the next morning. When the Queen took leave of her at night, she kissed her quite in my Virginia fashion.

Dear Uncle: How much more your niece would have written if to-day were not packet day, I cannot say. I shall send you some newspapers and a pack of cards which I saw in the Queen’s hands. The American Minister and Mrs. Bancroft have since played a game of piquet with them. The Queen’s hands were as clean as her smile was gracious. Best regards to the Judge and Aunt Isaac.

Yours most truly, George Bancroft.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, November 29, 1846

After a long interval I find again a quiet Sunday evening to resume my journal to you. On Monday we dined at Lord John Russell’s, and met many of the persons we have met before and the Duchess of Inverness, the widow of the Duke of Sussex. On Tuesday we dined at Dr. Holland’s. His wife and daughter are charming, and then we met, besides, Lady Charlotte Lindsay, the only surviving child of Lord North, Mr. and Mrs. Milman (the author of the “Fall of Jerusalem”), and Mr. Macaulay. Yesterday I went to return the visit of the Milmans and found that the entrance to their house, he being a prebend of Westminster Abbey, was actually in the cloisters of the Abbey. They were not at home, but I took my footman and wandered at leisure through the cloisters, treading at every step on the tomb of some old abbot with dates of 1160 and thereabouts.

Nothing could be more delightful than London is now, if I had only a little more physical vigor to enjoy it. We see everybody more frequently, and know them better than in the full season, and we have some of the best specimens of English society, too, here just now, as the Whig ministry brings a good deal of the ability of the aristocracy to its aid. The subjects of conversation among women are more general than with us, and [they] are much more cultivated than our women as a body, not our blues. They never sew, or attend, as we do, to domestic affairs, and so live for social life and understand it better.

LONDON, December 2, 1846

My dear Mrs. Polk: you told me when I parted from you at Washington that you would like to get from me occasionally some accounts of my experiences in English society. I thought at that time that we should see very little of it until the spring, but contrary to my expectation we have been out almost every day since our arrival. We made our DEBUT in London on the first day of November (the suicidal month you know) in the midst of an orange-colored fog, in which you could not see your hand before you. The prospect for the winter seemed, I must say, rather “triste,” but the next day the fog cleared off, people came constantly to see us, and we had agreeable invitations for every day, and London put on a new aspect. Out first dinner was at Lord Palmerston’s, where we met what the newspapers call a distinguished circle. The Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord and Lady John Russell, Marquis and Marchioness of Clanricarde (Canning’s daughter), Earl and Countess Grey, Sir George and Lady Grey, etc., etc. I was taken out by Lord Palmerston, with Lord Grey on the other side, and found the whole thing very like one of our Washington dinners, and I was quite as much at my ease, and they seemed made of the same materials as our cabinet at home. I have since dined at Lord Morpeth’s, Lord John Russell’s, Lord Mahon’s, Dr. Holland’s, Baron Parke’s, The Prussian Minister’s, and to-day we dine with the Duchess of Inverness, the widow of the Duke of Sussex; to-morrow with Mr. Milman, a prebend of Westminster and a distinguished man of letters. We have been at a great many SOIREES, at Lady Palmerston’s, Lady Grey’s, Lord Auckland’s, Lady Lewis’s, etc., etc.

And now, having given you some idea WHOM we are seeing here, you will wish to know how I like them, and how they differ from our own people. At the smaller dinners and SOIREES at this season I cannot, of course, receive a full impression of English society, but certainly those persons now in town are charming people. Their manners are perfectly simple and I entirely forget, except when their historic names fall upon my ear, that I am with the proud aristocracy of England. All the persons whose names I have mentioned to you give one a decided impression not only of ability and agreeable manners, but of excellence and the domestic virtues. The furniture and houses, too, are less splendid and ostentatious, than those of our large cities, though [they] have more plate, and liveried servants. The forms of society and the standard of dress, too, are very like ours, except that a duchess or a countess has more hereditary point lace and diamonds. The general style of dress, perhaps, is not so tasteful, so simply elegant as ours. Upon the whole I think more highly of our own country (I mean from a social point of view alone) than before I came abroad. There is less superiority over us in manners and all the social arts than I could have believed possible in a country where a large and wealthy class have been set apart from time immemorial to create, as it were, a social standard of high refinement. The chief difference that I perceive is this: In our country the position of everybody is undefined and rests altogether upon public opinion. This leads sometimes to a little assumption and pretension of manner, which the highest class here, whose claims are always allowed by all about them, are never tempted to put on. From this results an extreme simplicity of manner, like that of a family circle among us.

What I have said, however, applies less to the South than to the large cities of the North, with which I am most familiar at home. I hope our memory will not be completely effaced in Washington, for we cling to our friends there with strong interest. Present my respectful regards to the President, and my love to Mrs. Walker and Miss Rucker. To the Masons also, and our old colleagues all, and pray lay your royal commands upon somebody to write me. I long to know what is going on in Washington. The Pleasantons promised to do so, and Annie Payne, to whom and to Mrs. Madison give also my best love. Believe me yours with the highest regard.


LETTER: 2 December

Yesterday we dined at the Prussian Minister’s, Chevalier Bunsen’s. He met your father in Rome twenty years since, and has received us with great enthusiasm. Yesterday at dinner he actually rose in his seat and made quite a speech welcoming him to England as historian, old friend, etc., and ended by offering his health, which your father replied to shortly, in a few words. Imagine such an outbreak upon routine at a dinner in England! Nobody could have done it but one of German blood, but I dare say the Everetts, who know him, could imagine it all.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, December 19,1846

My dear Sons: . . . Yesterday we dined at Macready’s and met quite a new, and to us, a most agreeable circle. There was Carlyle, who talked all dinner-time in his broad Scotch, in the most inimitable way. He is full of wit, and happened to get upon James I., upon which topic he was superb. Then there was Babbage, the great mathematician, Fonblanc, the editor of the EXAMINER, etc., etc. The day before we dined at Mr. Frederick Elliott’s with a small party of eight, of which Lady Morgan was one, and also a brother of Lord Normanby’s, whom I liked very much. Lady Morgan, who had not hitherto much pleased me, came out in this small circle with all her Irish wit and humor, and gave me quite new notions of her talent. She made me laugh till I cried. On Saturday we dined at Sir Roderick Murchison’s, the President of the Geological Society, very great in the scientific way.

We have struck up a great friendship with Miss Murray, the Queen’s Maid of Honor, who paid me a visit of three hours to-day, in the midst of which came in Colonel Estcourt, whom I was delighted to see, as you may suppose. Miss Murray is to me a very interesting person, though a great talker; a convenient fault to a stranger. She is connected with half the noble families in England, is the grand-daughter of the Duchess of Athol, who governed the Isle of Man as a queen, and the descendant of Scott’s Countess of Derby. Though sprung of such Tory blood, and a maid of honor, she thinks freely upon all subjects. Religion, politics, and persons, she decides upon for herself, and has as many benevolent schemes as old Madam Jackson.

I returned the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie, the painter, this week, and saw the picture he is now painting for the Vice-Chancellor. It is a sketch of children, a boy driving his two little sisters as horses. One of the little girls is very like Susie, her size, hair, and complexion. How I longed to be rich enough to order a copy, but his pictures cost a fortune. I paid also a visit this week to the Duchess of Inverness, whom I found in the prettiest, cosiest morning boudoir looking onto the gardens of the Palace. In short, I do, or see, every hour, something that if I were a traveller only, I could make quite a story of.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, January 1, 1847

My dear Sons: . . . I wrote my last sheet on the 19th and your father went on that day to Cambridge to be present at the tri- centennial celebration of Trinity College . . . He went also the day after the anniversary, which was on our 22nd December, to Ely, with Peacock, the great mathematician, who is Dean of Ely, to see the great cathedral there . . . While he was at Cambridge I passed the evening of the 22nd at Lady Morgan’s, who happened to have a most agreeable set . . . Lady Morgan’s reunions are entertaining to me because they are collections of lions, but they are not strictly and exclusively fashionable. They remind me in their composition from various circles of Mrs. Otis’s parties in Boston. We have in this respect an advantage over the English themselves, as in our position we see a great variety of cliques.

For instance, last evening, the 31st, I took Louisa, at half-past seven, to the house of Mr. Hawes, an under Secretary of State, to see a beautiful children’s masque. It was an impersonation of the “Old Year” dressed a little like LEAR with snowy hair and draperies. OLD YEAR played his part inimitably, at times with great pathos, and then introducing witty hits at all the doings of his reign, such as exploding cotton, the new planet, a subject which he put at rest as “FAR BEYOND OUR REACH,” etc., etc. He then introduced one by one the children of all ages as “Days” of the coming year. There was TWELFTH DAY, crowned as Queen with her cake in her hands; there was CHRISTMAS, covered with holly and mistletoe; there was APRIL FOOL’S DAY, dressed as Harlequin; there was, above all, SHROVE TUESDAY, with her frying-pan of pancakes, dressed as a little cook; there was a charming boy of fourteen or fifteen, as ST. VALENTINE’S DAY with his packet of valentines addressed to the young ladies present; there was the 5TH OF NOVEMBER, full of wit and fun, etc.; the longest day, an elder brother, of William’s height, with a cap of three or four feet high; and his little sister of five, as the shortest day. This was all arranged to music and each made little speeches, introducing themselves. The OLD YEAR, after introducing his successors, and after much pathos, is “going, going–gone,” and falls covered with his drapery, upon removing which, instead of the lifeless body of the OLD YEAR, is discovered a sweet little flower- crowned girl of five or six, as the NEW YEAR. It was charming, and I was so pleased that, instead of taking Louisa away at nine o’clock as I intended, I left her to see “Sir Roger de Coverly,” in the dress of his time.

Last night at Mr. Putnam’s, I met William and Mary Howitt, and some of the lesser lights. I have put down my pen to answer a note, just brought in, to dine next Thursday with the Dowager Countess of Charleville, where we were last week, in the evening. She is eighty-four (tell this to Grandmamma) and likes still to surround herself with BEAUX and BELLES ESPRITS, and as her son and daughter reside with her, this is still easy . . . The old lady talks French as fast as possible, and troubles me somewhat by talking it to me, forgetting that a foreign minister’s wife can talk English . . . Your father likes to be here. He has copying going on in the State Paper Office and British Museum, and his heart is full of manuscripts. It is the first thought, I believe, whoever he sees, what papers are in their family. He makes great interest with even the ladies sometimes for this purpose. Upon the whole, I love my own country better than ever, but whether I shall not miss, upon my return, some things to which I am gradually getting accustomed, I have yet to learn. The gratification of mixing constantly with those foremost in the world for rank, science, literature, or all which adorns society is great, but there is a certain yearning toward those whose habits, education, and modes of thought are the same as our own, which I never can get over. In the full tide of conversation I often stop and think, “I may unconsciously be jarring the prejudices or preconceived notions of these people upon a thousand points; for how differently have I been trained from these women of high rank, and men, too, with whom I am now thrown.” Upon all topics we are accustomed to think, perhaps, with more latitude, religion, politics, morals, everything. I like the English extremely, even more than I expected, and yet happy am I to think that our own best portions of society can bear a comparison with theirs. When I see you I can explain to you the differences, but I think we need not be ashamed of ourselves.

LONDON, January 2, 1847

My dear Uncle: . . . I refer you to my letters to my boys, for all the new persons and places we may have seen lately, while I give you for Aunty’s amusement a minute account of my visit into the country at Mr. Bates’s, where things are managed in a scrupulously English manner, so that it will give her the same idea of country life here, as if it were a nobleman’s castle. Our invitation was to arrive on Thursday, the day before Christmas, to dine, and to remain until the following Tuesday morning. His place is at East SHEEN, which receives its name from the Anglo-Saxon word for BEAUTY. It adjoins Richmond Park, beyond which is the celebrated Richmond Hill, Twickenham, Kew, etc., etc. . . . We arrived at East Sheen at half- past five; but I ought first to mention the PREPARATIONS for a country excursion. Our own carriage has, of course, no dickey for my maid, or conveniences for luggage, so we take a travelling carriage. The imperials (which are large, flat boxes, covering the whole top of the carriage, CAPITAL for velvet dresses, and smaller ones fitting into all the seats IN the carriage, and BEFORE and BEHIND) are brought to you the day before. I am merely asked what dresses I wish taken, and that is all I know of the matter, so thoroughly does an English maid understand her business. We were shown on our arrival into a charming room, semi-library.

In a few minutes a servant came to show me to my apartment, which was very superb, with a comfortable dressing-room and fire for Mr. Bancroft, where the faithful Keats unpacked his dressing materials, while I was in a few moments seated at the toilet to undergo my hair-dressing, surrounded by all my apparatus, and a blazing fire to welcome me with a hissing tea-kettle of hot water and every comfort. How well the English understand it, I learn more and more every day. My maid had a large room above me, also with a fire; indeed, a “lady’s” maid is a VERY GREAT character INDEED, and would be much more unwilling to take her tea with, or speak familiarly to, a footman or a housemaid than I should. My greatest mistakes in England have been committed toward those high dignitaries, my own maid and the butler, whose grandeur I entirely misappreciated and invaded, as in my ignorance I placed them, as we do, on the same level with other servants. She has her fire made for her, and LOAF sugar in her tea, which she and Cates sip in solitary majesty. However, she is most conscientious and worthy, as well as dignified, and thoroughly accomplished in her business. As all these things are pictures of English life, I mention them to amuse Aunty, who likes to know how these matters are managed.

After I am dressed, I join the circle in the library, where I am introduced to Mr. and Madam Van de Weyer, and Louis Buonaparte, the son of Louis, the ex-King of Holland, and of Hortense, Josephine’s daughter. He was a long time imprisoned in the fortress of Ham, and has not long been free. There was also Napoleon, son of Jerome Buonaparte, and the Princess of Wurtemberg. They were most agreeable, intelligent, and amiable young men, and I was glad to meet them. Lord and Lady Langdale (who have a place in the neighborhood) were invited to dine with us. He is Master of the Rolls and was elevated to the peerage from great distinction at the bar. Lady Langdale is a sensible and excellent person. At dinner I sat between Mr. Bates and Lord Langdale, whom I liked very much.

The next morning we assembled at ten for breakfast, which was at a round table, with a sort of circular tray, which turns at the least touch in the centre, leaving only a rim round the table for plates and cups. This was covered also with a white cloth and on it were placed all the breakfast viands, with butter, sugar, cream, bread, toast-rack and preserves. You need no servants, but turn it round and help yourself. I believe the Van de Weyers introduced it, from a visit in Wales. Tea and coffee are served from a side-table always, here. Let me tell Aunty that our simple breakfast DRESS is unknown in England. You come down in the morning dressed for the day, until six or seven in the evening, when your dress is low neck and short sleeves for dinner. At this season the morning dress is a rich silk or velvet, high body quite close in the throat with handsome collar and cuffs, and ALWAYS a cap. Madam Van de Weyer wore every day a different dress, all very rich, but I adhered to a black watered silk with the same simple cap I wore at home.

I took a drive through Richmond Park (where Henry the Eighth watched to see a signal on the Tower when Anne Boleyn’s head fell, and galloped off to marry Jane Seymour) to Richmond Terrace, which is ravishingly beautiful even at this season. . . . The next day the gentleman all went to town, and Madam Van de Weyer and I passed the day TETE-A-TETE, very pleasantly, as her experience in diplomatic life is very useful to me. . . . Her manners are very pleasing and entirely unaffected. She has great tact and quickness of perception, great intelligence and amiability and is altogether extremely well-fitted for the ROLE she plays in life. Her husband is charming. . . . They have three children, very lovely. The eldest, Victor, a fine boy of seven years old, Victoria, a girl of four, for whom the Queen was sponsor, and Albert, to whom Prince Albert performed the same office. This was, of course, voluntary in the royal parties, as it was not a favor to be asked. . . . Madam Van de Weyer is not spoiled, certainly, by the prominent part she was called to play in this great centre of the world at so early an age, and makes an excellent courtier. I could not help pitying her, however, for looking forward to going through, year after year, the same round of ceremonies, forms, and society. For us, it is a new study, and invaluable for a short time; but I could not bear it for life, as these European diplomatists. Besides, we Americans really enjoy a kind of society, and a much nearer intercourse than other foreigners, in the literary, scientific, and even social circles.

On Saturday evening Lord William Fitzroy and daughter joined our party with Sir William Hooker and Lady Hooker. . . . Sir William Hooker is one of the most interesting persons I have seen in England. He is a great naturalist and has the charge of the great Botanical Gardens at Kew. He devoted a morning to us there, and it was the most delightful one I have passed. There are twenty-eight different conservatories filled with the vegetable wonders of the whole world. Length of time and regal wealth have conspired to make the Kew gardens beyond our conceptions entirely. . . . Sir William pointed out to us all that was very rare or curious, which added much to my pleasure. . . . He showed us a drawing of the largest FLOWER ever known on earth, which Sir Stamford Raffles discovered in Sumatra. It was a parasite without leaves or stem, and the flower weighed fifteen pounds. Lady Raffles furnished him the materials for the drawing. I dined in company with her not long ago, and regret now that I did not make her tell me about the wonders of that region. At the same dinner you may meet so many people, each having their peculiar gift, that one cannot avail oneself of the opportunity of extracting from each what is precious. I always wish I could sit by everybody at the same time, and I could often employ a dozen heads, if I had them, instead of my poor, miserable one. From Sir William Hooker I learned as much about the VEGETABLE world, as Mr. Bancroft did from the Dean of Ely on ARCHITECTURE, when he expounded to him the cathedral of Ely; pointing out the successive styles of the Gothic, and the different periods in which the different parts were built. Books are dull teachers compared with these gifted men giving you a lecture upon subjects before your eyes.

On Sunday we dined with out own party; on Monday some diplomatic people, the Lisboas and one of Mr. Bates’s partners, and on Tuesday we came home. I must not omit a visit while we were there from Mr. Taylor (Van Artevelde), who is son-in-law of Lord Monteagle, and lives in the neighborhood. He has a fine countenance and still finer voice, and is altogether one of those literary persons who do not disappoint you, but whose whole being is equal to their works. I hope to see more of him, as they spoke of “CULTIVATING” us, and Mr. Taylor was quite a PROTEGE of our kind and dear friend, Dr. Holland, and dedicated his last poem to him. This expression, “I shall CULTIVATE you,” we hear constantly, and it strikes me as oddly as our Western “BEING RAISED.” Indeed, I hear improper Anglicisms constantly, and they have nearly as many as we have. The upper classes, here, however, do SPEAK English so roundly and fully, giving every LETTER its due, that it pleases my ear amazingly.

On Wednesday I go for the first time to Westminster Abbey, on Epiphany, to hear the Athanasian Creed chanted. I have as yet had no time for sight-seeing, as the days are so short that necessary visits take all my time. No one goes out in a carriage till after two, as the servants dine at one, and in the morning early the footman is employed in the house. A coachman never leaves his box here, and a footman is indispensable on all occasions. No visit can be paid till three; and this gives me very little time in these short days. Everything here is inflexible as the laws of the Medes and Persians, and though I am called “Mistress” even by old Cates with his grey hair and black coat, I cannot make one of them do anything, except BY the person and AT the time which English custom prescribes. They are brought up to fill certain situations, and fill them perfectly, but cannot or will not vary.

I am frequently asked by the ladies here if I have formed a household to please me and I am obliged to confess that I have a very nice household, but that I am the only refractory member of it. I am always asking the wrong person for coals, etc., etc. The division of labor, or rather ceremonies, between the butler and footman, I have now mastered I believe in some degree, but that between the UPPER and UNDER house-maid is still a profound mystery to me, though the upper has explained to me for the twentieth time that she did only “the top of the work.” My cook comes up to me every morning for orders, and always drops the deepest curtsey, but then I doubt if her hands are ever profaned by touching a poker, and she NEVER washes a dish. She is cook and HOUSEKEEPER, and presides over the housekeeper’s room; which has a Brussels carpet and centre table, with one side entirely occupied by the linen presses, of which my maid (my vice-regent, only MUCH greater than me) keeps the key and dispenses every towel, even for the kitchen. She keeps lists of everything and would feel bound to replace anything missing. I shall make you laugh and Mrs. Goodwin stare, by some of my housekeeping stories, the next evening I pass in your little pleasant parlor (a word unknown here).

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, January 10, 1847

My very dear Children: . . . Yesterday we dined at Lady Charleville’s, the old lady of eighty-four, at whose house I mentioned an evening visit in my last, and I must tell you all about it to entertain dear Grandma. I will be minute for once, and give you the LITTLE details of a London dinner, and they are all precisely alike. We arrived at Cavendish Square a quarter before seven (very early) and were shown into a semi-library on the same floor with the dining-room. The servants take your cloak, etc., in the passage, and I am never shown into a room with a mirror as with us, and never into a chamber or bedroom.

We found Lady Charleville and her daughter with one young gentleman with whom I chatted till dinner, and who, I found, was Sir William Burdette, son of Sir Francis and brother of Miss Angelina Coutts. I happened to have on the corsage of my black velvet a white moss rose and buds, which I thought rather youthful for ME, but the old lady had [them] on her cap. She is full of intelligence, and has always been in the habit of drawing a great deal. . . . Very soon came in Lord Aylmer, [who] was formerly Governor of Canada, and Lady Colchester, daughter of Lord Ellenborough, a very pretty woman of thirty-five, I should think; Sir William and Lady Chatterton and Mr. Algernon Greville, whose grandmother wrote the beautiful “Prayer for Indifference,” an old favorite of mine, and Mr. MacGregor, the political economist. Lord Aylmer took me out and I found him a nice old peer, and discovered that ever since the death of his uncle, Lord Whitworth, whose title is extinct, he had borne the arms of both Aylmer and Whitworth. Mr. Bancroft took out Lady Colchester, and the old lady was wheeled out precisely as Grandma is.

At table she helped to the fish (cod, garnished round with smelts) and insisted on carving the turkey herself, which she did extremely well. By the way, I observe they never carve the breast of a turkey LONGITUDINALLY, as we do, but in short slices, a little diagonally from the centre. This makes many more slices, and quite large enough where there are so many other dishes. The four ENTREE dishes are always placed on the table when we sit down, according to our old fashion, and not one by one. They have [them] warmed with hot water, so that they keep hot while the soup and fish are eaten. Turkey, even BOILED turkey, is brought on AFTER the ENTREES, mutton (a saddle always) or venison, with a pheasant or partridges. With the roast is always put on the SWEETS, as they are called, as the term dessert seems restricted to the last course of fruits. During the dinner there are always long strips of damask all round the table which are removed before the dessert is put on, and there is no brushing of crumbs. You may not care for all this, but the housekeepers may. I had Mr. Greville the other side of me, who seemed much surprised that I, an American, should know the “Prayer for Indifference,” which he doubted if twenty persons in England read in these modern days.

It is a great mystery to me yet how people get to know each other in London. Persons talk to you whom you do not know, for no one is introduced, as a general rule. I have sometimes quite an acquaintance with a person, and exchange visits, and yet do not succeed for a long time in putting their name and the person together. . . . It is a great puzzle to a stranger, but has its conveniences for the English themselves. We are endeavoring to become acquainted with the English mind, not only through society, but through its products in other ways. Natural science is the department into which they seem to have thrown their intellect most effectively for the last ten or fifteen years. We are reading Whewell’s “History of the Inductive Sciences,” which gives one a summary of what has been accomplished in that way, not only in past ages, but in the present. Every moment here is precious to me and I am anxious to make the best use of it, but I have immense demands on my time in every way.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
Tuesday night, January 19, 1847

To-day we have been present at the opening of Parliament, but how can I picture to you the interest and magnificence of the scene. I will begin quite back, and give you all the preparations for a “Court Day.” Ten days before, a note was written to Lord Willoughby d’Eresby, informing him of my intention to attend, that a seat might be reserved for me, and also soliciting several tickets for American ladies and gentlemen. . . . I cannot take them with me, however, as the seat assigned to the ladies of Foreign Ministers is very near the throne. This morning when I awoke the fog was thicker than I ever knew it, even here. The air was one dense orange-colored mass. What a pity the English cannot borrow our bright blue skies in which to exhibit their royal pageants!

Mr. Bancroft’s court dress had not been sent home, our servants’ liveries had not made their appearance, and our carriage only arrived last night, and I had not passed judgment upon it. Fogs and tradesmen! these are the torments of London. Very soon came the tailor with embroidered dress, sword, and chapeau, but, alas! Mr. Isidore, who was to have dressed my hair at half-past ten was not forthcoming, and to complete my perplexity, he had my head-dress in his possession. At last, just as Russell had resumed her office at the toilet, came Isidore, a little before twelve, coiffure and all, which was so pretty that I quire forgave him all his sins. It was of green leaves and white FLEUR-DE-LIS, with a white ostrich feather drooping on one side. I wear my hair now plain in front, and the wreath was very flat and classical in its style. My dress was black velvet with a very rich bertha. A bouquet on the front of FLEUR-DE- LIS, like the coiffure, and a Cashmere shawl, completed my array. I have had the diamond pin and earrings which you father gave me, reset, and made into a magnificent brooch, and so arranged that I can also wear it as a necklace or bracelet. On this occasion it was my necklace.

Miss Murray came to go with me, as she wished to be by my side to point out everybody, and her badge as Maid of Honor would take her to any part of the house. At half-past twelve she and I set out, and after leaving us the carriage returned for your father and Mr. Brodhead. But first let me tell you something of our equipage. It is a CHARIOT, not a coach; that is, it has but one seat, but the whole front being glass makes it much more agreeable to such persons as have not large families. The color is maroon, with a silver moulding, and has the American arms on the panel. The liveries are blue and red; on Court Days they have blue plush breeches, and white silk stockings, with buckles on their shoes. Your father leaves all these matters to me, and they have given me no little plague. When I thought I had arranged everything necessary, the coachman, good old Brooks, solicited an audience a day or two ago, and began, “Mistress, did you tell them to send the pads and the fronts and the hand-pieces?” “Heavens and earth! what are all these things?” said I. “Why, ma’am, we always has pads under the saddle on Court Days, trimmed round with the colors of the livery, and we has fronts made of ribbin for the horses’ heads, and we has white hand-pieces for the reins.” This is a specimen of the little troubles of court life, but it has its compensations. To go back to Miss Murray and myself, who are driving through the park between files of people, thousands and thousands all awaiting with patient, loyal faces the passage of the Queen and of the State carriages. The Queen’s was drawn by eight cream-colored horses, and the servants flaming with scarlet and gold. This part of the park, near the palace, is only accessible to the carriages of the foreign ministers, ministers, and officers of the household.

We arrive at the Parliament House, move through the long corridor and give up our tickets at the door of the chamber. It is a very long, narrow room. At the upper end is the throne, on the right is the seat of the ambassadors, on the left, of their ladies. Just in front of the throne is the wool-sack of the Lord Chancellor, looking like a drawing-room divan, covered with crimson velvet. Below this are rows of seats for the judges, who are all in their wigs and scarlet robes; the bishops and the peers, all in robes of scarlet and ermine. Opposite the throne at the lower end is the Bar of the Commons. On the right of the Queen’s chair is a vacant one, on which is carved the three plumes, the insignia of the Prince of Wales, who will occupy it when he is seven or nine years old; on the left Prince Albert sits.

The seat assigned me was in the front row, and quite open, like a sofa, so that I could talk with any gentleman whom I knew. Madam Van de Weyer was on one side of me and the Princess Callimachi on the other, and Miss Murray just behind me. She insisted on introducing to me all her noble relatives. Her cousin, the young Duke of Athol; the Duke of Buccleuch; her nephew the Marquis of Camden; her brother the Bishop of Rochester. There were many whom I had seen before, so that the hour passed very agreeably. Very soon came in the Duke of Cambridge, at which everybody rose, he being a royal duke. He was dressed in the scarlet kingly robe, trimmed with ermine, and with his white hair and whiskers (he is an old man) was most picturesque and scenic, reminding me of King Lear and other stage kings. He requested to be introduced to me, upon which I rose, of course. He soon said, “Be seated,” and we went on with the conversation. I told him how much I liked Kew Garden, where he has a favorite place.

When I first entered I was greeted very cordially by a personage in a black gown and wig, whom I did not know. He laughed and said: “I am Mr. Senior, whom you saw only Saturday evening, but you do not know me in my wig.” It is, indeed, an entire transformation, for it reaches down on the shoulders. He is a master in chancery. He stood by me nearly all the time and pointed out many of the judges, and some persons not in Miss Murray’s line.

But the trumpets sound! the Queen approaches! The trumpet continues, and first enter at a side door close at my elbow the college of heralds richly dressed, slowly, two and two; then the great officers of the household, then the Lord Chancellor bearing the purse, seal, and speech of the Queen, with the macebearers before him. Then Lord Lansdowne with the crown, the Earl of Zetland, with the cap of maintenance, and the Duke off Wellington, with the sword of State. Then Prince Albert, leading the Queen, followed by the Duchess of Sutherland, Mistress of the Robes, and the Marchioness of Douro, daughter-in-law of the Duke of Wellington, who is one of the ladies in waiting. The Queen and Prince sit down, while everybody else remains standing. The Queen then says in a voice most clear and sweet: “My lords (rolling the r), be seated.” Upon which the peers sit down, except those who enter with the Queen, who group themselves about the throne in the most picturesque manner. The Queen had a crown of diamonds, with splendid necklace and stomacher of the same. The Duchess of Sutherland close by her side with her ducal coronet of diamonds, and a little back, Lady Douro, also, with her coronet. On the right of the throne stood the Lord Chancellor, with scarlet robe and flowing wig, holding the speech, surrounded by the emblems of his office; a little farther, one step lower down, Lord Lansdowne, holding the crown on a crimson velvet cushion, and on the left the Duke of Wellington, brandishing the sword of State in the air, with the Earl of Zetland by his side. The Queen’s train of royal purple, or rather deep crimson, was borne by many train-bearers. The whole scene seemed to me like a dream or a vision. After a few minutes the Lord Chancellor came forward and presented the speech to the Queen. She read it sitting and most exquisitely. Her voice is flute-like and her whole emphasis decided and intelligent. Very soon after the speech is finished she leaves the House, and we all follow, as soon as we can get our carriages.

Lord Lansdowne told me before she came in that the speech would be longer than usual, “but not so long as your President’s speeches.” It has been a day of high pleasure and more like a romance than a reality to me, and being in the very midst of it as I was, made it more striking than if I had looked on from a distant gallery.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, February 7, 1847

My dear Sons: . . . On Friday we dined with two bachelors, Mr. Peabody and Mr. Coates, who are American bankers. Mr. Peabody is a friend of Mr. Corcoran and was formerly a partner of Mr. Riggs in Baltimore. Mr. Coates is of Boston. . . . They mustered up all the Americans that could be found, and we dined with twenty-six of our countrymen.

Monday Morning

Last evening we were at home to see any Americans who might chance to come. . . . I make tea in the drawing-room, on a little table with a white cloth, which would not be esteemed COMME IL FAUT with us. There is none of the parade of eating in the largest evening party here. I see nothing but tea, and sometimes find an informal refreshment table in the room where we put on our cloaks.

I got a note yesterday from the O’Connor Don, enclosing an order to admit me to the House of Commons on Monday. . . . You will be curious to know who is “The O’Connor Don.” He is Dennis O’Connor, Esq., but is of the oldest family in Ireland, and the representative of the last kings of Connaught. He is called altogether the O’Connor Don, and begins his note to me with that title. You remember Campbell’s poem of “O’Connor’s Child”?

Sunday, 14th February

. . . Yesterday morning was my breakfast at Sir Robert Inglis’s. The hour was halfpast nine, and as his house is two miles off I had to be up wondrous early for me. The weather has been very cold for this climate for the last few days, though we should think it moderate. They know nothing of extreme cold here. But, to return to or breakfast, where, notwithstanding the cold, the guests were punctually assembled: The Marquis of Northampton and his sisters, the Bishop of London with his black apron, Sir Stratford Canning, Mr. Rutherford, Lord Advocate for Scotland, the Solicitor-General and one or two others. The conversation was very agreeable and I enjoyed my first specimen of an English breakfast exceedingly. . . . Our invitations jostle each other, now Parliament has begun, for everybody invites on Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday, when there are no debates. We had three dinner invitations for next Wednesday, from Mr. Harcourt, Marquis of Anglesey, and Mrs. Mansfield. We go to the former. The Queen held a levee on Friday, for gentlemen only. Your father went, of course.

Sunday, February 21st

I left off on Sunday, on which day I got a note from Lady Morgan, saying that she wished us to come and meet some agreeables at her house. . . . There I met Sir William and Lady Molesworth, Sir Benjamin Hall, etc., and had a long talk with “Eothen,” who is a quiet, unobtrusive person in manner, though his book is quite an effervescence. . . . On Wednesday we dined with Mr. Harcourt, and met there Lord Brougham, who did the talking chiefly, Lord and Lady Mahon, Mr. Labouchere, etc. It was a most agreeable party, and we were very glad to meet Lord Brougham, whom we had not before seen.

Lord Brougham is entertaining, and very much listened to. Indeed, the English habit seems to be to suffer a few people to do up a great part of the talking, such as Macaulay, Brougham, and Sydney Smith and Mackintosh in their day. . . . On Saturday evening, at ten o’clock, we went to a little party at Lady Stratheden’s. After staying there three-quarters of an hour we went to Lady Palmerston’s, where were all the GREAT London world, the Duchess of Sutherland among the number. She is most noble, and at the same time lovely. . . . We had an autograph note from Sir Robert Peel, inviting us to dine next Saturday, and were engaged. I hope they will ask us again, for I know few things better than to see him, as we should in dining there. I have the same interest in seeing the really distinguished men of England, that I should have in the pictures and statues of Rome, and indeed, much greater. I wish I was better prepared for my life here by a more extensive culture; mere fine ladyism will not do, or prosy bluism, but one needs for a thorough enjoyment of society, a healthy, practical, and extensive culture, and a use of the modern languages in our position would be convenient. I do not know how a gentleman can get on without it here, and I find it so desirable that I devote a good deal of time to speaking French with Louisa’s governess. Your father uses French a great deal with his colleagues, who, many of them, speak English with great difficulty, and some not at all. . . . Lady Charlotte Lindsay came one day this week to engage us to dine with her on Wednesday, but yesterday she came to say that she wanted Lord Brougham to meet us, and he could not come till Friday. Fortunately we had no dinner engagement on that day, and we are to meet also the Miss Berrys; Horace Walpole’s Miss Berrys, who with Lady Charlotte herself, are the last remnants of the old school here.

February 21st

My dear Uncle: . . . I wrote [J.D.] a week or two before I heard of his death, but was unable to tell him anything of Lord North, as I had not met Lady Charlotte Lindsay. I have seen her twice this week at Baron Parke’s and at Lord Campbell’s, and told her how much I had wished to do so before, and on what account. She says her father heard reading with great pleasure, and that one of her sisters could read the classics: Latin and, I think, Greek, which he enjoyed to the last. She says that he never complained of losing his sight, but that her mother has told her that it worried him in his old age that he remained Minister during our troubles at a period when he wished, himself, to resign. He sometimes talked of it in the solitude of sleepless nights, her mother has told her.

On Tuesday morning we were invited by Dr. Buckland, the Dean of Westminster, to go to his house, and from thence to the Abbey, to witness the funeral of the Duke of Northumberland. The Dean, who has control of everything in the Abbey, issued tickets to several hundred persons to go and witness the funeral, but only Lord Northampton’s family, the Bunsens (the Prussian Minister), and ourselves, went to his house, and into the Dean’s little gallery.

After the ceremony there were a crowd of visitors at the Dean’s, and I met many old acquaintances, and made many new ones, among whom were Lady Chantrey, a nice person. After the crowd cleared off, we sat down to a long table at lunch, always an important meal here, and afterward the Dean took me on his arm and showed me everything within the Abbey precincts. He took us first to the Percy Chapel to see the vault of the Percys. . . . From thence the Dean took us to the Jerusalem chamber where Henry IV died, then all over the Westminster school. We first went to the hall where the young men were eating their dinner. . . . We then went to the school-room, where every inch of the wall and benches is covered with names, some of them most illustrious, as Dryden’s. There were two bunches of rods, which the Dean assured me were not mere symbols of power, but were daily used, as, indeed, the broken twigs scattered upon the floor plainly showed. Our ferules are thought rather barbarous, but a gentle touch from a slender twig not at all so. These young men looked to me as old as our collegians. We then went to their study- rooms, play-rooms, and sleeping-rooms. The whole forty sleep in one long and well-ventilated room, the walls of which were also covered with names. At the foot of each bed was a large chest covered with leather, as mouldering and time-worn as the Abbey itself. Here are educated the sons of some of the noblest families, and the Archbishop of York has had six sons here, and all of them were in succession the Captain of the school. . . .

On Wednesday evening we went first to our friends, the Bunsens, where we were invited to meet the Duchess of Sutherland with a few other persons. Bunsen is very popular here. He is learned and accomplished, and was so much praised in the Biography of Dr. Arnold, the late historian of Rome, that he has great reputation in the world of letters. . . . Although we have great pleasure in the society of Chevalier and Madam Bunsen, and in those whom we meet at their house. On this occasion we only stayed half an hour, which I passed in talking with the Bishop of Norwich and his wife, Mrs. Stanley, and went to Lady Morgan’s without waiting till the Duchess of Sutherland came. There we found her little rooms full of agreeable people. . . . The next day, Thursday, there was a grand opera for the benefit of the Irish, and all the Diplomatic Corps were obliged to take boxes. Lady Palmerston, who was one of the three patronesses, secured a very good box for us, directly opposite the Queen, and only three from the stage.

We took with us Mrs. Milman and W.T. Davis, to whom it gave a grand opportunity of seeing the Queen and the assembled aristocracy, at least all who are now in London. “God save the Queen,” sung with the whole audience standing, was a noble sight. The Queen also stood, and at the end gave three curtsies. On Friday Captain and Mrs. Wormeley, with Miss Wormeley, dined with us, with Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle, Miss Murray, the Maid of Honor, Mr. and Mrs. Pell of New York, with William T. and Mr. Brodhead. William was very glad to see Carlyle, who showed himself off to perfection, uttering his paradoxes in broad Scotch.

Last evening we dined at Mr. Thomas Baring’s, and a most agreeable dinner it was. The company consisted of twelve persons, Lord and Lady Ashburton, etc. I like Lady Ashburton extremely. She is full of intelligence, reads everything, talks most agreeably, and still loves America. She is by no means one of those who abjure their country. I have seen few persons in England whom I should esteem a more delightful friend or companion than Lady Ashburton, and I do not know why, but I had received a different impression of her. Lord Ashburton, by whom I sat at dinner, struck me as still one of the wisest men I have seen in England. Lady Ashburton, who was sitting by Mr. Bancroft, leant forward and said to her husband, “WE can bring bushels of corn this year to England.” “Who do you mean by WE?” said he. “Why, we Americans, to be sure.”

Monday Evening

Yesterday we dined at Count St. Aulair’s, the French Ambassador, who is a charming old man of the old French school, at a sort of amicable dinner given to Lord and Lady Palmerston. Lord John Russell was of the party, with the Russian Ambassador and lady, Mr. and Madam Van de Weyer, the Prussian and Turkish Ministers. The house of the French Embassy is fine, but these formal grand dinners are not so charming as the small ones. The present state of feeling between Lord Palmerston and the French Government gave it a kind of interest, however, and it certainly went off in a much better spirit than Lady Normanby’s famous party, which Guizot would not attend. It seems very odd to me to be in the midst of these European affairs, which I have all my life looked upon from so great a distance.

LETTER: To Mrs. W.W. Story
LONDON, March 23, 1847

My dear Mrs. Story: I should have thanked you by the last steamer for your note and the charming volume which accompanied it, but my thoughts and feelings were so much occupied by the sad tidings I heard from my own family that I wrote to no one out of it. The poems, which would at all times have given me great pleasure, gave me still more here than they would if I were with you on the other side of the Atlantic. I am not cosmopolitan enough to love any nature so well as our American nature, and in addition to the charm of its poetry, every piece brought up to me the scenes amidst which it had been written. . . . How dear these associations are your husband will soon know when he too is separated from his native shores and from those he loves. . . . I shall look forward with great pleasure to seeing him here, and only wish you were to accompany him, for your own sake, for his, and for ours. His various culture will enable him to enjoy most fully all that Europe can yield him in every department. My own regret ever since I have been here has been that the seed has not “fallen upon better ground,” for though I thought myself not ignorant wholly, I certainly lose much that I might enjoy more keenly if I were better prepared for it. I envy the pleasure which Mr. Story will receive from music, painting, and sculpture in Europe, even if he were destitute of the creative inspiration which he will take with him. For ourselves, we have everything to make us happy here, and I should be quite so, if I could forget that I had a country and children with very dear friends 3,000 miles away. . . . There are certain sympathies of country which one cannot overcome. On the other hand I certainly enjoy pleasures of the highest kind, and am every day floated like one in a dream into the midst of persons and scenes that make my life seem more like a drama than a reality. Nothing is more unreal than the actual presence of persons of whom one has heard much, and long wished to see. One day I find myself at dinner by the side of Sir Robert Peel, another by Lord John Russell, or at Lord Lansdowne’s table, with Mrs. Norton, or at a charming breakfast with Mr. Rogers, surrounded by pictures and marbles, or with tall feathers and a long train, making curtsies to a queen.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, April 2 [1847]

Here it is the day before the despatches leave and I have not written a single line to you. . . . On Friday we dined at Lady Charlotte Lindsay’s, where were Lord Brougham and Lady Mallet, Mr. Rogers and the Bishop of Norwich and his wife. In the evening Miss Agnes Berry, who never goes out now, came on purpose to appoint an evening to go and see her sister, who is the one that Horace Walpole wished to marry, and to whom so many of his later letters are addressed. She is eighty-four, her sister a few years younger, and Lady Charlotte not much their junior.

These remnants of the BELLES-ESPRITS of the last age are charming to me. They have a vast and long experience of the best social circles, with native wit, and constant practice in the conversation of society. . . . On Wednesday, we dined at Sir Robert Peel’s, with whom I was more charmed than with anybody I have seen yet. I sat between him and the Speaker of the House of Commons. I was told that he was stiff and stately in his manners, but did not think him so, and am inclined to imagine that free from the burden of the Premiership, he unbends more. He talked constantly with me, and in speaking of a certain picture said, “When you come to Drayton Manor I shall show it to you.” I should like to go there, but to see himself even more than his pictures. Lady Peel is still a very handsome woman.

The next morning we breakfasted with Mr. Rogers. He lives, as you probably know, in [a] beautiful house, though small, whose rooms look upon the Green Park, and filled with pictures and marbles. We stayed an hour or more after the other guests, listening to his stores of literary anecdote and pleasant talk. In the evening we went to the Miss Berrys’, where we found Lord Morpeth, who is much attached to them. Miss Berry put her hand on his head, which is getting a little gray, and said: “Ah, George, and I remember the day you were born, your grandmother brought you and put you in my arms.” Now this grandmother of Lord Morpeth’s was the celebrated Duchess of Devonshire, who electioneered for Fox, and he led her to tell me all about her. “Eothen” was also there, Lady Lewis and many of my friends. . . . Aunty wishes to know who is “Eothen.” She has probably read his book, “Eothen, or Traces of Travel,” which was very popular two or three years since. He is a young lawyer, Mr. Kinglake, the most modest, unassuming person in his manners, very shy and altogether very unlike the dashing, spirited young Englishman I figured to myself, whom nothing could daunt from the Arab even to the plague, which he defied.


Dear Uncle and Aunt: On Thursday [the 25th] we were invited to Sir John Pakington’s, whose wife is the Bishop of Rochester’s daughter, but were engaged to Mr. Senior, who had asked us to meet the Archbishop of Dublin, the celebrated Dr. Whately. He had come over from Ireland to make a speech in the House of Lords upon the Irish Poor Law. He is full of learning [and] simplicity, and with most genial hearty manners. Rogers was also there and said more fine things than I have heard him say before at dinner, as he is now so deaf that he does not hear general conversation, and cannot tell where to send his shaft, which is always pointed. He retains all his sarcasm and epigrammatic point, but he shines now especially at breakfast, where he has his audience to himself.

We went from Mr. Senior’s to Mr. Milman’s, but nearly all the guests there were departed or departing, though one or two returned with us to the drawing-room to stay the few minutes we did. Among the lingerers we found Sir William and Lady Duff Gordon, the two Warburtons, “Hochelaga” and “Crescent and Cross,” and “Eothen.” Mrs. Milman I really love, and we see much of them.

On Saturday was the dreaded Drawing-Room, on which occasion I was to be presented to the Queen. . . . Mr. Bancroft and I left home at a quarter past one. On our arrival we passed through one or two corridors, lined by attendants with battle-axes and picturesque costumes, looking very much like the supernumeraries on the stage, and were ushered into the ante-room, a large and splendid room, where only the Ministers and Privy Councillors, with their families, are allowed to go with the Diplomatic Corps. Here we found Lady Palmerston, who showed me a list she had got Sir Edward Cust, the master of ceremonies, to make out of the order of precedence of the Diplomatic Corps, and when the turn would come for us who were to be newly presented. The room soon filled up and it was like a pleasant party, only more amusing, as the costumes of both gentlemen and ladies were so splendid. I got a seat in the window with Madam Van de Weyer and saw the Queen’s train drive up. At the end of this room are two doors: at the left hand everybody enters the next apartment where the Queen and her suite stand, and after going round the circle, come out at the right-hand door. After those who are privileged to go FIRST into the ANTE-ROOM leave it, the general circle pass in, and they also go in and out the same doors. But to go back. The left-hand door opens and Sir Edward Cust leads in the Countess Dietrichstein, who is the eldest Ambassadress, as the Countess St. Aulair is in Paris. As she enters she drops her train and the gentlemen ushers open it out like a peacock’s tail. Then Madam Van de Weyer, who comes next, follows close upon the train of the former, then Baroness Brunnow, the Madam Bunsen, then Madam Lisboa, then Lady Palmerston, who, as the wife of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is to introduce the Princess Callimachi, Baroness de Beust, and myself. She stations herself by the side of the Queen and names us as we pass. The Queen spoke to none of us, but gave me a very gracious smile, and when Mr. Bancroft came by, she said: “I am very glad to have had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Bancroft to- day.” I was not [at] all frightened and gathered up my train with as much self-possession as if I were alone. I found it very entertaining afterward to watch the reception of the others. The Diplomatic Corps remain through the whole, the ladies standing on the left of the Queen and the gentlemen in the centre, but all others pass out immediately. . . . On Sunday evening Mr. Bancroft set off for Paris to pass the Easter recess of Parliament. . . . I got a very interesting letter yesterday from Mr. Bancroft. It seems that the Countess Circourt, whose husband has reviewed his book and Prescott’s, is a most charming person, and makes her house one of the most brilliant and attractive in Paris. Since he left, a note came from Mr. Hallam, the contents of which pleased me as they will you. It announced that Mr. Bancroft was chosen an Honorary Member of the Society of Antiquaries, of which Lord Mahon is president, Hallam, vice-president. Hallam says the society is very old and that he is the first citizen of the United States upon whom it has been conferred, but that he will not long possess it exclusively, as his “highly distinguished countryman, Mr. Prescott, has also been proposed.”

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.


My dear Sons: . . . On Monday morning came the dear Miss Berrys, to beg me to come that evening to join their circle. They have always the best people in London about them, young as well as old.

The old and the middle-aged are more attended to here than with us, where the young are all in all. As Hayward said to me the other evening, “it takes time to make PEOPLE, like cathedrals,” and Mr. Rogers and Miss Berry could not have been what they are now, forty years ago. A long life of experience in the midst constantly of the highest and most cultivated circles, and with several generations of distinguished men gives what can be acquired in no other way. Mr. Rogers said to me one day: “I have learnt more from men that from BOOKS, and when I used to be in the society of Fox and other great men of that period, and they would sometimes say ‘I have always thought so and so,’ then I have opened my ears and listened, for I said to myself, now I shall get at the treasured results of the experience of these great men.” This little saying of Mr. Rogers expresses precisely my own feelings in the society of the venerable and distinguished here. With us society is left more to the crudities of the young than in England. The young may be interesting and promise much, but they are still CRUDE. The elements, however fine, are not yet completely assimilated and brought to that more perfect tone which comes later in life.

Monday, April 12th

. . . On Saturday I went with Sir William and Lady Molesworth to their box in the new Covent Garden opera, which has been opened for the first time this week. There I saw Grisi and Alboni and Tamburini in the “Semiramide.” It was a new world of delight to me. Grisi, so statuesque and so graceful, delights the eye, the ear, and the soul. She is sculpture, poetry, and music at the same time. . . . Mr. Bancroft has been received with great cordiality in Paris. He has been three times invited to the Palace, and Guizot and Mignet give him access to all that he wants in the archives, and he passes his evenings with all the eminent men and beautiful women of Paris. Guizot, Thiers, Lamartine, Cousin, Salvandi, Thierry, he sees, and enjoys all. They take him to the salons, too, of the Faubourg St. Germain, among the old French aristocracy, and to innumerable receptions.


To-morrow I go to the Drawing-Room alone, and to complete the climax, the Queen has sent us an invitation to dine at the Palace to-morrow, and I must go ALONE for the FIRST TIME. If I live through it, I will tell you all about it; but is it not awkward in the extreme?

Friday Morning

At eight o’clock in the evening I drove to the Palace. My dress was my currant-colored or grosseille velvet with a wreath of white Arum lilies woven into a kind of turban, with green leave and bouquet to match, on the bertha of Brussels lace. I was received by a servant, who escorted me through a long narrow corridor the length of Winthrop Place and consigned me to another who escorted me in his turn, through another wider corridor to the foot of a flight of stairs which I ascended and found another servant, who took my cloak and showed me into the grand corridor or picture gallery; a noble apartment of interminable length; and surrounded by pictures of the best masters. General Bowles, the Master of the Household, came forward to meet me, and Lord Byron, who is one of the Lords in Waiting. I found Madam Lisboa already arrived, and soon came in Lord and Lady Palmerston, the Duke of Norfolk, the Marquis and Marchioness of Exeter, Lord and Lady Dalhousie, Lord Charles Wellesley, son of the Duke of Wellington, Lady Byron, and Mr. Hallam. We sat and talked as at any other place, when at last the Queen was announced. The gentlemen ranged themselves on one side, and we on the other, and the Queen and Prince passed through, she bowing, and we profoundly curtseying. As soon as she passed the Marquis of Exeter came over and took Madam Lisboa, and Lord Dalhousie came and took me. The Queen and Prince sat in the middle of a long table, and I was just opposite the Prince, between Lord Exeter and Lord Dalhousie, who is the son of the former Governor of Nova Scotia, was in the last ministry, and a most agreeable person. I talked to my neighbors as at any other dinner, but the Queen spoke to no one but Prince Albert, with a word or two to the Duke of Norfolk, who was on her right, and is the first peer of the realm.

The dinner was rather quickly despatched, and when the Queen rose we followed her back into the corridor. She walked to the fire and stood some minutes, and then advanced to me and enquired about Mr. Bancroft, his visit to Paris, if he had been there before, etc. I expressed, of course, the regret he would feel at losing the honor of dining with Her Majesty, etc. She then had a talk with Lady Palmerston, who stood by my side, then with all the other ladies in succession, until at last Prince Albert came out, soon followed by the other gentlemen. The Prince then spoke to all the ladies, as she had done, while she went in succession to all the gentlemen guests. This took some time and we were obliged to stand all the while.

At last the Queen, accompanied by her Lady in Waiting, Lady Mount Edgcumbe, went to a sofa at the other end of the corridor in front of which was a round table surrounded by arm-chairs. When the Queen was seated Lady Mount Edgcumbe came to us and requested us to take our seats round the table. This was a little prim, for I did not know exactly how much I might talk to others in the immediate presence of the Queen, and everybody seemed a little constrained. She spoke to us all, and very soon such of the gentlemen as were allowed by their rank, joined us at the round table. Lord Dalhousie came again to my side and I had as pleasant a conversation with him, rather SOTTO VOCE, however, as I could have had at a private house. At half-past ten the Queen rose and shook hands with each lady; we curtsied profoundly, and she and the Prince departed. We then bade each other good-night, and found our carriages as soon as we chose.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, May 16, 1847

My dear Sons: My letters by this steamer will have very little interest for you, as, from being in complete retirement, I have no new things to related to you. . . . We have taken advantage of our leisure to drive a little into the country, and on Tuesday I had a pleasure of the highest order in driving down to Esher and passing a quiet day with Lady Byron, the widow of the poet. She is an intimate friend of Miss Murray, who has long wished us to see her and desired her to name the day for our visit.

Esher is a little village about sixteen miles from London, and Lady Byron has selected it as her residence, though her estates are in Leicestershire, because it is near Lord and Lady Lovelace, her only child, the “ADA” of poetry. We went in our own carriage, taking Miss Murray with us, and as the country is now radiant with blossoms and glowing green, the drive itself was very agreeable. We arrived at two o’clock, and found only Lady Byron, with the second boy of Lady Lovelace and his tutor. Lady Byron is now about fifty-five, and with the remains of an attractive, if not brilliant beauty. She has extremely delicate features, and very pale and finely delicate skin. A tone of voice and manner of the most trembling refinement, with a culture and strong intellect, almost masculine, but which betrays itself under such sweet and gentle and unobtrusive forms that one is only led to perceive it by slow degrees. She is the most modest and unostentatious person one can well conceive. She lives simply, and the chief of her large income (you know she was the rich Miss Milbank) she devotes to others. After lunch she wished me to see a little of the country round Esher and ordered her ponies and small carriage for herself and me, while Mr. Bancroft and Miss Murray walked. We went first to the royal seat, Claremont, where the Princess Charlotte lived so happily with Leopold, and where she died. Its park adjoins Lady Byron’s, and the Queen allows her a private key that she may enjoy its exquisite grounds. Here we left the pedestrians, while Lady Byron took me a more extensive drive, as she wished to show me some of the heaths in the neighborhood, which are covered with furze, now one mass of yellow bloom.

Every object is seen in full relief against the sky, and a figure on horseback is peculiarly striking. I am always reminded of the beginning of one of James’s novels, which is usually, you know, after this manner: “It was toward the close of a dull autumn day that two horsemen were seen,” etc., etc. Lady Byron took me to the estate of a neighboring gentleman, to show me a fine old tower covered with ivy, where Wolsey took refuge from his persecutors, with his faithful follower, Cromwell.

Upon our return we found the last of the old harpers, blind, and with a genuine old Irish harp, and after hearing his national melodies for half an hour, taking a cup of coffee, and enjoying a little more of Lady Byron’s conversation, we departed, having had a day heaped up with the richest and best enjoyments. I could not help thinking, as I was walking up and down the beautiful paths of Claremont Park, with the fresh spring air blowing about me, the primroses, daisies, and wild bluebells under my feet, and Lady Byron at my side, that it was more like a page out of a poem than a reality.

On Sunday night any Americans who are here come to see us. . . . Mr. Harding brought with him a gentleman, whom he introduced as Mr. Alison. Mr. Bancroft asked him if he were related to Archdeacon Alison, who wrote the “Essay on Taste.” “I am his son,” said he. “Ah, then, you are the brother of the historian?” said Mr. Bancroft. “I am the historian,” was the reply. . . . An evening visitor is a thing unheard of, and therefore my life is very lonely, now I do not go into society. I see no one except Sunday evenings, and, occasionally, a friend before dinner.

LETTER: To W.D.B. and A.B.
LONDON, May 24, [1847]

My dear Sons: . . . On Friday we both went to see the Palace of Hampton Court with my dear, good, Miss Murray, Mr. Winthrop and son, and Louise. . . . On our arrival, we found, to our great vexation, that Friday was the only day in the week in which visitors were not admitted, and that we must content ourselves with seeing the grounds and go back without a glimpse of its noble galleries of pictures. Fortunately for us, Miss Murray had several friends among the persons to whom the Queen has assigned apartments in the vast edifice, and they willingly yielded their approbation of our admission if she could possibly win over Mrs. Grundy, the housekeeper. This name sounded rather inauspicious, but Mr. Winthrop suggested that there might be a “Felix” to qualify it, and so in this case it turned out. Mrs. Grundy asserted that such a thing had never been done, that it was a very dangerous precedent, etc., but in the end the weight of a Maid of Honor and a Foreign Minister prevailed, and we saw everything to much greater advantage than if we had 150 persons following on, as Mr. Winthrop says he had the other day at Windsor Castle. . . . On our way [home] we met Lady Byron with her pretty little carriage and ponies. She alighted and we did the same, and had quite a pleasant little interview in the dusty road.

Sunday, May 30th

Your father left town on Monday. . . . He did not return until the 27th, the morning of the Queen’s Birthday Drawing-Room. On that occasion I went dressed in white mourning. . . . It was a petticoat of white crape flounced to the waist with the edges notched. A train of white glace trimmed with a ruche of white crape. A wreath and bouquet of white lilacs, without any green, as green is not used in mourning. The array of diamonds on this occasion was magnificent in the highest degree, and everybody was in their most splendid array. The next evening there was a concert at the Palace, at which Jenny Lind, Grisi, Alboni, Mario, and Tamburini sang. I went dressed in [a] deep black dress and enjoyed the music highly. Seats were placed in rows in the concert-room and one sat quietly as if in church. At the end of the first part, the royal family with their royal guests, the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, and the Grand Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Weimar went to the grand dining-room and supped by themselves, with their suites, while another elegant refreshment table was spread in another apartment for the other guests. . . . Jenny Lind a little disappointed me, I must confess, but they tell me that her songs were not adapted on that evening to the display of her voice.

On Sunday evening your father dined with Baron Brunnow, the Russian Minister, to meet the Grand Duke Constantine. It so happened that the Grand Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Weimar appointed an audience to Baron and Baroness Brunnow at seven, and they had not returned at half-past seven, when the Grand Duke and their other guests arrived. The Baroness immediately advanced to the Grand Duke and sunk on her knees before him, asking pardon in Russian. He begged her to rise, but she remained in the attitude of deep humiliation, until the Grand Duke sunk also on HIS knees and gently raised her, and then kissed her on the cheek, a privilege, you know, of royalty.

. . . On Monday evening we both went to a concert at Mr. Hudson’s, the great railway “king,” who has just made an immense fortune from railway stocks, and is now desirous to get into society. These things are managed in a curious way here. A NOUVEAU RICHE gets several ladies of fashion to patronize their entertainment and invite all the guests. Our invitation was from Lady Parke, who wrote me two notes about it, saying that she would be happy to meet me at Mrs. Hudson’s splendid mansion, where would be the best music and society of London; and, true enough, there was the Duke of Wellington and all the world. Lady Parke stood at the entrance of the splendid suite of rooms to receive the guests and introduce them to their host and hostess. On Tuesday morning I got a note from Mr. Eliot Warburton (brother of “Hochelaga”) to come to his room at two o’clock and look at some drawings. To our surprise we found quite a party seated at lunch, and a collection of many agreeable persons and some lions and lionesses. There was Lord Ross, the great astronomer; Baroness Rothschild, a lovely Jewess; Miss Strickland, the authoress of the “Queens of England”; “Eothen,” and many more. Mr. Polk, CHARGE at Naples, and brother of the President, dined with us, and Miss Murray, and in the evening came Mr. and Mrs. McLean, he a son of Judge McLean, of Ohio.

June 17th

On Friday evening we went to the Queen’s Ball, and for the first time saw Her Majesty dance, which she does very well, and so does the Duchess of Sutherland, grandmother though she be.

On Monday evening we went to a concert given to the Queen by the Duke of Wellington at Apsley House. This was an occasion not to be forgotten, but I cannot describe it. On Tuesday I went for the first time to hear a debate upon the Portugal interference in the House of Lords. It brought out all the leaders, and I was so fortunate as to hear a most powerful speech from Lord Stanley, one from Lord Lansdowne in defence of the Ministry and one from the Duke of Wellington, who, on this occasion, sided with the Ministers. On Wednesday was the great FETE given by the Duchess of Sutherland to the Queen. It was like a chapter of a fairy tale. Persons from all the courts of Europe who were there told us that nowhere in Europe was there anything as fine as the hall and grand staircase where the Duchess received her guests. It exceeded my utmost conceptions of magnificence and beauty. The vast size of the apartment, the vaulted ceilings, the arabesque ornaments, the fine pictures, the profusion of flowers, the music, the flourish of trumpets, as the Queen passed backward and forward, the superb dresses and diamonds of the women, the parti-colored full dress of the gentlemen all contributed to make up a scene not to be forgotten. The Queen’s Ball was not to be compared to it, so much more effective is Stafford House than Buckingham Palace. . . . We were fortunate to be present there, for Stafford House is not opened in this way but once in a year or two, and the Duke’s health is now so very uncertain, that it may be many years before it happens again. He was not present the other evening.

LETTER: To Mr. and Mrs. I.P.D.
My dear Uncle and Aunt:
LONDON, June 20, 1847

On the 19th, Saturday, we breakfasted with Lady Byron and my friend, Miss Murray, at Mr. Rogers’. He and Lady Byron had not met for many, many years, and their renewal of old friendship was very interesting to witness. Mr. Rogers told me that he first introduced her to Lord Byron. After breakfast he had been repeating some lines of poetry which he thought fine, when he suddenly exclaimed: “But there is a bit of American PROSE, which, I think, had more poetry in it than almost any modern verse.” He then repeated, I should think, more than a page from Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast,” describing the falling overboard of one of the crew, and the effect it produced, not only at the moment, but for some time afterward. I wondered at his memory, which enabled him to recite so beautifully a long prose passage, so much more difficult than verse. Several of those present with whom the book was a favorite, were so glad to hear from me that it was as TRUE as interesting, for they had regarded it as partly a work of imagination. Lady Byron had told Mr. Rogers when she came in that Lady Lovelace, her daughter (Ada) wished also to pay him a visit, and would come after breakfast to join us for half an hour. She also had not seen Rogers, I BELIEVE, ever. Lady Lovelace joined us soon after breakfast, and as we were speaking of the enchantment of Stafford House on Wednesday evening, Mr. Rogers proposed to go over it and see its fine pictures by daylight. He immediately went himself by a short back passage through the park to ask permission and returned with all the eagerness and gallantry of a young man to say that he had obtained it. We had thus an opportunity of seeing, in the most leisurely way and in the most delightful society, the fine pictures and noble apartments of Stafford House again.

. . . On Tuesday Mr. Hallam took us to the British Museum, and being a director, he could enter on a private day, when we were not annoyed by a crowd, and, moreover, we had the advantage of the best interpreters and guides. We did not even enter the library, which requires a day by itself, but confined ourselves to the Antiquity rooms. . . . As I entered the room devoted to the Elgin marbles, the works of the “divine Phidias,” I stepped with awe, as if entering a temple, and the Secretary, who was by my side, observing it, told me that the Grand Duke Constantine, when he came a few days before, made, as he entered, a most profound and reverential bow. This was one of my most delightful mornings, and I left the Antiquities with a stronger desire to see them again than before I had seen them at all.

Sunday, June 27th

. . . I went on Wednesday to dine at Lord Monteagle’s to meet Father Mathew, and the Archbishop of Dublin (Dr. Whately) also dined there. Father Mathew spoke with great interest of America and of American liberality, and is very anxious to go to our country. He saw Mr. Forbes at Cork and spoke of him with great regard. . . . On [Saturday] Mr. Bancroft went to the palace to see the King of the Belgians, with the rest of the Diplomatic Corps. After his return we went to Westminster Hall to see the prize pictures, as Lord Lansdowne had sent us tickets for the private view. The Commission of Fine Arts have offered prizes for the best historical pictures that may serve to adorn the new Houses of Parliament, and the pictures of this collection were all painted with that view. One of those which have received a prize is John Robinson bestowing his farewell blessing upon the Pilgrims at Leyden, which is very pleasing. It was to me like a friend in a strange country, and I lingered over it the longest.

July 2d

Wednesday [evening] we went to Lady Duff Gordon’s, who is the daughter of Mrs. Austin, where was a most agreeable party, and among others, Andersen, the Danish poet-author of the “Improvisatore.” He has a most striking poetical physiognomy, but as he talked only German or bad French, I left him to Mr. Bancroft in the conversation way.

The next morning before nine o’clock we were told that Mr. Rogers, the poet, was downstairs. I could not imagine what had brought him out so early, but found that Moore, the poet, had come to town and would stay but a day, and we must go that very morning and breakfast with him at ten o’clock. We went and found a delightful circle. I sat between Moore and Rogers, who was in his very best humor. Moore is but a wreck, but most a interesting one.

LETTER: To Mr. and Mrs. I.P.D.
Nuneham Park, July 27, 1847

My dear Uncle and Aunt: . . . I must go back to the day when my last letters were despatched, as my life since has been full of interest. On Monday evening, the 19th, we went to the French play, to see Rachel in “Phedre.” She far surpassed my imagination in the expression of all the powerful passions. . . . On Tuesday Mr. Bancroft went down to hear Lord John make a speech to his constituents in the city, while I went to see Miss Burdett-Coutts lay the corner-stone of the church which “the Bishop of London has permitted her to build,” to use her own expression in her note to me. In the evening we dined there with many of the clergy, and Lord Brougham, Lord Dundonald, etc. I went down with the Dean of Westminster, who was very agreeable and instructive. He and Dr. Whately have the simplicity of children, with an immense deal of knowledge, which they impart in the most pleasant way. Saturday, the 24th, we were to leave town for our first country excursion. We were invited by Dr. Hawtrey, the Head Master of Eton, to be present at the ceremonies accompanying the annual election of such boys on the Foundation as are selected to go up to King’s College, Cambridge, where they are also placed on a Foundation. From reading Dr. Arnold’s life you will have learned that the head master of one of these very great schools is no unimportant personage. Dr. Hawtrey has an income of six or seven thousand pounds. He is unmarried, but has two single sisters who live with him, and his establishment in one of the old college houses is full of elegance and comfort. We took an open travelling carriage with imperials, and drove down to Eton with our own horses, arriving about one o’clock. At two, precisely, the Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, was to arrive, and to be received under the old gateway of the cloister by the Captain of the school with a Latin speech. After dinner there is a regatta among the boys, which is one of the characteristic and pleasing old customs. All the fashionables of London who have sons at Eton come down to witness their happiness, and the river bank is full of gayety. The evening finished with the most beautiful fireworks I ever saw, which lighted up the Castle behind and were reflected in the Thames below, while the glancing oars of the young boatmen, and the music of their band with a merry chime of bells from St. George’s Chapel, above, all combined to give gayety and interest to the scene. The next morning (Sunday), after an agreeable breakfast in the long, low-walled breakfast-room, which opens upon the flower garden, we went to Windsor to worship in St. George’s Chapel. The Queen’s stall is rather larger than the others, and one is left vacant for the Prince of Wales.

LONDON, July 29th

And now with a new sheet I must begin my account of Nuneham. . . . The Archbishop of York is the second son of Lord Vernon, but his uncle, Earl Harcourt, dying without children, left him all his estate, upon which he took the name of Harcourt. We arrived about four o’clock. . . . The dinner was at half-past seven, and when I went down I found the Duchess of Sutherland, Lady Caroline Leveson- Gower, Lord Kildare, and several of the sons and daughters of the Archbishop. The dinner and evening passed off very agreeably. The Duchess is a most high-bred person, and thoroughly courteous. As we were going in or out of a room instead of preceding me, which was her right, she always made me take her arm, which was a delicate way of getting over her precedence. . . . At half-past nine the [next morning] we met in the drawing-room, when the Archbishop led the way down to prayers. This was a beautiful scene, for he is now ninety, and to hear him read the prayers with a firm, clear voice, while his family and dependents knelt about him was a pleasure never to be forgotten. . . . At five I was to drive round the park with the Archbishop himself in his open carriage. This drive was most charming. He explained everything, told me when such trees would be felled, and when certain tracts of underwood would be fit for cutting, how old the different-sized deer were–in short, the whole economy of an English park. Every pretty point of view, too, he made me see, and was as active and wide-awake as if he were thirty, rather than ninety. . . . The next morning, after prayers and breakfast, I took my leave.


My dear Ann: How I wish I could transport you to the spot where I am writing, but if I could summon it before your actual vision you would take it for a dream or a romance, so different is everything within the walls which enclose the precincts of an English Cathedral from anything we can conceive on our side of the water. . . . Some of the learned people and noblemen have formed an Archaeological Society for the study and preservation [of] the interesting architectural antiquities of the kingdom, and [it] is upon the occasion of the annual meeting of this society for a week at Norwich that the Bishop has invited us to stay a few days at the palace and join them in their agreeable antiquarian excursions. We arrived on Friday at five o’clock after a long dull journey of five hours on the railway. . . . Staying in the house are our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Milman, Lord Northampton and his son, Lord Alwyne Compton, and the Bishop’s family, consisting of Mrs. Stanley, and of two Miss Stanleys, agreeable and highly cultivated girls, and Mr. Arthur Stanley, the writer of Dr. Arnold’s Biography.

After dinner company soon arrived. Among them were Mrs. Opie, who resides here. She is a pleasing, lively old lady, in full Quaker dress. The most curious feature of the evening was a visit which the company paid to the cellar and kitchen, which were lighted up for the occasion. They were build by the old Norman bishops of the twelfth century, and had vaulted stone roofs as beautifully carved and ribbed as a church.

The next day, Saturday, the antiquarians made a long excursion to hunt up some ruins, while the Milmans, Mr. Stanley, and ourselves, went to visit the place of Lady Suffield, about twelve miles distant, and which is the most perfect specimen of the Elizabethan style. Lady Suffield herself is as Elizabethan as her establishment; she is of one [of] the oldest high Tory families and so opposed to innovations of all sorts that though her letters, which used to arrive at two, before the opening of the railway two years ago, now arrive at seven in the morning, they are never allowed to be brought till the old hour. . . . This morning Mr. Bancroft and the rest are gone on an excursion to Yarmouth to see some ruins, while I remain here to witness the chairing of two new members of Parliament, who have just been elected, of whom Lord Douro, son of the Duke of Wellington, is one.

AUDLEY END, October 14, 1847

Dear Uncle: We are staying for a few days at Lord Braybrooke’s place, one of the most magnificent in England; but before I say a word about it I must tell you of A.’s safe arrival and how happy I have been made by having him with me again. . . . On Saturday the 9th we had the honor of dining with the LORD MAYOR to meet the Duke of Cambridge, a FETE so unlike anything else and accompanied by so many old and peculiar customs that I must describe it to you at full length. The Mansion House is in the heart of the CITY, and is very magnificent and spacious, the Egyptian Hall, as the dining-room is called, being one of the noblest apartments I have seen. The guests were about 250 in number and were received by the Lady Mayoress SITTING. When dinner was announced, the Lord Mayor went out first, preceded by the sword-bearer and mace-bearer and all the insignia of office. Then came the Duke of Cambridge and the Lady Mayoress, then Mr. Bancroft and I together, which is the custom at these great civic feasts. We marched through the long gallery by the music of the band to the Egyptian Hall, where two raised seats like thrones were provided for the Lord Mayor and Mayoress at the head of the hall. On the right hand of the Lord Mayor sat the Duke of Cambridge in a COMMON CHAIR, for royalty yields entirely to the Mayor, on his own ground. On the right of the Duke of Cambridge sat the Mayoress- elect (for the present dignitaries go out of office on the 1st of November). On the left hand of the present Lady Mayoress sat the Lord Mayor-ELECT, then I came with my husband on my left hand in very conjugal style.

There were three tables the whole length of the hall, and that at