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Title: Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands V2
Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe
Release Date: November, 2004 [EBook #6931] [This file was first posted on February 12, 2003]
Character set encoding: ISO Latin-1
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, SUNNY MEMORIES OF FOREIGN LANDS V2 ***
Skip Doughty, Tiffany Vergon, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed
IN TWO VOLUMES. VOL. II.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," Etc.
..... "When thou haply seest
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travels,
Make me partake of thy happiness."
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME:
LETTER XIX. Breakfast.--Macaulay.--Hallam.--Milman.--Sir
R. Inglis.--Lunch at
LETTER XX. Dinner at Lord Shaftesbury's.
LETTER XXI. Stoke Newington.--
LETTER XXII. Windsor.--The Picture Gallery.--Eton.--The Poet Gray.
LETTER XXIII. Rev. Mr. Gurney.--
LETTER XXIV. Playford Hall.--Clarkson.
LETTER XXV. Joseph Sturge.--The "Times" upon Dressmaking.--Duke of Argyle.--Sir David Brewster.--Lord Mahon.--Mr. Gladstone.
LETTER XXVII. Archbishop
LETTER XXVIII. Model Lodging Houses.--Lodging House Act.--Washing Houses.
LETTER XXIX. Benevolent Movements.--The Poor Laws.--The Insane.--Factory Operatives.--Schools, &c.
LETTER XXX. Presentation
LETTER XXXI. The Louvre.--The Venus de Milon.
JOURNAL. M. Belloc's Studio.--M. Charpentier.--Salon Musicale.--Peter Parley.--Jardin Mabille.--Remains of Nineveh.--The Emperor.--Versailles.--Sartory.--Père la Chaise.--Adolphe Monod.--Paris to Lyons.--Diligence to Geneva.--Mont Blanc.--Lake Leman.
LETTER XXXII. Route to Chamouni.--Glaciers.
LETTER XXXIII. Chamouni.--Rousse, the Mule.--The Ascent.
LETTER XXXIV. The Ice Fields.
JOURNAL. Chamouni to Martigny.--Humors of the Mules.
LETTER XXXV. Alpine Flowers.--Pass of the Tête Noir.
JOURNAL. The Same.
LETTER XXXVI. Ascent to St. Bernard.--The Dogs.
LETTER XXXVII. Castle
JOURNAL. A Serenade.--Lausanne.--Freyburg.--Berne.--The Staubbach.--Grindelwald.
LETTER XXXVIII. Wengern Alps.--Flowers.--Glaciers.--The Eiger.
LETTER XL. The
LETTER XLI. Frankfort.--Lessing's "Trial of Huss."
JOURNAL. To Cologne.--The Cathedral.
LETTER XXII. Cologne.--
Leipsic.--M. Tauchnitz.--Dresden.--The Gallery.--
LETTER XLIII. The
LETTER XLIV. Berlin.--The Palace.--The Museum.
LETTER XLV. Wittenberg.--Luther's House.--Melanchthon's House.
LETTER XLVI. Erfurt.--The Cathedral.--Luther's Cell.--The Wartburg.
Smoker discomfited.--Antwerp.--The Cathedral Chimes.--To
LETTER XLVII. Antwerp.--Rubens.
Paris.--School of Design.--Egyptian and Assyrian Remains.--Mrs. S. C. Hall.--The Pantheon.--The Madeleine.--Notre Dame.--Béranger.--French Character.--Observance of Sunday.
JOURNAL. Seasickness on the Channel.
York.--Castle Howard.--Leeds.--Fountains Abbey.--Liverpool.--Irish Deputation.--Departure.
This letter I consecrate to you, because I know that the persons and things to be introduced into it will most particularly be appreciated by you.
In your evening reading circles, Macaulay, Sidney Smith, and Milman have long been such familiar names that you will be glad to go with me over all the scenes of my morning breakfast at Sir Charles Trevelyan's yesterday. Lady Trevelyan, I believe I have said before, is the sister of Macaulay, and a daughter of Zachary Macaulay--that undaunted laborer for the slave, whose place in the hearts of all English Christians is little below saintship.
We were set down at Welbourne Terrace, somewhere, I believe, about eleven o'clock, and found quite a number already in the drawing room. I had met Macaulay before, but as you have not, you will of course ask a lady's first question, "How does he look?"
Well, my dear, so far as relates to the mere outward husk of the soul, our engravers and daguerreotypists have done their work as well as they usually do. The engraving that you get in the best editions of his works may be considered, I suppose, a fair representation of how he looks, when he sits to have his picture taken, which is generally very different from the way any body looks at any other time. People seem to forget, in taking likenesses, that the features of the face are nothing but an alphabet, and that a dry, dead map of a person's face gives no more idea how one looks than the simple presentation of an alphabet shows what there is in a poem.
Macaulay's whole physique gives you the impression of great strength and stamina of constitution. He has the kind of frame which we usually imagine as peculiarly English; short, stout, and firmly knit. There is something hearty in all his demonstrations. He speaks in that full, round, rolling voice, deep from the chest, which we also conceive of as being more common in England than America. As to his conversation, it is just like his writing; that is to say, it shows very strongly the same qualities of mind.
I was informed that he is famous for a most uncommon memory;
one of those men to whom it seems impossible to forget any thing once read; and
he has read all sorts of things that can be thought of, in all languages. A
gentleman told me that he could repeat all the old Newgate literature, hanging
ballads, last speeches, and dying confessions; while his knowledge of
Macaulay is about fifty. He has never married; yet there are unmistakable evidences in the breathings and aspects of the family circle by whom he was surrounded, that the social part is not wanting in his conformation. Some very charming young lady relatives seemed to think quite as much of their gifted uncle as you might have done had he been yours.
Macaulay is celebrated as a conversationalist; and, like Coleridge, Carlyle, and almost every one who enjoys this reputation, he has sometimes been accused of not allowing people their fair share in conversation. This might prove an objection, possibly, to those who wish to talk; but as I greatly prefer to hear, it would prove none to me. I must say, however, that on this occasion the matter was quite equitably managed. There were, I should think, some twenty or thirty at the breakfast table, and the conversation formed itself into little eddies of two or three around the table, now and then welling out into a great bay of general discourse. I was seated between Macaulay and Milman, and must confess I was a little embarrassed at times, because I wanted to hear what they were both saying at the same time. However, by the use of the faculty by which you play a piano with both hands, I got on very comfortably.
Milman's appearance is quite striking; tall, stooping, with
a keen black eye and perfectly white hair--a singular and poetic contrast. He
began upon architecture and Westminster Abbey--a subject to which I am always
awake. I told him I had not yet seen
Milman was for many years dean of
Macaulay made some suggestive remarks on cathedrals generally. I said that I thought it singular that we so seldom knew who were the architects that designed these great buildings; that they appeared to me the most sublime efforts of human genius.
He said that all the cathedrals of
Looking around the table, and seeing how every body seemed to be enjoying themselves, I said to Macaulay, that these breakfast parties were a novelty to me; that we never had them in America, but that I thought them the most delightful form of social life.
He seized upon the idea, as he often does, and turned it playfully inside out, and shook it on all sides, just as one might play with the lustres of a chandelier--to see them glitter. He expatiated on the merits of breakfast parties as compared with all other parties. He said dinner parties are mere formalities. You invite a man to dinner because you _must_ invite him; because you are acquainted with his grandfather, or it is proper you should; but you invite a man to breakfast because you want to see _him_. You may be sure, if you are invited to breakfast, there is something agreeable about you. This idea struck me as very sensible; and we all, generally having the fact before our eyes that _we_ were invited to breakfast, approved the sentiment.
"Yes," said Macaulay, "depend upon it; if a man is a bore he never gets an invitation to breakfast."
"Rather hard on the poor bores," said a lady.
"Particularly," said Macaulay, laughing, "as bores are usually the most irreproachable of human beings. Did you ever hear a bore complained of when they did not say that he was the best fellow in the world? For my part, if I wanted to get a guardian for a family of defenceless orphans, I should inquire for the greatest bore in the vicinity. I should know that he would be a man of unblemished honor and integrity."
The conversation now went on to Milton and Shakspeare. Macaulay made one remark that gentlemen are always making, and that is, that there is very little characteristic difference between Shakspeare's women. Well, there is no hope for that matter; so long as men are not women they will think so. In general they lump together Miranda, Juliet, Desdemona, and Viola,
"As matter too soft a lasting mark to bear, And best distinguished as black, brown, or fair."
It took Mrs. Jameson to set this matter forth in her Characteristics of Women; a book for which Shakspeare, if he could get up, ought to make her his best bow, especially as there are fine things ascribed to him there, which, I dare say, he never thought of, careless fellow that he was! But, I take it, every true painter, poet, and artist is in some sense so far a prophet that his utterances convey more to other minds than he himself knows; so that, doubtless, should all the old masters rise from the dead, they might be edified by what posterity has found in their works.
Some how or other, we found ourselves next talking about
Sidney Smith; and it was very pleasant to me, recalling the evenings when your
father has read and we have laughed over him, to hear him spoken of as a living
existence, by one who had known him. Still, I have always had a quarrel with
Truly, wit, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. A man who has the faculty of raising a laugh in this sad, earnest world is remembered with indulgence and complacency, always.
There were several other persons of note present at this
breakfast, whose conversation I had not an opportunity of hearing, as they sat
at a distance from me. There was Lord Glenelg, brother of Sir Robert Grant,
The historian Hallam was also present, whose Constitutional History, you will remember, gave rise to one of Macaulay's finest reviews; a quiet, retiring man, with a benignant, somewhat sad, expression of countenance. The loss of an only son has cast a shadow over his life. It was on this son that Tennyson wrote his "_In Memoriam_."
Sir Robert H. Inglis was also present, and Mr. S. held considerable conversation with him. Knowing that he was both high tory and high church, it was an agreeable surprise to find him particularly gentle and bland in manners, earnest and devout in religious sentiment. I have heard him spoken of, even among dissenters, as a devout and earnest man. Another proof this of what mistakes we fall into when we judge the characters of persons at a distance, from what we suppose likely to be the effect of their sentiments. We often find the professed aristocrat gentle and condescending, and the professed supporter of forms spiritual.
I think it very likely there may have been other celebrities present, whom I did not know. I am always finding out, a day or two after, that I have been with somebody very remarkable, and did not know it at the time.
After breakfast we found, on consulting our list, that we were to lunch at
Of all the cities I was ever in, London is the most
absolutely unmanageable, it takes so long to get any where; wherever you want
to go it seems to take you about two hours to get there. From the
You may take these reflections as passing through my mind while we were driving through street after street, and going round corner after corner, towards the parsonage.
Surrey Chapel and parsonage were the church and residence of
the celebrated Kowland Hill. At present the incumbent is the Rev. Mr. Sherman,
well known to many of our American clergy by the kind hospitalities and
attentions with which he has enriched their stay in
I sat by a lady who was well acquainted with Kingsley, the author of Alton Locke, Hypatia, and other works, with whom I had some conversation with regard to the influence of his writings.
She said that he had been instrumental in rescuing from infidelity many young men whose minds had become unsettled; that he was a devoted and laborious clergyman, exerting himself, without any cessation, for the good of his parish.
After the company were gone I tried
to get some rest, as my labors were not yet over, we being engaged to dine at Sir
Edward Buxton's. This was our most dissipated day in
By the time I got to my third appointment I was entirely exhausted. I met here some, however, whom I was exceedingly interested to see; among them Samuel Gurney, brother of Elizabeth Fry, with his wife and family. Lady Edward Buxton is one of his daughters. All had that air of benevolent friendliness which is characteristic of the sect.
Dr. Lushington, the companion and venerable associate of
Wilberforce and Clarkson, was also present. He was a member
of Parliament with Wilberforce forty or fifty years ago. He is now a judge of
the admiralty court, that is to say, of the law relating to marine affairs.
This is a branch of law which the nature of our government in
Dr. Cunningham, the author of World without Souls, was
present. There was there also a master of
He told me an anecdote, which pleased me for several
reasons; that once, when the queen visited the school, she put to him the
inquiry, "whether the educational system of
It is a curious fact that Christian nations, with one general consent, in the early education of youth neglect the volume which they consider inspired, and bring the mind, at the most susceptible period, under the dominion of the literature and mythology of the heathen world; and that, too, when the sacred history and poetry are confessedly superior in literary quality. Grave doctors of divinity expend their forces in commenting on and teaching things which would be utterly scouted, were an author to publish them in English as original compositions. A Christian community has its young men educated in Ovid and Anacreon, but is shocked when one of them comes out in English with Don Juan; yet, probably, the latter poem is purer than either.
The English literature and poetry of the time of Pope and Dryden betray a state of association so completely heathenized, that an old Greek or Roman raised from the dead could scarce learn from them that any change had taken place in the religion of the world; and even Milton often pains one by introducing second-hand pagan mythology into the very shadow of the eternal throne. In some parts of the Paradise Lost, the evident imitations of Homer are to me the poorest and most painful passages.
The adoration of the ancient classics has lain like a dead weight on all modern art and literature; because men, instead of using them simply for excitement and inspiration, have congealed them into fixed, imperative rules. As the classics have been used, I think, wonderful as have been the minds educated under them, there would have been more variety and originality without them.
With which long sermon on a short text, I will conclude my letter.
Thursday, May 12. My dear
Yesterday, what with my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was, as the fashionable saying is, "fairly knocked up." This expression, which I find obtains universally here, corresponds to what we mean by being "used up." They talk of Americanisms, and I have a little innocent speculation now and then concerning Anglicisms. I certainly find several here for which I can perceive no more precedent in the well of "English undefiled," than for some of ours; for instance, this being "knocked up," which is variously inflected, as, for example, in the form of a participial adjective, as a "knocking up" affair; in the form of a noun, as when they say "such a person has got quite a knocking up," and so on.
The fact is, if we had ever had any experience in
Then there are evening parties, which begin at ten o'clock. The first card of the kind that was sent me, which was worded, "At home at ten o'clock," I, in my simplicity, took to be ten in the morning.
But here are people staying out night after night till two
o'clock, sitting up all night in Parliament, and seeming to thrive upon it.
There certainly is great apology for this in
This morning I was exceedingly tired, and had a perfect
longing to get but of
After a while a lady came along, riding a little donkey.
These donkeys have amused me so much since I have been here! At several places
on the outskirts of the city they have them standing, all girt up with saddles
covered with white cloth, for ladies to ride on. One gets out of
After napping all the afternoon we went to
While I was walking down to dinner with Lord Shaftesbury, he pointed out to me in the hall the portrait of his distinguished ancestor, Antony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, whose name he bears. This ancestor, notwithstanding his sceptical philosophy, did some good things, as he was the author of the habeas corpus act.
After dinner we went back to the drawing rooms again; and while tea and coffee were being served, names were constantly being announced, till the rooms were quite full.
Among the earliest who arrived was Mr.----,
a mulatto gentleman, formerly British consul at
I overheard some one saying in the crowd, "Shaftesbury has been about the chimney sweepers again in Parliament." I said to Lord Shaftesbury, "I thought that matter of the chimney sweepers had been attended to long ago, and laws made about it."
"So we have made laws," said he, "but people won't keep them unless we follow them up."
He has a very prompt, cheerful way of speaking, and throws
himself into every thing he talks about with great interest and zeal. He
introduced me to one gentleman, I forget his name now,
as the patron of the shoeblacks. On my inquiring what that meant, he said that
he had started the idea of providing employment for poor street boys, by
furnishing them with brushes and blacking, and forming them into regular
companies of shoeblacks. Each boy has his' particular stand, where he blacks
the shoes of every passer by who chooses to take the trouble of putting up his
foot and paying his twopence. Lord Shaftesbury also presented me to a lady who
had been a very successful teacher in the ragged schools; also to a gentleman who, he said, had been very active in the
I talked a little while with Lord Wriothesley Russell. From
him we derived the idea that the queen was particularly careful in the training
and religious instruction of her children. He said that she claimed that the
young prince should be left entirely to his parents, in regard to his religious
instruction, till he was seven years of age; but that, on examining him at that
time, they were equally surprised and delighted with his knowledge of the Scriptures.
I must remark here, that such an example as the queen sets in the education of
her children makes itself felt through all the families of the kingdom.
Domesticity is now the fashion in high life. I have had occasion to see, in
many instances, how carefully ladies of rank instruct their children. This
argues more favorably for the continuance of English institutions than any
thing I have seen. If the next generation of those who are born to rank and
power are educated, in the words of Fenelon, to consider these things "as
a ministry," which they hold for the benefit of the poor, the problem of
I talked a little while with the Bishop of Tuam. I was the more interested to do so because he was from that part of Ireland which Sibyl Jones has spoken of as being in so particularly miserable a condition. I said, "How are you doing now, in that part of the country? There has been a great deal of misery there, I hear." He said "There has been, but we have just turned the corner, and now I hope we shall see better days. The condition of the people has been improved by emigration and other causes, till the evils have been brought within reach, and we feel that there is hope of effecting a permanent improvement."
While I was sitting talking, Lord Shaltesbury brought a gentleman and lady, whom he introduced as Lord Chief Justice Campbell and Lady Strathheden. Lord Campbell is a man of most dignified and imposing personal presence; tall, with a large frame, a fine, high forehead, and strongly marked features. Naturally enough, I did not suppose them to be husband and wife, and when I discovered that they were so, expressed a good deal of surprise at their difference of titles; to which she replied, that she did not wonder we Americans were sometimes puzzled among the number of titles. She seemed quite interested to inquire into our manner of living and customs, and how they struck me as compared with theirs. The letter of Mrs. Tyler was much talked of, and some asked me if I supposed Mrs. Tyler really wrote it, expressing a little civil surprise at the style. I told them that I had heard it said that it must have been written by some of the gentlemen in the family, because it was generally understood that Mrs. Tyler was a very ladylike person. Some said, "It does us no harm to be reminded of our deficiencies; we need all the responsibility that can be put upon us." Others said, "It is certain we have many defects;" but Lord John Campbell said, "There is this difference between our evils and those of slavery: ours exist contrary to law; those are upheld by law."
I did not get any opportunity of conversing with the
Archbishop of Canterbury, though this is the second time I have been in company
with him. He is a most prepossessing man in his appearance--simple, courteous,
mild, and affable. He was formerly Bishop of Chester, and is now Primate of all
It is some indication of the tendency of things in a country
to notice what kind of men are patronized and promoted to the high places of
the church. Sumner is a man refined, gentle, affable, scholarly, thoroughly evangelical in sentiment; to render him into
American phraseology, he is in doctrine what we should call a moderate
Among other persons of distinction, this evening, I noticed Lord and Lady Palmerston.
A lady asked me this evening what I thought of the beauty of
the ladies of the English aristocracy: she was a Scotch lady, by the by; so the
question was a fair one. I replied, that certainly
report had not exaggerated their charms. Then came a home question--how the
There is one thing more which goes a long way towards the
continued health of these English ladies, and therefore towards their beauty;
and that is, the quietude and perpetuity of their domestic institutions. They
do not, like us, fade their cheeks lying awake nights ruminating the awful
question who shall do the washing next week, or who shall take the
chambermaid's place, who is going to be married, or that of the cook, who has
signified her intention of parting with the mistress. Their hospitality is
never embarrassed by the consideration that their whole kitchen cabinet may
desert at the moment that their guests arrive. They are not obliged to choose
between washing their own dishes, or having their cut glass, silver, and china
left to the mercy of a foreigner, who has never done any thing but field work.
And last, not least, they are not possessed with that ambition to do the
impossible in all branches, which, I believe, is the death of a third of the
As I have spoken of stoves, I will here remark that I have
not yet seen one in
I have run on a good way beyond our evening company; so good by for the present.
May 13. Dear father:--
To-day we are to go out to visit your Quaker friend, Mr.
Alexander, at Stoke Newington, where you passed so many pleasant hours during
your sojourn in England. At half past nine we went into the Congregational
Union, which is now in session. I had a seat upon the platform, where I could command
a view of the house. It was a most interesting assemblage to me, recalling
In the afternoon we drove out to Mr. Alexander's. His place
is called Paradise, and very justly, being one more of those home
We were ushered into a cheerful room, opening by one glass
door upon a brilliant conservatory of flowers, and by another upon a
neatly-kept garden. The air was fresh and sweet with the perfume of blossoming
trees, and every thing seemed doubly refreshing from the contrast with the din
and smoke of
Some of the Quakers carry the principle so far as to refuse money
in a business transaction which they have reason to believe has been gained by
the unpaid toil of the slave. A Friend in
Things like these cannot but excite reflection in one's
mind, and the query must arise, if all who really believe slavery to be a wrong
should pursue this course, what would be the result? There are great practical
difficulties in the way of such a course, particularly in
As soon as I heard this fact, it flashed upon my mind
immediately, that the beautiful cotton lands of
I am the more inclined to think that some course of this kind is indicated to the Christian world, from the reproaches and taunts which proslavery papers are casting upon us, for patronizing their cotton. At all events, the Quakers escape the awkwardness of this dilemma.
In the evening quite a large circle of friends came to meet
us. We were particularly interested in the conversation of Mr. and Mrs. Wesby,
After tea Mr. S. and I walked out a little while, first to a large cemetery, where repose the ashes of Dr. Watts. This burying ground occupies the site of the dwelling and grounds formerly covered by the residence of Sir T. Abney, with whom Dr. Watts spent many of the last years of his life. It has always seemed to me that Dr. Watts's rank as a poet has never been properly appreciated. If ever there was a poet born, he was that man; he attained without study a smoothness of versification, which, with Pope, was the result of the intensest analysis and most artistic care. Nor do the most majestic and resounding lines of Dryden equal some of his in majesty of volume. The most harmonious lines of Dryden, that I know of, are these:--
"When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And wondering, on their faces fell,
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly and so well."
The first four lines of this always seem to me magnificently harmonious. But almost any verse at random in Dr. Watts's paraphrase of the one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm exceeds them, both in melody and majesty. For instance, take these lines:--
"Wide as his vast dominion lies,
Let the Creator's name be known;
Loud as his thunder shout his praise,
And sound it lofty as his throne.
Speak of the wonders of that love
Which Gabriel plays on every chord:
From all below and all above,
Loud hallelujahs to the Lord."
Simply as a specimen of harmonious versification, I would place this paraphrase by Dr. Watts above every thing in the English language, not even excepting Pope's Messiah. But in hymns, where the ideas are supplied by his own soul, we have examples in which fire, fervor, imagery, roll from the soul of the poet in a stream of versification, evidently spontaneous. Such are all those hymns in which he describes the glories of the heavenly state, and the advent of the great events foretold in prophecy; for instance, this verse from the opening of one of his judgment hymns:--
"Lo, I behold the scattered shades;
The dawn of heaven appears;
The sweet immortal morning sheds
Its blushes round the spheres."
Dr. Johnson, in his Lives of the Poets, turns him off with
small praise, it is true, saying that his devotional poetry is like that of
others, unsatisfactory; graciously adding that it is sufficient for him to have
done better than others what no one has done well; and, lastly, that he is one
of those poets with whom youth and ignorance may safely be pleased. But if Dr.
Johnson thought Irene was poetry, it is not singular that he should think the
It always seemed to me that there are three writers which every one who wants to know how to use the English language effectively should study; and these are Shakspeare, Bunyan, and Defoe. One great secret of their hold on the popular mind is their being so radically and thoroughly English. They have the solid grain of the English oak, not veneered by learning and the classics; not inlaid with arabesques from other nations, but developing wholly out of the English nationality.
I have heard that Goethe said the reason for the great
enthusiasm with which his countrymen regarded him was, that he _did know how to
write German,_ and so also these men knew how to write
English. I think Defoe the most suggestive writer to an artist of fiction that
the English language affords. That power by which he
wrought fiction to produce the impression of reality, so that his Plague in
One anecdote, related to us this evening by our friends,
brought to mind with new power the annoyances to which the Quakers have been
We were rejoiced to hear that these church rates are now
virtually abolished. The liberal policy pursued in
We parted from our kind friends in the morning; came back and I sat a while to Mr. Burnard, the sculptor, who entertained me with various anecdotes. He had taken the bust of the Prince of Wales; and I gathered from his statements that young princes have very much the same feelings and desires that other little boys have, and that he has a very judicious mother.
In the afternoon, Mr. S., Mrs. B., and I had a pleasant
In the evening we had an engagement at two places--at a
On returning, we called for Mr. S., at the dinner, and went
for a few moments into the gallery, the entertainment being now nearly over.
Here we heard some Scottish songs, very charmingly sung; and, what amused me
very much, a few
About nine o'clock we retired.
May 15. Heard Mr. Binney preach this
morning. He is one of the strongest men among the Congregationalists,
and a very popular speaker. He is a tall, large man, with a finely-built head,
high forehead, piercing, dark eye, and a good deal of force and determination
in all his movements. His sermon was the first that I had heard in
Mr. Binney's work, entitled How to make the best of both Worlds, I have heard spoken of as having had the largest sale of any religious writing of the present day.
May 16. This evening is the great antislavery meeting at
Exeter Hall. Lord Shaftesbury in the chair. Exeter
Hall stands before the public as the representation of the strong democratic,
religious element of
When Macaulay expressed some sentiments which gave offence to this portion of the community, he made a defence in which he alluded sarcastically to the bray of Exeter Hall.
The expression seems to have been remembered, for I have often heard it quoted; though I believe they have forgiven him for it, and concluded to accept it as a joke.
The hall this night was densely crowded, and, as I felt very unwell, I did not go in till after the services had commenced--a thing which I greatly regretted afterwards, as by this means I lost a most able speech by Lord Shaftesbury.
The Duchess of Sutherland entered soon after the
commencement of the exercises, and was most enthusiastically cheered. When we
came in, a seat had been reserved for us by her grace in the side gallery, and
the cheering was repeated. I thought I had heard something of the sort in
I do not believe that there is in all
A little incident that occurred gave me an idea of what such a crowd might become in a confused state of excitement. A woman fainted in a distant part of the house, and a policeman attempted to force a way through the densely-packed crowd. The services were interrupted for a few moments, and there were hoarse surgings and swellings of the mighty mass, who were so closely packed that they moved together like waves. Some began to rise in their seats, and some cried "Order! order!" And one could easily see, that were a sudden panic or overwhelming excitement to break up the order of the meeting, what a terrible scene might ensue.
"What is it?" said I to a friend who sat next to me.
"A pickpocket, perhaps," said she. "I am afraid we are going to have a row. They are going to give you one of our genuine Exeter Hall _'brays.'_"
I felt a good deal fluttered; but the Duchess of Sutherland, who knew the British lion better than I did, seemed so perfectly collected that I became reassured.
The character of the speeches at this meeting, with the exception of Lord Shaftesbury's, was more denunciatory, and had more to pain the national feelings of an American, than any I had ever attended. It was the real old Saxon battle axe of Brother John, swung without fear or favor. Such things do not hurt me individually, because I have such a radical faith in my country, such a genuine belief that she will at last right herself from every wrong, that I feel she can afford to have these things said.
Mr. S. spoke on this point, that the cotton trade of
The meeting was a very long one, and I was much fatigued when we returned.
To-morrow we are to make a little run out to
I can compare the embarrassment of our
So here, beside all the living world of
We were solicited, indeed, to go in another direction; a
party was formed to go down the Thames with the Right Hon. Sidney Herbert,
secretary at war, and visit an emigrant ship just starting for
In the party who were going down to-day were Mr. and Mrs.
Binney, Mr. Sherman, and a number of distinguished names; among whom I
recollect to have heard the names of Lady Hatherton, and Lady Byron, widow of
the poet. This would have been an exceedingly interesting scene to us, but
being already worn with company and excitement, we preferred a quiet day at
For if we took
And the castle still has about it the charm of the poet's invocation:--
Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room,
That it may stand till the perpetual doom
In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit,
Worthy the owner, and the owner it.
The several chairs of order, look you, scour
With juice of balm and every precious flower,
Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest,
With loyal blazon evermore be blest.
And nightly, meadow fairies, look you, sing
Like to the garter's compass, in a ring.
The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
More fertile, fresh, than all the field to see,
And Honi soit qui mal y pense, write
In emerald tufts, flowers, purple, blue, and white,
Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
Fairies use flowers for their charactery."
As if for the loyal purpose of recommending old
"Melodious birds sung madrigals:
Whenas I sat in
By the by, the fishing ground of Izaak Walton is one of the
localities connected with
The ride was done all too soon. One should not whirl through
such a choice bit of
About eleven o'clock we found ourselves going up the old stone steps to the castle. It was the last day of a fair which had been holden in this part of the country, and crowds of the common people were flocking to the castle, men, women, and children pattering up the stairs before and after us.
We went first through the state apartments. The principal
thing that interested me was the ball room, which was a
perfect gallery of Vandyke's paintings. Here was certainly an
opportunity to know what Vandyke is. I should call him a true court painter--a
master of splendid conventionalities, whose portraits of kings are the most
powerful arguments for the divine right I know of. Nevertheless, beyond
conventionality and outward magnificence, his ideas have no range. He suggests
nothing to the moral and ideal part of us. Here again was the picture of King
Charles on horseback, which had interested me at
There was another, presenting the front side and three quarters face of the same sovereign, painted by Vandyke for Benini to make a bust from. There were no less than five portraits of his wife, Henrietta Maria, in different dresses and attitudes, and two pictures of their children. No sovereign is so profusely and perseveringly represented.
The queen's audience chamber is hung with tapestry representing scenes from the book of Esther. This tapestry made a very great impression upon me. A knowledge of the difficulties to be overcome in the material part of painting is undoubtedly an unsuspected element of much of the pleasure we derive from it; and for this reason, probably, this tapestry appeared to us better than paintings executed with equal spirit in oils. We admired it exceedingly, entirely careless what critics might think of us if they knew it.
Another room was hung with Gobelin tapestry representing the whole of the tragedy of Medea. First you have Jason cutting down the golden fleece, while the dragon lies slain, and Medea is looking on in admiration. In another he pledges his love to Medea. In a third, the men sprung from the dragon's teeth are seen contending with each other. In another the unfaithful lover espouses Creusa. In the next Creusa is seen burning in the poisoned shirt, given her by Medea. In another Medea is seen in a car drawn by dragons, bearing her two children by Jason, whom she has stabbed in revenge for his desertion. Nothing can exceed the ghastly reality of death, as shown in the stiffened limbs and sharpened features of those dead children. The whole drawing and grouping is exceedingly spirited and lifelike, and has great power of impression.
I was charmed also by nine landscapes of Zuccarelli, which
adorn the state drawing room. Zuccarelli was a follower of Claude, and these
pictures far exceed in effect any of Claude's I have yet seen. The charm of
them does not lie merely in the atmospheric tints and effects, as those of
Cuyp, but in the rich and fanciful combination of objects. In this respect they
perform in painting what the first part of the
Who can decide how much in a picture belongs to the idiosyncrasies and associations of the person who looks upon it. Artists undoubtedly powerful and fine may have nothing in them which touches the nervous sympathies and tastes of some persons: who, therefore, shall establish any authoritative canon of taste? who shall say that Claude is finer than Zuccarelli, or Zuccarelli than Claude? A man might as well say that the woman who enchants him is the only true Venus for the world.
Then, again, how much in painting or in poetry depends upon the frame of mind in which we see or hear! Whoever looks on these pictures, or reads the Lotus Eaters or Castle of Indolence, at a time when soul and body are weary, and longing for retirement and rest, will receive an impression from them such as could never be made on the strong nerves of our more healthful and hilarious seasons.
Certainly no emotions so rigidly reject critical restraints, and disdain to be bound by rule, as those excited by the fine arts. A man unimpressible and incapable of moods and tenses, is for that reason an incompetent critic; and the sensitive, excitable man, how can he know that he does not impose his peculiar mood as a general rule?
From the state rooms we were taken to the top of the Hound Tower, where we gained a magnificent view of the Park of Windsor, with its regal avenue, miles in length, of ancient oaks; its sweeps of greensward; clumps of trees; its old Herne oak, of classic memory; in short, all that constitutes the idea of a perfect English landscape. The English tree is shorter and stouter than ours; its foliage dense and deep, lying with a full, rounding outline against the sky. Every thing here conveys the idea of concentrated vitality, but without that rank luxuriance seen in our American growth. Having unfortunately exhausted the English language on the subject of grass, I will not repeat any ecstasies upon that topic.
After descending from the tower we filed off to the proper quarter, to show our orders for the private rooms. The state apartments, which we had been looking at, are open at all times, but the private apartments can only be seen in the queen's absence, and by a special permission, which had been procured for us on this occasion by the kindness of the Duchess of Sutherland.
One of the first objects that attracted my attention when entering the vestibule was a baby's wicker wagon, standing in one corner; it was much such a carriage as all mothers are familiar with; such as figures largely in the history of almost every family. It had neat curtains and cushions of green merino, and was not royal, only maternal. I mused over the little thing with a good deal of interest. It is to my mind one of the providential signs of our times, that, at this stormy and most critical period of the world's history, the sovereignty of the most powerful nation on earth is represented by a woman and a mother. How many humanizing, gentle, and pacific influences constantly emanate from this centre!
One of the most interesting apartments was a long corridor,
hung with paintings and garnished along the sides with objects of art and
_virtu_. Here C. and I renewed a dispute which had for some time been pending,
in respect to Canaletto's paintings. This Canaletto was a Venetian painter, who
was born about 1697, and died in
Well, here, in this corridor, we had him in full force. Here was Venice served up to order--its streets, palaces, churches, bridges, canals, and gondolas made as real to our eye as if we were looking at them out of a window. I admired them very warmly, but I could not go into the raptures that C. did, who kept calling me from every thing else that I wanted to see to come and look at this Canaletto. "Well, I see it," said I; "it is good--it is perfect--it cannot be bettered; but what then? There is the same difference between these and a landscape of Zuccarelli as there is between a neatly-arranged statistical treatise and a poem. The latter suggests a thousand images, the former gives you only information."
We were quite interested in a series of paintings which represented the various events of the present queen's history. There was the coronation in Westminster Abbey--that national romance which, for once in our prosaic world, nearly turned the heads of all the sensible people on earth. Think of vesting the sovereignty of so much of the world in a fair young girl of seventeen! The picture is a very pretty one, and is taken at the very moment she is kneeling at the feet of the Archbishop of Canterbury to receive her crown. She is represented as a fair-haired, interesting girl, the simplicity of her air contrasting strangely with the pomp and gorgeous display around. The painter has done justice to a train of charming young ladies who surround her; among the faces I recognized the blue eyes and noble forehead of the Duchess of Sutherland.
Then followed, in due order, the baptism of children, the reception of poor old Louis Philippe in his exile, and various other matters of the sort which go to make up royal pictures.
In the family breakfast room we saw some fine Gobelin tapestry, representing the classical story of Meleager. In one of the rooms, on a pedestal, stood a gigantic china vase, a present from the Emperor of Russia, and in the state rooms before we had seen a large malachite vase from the same donor. The toning of this room, with regard to color, was like that of the room I described in Stafford House--the carpet of green ground, with the same little leaf upon it, the walls, chairs, and sofas covered with green damask. Around the walls of the room, in some places, were arranged cases of books about three feet high. I liked this arrangement particularly, because it gives you the companionship of books in an apartment without occupying that space of the wall which is advantageous for pictures. Moreover, books placed high against the walls of a room give a gloomy appearance to the apartment.
The whole air of these rooms was very charming, suggestive
of refined taste and domestic habits. The idea of home, which pervades every
After this we went through the kitchen department--saw the
silver and gold plate of the table; among the latter were some designs which I
thought particularly graceful. To conclude all, we went through the stables.
The man who showed them told us that several of the queen's favorite horses
were taken to Osborne; but there were many beautiful creatures left, which I
regarded with great complacency. The stables and stalls were perfectly clean,
and neatly kept; and one, in short, derives from the whole view of the
The management of the estate of
We went into
Four figures, with bowed heads, covered with drapery, are represented as sitting around in mute despair. The idea meant to be conveyed by the whole group is that of utter desolation and abandonment. All is over; there is not even heart enough left in the mourners to straighten the corpse for the burial. The mute marble says, as plainly as marble can speak, "Let all go; 'tis no matter now; there is no more use in living--nothing to be done, nothing to be hoped!"
Above this group rises the form of the princess, springing buoyant and elastic, on angel wings, a smile of triumph and aspiration lighting up her countenance. Her drapery floats behind her as she rises. Two angels, one carrying her infant child and the other with clasped hands of exultant joy, are rising with her, in serene and solemn triumph.
Now, I simply put it to you, or to any one who can judge of
poetry, if this is not a poetical conception. I ask any one who has a heart, if
there is not pathos in it. Is there not a high poetic merit in the mere
conception of these two scenes, thus presented? And had we seen it rudely
chipped and chiselled out by some artist of the middle ages, whose hand had not
yet been practised to do justice to his conceptions, should we not have said
this sculptor had a glorious thought within him? But the chiselling of this
piece is not unworthy the conception. Nothing can be more exquisite than the
turn of the head, neck, and shoulders; nothing more finely wrought than the
triumphant smile of the angel princess; nothing could be more artistic than the
representation of death in all its hopelessness, in the lower figure. The poor,
dead hand, that shows itself beneath the sheet, has an unutterable pathos and
beauty in it. As to the working of the drapery,--an inferior consideration, of
course,--I see no reason why it should not compare advantageously with any in
Well, you will ask, why are you going on in this argumentative style? Who doubts you? Let me tell you, then, a little fragment of my experience. We saw this group of statuary the last thing before dinner, after a most fatiguing forenoon of sightseeing, when we were both tired and hungry,--a most unpropitious time, certainly,--and yet it enchanted our whole company; what is more, it made us all cry--a fact of which I am not ashamed, yet. But, only the next day, when I was expressing my admiration to an artist, who is one of the authorities, and knows all that is proper to be admired, I was met with,--
"O, you have seen that, have you? Shocking thing! Miserable taste--miserable!"
"Dear me," said I, with apprehension, "what is the matter with it?"
"0," said he, "melodramatic, melodramatic--terribly so!"
I was so appalled by this word, of whose meaning I had not a very clear idea, that I dropped the defence at once, and determined to reconsider my tears. To have been actually made to cry by a thing that was melodramatic, was a distressing consideration. Seriously, however, on reconsidering the objection, I see no sense in it. A thing may be melodramatic, or any other _atic_ that a man pleases; so that it be strongly suggestive, poetic, pathetic, it has a right to its own peculiar place in the world of art. If artists had had their way in the creation of this world, there would have been only two or three kinds of things in it; the first three or four things that God created would have been enacted into fixed rules for making all the rest.
But they let the works of nature alone, because they know there is no hope for them, and content themselves with enacting rules in literature and art, which make all the perfection and grace of the past so many impassable barriers to progress in future. Because the ancients kept to unity of idea in their groups, and attained to most beautiful results by doing so, shall no modern make an antithesis in marble? And why has not a man a right to dramatize in marble as well as on canvas, if he can produce a powerful and effective result by so doing? And even if by being melodramatic, as the terrible word is, he can shadow forth a grand and comforting religious idea--if he can unveil to those who have seen only the desolation of death, its glory, and its triumph--who shall say that he may not do so because he violates the lines of some old Greek artist? Where would Shakspeare's dramas have been, had he studied the old dramatic unities?
So, you see, like an obstinate republican, as I am, I defend my right to have my own opinion about this monument, albeit the guide book, with its usual diplomatic caution, says, "It is in very questionable taste."
We went for our dinner to the White Hart, the very inn which Shakspeare celebrates in his Merry Wives, and had a most overflowing, merry time of it. The fact is, we had not seen each other for so long that to be in each other's company for a whole day was quite a stimulant.
After dinner we had a beautiful drive, passing the colleges
There had been a sprinkle of rain,--an ornament which few
English days want,--and the westering beams of the sun twinkled through
innumerable drops. In fact, it was a pretty place; and I felt such
"dispositions to melancholies," as Sir Hugh Evans would have it, that
I half resented Mr. S.'s suggestion that the cars were waiting. However, as he
was engaged to speak at a peace meeting in
What a calm, shady, poetical nature is expressed in these lines! Gray seems to have been sent into the world for nothing but to be a poem, like some of those fabulous, shadowy beings which haunted the cool grottoes on Grecian mountains; creatures that seem to have no practical vitality--to be only a kind of voice, an echo, heard for a little, and then lost in silence. He seemed to be in himself a kind of elegy.
From thence we strolled along, enjoying the beautiful rural
scenery. Having had a kind invitation to visit
After all, imagine our chagrin on being informed that we had
not been to the genuine churchyard. The gentleman who wept over the scenes of
his early days on the wrong doorstep was not more grievously disappointed.
However, he and we could both console ourselves with the reflection that the
emotion was admirable, and wanted only the right place to make it the most
appropriate in the world. The genuine country churchyard, however, was that at
Stoke Pogis, which we should have seen had not the fates forbidden our going to
The evening after our return from
He wished to know how the English style of preaching
appeared to me in comparison with that of
I asked him to what extent the element of scepticism, with
regard to religious truth, had pervaded the mind of
I told him that I had heard an American clergyman, who had travelled in England, say, that dissenters were treated much as free negroes were in America, and added that my experience must have been very exceptional, or the remark much overstated, as I had met dissenting clergymen in all circles of society. He admitted that there might be a good deal of bigotry in this respect, but added that the infrequency of association was more the result of those circumstances which would naturally draw the two parties to themselves, than to superciliousness on the side of the establishment, adding that where a court and aristocracy were in the established church, there would necessarily be a pressure of fashion in its favor, which might at times bring uncomfortable results.
The children were sitting by studying their evening lessons,
and I begged Mrs. Gurney to allow me to look over their geographies and
atlases; and on her inquiring why, I told her that well-informed people in
England sometimes made such unaccountable mistakes about the geography of our
country as were quite surprising to me, and that I did not understand how it
was that our children should know so much more about England than they about
us. I found the children, however, in possession of a very excellent and
authentic map of our country. I must say also that the most highly educated
people I have met in
The next morning we had at breakfast two clergymen, members of the established church. They appeared to be most excellent, devout, practical men, anxious to do good, and thoughtfully seeking for suggestions from any quarter which might assist them in their labors. They renewed many of the inquiries which Mr. Gurney had made the evening before.
After breakfast I went with Mr. Gurney and Mr. S. to
Have we, among the thousands who speak loud of patriotism in America, many men, who, were she enfeebled, despised, and trampled, would forego self, and suffer as long, as patiently for her? It is even easier to die for a good cause, in some hour of high enthusiasm, when all that is noblest in us can be roused to one great venture, than to live for it amid wearing years of discouragement and hope delayed.
There are those even here in
He entered into conversation with us with cheerfulness, speaking English well, though with the idioms of foreign languages. He seemed quite amused at the sensation which had been excited by Mr. S.'s cotton speech in Exeter Hall. C. asked him if he had still hopes for his cause. He answered, "I hope still, because I work still; my hope is in God and in man."
I inquired for Madame Kossuth, and he answered, "I have not yet seen her to-day," adding, "she has her family affairs, you know, madam; we are poor exiles here;" and, fearing to cause embarrassment, I did not press an interview.
When we parted he took my hand kindly, and said, "God bless you, my child."
I would not lose my faith in such men for any thing the world could give me. There are some people who involve in themselves so many of the elements which go to make up our confidence in human nature generally, that to lose confidence in them seems to undermine our faith in human virtue. As Shakspeare says, their defection would be like "another fall of man."
We went back to Mr. Gurney's to lunch, and then, as the
afternoon was fine, Mr. and Mrs. Gurney drove with us in their carriage to
Pembroke Lodge, the country seat of Lord John Russell. It was an uncommonly
beautiful afternoon, and the view from
There were only a few guests; among them Sir George Grey and
lady; he is nephew to Earl Grey, of reform memory, and she is the eldest
daughter of the pious and learned Bishop Ryder, of
At dinner, among other things, the conversation turned upon hunting. It always seemed to me a curious thing, that in the height of English civilization this vestige of the savage state should still remain. I told Lord Albemarle that I thought the idea of a whole concourse of strong men turning out to hunt a poor fox or hare, creatures so feeble and insignificant, and who can do nothing to defend themselves, was hardly consistent with manliness; that if they had some of our American buffaloes, or a Bengal tiger, the affair would be something more dignified and generous. Thereupon they only laughed, and told stories about fox hunters. It seems that killing a fox, except in the way of hunting, is deemed among hunters an unpardonable offence, and a man who has the misfortune to do it would be almost as unwilling to let it be known as if he had killed a man.
They also told about deer stalking in the highlands, in
which exercise I inferred Lord John had been a proficient. The conversation
reminded me of the hunting stories I had heard in the log cabins in
Now there is, to my mind, something infinitely more sublime about hunting in real earnest amid the solemn shadows of our interminable forests, than in making believe hunt in parks.
It is undoubtedly the fact, that these out-of-door sports of
After dinner Lord and Lady Ribblesdale came in, connections of Lord John by a former marriage. I sat by Lord John on the sofa, and listened with great interest to a conversation between him and Lady Grey, on the working of the educational system in England; a subject which has particularly engaged the attention of the English government since the reign of the present queen. I found a difficulty in understanding many of the terms they used, though I learned much that interested me.
After a while I went to Lady Russell's apartment, and had an
hour of very pleasant conversation with her. It greatly enlarges our confidence
in human nature to find such identity of feeling and opinion among the really
good of different countries, and of all different circles in those countries. I
have never been more impressed with this idea than during my sojourn here in
Lady Russell inquired with a good deal of interest after Prescott, our historian, and expressed the pleasure which she and Lord John had derived from his writings.
We left early, after a most agreeable evening. The next day
at eleven o'clock we went to an engagement at
The good archbishop was kind and benign, as usual, and gave
me his arm while we explored the curiosities of the palace. Now, my dear, if
you will please to recollect that the guide book says, "this
palace contains all the gradations of architecture from early English to late
perpendicular," you will certainly not expect me to describe it in one
letter. It has been the residence of the archbishops of
The chapel was built between the years 1200 and 1300, and there used to be painted windows in it, as Archbishop Laud says, which contained the whole history of the world, from the creation to the day of judgment. Unfortunately these comprehensive windows were destroyed in the civil wars.
The part called the Lollards' Tower is celebrated as having been the reputed prison of the Lollards. These Lollards, perhaps you will remember, were the followers of John Wickliffe, called Lollards as Christ was called a "Nazarene," simply because the word was a term of reproach. Wickliffe himself was summoned here to Lambeth to give an account of his teachings, and in 1382, William Courtnay, Archbishop of Canterbury, called a council, which condemned his doctrines. The tradition is, that at various times these Lollards were imprisoned here.
In order to get to the tower we had to go through a great many apartments, passages, and corridors, and terminate all by climbing a winding staircase, steeper and narrower than was at all desirable for any but wicked heretics, who ought to be made as uncomfortable as possible. However, by reasonable perseverance, the archbishop, the bishop's lady, and all the noble company present found themselves safely at the top. Our host remarked, I think, that it was the second time he had ever been there.
The room is thirteen feet by twelve, and about eight feet high, wainscotted with oak, which is scrawled over with names and inscriptions. There are eight large iron rings in the wall, to which the prisoners were chained; for aught we know, Wickliffe himself may have been one. As our kind host moved about among us with his placid face, we could not but think that times had altered since the days when archbishops used to imprison heretics, and preside over grim, inquisitorial tribunals. We all agreed, however, that, considering the very beautiful prospect this tower commands up and down the Thames, the poor Lollards in some respects might have been worse lodged.
We passed through the guard room, library, and along a
corridor where hung a row of pictures of all the archbishops from the very
earliest times; and then the archbishop took me into his study, which is a most
charming room, containing his own private library: after that we all sat down
to lunch in a large dining hall. I was seated between the archbishop and a
venerable admiral in the navy. Among other things, the latter asked me if there
were not many railroad and steamboat accidents in
Among other topics discussed in the drawing room, I heard some more _on dits_ respecting spiritual rappings. Every body seems to be wondering what they are, and what they are going to amount to.
We took leave of our kind host and his family, gratefully impressed with the simplicity and sincere cordiality of our reception. There are many different names for goodness in this world; but, after all, true brotherly kindness and charity is much the same thing, whether it show itself by a Quaker's fireside or in an archbishop's palace.
Leaving the archbishop's I went to
MY DEAR S.:--
The next morning C. and I took the cars to go into the country, to Playford Hall. "And what's Playford Hall?" you say. "And why did you go to see it?" As to what it is, here is a reasonably good picture before you. As to why, it was for many years the residence of Thomas Clarkson, and is now the residence of his venerable widow and her family.
Playford Hall is considered, I think, the oldest of the
fortified houses in
After crossing this bridge, you come into a green court yard
filled with choice plants and flowering shrubs, and carpeted with that thick,
soft, velvet-like grass which is to be found nowhere else in so perfect a state
The water is fed by a perpetual spring, whose current is so sluggish as scarcely to be perceptible, but which yet has the vitality of a running stream.
It has a dark and glassy stillness of surface, only broken by the forms of the water plants, whose leaves float thickly over it.
The walls of the moat are green with ancient moss, and from the crevices springs an abundant flowering vine, whose delicate leaves and bright yellow flowers in some places entirely mantle the stones with their graceful drapery.
[Illustration: _of Playford Hall._]
The picture I have given you represents only one side of the
moat. The other side is grown up with dark and thick shrubbery and ancient
trees, rising and embowering the entire place, adding to the retired and
singular effect of the whole. The place is a specimen of a sort of thing which
does not exist in
Playford Hall is peculiarly English, and Thomas Clarkson, for whose sake I visited it, was as peculiarly an Englishman--a specimen of the very best kind of English mind and character, as this is of characteristic English architecture.
We Anglo-Saxons have won a hard name in the world. There are undoubtedly bad things which are true about us.
Taking our developments as a race, both in
But still there is in Anglo-Saxon blood, a vigorous sense of justice, as appears in our habeas corpus, our jury trials, and other features of state organization; and, when this is tempered, in individuals, with the elements of gentleness and compassion, and enforced by that energy and indomitable perseverance which are characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon mind, they form a style of philanthropy peculiarly efficient. In short, the Anglo-Saxon is efficient, in whatever he sets himself about, whether in crushing the weak or lifting them up.
Thomas Clarkson was born in a day when good, pious people
imported cargoes of slaves from
Some good people, when they now and then heard an appalling story of the cruelties practised in the slave ship, declared that it was really too bad, sympathetically remarked, "What a sorrowful world we live in!" stirred their sugar into their tea, and went on as before, because, what was there to do?--"Hadn't every body always done it? and if they didn't do it, wouldn't somebody else?"
It is true that for many years individuals at different times had remonstrated, written treatises, poems, stories, and movements had been made by some religious bodies, particularly the Quakers, but the opposition had amounted to nothing practically efficient.
The attention of Clarkson was first turned to the subject by having it given out as the theme for a prize composition in his college class, he being at that time a sprightly young man, about twenty-four years of age. He entered into the investigation with no other purpose than to see what he could make of it as a college theme.
He says of himself, "I had expected pleasure from the invention of arguments, from the arrangement of them, from the putting of them together, and from the thought, in the interim, that I was engaged in an innocent contest for literary honor; but all my pleasures were damped by the facts which were now continually before me."
"It was but one gloomy subject from morning till night; in the daytime I was uneasy, in the night I had little rest; I sometimes never closed my eyelids for grief."
It became not now so much a trial for academical reputation
as to write a work which should be useful to
"I frequently tried to persuade myself that the contents of my essay could not be true; but the more I reflected on the authorities on which they were founded, the more I gave them credit. Coming in sight of Wade's Mill, in Hertfordshire, I sat down disconsolate on the turf by the roadside, and held my horse. Here a thought came into my mind, that if the contents of the essay were true, it was time that somebody should see these calamities to an end."
These reflections, as it appears, were put off for a while, but returned again.
This young and noble heart was of a kind that could not comfort itself so easily for a brother's sorrow as many do.
He says of himself, "In the course of the autumn of the same year, I walked frequently into the woods, that I might think of the subject in solitude, and find relief to my mind there; but there the question still recurred, 'Are these things true?' Still, the answer followed as instantaneously, 'They are;' still the result accompanied it--surely some person should interfere. I began to envy those who had seats in Parliament, riches, and widely-extended connections, which would enable them to take up this cause.
"Finding scarcely any one, at the time, who thought of it, I was turned frequently to myself; but here many difficulties arose. It struck me, among others, that a young man only twenty-four years of age could not have that solid judgment, or that knowledge of men, manners, and things, which were requisite to qualify him to undertake a task of such magnitude and importance; and with whom was I to unite? I believed, also, that it looked so much like one of the feigned labors of Hercules, that my understanding would be suspected if I proposed it."
He, however, resolved to do something for the cause by translating his essay from Latin into English, enlarging and presenting it to the public. Immediately on the publication of this essay he discovered, to his astonishment and delight, that he was not the only one who had been interested in this subject.
Being invited to the house of William Dillwyn, one of these friends to the cause, he says, "How surprised was I to learn, in the course of our conversation, of the labors of Granville Sharp, of the writings of Ramsey, and of the controversy in which the latter was engaged! of all which I had hitherto known nothing. How surprised was I to learn that William Dillwyn had, two years before, associated himself with five others for the purpose of enlightening the public mind on this great subject!
"How astonished was I to find that a society had been
After this he associated with many friends of the cause, and at last it became evident that, in order to effect any thing, he must sacrifice all other prospects in life, and devote himself exclusively to this work.
He says, after mentioning reasons which prevented all his associates from doing this, "I could look, therefore, to no person but myself; and the question was, whether I was prepared to make the sacrifice. In favor of the undertaking, I urged to myself that never was any cause, which had been taken up by man, in any country or in any age, so great and important; that never was there one in which so much misery was heard to cry for redress; that never was there one in which so much good could be done; never one in which the duty of Christian charity could be so extensively exercised; never one more worthy of the devotion of a whole life towards it; and that, if a man thought properly, he ought to rejoice to have been called into existence, if he were only permitted to become an instrument in forwarding it in any part of its progress.
"Against these sentiments, on the other hand, I had to urge that I had been designed for the church; that I had already advanced as far as deacon's orders in it; that my prospects there on account of my connections were then brilliant; that, by appearing to desert my profession, my family would be dissatisfied, if not unhappy. These thoughts pressed upon me, and rendered the conflict difficult.
"But the sacrifice of my prospects staggered me, I own, the most. When the other objections which I have related occurred to me, my enthusiasm instantly, like a flash of lightning, consumed them; but this stuck to me, and troubled me. I had ambition. I had a thirst after worldly interest and honors, and I could not extinguish it at once. I was more than two hours in solitude under this painful conflict. At length I yielded, not because I saw any reasonable prospect of success in my new undertaking,--for all cool-headed and cool-hearted men would have pronounced against it,--but in obedience, I believe, to a higher Power. And I can say, that both on the moment of this resolution and for some time afterwards, I had more sublime and happy feelings than at any former period of my life."
In order to show how this enterprise was looked upon and talked of very commonly by the majority of men in those times, we will extract the following passage from Boswell's Life of Johnson, in which Bozzy thus enters his solemn protest: "The wild and dangerous attempt, which has for some time been persisted in, to obtain an act of our legislature to abolish so very important and necessary a branch of commercial interest, must have been crushed at once, had not the insignificance of the zealots, who vainly took the lead in it, made the vast body of planters, merchants, and others, whose immense properties are involved in that trade, reasonably enough suppose that there could be no danger. The encouragement which the attempt has received excites my wonder and indignation; and though some men of superior abilities have supported it, whether from a love of temporary popularity when prosperous, or a love of general mischief when desperate, my opinion is unshaken.
"To abolish a _status_ which in all ages God has sanctioned, and man has continued, would not only be robbery to an innumerable class of our fellow-subjects, but it would be extreme cruelty to the African savages, a portion of whom it saves from massacre or intolerable bondage in their own country, and introduces into a much happier state of life; especially now, when their passage to the West Indies, and their treatment there, is humanely regulated. To abolish this trade would be to '--shut the gates of mercy on mankind.'"
One of the first steps of Clarkson and his associates was the formation of a committee of twelve persons, for the collection and dissemination of information on the subject.
The contest now began in earnest, a contest as sublime as any the world ever saw.
The abolition controversy more fully aroused the virtue, the talent, and the religion of the great English nation, than any other event or crisis which ever occurred.
Wilberforce was the leader of the question in Parliament. The other members of the antislavery committee performed those labors which were necessary out of it.
This labor consisted principally in the collection of
evidence with regard to the traffic, and the presentation of it before the
public mind. In this labor Clarkson was particularly engaged. The subject was
hemmed in with the same difficulties that now beset the antislavery cause in
For Clarkson's attention was first called to these things by observing them in the shop window, and on inquiring the use of one of them, the man informed him that many times negroes were sulky, and tried to starve themselves to death, and this instrument was used to force open their jaws.
Of Clarkson's labor in this investigation some idea may be gathered from his own words, when, stating that for a season he was compelled to retire from the cause, he thus speaks:--
"As far as I myself was concerned, all exertion was then over. The nervous system was almost shattered to pieces. Both my memory and my hearing failed me. Sudden dizzinesses seized my head. A confused singing in the ear followed me wherever I went. On going to bed the very stairs seemed to dance up and down under me, so that, misplacing my foot, I sometimes fell. Talking, too, if it continued but half an hour, exhausted me so that profuse perspiration followed, and the same effect was produced even by an active exertion of the mind for the like time.
"These disorders had been brought on by degrees, in consequence of the severe labors necessarily attached to the promotion of the cause. For seven years I had a correspondence to maintain with four hundred persons, with my own hand; I had some book or other annually to write in behalf of the cause. In this time I had travelled more than thirty-five thousand miles in search of evidence, and a great part of these journeys in the night. All this time my mind had been on the stretch. It had been bent, too, to this one subject, for I had not even leisure to attend to my own concerns. The various instances of barbarity which had come successively to my knowledge, within this period, had vexed, harassed, and afflicted it. The wound which these had produced was rendered still deeper by those cruel disappointments before related, which arose from the reiterated refusals of persons to give their testimony, after I had travelled hundreds of miles in quest of them. But the severest stroke was that inflicted by the persecution, begun and pursued by persons interested in the continuance of the trade, of such witnesses as had been examined against them, and whom, on account of their dependent situation in life, it was most easy to oppress. As I had been the means of bringing these forward on these occasions, they naturally came to me, when thus persecuted, as the author of their miseries and their ruin. From their supplications and wants it would have been ungenerous and ungrateful to have fled. These different circumstances, by acting together, had at length brought me into the situation just mentioned; and I was, therefore, obliged, though very reluctantly, to be borne out of the field where I had placed the great honor and glory of my life."
I may as well add here that a Mr. Whitbread, to whom
Clarkson mentioned this latter cause of distress, generously offered to repair
the pecuniary losses of all who had suffered in this cause. One anecdote will
be a specimen of the energy with which Clarkson pursued evidence. It had been
very strenuously asserted and maintained that the subjects of the slave trade
were only such unfortunates as had become prisoners of war, and who, if not
carried out of the country in this manner, would be exposed to death or some
more dreadful doom in their own country. This was one of those stories which
nobody believed, and yet was particularly useful in the hands of the
opposition, because it was difficult legally to disprove it. It was perfectly well
known that in very many cases slave traders made direct incursions into the
country, kidnapped and carried off the inhabitants of whole villages; but the
question was, how to establish it. A gentleman whom
Clarkson accidentally met on one of his journeys informed him that he had been
in company, about a year before, with a sailor, a very respectable-looking
young man, who had actually been engaged in one of these expeditions; he had
spent half an hour with him at an inn; he described his person, but knew
nothing of his name or the place of his abode; all he knew was, that he
belonged to a ship of war in ordinary, but knew nothing of the port. Clarkson
determined that this man should be produced as a witness, and knew no better
way than to go personally to all the ships in ordinary, until the individual
was found. He actually visited every seaport town, and boarded every ship, till
in the very _last_ port, and on the very _last_ ship, which remained, the
individual was found, and found to be possessed of just the facts and
information which were necessary. By the labors of Clarkson and his
contemporaries an incredible excitement was produced throughout all
It seems that after the committee had published the facts,
and sent them to every town in
"And first I may observe, that
there was no town through which I passed in which there was not some one
individual who had left off the use of sugar. In the smaller towns there were
from ten to fifty, by estimation, and in the larger from two to five hundred,
who made this sacrifice to virtue. These were of all ranks and parties. Hich
and poor, churchmen and dissenters, had adopted the measure. Even grocers had
left off trading in the article in some places. In gentlemen's families, where
the master had set the example, the servants had often voluntarily followed it;
and even children, who were capable of understanding the history of the
sufferings of the Africans, excluded, with the most virtuous resolution, the
sweets, to which they had been accustomed, from their lips. By the best
computation I was able to make, from notes taken down in my journey, no fewer
than three hundred thousand persons had abandoned the use of sugar." It
was the reality, depth, and earnestness of the public feeling, thus aroused,
which pressed with resistless force upon the government; for the government of
After years of protracted struggle, the victory was at last
won. The slave trade was finally abolished through all the
Clarkson, to his last day, never ceased to be interested in
the subject, and took the warmest interest in all movements for the abolition
of slavery in
It is remarkable of him that, with such intense feeling for human suffering as he had, and worn down and exhausted as he was by the dreadful miseries and sorrows with which he was constantly obliged to be familiar, he never yielded to a spirit of bitterness or denunciation.
The narrative which he gives is as calm and unimpassioned, and as free from any trait of this kind, as the narratives of the evangelists. Thus riding and talking, we at last arrived at the hall.
The old stone house, the moat, the draw bridge, all spoke of days of violence long gone by, when no man was safe except within fortified walls, and every man's house literally had to be his castle.
To me it was interesting as the dwelling of a conqueror, as one who had not wrestled with flesh and blood merely, but with principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, and who had overcome, as his great Master did before him, by faith, and prayer, and labor.
We were received with much cordiality by the widow of Clarkson, now in her eighty-fourth year. She has been a woman of great energy and vigor, and an efficient co-laborer in his plans of benevolence.
She is now quite feeble. I was placed under the care of a respectable female servant, who forthwith installed me in a large chamber overlooking the court yard, which had been Clarkson's own room; the room where, for years, many of his most important labors had been conducted, and from whence his soul had ascended to the reward of the just.
The servant who attended me seemed to be quite a superior woman, like many of the servants in respectable English families. She had grown up in the family, and was identified with it; its ruling aims and purposes had become hers. She had been the personal attendant of Clarkson, and his nurse during his last sickness; she had evidently understood, and been interested in his plans; and the veneration with which she therefore spoke of him had the sanction of intelligent appreciation.
A daughter of Clarkson, who was married to a neighboring clergyman, with her husband, was also present on this day.
After dinner we rode out to see the old church, in whose enclosure the remains of Clarkson repose. It was just such a still, quiet, mossy old church as you have read of in story books, with the graveyard spread all around it, like a thoughtful mother, who watches the resting of her children.
The grass in the yard was long and green, and the daisy, which, in other places, lies like a little button on the ground, here had a richer fringe of crimson, and a stalk about six inches high. It is, I well know, the vital influence from the slumbering dust beneath which gives the richness to this grass and these flowers; but let not that be a painful thought; let it rather cheer us, that beauty should spring from ashes, and life smile brighter from the near presence of death. The grave of Clarkson is near the church, enclosed by a railing, and marked by a simple white marble slab; it is carefully tended, and planted with flowers. In the church was an old book of records, and among other curious inscriptions was one recording how a pious committee of old Noll's army had been there, knocking off saints' noses, and otherwise purging the church from the relics of idolatry.
Near by the church was the parsonage, the home of my
friends, a neat, pleasant, sequestered dwelling, of about the style of a
The effect of the whole together was inexpressibly beautiful
to me. For a wonder, it was a pleasant day, and this is a thing always to be
thankfully acknowledged in
I noticed, with particular pleasure, the invariable flower
garden attached to each. Some pansies in one of them attracted my attention by
their peculiar beauty, so very large and richly colored. On being introduced to
the owner of them, she, with cheerful alacrity, offered me some of the finest.
I do not doubt of there being suffering and misery in the agricultural
population of England, but still there are multitudes of cottages which are
really very pleasant objects, as were all these. The cottagers had that bright,
rosy look of health which we seldom see in
In the evening we had quite a gathering of friends from the neighborhood--intelligent, sensible, earnest people, who had grown up in the love of the antislavery cause as into religion. The subject of conversation was, "The duty of English people to free themselves from any participation in American slavery, by taking means to encourage the production of free cotton in the British provinces."
It is no more impossible or improbable that something effective may be done in this way than that the slave trade should have been abolished. Every great movement seems an impossibility at first. There is no end to the number of things declared and proved impossible which have been done already, so that this may become something yet.
Mrs. Clarkson had retired from the room early; after a while she sent for me to her sitting room. The faithful attendant of whom I spoke was with her. She wished to show me some relics of her husband, his watch and seals, some of his papers and manuscripts; among these was the identical prize essay with which he began his career, and a commentary on the Gospels, which he had written with great care, for the use of his grandson. His seal attracted my attention--it was that kneeling figure of the negro, with clasped hands, which was at first adopted as the badge of the cause, when every means was being made use of to arouse the public mind and keep the subject before the public. Mr. Wedgwood, the celebrated porcelain manufacturer, designed a cameo, with this representation, which was much worn as an ornament by ladies. It was engraved on the seal of the Antislavery Society, and was used by its members in sealing all their letters. This of Clarkson's was handsomely engraved on a large, old-fashioned carnelian; and surely, if we look with emotion on the sword of a departed hero,--which, at best, we can consider only as a necessary evil,--we may look with unmingled pleasure on this memorial of a bloodless victory.
When I retired to my room for the night I could not but feel
that the place was hallowed: unceasing prayer had there been offered for the
enslaved and wronged race of
We returned to
After dinner Mr. Sturge desired me very much to go into the meeting of the women; for it seems that, at the time of the yearly meeting among the Friends, the men and women both have their separate meetings for attending to business. The aspect of the meeting was very interesting--so many placid, amiable faces, shaded by plain Quaker bonnets; so many neat white handkerchiefs, folded across peaceful bosoms. Either a large number of very pretty women wear the Quaker dress, or it is quite becoming in its effect.
There are some things in the mode of speaking among the Friends, particularly in their public meetings, which do not strike me agreeably, and to which I think it would take me some time to become accustomed; such as a kind of intoning somewhat similar to the manner in which the church service is performed in cathedrals. It is a curious fact that religious exercises, in all ages and countries, have inclined to this form of expression. It appears in the cantilation of the synagogue, the service of the cathedral, the prayers of the Covenanter and the Puritan.
There were a table and writing materials in this meeting, and a circle of from fifty to a hundred ladies. One of those upon the platform requested me to express to them my opinion on free labor. In a few words I told them I considered myself upon that subject more a learner than a teacher, but that I was deeply interested in what I had learned upon this subject since my travelling in England, and particularly interested in the consistency and self-denial practised by their sect.
I have been quite amused with something which has happened
lately. It always has seemed to me that distinguished people here in
Could I have expected dear old
Mr. Times wants to know if Mrs. Stowe is aware what sort of a place her dress is being made in, and there is a letter from a dressmaker's apprentice stating that it is being made up piecemeal, in the most shockingly distressed dens of London, by poor, miserable white slaves, worse treated than the plantation slaves of America.
Now, Mrs. Stowe did not know any thing of this, but simply
gave the silk into the hands of a friend, and was in due time waited on in her
own apartment by a very respectable woman, who offered to make the dress; and
lo, this is the result! Since the publication of this piece, I have received
earnest missives, from various parts of the country, begging me to interfere,
hoping that I was not going to patronize the white slavery of England, and that
I would employ my talents equally against oppression under every form. The
person who had been so unfortunate as to receive the weight of my public
patronage was in a very tragical state; protested her innocence of any
connection with dens, of any overworking of hands, &c., with as much fervor
as if I had been appointed on a committee of parliamentary inquiry. Let my case
be a warning to all philanthropists who may happen to want clothes while they
Could these people only know in what sacred simplicity I had been living in the State of Maine, where the only dressmaker of our circle was an intelligent, refined, well-educated woman, who was considered as the equal of us all, and whose spring and fall ministrations to our wardrobe were regarded a double pleasure,--a friendly visit as well as a domestic assistance,--I say, could they know all this, they would see how guiltless I was in the matter. I verily never thought but that the nice, pleasant person, who came to measure me for my silk, was going to take it home and make it herself; it never occurred to me that she was the head of an establishment.
And now, what am I to do? The Times seems to think that, in order to be consistent, I ought to take up the conflict immediately; but, for my part, I think otherwise. What an unreasonable creature! Does he suppose me so lost to all due sense of humility as to take out of his hands a cause which he is pleading so well? If the plantation slaves had such a good friend as the Times, and if every over-worked female cotton picker could write as clever letters as this dressmaker's apprentice, and get them published in as influential papers, and excite as general a sensation by them as this seems to have done, I think I should feel that there was no need of my interfering in a work so much better done. Unfortunately, our female cotton pickers do not know how to read and write, and it is against the law to teach them; and this instance shows that the law is a sagacious one, since, doubtless, if they could read and write, most embarrassing communications might be made.
Nothing shows more plainly, to my mind, than this letter,
the difference between the working class of
When we shall see the columns of the Charleston Courier adorned with communications from cotton pickers and slave seamstresses, we shall then think the comparison a fair one. In fact, apart from the whimsicality of the affair, and the little annoyance which one feels at notoriety to which one is not accustomed, I consider the incident as in some aspects a gratifying one, as showing how awake and active are the sympathies of the British public with that much-oppressed class of needlewomen.
Horace Greeley would be delighted could his labors in this line
excite a similar commotion in
We dined to-day at the Duke of Argyle's. At dinner there were the members of the family, the Duchess of Sutherland, Lord Carlisle, Lord and Lady Blantyre, &c. The conversation flowed along in a very agreeable channel. I told them the more I contemplated life in Great Britain, the more I was struck with the contrast between the comparative smallness of the territory and the vast power, physical, moral, and intellectual, which it exerted in the world.
The Duchess of Sutherland added, that it was beautiful to observe how gradually the idea of freedom had developed itself in the history of the English nation, growing clearer and more distinct in every successive century.
I might have added that the history of our own American republic is but a continuation of the history of this development. The resistance to the stamp act was of the same kind as the resistance to the ship money; and in our revolutionary war there were as eloquent defences of our principles and course heard in the British Parliament as echoed in Faneuil Hall.
I conversed some with Lady Caroline Campbell, the duke's
sister, with regard to Scottish preaching and theology. She is a member of the
Free church, and attends, in
The Duke of Argyle said that Chevalier Bunsen had been
speaking to him in relation to a college for colored people at Antigua, and
inquired my views respecting the emigration of colored people from
In the evening, some of the ladies alluded to the
dressmaker's letter in the Times. I inquired if there was nothing done for them
as a class in
"O, Lord Shaftesbury can tell you all about it; he is president of the society for their protection."
So I said to Lord Shaftesbury, playfully, "I thought,
my lord, you had reformed every thing here in
"Ah, indeed," he replied, "but this was not
in one of my houses. I preside over the
He talked on the subject for some time with considerable
energy; said it was one of the most difficult he had ever attempted to
regulate, and promised to send me a few documents, which would show the
measures he had pursued. He said, however, that there was progress making; and
spoke of one establishment in particular, which had recently been erected in
Quite a number of distinguished persons were present this evening; among others, Sir David Brewster, famed in the scientific world. He is a fine-looking old gentleman, with silver-white hair, who seemed to be on terms of great familiarity with the duke. He bears the character of a decidedly religious man, and is an elder in the Free church.
Lord Mahon, the celebrated historian, was there, with his lady. He is a young-looking man, of agreeable manners, and fluent in conversation. This I gather from Mr. S., with whom he conversed very freely on our historians, Prescott, Bancroft, and especially Dr. Sparks, his sharp controversy with whom he seems to bear with great equanimity.
Lady Mahon is a handsome, interesting woman, with very pleasing manners.
Mr. Gladstone was there also, one of the ablest and best men in the kingdom. It is a commentary on his character that, although one of the highest of the High church, we have never heard him spoken of, even among dissenters, otherwise than as an excellent and highly conscientious man. For a gentleman who has attained to such celebrity, both in theology and politics, he looks remarkably young. He is tall, with dark hair and eyes, a thoughtful, serious cast of countenance, and is easy and agreeable in conversation.
On the whole, this was a very delightful evening.
I will add to this a little sketch, derived from the
documents sent me by Lord Shaftesbury, of the movements in behalf of the
milliners and dressmakers in
About thirteen years ago, in the year 1841, Lord Shaftesbury obtained a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the employment of children and young persons in various trades and manufactures. This commission, among other things, was directed toward the millinery and dressmaking trade. These commissioners elicited the following facts: that there were fifteen hundred employers in this trade in London, and fifteen thousand young people employed, besides a great number of journeywomen who took the work home to their own houses. They discovered, also, that during the London season, which occupied about four months of the year, the regular hours of work were fifteen, but in many establishments they were entirely unlimited,--the young women never getting more than six hours for sleep, and often only two or three; that frequently they worked all night and part of Sunday. They discovered, also, that the rooms in which they worked and slept were overcrowded, and deficient in ventilation; and that, in consequence of all these causes, blindness, consumption, and multitudes of other diseases carried thousands of them yearly to the grave.
These facts being made public to the English nation, a
society was formed in
The features of the plan which the society undertook to carry out were briefly these:--
First, they opened a registration office, where all young persons desiring employment in the dressmaking trade might enroll their names free of expense, and thus come in a manner under the care of the association. From the young people thus enrolled, they engaged to supply to the principals of dressmaking establishments extra assistants in periods of uncommon pressure, so that they should not be under the necessity of overtaxing their workwomen. This assistance is extended only to those houses which will observe the moderate hours recommended by the association.
In the second place, an arrangement is made by which the young persons thus registered are entitled to the best of medical advice at any time, for the sum of five shillings per year. Three physicians and two consulting surgeons are connected with the association.
In the third place, models of simple and cheap modes of ventilation are kept at all times at the office of the society, and all the influence of the association is used to induce employers to place them in the work and sleeping rooms.
Fourth, a kind of savings bank has been instituted, in which the workwomen are encouraged to deposit small earnings on good interest.
This is the plan of the society, and as to its results I have at hand the report for 1851, from which you can gather some particulars of its practical workings. They say, "Eight years have elapsed since this association was established, during which a most gratifying change has been wrought in respect to the mode of conducting the dressmaking and millinery business.
"Without overstepping the strict limits of truth, it may be affirmed that the larger part of the good thus achieved is attributable to the influence and unceasing efforts of this society. The general result, so far as the metropolis is concerned, may be thus stated: First, the hours of work, speaking generally, now rarely exceed twelve, whereas formerly sixteen, seventeen, and even eighteen hours were not unusual.
"Second, the young persons are rarely kept up all night, which was formerly not an unusual occurrence.
"Third, labor on the Lord's day, it is confidently believed, has been entirely abrogated.
"Under the old system the health and constitution of many of the young people were irretrievably destroyed. At present permanent loss of health is rarely entailed, and even when sickness does from any cause arise, skilful and prompt advice and medicine are provided at a moderate charge by the association.
"In addition to these and similar ameliorations, other and more important changes have been effected. Among the heads of establishments, as the committee are happy to know and most willing to record, more elevated views of the duties and responsibilities, inseparable from employers, have secured to the association the zealous cooperation of numerous and influential principals, without whose aid the efforts of the last few years would have been often impeded, or even in many instances defeated. Nor have the young persons engaged in the dressmaking and millinery business remained uninfluenced amidst the general improvement. Finding that a strenuous effort was in progress to promote their physical and moral welfare, and that increased industry on their part would be rewarded by diminished hours of work, the assistants have become more attentive, the workrooms are better managed, and both parties, relieved from a system which was oppressive to all and really beneficial to none, have recognized the fundamental truth, that in no industrial pursuit is there any real incompatibility between the interests, rightfully interpreted, of the employer and the employed. Although not generally known, evils scarcely less serious than those formerly prevalent in the metropolis were not uncommon in the manufacturing towns and fashionable watering-places. It is obviously impracticable to ascertain to what extent the efforts of the association have been attended with success in the provinces; but a rule has been established that in no instance shall the cooperation of the office, in providing assistants, be extended to any establishment in which the hours of work are known to exceed those laid down by the association. On these conditions the principals of many country establishments have for several years been supplied; latterly, indeed, owing to the great efficiency of the manager, Miss Newton, and to the general satisfaction thus created, these applications have so much increased as to constitute a principal part of the business of the office; and with the increase the influence of the association has been proportionally extended."
This, as you perceive, was the report for 1851. Lord Shaftesbury has kindly handed me the first proof of the report for 1853, from which I will send you a few extracts.
After the publication of the letter from the ladies of
"In presenting their annual report, the committees would in the first place refer to the public notice that has lately been directed to the mode in which the dressmaking and millinery business is conducted: this they feel to be due both to the association and to those employers who have cooperated in the good work of improvement. It has been stated in former reports, that since the first establishment of this society, in the year 1843, and essentially through its influence, great ameliorations have been secured; that the inordinate hours of work formerly prevalent had, speaking generally, been greatly reduced; that Sunday labor had been abolished; that the young people were rarely kept up all night; and that, as a consequence of these improvements, there had been a marked decrease of serious sickness.
"At the present moment, in consequence of the statements that have appeared in the public journals, and in order to guard against misconceptions, the committees are anxious to announce that they perceive no reason for withdrawing any of their preceding statements--the latest, equally with former investigations, indicating the great improvement effected in recent years. The manager at the office has been instructed to make express inquiries of the young dressmakers themselves; and the result distinctly proves that, on the whole, there has been a marked diminution in the hours of work.
"The report of Mr. Trouncer, the medical officer who has attended the larger number of the young persons for whom advice has been provided by the association, is equally satisfactory. This gentleman, after alluding to the great evils in regard to health inflicted in former years, remarks that these have, through the instrumentality of the association, been greatly ameliorated; that as regards consumption,--although the nature of the employment itself, however modified by kindness, has a tendency to develop the disease where the predisposition exists,--he is happy to state that the average number of cases, even in the incipient stage, has not been so great as might, from the circumstances, have been anticipated; that during the last two years, out of about two hundred and fifty cases of sickness, no death has occurred; and that but in a few instances only has it been necessary to advise a total cessation of business. Mr. Trouncer adds --and this is a statement which the committees have much pleasure in announcing--that, in the majority of the West End houses, the principals have, in cases of sickness, acted the part of parents, evincing, in some instances, even more care than the young persons themselves.
"In addition to these satisfactory and reliable statements, it is a matter of simple justice to state that many houses of business have cooperated with the association in reducing the hours of work, in improving the workrooms and sleeping apartments, and generally in promoting the comfort of those in their employ. Some employers have also very creditably, and at considerable expense, exerted themselves to secure a good system of ventilation--a subject to which the committees attach great importance, both as regards the health and comfort of those employed.
"It is not, by these statements, intended to be said that all requiring amendment has been corrected. In their last report the committees remarked that some few houses of business systematically persisted in exacting excessive labor from their assistants; and they regret to state that this observation is still applicable. The important subject of ventilation is still much neglected, and there is reason to apprehend that the sleeping apartments are often much overcrowded. Another and a more prevailing evil relates to the time allowed for meals: this is often altogether insufficient, and strongly contrasted with the custom in other industrial pursuits, in which one hour for dinner, and half an hour for breakfast or tea, as the case may be, is the usual allowance. In an occupation so sedentary as dressmaking, and especially in the case of young females, hurried meals are most injurious, and are a frequent cause of deranged health. It is also the painful duty of the committees to state that in some establishments, according to the medical report, the principals, in cases of sickness, will neither allow the young people an opportunity of calling on the medical officer for his advice, nor permit that gentleman to visit them at the place of business. The evils resulting from this absence of all proper feeling are so obvious that it is hoped this public rebuke will in future obviate the necessity of recurring to so painful a topic."
The committee after this proceed to
publish the following declaration, signed by fifty-three of the
"'We, the undersigned principals of millinery and dress-making establishments at the West End of London, having observed in the newspapers statements of excessive labor in our business, feel called upon, in self-defence, to make the following public statement, especially as we have reason to believe that some of the assertions contained in the letters published in the newspapers are not wholly groundless:--
"'1. During the greater portion of the year we do not require the young people in our establishments to work more than twelve hours, inclusive of one hour and a half for meals: from March to July we require them to work thirteen hours and a half, allowing during that time one hour's rest for dinner, and half an hour's rest for tea.
"'2. It has been our object to provide suitable sleeping accommodations, and to avoid overcrowding.
"'3. In no case do we require work on Sundays, or all night.
"'4. The food we supply is of the best quality, and unlimited in quantity.'"
Five of these dressmakers, whose names are designated by stars, signed with the understanding that on rare occasions the hours might possibly be exceeded.
The remarks which the committee make,
considering that it has upon its list the most influential and distinguished
ladies of the
They say of the document, on the whole, that, though not realizing all the views of the association, it must be regarded as creditable to those who have signed it, since it indicates the most important advance yet made towards the improvement of the dressmaking and millinery business. The committees then go on to express a most decided opinion, first, that the hours of work in the dressmaking trade ought not to exceed ten per diem; second, that during the fashionable season ladies should employ sufficient time for the execution of their orders.
The influence of this association, as will be seen, has
extended all over
I mentioned, in a former letter, that the lady mayoress of
The next day we went to hear a sermon in behalf of the ragged schools, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The children who attended the ragged schools of that particular district were seated in the gallery, each side of the organ. As this was the Sunday appropriated to the exercise, all three of the creeds were read--the Apostles', Athanasian, and Nicene; all which the little things repeated after the archbishop, with great decorum, and probably with the same amount of understanding that we, when children, had of the Assembly's Catechism.
The venerable archbishop was ushered into the pulpit by beadles, with gold lace cocked hats, striking the ground majestically with their long staves of office. His sermon, however, was as simple, clear, and beautiful an exposition of the duty of practical Christianity towards the outcast and erring as I ever heard. He said that, should we find a young child wandering away from its home and friends, we should instinctively feel it our duty to restore the little wanderer; and such, he said, is the duty we owe to all these young outcasts, who had strayed from the home of their heavenly Father.
After the sermon they took up a collection; and when we went into the vestry to speak to the archbishop, we saw him surrounded by the church wardens, counting over the money.
I noticed in the back part of the church a number of children in tattered garments, with rather a forlorn and wild appearance, and was told that these were those who had just been introduced into the school, and had not been there long enough to come under its modifying influences. We were told that they were always thus torn and forlorn in their appearance at first, but that they gradually took pains to make themselves respectable. The archbishop said, pleasantly, "When they return to their right mind they appear _clothed_, also, and sitting at the feet of Jesus."
The archbishop sent me afterwards a beautiful edition of his sermons on Christian charity, embracing a series of discourses on various topics of practical benevolence, relating to the elevation and christianization of the masses. They are written with the same purity of style, and show the same devout and benevolent spirit with his other writings.
My thoughts were much saddened to-day by the news, which I received this week, of the death of Mary Edmonson. It is not for her that I could weep; for she died as calmly and serenely as she lived, resigning her soul into the hands of her Savior. What I do weep for is, that under the flag of my country--and that country a Christian one--such a life as Mary's could have been lived, and so little said or done about it.
In the afternoon I went to the deanery of
Monday morning, May 23. We went to breakfast at Mr.
Cobden's. Mr. C. is a man of slender frame, rather under than over the middle
size, with great ease of manner, and flexibility of movement, and the most
frank, fascinating smile. His appearance is a sufficient account of his
popularity, for he seems to be one of those men who carry about them an
atmosphere of vivacity and social exhilaration. We had a very pleasant and
social time, discussing and comparing things in
"I told the man, 'Now don't you go home and publish that in your paper;' but he did, nevertheless, and sent me over the paper with the story in it." I might have comforted him with many a similar anecdote of Americans, as for example, the man who was dead set against a tariff, "'cause he knew if they once got it, they'd run the old thing right through his farm;" or those immortal Pennsylvania Dutchmen, who, to this day, it is said, give in all their votes under the solemn conviction that they are upholding General Jackson's administration.
The conversation turned on the question of the cultivation of cotton by free labor. The importance of this great measure was fully appreciated by Mr. Cobden, as it must be by all. The difficulties to be overcome in establishing the movement were no less clearly seen, and ably pointed out. On the whole, the comparison of views was not only interesting in a high degree, but to us, at least, eminently profitable. We ventured to augur favorably to the cause from the indications of that interview.
From this breakfast we returned to dine at
The concert room was the brilliant and picturesque hall I have before described to you. It looked more picture-like and dreamy than ever. The piano was on the flat stairway just below the broad central landing. It was a grand piano, standing end outward, and perfectly _banked up_ among hothouse flowers, so that only its gilded top was visible. Sir George Smart presided. The choicest of the _élite_ were there. Ladies in demi-toilet and bonneted. Miss Greenfield stood among the singers on the staircase, and excited a sympathetic murmur among the audience. She is not handsome, but looked very well. She has a pleasing dark face, wore a black velvet headdress and white carnelian earrings, a black mohr antique silk, made high in the neck, with white lace falling sleeves and white gloves. A certain gentleness of manner and self-possession, the result of the universal kindness shown her, sat well upon her. Chevalier Bunsen, the Prussian ambassador, sat by me. He looked at her with much interest. "Are the race often as good looking?" he said. I said, "She is not handsome, compared with many, though I confess she looks uncommonly well to-day."
Among the company present I noticed the beautiful Marchioness of Stafford. I have spoken of her once before; but it is difficult to describe her, there is something so perfectly simple, yet elegant, in her appearance; but it has cut itself like a cameo in my memory--a figure under the middle size, perfectly moulded, dressed simply in black, a beautiful head, hair _à la Madonna_, ornamented by a band of gold coins on black velvet: a band of the same kind encircling her throat is the only relief to the severe simplicity of her dress.
The singing was beautiful. Six of the most cultivated glee
Miss Greenfield's turn for singing now came, and there was
profound attention. Her voice, with its keen, searching fire, its penetrating
vibrant quality, its _"timbre"_ as the French have
it, cut its way like a
She sang the ballad, "Old folks at home," giving one verse in the soprano, and another in the tenor voice.
As she stood partially concealed by the piano Chevalier Bunsen thought that the tenor part was performed by one of the gentlemen. He was perfectly astonished when he discovered that it was by her. This was rapturously encored. Between the parts Sir George took her to the piano, and tried her voice by skips, striking notes here and there at random, without connection, from D in alt to A first space in bass clef: she followed with unerring precision, striking the sound nearly at the same instant his finger touched the key. This brought out a burst of applause.
After the concert we walked through the rooms. The effect of
the groups of people sauntering through the hall or looking down from the
galleries was picture-like. Two of the duke's
Rev. S. R. Ward attracted attention in the company, as a full-blooded African--tall enough for a palm tree. I observed him in conversation with lords, dukes, and ambassadors, sustaining himself modestly, but with self-possession. All who converse with him are satisfied that there is no native difference between the African and other men.
The duchess took me to look at a model of Dunrobin--their
castle on the Sutherland estate. It is in the old French chateau style in
general architecture, something like the print of Glamis. It is curious that
the French architecture has obtained in
Lord Shaftesbury was there. He came and spoke to us after the concert. Speaking of Miss Greenfield, he said, "I consider the use of these halls for the encouragement of an outcast race, a _consecration_. This is the true use of wealth and splendor when it is employed to raise up and encourage the despised and forgotten."
In the evening, though very weary, C. persuaded me to accept an invitation to hear the Creation, at Exeter Hall, performed by the London Sacred Harmonic Society. They had kindly reserved a gallery for us, and when we went in Mr. Surman, the founder and for twenty years conductor of the society, presented me with a beautifully bound copy of the Creation.
Having never heard it before, I could not compare the performance with others. I heard it as I should hear a poem read, simply thinking of the author's ideas, and not of the style of reading. Haydn I was thinking of,--the bright, brilliant, cheerful Haydn,--who, when complained of for making church music into dancing tunes, replied, "When I think of God my soul is always so full of joy that I want to dance!" This Creation is a descriptive poem--the garden parts unite Thomson and Milton's style--the whole effect pastoral, yet brilliant. I was never more animated. I had had a new experience; it is worth while to know nothing to have such a fresh sensation.
The next day, Tuesday, May 24, we went to lunch with Miss
R., at Oxford Terrace. Among a number of distinguished guests was Lady Byron,
with whom I had a few moments of deeply interesting conversation. No engravings
that ever have been circulated of her in
Lady Byron's whole course, I have learned, has been one made venerable by consistent, active benevolence. I was happy to find in her the patroness of our American outcasts, William and Ellen Crafts. She had received them into the schools of her daughter, Lady Lovelace, at Occum, and now spoke in the highest terms of their character and proficiency in study. The story of their misfortunes, united with their reputation for worth, had produced such an impression on the simple country people, that they always respectfully touch their hats when meeting them. Ellen, she says, has become mother of a most beautiful child, and their friends are now making an effort to put them into some little business by which they may obtain a support.
I could not but observe with regret the evident fragility of Lady Byron's health; yet why should I regret it? Why wish to detain here those whose home is evidently from hence, and who will only then fully live when the shadow we call life is passed away?
Here, also, I was personally introduced to a lady with whom I had passed many a dreamy hour of spiritual communion--Mrs. Jameson, whose works on arts and artists were for years almost my only food for a certain class of longings.
Mrs. Jameson is the most charming of critics, with the gift, often too little prized, of discovering and pointing out beauties rather than defects; beauties which we may often have passed unnoticed, but which, when so pointed out, never again conceal themselves. This shows itself particularly in her Characteristics of Shakspeare's Women, a critique which only a true woman could have written.
She seemed rather surprised to find me inquiring about art
and artists. I asked her where one might go to study that subject most
profitably, and her answer was, in
By her side was Mrs. Chisholm, the author of those benevolent movements for the emigrants, which I have mentioned to you. She is a stout, practical looking woman, who impresses you with the idea of perfect health, exuberant life, and an iron constitution. Her face expresses decision, energy, and good sense. She is a woman of few words, every moment of whose time seems precious.
One of her remarks struck me, from the quaint force with which it was uttered. "I found," said she, "if we want any thing done, we must go to work and _do_; it is of no use to talk, none whatever." It is the secret of her life's success. Mrs. Chisholm first began by _doing_ on a small scale what she wanted done, and people seeing the result fell in with and helped her, but to have convinced them of the feasibility of her plans by _talking_, without this practical demonstration, would have been impossible.
At this _réunion_, also, was Mr. George Thompson, whom I had
never seen before, and many of the warmest friends of the slave. During this
visit I was taken ill, and obliged to return to Mr. Gurney's, where I was
indisposed during the remainder of the day, and late
in the evening drove home to
The next evening, Wednesday, May 29, we attended an
antislavery _soirée_, at Willis's rooms, formerly known as Almack's; so at
least I was told. A number of large rooms were thrown open, brilliantly lighted
and adorned, and filled with throngs of people. In the course of the evening we
went upon the platform in the large hall, where an address was presented by S.
Bowley, Esq., of
After the addresses we dispersed to different rooms, where
refreshment tables were bountifully laid out and adorned. By my side, at one
end of them, was a young female of pleasing exterior, with fine eyes, delicate
person, neatly dressed in white. She was introduced to
me as Ellen Crafts--a name memorable in
We retired early after a very agreeable evening.
MY DEAR COUSIN:--
This morning Lord Shaftesbury came according to appointment,
to take me to see the Model Lodging Houses. He remarked that it would be
impossible to give me the full effect of seeing them, unless I could first
visit the dens of filth, disease, and degradation, in which the poor of
[Illustration: _of the facade of "The Model Lodging House."_]
We first visited the lodging house for single men in
A working man returning from his daily toil to this place, can first enjoy the comfort of a bath; then, going into the kitchen, make his cup of tea or coffee, and sitting down at one of the clean, scoured tables in the sitting room, sip his tea, and look over a book. Or a friendly company may prepare their supper and sit down to tea together. Lord Shaftesbury said that the effect produced on the men by such an arrangement was wonderful. They became decent, decorous, and self-respecting. They passed rules of order for their community. They subscribed for their library from their own earnings, and the books are mostly of their own selection. "It is remarkable," said his lordship, "that of their own accord they decided to reject every profane, indecent, or immoral work. It showed," he said, "how strong are the influences of the surroundings in reforming or ruining the character." It should be remarked that all these advantages are enjoyed for the same price charged by the most crowded and filthy of lodging houses, namely, fourpence per night, or two shillings per week. The building will accommodate eighty-two. The operation supports itself handsomely.
I should remark, by the by, that in order to test more fully
the practicability of the thing, this was accomplished in one of the worst
From these we proceeded to view a more perfect specimen of
the same sort in the Model Lodging House of George Street,
The common room, thirty-three feet long, twenty-three feet wide, and ten feet nine inches high, is paved with white tiles, laid on brick arches, and on each side are two rows of tables with seats; at the fireplace is a constant supply of hot water, and above it are the rules of the establishment. The staircase, which occupies the centre of the building, is of stone. The dormitories, eight in number, ten feet high, are subdivided with movable wood partitions six feet nine inches high; each compartment, enclosed by its own door, is fitted up with a bed, chair, and clothes box. A shaft is carried up at the end of every room, the ventilation through it being assisted by the introduction of gas, which lights the apartment. A similar shaft is carried up the staircase, supplying fresh air to the dormitories, with a provision for warming it, if necessary. The washing closets on each floor are fitted up with slate, having japanned iron basins, and water laid on.
During the fearful ravages of the cholera in this immediate neighborhood, not one case occurred in this house among its one hundred and four inmates.
From this place we proceeded to one, if any thing, more interesting to me. This was upon the same principle appropriated to the lodgment of single women. When one considers the defenceless condition of single women, who labor for their own subsistence in a large city, how easily they are imposed upon and oppressed, and how quickly a constitution may be destroyed for want of pure air, fresh water, and other common necessaries of life, one fully appreciates the worth of a large and beautiful building, which provides for this oppressed, fragile class.
The Thanksgiving Model Buildings at
The hundred and twenty-eight single women, of whom the majority are supposed to be poor needlewomen, occupy sixty-four rooms in a building of four stories, divided by a central staircase; a corridor on either side forms a lobby to eight rooms, each twelve feet six inches long, by nine feet six inches wide, sufficiently large for two persons. They are fitted up with two bedsteads, a table, chairs, and a washing stand. The charge is one shilling per week for each person, or two shillings per room.
Lord Shaftesbury took me into one of the rooms, where was an aged female partially bedridden, who maintained herself by sewing, The room was the picture of neatness and comfort; a good supply of hot and cold water was furnished in it. Her work was spread out by her upon the bed, together with her Bible and hymn book; she looked cheerful and comfortable. She seemed pleased to see Lord Shaftesbury, whom she had evidently seen many times before, as his is a familiar countenance in all these places. She expressed the most fervent thankfulness for the quiet, order, and comfort of her pleasant lodgings, comparing them very feelingly with what used to be her condition before any such place had been provided.
[Illustration: _of a four story rectangular brick/masonry structure._]
From this place we drove to the Streatham Street Lodging House for families, of which the following is an outside view. This building is, in the first place, fire proof; in the second, the separation in the parts belonging to different families is rendered complete and perfect by the use of hollow brick for the partitions, which entirely prevents, as I am told, the transmission of sound.
The accompanying print shows the plan of one tenement.
[Illustration: _of an apartment's plan (no scale)_:
Open gallery, five feet wide
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:: :: ::
:: :: ::
:: A :: B ::
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A Living room
B Bed room ASCII Key:
C Bed room
D Lobby :: Wall
E Scullery ::XX:: Wall intersection
F Water closet ::--:: Window
G Bed closet ::..:: Balcony
H Sink +----+ Fixture edge
I Meat safe L Dust flue (*_not identified on original plan--location estimated from author's description_)]
[Illustration: _of the multi-story brick/masonry structure with covered galleries._]
By means of the sleeping closet adjoining the living room, each dwelling affords three good sleeping apartments. The meat safe preserves provisions. The dust flue is so arranged that all the sweepings of the house, and all the refuse of the cookery, have only to be thrown down to disappear forever; while the sink is supplied to an unlimited extent with hot and cold water. These galleries, into which every tenement opens, run round the inside of the hollow court which the building encloses, and afford an admirable play-place for the little children, out of the dangers and temptations of the street, and in view of their respective mothers. The foregoing print, representing the inner half of the quadrangle, shows the arrangement of the galleries.
"Now," said Lord Shaftesbury, as he was showing me through these tenements, which were models of neatness and good keeping, "you must bear in mind that these are tenanted by the very people who once were living in the dirtiest and filthiest lodging houses; people whom the world said, it did no good to try to help; that they liked to be dirty better than clean, and would be dirty under any circumstances."
He added the following anecdote to show the effect of poor lodgings in degrading the character. A fine young man, of some considerable taste and talent, obtained his living by designing patterns for wall paper. A long and expensive illness so reduced his circumstances, that he was obliged to remove to one of these low, filthy lodging houses already alluded to. From that time he became an altered man; his wife said that he lost all energy, all taste in designing, love of reading, and fondness for his family; began to frequent drinking shops, and was visibly on the road to ruin. Hearing of these lodging houses, he succeeded in renting a tenement in one of them, for the same sum which he had paid for the miserable dwelling. Under the influence of a neat, airy, pleasant, domestic home, the man's better nature again awoke, his health improved, he ceased to crave ardent spirits, and his former ingenuity in his profession returned.
"Now, this shows," said Lord Shaftesbury, "that hundreds may have been ruined simply by living in miserable dwellings." I looked into this young man's tenement; it was not only neat, but ornamented with a great variety of engravings tastefully disposed upon the wall. On my expressing my pleasure in this circumstance, he added, "It is one of the pleasantest features of the case, to notice how soon they began to ornament their little dwellings; some have cages with singing birds, and some pots of flowering plants; some, pictures and engravings."
"And are these buildings successful in a pecuniary point of view?" I said. "Do they pay their own way?"
"Yes," he replied, "they do. I consider that these buildings, if they have done nothing more, have established two points: first, that the poor do not prefer dirt and disorder, where it is possible for them to secure neatness and order; and second, that buildings with every proper accommodation can be afforded at a price which will support an establishment."
Said I, "Are people imitating these lodging houses very rapidly?"
"To a great extent they are," he replied,
"but not so much as I desire. Buildings on these principles have been
erected in the principal towns of
The commissioner of police reports to the secretary of state systematically as to the results of this system.
After looking at these things, we proceeded to view one of the model washing houses, which had been erected for the convenience of poor women. We entered a large hall, which was divided by low wood partitions into small apartments, in each of which a woman was washing. The whole process of washing clothes in two or three waters, and boiling them, can be effected without moving from the spot, or changing the tub. Each successive water is let out at the bottom, while fresh is let on from the top. When the clothes are ready to be boiled, a wooden cover is placed over them, and a stream of scalding steam is directed into the tub, by turning a stop cock; this boils the water in a few moments, effectually cleansing the clothes; they are then whirled in a hollow cylinder till nearly dry, after which they are drawn through two rollers covered with flannel, which presses every remaining particle of water out of them. The clothes are then hung upon frames, which shut into large closets, and are dried by steam in a very short space of time.
Lord Shaftesbury, pointing out the partitions, said, "This is an arrangement of delicacy to save their feelings: their clothes are sometimes so old and shabby they do not want to show them, poor things." I thought this feature worthy of special notice.
In addition to all these improvements for the laboring classes, very large bathing establishments have been set up expressly for the use of the working classes. To show the popularity and effectiveness of this movement, five hundred and fifty thousand baths were given in three houses during the year 1850. These bathing establishments for the working classes are rapidly increasing in every part of the kingdom.
When we returned to our carriage after this survey, I
remarked to Lord Shaftesbury that the combined influence of these causes must
have wrought a considerable change in the city. He answered, with energy,
"You can have no idea. Whole streets and districts have been
revolutionized by it. The people who were formerly savage and ferocious,
because they supposed themselves despised and abandoned, are now perfectly
quiet and docile. I can assure you that Lady Shaftesbury has walked alone, with
no attendant but a little child, through streets in
I said to him that I saw nothing now, with all the improvements they were making throughout the kingdom, to prevent their working classes from becoming quite as prosperous as ours, except the want of a temperance reformation.
He assented with earnestness. He believed, he said, that the
amount spent in liquors of various kinds, which do no good, but much injury,
was enough to furnish every laborer's dwelling, not only with comforts, but
with elegances. "But then," he said, "one thing is to be
considered: a reform of the dwellings will do a great deal towards promoting a
temperance reformation. A man who lives in a close, unwholesome dwelling,
deprived of the natural stimulus of fresh air and pure water, comes into a
morbid and unhealthy state; he craves stimulants to support the sinking of his
vital powers, caused by these unhealthy influences." There is certainly a
great deal of truth in this; and I think that, in
I have addressed this letter to you, my dear cousin, on
account of the deep interest you have taken in the condition of the poor and
perishing in the city of
I wish in this letter to give you a brief view of the movements in this country for the religious instruction and general education of the masses. If we compare the tone of feeling now prevalent with that existing but a few years back, we notice a striking change. No longer ago than in the time of Lady Huntington we find a lady of quality ingenuously confessing that her chief source of scepticism in regard to Christianity was, that it actually seemed to imply that the educated, the refined, the noble, must needs be saved by the same Savior and the same gospel with the ignorant and debased working classes. Traces of a similar style of feeling are discernible in the letters of the polished correspondents of Hannah More. Robert Walpole gayly intimates himself somewhat shocked at the idea that the nobility and the vulgar should be equally subject to the restraints of the Sabbath and the law of God--equally exposed to the sanctions of endless retribution. And Young makes his high-born dame inquire,
"Shall pleasures of a short duration chain
A _lady's_ soul in everlasting pain?"
In broad contrast to this, all the modern popular movements
The beginning of this great humanitarian movement in
Of course the religious obligations of society to _every_ human soul were involved in the discussion. It educated Parliament, it educated the community. Parliament became accustomed to hearing the simple principles of the gospel asserted in its halls as of binding force. The community were trained in habits of efficient benevolent action, which they have never lost. The use of tracts, of committees, of female cooperation, of voluntary association, and all the appliances of organized reform were discovered and successfully developed. The triumphant victory then achieved, moreover, became the pledge of future conquests in every department of reform. Concerning the movements for the elevation of the masses, Lord Shaftesbury has kindly furnished me with a few brief memoranda, set down as nearly as possible in chronological order.
In the first place, there has been reform of the poor laws. So corrupt had this system become, that a distinct caste had well nigh sprung into permanent existence, families having been known to subsist in idleness for five generations solely by means of skilful appropriation of public and private charities.
The law giving to paupers the preference in all cases where any public work was to be done, operated badly. Good workmen might starve for want of work: by declaring themselves paupers they obtained employment. Thus, virtually, a bounty was offered to pauperism. His lordship remarks,--
"There have been sad defects, no doubt, and some harshness, under the new system; but the general result has been excellent; and, in many instances, the system has been reduced to practice in a truly patriarchal spirit. The great difficulty and the great failure are found in the right and safe occupation of children who are trained in these workhouses, of which so much has been said."
In the second place, the treatment of the insane has received a thorough investigation. This began, in 1828, by a committee of inquiry, moved for by Mr. Gordon.
An almost incredible amount of suffering and horrible barbarity was thus brought to light. For the most part it appeared that the treatment of the insane had been conducted on the old, absurd idea which cuts them off from humanity, and reduces them below the level of the brutes. The regimen in private madhouses was such that Lord Shaftesbury remarked of them, in a speech on the subject, "I have said before, and now say again, that should it please God to visit me with such an affliction, I would greatly prefer the treatment of paupers, in an establishment like that of the Surrey Asylum, to the treatment of the rich in almost any one of these receptacles."
Instances are recorded of individuals who were exhumed from cells where they had existed without clothing or cleansing, as was ascertained, _for years after they had entirely recovered the exercise of sound reason_. Lord Shaftesbury procured the passage of bills securing the thorough supervision of these institutions by competent visiting committees, and the seasonable dismissal of all who were pronounced cured; and the adoption for the pauper insane of a judicious course of remedial treatment.
The third step was the passage of the ten hour factory bill. This took nearly eighteen years of labor and unceasing activity in Parliament and in the provinces. Its operation affects full half a million of actual workers, and, if the families be included, nearly two millions of persons, young and old. Two thirds as many as the southern slaves.
It is needless to enlarge on the horrible disclosures in
reference to the factory operatives, made during this investigation.
In the beginning of one of his speeches, his lordship says, "Nearly eleven years have now elapsed since I first made the proposition to the house which I shall renew this night. Never, at any time, have I felt greater apprehension, or even anxiety. Not through any fear of personal defeat; for disappointment is 'the badge of our tribe;' but because I know well the hostility that I have aroused, and the certain issues of indiscretion on my part affecting the welfare of those who have so long confided their hopes and interests to my charge." One may justly wonder on what conceivable grounds any could possibly oppose the advocate of a measure like this. He was opposed on the same ground that Clarkson was resisted in seeking the abolition of the slave trade. As Boswell said that "to abolish the slave trade would be to shut the gates of mercy on mankind," so the advocates of eighteen hours labor in factories said that the ten hour system would diminish produce, lower wages, and bring starvation on the workmen. His lordship was denounced as an incendiary, a meddling fanatic, interfering with the rights of masters, and desiring to exalt his own order by destroying the prosperity of the manufacturers.
In the conclusion of one of his speeches he says, "Sir, it may not be given me to pass over this Jordan; other and better men have preceded me, and I entered into their labors; other and better men will follow me, and enter into mine; but this consolation I shall ever continue to enjoy--that, amidst much injustice and somewhat of calumny, we have at last 'lighted such a candle in England as, by God's blessing, shall never be put out.'"
The next effort was to regulate the labor of children in the calico and print works. The great unhealthiness of the work, and the tender age of the children employed,--some even as young as four years--were fully disclosed. An extract from his lordship's remarks on this subject will show that human nature takes the same course in all countries: "Sir, in the various discussions on these kindred subjects, there has been a perpetual endeavor to drive us from the point under debate, and taunt us with a narrow and one-sided humanity. I was told there were far greater evils than those I had assailed--that I had left untouched much worse things. It was in vain to reply that no one could grapple with the whole at once; my opponents on the ten hour bill sent me to the collieries; when I invaded the collieries I was referred to the print works; from the print works I know not to what I shall be sent; for what can be worse? Sir, it has been said to me, more than once, 'Where will you stop?' I reply, Nowhere, so long as any portion of this mighty evil remains to be removed. I confess that my desire and ambition are to bring all the laboring children of this empire within the reach and opportunities of education, within the sphere of useful and happy citizens. I am ready, so far as my services are of any value, to devote what little I have of energy, and all the remainder of my life, to the accomplishment of this end. The labor would be great, and the anxieties very heavy; but I fear neither one nor the other. I fear nothing but defeat."
From the allusion, above, to the colliery effort, it would seem that the act for removing women and children from the coalpits preceded the reform of the printworks. Concerning the result of these various enterprises, he says, "The present state of things may be told in few words. Full fifty thousand children under thirteen years of age attend school every day. None are worked more than seven, generally only six, hours in the day. Those above thirteen and under eighteen, and all women, are limited to ten hours and a half, exclusive of the time for meals. The work begins at six in the morning and ends at six in the evening. Saturday's labor ends at four o'clock, and there is no work on Sunday. The printworks are brought under regulation, and the women and children removed from the coalpits." His lordship adds, "The report of inspectors which I send you will give you a faint picture of the physical, social, and moral good that has resulted. I may safely say of these measures, that God has blessed them far beyond my expectation, and almost equal to my heart's desire."
The next great benevolent movement is the ragged school
system. From a miserable hole in
A little anecdote related by Mr. Nash shows the grateful feelings of the inmates of this institution. A number of them were very desirous to have a print of Lord Shaftesbury, to hang up in their sitting room. Mr. Nash told them he knew of no way in which they could earn the money, except by giving up something from their daily allowance of food. This they cheerfully agreed to do. A benevolent gentleman offered to purchase the picture and present it to them; but they unanimously declined. They wanted it to be their own, they said, and they could not feel that it was so unless they did something for it themselves.
Connected with the ragged school, also, is a movement for establishing what are called ragged churches--a system of simple, gratuitous religious instruction, which goes out to seek those who feel too poor and degraded to be willing to enter the churches.
Another of the great movements in
In consequence of all these movements, the dwellings of the
laboring classes throughout
Another great movement is the repeal of the corn laws, the benefit of which is too obvious to need comment.
What has been doing for milliners and dressmakers, for the
reform lodging houses, and for the supply of baths and wash houses, I have
shown at length in former letters. I will add that the city of
There is a great multiplication of churches, and of clergymen to labor in the more populous districts. The Pastoral Aid Society and the Scripture Reading Society are both extensive and fruitful laborers for the service of the mass of the people.
There has also been a public health act, by which towns and villages are to be drained and supplied with water. This has gone into operation in about one hundred and sixty populous places with the most beneficial results.
In fine, Lord Shaftesbury says, "The best proof that
the people are cared for, and that they know it, appeared in the year 1848. All
It is true, that all these efforts united could not
radically relieve the distress of the working classes, were it not for the
outlet furnished by emigration. But
I will say, finally, that the aspect of the religious mind
of England, as I have been called to meet it, is very encouraging in this
respect; that it is humble, active, and practical. With all that has been done,
they do not count themselves to have attained, or to be already perfect; and
they evidently think and speak more of the work that yet remains to be done
than of victories already achieved. Could you, my dear father, have been with
me through the different religious circles it has been my privilege to enter,
from the humble cotter's fireside to the palace of the highest and noblest,
your heart would share with mine a sincere joy in the thought that the Lord
"has much people" in England. Called by different names, Churchman,
Puseyite, Dissenter, Presbyterian, Independent, Quaker, differing widely,
sincerely, earnestly, I have still found among them all evidence of that true
piety which consists in a humble and childlike spirit of obedience to God, and
a sincere desire to do good to man. It is comforting and encouraging to know, that
while there are many sects and opinions, there is, after all, but one Christianity. I sometimes think that it has been my
peculiar lot to see the exhibition of more piety and loveliness of spirit in
the differing sects and ranks in
MY DEAR HUSBAND:--
According to request I will endeavor to keep you informed of
all our goings on after you left, up to the time of
our departure for
We have borne in mind your advice to hasten away to the
continent. C. wrote, a day or two since, to Mrs. C. at
Our kind Mr. Sherman showed great taste as well as energy in the arrangements. The lecture room of the chapel was prettily adorned with flowers. Lord Shaftesbury was in the chair, and the Duchess of Argyle and the Marquis of Stafford were there. Miss Greenfield sang some songs, and there were speeches in which each speaker said all the obliging things he could think of to the rest. Rev. Mr. Binney complimented the nobility, and Lord Shaftesbury complimented the people, and all were but too kind in what they said to me--in fact, there was general good humor in the whole scene.
The inkstand is a beautiful specimen of silverwork. It is eighteen inches long, with a group of silver figures on it, representing Religion with the Bible in her hand, giving liberty to the slave. The slave is a masterly piece of work. He stands with his hands clasped, looking up to heaven, while a white man is knocking the shackles from his feet. But the prettiest part of the scene was the presentation of a _gold pen_, by a band of beautiful children, one of whom made a very pretty speech. I called the little things to come and stand around me, and talked with them a few minutes, and this was all the speaking that fell to my share. Now this, really, was too kind of these ladies, and of our brotherly friend Mr. S., and I was quite touched with it; especially as I have been able myself to do so very little, socially, for any body's pleasure. Mr. Sherman still has continued to be as thoughtful and careful as a brother could be; and his daughter, Mrs. B., I fear, has robbed her own family to give us the additional pleasure of her society. We rode out with her one day into the country, and saw her home and little family. Saturday morning we breakfasted at Stafford House, I wish you could have been there. All was as cool, and quiet, and still there, as in some retreat deep in the country. We went first into the duchess's boudoir,--you remember,--where is that beautiful crayon sketch of Lady Constance. The duchess was dressed in pale blue. We talked with her some time, before any one came in, about Miss Greenfield. I showed her a simple note to her grace in which Miss G. tried to express her gratitude, and which she had sent to me to _correct_ for her. The duchess said, "0, give it me! it is a great deal better as it is. I like it just as she wrote it."
People always like simplicity and truth better than finish.
After entering the breakfast room the Duke and Duchess of Argyle, and Lord
Carlisle appeared, and soon after Lord Shaftesbury. We breakfasted in that
beautiful green room which has the two statues, the Eve of Thorwaldsen and the
Venus of Canova. The view of the gardens and trees from the window gave one a
sense of seclusion and security, and made me forget that we were in great,
The Duke of Argyle, who is a Presbyterian, seemed to feel an interest in those points. He said it indicated great power in the Assembly's Catechism that it could hold such ascendency in such a free country.
In the course of the conversation it was asked if there was
really danger that the antislavery spirit of
I said, were it possible that
Lord Carlisle is going to
Lord Shaftesbury is now all-engaged upon the _fête_ of the
seven thousand charity children, which is to come off at
The Duchesses of Sutherland and Argyle were to have
attended, but the queen has just come to town, and the first drawing room will
be held on Thursday, so that they will be unable. His lordship had previously
invited me, and this morning renewed the invitation. Our time to leave
In the afternoon of this day I went with Lord Shaftesbury over the model lodging houses, which I have described very particularly in a letter to Mr. C. L. B.
On Thursday, at five P. M., we drove to Stafford House, to go with her grace to the House of Parliament. What a magnificent building! I say so, in contempt of all criticism. I hear that all sorts of things are said against it. For my part, I consider that no place is so utterly hopeless as that of a modern architect intrusted with a great public building. It is not his fault that he is modern, but his misfortune. Things which in old buildings are sanctioned by time he may not attempt; and if he strikes out _new_ things, that is still worse. He is fair game for every body's criticism. He builds too high for one, too low for another; is too ornate for this, too plain for that; he sacrifices utility to aesthetics, or aesthetics to utility, and somebody is displeased either way. The duchess has been a sympathizing friend of the architect through this arduous ordeal. She took pleasure and pride in his work, and showed it to me as something in which she felt an almost personal interest.
For my part, I freely confess that, viewed as a national
monument, it seems to me a grand one. What a splendid historic corridor is old
Westminster Hall, with its ancient oaken roof! I seemed to see all that brilliant scene when Burke spoke there amid the
nobility, wealth, and fashion of all
At last I saw Lord Aberdeen. He looks like some of our Presbyterian elders; a plain, grave old man, with a bald head, and dressed in black; by the by, I believe I have heard that he is an elder in the National kirk; I am told he is a very good man. You don't know how strangely and dreamily this House of Lords, as _seen_ to-day, mixed itself up with my historic recollections of by-gone days. It had a very sheltered, comfortable parlor-like air. The lords in their cushioned seats seemed like men that had met, in a social way, to talk over public affairs; it was not at all that roomy, vast, declamatory national hall I had imagined.
Then we went into the House of Commons. There is a kind of
latticed gallery to which ladies are admitted--a charming little oriental
rookery. There we found the Duchess of Argyle and others. Lord Carlisle
afterwards joined us, and we went all over the house, examining the frescoes,
looking into closets, tea rooms, libraries, smoking rooms, committee rooms, and
all, till I was thoroughly initiated. The terrace that skirts the
On the whole, when this Parliament House shall have gathered the dust of two hundred years,--when Victoria's reign is among the myths,--future generations will then venerate this building as one of the rare creations of old masters, and declare that no modern structure can ever equal it.
The next day, at three o'clock, I went to Miss Greenfield's first public morning concert, a bill of which I send you. She comes out under the patronage of all the great names, you observe. Lady Hatherton was there, and the Duchess of Sutherland, with all her daughters.
Miss Greenfield did very well, and was heard with indulgence, though surrounded by artists who had enjoyed what she had not--a life's training. I could not but think what a loss to art is the enslaving of a race which might produce so much musical talent. Had she had culture equal to her voice and ear, _no_ singer of any country could have surpassed her. There could even be associations of poetry thrown around the dusky hue of her brow were it associated with the triumphs of art.
After concert, the Duchess of S. invited Lady H. and myself to Stafford House. We took tea in the green library.
The next day I lunched with Mrs. Malcolm, daughter-in-law of
your favorite traveller, Sir John Malcolm, of Persian memory. You should have
been there. The house is a cabinet of Persian curiosities. There was the
original of the picture of the King of Persia in Ker Porter's Travels. It was
given to Sir John by the monarch himself. There were also two daggers which the
king presented with his own hand. I think Sir John must somehow have mesmerized
him. Then Captain M. showed me sketches of his father's country house in the
Mrs. M. went with me to call on Lady Carlisle. She spoke much of the beauty and worth of her character, and said that though educated in the gayest circles of court, she had always preserved the same unworldly purity. Mrs. M. has visited Dunrobin and seen the Sutherland estates, and spoke much of the Duke's character as a landlord, and his efforts for the improvement of his tenantry.
Lady Carlisle was very affectionate, and invited me to visit
Castle Howard on my return to
Thursday I went with Lord Shaftesbury to see the charity children. What a sight! The whole central part of the cathedral was converted into an amphitheatre, and the children with white caps, white handkerchiefs, and white aprons, looked like a wide flower bed. The rustling, when they all rose up to prayer, was like the rise of a flock of doves, and when they chanted the church service, it was the warble of a thousand little brooks. As Spenser says,--
"The angelical, soft, trembling voices made
Unto the instruments respondence meet."
During the course of the services, when any little one was overcome with sleep or fatigue, he was carefully handed down, and conveyed in a man's arms to a refreshment room.
There was a sermon by the Bishop of Chester, very
evangelical and practical. On the whole, a more peculiar or more
lovely scene I never saw. The elegant arches of
After service we lunched with a large party, with Mrs.
Milman, at the deanery near by. Mrs. Jameson was there, and Mrs. Gaskell,
authoress of Mary Barton and Ruth. She has a very lovely, gentle face, and
looks capable of all the pathos that her writings show. I promised her a visit
when I go to
After this we made a farewell call at the lord mayor's. We
found the lady mayoress returned from the queen's drawing room. From her
accounts I should judge the ceremonial rather fatiguing. Mrs. M. asked me
yesterday if I had any curiosity to see one. I confessed I had not. Merely to
see public people in public places, in the way of parade and ceremony, was
never interesting to me. I have seen very little of ceremony or show in
To-morrow we go--go to quiet, to obscurity, to peace; to
June 4, 1853. Bade adieu with regret to dear
"_Monsieur veut aller à Pan's, n'est ce pas?_" "Going to
"Is monsieur's baggage registered?"
"Does monsieur's wish to go to the station house?"
"Can one find any thing there to eat?"
"Yes, just as at a hotel."
We yielded at discretion, and _garçon_ took possession of us.
"English?" said _garçon_, as we enjoyed the pleasant walk on the sunny quay.
"No. American," we replied.
"Ah!" (his face brightening up, and speaking confidentially,) "you have a republic there."
We gave the lad a franc, dined, and were off for
"What is this?"
"That is my collar box."
"_Ah, ça_" And he put it back hastily, and felt of my travelling gown. "What is this?"
"Only a wrapping gown."
"_Ah, ça_" After fumbling a little more, he took sister H.'s bag, gave a dive here, a poke there, and a kind of promiscuous rake with his five fingers, and turned to the trunk. There he seemed somewhat dubious. Eying the fine silk and lace dresses,--first one, then the other,--"Ah, ah!" said he, and snuffed a little. Then he peeped under this corner, and cocked his eye under that corner; then, all at once, plunged his arm down at one end of the trunk, and brought up a little square box. "What's that?" said he. He unrolled and was about to open it, when suddenly he seemed to be seized with an emotion of confidence. "_Non, non_" said he, frankly, and rolled it up, shoved it back, stuffed the things down, smoothed all over, signed my ticket, and passed on. We locked up, gave the baggage to porters, and called a fiacre. As we left the station two ladies met us.
"Is there any one here expecting to see Mrs. C.?" said one of them.
"Yes, madam," said I; "_we_ do."
"God bless you," said she, fervently, and seized me by the hand. It was Mrs. C. and her sister. I gave He into their possession.
Our troubles were over. We were at home. We rode through
streets whose names were familiar, crossed the Carrousel, passed the
Sabbath, June 5. Headache all the
forenoon. In the afternoon we walked to the Madeleine, and heard a
sermon on charity; listened to the chanting, and gazed at the fantastic
ceremonial of the altar. I had anticipated so much from Henry's description of the
organs, that I was disappointed. The music was fine; but our ideal had
outstripped the real. The strangest part of the performance was the censer
swinging at the altar. It was done in certain parts of the chant, with rhythmic
sweep, and glitter, and vapor wreath, that produced a
striking effect. There was an immense audience--quiet, orderly, and to all
appearance devout. This was the first Romish service I ever attended. It ought
to be impressive here, if any where. Yet I cannot say I was moved by it Rome-ward.
Indeed, I felt a kind of Puritan tremor of conscience at witnessing such a
theatrical pageant on the Sabbath. We soon saw, however, as we walked home,
across the gardens of the Tuileries, that there is no Sabbath in
Monday, June 6. This day was consecrated to knick-knacks. Accompanied by Mrs. C., whom years of residence have converted into a perfect _Parisienne_, we visited shop after shop, and store after store. The politeness of the shopkeepers is inexhaustible. I felt quite ashamed to spend a half hour looking at every thing, and then depart without buying; but the civil Frenchman bowed, and smiled, and thanked us for coming.
In the evening, we rode to L'Arc de Triomphe d'Etoile, an
immense pile of massive masonry, from the top of which we enjoyed a brilliant
Tuesday, June 7. _A la Louvre_! But first the ladies must "shop" a little. I sit by the counter and watch the pretty Parisian _shopocracy_. A lady presides at the desk. Trim little grisettes serve the customers so deftly, that we wonder why awkward men should ever attempt to do such things. Nay, they are so civil, so evidently disinterested and solicitous for your welfare, that to buy is the most natural thing imaginable.
But to the Louvre! Provided with catalogues, I abandoned the ladies, and strolled along to take a kind of cream-skimming look at the whole. I was highly elated with one thing. There were three Madonnas with dark hair and eyes: one by Murillo, another by Carracci, and another by Guido. It showed that painters were not so utterly hopeless as a class, and given over by common sense to blindness of mind, as I had supposed.
H. begins to recant her heresy in regard to Rubens. Here we find his largest pieces. Here we find the real originals of several real originals we saw in English galleries. It seems as though only upon a picture as large as the side of a parlor could his exuberant genius find scope fully to lay itself out.
When I met II. at last--after finishing the survey--her cheek was flushed, and her eye seemed to swim. "Well, H.," said I, "have you drank deep enough this time?"
"Yes," said she, "I have been _satisfied_, for the first time."
Wednesday, June 8. A day on foot in
And is it not chiefly because, either by accident or by
instinctive good taste, her treasures of beauty and art are so disposed along
Rapidly now I sped onward, paying brief visits to the Palais
de Justice, the Hotel de Ville, and spending a cool half hour in Notre Dame. I
love to sit in these majestic fanes, abstracting them from the superstition
which does but desecrate them, and gaze upward to their lofty, vaulted arches,
to drink in the impression of architectual sublimity, which I can neither
analyze nor express. Cathedrals do not seem to me to have been built. They
seem, rather, stupendous growths of nature, like crystals, or cliffs of basalt.
There is little ornament here. That roof looks plain and bare; yet I feel that
the air is dense with sublimity. Onward I sped, crossing a bridge by the Hotel
Dieu, and, leaving the river, plunged into narrow streets. Explored a
quadrangular market; surveyed the old
In the evening I rested from the day's fatigue by an hour in
the garden of the Palais Royal. I sat by one of the little tables, and called
for an ice. There were hundreds of ladies and gentlemen eating ices, drinking
wine, reading the papers, smoking, chatting; scores of pretty children were
frolicking and enjoying the balmy evening. Here six or eight midgets were
jumping the rope, while papa and mamma swung it for them. Pretty little things,
with their flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, how they did seem to enjoy
themselves! What parent was ever far from home that did not espy in every group
of children his own little ones--his Mary or his Nelly, his Henry or Charlie?
So it was with me. There was a ring of twenty or thirty singing and dancing,
with a smaller ring in the centre, while old folks and boys stood outside. But
I heard not a single oath, nor saw a rough or rude action, during the whole
time I was there. The boys standing by looked on quietly, like young gentlemen.
The best finale of such a toilsome day of sightseeing was a warm bath in the
Rue du Bac, for the trifling sum of fifteen sous. The cheapness and convenience
of bathing here is a great recommendation of
Thursday, June 9. At the Louvre. Studied three statues half an hour each--the Venus Victrix, Polyhymnia, and Gladiateur Combattant. The first is mutilated; but if _disarmed_ she conquers all hearts, what would she achieve in full panoply? As to the Gladiator, I noted as follows on my catalogue: A pugilist; antique, brown with age; attitude, leaning forward; left hand raised on guard, right hand thrown out back, ready to strike a side blow; right leg bent; straight line from the head to the toe of left foot; muscles and veins most vividly revealed in intense development; a wonderful _petrifaction,_ as if he had been smitten to stone at the instant of striking.
Here are antique mosaics, in which colored stones seem
liquefied, realizing the most beautiful effects of painting--quadrigae,
warriors, arms, armor, vases, streams, all lifelike.
Ascending to the hall of French paintings I spent an hour in studying one
picture--La Méduse, by Géricault. It is a shipwrecked crew upon a raft in mid
ocean. I gazed until all surrounding objects disappeared, and I was alone upon
For my part, I remain a heretic. Give to these French
pictures the mellowing effects of age, impregnating not merely the picture, but
the eye that gazes on it, with its subtle quality; let them be gazed at through
the haze of two hundred years, and they will--or I cannot see why they will
not--rival the productions of any past age. I do not believe that a more
powerful piece ever was painted than yon raft by Gericault, nor any more
beautiful than several in the
After visiting the
But under all this there lie, as under the cultivated crust of this fair world, deep abysses of soul, where volcanic masses of molten lava surge and shake the tremulous earth. In the gay and bustling Boulevards, a friend, an old resident of Paris, poised out to me, as we rode, the bullet marks that scarred the houses--significant tokens of what seems, but is not, forgotten.
At sunset a military band of about seventy performers began playing in front of the Tuileries. They formed an immense circle, the leader in the centre. He played the octave flute, which also served as a baton for marking time. The music was characterized by delicacy, precision, suppression, and subjugation of rebellious material.
I imagined a congress of horns, clarinets, trumpets, &c., conversing in low tones on some important theme; nay, rather a conspiracy of instruments, mourning between whiles their subjugation, and ever and anon breaking out in a fierce _émeute_, then repressed, hushed, dying away; as if they had heard of Baron Munchausen's frozen horn, and had conceived the idea of yielding their harmonies without touch of human lips, yet were sighing and sobbing at their impotence. Perhaps I detected the pulses of a nation's palpitating heart, throbbing for liberty, but trodden down, and sobbing in despair.
In the evening Mrs. C. had her _salon_, a fashion of receiving one's friends on a particular night, that one wishes could be transplanted to American soil.
No invitations are given. It is simply understood that on
such an evening, the season through, a lady _receives_ her friends. All come that
please, without ceremony. A little table is set out with tea and a plate of
cake. Behind it presides some fairy Emma or
Up to this hour we had conversed little in French. One is naturally diffident at first; for if one musters courage to commence a conversation with propriety, the problem is how to escape a Scylla in the second and a Charybdis in the third sentence. Said one of our fair entertainers, "When I first began I would think of some sentence till I could say it without stopping, and courageously deliver myself to some guest or acquaintance." But it was like pulling the string of a shower bath. Delighted at my correct sentence, and supposing me _au fait_, they poured upon me such a deluge of French that I held my breath in dismay. Considering, however, that nothing is to be gained by half-way measures, I resolved upon a desperate game. Launching in, I talked away right and left, up hill and down,--jumping over genders, cases, nouns, and adjectives, floundering through swamps and morasses, in a perfect steeple chase of words. Thanks to the proverbial politeness of my friends, I came off covered with glory; the more mistakes I made the more complacent they grew.
Nothing can surpass the ease, facility, and genial freedom of these _soirées_. Conceive of our excellent professor of Arabic and Sanscrit, Count M. fairly cornered by three wicked fairies, and laughing at their stories and swift witticisms till the tears roll down his cheeks. Behold yonder tall and scarred veteran, an old soldier of Napoleon, capitulating now before the witchery of genius and wit. Here the noble Russian exile forgets his sorrows in those smiles that, unlike the aurora, warm while they dazzle. And our celebrated composer is discomposed easily by alert and nimble-footed mischief. And our professor of Greek and Hebrew roots is rooted to the ground with astonishment at finding himself put through all the moods and tenses of fun in a twinkling. Ah, culpable sirens, if the pangs ye have inflicted were reckoned up unto you,--the heart aches and side aches,--how could ye repose o' nights?
Saturday, June 11.
But who shall describe the social charms of our dinner? All
wedged together, as we were, in the snuggest little pigeon hole of a dining
room, pretty little chattering children and all, whom papa held upon his knee
and fed with bonbons, all the while impressing upon them the absolute necessity
of their leaving the table! There the salad was mixed by acclamation, each
member of the party adding a word of advice, and each, gayly laughing at the
advice of the other. There a gay, red lobster was pulled in pieces among us,
with infinite gout; and Madame Belloc pathetically expressed her fears that we
did not like French cooking. She might have saved herself the trouble; for we
take to it as naturally as ducks take to the water. And then, when we returned
to the parlor, we resolved ourselves into a committee of the whole on coffee,
which was concocted in a trim little hydrostatic engine of latest modern
invention, before the faces of all. And so we right merrily
spent the evening. H. discussed poetry and art with our kind hosts to
her heart's content, and at a late hour we drove to the railroad, and returned
MY DEAR L.:--
At last I have come into dreamland; into the lotus-eater's
paradise; into the land where it is always afternoon. I am released from care;
I am unknown, unknowing; I live in a house whose arrangements seem to me
strange, old, and dreamy. In the heart of a great city I am as still as if in a
convent; in the burning heats of summer our rooms are shadowy and cool as a
cave. My time is all my own. I may at will lie on a sofa, and dreamily watch
the play of the leaves and flowers, in the little garden into which my room
opens; or I may go into the parlor adjoining, whence I hear the quick voices of
my beautiful and vivacious young friends. You ought to see these girls. Emma
might look like a Madonna, were it not for her wicked wit; and as to Anna and
Lizzie, as they glance by me, now and then, I seem to think them a kind of
sprite, or elf, made to inhabit shady old houses, just as twinkling harebells
grow in old castles; and then the gracious mamma, who speaks French, or
English, like a stream of silver--is she not, after all, the fairest of any of
them? And there is Caroline, piquant, racy, full of
conversation--sharp as a quartz crystal: how I like to hear her talk! These people
I scarcely consider myself to have seen any thing of art in
It was, then, with a thrill almost of awe that I approached the Louvre. Here, perhaps, said I to myself, I shall answer, fully, the question that has long wrought within my soul, What is art? and what can it do? Here, perhaps, these yearnings for the ideal will meet their satisfaction. The ascent to the picture gallery tends to produce a flutter of excitement and expectation. Magnificent staircases, dim perspectives of frescoes and carvings, the glorious hall of Apollo, rooms with mosaic pavements, antique vases, countless spoils of art, dazzle the eye of the neophyte, and prepare the mind for some grand enchantment. Then opens on one the grand hall of paintings arranged by schools, the works of each artist by themselves, a wilderness of gorgeous growths.
I first walked through the whole, offering my mind up aimlessly to see if there were any picture there great and glorious enough to seize and control my whole being, and answer, at once, the cravings of the poetic and artistic element. For any such I looked in vain. I saw a thousand beauties, as also a thousand enormities, but nothing of that overwhelming, subduing nature which I had conceived. Most of the men there had painted with dry eyes and cool hearts, thinking only of the mixing of their colors and the jugglery of their art, thinking little of heroism, faith, love, or immortality. Yet when I had resigned this longing; when I was sure I should not meet there what I sought, then I began to enjoy very heartily what there was.
In the first place, I now saw Claudes worthy of the reputation he bore. Three or four of these were studied with great delight; the delight one feels, who, conscientiously bound to be delighted, suddenly comes into a situation to be so. I saw, now, those atmospheric traits, those reproductions of the mysteries of air, and of light, which are called so wonderful, and for which all admire Claude, but for which so few admire Him who made Claude, and who every day creates around us, in the commonest scenes, effects far more beautiful. How much, even now, my admiration of Claude was genuine, I cannot say. How can we ever be sure on this point, when we admire what has prestige and sanction, not to admire which is an argument against ourselves? Certainly, however, I did feel great delight in some of these works.
One of my favorites was Rembrandt. I always did admire the
gorgeous and solemn mysteries of his coloring. Rembrandt is like
There were Raphaels there, which still disappointed me, because from Raphael I asked and expected more. I wished to feel his hand on my soul with a stronger grasp; these were too passionless in their serenity, and almost effeminate in their tenderness.
But Rubens, the great, joyous, full-souled, all-powerful Rubens!--there he was, full as ever of triumphant, abounding life; disgusting and pleasing; making me laugh and making me angry; defying me to dislike him; dragging me at his chariot wheels; in despite of my protests forcing me to confess that there was no other but he.
This Medici gallery is a succession of gorgeous allegoric paintings, done at the instance of Mary of Medici, to celebrate the praise and glory of that family. I was predetermined not to like them for two reasons: first, that I dislike allegorical subjects; and second, that I hate and despise that Medici family and all that belongs to them. So no sympathy with the subjects blinded my eyes, and drew me gradually from all else in the hall to contemplate these. It was simply the love of power and of fertility that held me astonished, which seemed to express with nonchalant ease what other painters attain by laborious efforts. It occurred to me that other painters are famous for single heads, or figures, and that were the striking heads and figures with which these pictures abound to be parcelled out singly, any one of them would make a man's reputation. Any animal of Rubens, alone, would make a man's fortune in that department. His fruits and flowers are unrivalled for richness and abundance; his old men's Leads are wonderful; and when he chooses, which he does not often, he can even create a pretty woman. Generally speaking his women are his worst productions. It would seem that he had revolted with such fury from the meagre, pale, cadaverous outlines of womankind painted by his predecessors, the Van Eyks, whose women resembled potato sprouts grown in a cellar, that he altogether overdid the matter in the opposite direction. His exuberant soul abhors leanness as Nature abhors a vacuum; and hence all his women seem bursting their bodices with fulness, like overgrown carnations breaking out of their green calyxes. He gives you Venuses with arms fit to wield the hammer of Vulcan; vigorous Graces whose dominion would be alarming were they indisposed to clemency. His weakness, in fact, his besetting sin, is too truly described by Moses:--
"But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked;
Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick,
Thou art covered with fatness."
Scornfully he is determined upon it; he will none of your scruples; his women shall be fat as he pleases, and you shall like him nevertheless.
In this Medici gallery the fault appears less prominent than elsewhere. Many of the faces are portraits, and there are specimens among them of female beauty, so delicate as to demonstrate that it was not from any want of ability to represent the softer graces that he so often becomes hard and coarse. My friend, M. Belloc, made the remark that the genius of Rubens was somewhat restrained in these pictures, and chastened by the rigid rules of the French school, and hence in them he is more generally pleasing.
I should compare Rubens to Shakspeare, for the wonderful variety and vital force of his artistic power. I know no other mind he so nearly resembles. Like Shakspeare, he forces you to accept and to forgive a thousand excesses, and uses his own faults as musicians use discords, only to enhance the perfection of harmony. There certainly is some use even in defects. A faultless style sends you to sleep. Defects rouse and excite the sensibility to seek and appreciate excellences. Some of Shakspeare's finest passages explode all grammar and rhetoric like skyrockets--the thought blows the language to shivers.
As to Murillo, there are two splendid specimens of his style here, as exquisite as any I have seen; but I do not find reason to alter the judgment I made from my first survey.
Here is his celebrated picture of the Assumption of the
Virgin, which we have seen circulated in print shops in
Yet this picture is immensely popular. Hundreds stand
enchanted before it, and declare it imbodies their highest ideal of art and
religion; and I suppose it does. But so it always is. The man who has exquisite
gifts of expression passes for more, popularly, than the man with great and
grand ideas who utters but imperfectly. There are some pictures here by
Correggio--a sleeping Venus and Cupid--a marriage of the infant Jesus and
A large saloon is devoted to the masters of the French school. The works of no living artists are admitted. There are some large paintings by David. He is my utter aversion. I see in him nothing but the driest imitation of the classics. It would be too much praise to call it reproduction. David had neither heart nor soul. How could he be and artist?--he who coolly took his portfolio to the guillotine to take lessons on the dying agonies of its victims--how could he ever paint any thing to touch the heart?
In general, all French artists appear to me to have been very much injured by a wrong use of classic antiquity. Nothing could be more glorious and beautiful than the Grecian development; nothing more unlike it that the stale, wearisome, repetitious imitations of it in modern times. The Greek productions themselves have a living power to this day; but all imitations of them are cold and tiresome. These old Greeks made such beautiful things, because they did _not_ imitate. That mysterious vitality which still imbues their remains, and which seems to enchant even the fragments of their marbles, is the mesmeric vitality of fresh, original conception. Art, built upon this, is just like what the shadow of a beautiful woman is to the woman. One gets tired in these galleries of the classic band, and the classic headdress, and the classic attitude, and the endless repetition of the classic urn, and vase, and lamp, as if nothing else were ever to be made in the world except these things.
Again: in regard to this whole French gallery, there is much of a certain quality which I find it very difficult to describe in any one word--a dramatic smartness, a searching for striking and peculiar effects, which render the pictures very likely to please on first sight, and to weary on longer acquaintance. It seems to me to be the work of a race whose senses and perceptions of the outward have been cultivated more than the deep inward emotions. Few of the pictures seem to have been the result of strong and profound feeling, of habits of earnest and concentrated thought. There is an abundance of beautiful little phases of sentiment, pointedly expressed; there is a great deal of what one should call the picturesque of the _morale;_ but few of its foundation ideas. I must except from these remarks the very strong and earnest painting of the Méduse, by Géricault, which C. has described. That seems to me to be the work of a man who had not seen human life and suffering merely on the outside, but had felt, in the very depths of his soul, the surging and earthquake of those mysteries of passion and suffering which underlie our whole existence in this world. To me it was a picture too mighty and too painful--whose power I confessed, but which I did not like to contemplate.
On the whole, French painting is to me an exponent of the
great difficulty and danger of French life; that passion for the outward and
visible, which all their education, all the arrangements of their social life,
every thing in their art and literature, tends continually to cultivate and
increase. Hence they have become the leaders of the world in what I should call
the minor artistics--all those little particulars which render life beautiful.
Hence there are more pretty pictures, and popular lithographs, from
In this connection I may as well give you my
As to Horace Vernet, I do not think he is like either Scott or Shakspeare. In him this French capability for rendering the outward is wrought to the highest point; and it is outwardness as pure from any touch of inspiration or sentiment as I ever remember to have seen. He is graphic to the utmost extreme. His horses and his men stand from the canvas to the astonishment of all beholders. All is vivacity, bustle, dazzle, and show. I think him as perfect, of his kind, as possible; though it is a _kind_ of art with which I do not sympathize.
The picture of the Décadence de Rome indicates to my mind a painter who has studied and understood the classical forms; vitalizing them, by the reproductive force of his own mind, so as to give them the living power of new creations. In this picture is a most grand and melancholy moral lesson. The classical forms are evidently not introduced because they are classic, but in subservience to the expression of the moral. In the orgies of the sensualists here represented he gives all the grace and beauty of sensuality without its sensualizing effect. Nothing could be more exquisite than the introduction of the busts of the departed heroes of the old republic, looking down from their pedestals on the scene of debauchery below. It is a noble picture, which I wish was hung up in the Capitol of our nation to teach our haughty people that as pride, and fulness of bread, and laxness of principle brought down the old republics, so also ours may fall. Although the outward in this painting, and the classical, is wrought to as fine a point as in any French picture, it is so subordinate to the severity of the thought, that while it pleases it does not distract.
But to return to the Louvre. The halls devoted to paintings, of which I have spoken, give you very little idea of the treasures of the institution. Gallery after gallery is filled with Greek, Roman, Assyrian, and Egyptian sculptures, coins, vases, and antique remains of every description. There is, also, an apartment in which I took a deep interest, containing the original sketches of ancient masters. Here one may see the pen and ink drawings of Claude, divided into squares to prepare them for the copyist. One compares here with interest the manners of the different artists in jotting down their ideas as they rose; some by chalk, some by crayon, some by pencil, some by water colors, and some by a heterogeneous mixture of all. Mozart's scrap bag of musical jottings could not have been more amusing.
On the whole, cravings of mere ideality have come nearer to meeting satisfaction by some of these old mutilated remains of Greek sculpture than any thing which I have met yet. In the paintings, even of the most celebrated masters, there are often things which are excessively annoying to me. I scarcely remember a master in whose works I have not found a hand, or foot, or face, or feature so distorted, or coloring at times so unnatural, or something so out of place and proportion in the picture as very seriously to mar the pleasure that I derived from it. In this statuary less is attempted, and all is more harmonious, and one's ideas of proportion are never violated.
My favorite among all these remains is a mutilated statue
which they call the Venus de Milon. This is a statue which is so called from
having been dug up some years ago, piecemeal, in the
The statue is much mutilated, both arms being gone, and part
of the foot. But there is a majesty and grace in the head and face, a union of
loveliness with intellectual and moral strength, beyond any thing which I have
ever seen. To me she might represent
"Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; wisdom, in discourse with her,
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows.
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her, loveliest, and create an awe
About her, like a guard angelic placed."
Compared with this matchless Venus, that of Medici seems as inane and trifling as mere physical beauty always must by the side of beauty baptized, and made sacramental, as the symbol of that which alone is truly fair.
With regard to the arrangements of the Louvre, they seem to me to be admirable. No nation has so perfectly the qualifications to care for, keep, and to show to best advantage a gallery of art as the French.
During the heat of the outburst that expelled Louis Philippe
from the throne, the Louvre was in some danger of destruction. Destructiveness
is a native element of human nature, however repressed by society; and hence
every great revolutionary movement always brings to the surface some who are
for indiscriminate demolition. Moreover there is a strong tendency in the
popular mind, where art and beauty have for many years been monopolized as the
prerogative of a haughty aristocracy, to identify art and beauty with oppression;
this showed itself in
Moved by his eloquence the people decamped from the building, and left it in his hands. Empowered to make all such arrangements for its renovation and embellishment as his artistic taste should desire, he conducted important repairs in the building, rearranged the halls, had the pictures carefully examined, cleaned when necessary, and distributed in schools with scientific accuracy. He had an apartment prepared where are displayed those first sketches by distinguished masters, which form one of the most instructive departments of the Louvre to a student of art. The government seconded all his measures by liberal supplies of money; and the Louvre is placed in its present perfect condition by the thoughtful and cherishing hand of the republic.
These facts have been communicated to me from a perfectly
reliable source. As an American, and a republican, I cannot but take pleasure
in them. I mention them because it is often supposed, from the destructive
effects which attend the first advent of democratic principles where they have
to explode their way into existence through masses of ancient rubbish, that
popular liberty is unfavorable to art. It never could be so in
Monday, June 13. Went this morning with H. and Mrs. C. to the studio of M. Belloc. Found a general assembly of heads, arms, legs, and every species of nude and other humanity pertaining to a studio; also an agreeable jumble of old pictures and new, picture frames, canvas, brushes, boxes, unfinished sketches, easels, palettes, a sofa, some cushions, a chair or two, bottles, papers, a stove rusty and fireless, and all things most charmingly innocent of any profane "clarin' up times" whatsoever.
The first question which M. Belloc proposed, with a genuine French air, was the question of "_pose_" or position. It was concluded that as other pictures had taken H. looking at the spectator, this should take her looking away. M. Belloc remarked, that M. Charpentier said H. appeared always with the air of an observer--was always looking around on every thing. Hence M. Belloc would take her "_en observatrice, mais pas en curieuse_"--with the air of observation, but not of curiosity.
At it he went. I stood behind and enjoyed. Rapid creative sketching in chalk and charcoal. Then a chaos of colors and clouds, put on now with brushes, now with fingers. "God began with chaos," said he, quoting Prudhon. "We cannot expect to do better than God."
With intensest enjoyment I watched the chaotic clouds forming on the canvas round a certain nucleus, gradually resolving themselves into shape, and lightening up with tints and touches, until a head seemed slowly emerging from amidst the shadows.
Meanwhile, an animated conversation was proceeding. M. Belloc, in his rich, glorious French, rolling out like music from an organ, discussed the problems of his art; while we ever and anon excited him by our speculations, our theories, our heresies. H. talked in English, and Mrs. C. translated, and I put in a French phrase sidewise every now and then.
By and by, M. Charpentier came in, who is more voluble, more _ore rotundo, grandiose_, than M. Belloc. He began panegyrizing Uncle Tom; and this led to a discussion of the ground of its unprecedented success. In his thirty-five years' experience as a bookseller, he had known nothing like it. It surpassed all modern writers. At first he would not read it; his taste was for old masters of a century or two ago. "Like M. Belloc in painting," said I. At length, he found his friend, M. Alfred de Musée, the first intelligence of the age, reading it.
"What, you too?" said he.
"Ah, ah!" said De Musée; "say nothing about this book! There is nothing like it. This leaves us all behind--all, all, miles behind!"
M. Belloc said the reason was because there was in it more _genuine faith_ than in any book. And we branched off into florid eloquence touching paganism, Christianity, and art.
"Christianity," M. Belloc said, "has ennobled man, but not made him happier. The Christian is not so happy as the old Greek. The old Greek mythology is full of images of joy, of lightness, and vivacity; nymphs and fauns, dryads and hamadryads, and all sportive creations. The arts that grow up out of Christianity are all tinged with sorrow."
"This is true in part," replied H., "because the more you enlarge a person's general capacity of feeling, and his quantity of being, the more you enlarge his capacity of suffering. A man can suffer more than an oyster. Christianity, by enlarging the scope of man's heart, and dignifying his nature, has deepened his sorrow."
M. Belloc referred to the paintings of Eustache le Soeur, in the Louvre, in illustration of his idea--a series based on the experience of St. Bruno, and representing the effects of maceration and ghostly penance with revolting horrors.
"This," H. replied, "is not my idea of Christianity. Religion is not asceticism, but a principle of love to God that beautifies and exalts common life, and fills it with joy."
M. Belloc ended with a splendid panegyric upon the ancient Greeks, the eloquence of which I will not mar by attempting to repeat.
Ever and anon H. was amused at the pathetic air, at once genuinely French and thoroughly sincere, with which the master assured her, that he was "_désolé_" to put her to so much trouble.
As to Christianity not making men happier, methinks M. Belloc forgets that the old Greek tragedies are filled with despair and gloom, as their prevailing characteristic, and that nearly all the music of the world before Christ was in the minor scale, as since Christ it has come to be in the major. The whole creation has, indeed, groaned and travailed in pain together until now; but the mighty anthem has modulated since the cross, and the requiem of Jesus has been the world's birthsong of approaching jubilee.
Music is a far better test, moreover, on such a point, than painting, for just where painting is weakest, namely, in the expression of the highest moral and spiritual ideas, there music is most sublimely strong.
Altogether this morning in the painter's studio was one of the most agreeable we ever spent. But what shall I say then of the evening in a _salon musicale_; with the first violoncello playing in the world, and the Princess Czartoryski at the piano? We were invited at eight, but it was nine before we entered our carriage. We arrived at the hotel of Mrs. Erskine, a sister of Lord Dundalk, and found a very select party. There were chairs and sofas enough for all without crowding.
There was Frankomm of the Conservatoire, with his Stradivarius, an instrument one hundred and fifty years old, which cost six thousand dollars. There was his son, a little lad of twelve, who played almost as well as his father. I wish F. and M. could have seen this. He was but a year older than F., and yet played with the most astonishing perfection. Among other things the little fellow performed a _morceau_ of his own composition, which was full of pathos, and gave tokens of uncommon ability. His father gave us sonatas of Mozart, Chopin, &c., and a _polonaise_. The Princess Czartoryski accompanied on the piano with extraordinary ability.
That was an evening to be remembered a lifetime. One heard, probably, the best music in the world of its kind, performed under prepared circumstances, the most perfectly adapted to give effect. There was no whispering, no noise. All felt, and heard, and enjoyed. I conversed with the princess and with Frankomm. The former speaks English, the latter none. I interpreted for H., and she had quite a little conversation with him about his son, and about music. She told him she hoped the day was coming when art would be consecrated to express the best and purest emotions of humanity. He had read Uncle Tom; and when he read it he exclaimed, "This is genuine Christianity"--"_Ceci est la vraie Christianisme!_"
The attentions shown to H. were very touching and agreeable. There is nothing said or done that wearies or oppresses her. She is made to feel perfectly free, at large, at ease; and the regard felt for her is manifested in a way so delicate, so imperceptibly fine and considerate, that she is rather strengthened by it than exhausted. This is owing, no doubt, to the fact that we came determined to be as private as possible, and with an explicit understanding with Mrs. C. to that effect. Instead of trying to defeat her purpose, and force her into publicity, the few who know of her presence seem to try to help her carry it out, and see how much they can do for her, consistently therewith.
Tuesday, June 14. To-day we dined at six P. M., and read till nine. Then drove to an evening _salon_--quite an early little party at Mrs. Putnam's. Saw there Peter Parley and La Rochejaquelin, the only one of the old nobility that joined Louis Napoleon. Peter Parley is consul no longer, it seems. We discussed the empire a very little. "To be, or not to be, that is the question." Opinions are various as the circles. Every circle draws into itself items of information, that tend to indicate what it wishes to be about to happen. Still, Peter Parley and I, and some other equally cautious people, think that _this_ cannot always last. By _this_, of course, we mean this "thing"--this empire, so called. Sooner or later it must end in revolution; and then what? Said a gentleman the other day, "Nothing holds him up but fear of the RED." [Footnote: That is, fear of the Red Republicans.]
After chatting a while, Weston and I slipped out, and drove to the Jardin Mabille, a garden in the Champs Elysées, whither thousands go every night. We entered by an avenue of poplars and other trees and shrubs, so illuminated by jets of gas sprinkled amongst the foliage as to give it the effect of enchantment. It was neither moonlight nor daylight, but a kind of spectral aurora, that made every thing seem unearthly.
As we entered the garden, we found flower beds laid out in circles, squares, lozenges, and every conceivable form, with diminutive jets of gas so distributed as to imitate flowers of the softest tints, and the most perfect shape. This, too, seemed unearthly, weird. We seemed, in an instant, transported into some Thalaba's cave, infinitely beyond the common sights and sounds of every-day life. In the centre of these grounds there is a circle of pillars, on the top of each of which is a pot of flowers, with gas jets, and between them an arch of gas jets. This circle is very large. In the midst of it is another circle, forming a pavilion for musicians, also brilliantly illuminated, and containing a large cotillion band of the most finished performers.
Around this you find thousands of gentlemen and ladies strolling singly, in pairs, or in groups. There could not be less than three thousand persons present. While the musicians repose, they loiter, sauntering round, or recline on seats.
But now a lively waltz strikes the ear. In an instant twenty or thirty couples are whirling along, floating, like thistles in the wind, around the central pavilion. Their feet scarce touch the smooth-trodden earth. Round and round, in a vortex of life, beauty, and brilliancy they go, a whirlwind of delight. Eyes sparkling, cheeks flushing, and gauzy draperies floating by; while the crowds outside gather in a ring, and watch the giddy revel. There are countless forms of symmetry and grace, faces of wondrous beauty, both among the dancers and among the spectators.
There, too, are feats of agility and elasticity quite aerial. One lithe and active dancer grasped his fair partner by the waist. She was dressed in a red dress; was small, elastic, agile, and went by like the wind. And now and then, in the course of every few seconds, he would give her a whirl and a lift, sending her spinning through the air, around himself as an axis, full four feet from the ground.
Then the music ceases, the crowd dissolves, and floats and saunters away. On every hand are games of hazard and skill, with balls, tops, wheels, &c., where, for five cents a trial, one might seek to gain a choice out of glittering articles exposed to view.
Then the band strike up again, and the whirling dance renews its vortex; and so it goes on, from hour to hour, till two or three in the morning. Not that _we_ staid till then; we saw all we wanted to see, and left by eleven. But it is a scene perfectly unearthly, or rather perfectly Parisian, and just as earthly as possible; yet a scene where earthliness is worked up into a style of sublimation the most exquisite conceivable.
Entrance to this paradise can be had for, gentlemen, a
dollar; ladies, _free_. This tells the whole story. Nevertheless, do not infer
that there are not any respectable ladies there. It is a place so remarkable,
that very few strangers stay long in
Nevertheless, aside from the impropriety inherent in the very nature of waltzing, there was not a word, look, or gesture of immorality or impropriety. The dresses were all decent; and if there was vice, it was vice masked under the guise of polite propriety.
How different, I could not but reflect, is all this from the
gin palaces of
Wednesday, June 15. Went in the forenoon to M. Belloc's studio, and read while H. was sitting.
Then we drove to Madame Roger's, who is one of the leaders
Then we drove to the Louvre, and visited the remains from
I was very much impressed, not only by the solemn grandeur
of the thought that thirty centuries were looking down upon me out of those
stony eyes, but by what I have never seen noticed, the magnificent
phrenological development of the heads. The brow is absolutely
prodigious--broad, high, projecting, massive. It is the brow of a divinity
indeed, or of a cherub, which I am persuaded is the true designation of these
creatures. They are to me but the earliest known attempts to preserve the
cherubim that formed the fiery portals of the
Out of those eyes of serene, benign, profound reflection,
therefore, not thirty, but sixty centuries look down upon me. I seem to be
standing at those mysterious
After leaving the Louvre H. and I took a _calèche_, or open two-seat carriage, and drove from thence to the Madeleine, and thence the whole length of the Boulevards, circling round, crossing the Pont d'Austerlitz, and coming back by the Avenue de l'Observatoire and the Luxembourg.
Then we saw theatres, the Port St. Denis, Port St. Martin, the site of the Bastille, and the most gay, beautiful, and bustling boulevards of the metropolis.
As we were proceeding along the Boulevard des Italiens, I saw the street beginning to line with people, the cabs and carriages drawing to either side and stopping; police officers commanding, directing, people running, pushing, looking this way and that. "_Qu' y a-t-il?_" said I, standing up by the driver--"What's the matter?"
"The emperor is coming," said he.
"Well," said I, "draw to one side, and turn a little, so that we can see."
He did so, and H. and I both stood up, looking round. We saw several outriders in livery, on the full trot, followed by several carriages. They came very fast, the outriders calling to the people to get out of the way. In the first carriage sat the emperor and the empress--he, cold, stiff, stately, and homely; she, pale, beautiful, and sad. They rode not two rods from us. There was not a hat taken off, not a single shout, not a "_Vive l'Empereur_? Without a single token of greeting or applause, he rode through the ever-forming, ever-dissolving avenue of people--the abhorred, the tolerated tyrant." Why do they not cry out?" I said to the coachman, "Why do they not cry, '_Vive l'Empereur_'?" A most expressive shrug was the answer, and "I do not know. I suppose, because they do not choose."
Thursday, June 16. Immediately after breakfast we were to visit Chateau de Corbeville. The carriage came, and H., Mrs. C., and W. entered. I mounted the box with the "_cocker_," as usual. To be shut up in a box, and peep out at the window while driving through such scenes, is horrible. By the way, our party would have been larger, but for the arrest of Monsieur F., an intimate friend of the family, which took place at five o'clock in the morning.
He was here yesterday in fine spirits, and he and his wife were to have joined our party. His arrest is on some political suspicion, and as the result cannot be foreseen, it casts a shadow over the spirits of our household.
We drove along through the bright, fresh morning--I enjoying
the panorama of
We feel as much at home now, in these continental railroad stations, as in our own--nay, more so. Every thing is so regulated here, there is almost no possibility of going wrong, and there is always somebody at hand whose business it is to be very polite, and tell you just what to do.
A very pleasant half hour's ride brought us to
Madame V. is the wife of an eminent lawyer, who held the
office of intendant of the civil list of Louis Philippe, and has had the
settlement of that gentleman's pecuniary affairs since his death. At the time
of the _coup d'état_, being then a representative, he was imprisoned, and his
wife showed considerable intrepidity in visiting him, walking on foot through
the prison yard, amongst the soldiers sitting drunk on the cannon. At present
Monsieur V. is engaged in his profession in
Madame V. is a pleasant-looking French woman, of highly-cultivated mind and agreeable manners; accomplished in music and in painting. Her daughter, about fifteen, plays well, and is a good specimen of a well-educated French demoiselle, not yet out. They are simply ciphers, except as developed in connection with and behind shelter of their mother. She performed some beautiful things beautifully, and then her mother played a duet with her. We took a walk through the groves, and sat on the bank, on the brow of a commanding eminence.
A wide landscape was before us, characterized by every
beauty of foliage conceivable, but by none more admirable, to my eye, than the
poplars, which sustain the same relation to French scenery that spruces do to
We had found a spot where existence was a blessing; a spot where to exist was enough; where the "to be" was, for a moment, disjoined from the inexorable "to do," or "to suffer." How agreeable to converse with cultivated and refined artistic minds! How delightful to find people to whom the beautiful has been a study, and art a world in which they could live, move, and have their being! And yet it was impossible to prevent a shade of deep sadness from resting on all things--a tinge of melancholy. Why?--why this veil of dim and indefinable anguish at sight of whatever is most fair, at hearing whatever is most lovely? Is it the exiled spirit, yearning for its own? Is it the captive, to whom the ray of heaven's own glory comes through the crevice of his dungeon walls? But this is a digression. Returning, we examined the mansion, a fine specimen of the old French chateau; square-built, with high Norman roof, and a round, conical-topped tower at each corner. In front was a garden, curiously laid out in beds, and knots of flowers, with a fountain in the centre. This garden was enclosed on all sides by beech trees, clipped into lofty walls of green. The chateau had once been fortified, but now the remains of the fortifications are made into terraces, planted with roses and honeysuckles. Here we heard, for the first time in our lives, the nightingale's song; a gurgling warble, with an occasional crescendo, _à la_ Jenny Lind.
At five we dined; took carriage at seven, cars at nine, and
Friday, June 17. At twelve o'clock I started for
He then asked me if we had not a camp near
I complimented him then in turn on
Arrived at Sartory I had a long walk to reach the camp; and instead of inquiring, as I ought to have done, whether the review was to take place, I took it for granted. I saw bodies of soldiers moving in various directions, officers galloping about, and flying artillery trundling along, and heard drums, trumpets, and bands, and thought it was all right.
A fifteen minutes' walk brought me to the camp, where tents for some twenty-five thousand whiten the plain far as the eye can reach. There, too, I saw distant masses of infantry moving. I might have known by their slouchy way that they were getting home from parade, not preparing for it. But I thought the latter, and lying down under a tree, waited for the review to begin.
It was almost three o'clock. I waited and waited. The soldiers did not come. I waited, and waited, and waited. The soldiers seemed to have _gone_ more and more. The throne where the emperor was to sit remained unoccupied. At last it was four o'clock. Thought I, I will just ask these redcaps here about this.
"Messieurs," said I, "will you be so good as to inform me if the emperor is to be here to-day?"
"No," they replied, "he comes on Sunday."
"And what is to be done here, then?" I asked.
"Here," they replied, "to-day? Nothing; _c'est fini_--it is all over. The review was at one o'clock."
There I had been walking from Versailles, and waiting for a parade some two hours after it was all over, among crowds of people who could have told me at once if I had not been so excessively modest as not to ask.
About that time an American might have been seen precipitately seeking the railroad. I had _not_ seen the elephant. It was hot, dusty, and there was neither cab nor _calèche_ in reach.
I arrived at the railroad station just in time to see the
train go out at one end as I came in at the other. This was conducive to a
frame of mind that scarcely needs remark. Out of that depot (it was half past
four, and at six they dine in
"_A l'autre station, vite, vite!_"--To the other station, quick, quick! He mounted the box, and commenced lashing his Rosinante, who was a subject for crows to mourn over, (because they could hope for nothing in trying to pick him,) and in an ambling, scrambling pace, composed of a trot, a canter, and a kick, we made a descent like an avalanche into the station yard. There Richard was himself again. I assumed at once the air of a gentleman who had seen the review, and walked about with composure and dignity. No doubt I had seen the emperor and all the troops. I succeeded in getting home just in the middle of dinner, and by dint of hard eating caught up at the third course with the rest.
That I consider a very white day. Some might call it _green_, but I mark such days with white always.
In the evening we attended the _salon_ of Lady Elgin, a friend of our hostess. Found there the Marquis de M., whose book on the spiritual rappings comes out next week. We conversed on the rappings _ad nauseam_.
By the way, her ladyship rents the Hotel de la Rochefoucauld, in the Rue de Varenne, Faubourg St. Germain.
St. Germain is full of these princely, aristocratic
mansions. Mournfully beautiful--desolately grand. Out
of the stern, stony street, we entered a wide, square court, under a massive
arched gateway, then through the Rez-de-Chaussée, or lower suite of rooms,
passed out into the rear of the house to find ourselves in the garden, or
rather a kind of park, with tall trees, flooded in moonlight, bathed in
splendors, and with their distant, leafy arches (cut with artistic skill)
reminding one of a Gothic temple. Such a magnificent forest scene in the very
Saturday, June 18. After breakfast rode out to Arc de Triomphe--de
l'Etoile, and thence round the exterior barriers and boulevards to
Père la Chaise.
At every entrance to the city past the barriers, (which are now only a street,) there is a gate, and a building marked "Octroi," which means customs.
No carriage can pass without being examined, though the examination is a mere form.
Père la Chaise did not interest me much, except that from the top of the hill I gained a good view of the city. It is filled with tombs and monuments, and laid out in streets. The houses of the dead are smaller than the houses of the living, but they are made like houses, with doors, windows, and an empty place inside for an altar, crucifix, lamps, wreaths, &c. Tombs have no charm for me. I am not at all interested or inspired by them. They do not serve with me the purpose intended, viz., of calling up the memory of the departed. On the contrary, their memory is associated with their deeds, their works, the places where they wrought, and the monuments of themselves they have left. Here, however, in the charnel house is commemorated but the event of their deepest shame and degradation, their total vanquishment under the dominion of death, the triumph of corruption.
Here all that was visible of them is insulted by the last enemy, in the deepest, most humiliating posture of contumely.
From Père la Chaise I came home to dinner at six. H., meanwhile, had been sitting to M. Belloc.
After dinner H. and the two Misses C.
rode out to the Bois de Boulogne, the fashionable drive of
We saw all the splendid turnouts, and all the _not_ splendid. Our horse was noted for the springhalt. It is well to have something to attract attention about one, you know.
Sabbath, June 19. After breakfast went
with Miss W. to the temple St. Marie, to hear Adolphe Monod. Was able to understand him very well. Gained
a new idea of the capabilities of the French language as the vehicle of
religious thought and experience. I had thought that it was a language
incapable of being made to express the Hebrew mind and feeling of Scripture. I
think differently. The language of
The congregation was as large as the church could possibly hold, and composed of very interesting and intelligent-looking people. His subject was, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth willingly, and without upbraiding," &c. It was most touchingly adapted to the wants of the unhappy French, and of all poor sinners; and it came home to me in particular, as if it had been addressed to me singly, so that I could not help crying.
The afternoon and evening spent at home, reading. H. went in the morning with Madame de T. to the Catholic service, at the church St. Germaine l'Auxerrois, and her companion pointed out the different parts of the service.
H. said she was moved with compassion towards these multitudes, who seem so very earnest and solemn. Their prayer books contain much that is excellent, if it was not mixed with so much that is idolatrous.
Monday, June 20. Went to have our passport
_viséd_. The sky was black, and the rain pouring in torrents. As I
reached the quay the
My passport went through the office of the American embassy, prefecture of the police, and the _bureau des affaires étrangères_, and the Swiss legation, and we were all right for the frontier.
Our fair hostesses are all Alpine mountaineers, posted up in mountain lore. They make you look blank one moment with horror at some escape of theirs from being dashed down a precipice; the next they run you a rig indeed over the Righi; anon you shamble through Chamounix, and break your neck over the Col-de-balme, and, before you are aware, are among the lacking at Interlachen.
Wednesday, June 22. Adieu to
Thursday, 23. Eight o'clock A. M. Since five we have had a fine bustle on the quay below our windows. There lay three steamers, shaped, for all the world, like our last night's rolls. One would think Ichabod Crane might sit astride one of them and dip his feet in the water. They ought to be swift. _L'Hirondelle_ (the Swallow) flew at five; another at six. We leave at nine.
Eleven o'clock. Here we go, down the
More and more beautiful grows the scene as we approach the
After dinner we drove to the cathedral. It was St. John's eve. "At twelve o'clock to-night," said H., "the spirits of all who are to die this year will appear to any who will go alone into the dark cathedral and summon them"! We were charmed with the interior. Twilight hid all the dirt, cobwebs, and tawdry tinsel; softened the outlines, and gave to the immense arches, columns, and stained windows a strange and thrilling beauty. The distant tapers, seeming remoter than reality, the kneeling crowds, the heavy vesper chime, all combined to realize, H. said, her dreams of romance more perfectly than ever before. We could not tear ourselves away. But the clash of the sexton's keys, as he smote them together, was the signal to be gone. One after another the tapers were extinguished. The kneeling figures rose; and shadowily we flitted forth, as from some gorgeous cave of grammarye.
Saturday, June 25.
[Illustration: _of a diligence coach drawn by four horses._]
After setting up housekeeping in our berline, and putting
all "to rights," the whips cracked, bells jingled, and away we
thundered by the arrowy
Down the macadamized slopes we thundered at a prodigious
pace; up the hills we trotted with six horses, three abreast; madly through the
little towns we burst, like a whirlwind, crashing across the pebbled streets,
and out upon the broad, smooth road again. Before we had well considered the
fact that we were out of
"Really, H.," said I, "this is not slow. The fact is, we are going ahead. _I_ call this travelling--never was so comfortable in my life."
"Nor I," quoth she.
"And, besides, we are unwinding the
And, sure enough, we were; ever and anon getting a glimpse of him spread mazily all abroad in some beautiful vale, like a midguard anaconda done in silver.
At Nantua, a sordid town, with a squalid inn, we dined, at two, deliciously, on a red shrimp soup; no, not soup, it was a _potage_; no, a stew; no, a creamy, unctuous mess, muss, or whatever you please to call it. Sancho Panza never ate his olla podrida with more relish. Success to mine host of the jolly inn of Nantua!
Then we thunderbolted along again, shot through a grim
fortress, crossed a boundary line, and were in
As evening drew on, a wind sprang up, and a storm seemed
gathering on the Jura. The rain dashed against the panes of the berime, as we
rode past the grim-faced monarch of the "misty shroud." A cold wind
went sweeping by, and the
Genève, Monday, June 27. The day dawned clear over this
palace of enchantment. The mountains, the lake, the entire landscape on every
side revealed itself from our lofty windows with transparent brilliancy. This
house is built on high ground, at the end of the lake near where the
In the afternoon we rode out across the
With solemn thankfulness we gazed--thankfulness to God for
having withdrawn his veil of clouds from this threshold of the heavenly
vestibule, and brought us across the
A lady, at whose door we alighted for a moment to obtain a particular point of view, told us that at sunset the mountain assumed a peculiar transparency, with most mysterious hues of blue and purple; so that she had seen irreligious natures, frivolous and light, when suddenly called out to look, stand petrified, or rather exalted above themselves, and irresistibly turning their faces, their thoughts, their breathings of adoration up to God.
I do not wonder that the eternal home of the glorified
should be symbolized by a
Tuesday, June 28. The morning dawned clear, warm, and cloudless. A soft haze rested on the distant landscape, without, however, in the least dimming its beauty.
At about eleven we set off with two horses in an open carriage, by the left shore, to visit St. Cergue, and ascend the Jura. All our way was gradually ascending, and before us, or rather across the lake on one side, stood the glorious New Jerusalem scene. We were highly favored. Every moment diminished the intervening mountains, and lifted the gorgeous pageant higher into the azure.
Every step, every turn, presented it in some new point of
view, and extended the range of observation. New
At noon _cocher_ stopped at a village to refresh his horses. We proceeded to a cool terrace filled with trees, and lulled by the splash of a fountain, from whence the mountain was in full view. Here we investigated the mysteries of a certain basket which our provident hostess had brought with her.
After due refreshment and repose we continued our route,
ascending the Jura, towards the Dôle, which is the highest mountain of that
range. A macadamized road coiled up the mountain side, affording us at every
turning a new and more splendid view of the other shore of the lake. At length
we reached St. Cergue, and leaving the carriage, H. and I, guided by a peasant
girl, went through the woods to the highest point, where were the ruins of the
ancient chateau. Far be it from me to describe what we saw. I feel that I have
already been too presumptuous. We sat down, and each made a hasty sketch of
We took tea at the hotel, which reminded us, by the neatness
of its scoured chambers with their white bedspreads, of the apartments of some
The people of the neighborhood having discovered who H. was, were very kind, and full of delight at seeing her. It
The proprietor of the inn (not the landlord) was a gentleman
of education and polished demeanor. _He had lost an Eva_, he said. And he spoke
with deep emotion. He thanked H. for what she had written, and at parting said,
"Have courage; the sacred cause of
Ah, they breathe a pure air, these generous Swiss, among these mountain tops! May their simple words be a prophecy divine.
At about six we returned, and as we slowly wound down the mountain side we had a full view of all the phenomena of color attending the sun's departure. The mountain,--the city rather,--for so high had it risen, that I could imagine a New Jerusalem of pearly white, with Mont Blanc for the central citadel, or temple,--the city was all a-glow. The air behind, the sky, became of a delicate apple green; the snow, before so incandescent in whiteness, assumed a rosy tint. We paused--we sat in silence to witness these miraculous transformations. "Charley," said H., "sing that hymn of yours, the New Jerusalem." And in the hush of the mountain solitudes we sang together,--
"We are on our journey home,
Where Christ our Lord is gone;
We will meet around his throne,
When he makes his people one
In the New Jerusalem.
We can see that distant home,
Though clouds rise oft between;
Faith views the radiant dome,
And a lustre flashes keen
From the New Jerusalem.
O, glory shining far
From the never-setting sun!
O, trembling morning star!
Our journey's almost done
To the New Jerusalem.
Our hearts are breaking now
Those mansions fair to see:
O Lord, thy heavens bow,
And raise us up with thee
To the New Jerusalem."
The echoes of our voices died along the mountain sides, as slowly
we wended our downward way. The rosy flush began to fade. A rich creamy or
orange hue seemed to imbue the scene, and finally, as the shadows from the Jura
crept higher, and covered it with a pall, it assumed a startling, deathlike
pallor of chalky white.
Wednesday morning, June 29. The day
is intensely hot; the weather is exceedingly fair, but
Evening. After the heat of the day
our whole household, old and young, set forth for a boating excursion on the
lake. Dividing our party in two boats, we pulled about a mile up the left
"Think of me oft at twilight hour,
And I will think of thee;
Remembering how we felt its power
When thou wast still with me.
Dear is that hour, for day then sleeps
Upon the gray cloud's breast;
And not a voice or sound e'er keeps
His wearied eyes from rest."
The surface of the lake was unruffled. The air was still. An
occasional burst from the band in the
Darkness came down upon the deep. And in the gloom we turned our prows towards the many-twinkling quays, far in the distance. We bent to the oar in emulous contest, and our barks foamed and hissed through the water. In a few moments we were passing through the noisy crowd on the quay towards our quiet home.
I promised to write from Chamouni, so to commence at the
commencement. Fancy me, on a broiling day in July, panting with the heat,
gazing from my window in
While arranging my travelling preparations, Madame F. enters.
"Have you considered how cold it is up there?" she inquires.
"I am glad if it is cold any where," said I.
"Ah, you will find it dreadful; you will need to be thoroughly guarded."
I suggested tippets, flannels, and furs, of which I already possessed a moderate supply. But no; these were altogether insufficient. It was necessary that I should buy two immense fur coats; one for C., and one for myself.
I assure you that such preparations, made with the thermometer between eighty and ninety, impress one with a kind of awe. "What regions must they be," thought I to myself, "thus sealed up in eternal snows, while the country at their feet lies scorching in the very fire!" A shadow of incredulity mingled itself with my reflections. On the whole, I bought but _one_ fur coat.
At this moment C. came up to tell me that W., S., and G. had
all come back from
It was on the 5th of July that S. and I took our seats in
the _coupé_ of the diligence. Now, this _coupé_ is low and narrow enough, so
that our condition reminded me slightly of the luckless fowls which I have
sometimes seen riding to the
But the mountains--how shall I give you the least idea of
them? Old, sombre, haggard genii, half veiled in clouds, belted with pines,
worn and furrowed with storms and avalanches, but not as yet crowned with snow.
For many miles after leaving
It is a cloudy day; and heavy volumes of vapor are wreathing and unwreathing themselves around the gaunt forms of the everlasting rocks, like human reasonings, desires, and hopes around the ghastly realities of life and death; graceful, undulating, and sometimes gleaming out in silver or rosy wreaths. Still, they are nothing but mist; the dread realities are just where they were before. It is odd, though, to look at these cloud caperings; quite as interesting, in its way, as to read new systems of transcendental philosophy, and perhaps quite as profitable. Yonder is a great, whiteheaded cloud, slowly unrolling himself in the bosom of a black pine forest. Across the other side of the road a huge granite cliff has picked up a bit of gauzy silver, which he is winding round his scraggy neck. And now, here comes a cascade right over our heads; a cascade, not of water, but of cloud; for the poor little brook that makes it faints away before it gets down to us; it falls like a shimmer of moonlight, or a shower of powdered silver, while a tremulous rainbow appears at uncertain intervals, like a half-seen spirit.
[Illustration: _of waterfalls._]
The cascade here, as in mountains generally, is a never-failing source of life and variety. Water, joyous, buoyant son of Nature, is calling to you, leaping, sparkling, mocking at you between bushes, and singing as he goes down the dells. A thousand little pictures he makes among the rocks as he goes; like the little sketch which I send you.
Then, the _bizarre_ outline of the rocks; well does Goethe call them "the giant-snouted crags;" and as the diligence winds slowly on, they seem to lean, and turn, and bend. Now they close up like a wall in front, now open in piny and cloudy vistas: now they embrace the torrent in their great, black arms; and now, flashing laughter and babbling defiance through rifted rocks and uprooted pines, the torrent shoots past them, down into some fathomless abyss. These old Alp mothers cannot hold their offspring back from abysses any better than poor earth mothers.
There are phases in nature which correspond to every phase of human thought and emotion; and this stern, cloudy scenery answers to the melancholy fatalism of Greek tragedy, or the kindred mournfulness of the Book of Job.
These dark channelled rocks, worn, as with eternal tears,--these traces, so evident of ancient and vast desolations,--suggest the idea of boundless power and inexorable will, before whose course the most vehement of human feelings are as the fine spray of the cataract.
"For, surely, the mountain, falling, cometh to nought;
The rock is remored out of his place;
The waters wear the stones;
Thou washest away the things that grow out of the earth,
And thou destroyest the hopes of man;
Thou prevailest against him, and he passeth;
Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away."
The sceptical inquirer into the mysteries of eternal things might here, if ever, feel the solemn irony of Eliphaz the Temanite:--
"Should a wise man utter vain knowledge?
Should he reason with unprofitable talk?
Or with speeches that can do no good?
Art thou the first man that ever was born?
Or wast thou made before the hills?"
There are some of my fellow-travellers, by the by, who, if
they _had_ been made before the hills, would never have been much wiser. All
through these solemn passages and gorges, they are discussing hotels,
champagne, wine, and cigars. I presume they would do the same thing at the
gates of the
At noon we stopped at Sallenches, famous for two things; first, as the spot where people get dinner, and second, where they take the _char_, a carriage used when the road is too steep for the diligence. Here S., who had been feeling ill all the morning, became too unwell to proceed, so that we had to lie by an hour or two, and did not go on with the caravan. I sat down at the room window to study and sketch a mountain that rose exactly opposite. I thought to myself, "Now, would it be possible to give to one that had not seen it an idea of how this looks?" Let me try if words can paint it. Right above the fiat roof of the houses on the opposite side of the street rose this immense mountain wall. The lower tier seemed to be a turbulent swell of pasture land, rolling into every imaginable shape; green billows and dells, rising higher and higher in the air as you looked upward, dyed here and there in bright yellow streaks, by the wild crocus, and spotted over with cattle. Dark clumps and belts of pine now and then rise up among them; and scattered here and there in the heights, among green hollows, were cottages, that looked about as big as hickory nuts.
Above all this region was still another, of black pines and crags; the pines going up, and up, and up, till they looked no larger than pin feathers; and surmounting all, straight, castellated turrets of rock, looking out of swathing bands of cloud. A narrow, dazzling line of snow crowned the summit.
You see before you three distinct regions--of pasture, of pine, of bare, eternal sterility. On inquiring the name of the mountain, I was told that it was the "Aiguille" something, I forget what; but I discovered that almost all the peaks in this region of the Alps are called Aiguille, (needle,) I suppose from the straight, sharp points that rise at their summits.
There is a bridge here in Sallenches, from which, in clear
weather, one of the best views of
Our driver was one of those merry souls, to be found the world over, whose hearts yearn after talk; and when I volunteered to share the outside seat with him, that I might see better, he inquired anxiously if "mademoiselle understood French," that he might have the pleasure of enlightening her on the localities. Of course mademoiselle could do no less than be exceedingly grateful, since a peasant on his own ground is generally better informed than a philosopher from elsewhere.
Our path lay along the banks of the Arve, a raving, brawling, turbulent stream of muddy water. A wide belt of drifted, pebbly land, on either side of it, showed that at times the torrent had a much wider sweep than at present.
In fact, my guide informed me that the Arve, like most other mountain streams, had many troublesome and inconvenient personal habits, such as rising up all of a sudden, some night, and whisking off houses, cattle, pine trees; in short, getting up sailing parties in such a promiscuous manner that it is neither safe nor agreeable to live in his neighborhood. He showed me, from time to time, the traces of such Kuhleborn pranks.
We were now descending rapidly through the
I was sitting on a mossy trunk of an old pine, looking up admiringly on the wonderful heights around me--crystal peaks sparkling over dark pine trees--shadowy, airy distances of mountain heights, rising crystalline amid many-colored masses of cloud; while, looking out over my head from green hollows, I saw the small cottages, so tiny, in their airy distance, that they seemed scarcely bigger than a squirrel's nut, which he might have dropped in his passage. A pretty Savoyard girl, I should think about fifteen years old, came up to me.
"Madame admires the mountains," she said.
"Yes," she added, "strangers always admire our mountains."
"And don't you admire them?" said I, looking, I suppose, rather amused into her bright eyes.
"No," she said, laughing. "Strangers come from hundreds of miles to see them all the time; but we peasants don't care for them, no more than the dust of the road."
I could but half believe the bright little puss when she said so; but there was a lumpish, soggy fellow accompanying her, whose nature appeared to be sufficiently unleavened to make almost any thing credible in the line of stupidity. In fact, it is one of the greatest drawbacks to the pleasure with which one travels through this beautiful country, to see what kind of human beings inhabit it. Here in the Alps, heaven above and earth beneath, tree, rock, water, light and shadow, every form, and agent, and power of nature, seem to be exerting themselves to produce a constant and changing poem and romance; every thing is grand, noble, free, and yet beautiful: in all these regions there is nothing so repulsive as a human dwelling.
A little further on we stopped at a
village to refresh the horses. The _auberge_ where we stopped was built like a
great barn, with an earth floor, desolate and comfortless. The people looked
poor and ground down, as if they had not a thought above the coarsest animal
wants. The dirty children, with their hair tangled beyond all hope of combing,
had the begging whine, and the trick of raising their hands for money, when one
looked at them, which is universal in the Catholic parts of
In this _auberge_ was a little chamois kid, of which fact we
were duly apprised, when we got out, by a board put up, which said, "Here
one can see a live chamois." The little live representative of chamoisdom
came skipping out with the most amiable unconsciousness, and went through his
paces for our entertainment with as much propriety as a
"Where's his mother?" said I, desiring to enlarge my sphere of natural history as much as possible.
"_On a tué sa mere_"--"They have killed his mother," was the reply, cool enough.
There we had the whole story. His enterprising neighbors had invaded the domestic hearth, shot his mother, and eaten her up, made her skin into chamois leather, and were keeping him till he got big enough for the same disposition, using his talents meanwhile to turn a penny upon; yet not a word of all this thought he; not a bit the less heartily did he caper; never speculated a minute on why it was, on the origin of evil, or any thing of the sort; or, if he did, at least never said a word about it. I gave one good look into his soft, round, glassy eyes, and could see nothing there but the most tranquil contentment. He had finished his cabbage leaf, and we had finished our call; so we will go on.
It was now drawing towards evening, and the air began to be
sensibly and piercingly cold. One effect of this mountain air on myself is, to bring on the most acute headache that I ever
recollect to have felt. Still, the increasing glory and magnificence of the
scenery overcame bodily fatigue.
We had now got up to the
"What is that?" said I to the guide.
"The Glacier de Boisson."
I may as well stop here, and explain to you, once for all, what a glacier is. You see before you, as in this case, say thirty or forty mountain peaks, and between these peaks what seem to you frozen rivers. The snow from time to time melting, and dripping down the sides of the mountain, and congealing in the elevated hollows between the peaks, forms a half-fluid mass--a river of ice--which is called a glacier.
As it lies upon the slanting surface, and is not entirely solid throughout, the whole mass is continually pushing, with a gradual but imperceptible motion, down into the valleys below.
At a distance these glaciers, as I have said before, look
like frozen rivers; when one approaches nearer, or where they press downward
into the valley, like this Glacier de Boisson, they look like immense crystals
and pillars of ice piled together in every conceivable form. The effect of this
pile of ice, lying directly in the lap of green grass and flowers, is quite
In this dazzling revelation I saw not that cold, distant, unfeeling fate, or that crushing regularity of power and wisdom, which was all the ancient Greek or modern Deist can behold in God; but I beheld, as it were, crowned and glorified, one who had loved with our loves, and suffered with our sufferings. Those shining snows were as his garments on the Mount of Transfiguration, and that serene and ineffable atmosphere of tenderness and beauty, which seemed to change these dreary deserts into worlds of heavenly light, was to me an image of the light shed by his eternal love on the sins and sorrows of time, and the dread abyss of eternity.
Well, I waked up this morning, and the first thought was,
"Here I am in the
On the evening before I had taken my last look at about nine o'clock, and had mentally resolved to go out before daybreak and repeat Coleridge's celebrated hymn; but I advise any one who has any such liturgic designs to execute them over night, for after a day of climbing one acquires an aptitude for sleep that interferes with early rising. When I left last evening its countenance was "filled with rosy light," and they tell us, that hours before it is daylight in the valley this mountain top breaks into brightness, like that pillar of fire which enlightened the darkness of the Israelites.
I rejoice every hour that I am among these scenes in my familiarity with the language of the Bible. In it alone can I find vocabulary and images to express what this world of wonders excites. Mechanically I repeat to myself, "The everlasting mountains were scattered; the perpetual hills did bow; his ways are everlasting." But as straws, chips, and seaweed play in a thousand fantastic figures on the face of the ocean, sometimes even concealing the solemn depths beneath, so the prose of daily existence mixes itself up with the solemn poetry of life, here as elsewhere.
You must have a breakfast, and then you cannot rush out and
As a sailor knows every timber, rope, and spar of his ship, and seems to identify his existence with her, so these guides their mountains. The mountains are their calendar, their book, their newspaper, their cabinet, herbarium, barometer, their education, and their livelihood.
In fine, behold us about eight o'clock, C., S., W., little G., and self, in all the bustle of fitting out in the front of our hotel. Two guides, Balmat and Alexandre, lead two mules, long-eared, slow-footed, considerate brutes, who have borne a thousand ladies over a thousand pokerish places, and are ready to bear a thousand more. Equipped with low-backed saddles, they stand, their noses down, their eyes contemplatively closed, their whole appearance impressing one with an air of practical talent and reliableness. Your mule is evidently safe and stupid as any conservative of any country; you may be sure that no erratic fires, no new influx of ideas will ever lead him to desert the good old paths, and tumble you down precipices. The harness they wear is so exceedingly ancient, and has such a dilapidated appearance, as if held together only by the merest accident, that I could not but express a little alarm on mounting.
"Those girths--won't they break?"
"O, no, no, mademoiselle!" said the guides. In fact, they seem so delighted with their arrangements, that I swallow my doubts in silence. A third mule being added for the joint use of the gentlemen, and all being equipped with iron-pointed poles, off we start in high spirits.
A glorious day; air clear as crystal, sky with as fixed a blue as if it could not think a cloud; guides congratulate us, "_Qu'il fait très beau!_" We pass the lanes of the village, our heads almost on a level with the flat stone-laden roofs; our mules, with their long rolling pace, like the waves of the sea, give to their riders a facetious wag of the body that is quite striking. Now the village is passed, and see, a road banded with green ribands of turf. S.'s mule and guide pass on, and head the party. G. rides another mule. C. and W. leap along trying their alpenstocks; stopping once in a while to admire the glaciers, as their brilliant forms appear through the pines.
Here a discussion commences as to where we are going. We had agreed among ourselves that we would visit the Mer de Glâce. We fully meant to go there, and had so told the guide on starting; but it appears he had other views for us. There is a regular way of seeing things, orthodox and appointed; and to get sight of any thing in the wrong way would be as bad as to get well without a scientific physician, or any other irregular piece of proceeding.
It appeared from the representations of the guide that to visit Mer de Glâce before we had seen La Flégère, would no more answer than for Jacob to marry Rachel before he had married Leah. Determined not to yield, as we were, we somehow found ourselves vanquished by our guide's arguments, and soberly going off his way instead of ours, doing exactly what we had resolved not to do. However, the point being yielded we proceeded merrily.
As we had some way, however, to trot along the valley before we came to the ascending place, I improved the opportunity to cultivate a little the acquaintance of my guide. He was a tall, spare man, with black eyes, black hair, and features expressive of shrewdness, energy, and determination. Either from paralysis, or some other cause, he was subject to a spasmodic twitching of the features, producing very much the effect that heat lightning does in the summer sky--it seemed to flash over his face and be gone in a wink; at first this looked to me very odd, but so much do our ideas depend on association, that after I had known him for some time, I really thought that I liked him better with, than I should without it. It seemed to give originality to the expression of his face; he was such a good, fatherly man, and took such excellent care of me and the mule, and showed so much intelligence and dignity in his conversation, that I could do no less than like him, heat lightning and all.
"_Voilà!_" says my guide, pointing to the left, to a great, bare ravine, "down there came an avalanche, and knocked down those houses and killed several people."
"Ah!" said I; "but don't avalanches generally come in the same places every year?"
"Generally, they do."
"Why do people build houses in the way of them?" said I.
"Ah! this was an unusual avalanche, this one here."
"Do the avalanches ever bring rocks with them?"
"No, not often; nothing but snow."
"There!" says my guide, pointing to an object about as big as a good-sized fly, on the side of a distant mountain, "there's the _auberge_, on La Flégère, where we are going."
"Up there?" say I, looking up apprehensively, and querying in my mind how my estimable friend the mule is ever to get up there with me on his back.
"O yes," says my guide, cheerily, "and the road is up through that ravine."
The ravine is a charming specimen of a road to be sure, but no matter--on we go.
"There," says a guide, "those black rocks in
the middle of that glacier on Mont Blanc are the Grands Mulets, where
travellers sleep going up
We wind now among the pine tree still we come almost under the Mer de Glâce. A most fairy-like cascade falls down from under its pillars of ice over the dark rocks,--a cloud of feathery foam,--and then streams into the valley below.
"_Voilà, L'Arveiron!_" says the guide.
"O, is that the Arveiron?" say I; "happy to make the acquaintance."
But now we cross the Arve into a grove of pines, and direct our way to the ascent. We begin to thread a zigzag path on the sides of the mountain.
As mules are most determined followers of precedent, every one keeps his nose close by the heels of his predecessor. The delicate point, therefore, of the whole operation is keeping the first mule straight. The first mule in our party, who rejoiced in the name of Rousse, was selected to head the caravan, perhaps because he had more native originality than most mules, and was therefore better fitted to lead than to follow. A troublesome beast was he, from a habit of abstract meditation which was always liable to come on him in most inconvenient localities. Every now and then, simply in accordance with his own sovereign will and pleasure, and without consulting those behind him, he would stop short and descend into himself in gloomy revery, not that he seemed to have any thing in particular on his mind,--at least nothing of the sort escaped his lips,--but the idea would seem to strike him all of a sudden that he was an ill-used beast, and that he'd be hanged if he went another step. Now, as his stopping stopped all the rest, wheresoever they might happen to be, it often occurred that we were detained in most critical localities, just on the very verge of some tremendous precipice, or up a rocky stairway. In vain did the foremost driver admonish him by thumping his nose with a sharp stick, and tugging and pulling upon the bridle. Rousse was gifted with one of those long, India rubber necks that can stretch out indefinitely, so that the utmost pulling and jerking only took his head along a little farther, but left his heels planted exactly here they were before, somewhat after this fashion. His eyes, meanwhile, devoutly closed, with an air of meekness overspreading his visage, he might have stood as an emblem of conscientious obstinacy.
[Illustration: _of two men trying to force forward a stubborn mule with a female rider._]
The fact is, that in ascending these mountains there is just
enough danger to make one's nerves a little unsteady; not by any means as much
as on board a rail car at home; still it comes to you in a more demonstrable
form. Here you are, for instance, on a precipice two thousand feet deep; pine
trees, which, when you passed them at the foot you saw were a hundred feet
high, have dwindled to the size of pins. No barrier of any kind protects the
dizzy edge, and your mule is particularly conscientious to stand on the very
verge, no matter how wide the path may be. Now, under such circumstances,
though your guide assures you that an accident or a person killed is a thing
unknown, you cannot help seeing that if the saddle should turn, or the girths
break, or a bit of the crumbling edge cave away--all which things appear quite
possible--all would be over with you. Yet I suppose we are no more really
dependent upon God's providence in such circumstances, than in many cases where
we think ourselves most secure. Still the thrill of this sensation is not
without its pleasure, especially with such an image of almighty power and glory
constantly before one's eyes as
I like best these snow-pure glaciers seen through these black pines; there is something mysterious about them when you thus catch glimpses, and see not the earthly base on which they rest. I recollect the same fact in seeing the Cataract of Niagara through trees, where merely the dizzying fall of water was visible, with its foam, and spray, and rainbows; it produced an idea of something supernatural.
I forgot to say that at the foot of the mountain a party of girls started to ascend with us, carrying along bottles of milk and small saucers full of mountain strawberries. About half way up the ascent we halted by a spring of water which gushed from the side of the mountain, and there we found the advantage of these arrangements. The milk is very nice, almost as rich as cream. I think they told me it was goat's milk. The strawberries are very small indeed, like our field strawberries, but not as good. One devours them with great relish, simply because the keen air of the mountain disposes one to eat something, and there is nothing better to be had. They were hearty, rosy-looking girls, cheerful and obliging, wore the flat, Swiss hat, and carried their knitting work along with them, and knit whenever they could.
When you asked them the price of their wares they always said, "_Au plaisir_" i. e., whatever you please; but when we came to offer them money, we found "_au plaisir_" meant so much at _any rate_, and as much more as they could get.
There were some children who straggled up with the party,
who offered us flowers and crystals "_au plaisir_" to about the same
intent and purpose. This _cortége_ of people, wanting to sell you something,
accompanies you every where in the
It was about twelve o'clock, when we gained a bare board shanty as near the top of La Flégère as it is possible to go on mules.
It is rather a discouraging reflection that one should
travel three or four hours to get to such a desolate place as these mountain
tops generally are; nothing but grass, rocks, and snow; a shanty, with a show
case full of minerals, articles of carved wood, and engravings of the place for
sale. In these show cases the
There is another curious fact, and that is, that every prospect loses by being made definite. As long as we only see a thing by glimpses, and imagine that there is a deal more that we do not see, the mind is kept in a constant excitement and play; but come to a point where you can fairly and squarely take in the whole, and there your mind falls listless. It is the greatest proof to me of the infinite nature of our minds, that we almost instantly undervalue what we have thoroughly attained. This sensation afflicted me, for I had been reining in my enthusiasm for two days, as rather premature, and keeping myself in reserve for this ultimate display. But now I stood there, no longer seeing by glimpses, no longer catching rapturous intimations as I turned angles of rock, or glanced through windows of pine--here it was, all spread out before me like a map, not a cloud, not a shadow to soften the outline--there was Mont Blanc, a great alabaster pyramid, with a glacier running down each side of it; there was the Arve, and there was the Arveiron, names most magical in song, but now literal geographic realities.
But in full possession of the whole my mind gave out like a rocket that will not go off at the critical moment. I remember, once after finishing a very circumstantial treatise on the nature of heaven, being oppressed with a similar sensation of satiety,--that which hath not entered the heart of man to conceive must not be mapped out,--hence the wisdom of the dim, indefinite imagery of the Scriptures; they give you no hard outline, no definite limit; occasionally they part as do the clouds around these mountains, giving you flashes and gleams of something supernatural and splendid, but never fully unveiling.
But La Flegerc is doubtless the best point for getting a
statistically accurate idea of how the
Our guide pointed out every feature with praiseworthy
accuracy. Midmost is
[Illustration: _of a long view of mountains with glacial valley in foreground. What follows is a rough ASCII interpretation_:
/\ /\_/ \ 2
/\/\ __ /\/\_ /'\/\/ \__/ \ \_/\
'/\ _/ / / \ 4_ / \_3_
'' / \ | _/ __ __ 5 / \
\, / ___,,__ ____,___/ / \
_ \__--' _/ \ '--' | \____,|
\ /9/ __/ |\ | \ \\ \ |
\/ |/ | \ \ \\ \|
_ | \ | \ \_ 7 \\ \\6
\ \ 8 \__ \ \_ \\ \\
\_ \ \ \===-'--'----
trees / /
EXPLANATION OF ILLUSTRATION.
These mulets, which at this distance appear like black points, are needle cliffs rising in a desert of snow, thus--
[Illustration: _of narrow jagged dark rocks about 70 feet across at the base and rising to about 80 feet from the base._]
Coming down I mentally compared Mont Blanc and
At the foot of the mountain we found again our company of strawberry girls, with knitting work and goat's milk, lying in wait for us. They knew we should be thirsty and hungry, and wisely turned the circumstance to account. Some of our party would not buy of them, because they said they were sharpers, trying to get all they could out of people; but if every body who tries to do this is to be called a sharper, what is to become of respectable society, I wonder?
On the strength of this reflection, I bought some more goat's milk and strawberries, and verily found them excellent; for, as Shakspeare says, "How many things by season seasoned are."
We returned to our hotel, and after dining and taking a long nap, I began to feel fresh once more, for the air here acts like an elixir, so that one is able to do twice as much as any where else. S. was too much overcome to go with us, but the rest of us started with our guides once more at five o'clock. This time we were to visit the Cascade des Pèlérins, which comes next on the orthodox list of places to be seen.
It was a lovely afternoon; the sun had got over the
As we rode along under the sides of the mountain every thing seemed so beautiful, so thoughtful, and so calm! All the goats and cows were in motion along the mountain paths, each one tinkling his little bell and filling the rocks with gentle melodies. You can trace the lines of these cattle paths, running like threads all along the sides of the mountains. We went in the same road that we had gone in the morning. How different it seemed, in the soberness of this afternoon light, from its aspect under the clear, crisp, sharp light of morning!
We pass again through the pine woods in the valley, and
cross the Arve; then up the mountain side to where a tiny cascade throws up its
feathery spray in a brilliant _jet d'eau_. Every body knows, even in our sober
New England, that mountain brooks are a frisky, indiscreet set, rattling,
chattering, and capering in defiance of all law and order, tumbling over
precipices, and picking themselves up at the bottom, no whit wiser or more
disposed to be tranquil than they were at the top; in fact, seeming to grow
more mad and frolicsome with every leap. Well, that is just the way brooks do
here in the
I sat down on the rocks to take, not a sketch,--for who can sketch a mountain torrent?--but to note down on paper a kind of diagram, from which afterwards I might reconstruct an image of this feathery, frisky son of Kuhleborn.
And while I was doing this, little G. seemed to be possessed by the spirit of the brook to caper down into the ravine, with a series of leaps far safer for a waterfall than a boy. I was thankful when I saw him safely at the bottom.
After sketching a little while, I rambled off to a point
where I looked over towards
I went back to the cottage. A rosy-cheeked girl had held our
mules, and set a chair for us to get off, and now brings them up with "_Au
plaisir, messieurs_" to the bearers of our purse. Half a dozen children
had been waiting with the rose des
These continual demands on the purse look very alarming, only the coin you pay in is of such infinitesimal value that it takes about a pocket full to make a cent. Such a currency is always a sign of poverty.
We had a charming ride down the mountain side, in the glow
of the twilight. We passed through a whole flock of goats which the children
were driving home. One dear little sturdy Savoyard looked so like a certain
little Charley at home that I felt quite a going forth of soul to him. As we
rode on, I thought I would willingly live and die in such a place; but I shall
see a hundred such before we leave the
Thursday, July 7. Weather still celestial, as yesterday. But lo, these frail tabernacles betray their earthliness. H. remarked at breakfast that all the "tired" of yesterday was piled up into to-day. And S. actually pleaded inability, and determined to remain at the hotel.
However, the Mer de Glâce must be seen; so, at seven William, Georgy, H., and I, set off. When about half way or more up the mountain we crossed the track of the avalanches, a strip or trail, which looks from beneath like a mower's swath through a field of tall grass. It is a clean path, about fifty rods wide, without trees, with few rocks, smooth and steep, and with a bottom of ice covered with gravel.
"Hurrah, William," said I, "let's have an avalanche!"
"Agreed," said he; "there's a big rock."
"Monsieur le Guide, Monsieur le Guide!" I shouted, "stop a moment. H., stop; we want you to see our avalanche."
"No," cried H., "I will not. Here you ask me to stop, right on the edge of this precipice, to see you roll down a stone!"
So, on she ambled. Meanwhile William and I were already on foot, and our mules were led on by the guide's daughter, a pretty little lass of ten or twelve, who accompanied us in the capacity of mule driver.
We found several stones of inferior size, and sent them plunging down. At last, however, we found one that weighed some two tons, which happened to lie so that, by loosening the earth before and under it with our alpenstocks, we were able to dislodge it. Slowly, reluctantly, as if conscious of the awful race it was about to take, the huge mass trembled, slid, poised, and, with a crunch and a groan, went over. At the first plunge it acquired a heavy revolving motion, and was soon whirling and dashing down, bounding into the air with prodigious leaps, and cutting a white and flashing path into the icy way. Then first I began to realize the awful height at which we stood above the plain. Tracts, which looked as though we could almost step across them, were reached by this terrible stone, moving with frightful velocity; and bound after bound, plunge after plunge it made, and we held our breath to see each tract lengthen out, as if seconds grew into minutes, inches into rods; and still the mass moved on, and the microscopic way lengthened out, till at last a curve hid its further progress from our view.
What other cliffs we might have toppled over the muse refuses to tell; for our faithful guide returned to say that it was not quite safe; that there were always shepherds and flocks in the valley, and that they might be injured. So we remounted, and soon overtook H. at a fountain, sketching a pine tree of special physiognomy.
"Ah," said I, "H., how foolish you were! You don't know what a sight you have lost."
"Yes," said she, "all C. thinks mountains are made for is to roll stones down."
"And all H. thinks trees made for," said I, "is to have ugly pictures made of them."
"Ay," she replied, "you wanted me to stand on the very verge of the precipice, and see two foolish boys roll down stones, and perhaps make an avalanche of themselves! Now, you know, C., I could not spare you; first, because I have not learned French enough yet; and next, because I don't know how to make change."
"Add to that," said I, "the damages to the _bergers_ and flocks."
"Yes," she added; "no doubt when we get back to the inn we shall have a bill sent in, 'H. B. S. to A. B., Dr., to one shepherd and six cows, --fr.'"
And so we chatted along until we reached the _auberge_, and, after resting a few moments, descended into the frozen sea.
Here a scene opened upon us never to be forgotten. From the distant gorge of the everlasting Alpine ranges issued forth an ocean tide, in wild and dashing commotion, just as we have seen the waves upon the broad Atlantic, but all motionless as chaos when smitten by the mace of Death; and yet, not motionless! This denser medium, this motionless mass, is never at rest. This flood moves as it seems to move; these waves are actually uplifting out of the abyss as they seem to lift; the only difference is in the time of motion, the rate of change.
These prodigious blocks of granite, thirty or forty feet long and twenty feet thick, which float on this grim sea of ice, _do float_, and are _drifting_, drifting down to the valley below, where, in a few days, they must arrive.
We walked these valleys, ascended these hills, leaped across chasms, threw stones down the _crevasses_, plunged our alpenstocks into the deep baths of green water, and philosophized and poetized till we were tired. Then we returned to the _auberge_, and rode down the zigzag to our hotel.
The Mer de Glâce is exactly opposite to La Flégère, where we
were yesterday, and is reached by the ascent of what is called Montanvert, or
I warn you, if ever you visit the
The fact is, nothing would suit our guides better, this
clear, bright weather, than to make up a party for the top of
Why, then, do not we go up? you
say. As to us ladies, it is a thing that has been done by only two women since
the world stood, and those very different in their _physique_ from any we are
likely to raise in America, unless we mend our manners very much. These two
were a peasant woman of Chamouni, called Marie de Mont Blanc, and Mademoiselle
Henriette d'Angeville, a lady whose acquaintance I made in
Our guide, by the way, is the son, or grandson, of the very
first man that ascended
C. spoke about throwing our poles down the pools of water in the ice.
There is something rather curious about these pools. Our guide saw us measuring the depth of one of them, which was full of greenish-blue water, colored only by the refraction of the light. He took our long alpenstock, and poising it, sent it down into the water, as a man might throw a javelin. It disappeared, but in a few seconds leaped up at us out of the water, as if thrown back again by an invisible hand.
A poet would say that a water spirit hurled it back; perhaps some old under-ground gnome, just going to dinner, had his windows smashed by it, and sent it back with a becoming spirit, as a gnome should.
It was a sultry day, and the sun was exercising his power
over the whole ice field. I sat down by a great ice block, about fifty feet
long, to interrogate it, and see what I could make of it, by a cool,
confidential proximity and examination. The ice was porous and spongy, as I
have seen it on the shores of the
Drop by drop the cold iceberg was changing into a stream, to flow down the sides of the valley, no longer an image of coldness and death, but bearing fertility and beauty on its tide. And as I looked abroad over all the rifted field of ice, I could see that the same change was gradually going on throughout. In every blue ravine you can hear the clink of dropping water, and those great defiant blocks of ice, which seem frozen with uplifted warlike hands, are all softening in that beneficent light, and destined to pass away in that benignant change. So let us hope that those institutions of pride and cruelty, which are colder than the glacier, and equally vast and hopeless in their apparent magnitude, may yet, like that, be slowly and surely passing away. Like the silent warfare of the sun on the glacier, is that overshadowing presence of Jesus, whose power, so still, yet so resistless, is now being felt through all the moving earth.
Those defiant waves of death-cold ice might as well hope to conquer the calm, silent sun, as the old, frozen institutions of human selfishness to resist the influence which he is now breathing through the human heart, to liberate the captive, to free the slave, and to turn the ice of long winters into rivers of life for the new heaven and the new earth.
All this we know is coming, but we long to see it now, and breathe forth our desires with the Hebrew prophet, "O that thou wouldst rend the heavens, that thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence."
I had, while upon this field of ice, that strange feeling which often comes over one, at the sight of a thing unusually beautiful and sublime, of wanting, in some way, to appropriate and make it a part of myself. I looked up the gorge, and saw this frozen river, lying cradled, as it were, in the arms of needle-peaked giants of amethystine rock, their tops laced with flying silvery clouds. The whole air seemed to be surcharged with tints, ranging between the palest rose and the deepest violet--tints never without blue, and never without red, but varying in the degrees of the two. It is this prismatic hue diffused over every object which gives one of the most noticeable characteristics of the Alpine landscape.
This sea of ice lies on an inclined plane, and all the blocks have a general downward curve.
I told you yesterday that the lower part of the glacier, as seen from La Flégère, appeared covered with dirt. I saw to-day the reason for this. Although it was a sultry day in July, yet around the glacier a continual high wind was blowing, whirling the dust and _débris_ of the sides upon it. Some of the great masses of ice were so completely coated with sand as to appear at a distance like granite rocks. The effect of some of these immense brown masses was very peculiar. They seemed like an army of giants, bending forward, driven, as by an invisible power, down into the valley.
It reminds one of such expressions as these in Job:--
"Have the gates of death been open to thee, or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?" One should read that sublime poem in such scenes as these. I remained on the ice as long as I could persuade the guides and party to remain.
Then we went back to the house, where, of course, we looked at some wood work, agates, and all the et cetera.
Then we turned our steps downward. We went along the side of the glacier, and I desired to climb over as near as possible, in order to see the source of the Arveiron, which is formed by the melting of this glacier. Its cradle is a ribbed and rocky cavern of blue ice, and like a creature born full of vigor and immortality, it begins life with an impetuous leap. The cold arms of the glaciers cannot retain it; it must go to the warm, flowery, velvet meadows below.
The guide was quite anxious about me; he seemed to consider a lady as something that must necessarily break in two, or come apart, like a German doll, if not managed with extremest care; and therefore to see one bounding through bushes, leaping, and springing, and climbing over rocks at such a rate, appeared to him the height of desperation.
The good, faithful soul wanted to keep me within orthodox limits, and felt conscientiously bound to follow me wherever I went, and to offer me his hand at every turn. I considered, on the whole, that I ought not to blame him, since guides hold themselves responsible for life and limb; and any accident to those under their charge is fatal to their professional honor.
Going down, I held some conversation with him on matters and
things in general, and life in Chamouni in particular. He inquired with great
"And don't you want to go to
"Ah, no," he said, with a smile.
"Why not?" said I; "it is a much easier country to live in."
He gave a look at the circle of mountains around, and said,
"I love Chamouni." The good soul! I was much of his opinion. If I had
been born within sight of glorious Mont Blanc, with its apocalyptic clouds, and
store of visions, not all the fat pork and flat prairies of
I must not forget to say that the day before there had been some confidential passages between us, which began by his expressing, interrogatively, the opinion that "mademoiselle was a young lady, he supposed." When mademoiselle had assured him, on the contrary, that she was a venerable matron, mother of a thriving family, then followed a little comparison of notes as to numbers. Madame he ascertained to have six, and he had four, if my memory serves me, as it generally does not in matters of figures. So you see it is not merely among us New Englanders that the unsophisticated spirit of curiosity exists as to one's neighbors. Indeed, I take it to be a wholesome development of human nature in general. For my part, I could not think highly of any body who could be brought long into connection with another human being and feel no interest to inquire into his history and surroundings.
As we stopped, going down the descent, to rest the mules, I
looked up above my head into the crags, and saw a flock of goats browsing. One
goat, in particular, I remember, had gained the top of a kind of table rock,
which stood apart from the rest, and which was carpeted with lichens and green
moss. There he stood, looking as unconscious and contemplative as possible, the
wicked fellow, with his long beard! He knew he looked picturesque, and that is
what he stood there for. But, as they say in
By the by, the girls with strawberries, milk, and knitting work were on hand on the way down, and met us just where a cool spring gushed out at the roots of a pine tree; and of course I bought some more milk and strawberries.
How dreadfully hot it was when we got down to the bottom! for there we had the long, shadeless ride home, with the burning lenses of the glaciers concentrated upon our defenceless heads. I was past admiring any thing, and glad enough for the shelter of a roof, and a place to lie down.
After dinner, although the Glacier de Boisson had been spoken of as the appointed work for the afternoon, yet we discovered, as the psalm book says, that
"The force of nature could no farther go"
[Illustration: _of an ice climbing party scaling a large serac._]
What is Glacier de Boisson, or glacier any thing else, to a person used up entirely, with no sense or capability left for any thing but a general aching? No; the Glacier de Boisson was given up, and I am sorry for it now, because it is the commencement of the road up Mont Blanc; and, though I could not go to the top thereof, I should like to have gone as far as I could. In fact, I should have been glad to sleep one night at the Grands Mulets: however, that was impossible.
To look at the apparently smooth surface of the mountain
side, one would never think that the ascent could be a work of such difficulty
and danger. Yet, look at the picture of crossing a _crevasse_, and compare the
size of the figures with the dimensions of the blocks of ice. Madame
d'Angeville told me that she was drawn across a _crevasse_ like this, by ropes
tied under her arms, by the guides. The depth of some of the _crevasses_ may be
conjectured from the fact stated by
Friday, July 8.--Chamouni to Martigny, by Tête Noir. Mules _en avant_. We set off in a _calèche_. After a two hours' ride we came to "_those mules_." On, to the pass of Tête Noir, by paths the most awful. As my mule trod within six inches of the verge, I looked down into an abyss, so deep that tallest pines looked like twigs; yet, on the opposite side of the pass, I looked up the steep precipice to an equal height, where giant trees seemed white fluttering fringe. A dizzy sight. We swept round an angle, entered a dark tunnel blasted out through the solid rock, emerged, and saw before us, on our right, the far-famed Tête Noir, a black ledge, on whose face, so high is the opposite cliff, the sun never shines. A few steps brought us to a hotel. William and I rolled down some avalanches, by way of getting an appetite, while dinner was preparing.
[Illustration: _of the rearing head and neck of a bridled mule._]
After dinner we commenced descending towards Martigny, alternately riding and walking. Here, while I was on foot, my mule took it into his head to run away. I was never more surprised in my life than to see that staid, solemn, meditative, melancholy beast suddenly perk up both his long ears, thus, and hop about over the steep paths like a goat. Not more surprised should I be to see some venerable D. D. of Princeton leading off a dance in the Jardin Mabille. We chased him here, and chased him there. We headed him, and he headed us. We said, "Now I have you," and he said, "No, you don't!" until the affair began to grow comically serious. "_Il se moque de vous!_" said the guide. But, at that moment, I sprang and caught him by the bridle, when, presto! down went his ears, shut went the eyes, and over the entire gay brute spread a visible veil of stolidity. And down he plodded, _slunging_, shambling, pivotting round zigzag corners, as before, in a style which any one that ever navigated such a craft down hill knows without further telling. After that, I was sure that the old fellow kept up a "terrible thinking," in spite of his stupid looks, and knew a vast deal more than he chose to tell.
[Illustration: _of a mule's head lowered, with ears flattened._]
At length we opened on the
You cannot think how beautiful are these
Alpine valleys. Our course, all the first morning after we left
Chamouni, lay beside a broad, hearty, joyous mountain torrent, called, perhaps
from the darkness of its waters, Eau Noire. Charming meadows skirted its banks.
All the way along I could think of nothing but Bunyan's meadows beside the
river of life, "curiously adorned with lilies." _These_ were
curiously adorned, broidered, and inwrought with flowers, many and brilliant as
those in a western prairie. Were I to undertake to describe them, I might make
an inventory as long as Homer's list of the ships. There was the
There is a strange, unsatisfying pleasure about flowers, which, like all earthly pleasure, is akin to pain. What can you do with them?--you want to do something, but what? Take them all up, and carry them with you? You cannot do that. Get down and look at them? What, keep a whole caravan waiting for your observations! That will never do. Well, then, pick and carry them along with you. That is what, in despair of any better resource, I did. My good old guide was infinite in patience, stopping at every new exclamation point of mine, plunging down rocks into the meadow land, climbing to the points of great rocks, and returning with his hands filled with flowers. It seemed almost sacrilegious to tear away such fanciful creations, that looked as if they were votive offerings on an altar, or, more likely, living existences, whose only conscious life was a continued exhalation of joy and praise.
These flowers seemed to me to be earth's raptures and aspirations --her better moments--her lucid intervals. Like every thing else in our existence, they are mysterious.
In what mood of mind were they conceived by the great Artist? Of what feelings of his are they the expression--springing up out of the dust, in these gigantic, waste, and desolate regions, where one would think the sense of his almightiness might overpower the soul? Born in the track of the glacier and the avalanche, they seem to say to us that this Almighty Being is very pitiful, and of tender compassion; that, in his infinite soul, there is an exquisite gentleness and love of the beautiful, and that, if we would be blessed, his will to bless is infinite.
The greatest men have always thought much of flowers. Luther
always kept a flower in a glass, on his writing table; and when he was waging
his great public controversy with Eckius, he kept a flower in his hand. Lord
Bacon has a beautiful passage about flowers. As to Shakspeare, he is a perfect
Alpine valley--he is full of flowers; they spring, and blossom, and wave in
every cleft of his mind. Witness the Midsummer Night's Dream. Even
But all this while the sun has been withering the flowers the guide brought me; how they look! blue and white Canterbury bells, harebells, clochettes, all bedraggled and wilted, like a young lady who has been up all night at a ball.
"No, no," say I to the guide; "don't pick me any more. I don't want them. The fact is, if they are pretty I cannot help it. I must even take it out in looking as I go by."
One thing is evident; He who made the world is no utilitarian, no despiser of the fine arts, and no condemner of ornament; and those religionists, who seek to restrain every thing within the limits of cold, bare utility, do not imitate our Father in heaven.
Cannot a bonnet cover your head, without the ribbon and the flowers, say they? Yes; and could not a peach tree bear peaches without a blossom? What a waste is all this colored corolla of flowers, as if the seed could not mature without them! God could have created the fruit in good, strong, homely bushel baskets, if he had been so disposed.
"Turn off my eyes from beholding vanity," says a good man, when he sees a display of graceful ornament. What, then, must he think of the Almighty Being, all whose useful work is so overlaid with ornament? There is not a fly's leg, nor an insect's wing, which is not polished and decorated to an extent that we should think positive extravagance in finishing up a child's dress. And can we suppose that this Being can take delight in dwellings and modes of life or forms of worship where every thing is reduced to cold, naked utility? I think not. The instinct to adorn and beautify is from him; it likens us to him, and if rightly understood, instead of being a siren to beguile our hearts away, it will be the closest affiliating band.
If this power of producing the beautiful has been always so fascinating that the human race for its sake have bowed down at the feet even of men deficient in moral worth, if we cannot forbear loving the painter, poet, and sculptor, how much more shall we love God, who, with all goodness, has also all beauty!
But all this while we have been riding on till we have passed the meadows, and the fields, and are coming into the dark and awful pass of the Tête Noir, which C. has described to you.
One thing I noticed which he did not. When we were winding along the narrow path, bearing no more proportion to the dizzy heights above and below than the smallest insect creeping on the wall, I looked across the chasm, and saw a row of shepherds' cottages perched midway on a narrow shelf, that seemed in the distance not an inch wide. By a very natural impulse, I exclaimed, "What does become of the little children there? I should think they would all fall over the precipice!"
My guide looked up benevolently at me, as if he felt it his duty to quiet my fears, and said in a soothing tone, "O, no, no, no!"
Of course, I might have known that little children have their angels there, as well as every where else. "When they have funerals there," said he, "they are obliged to carry the dead along that road," pointing to a road that resembled a thread drawn on the rocky wall.
What a strange idea--such a life and death! It seemed to me, that I could see a funeral train creeping along; the monks, with their black cloaks, carrying tapers, and singing psalms; the whole procession together not larger in proportion than a swarm of black gnats; and yet, perhaps, hearts there wrung with an infinite sorrow. In that black, moving point, may be a soul, whose convulsions and agonies cannot be measured or counted by any thing human, so impossible is it to measure souls by space.
What can they think of, these creatures, who are born in this strange place, half way between heaven and earth, to whom the sound of avalanches is a cradle hymn, and who can never see the sun above the top of the cliff on either side, till he really gets into the zenith?
What they can be thinking of I cannot tell. Life, I suppose, is made up of the same prosaic material there that it is every where. The mother thinks how she shall make her goat's milk and black bread hold out. The grandmother knits stockings, and runs out to see if Jaques or Pierre have not tumbled over the precipice. Jaques and Pierre, in return, tangle grandmother's yarn, upset mother's milk bucket, pull the goat's beard, tear their clothes to pieces on the bushes and rocks, and, in short, commit incredible abominations daily, just as children do every where.
In the night how curiously this little nest of houses must
look, lighted up, winking and blinking at the solitary traveller, like some
mysterious eyes looking out of a great eternity! There they all are fast
This road, through the pass of the Tête Noir, used to be dangerous; a very narrow bridle-path, undefended by any screen whatever. To have passed it in those old days would have had too much of the sublime to be quite agreeable to me. The road, as it is, is wide enough, I should think, for three mules to go abreast, and a tunnel has been blasted through what seemed the most difficult and dangerous point, and a little beyond this tunnel is the Hotel de la Couronne.
If any body wanted to stop in the wildest and lonesomest
place he could find in the
But two or three hours' ride in the hot sun, on a mule's back, indisposes one to make much of the grandest scenes, insomuch that we were glad to go to sleep; and on awaking we were glad to get some dinner, such as it was.
Well, after our dinner, which consisted of a dish of fried
potatoes and some fossiliferous bread, such as prevails here at the small
There is something magnificent about going up these mountains, appalling as it seems to one's nerves, at particular turns and angles of the road, where the mule stops you on the very "brink of forever," as one of the ladies said.
Well, at last we reached the top, and began to descend; and
there, at our feet, as if we were looking down at it out of a cloud, lay the
whole beautiful valley of the
The next in the receding distance were fainter, and of a purplish green; the next of a vivid purple; the next, lilac; while far in the fading view the crystal summits and glaciers of the Oberland Alps rose like an exhalation.
The afternoon sun was throwing its level beams in between these many-colored ranges, and on one of them the ruins of an old Roman tower stood picturesquely prominent. The Simplon road could be seen, dividing the valley like an arrow.
I had gone on quite ahead of my company, and as my mule soberly paced downward in the almost perpendicular road, I seemed to be poised so high above the enchanting scene that I had somewhat the same sensation as if I were flying. I don't wonder that larks seem to get into such a rapture when they are high up in the air. What a dreamlike beauty there is in distance, disappearing ever as we approach!
As I came down towards Martigny into the pasture land of the
great mountain, it seemed to me that the scenery might pass for that of the
All were out in the fields, men, women, and children, and in one hayfield I saw the baby's cradle--baby, of course, concealed from view under a small avalanche of a feather bed, as the general fashion in these parts seems to be. The women wore broad, flat hats, and all appeared to be working rather lazily, as it was coming on evening.
This place might have done for
I was very far before my party, and now got off my mule, and sat down on a log to wait till they came up. Then the drama enacted by C.'s mule took place, which he has described to you. I merely saw a distant commotion, but did not enter into the merits of the case.
As they were somewhat slow coming down, I climbed over a log into a hayfield, and plucked a long, delicate, white-blossomed vine, with which I garlanded the top of my flat hat.
One is often reminded of a text of Scripture in these valleys--"He sendeth springs into the valleys, which run among the hills."
Every where are these little, lively, murmuring brooks falling down the rocks, prattling through the hayfields, sociably gossiping with each other as they go.
Here comes the party, and now we are going down into Martigny. How tired we were! We had to ride quite through the town, then through a long, long row of trees, to come to the Hotel de la Tour. How delightful it seemed, with its stone entries and staircases, its bedrooms as inviting as cleanliness could make them! The eating saloon opened on to a beautiful garden filled with roses in full bloom. There were little tables set about under the trees for people to take their strawberries and cream, or tea, in the open air if they preferred it, a very common and pleasant custom of continental hotels.
A trim, tidy young woman in a white cap, with a bunch of keys at her girdle, ushered us up two flights of stone stairs, into a very clean, nice apartment, with white muslin window curtains. Now, there is no feature of a room that speaks to the heart like white muslin window curtains; they always shed light on the whole scene.
After resting a while we were called down to a supper of
strawberries and cream, and nice little rolls with
honey. This honey you find at every hotel in
Here we were to part from our Chamouni guides, and engage new ones to take us to St. Bernard. I had become so fond of mine that it really went quite to my heart; we had an affecting leave-taking in the dark stone entry, at the foot of the staircase. In the earnestness of my emotion I gave him all the change I had in my pocket, to buy _souvenirs_ for his little folks at home, for you know I told you we had compared notes on sundry domestic points. I really flattered myself that I was doing something quite liberal; but this deceitful Swiss coin! I found, when I came to tell C. about it, that the whole stock only amounted to about twenty cents: like a great many things in this world, it looked more than it was. The good man, however, seemed as grateful as if I had done something, wished all sorts of happiness to me and my children, and so we parted. Peace go with him in his Chamouni cottage.
Saturday, July 9. Rose in a blaze of glory. Rode five mortal hours in a _char-à-banc_, sweltering under a burning sun. But in less than ten minutes after we mounted the mules and struck into the gorge, the ladies muffled themselves in thick shawls. We seemed to have passed, almost in a moment, from the tropics into the frigid zone. A fur cloak was suggested to me, but as it happened I was adequately calorified without. Chancing to be the last in the file, my mule suddenly stopped to eat.
"_Allez_, _allez_!" said I, twitching the bridle.
"I _won't_!" said he, as plainly as ears and legs could speak.
"_Allez_!" thundered I, jumping off and bestowing a kick upon his ribs which made me suffer if it did not him.
"I _won't_!" said he, stuffily.
"Won't you?" said I, pursuing the same line of inductive argument, with rhetorical flourishes of the bridle.
"Never!" he replied again, most mulishly.
"Then if words and kicks won't do," said I, "let us see what virtue there is in stones;" and suiting the action to the word, I showered him with fragments of granite, as from a catapult. At every concussion he jumped and kicked, but kept his nose in the same relative position. I redoubled the logical admonition; he jumped the more perceptibly; finally, after an unusually affecting appeal from a piece of granite, he fairly budged, and I seized the bridle to mount.
"Not at all," said he, wheeling round to his first position, like a true proslavery demagogue.
"Ah," said I; and went over the same line of argument in a more solid and convincing manner. At length the salutary impression seemed permanently fastened on his mind; he fairly gave in; and I rode on in triumph to overtake the party--having no need of a fur coat.
Horeb, Sinai, and Hor! What a wilderness! what
a sudden change! Nothing but savage, awful precipices of naked granite, snowy
fields, and verdureless wastes! In every other place in the Alps, we have
looked upon the snow in the remote distance, to be dazzled with its sheeny
effulgence--ourselves, meanwhile, in the region of verdure and warmth. Here we
march through a horrid desert--not a leaf, not a blade of grass--over the deep
drifts of snow; and we find our admiration turns to horror. And this is the
After an hour's perilous climbing, we reached, at last, the _hospice_, and in five minutes were sitting at the supper table, by a good blazing fire, with a lively company, chatting with a gentlemanly abbé, discussing figs and fun, cracking filberts and jokes, and regaling ourselves genially. But ever and anon drawing, with a half shiver, a little closer to the roaring fagots in the chimney, I thought to myself, "And this is our midsummer nights' dream"!
During breakfast, we were discussing whether we could get through the snow to Mont St. Bernard. Some thought we could, and some thought not. So it goes here: we are gasping and sweltering one hour, and plunging through snow banks the next.
After breakfast, we entered the _char-à-banc_, a crab-like, sideway carriage, and were soon on our way. Our path was cut from the breast of the mountain, in a stifling gorge, where walls of rock on both sides served as double reflectors to concentrate the heat of the sun on our hapless heads. To be sure, there was a fine foaming stream at the bottom of the pass, and ever so much fine scenery, if we could have seen it; but our chars opened but one way, and that against the perpendicular rock, close enough, almost, to blister our faces; and the sun beat in so on our backs that we were obliged to have the curtain down. Thus we were as uncognizant of the scenery we passed through as if we had been nailed up in a box. Nothing but the consideration that we were travelling for pleasure could for a moment have reconciled us to such inconveniences. As it was, I occasionally called out to C., in the back carriage, to be sure and take good care of the fur coat; which always brought shouts of laughter from the whole party. The idea of a fur coat seemed so supremely ridiculous to us, there was no making us believe we ever should or could want it.
That was the most unpleasant day's ride I had in the
This goitre prevails so extensively in this region, that you seldom see a person with the neck in a healthy condition. The worst of the matter is, that in many cases of children it induces idiocy. Cases of this kind were so frequent, that, after a while, whenever I met a child, I began to search in its face for indications of the approach of this disease.
They are called _cretins_. In many cases the whole head appears swelled and deformed. As usual, every one you look at puts out the hand to beg. The tavern where we stopped to dine seemed more like a great barn, or cavern, than any thing else. We go groping along perfectly dark stone passages, stumbling up a stone staircase, and gaining light only when the door of a kind of reception room opens upon us--a long, rough-looking room, without any carpet, furnished with a table, and some chairs, and a rude sofa. We were shown to a bed room, carpetless, but tolerably clean, with a very high feather bed in each corner, under a canopy of white curtains.
After dinner we went on towards
It was between three and four o'clock. Our path lay up a desolate mountain gorge. After we had ascended some way the cold became intense. The mountain torrent, by the side of which we went up, leaped and tumbled under ribs of ice, and through banks of snow.
I noticed on either side of the defile that there were high posts put up on the rocks, and a cord stretched from one to the other. The object of these, my guide told me, was to show the path, when this whole ravine is filled up with deep snow.
I could not help thinking how horrible it must be to go up here in the winter.
Our path sometimes came so near to the torrent as to suggest uncomfortable ideas.
In one place it swept round the point of a rock which projected into the foaming flood, so that it was completely under water. I stopped a little before I came to this, and told the guide I wanted to get down. He was all accommodation, and lifted me from my saddle, and then stood to see what I would do next. When I made him understand that I meant to walk round the point, he very earnestly insisted that I should get back to the saddle again, and was so positive that I had only to obey. It was well I did so, for the mule went round safely enough, and could afford to go up to his ankles in water better than I could.
As we neared the _hospice_ I began to feel the effects of the rarefied air very sensibly. It made me dizzy and sick, bringing on a most acute headache--a sharp, knife-like pain. S. was still more affected.
I was glad enough when the old building came in view, though the road lay up an ascent of snow almost perpendicular.
At the foot of this ascent we paused. Our guides, who looked a little puzzled, held a few moments' conversation, in which the word "_fonce_" was particularly prominent, a word which I took to be equivalent to our English "_slump;_" and indeed the place was suggestive of the idea. The snow had so far melted and softened under the influence of the July sun, that something of this kind, in going up the ascent, seemed exceedingly probable. The man stood leaning on his alpenstock, looking at the thing to be demonstrated. There were two paths, both equally steep and snowy. At last he gathered up the bridle, and started up the most direct way. The mule did not like it at all, evidently, and expressed his disgust by occasionally stopping short and snuffing, meaning probably to intimate that he considered the whole thing a humbug, and that in his opinion we should all slump through together, and go to--nobody knows where. At last, when we were almost up the ascent, he did slump, and went up to his breast in the snow; whereat the guide pulled me out of the saddle with one hand, and pulled him out of the hole with the other. In a minute he had me into the saddle again, and after a few moments more we were up the ascent and drawing near the _hospice_--a great, square, strong, stone building, standing alone among rocks and snowbanks.
As we drove up nearer I saw the little porch in front of it crowded with gentlemen smoking cigars, and gazing on our approach just as any set of loafers do from the porch of a fashionable hotel. This was quite a new idea of the matter to me. We had been flattering ourselves on performing an incredible adventure; and lo, and behold, all the world were there waiting for us.
[Illustration: _of a large multi-story hospice and other buildings in a remote-looking mountain valley. A river flows in the foreground._]
We came up to the steps, and I was so crippled with fatigue and so dizzy and sick with the thin air, that I hardly knew what I was doing. We entered a low-browed, dark, arched, stone passage, smelling dismally of antiquity and dogs, when a brisk voice accosted me in the very choicest of French, and in terms of welcome as gay and courtly as if we were entering a _salon_.
Keys clashed, and we went up stone staircases, our entertainer talking volubly all the way. As for me, all the French I ever knew was buried under an avalanche. C. had to make answer for me, that madame was very unwell, which brought forth another stream of condolence as we came into a supper room, lighted by a wood fire at one end. The long table was stretched out, on which they were placing supper. Here I had light enough to perceive that our entertainer was a young man of a lively, intelligent countenance, in the Augustine monks' dress, viz., a long, black camlet frock, with a kind of white band over it, which looks much like a pair of suspenders worn on the outside. He spoke French very purely, and had all that warm cordiality and graceful vivacity of manner which seems to be peculiar to the French. He appeared to pity us very much, and was full of offers of assistance; and when he heard that I had a bad headache, insisted on having some tea made for me, the only drink on the table being wine The supper consisted of codfish, stewed apples, bread, filberts, and raisins. Immediately after we were shown up stone staircases, and along stone passages, to our rooms, of which the most inviting feature was two high, single beds covered with white spreads. The windows of the rooms were so narrow as to seem only like loopholes. There was a looking glass, table, chair, and some glazed prints.
A good old woman came to see if we wanted any thing. I thought, as I stretched myself in the bed, with feathers under me and feathers over me, what a heaven of rest this place must have seemed to poor travellers benighted and perishing in the snow. In the morning I looked out of my loophole on the tall, grim rocks, and a small lake frozen and covered with snow. "Is this lake always frozen?" said I to the old serving woman who had come to bring us hot water for washing.
"Sometimes," says she, "about the latter part of August, it is thawed."
I suppose it thaws the last of August, and freezes the first of September.
After dressing ourselves we crept down stairs in hopes of finding the fire which we left the night before in the sitting room. No such thing. The sun was shining, and it was what was called a warm day, that is to say, a day when a little thaw trickles down the south side of snow banks; so the fire was out, and the windows up, and our gay Augustine friend, coming in, congratulated us on our charming day.
The fireplace was piled up with wood and kindlings ready to be lighted in the evening; but being made to understand that it was a very sultry day, we could not, of course, suggest such an extravagance as igniting the tempting pile--an extravagance, because every stick of wood has to be brought on the backs of mules from the valleys below, at a very great expense of time and money.
The same is true of provisions of all sorts, and fodder for cattle.
Well, after breakfast I went to the front porch to view the prospect. And what did I see there? Banks of dirty, half-melted snow, bones, and scraps of offal, patches of bare earth, for a small space, say about fifty feet round, and then the whole region shut in by barren, inaccessible rocks, which cut off all view in every direction.
Along by the frozen lake there is a kind of causeway path made for a promenade, where one might walk to observe the beauties of the season, and our cheery entertainer offered to show it to us; so we walked out with him. Under the rocks in one place he showed us a little plat, about as large as a closet door, which, he said, laughing, was their garden.
I asked him if any thing ever really grew there. He shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Sometimes."
We pursued this walk till we came to the end of the lake, and there he showed me a stone pillar.
"There," said he, "beyond that pillar is
"Well," said I, "I believe I shall take a
I observed no indications of that superiority in the fine arts, or of that genial climate and soil, of which I had heard so much. W. and I agreed to give ourselves airs on this subject whenever the matter of Italy was introduced, and to declare that we had been there, and had seen none of the things of which people write in books.
"What a perfectly dismal, comfortless place!" said I; but climbing up the rocks to rest me in a sunny place, I discovered that they were all enamelled with the most brilliant flowers.
[Illustration: _of a cluster of small five-petaled flowers with blunt tips growing very close to the ground._]
In particular I remarked beds of velvet moss, which bore a pink blossom, in form somewhat like this. Then there was a kind of low, starry gentian, of a bright metallic blue; I tried to paint it afterwards, but neither ultramarine nor any color I could find would represent its brilliancy; it was a kind of living brightness. I examined the petals to see how this effect was produced, and it seemed to be by a kind of prismatic arrangement of the small round particles of which they were composed. The shape of the flower was somewhat like this.
[Illustration: _of a cluster of small five petaled flowers with sharp points growing on short stalks near the ground._]
I spread down my pocket handkerchief, and proceeded to see how many varieties I could gather, and in a very small circle W. and I collected eighteen. Could I have thought, when I looked from my window over this bleak region, that any thing so perfectly lovely as this little purple witch, for example, was to be found there? It was quite a significant fact. There is no condition of life, probably, so dreary that a lowly and patient seeker cannot find its flowers.
[Illustration: _of a clump of a small flowering plant attached to what appears to be its rhizome._]
I began to think that I might be contented even there. But while I was looking I was so sickened by headache, and disagreeable feelings arising from the air, that I often had to lie down on the sunny side of the bank. W., I found, was similarly troubled; he said he really thought in the morning he was going to have a fever. We went back to the house. There were services in the chapel; I could hear the organ pealing, and the singers responding.
Seven great dogs were sunning themselves on the porch, and
as I knew it was a subject particularly interesting to you, I made minute
inquiries respecting them. Like many other things, they have been much
overstated, I think, by travellers. They are of a tawny-yellow color, short
haired, broad chested, and strong limbed. As to size,
I have seen much larger
[Illustration: _of a large, light-colored dog with medium-short fur at rest and wearing a broad patterned collar._]
For my part, I was a little uneasy among them, as they went walloping and frisking around me, flouncing and rolling over each other on the stone floor, and making, every now and then, the most hideous noises that it ever came into a dog's head to conceive.
As I saw them biting each other in their clumsy frolics, I began to be afraid lest they should take it into their heads to treat me like one of the family, and so stood ready to run.
The man who showed them wished to know if I should like to see some puppies; to which, in the ardor of natural history, I assented: so he opened the door of a little stone closet, and sure enough there lay madam in state, with four little blind, snubbed-nosed pledges. As the man picked up one of these, and held it up before me in all the helplessness of infancy, looking for all the world like a roly-poly pudding with a short tail to it, I could not help querying in my mind, are you going to be a St. Bernard dog?
One of the large dogs, seeing the door open, thought now was a good time to examine the premises, and so walked briskly into the kennel, but was received by the amiable mother with such a sniff of the nose as sent him howling back into the passage, apparently a much wiser and better dog than he had been before. Their principal use is to find paths in the deep snow when the fathers go out to look for travellers, as they always do in stormy weather. They are not longlived; neither man nor animal can stand the severe temperature and the thin air for a long time. Many of the dogs die from diseases of the lungs and rheumatism, besides those killed by accidents, such as the falling of avalanches, &c. A little while ago so many died that they were fearful of losing the breed altogether, and were obliged to recruit by sending down into the valleys for some they had given away. One of the monks told us that, when they went out after the dogs in the winter storms, all they could see of them was their tails moving along through the snow. The monks themselves can stand the climate but a short time, and then they are obliged to go down and live in the valleys below, while others take their places.
They told us that there were over a hundred people in the _hospice_ when we were there. They were mostly poor peasants and some beggars. One poor man came up to me, and uncovered his neck, which was a most disgusting sight, swollen with goitre. I shut my eyes, and turned another way, like a bad Christian, while our Augustine friend walked up to him, spoke in a soothing tone, and called him "my son." He seemed very loving and gentle to all the poor, dirty people by whom we were surrounded.
I went into the chapel to look at the pictures. There was St. Bernard standing in the midst of a desolate, snowy waste, with a little child on one arm and a great dog beside him.
This St. Bernard, it seems, was a man of noble family, who lived nine hundred and sixty-two years after Christ. Almost up to that time a temple to Jupiter continued standing on this spot. It is said that the founding of this institution finally rooted out the idolatrous worship.
On Monday we returned to Martigny, and obtained a _voiture_
for Villeneuve. Drove through the beautiful
Here I am, sitting at my window, overlooking
[Illustration: _of blue bell flowers with sharp-bladed leaves._]
I know not why the old buildings and walls in
On the side of the castle wall, in a large white heart, is painted the inscription, _Liberté et Patrie_!
We rowed along, almost touching the castle rock, where the wall ascends perpendicularly, and the water is said to be a thousand feet deep. We passed the loopholes that illuminate the dungeon vaults, and an old arch, now walled up, where prisoners, after having been strangled, were thrown into the lake.
Last evening we walked over the castle. An interesting Swiss woman, who has taught herself English for the benefit of her visitors, was our _cicerone_. She seemed to have all the old Swiss vivacity of attachment for "_liberté et patrie_."
[Illustration: _of a interior space of hewn stone with high vaulted gothic arches._]
She took us first into the dungeon, with the seven pillars,
described by Byron. There was the pillar to which, for protecting the liberty
What a power of vitality was there in Bonnevard, that he did not sink in lethargy, and forget himself to stone! But he did not; it is said that when the victorious Swiss army broke in to liberate him, they cried,--
"Bonnevard, you are free!"
You ought to have heard the enthusiasm with which our guide told this story!
Near by are the relics of the cell of a companion of Bonnevard, who made an ineffectual attempt to liberate him. On the wall are still seen sketches of saints and inscriptions by his hand. This man one day overcame his jailer, locked him in his cell, ran into the hall above, and threw himself from a window into the lake, struck a rock, and was killed instantly. One of the pillars in this vault is covered with names. I think it is Bonnevard's pillar. There are the names of Byron, Hunt, Schiller, and many other celebrities.
After we left the dungeons we went up into the judgment
hall, where prisoners were tried, and then into the torture chamber. Here are
the pulleys by which limbs were broken; the beam, all scorched with the irons
by which feet were burned; the oven where the irons were heated; and there was
the stone where they were sometimes laid to be strangled, after the torture. On
that stone, our guide told us, two thousand Jews, men, women, and children, had
been put to death. There was also, high up, a strong beam across, where
criminals were hung; and a door, now walled up, by which they were thrown into
the lake. I shivered. "'Twas cruel," she said; "'twas almost as
cruel as your slavery in
Then she took us into a tower where was the _oubliette_. Here the unfortunate prisoner was made to kneel before an image of the Virgin, while the treacherous floor, falling beneath him, precipitated him into a well forty feet deep, where he was left to die of broken limbs and starvation. Below this well was still another pit, filled with knives, into which, when they were disposed to a merciful hastening of the torture, they let him fall. The woman has been herself to the bottom of the first dungeon, and found there bones of victims. The second pit is now walled up.
"All this," she said, "was done for the glory of God in the good old times."
The glory of God! What has not been done in that name! Yet he keeps silence; patient he watches; the age-long fever of this world, the delirious night, shall have a morning. Ah, there is an unsounded depth in that word which says, "He is long-suffering." This it must be at which angels veil their faces.
On leaving the castle we offered the woman the customary gratuity. "No;" she would "have the pleasure of showing it to me as a friend." And she ran into a charming little garden, full of flowers, and brought me a bouquet of lilies and roses, which I have had in my room all day.
To-night, after sunset, we rowed to Byron's "little isle," the only one in the lake. O, the unutterable beauty of these mountains--great, purple waves, as if they had been dashed up by a mighty tempest, crested with snow-like foam! this purple sky, and crescent moon, and the lake gleaming and shimmering, and twinkling stars, while far off up the sides of a snow-topped mountain a light shines like a star--some mountaineer's candle, I suppose.
In the dark stillness we rowed again over to Chillon, and paused under its walls. The frogs were croaking in the moat, and we lay rocking on the wave, and watching the dusky outlines of the towers and turrets. Then the spirit of the scene seemed to wrap me round like a cloak.
There is one peculiarity about the outline of Mont Blanc, as
We walked out the other evening, with M. Fazy, to a
beautiful place, where Servetus was burned. Soft, new-mown meadow grass carpets
it, and a solemn amphitheatre of mountains, glowing in the evening sky, looked
The world is always unjust to its progressive men. If one
fragment of past absurdity cleaves to them, they celebrate the absurdity as a
personal peculiarity. Hence we hear so much of Luther's controversial
harshness, of Calvin's burning Servetus, and of the witch persecutions of
Luther was the poet of the reformation, and Calvin its
philosopher. Luther fused the mass, Calvin crystallized. He who fuses makes the
most sensation in his day; he who crystallizes has a longer and wider power.
Calvinism, in its essential features, never will cease from the earth, because
the great fundamental facts of nature are Calvinistic, and men with strong
minds and wills always discover it. The predestination of a sovereign will is
written over all things. The old Greek tragedians read it, and expressed it. So
did Mahomet, Napoleon, Cromwell. Why? They found it so
by their own experience; they tried the forces of nature enough to find their
strength. The strong swimmer who breasts the
The wife of De Wette has twice called upon me--a good,
plain, motherly, pious old lady as any in
After a while Clara came in, and I was charmed at a glance--a most lovely creature, in deep mourning, with beautiful manners; so much interested for the poor slaves! so full of feeling, inquiring so anxiously what she could do for them!
"Do ministers ever hold slaves?" she said.
"0, yes; many."
"0! But how can they be Christians?"
"They reason in this way," said I; "they say, 'These people are not fit to take care of themselves; therefore we must hold them, and educate them, till they are fit to be free.'"
"I wish," said she, looking very pretty and fierce, "that they might all be sold themselves, and see how they would like it."
Her husband, who speaks only French, now asked what we were talking about, and she repeated the conversation.
"I would shoot every one of them," said he, with a significant movement.
"Now, see," said Mrs. De Wette, "Clara would sell them, and her husband would _shoot_ them; for my part, I would rather _convert_ them." We all laughed at this sally.
"Ah," said Clara, "the last thing my little darling looked at was the pictures in Uncle Tom; when she came to the death of Eva, she said, 'Now I am weary, I will go to sleep;' and so closed her eyes, and never opened them more."
Clara said she had met the Key in
I am grieved to say, that there are American propagandists
of slavery here, who seem to feel it incumbent on them to recognize this
hideous excrescence as a national peculiarity, and to consider any reflection
upon it, on the part of the liberty-loving Swiss, as an insult to the American
nation. The sophisms by which slaveholding has been justified from the Bible
have left their slimy track even here. Alas! is it
Walking the other evening with M. Fazy, who is, of course,
French in education, we talked of our English literature. He.
had Hamlet in French--just think of it. One never
feels the national difference so much as in thinking of Shakspeare in French!
Madame de Stael says of translation, that music written for one instrument
cannot be played upon another. I asked if he had read
"And how did you like him?"
"0," with a kind of shiver, "he is so cold!"
Now, I felt that the delicate probe of the French mind had
dissected out a shade of feeling of which I had often been conscious. There is a coldness about all the luscious exuberance of
"For millions of spirits for his fault amerced,
And from eternal splendors flung."
God does not care, nor his angels. Ah, quite otherwise is
God revealed in Him who wept over
I went with Mrs. Fazy the other night to call on Mrs. C.'s friend, Pastor C. They were so affectionate, so full of beautiful kindness! The French language sounds sweetly as a language of affection and sympathy: with all its tart vivacity, it has a richness in the gentler world of feeling. Then, in the evening, I was with a little circle of friends at the house of the sister of Merle d'Aubigne, and they prayed and sang together. It was beautiful. The hymn was one on the following of Jesus, similar to that German one of old Godfrey Arnold, which is your favorite. These Christians speak with deep sorrow of our slavery; it grieves, it distresses them, for the American church has been to them a beloved object. They have leaned towards it as a vine inclines towards a vigorous elm. To them it looks incomprehensible that such a thing could gain strength in a free Christian republic.
I feel really sorry that I have had to withdraw so much from proffered kindness here, and to seem unwilling to meet feeling; but so it has been. Yet, to me, apparently so cold, many of these kind Genevese have shown most considerate attention. Fruit and flowers have been sent in anonymously; and one gentleman offered to place his garden at my disposal for walks, adding that, if I wished to be entirely private, neither he nor his family would walk there. This, I thought, was too much kindness.
One social custom here is new to me. The husband, by marriage, takes the wife's name. Thus M. Fazy, our host, is known as M. Fazy Meyer--Meyer being his wife's name--a thing which at first perplexed me. I was often much puzzled about names, owing to this circumstance.
From the conversation I hear I should think that democracy
was not entirely absolute in
The other day I visited Beautte's celebrated watch and jewelry store, and saw all the process of making watches, from the time the case is cut from a sheet of gold, on through the enamelling, engraving, and finishing. Enamel is metallic paint, burned on in a furnace. Many women are employed in painting the designs. The workmen looked intelligent and thoughtful, like men who can both think and do. Some glimpses showed their sympathy with republicanism--as one should see fire through a closed door.
I have had full reason to observe that difference between
Protestant and Catholic cantons on which Horace Greeley commented while here.
They are as different as our slave and
Thursday, July 14. Spent a social evening at Mrs. La V.'s,
on the lake shore.
Pour la liberte!"
Friday, July 15. Mrs. C. and her two daughters are here from
Saturday, July 16. Our whole company resorted to the lake, and spent the forenoon on its tranquil waters. If this life seem idle, we remember that there must be valleys between mountains; and as, in those vales, tired mountaineers love to rest, so we, by the silver shore of summer Leman, while away the quiet hours, in this interval, between great mountain epochs Chamouni and Oberland.
Monday, July 18. Weather suspicious.
Stowed ourselves and our baggage into our _voiture_, and bade adieu to our
friends and to
Tuesday, July 19. Rode through Payerne to Freyburg. Stopped at the Zahringer Hof--most romantic of inns. Our gentlemanly host ushered us forth upon a terrace overhanging the deep gorge of the Saärine, spanned, to the right and left of us, by two immense suspension bridges, one of which seemed to spring from the hotel itself. Ruins of ancient walls and watch towers lined the precipice.
After dinner we visited the cathedral to hear the celebrated organ. The organist performed a piece descriptive of a storm. We resigned ourselves to the illusion. Low, mysterious wailings, swelling, dying away in the distance, seeming at first exceedingly remote, drew gradually near. Fitful sighings and sobbings rose, as of gusts of wind; then low, smothered roarings. Anon came flashes of lightning, rattling hail, and driving rain, succeeded by bursts of storm, and howlings of a hurricane--fierce, furious, frightful. I felt myself lost in a snow storm in winter, on the pass of Great St. Bernard.
One note there was of strange, terrible clangor--bleak, dark, yet of a lurid fire--that seemed to prolong itself through all the uproar, like a note of doom, cutting its way to the heart as the call of the last archangel. Yes, I felt myself alone, lost in a boundless desert, beyond the abodes of man; and this was a call of terror-stern, savage, gloomy--the call as of fixed fate and absolute despair.
Then the storm died away, in faint and far-off murmurs; and
we broke, as it were, from the trance, to find ourselves, _not_ lost, but here
among the living. We then drove quietly to
Wednesday, July 20. Examined, not the
lions, but the bears of
Engaged a _voiture_, and drove to Thun. Dined, and drove by the shore of the lake to Interlachen, arriving just after a brilliant sunset.
Thursday, July 21. S. and G. remained at the Belvedere. W., II., and I took a guide and _voiture_ for Lauterbrunn. Here
we visited Byron's apocalyptic horse-tail waterfall, the Staubbach. This
waterfall is very sublime, all except the water and the fall. Whoever has been
"under the sheet" at
[Illustration: _of the waterfall and cliff rising sharply to the left of the roadway. A cabin appears to be located very near its base._]
Here we crossed the Wengern Alps to Grindelwald. The
Jungfrau is right over against us--her glaciers purer, tenderer, more
dazzlingly beautiful, if possible, than those of
To-day we have been in the Wengern Alps--the scenes
described in Manfred. Imagine us mounting, about ten o'clock, from the
[Illustration: _of narrow, high alpine meadows with grazing livestock._]
It is haying time; a bright day; all is cheerful; the birds sing; men, women, and children are busy in the field. Up we go, zigzag; it grows steeper and steeper. Now right below me is a field, where men are literally working almost on a perpendicular wall, cutting hay; now we are so high that the houses in the valley look like chips. Here we stand in a place two thousand feet above the valley. There is no shield or screen. The horse stands on the very edge; the guide stops, lets go his bridle, and composedly commences an oration on the scene below. "0, for mercy's sake, why do you stop here?" I say. "Pray go on." He looks in my face, with innocent wonder, takes the bridle on his arm, and goes on.
Now we have come to the little
Now the path turns and slopes down a steep bank, covered
with haycocks, to a little nook below, likewise covered with new hay. If my
horse is going to throw me any where, I wish it may be here: it is not so bad a
thing to roll down into that hay. But now we mount higher; the breezy dells,
enamelled with flowers and grass, become fewer; the great black pines take
their place. Right before us, in the purest white, as a bride adorned for her
husband, rises the beautiful
There is something celestial in these mountains. You might
think such a vision as that to be a bright footstool of Heaven, from which the
next step would be into an unknown world. The pines here begin to show that
long white beard of moss which I admire so much in
We turn to look down. That Staubbach, which in the valley
seemed to fall from an immense precipice, higher than we could gaze, is now a
silver thread, far below our feet; and the
"That one directly before you is the Monk," says C., calling to me from behind, and pointing to a great snow peak.
Our guide, with animation, introduced us by name to every one of these snow-white genii--the Falhorn, the Schreckhorn, the Wetterhorn, the great Eiger, and I cannot remember what besides. The guides seem to consider them all as old friends.
Certainly nothing could be so singular, so peculiar as this ascension. We have now passed the limit of all but grass and Alpine flowers, which still, with their infinite variety, embroider the way; and now the _auberge_ is gained. Good night, now, and farewell.
That is to say, there we stopped--on the summit, in fair
view of the
Off we start--I walking--for, to tell the truth, I have no fondness for riding down a path as steep in some places as a wall; I leave that to C., who never fears any thing. So I walked all the way to Grindelwald, nine miles of a very rough road. There was a lady with her husband walking the same pass, who had come on foot the whole way from Lauterbrunn, and did not seem in the least fatigued. My guide exhausted all his eloquence to persuade me that it was better to ride; at last I settled him by saying, "Why, here is a lady who has walked the whole route." So he confined himself after that to helping me find flowers, and carrying the handkerchief in which I stowed them. Alas! what herbarium of hapless flowers, laid out stark, stiff, and motionless, like beauty on its bier, and with horrible long names written under them, can ever give an idea of the infinite variety and beauty of the floral crown of these mountains!
The herbarium resembles the bright, living reality no more than the _morgue_ at St. Bernard's is a specimen of mountain travellers. Yet one thing an herbarium is good for: in looking at it you can recall how they looked, and glowed, and waved in life, with all their silver-crowned mountains around them.
After we arrived at Grindelwald, tired as I was, I made sketches of nine varieties, which I intend to color as soon as we rest long enough. So much I did for love of the dear little souls.
One noticeable feature is the predominance of _yellow_ flowers. These, of various kinds, so abound as to make a distinct item of coloring in a distant view. One of the most common is this--of a vivid chrome yellow, sometimes brilliantly striped with orange.
[Illustration: _of a flowered bract._]
One thing more as to botanical names. What does possess botanists to afflict the most fragile and delicate of earth's children with such mountainous and unpronounceable names? Now there was a dear little flower that I first met at St. Bernard--a little purple bell, with a fringe; it is more particularly beautiful from its growing just on the verge of avalanches, coming up and blossoming through the snow. I send you one in this letter, which I dug out of a snow bank this morning. And this fair creation--this hope upon a death bed--this image of love unchilled and immortal--how I wanted to know it by name!
[Illustration: _of a tiny plant with a single flowering stem and two simple circular leaves._]
Today, at the summit house of the mountain, I opened an herbarium, and there were three inches of name as hopeless and unpronounceable as the German of our guides, piled up on my little flower. I shut the herbarium.
This morning we started early from Grindelwald--that is, by
eight o'clock. An unclouded, clear, breezy morning, the air
full of the sounds of cascades, and of the little bells of the herds. As
we began to wind upward into that delectable region which forms the first stage
of ascent, I said to C., "The more of beautiful scenery I see, the more I
appreciate the wonderful poetry of the Pilgrim's Progress." The meadows by
"O, I want to get down," said I, "and go near them."
Down I did get, and taking what seemed to be the straightest course, began running down the hill side towards them.
"No, no! Back, back!" shouted the guide, in unimaginable French and German. _"Ici, ici!"_
I came back; and taking my hand, he led me along a path where travellers generally go. I went closer, and sat down on a rock under them, and looked up. The clear sun was shining through them; clear and blue looked the rifts and arches, all dripping and beautiful. We went down upon them by steps which a man had cut in the ice. There was one rift of ice we looked into, which was about fifty feet high, going up into a sharp arch. The inside of this arch was clear blue ice, of the color of crystal of blue vitriol.
Here, immediately under, I took a rude sketch just to show you how a glacier looks close at hand.
[Illustration: _of the broken and chiseled surface of a glacier._]
C. wanted, as usual, to do all sorts of improper things. He wanted to stone down blocks of ice, and to go inside the cave, and to go down into holes, and insisted on standing particularly long on a spot which the guide told him was all undermined, in order that he might pelt a cliff of ice that seemed inclined to fall, and hear it smash.
The poor guide was as distressed as a hen when her ducks take to the water; he ran, and called, and shouted, in German, French, and English, and it was not till C. had contrived to throw the head of the little boy's hatchet down into a _crevasse_, that he gave up. There were two francs to pay for this experiment; but never mind! Our guide book says that a clergyman of Yevay, on this glacier, fell into a _crevasse_ several hundred feet deep, and was killed; so I was glad enough when C. came off safe.
He ought to have a bell on his neck, as the cows do here; and _apropos_ to this, we leave the glacier, and ride up into a land of pastures. Here we see a hundred cows grazing in the field--the field all yellow with buttercups. They are a very small breed, prettily formed, and each had on her neck a bell. How many notes there are in these bells! quite a diapason--some very deep toned, and so on up to the highest! how prettily they sound, all going together! The bells are made of the best of metal, for the tone is of an admirable quality.
0, do look off there, on that patch of snow under the Wetterhorn! It is all covered with cows; they look no bigger than insects. "What makes them go there?" said we to our guides.
"_To be cool_" was the answer.
Hark! what's that? a sudden sound like the rush of a cascade.
"Avalanche! avalanche!" exclaimed the guide. And now, pouring down the sides of the Wetterhorn, came a milk-white cascade, looking just like any other cascade, melting gracefully over the rocks, and spreading, like a stream of milk, on the soiled snow below.
This is a summer avalanche--a mere _bijou_--a fancy article, got up, or rather got down, to entertain travellers. The winter avalanches are quite other things. Witness a little further in our track, where our guide stops us, and points to a place where all the pines have been broken short off by one of them. Along here some old ghostly pines, dead ages ago, their white, ghastly skeletons bleached by a hundred storms, stand, stretching out their long, bony arms, like phantom giants. These skeleton pines are a striking image; I wonder I have not seen them introduced into pictures.
There, now, a little ahead, is a small hut, which marks the summit of the grand Scheidich. Our horses come up to it, and we dismount. Some of the party go in to sleep--I go out to climb a neighboring peak. At the foot of this peak lay a wreath of snow, soiled and dirty, as half-melted snow always is; but lying amid the green grass and luxuriant flowers, it had a strange air. It seemed a little spot of death in the green lap of rejoicing life--like that death-spot which often lies in the human heart--among all seeming flowers, cold and cheerless, unwarmed by the sunbeam, and unmelted by the ray that unfolds thousands of blooms around.
Now, I thought, I have read of Alpine flowers leaning their cheeks on the snows. I wonder if any flowers grow near enough to that snow to touch it. I mean to go and see. So I went; there, sure enough, my little fringed purple bell, to which I have given the name of "suspirium," was growing, not only close to the snow, but in it.
Thus God's grace shining steadily on the waste places of the human heart, brings up heavenward sighings and aspirations which pierce through the cold snows of affliction, and tell that there is yet life beneath.
I climbed up the grassy sides of the peak, flowers to the very top. There I sat down and looked. This is Alpine solitude. All around me were these deep, green dells, from which comes up the tinkle of bells, like the dropping of rain every where It seems to me the air is more elastic and musical here than below, and gives grace to the commonest sound. Now I look back along the way we have been travelling. I look at the strange old cloudy mountains, the Eiger, the Wetterhorn, the Schreckhorn. A kind of hazy ether floats around them--an indescribable aerial halo--which no painter ever represents. Who can paint the air--that vivid blue in which these sharp peaks cut their glittering images? Of all peaks, the Eiger is the most impressive to me.
[Illustration: _of the sharp pointed Eiger, with mountain goats on a pinnacle in the foreground._]
It is a gigantic ploughshare of rock, set up against the sky, its thin, keen, purple blade edged with glittering frost; for so sharp is its point, that only a dazzling line marks the eternal snow on its head.
I walked out as far as I could on a narrow summit, and took a last look. Glaciers! snows! mountains! sunny dells and flowers! all good by. I am a pilgrim and a stranger.
Already, looking down to the shanty, I see the guide like a hen that has lost a chicken, shaking her wings, and clucking, and making a great ado. I could stay here all day. I would like to stay two or three--to see how it would look at sunrise, at sunset--to lie down in one of these sunny hollows, and look up into the sky--to shut my eyes lazily, and open them again, and so let the whole impression _soak in_, as Mrs. H. used to say.
But no; the sleepers have waked up, the guide has the horses
ready, and I must come down. So here I descend my hill Difficulty into the
About noon we came to Rosenlaui. As we drew near the hotel the guide struck off upon a path leading up the mountain, saying, by way of explanation, _"The glacier!"_
Now, I confess that it was rather too near dinner time, and I was too tired at once to appreciate this movement.
I regret to say, that two glaciers, however beautiful, on an empty stomach, appear rather of doubtful utility. So I remonstrated; but the guide, as all guides do, went dead ahead, as if I had not said a word. C., however, rode composedly towards the hotel, saying that dinner was a finer sight than a glacier; and I, though only of the same mind, thought I would follow my guide, just to see.
W. went with me. After a little we had to leave our horses, and scramble about a mile up the mountain. "C. was right, and we are wrong," said my companion, sententiously. I was just dubious enough to be silent. Pretty soon we came to a tremendous ravine, as if an earthquake had rent a mountain asunder. A hundred feet down in this black gorge, a stream was roaring in a succession of mad leaps, and a bridge crossed it, where we stood to gaze down into its dark, awful depths. Then on we went till we came to the glacier. What a mass of clear, blue ice! so very blue, so clear! This awful chasm runs directly under it, and the mountain torrent, formed by the melting of the glacier, falls in a roaring cascade into it. You can go down into a cavern in this rift. Above your head a roof of clear, blue ice; below your feet this black chasm, with the white, flashing foam of the cascade, as it leaps away into the darkness. On one side of the glacier was a little sort of cell, or arched nook, up which an old man had cut steps, and he helped me up into it. I stood in a little Gothic shrine of blue, glittering ice, and looked out of an arched window at the cascade and mountains. I thought of Coleridge's line--
"A pleasure bower with domes of ice."
[Illustration: _of a glacier's terminus, with animals and small buildings in the foreground._]
On the whole, the glacier of Rosenlaui paid for looking--even at dinner time--which is saying a good deal.
FRIDAY, July 22, Grindelwald to Meyringen.
On we came, to the top of the Great Schiedich, where H. and W. botanized, while
I slept. Thence we rode down the mountain till we reached Rosenlaui, where, I
am free to say, a dinner was to me a more interesting object than a glacier.
Therefore, while H. and W. went to the latter, I turned off to the inn, amid
their cries and reproaches. I waved my cap and made a bow. A glacier!--go five
rods farther to see a glacier! Catch me in any such folly. The fact is, Alps
are good, like confections, in moderation; but to breakfast, dine, and sup on
Here, for example, I am writing these notes in the _salle-à-manger_ of the inn, where other voyagers are eating and drinking, and there H. is feeding on the green moonshine of an emerald ice cave. One would almost think her incapable of fatigue. How she skips up and down high places and steep places, to the manifest perplexity of honest guide Kienholz, _père_, who tries to take care of her, but does not exactly know how. She gets on a pyramid of _débris_, which the edge of the glacier is ploughing and grinding up, sits down, and falls--not asleep exactly--but into a trance. W. and I are ready to go on; we shout; our voice is lost in the roar of the torrent. We send the guide. He goes down, and stands doubtfully. He does not know exactly what to do. She hears him, and starts to her feet, pointing with one hand to yonder peak, and with the other to that knifelike edge, that seems cleaving heaven with its keen and glistening cimeter of snow, reminding one of Isaiah's sublime imagery, "For my sword is bathed in heaven." She points at the grizzly rocks, with their jags and spear points. Evidently she is beside herself, and thinks she can remember the names of those monsters, born of earthquake and storm, which cannot be named nor known but by sight, and then are known at once, perfectly and forever.
Mountains are Nature's testimonials of anguish. They are the sharp cry of a groaning and travailing creation. Nature's stern agony writes itself on these furrowed brows of gloomy stone. These reft and splintered crags stand, the dreary images of patient sorrow, existing verdureless and stern because exist they must. In them hearts that have ceased to rejoice, and have learned to suffer, find kindred, and here, an earth worn with countless cycles of sorrow, utters to the stars voices of speechless despair.
And all this time no dinner! All this time H. is at the glacier! How do I know but she has fallen into a _crevasse_? How do I know but that a cliff, one of those ice castles, those leaning turrets, those frosty spearmen, have toppled over upon her? I shudder at the reflection. I will write no more.
I had just written thus far, when in came H. and W. in high
feather. O, I had lost the greatest sight in
But, alas! it was not enough to
lose the best glacier in
"What cascade? What chamois? I have not seen any!"
And then what a burst! "Not seen any! What, two cascades, one glacier, and
a four-year-old chamois, lost in one day! What will become of you? Is this the
way you make the tour of
Saturday, July 23. Rode in a _voiture_ from Meyringen to Brienz, on the opposite end of the lake from Interlachen. Embarked in a rowboat of four immense oars tied by withs. Two men and one woman pulled three, and W. and I took turns at the fourth. The boat being high built, flat bottomed, with awning and flagstaff, rolled and tipped so easily that soon H., with remorseful visage, abandoned her attempt to write, and lay down. There is a fresh and savage beauty about this lake, which can only be realized by rowing across.
Interlachen is underrated in the guide books. It has points
of unrivalled loveliness; the ruins of the old church of Rinconberg, for
example, commanding a fine view of both lakes, of the country between, and the
Alps around, while just at your feet is a little lake in a basin, some two
hundred feet above the other lakes. Then, too, from your window in the
Belvedere, you gaze upon the purity of the
Monday, July 25. Adieu to Interlachen! Ho for
Tuesday, 26. Rode
from Langnan to
After ascending a while the scenery became singularly wild and beautiful. Vast walls and cliffs of conglomerate rose above us, up which our path wound in zigzags. Below us were pines, vales, fields, and hills, themselves large enough for mountains. There, at our feet, with its beautiful islands, bays, capes, and headlands, gleams the broad lake of the four cantons, consecrated by the muse of Schiller and the heroism of Tell. New plains are unrolling, new mountain tops sinking below our range of vision. We plunged into a sea of mist. It rolled and eddied, boiling beneath us. Through its mysterious pall we saw now a skeleton pine stretch out its dark pointing hand--now a rock, shapeless and uncouth, far below, like a behemoth petrified in mid ocean. Then an eddy would sweep a space for the sun to pour a flood of gold on this field far down at our feet, on that village, on this mountain side with its rosy vapor-wreaths, upon yon distant lake, making it a crater of blinding brightness. On we went wrapped in mantles, mist, and mystery, trembling with chilliness and enthusiasm. We reached the summit just as the sunset-gazing crowd were dispersing. And this is Righi Kulm!
Wednesday, 27. At half past three
in the morning we were aroused by the Alpine horn. We sprang up, groping and
dressing in the dark, and went out in the frosty air. Ascending the ridge we
looked off upon a sleeping world. Mists lay beneath like waves, clouds, like a
sea. On one side the Oberland Alps stretched along the horizon their pale,
blue-white peaks. Other mountains, indistinct in color and outline, chained
round the whole horizon. Yes, "the sleeping rocks did dream" all over
the wide expanse, as they slumbered on their cloudy pillow,
and their dream was of the coming dawn. Twelve lakes, leaden pale or steel
blue, dreamed also under canopies of cloud, and the solid land dreamed, and all
her wilds and forests. And in the silence of the dream already the tinge of
clairvoyance lit the gray east; a dim, diffuse aurora, while yet the long, low
clouds hung lustreless above; nor could the eye prophesy where should open the
door in heaven. At length, a flush, as of shame or joy, presaged the pathway.
Tongues of many-colored light vibrated beneath the strata of clouds, now
dappled, mottled, streaked with fire; those on either hand of a light, flaky,
salmon tint, those in the path and portal of the dawn of a gorgeous blending
and blazoning of golden glories. The mists all abroad stirred uneasily. Tufts
of feathery down came up out of the mass. Soft, floating films lifted from the
surface and streamed away dissolving. Strange hues came out on lake and shore,
far, far below. The air, the very air became conscious of a coming change, and
the pale tops of distant
"Behold, darkness shall cover the earth
And gross darkness the people;
But the Lord shall rise upon THEE,
And his glory shall be seen upon thee!"
Hushed the immense crowd of spectators waited; then he came. On the gray edge of the horizon, under the emblazoned strata, came a sudden coal of fire, as shot from the altar of Heaven. It dazzled, it wavered, it consumed. Its lambent lines lengthened sidelong. At length, not a coal, but a shield, as the shield of Jehovah, stood above the east, and it was day. The vapor sea heaved, and broke, and rolled up the mountain sides. The lakes flashed back the conquering splendor. The wide panorama, asleep no more, was astir with teeming life.
Tuesday, July 28. One of the greatest curiosities in
[Illustration: _of the memorial. Above the grotto reads:_
HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI
_On the monument's plinth can be read the following:_
DIE X AUGUSTI II ET III SEPTEMBRIS MDCCXCII HAEC SUNT NOMINA EORUM OUTNE SACRA (illegible) (illegible) DUES XXVI DUCES
Rode in our private _voiture_ to
Friday, 29. Visited the celebrities
of Basle, and took the cars for
Saturday, 30. Left
Strasbourg by the
We arrived here this evening. I left the cars with my head full of the cathedral. The first thing I saw, on lifting my eyes, was a brown spire. Said I,--
"C., do you think that can be the cathedral spire?"
"Yes, that must be it."
"I am afraid it is," said I, doubtfully, as I felt, within, that dissolving of airy visions which I have generally found the first sensation on visiting any celebrated object.
The thing looked entirely too low and too broad for what I had heard of its marvellous grace and lightness; nay, some mischievous elf even whispered the word "dumpy" hi my ear. But being informed, in time, that this was the spire, I resisted the temptation, and determined to make the best of it. I have since been comforted by reading in Goethe's autobiography a criticism on its proportions quite similar to my own. We climbed the spire; we gained the roof. What a magnificent terrace! A world itself; a panoramic view sweeping the horizon. Here I saw the names of Goethe and Herder. Here they have walked many a time, I suppose. But the inside!--a forest-like firmament, glorious in holiness; windows many hued as the Hebrew psalms; a gloom solemn and pathetic as man's mysterious existence; a richness gorgeous and manifold as his wonderful nature. In this Gothic architecture we see earnest northern races, whose nature was a composite of influences from pine forest, mountain, and storm, expressing, in vast proportions and gigantic masonry, those ideas of infinite duration and existence which Christianity opened before them. A barbaric wildness mingles itself with fanciful, ornate abundance; it is the blossoming of northern forests.
The ethereal eloquence of the Greeks could not express the rugged earnestness of souls wrestling with those fearful mysteries of fate, of suffering, of eternal existence, declared equally by nature and revelation. This architecture is Hebraistic in spirit, not Greek; it well accords with the deep ground-swell of Hebrew prophets.
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
"A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past.
"And as a watch in the night."
The objection to Gothic architecture, as compared with Greek, is, that it is less finished and elegant. So it is. It symbolizes that state of mind too earnest for mere polish, too deeply excited for laws of exact proportions and architectural refinement. It is Alpine architecture--vast, wild, and sublime in its foundations, yet bursting into flowers at every interval.
The human soul seems to me an imprisoned essence, striving after somewhat divine. There is a struggle in it, as of suffocated flame; finding vent now through poetry, now in painting, now in music, sculpture, or architecture; various are the crevices and fissures, but the flame is one.
Moreover, as society grows from barbarism upward, it tends to inflorescence, at certain periods, as do plants and trees; and some races flower later than others. This architecture was the first flowering of the Gothic race; they had no Homers; the flame found vent not by imaged words and vitalized alphabets; they vitalized stone, and their poets were minster builders; their epics, cathedrals.
This is why one cathedral--like
I never look at one of them without feeling that gravitation of soul towards its artist which poetry always excites. Often the artist is unknown; here we know him; Erwin von Steinbach, poet, prophet, priest, in architecture.
We visited his house--a house old and quaint, and to me _full_ of suggestions and emotions. Ah, if there be, as the apostle vividly suggests, houses not made with hands, strange splendors, of which these are but shadows, that vast religious spirit may have been finding scope for itself where all the forces of nature shall have been made tributary to the great conceptions of the soul.
Save this cathedral,
To-day we made our first essay on the
Day before yesterday, at
We were awakened, about eight o'clock this morning, by the
cathedral bell, which is near by, and by the chanting of the service. It was a
beautiful, sunny morning, and I could hear them sing all the time I was
dressing. I think, by the style of the singing, it was Protestant service: it
brought to mind the elms of
At breakfast time Professor M. and his daughter called, as he
said, to place themselves at our disposal for the castle, or whatever we might
wish to see. I intimated that we would prefer spending the day in our
After breakfast the servant asked us if we should like to have a room commanding a view of the castle. "To be sure," said I. So he ushered us into a large, elegantly-furnished apartment, looking out immediately upon it. There it sat, upon its green throne, a regal, beautiful, poetic thing, fair and sad.
We had singing and prayers, and a sermon from C. We did not go to the _table d'hôte_, for we abominate its long-drawn, endless formalities. But one part of the arrangements we enjoyed without going: I mean the music. To me all music is sacred. Is it not so? All real music, in its passionate earnest, its blendings, its wild, heart-searching tones, is the language of aspiration. So it may not be meant, yet, when we know God, so we translate it.
In the evening we took tea with Professor M., in a sociable
way, much like the _salon_ of
Mr. M. spoke English, as did his very pretty daughter, Ida;
his wife only French and German. Now, if you had only been there, we might have
had quite a brilliant time; but my ignorance of German kept me from talking
with any but those who could speak English. Professor Mittemeyer summoned
English enough to make a long compliment, to which I responded as usual, by
looking very foolish. There was a well informed gentleman there, who was
formerly private secretary to
Well, in the morning I was too unwell to leave the sofa. I
knew the old symptoms, and remained in my room, while Professor M. and
daughter, with S, W., and G, went up to the castle. I lay all day on the sofa,
until, at five o'clock at night, I felt so much better that I thought we might
take a carriage and drive up. C. accompanied me, and _cocher_ took us by a
beautiful drive along the valley of the
I looked on the carvings, the statues, the broken arches,
where bluebells and wild flowers were waving, and it seemed inexpressibly
beautiful. It haunted me in my dreams, and I found myself walking up and down
that terrace, in a kind of dim, beautiful twilight, with some friend: it was a
strange dream of joy. But I felt myself very ill even while there, and had to
take my sofa again as soon as I returned. There lying, I took my pencil, and
drew just the view of the castle which I could see from my window, as a
souvenir of the happiness I had felt at
[Illustration: _of the author's window view of Heidelberg._]
Now, I know you will say with me that a day of such hazy, dreamy enjoyment is worth a great deal. We cannot tell why it is, or what it is, but one feels like an Æolian breathed on and touched by soft winds.
This sketch of the castle gives only about half of it. Those tiny statues indicated in it on the points of the gables are figures in armor of large size. The two little kiosks or summer houses that you see, you will find, by turning back to the other picture, mark the extremities of the terrace. There is a singular tinge of the Moorish about this architecture which gives me great delight. That Moorish development always seemed to me strangely exciting and beautiful.
Tuesday, August 2. We leave
In our car was an elderly couple, speaking French. The man was evidently a quiet sort of fellow, who, by long Caudling, had subdued--whole volcanos into dumbness within him. Little did he think what eruption fate was preparing. II. sat opposite _his hat_, which he had placed on the empty seat. There was a tower, or something, coming; H. rose, turned round, and innocently took a seat on his chapeau. Such a voice as came out of that meekness personified!
In the twinkling of an eye--for there is a peculiar
sensation which a person experiences in sitting upon, or rather into a hat;
ages are condensed into moments, and between the first yielding of the brittle
top and the final crush and jam, as between the top of a steeple and the
bottom, there is room for a life's reflection to flash through the mind--in the
twinkling of an eye H. agonizingly felt that she was sitting on a hat, that the
hat was being jammed, that it was getting flat and flatter every second, that
the meek man was howling in French; and she was just thinking of her husband and
children when she started to her feet, and the nightmare was over. The meek
man, having howled out his French sentence, sat aghast, stroking his poor hat,
while his wife opposite was in convulsions, and we all agog. The gentleman then
asked H. if she proposed sitting where she was, saying, very significantly,
"If you do, I'll put my hat there;" suiting the action to the word.
We did not recover from this all the way to
To-day we came to
Then we drove through the Jews' quarters. You remember how queer and old they look; they have been much modernized since you were there. _Cocher_ stopped before one house, and said something in German about Rothschild, which C. said sounded like "Here Rothschild hung his boots out." We laughed and rode on.
After this we went to the Romer, the hall that you have told me of, where the emperors were chosen, all painted with their portraits in compartments; and I looked out on the fountain in front, that used, on these occasions, to flow with wine. Then I walked around to see all the emperors, and to wish I knew more about history. Charles V. is the only one of whom I have any distinct recollection.
Then we went to a kind of museum. _Cocher_ stopped at the door, and we heard a general sputtering of gutturals between him, W., and G., he telling them something about Luther. I got it into my head that the manuscript of Luther's Bible was inside; so I rushed forward. It was the public library. A colossal statue of Goethe, by an Italian artist, was the first thing I saw. What a head the man had I a Jupiter of a head. And what a presence! The statue is really majestic; but was Goethe so much, really think you? That egotistical spirit shown in his Diary sets me in doubt. Shakspeare was not self-conscious, and left no trace of egotism; if he knew himself, he did not care to tell what he knew. Yet the heads are both great and majestic heads, and would indicate a plenary manhood.
We went into the library, disturbing a quiet, good sort of bibliopole there, who, with some regret, put aside his book to guide us.
"Is Luther's Bible here?" W. and G. opened on him.
"No;" but he ushered us into a cabinet.
"There are Luther's _shoes!_"
"Shoes!" we all exclaimed; and there was an
irreverent laugh. Yes, there they were in a glass case,--his shoes, large as
life,--shoes without heels; great, clumping, thick, and black! What an idea!
However, there was a genuine picture by Lucas Cranach, and another of
Catharine, by Holbein, which gave more consolatory ideas of her person than that
which I saw before at
Our little bibliopole looked mournfully at us, as if we were
wasting his time, and seemed glad when we went out. C. thought he was huffy
because we laughed at Luther's shoes; but I think he was only yearning after
his book. C. offered him a fee, but he would not take it. Going down stairs, in
the entry, I saw a picture of the infant Goethe on an eagle. We rode, also, to see a bronze statue of him in some street or
other, and I ate an ice cream there to show my regard for him. We are delighted
on the whole with
Now, after all, that I should forget the crown of all our seeings, Dannecker's Ariadne! It is in a pavilion in a gentleman's garden. Could mere beauty and grace delight and fill the soul, one could not ask for more than the Ariadne. The beautiful head, the throat, the neck, the bust, the hand, the arm, the whole attitude, are exquisite. But after all, what is it? No moral charm,--mere physical beauty, cold as Greek mythology. I thought of his _Christ_, and did not wonder that when he had turned his art to that divine representation, he should refuse to sculpture from classic models. "He who has sculptured a Christ cannot sculpture a Venus."
Our hotel here is very beautiful. I think it must have been
some palace, for it is adorned with fine statues, and walls of real marble. The
staircase is beautiful, with brass railing, and at the foot a marble lion on
each side. The walls of my bed room are lined with green damask, bordered by
gilt bands; the attendance here is excellent. In every hotel of each large
city, there is a man who speaks English. The English language is slowly and
surely creeping through.
Two things in this city have struck me singularly, as
peculiarly German: one was a long-legged stork, which I saw standing on a
chimney top, reminding me of the oft-mentioned "dear white stork" of
German stories. Why don't storks do so in
In the morning, I determined to get into the picture gallery.
Now C., who espoused to himself an "_Amati_"
So, also, a most glorious picture here. The Trial of John
Huss before the Council of Constance, by Lessing--one of the few things I have
seen in painting which have had power deeply to affect me. I have it not in my
heart to criticize it as a mere piece of coloring and finish, though in these
respects I thought it had great merits. But the picture had the power, which
all high art must have, of rebuking and silencing these minor inquiries in the
solemnity of its _morale_. I believe the highest painter often to be the
subject of a sort of inspiration, by which his works have a vitality of
suggestion, so that they sometimes bring to the beholder even more than he
himself conceived when he created them. In this picture, the idea that most
impressed me was, the representation of that more refined and subtle torture of
martyrdom which consists in the incertitude and weakness of an individual
against whom is arrayed the whole weight of the religious community. If against
the martyr only the worldly and dissolute stood arrayed, he could bear it; but
when the church, claiming to be the visible representative of Christ, casts him
out; when multitudes of pious and holy souls, as yet unenlightened in their
piety, look on him with horror as an infidel and blasphemer, --then comes the
very wrench of the rack. As long as the body is strong, and the mind clear, a
consciousless of right may sustain even this; but there come weakened hours,
when, worn by prison and rack, the soul asks itself, "Can it be that all
the religion and respectability of the world is wrong, and I alone right?"
Such an agony Luther expressed in that almost superhuman
meditation written the night before the Diet at
Now for the picture. The painter has arrayed, with consummate ability, in the foreground a representation of the religious respectability of the age: Italian cardinals, in their scarlet robes, their keen, intellectual, thoughtful faces, shadowed by their broad hats; men whom it were no play to meet in an argument; there are gray-headed, venerable priests, and bishops with their seal rings of office,--all that expressed the stateliness and grandeur of what Huss had been educated to consider the true church. In the midst of them stands Huss, habited in a simple dark robe; his sharpened features, and the yellow, corpse-like pallor of his face, tell of prison and of suffering. He is defending himself; and there is a trembling earnestness in the manner with which his hand grasps the Bible. With a passionate agony he seems to say, "Am I not right? does not this word say it? and is it not the word of God?"
So have I read the moral of this noble picture, and in it I
felt that I had seen an example of that true mission of art which will manifest
itself more and more in this world as Christ's kingdom comes; art which is not
a mere juggler of colors, a gymnastic display of effects, but a solemn,
inspiring poetry, teaching us to live and die for that which it noblest and
truest. I think this picture much superior to its companion, the Martyrdom of
Huss, which I had already seen in
Wednesday, August 3.
The steamer was small, narrow, and poor, though swift. Thus
we began to see the
The French and Germans chatted merrily. The English tourists
looked conscientiously careworn. Papa with three daughters peered alternately
into the guide book, and out of the loophole in the
awning, in evident terror lest something they ought to see should slip by them.
Escaping from the jam, we made our way to the bow, carrying stools, umbrellas,
and books, and there, on the very beak of all things, we had a fine view. Duly
and dutifully we admired Bingen, Cob-lentz, Ehrenbreitstein,
Thursday, August 4. We drove to the cathedral. I shall not
The only service I appreciated was the organ and chant: hidden in the midst of forest arches of stone, pouring forth its volumes of harmony as by unseen minstrelsy, it seemed to create an atmosphere of sound, in which the massive columns seemed transfused,--not standing, as it were, but floating,--not resting, as with weight of granite mountains, but growing as by a spirit and law of development. Filled with those vast waves and undulations, the immense edifice seemed a creature, tremulous with a life, a soul, an instinct of its own; and out of its deepest heart there seemed to struggle upward breathings of unutterable emotion.
The great old city is before me, looming up across the
This morning we went to the Cologne Cathedral. In the
exterior of both this and
Ah, surely, I said to myself, as I walked with a kind of exultation among those lofty arches, and saw the clouds of incense ascending, the kneeling priests, and heard the pathetic yet grand voices of the chant--surely, there is some part in man that calls for such a service, for such visible images of grandeur and beauty. The wealth spent on these churches is a sublime and beautiful protest against materialism--against that use of money which merely brings supply to the coarse animal wants of life, and which makes of God's house only a bare pen, in which a man sits to be instructed in his duties.
Yet a moment after I had the other side of the question brought forcibly to my mind. In an obscure corner was a coarse wooden shrine, painted red, in which was a doll dressed up in spangles and tinsel, to represent the Virgin, and hung round with little waxen effigies of arms, hands, feet, and legs, to represent, I suppose, some favor which had been accorded to these members of her several votaries through her intercessions. Before this shrine several poor people were kneeling, with clasped hands and bowed heads, praying with an earnestness which was sorrowful to see. "They have taken away their Lord, and they know not where they have laid him." Such is the end of this superb idolatry in the illiterate and the poor.
Yet if we _could_, would we efface from
the world such cathedrals as
But I love to go back over and over the scenes of that cathedral; to look up those arches that seem to me, in their buoyant lightness, to have not been made with hands, but to have shot up like an enchantment--to have risen like an aspiration, an impersonation of the upward sweep of the soul, in its loftiest moods of divine communion. There were about five minutes of feeling, worth all the discomforts of getting here; and it is only for some such short time that we can enjoy--then our prison door closes.
There are four painted glass windows, given by the King of Bavaria. I have got for H. the photograph of two of them, representing the birth and death of Christ. They are gorgeous paintings by the first masters. The windows round the choir were painted in a style that reminded me of our forests in autumn.
Well, after our sublimities came a farce. We went to St. Ursula's church, to see the bones of the eleven thousand virgins, who, the chronicle says, were slain here because they would not break their vows of chastity. I was much amused. As we entered the church, C. remarked impressively, "It is evident that these virgins have no connection with cologne water!" The fact was lamentably apparent. Doleful looking figures of virgins, painted in all the colors of the rainbow, were looking down upon us from all quarters; and in front, in a glass frame, was a bill of fare, in French, of the relics which could be served up to order. C. read the list aloud, and then we proceeded to a small side room to see the exhibition. The upper portion of the walls was covered with small bones, strung on wires and arranged in a kind of fanciful arabesque, much as shell boxes are made; and the lower part was taken up with busts in silver and gold gilding, representing still the interminable eleven thousand. A sort of cupboard door half opened showed the shelves all full of skulls, adorned with little satin caps, coronets, and tinsel jewelry; which skulls, we were informed, were the original head-pieces of the same redoubtable females.
At the other end of the room was a raised stage, where the most holy relics of all were being displayed, under the devout eye of a priest in a long, black robe. C. and I went upon the stage to be instructed. S., whom the aforesaid lack of cologne water in the establishment had rendered peculiarly unpropitious, stood at a majestic distance; but C., assuming an air of profound faith, stood up to be initiated.
"That," says the priest, in a plaintive voice, pitched to the exact point between lamentation and veneration, "is the ring of St. Ursula."
"Indeed," says C., "her ring!"
"Yes," says the priest, "it was found in her tomb."
"It was found in her tomb--only think!" says C., turning gravely to me. I had to look another way, while the priest proceeded to introduce, by name, four remarkably yellow skulls, with tastefully trimmed red caps on, as those of St. Ursula and sundry of her most intimate friends. S. looked gloriously indignant, and C. increasingly solemn.
"Dere," said the priest, opening an ivory box, in which was about a quart of _teeth_ of different sizes, "dere is de teeth of the eleven thousand."
"Indeed," echoes C., "their teeth!"
S., at this, waxed magnificent, and, as a novel writer would say, swept from the apartment. I turned round, shaking with laughter, while the priest went on.
"Dere is a rib of St. ----."
"Ah, his rib; indeed!"
"And dere is de arrow as pierced the heart of St. Ursula."
"H.," says C., "here is the arrow that killed St. Ursula." (The wicked scamp knew I was laughing!)
"Dere is the net that was on her hair."
"This is what she wore on her hair, then," says C., eyeing the rag with severe and melancholy gravity.
"And here is some of the blood of the martyr Stephen," says the priest, holding a glass case with some mud in it.
In the same way he showed two thorns from the crown of Christ, and a piece of the Virgin's petticoat.
"And here is the waterpot of stone, in which our Lord
made the wine at the marriage in
"Indeed," said C., examining it with great interest; "where are the rest of them?"
"The rest?" says the priest.
"Yes; I think there were six of them; where are they?"
The priest only went over the old story. "This came
It is to be confessed that I felt in my heart, through this
disgusting recital, some of S.'s indignation; and I could not help agreeing
with her that the odor of sanctity, as generally developed in the vicinity, was
any thing but agreeable. I did long to look that man once steadily in the eyes,
to see if he was such a fool as he pretended; but the ridiculousness of the
whole scene overcame me so that I could not look up, and I marched out in
silence. The whole church is equally full of virgins. The altar piece is a vast
picture of the slaughter, not badly painted. Through various glass openings you
perceive that the walls are full of the bones and skulls. Did the worship of
We went also into the Jesuits' church. The effect, to my
eye, was that of a profusion of tawdry, dirty ornament; only the railing of the
choir, which was a splendid piece of carving, out from a single block of
The guide book prescribes, I think, no less than half a
dozen churches in
The outer wall of
Having heard so much of the dirt and vile smells of
Our hotel was pleasant--opening on a walk shaded by double rows of trees. We ordered a nice little tea in our room, arid waxed quite merry over it.
This morning we started at seven, and here we are to-night
in Leipsic--as uninteresting a country as I have seen yet. Moreover, we had
passed beyond the limits of our
The city of
Morning. We are going out now, and
I must mail this letter. To-morrow we spend at
Friday, August 5.
Saturday, August 6. Called at the counting
house of M. Tauchnitz, the celebrated publisher. An hour after,
accompanied by Mrs. T., he came with two open carriages, and took us to see the
city and environs. We visited the battle ground, and saw the spot where
Napoleon stood during the engagement; a slight elevation, commanding an immense
plain in every direction, with the spires of the city rising in the distance.
After seeing various sights of interest, we returned to our hotel, where our
kind friends took their leave. In the afternoon M. Tauchnitz sent H. a package
of his entertaining English publications, to read in the cars, also a
"H., is there no other professor we want to see?"
"I believe not."
Pensively she read one of the Tauchnitz Library. Plaintively my _Amati_ sighed condolence.
"H." said I, "perhaps we might reach
"Do you think so? Is it possible? Is there a train?"
"We can soon ascertain."
"How amazed they would look!"
We summoned the _maître d'hotel_, ordered tea, paid, packed, raced, ran, and hurried, _presto, prestissimo,_ into a car half choked with voyagers, changed lines at Leipsic, and shot off to Dresden. By deep midnight we were thundering over the great stone Pont d'Elbe, to the Hotel de Saxe, where, by one o'clock, we were lost in dreams.
In the morning the question was, how to find our party.
"Waiter, bring me a directory."
"There is no directory, sir."
"No directory? Then how shall we contrive to find our friends?"
"Monsieur has friends residing in
"No, no! our party that came last night from Leipsic."
"At what hotel do they stop?"
"That is precisely what I wish to find out."
"Will monsieur allow me to give their description to the police?"
(0, ho, thought I; that is your directory, is it? Wonder if that is the reason you have none printed.) "_Non, merci,"_ said I, and set off on foot to visit the principal hotels. I knew they would go by Murray or Bradshaw, and lo, sure enough they were at the Hotel Bellevue, just sitting down to breakfast. S. started as if she had seen a ghost.
"Why, where did you come from? What has happened? Where
is H.? We thought you were in
Explanations followed. H. was speedily transferred to their hotel, where they had bespoken rooms for us; and we sallied forth to the court church to hear the music of high mass.
This music is celebrated throughout
Monday, 8. Visited
the walks and gardens on the banks of the
Visited the Picture Gallery. If one were to chance upon an altar in this German Athens inscribed to the "unknown god," he might be tempted to suggest that that deity's name is Decency.
The human form is indeed divine, as M. Belloc insists, and rightly, sacredly drawn, cannot offend the purest eye. All nature is symbolic. The universe itself is a complex symbol of spiritual ideas. So in the structure and relation of the human body, some of the highest spiritual ideas, the divinest mysteries of pure worship, are designedly shadowed forth.
If, then, the painter rightly and sacredly conceives the divine meaning, and creates upon the canvas, or in marble, forms of exalted ideal loveliness, we cannot murmur even if, like Adam and Eve in Eden, "they are naked, and are not ashamed."
And yet even sacred things love mystery, and holiest emotions claim reserve. Nature herself seems to tell us that the more sacred some works of art might be, the less they should be unveiled. There are flowers that will wither in the sun The passion of love, when developed according to the divine order, is, even in its physical relations, so holy that it cannot retain its delicacy under the sultry blaze of profane publicity.
But it is far otherwise with paintings where the _animus_ is not sacred, nor the meaning spiritual. No excellences of coloring, no marvels of foreshortening, no miracles of mechanism can consecrate the salacious images of mythologic abomination.
The cheek that can forget to blush at the Venus and Cupid by Titian, at Leda and her Swan, at Jupiter and Io, and others of equally evil intent, ought never to pretend to blush at any thing. Such pictures are a disgrace to the artists that painted, to the age that tolerates, and to the gallery that contains them. They are fit for a bagnio rather than a public exhibition.
Wednesday, August 10.
Thursday, 11. Visited the Picture Gallery, and various stores and shops.
Saturday, August 13.
At nine in the evening took cars for
Monday, August 15.
I went to
"No, we have not," said I, struggling to overcome the disappointment which I found creeping over me. The source of this disappointment was the thin and faded appearance of the coloring, which at first suggested to me the idea of a water-colored sketch. It had evidently suffered barbarously in the process of cleaning, a fact of which I had been forewarned. This circumstance has a particularly unfavorable effect on a picture of Raphael's, because his coloring, at best, is delicate and reserved, and, as compared with, that of Rubens, approaches to poverty; so that he can ill afford to lose any thing in this way.
Then as to conception and arrangement, there was much which annoyed me. The Virgin and Child in the centre are represented as rising in the air; on one side below them is the kneeling figure of Pope Sixtus; and on the other, that of St. Barbara. Now this Pope Sixtus is, in my eyes, a very homely old man, and as I think no better of homely old men for being popes, his presence in the picture is an annoyance. St. Barbara, on the other side, has the most beautiful head and face that could be represented; but then she is kneeling on a cloud with such a judicious and coquettish arrangement of her neck, shoulders, and face, to show every fine point in them, as makes one feel that no saint (unless with a Parisian education) could ever have dropped into such a position in the _abandon_ of holy rapture. In short, she looks like a theatrical actress; without any sympathy with the solemnity of the religious conception, who is there merely because a beautiful woman was wanted to fill up the picture.
Then that old, faded green curtain, which is painted as hanging down on either side of the picture, is, to my eye, a nuisance. The whole interest, therefore, of the piece concentrates in the centre figures, the Madonna and Child, and two angel children gazing up from the foot of the picture. These angel children were the first point on which my mind rested, in its struggle to overcome its disappointment, and bring itself _en rapport_ with the artist. In order fully to appreciate their spiritual beauty, one must have seen an assortment of those things called angels, which occur in the works of the old masters. Generally speaking, I know of nothing more calculated to moderate any undue eagerness to go to heaven than the common run of canvas angels. Far the greater part are roistering, able-bodied fellows with wings, giving indisputable signs of good living, and of a coarseness slightly suggestive of blackguardism. Far otherwise with _these_ fair creatures, with their rainbow-colored wings, and their serene, upturned eyes of thought baptized with emotion. They are the first things I have seen worthy of my ideas of Raphael.
As to the Madonna, I think that, when Wilkie says she is "nearer the perfection of female elegance and grace than any thing in painting," he does not speak with discrimination. Mere physical beauty and grace are not _the_ characteristics of the figure: many more perfect forms can be found, both on canvas and in marble. But the merits of the figure, to my mind, are, first, its historic accuracy in representing the dark-eyed Jewish maiden; second, the wonderful fulness and depth of expression thrown into the face; and third, the mysterious resemblance and sympathy between the face of the mother and that of the divine child. To my eye, this picture has precisely that which Murillo's Assumption in the Louvre wants: it has an unfathomable depth of earnestness. The Murillo is its superior in coloring and grace of arrangement. At first sight of the Murillo every one exclaims at once, "Plow beautiful!"--at sight of this they are silent. Many are at first disappointed; but the picture fastens the attention, and grows upon the thoughts; while that of Murillo is dismissed with the words of admiration on the lips.
This picture excited my ponderings and inquiries. There was a conflict of emotion in that mother's face, and shadowed mysteriously in the child's, of which I queried, "Was it fear? was it sorrow? was it adoration and faith? was it a presage of the hour when a sword should pierce through her own soul? Yet, with this, was there not a solemn triumph in the thought that she alone, of all women, had been called to that baptism of anguish? And in that infant face there seemed a foreshadowing of the spirit which said, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour."
The deep-feeling soul which conceived this picture has
spread over the whole divine group a tender and transparent shadow of sorrow.
It is this idea of sorrow in heaven--sorrow, for the lost, in the heart of God
himself--which forms the most sacred mystery of Christianity; and into this
innermost temple of sorrow had Raphael penetrated. He is a sacred poet, and his
poetry has precisely that trait which
In this room there was also the _chef-d'luvre_ of Correggio--his celebrated Notte, or the Nativity of Jesus; and, that you may know what I ought to have thought, I will quote you a sentence from Wilkie. "All the powers of art are here united to make a perfect work. Here the simplicity of the drawing of the Virgin and Child is shown in contrast with the foreshortening of the group of angels--the strongest unity of effect with the most perfect system of intricacy. The emitting the light from the body of the child, though a supernatural illusion, is eminently successful. The matchless beauty of the Virgin and Child, the group of angels overhead, the daybreak in the sky, and the whole arrangement of light and shadow, give it a right to be considered, in conception at least, the greatest of his works."
I said before that light and shadow were Correggio's gods--that the great purpose for which he lived, moved, and had his being, was to show up light and shadow. Now, so long as he paints only indifferent objects,--Nymphs, and Fauns, and mythologic divinities,--I had no objection. Light and shadow are beautiful things, capable of a thousand blendings, softenings, and harmonizings, which one loves to have represented: the great Artist of all loves light and shadow; why else does he play such a magical succession of changes upon them through all creation? But for an artist to make the most solemn mystery of religion a mere tributary to the exhibition of a trick of art, is a piece of profanity. What was in this man's head when he painted this representation of the hour when his Maker was made flesh that he might redeem a world? Nothing but _chiaro-scuro_ and foreshortening. This overwhelming scene would give him a fine chance to do two things: first, to represent a phosphorescent light from the body of the child; and second, to show off some foreshortened angels. Now, as to these angels, I have simply to remark that I should prefer a seraph's head to his heels; and that a group of archangels, kicking from the canvas with such alarming vigor, however much it may illustrate foreshortening, does not illustrate either glory to God in the highest, or peace on earth and good will to men. Therefore I have quarrelled with Correggio, as I always expected to do if he profaned the divine mysteries. How could any one, who had a soul to understand that most noble creation of Raphael, turn, the next moment, to admire this?
Here also are six others of Correggio's most celebrated paintings. They are all mere representations of the physical, with little of the moral. His picture of the Virgin and Child represents simply a very graceful, beautiful woman, holding a fine little child. His peculiar excellences in the management of his lights and shades appear in all.
In one of the halls we found a Magdalen by Battoni, which gave me more pleasure, on first sight, than any picture in the gallery. It is a life-sized figure of the Magdalen stretched upon the ground, reading an open Bible. I like it, first, because the figure is every way beautiful and well proportioned; second, on account of an elevated simplicity hi the arrangement and general effect. The dark, rocky background throws out distinctly the beautiful figure, raised on one elbow, her long, golden hair floating loosely down, as she bends forward over her book with parted lips, slightly flushed cheek, and an air of rapt and pleased attention. Though the neck and bosom are exposed, yet there is an angelic seriousness and gravity in the conception of the piece which would check an earthly thought. The woman is of that high class about whom there might seem to be a hovering angelic presence--the perfection of beauty and symmetry, without a tinge of sensual attraction.
All these rooms are full of artists copying different paintings,--some upon slabs of Dresden china,--producing pictures of exquisite, finish, and very pretty as boudoir ornaments.
After exhausting this first room, we walked through the galleries, which I will name, to give you some idea of their extent.
Two rooms, of old German and Dutch masters, are curious,--as exhibiting the upward struggles of art. Many of the pictures are hard as a tavern sign, and as ill drawn; but they mark the era of dawning effort.
Then a long corridor of Dutch paintings,
in which Rubens figures conspicuously, displaying, as usual, all manner of
scarlet abominations, mixed with most triumphant successes. He has a
boar hunt here, which is absolutely terrific. Rubens has a power peculiar to
himself of throwing into the eyes of animals the phosphorescent magnetic gleam
of life and passion. Here also was a sketch of his for a large picture at
Then a small room devoted to the Spanish and Italian
schools, containing pictures by Murillo and Velasquez. Then the French hall,
where were two magnificent Claudes, the finest I had yet seen. They were
covered with glass, (a bad arrangement,) which rendered one of them almost
entirely _unseeable_. I studied these long, with much interest. The
combinations were poetical, the foregrounds minutely finished, even to the
painting of flowers, and the fine invisible veil of ether that covers the
natural landscape given as I have never before seen it. The peculiarity of
these pieces is, that they are painted in _green_--a most common arrangement in
God's landscapes, but very uncommon in those of great masters. Painters give us
trees and grounds, brown, yellow, red, chocolate, any color, in short, but
green. The reason of this is, that green is an exceedingly difficult color to
manage. I have seen, sometimes, in spring, set against a deep-blue sky, an
array of greens, from lightest yellow to deepest blue of the pines, tipped and
glittering with the afternoon's sun, yet so swathed in some invisible,
harmonizing medium, that the strong contrasts of color
jarred upon no sense. All seemed to be bound by the invisible cestus of some
celestial Venus. Yet what painter would dare attempt the same? Herein lies the particular triumph of Claude. It is said that he
took his brush and canvas into the fields, and there studied, hour after hour,
into the mysteries of that airy medium which lies between the eye and the
landscape, as also between the foreground and the background. Hence he, more
than others, succeeds in giving the green landscape and the blue sky the same
effect that God gives them. If, then, other artists would attain a like result,
let them not copy Claude, but Claude's Master. Would that our American artists
would remember that God's pictures are nearer than
By a strange perversity, people seem to think that the Author of nature cannot or will not inspire art; but "He that formed the eye, shall he not see? he that planted the ear, shall he not hear?" Are not God's works the great models, and is not sympathy of spirit with the Master necessary to the understanding of the models?
But to continue our walk. We entered another Dutch apartment, embellished with works by Dietrich, prettily colored, and laboriously minute; then into a corridor devoted chiefly to the works of Rembrandt and scholars. In this also were a number of those minute culinary paintings, in which cabbages, brass kettles, onions, potatoes, &c., are reproduced with praiseworthy industry. Many people are enraptured with these; but for my part I have but a very little more pleasure in a turnip, onion, or potato in a picture than out, and always wish that the industry and richness of color had been bestowed upon things in themselves beautiful. The great Master, it is true, gives these models, but he gives them not to be looked at, but eaten. If painters could only contrive to paint vegetables (cheaply) so that they could be eaten, I would be willing.
Two small saloons are next devoted to the modern Dutch and German school. In these is Denner's head of an old woman, which Cowper celebrates in a pretty poem--a marvel of faithful reproduction. One would think the old lady must have sat at least a year, till he had daguerreotyped every wrinkle and twinkle. How much better all this labor spent on the head of a good old woman than on the head of a cabbage!
And now come a set of Italian rooms, in which we have some curious specimens of the Romish development in religion; as, for instance, the fathers Gregory, Augustine, and Jerome, meditating on the immaculate conception of the Virgin. Think of a painter employing all his powers in representing such a fog bank!
Next comes a room dedicated to the works of Titian, in which two nude Venuses, of a very different character from the de Milon, are too conspicuous. Titian is sensuous; a Greek, but not of the highest class.
The next room is devoted to Paul Veronese. This Paul has quite a character of his own--a grand old Venetian, with his head full of stateliness, and court ceremony, and gorgeous conventionality, half Oriental in his passion for gold, and gems, and incense. As a specimen of the subjects in which his soul delights, take the following, which he has wrought up into a mammoth picture: Faith, Love, and Hope, presenting to the Virgin Mary a member of the old Venetian family of Concina, who, after having listened to the doctrines of the reformation, had become reconciled to the church. Here is Paul's piety, naively displayed by giving to the Virgin all the courtly graces of a high-born signorina. He paints, too, the Adoration of the Magi, because it gives such a good opportunity to deal with camels, jewels, turbans, and all the trappings of Oriental royalty. The Virgin and Child are a small part of the affair. I like Paul because he is so innocently unconscious of any thing _deep_ to be expressed; so honestly intent on clothes, jewels, and colors. He is a magnificent master of ceremonies, and ought to have been kept by some king desirous of going down to posterity, to celebrate his royal praise and glory.
Another room is devoted to the works of Guido. One or two of the Ecce Homo are much admired. To me they are, as compared with my conceptions of Jesus, more than inadequate. It seems to me that, if Jesus Christ should come again on earth, and walk through a gallery of paintings, and see the representations of sacred subjects, he would say again, as he did of old in the temple, "Take these things hence!"
How could men who bowed down before art as an idol, and worshipped it as an ultimate end, and thus sensualized it, represent these holy mysteries, into which angels desired to look?
There are many representations of Christ here, set forth in the guide book as full of grace and majesty, which, any soul who has ever felt his infinite beauty would reject as a libel. And as to the Virgin Mother, one's eye becomes wearied in following the countless catalogue of the effeminate inane representations.
There is more pathos and beauty in those few words of the Scripture, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother," than in all these galleries put together. The soul that has learned to know her from the Bible, loving without idolizing, hoping for blest communion with her beyond the veil, seeking to imitate only the devotion which stood by the cross in the deepest hour of desertion, cannot be satisfied with these insipidities.
Only once or twice have I seen any thing like an approach towards the representations of the _scriptural_ idea. One is this painting by Raphael. Another is by him, and is called Madonna Maison d'Alba: of this I have seen only a copy; it might have been painted on the words, "Now Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." The figure is that of a young Jewess, between girl and womanhood, in whose air and eye are expressed at once the princess of the house of David, the poetess, and the thoughtful sequestered maiden. She is sitting on the ground, the book of the prophets in one hand, lying listless at her side; the other hand is placed beneath the chin of her infant son, who looks inquiringly into her face. She does not see him--her eye has a sorrowful, far-darting look, as if beyond this flowery childhood she saw the dim image of a cross and a sepulchre. This was Mary, I have often thought that, in the reaction from the idolatry of Romanism, we Protestants were in danger of forgetting the treasures of religious sweetness, which the Bible has given us in her brief history.
It seems to me the time demands the forming of a new school of art based upon Protestant principles. For whatever vigor and originality there might once be in art, based on Romanism, it has certainly been worn threadbare by repetition.
Apropos to this. During the time I
We found Schoeffer in retired lodgings in the outskirts of
Then we saw his celebrated picture, Francisca Rimini, representing a cloudy, dark, infernal region, in which two hapless lovers are whirled round and round in mazes of never-ending wrath and anguish. _His_ face is hid from view; his attitude expresses the extreme of despair. But she clinging to his bosom--what words can tell the depths of love, of an anguish, and of endurance unconquerable, written in her pale sweet face! The picture smote to my heart like a dagger thrust; I felt its mournful, exquisite beauty as a libel on my Father in heaven.
No. It is _not_ God who eternally pursues undying, patient love with storms of vindictive wrath. Alas! well said Jesus, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee." The day will come when it will appear that in earth's history the sorrowing, invincible tenderness has been all on his part and that the strange word, _long-suffering_, means just what it says.
Nevertheless, the power and pathos of this picture cannot be too much praised. The coloring is beautiful, and though it pained me so much, I felt that it was one of the most striking works of art I had seen.
Schoeffer showed us a large picture, about half finished, in which he represents the gradual rise of the soul through the sorrows of earth to heaven. It consisted of figures grouped together, those nearest earth bowed down and overwhelmed with the most crushing and hopeless sorrow; above them are those who are beginning to look upward, and the sorrow in their faces is subsiding into anxious inquiry; still above them are those who, having caught a gleam of the sources of consolation, express in their faces a solemn calmness; and still higher, rising in the air, figures with clasped hands, and absorbed, upward gaze, to whose eye the mystery has been unveiled, the enigma solved, and sorrow glorified. One among these, higher than the rest, with a face of rapt adoration, seems entering the very gate of heaven.
He also showed us an unfinished picture of the Temptation of Christ. Upon a clear aerial mountain top, Satan, a thunder-scarred, unearthly figure, kneeling, points earnestly to the distant view of the kingdoms of this world. There is a furtive and peculiar expression of eager anxiety betrayed in his face, as if the bitterness of his own blasted eternity could find a momentary consolation in this success. It is the expression of a general, who has staked all his fortune on one die. Of the figure of Jesus I could not judge, in its unfinished state. Whether the artist will solve the problem of uniting energy with sweetness, the Godhead with the manhood, remains to be seen.
The paintings of Jesus are generally unsatisfactory; but Schoefier has approached nearer towards expressing my idea than any artist I have yet seen.
The knowing ones are much divided about Schoeffer. Some say he is no painter. Nothing seems to me so utterly without rule or compass as this world of art Divided into little cliques, each with his shibboleth, artists excommunicate each other as heartily as theologians, and a neophyte who should attempt to make up a judgment by their help would be obliged to shift opinions with every circle.
I therefore look with my own eyes, for if not the best that might be, they are the best that God has given me.
Schoeffer is certainly a poet of a high order. His ideas are beautiful and religious, and his power of expression quite equal to that of many old masters, who had nothing very particular to express.
I should think his chief danger lay in falling into
mannerism, and too often repeating the same idea. He has a theory of coloring
which is in danger of running out into coldness and poverty of effect. His idea
seems to be, that in the representation of spiritual subjects the artist should
avoid the sensualism of color, and give only the most chaste and severe tone.
Hence he makes much use of white, pale blue, and
cloudy grays, avoiding the gorgeousness of the old masters. But it seems
probable that in the celestial regions there is more, rather than less, of
brilliant coloring than on earth. What can be more brilliant than the rainbow,
yet what more perfectly free from earthly grossness? Nevertheless, in looking
at the pictures of Schoeffer there is such a serene and spiritual charm spread
over them, that one is little inclined to wish them other than they are. No
artist that I have ever seen, not even Raphael, has more power of glorifying
the human face by an exalted and unearthly expression. His head of Joan of Arc,
Schoeffer is fully possessed with the idea of which I have spoken, of raising Protestant art above the wearisome imitations of Romanism. The object is noble and important. I feel that he must succeed.
His best award is in the judgments of the unsophisticated heart. A painter who does not burn incense to his palette and worship his brushes, who reverences ideas above mechanism, will have all manner of evil spoken against him by artists, but the human heart will always accept him.
Here we are in
This afternoon we took a guide, and went first through the royal palace. The new chapel, which is being built by the present prince, is circular in form, with a dome one hundred and thirty feet high. The space between the doors is occupied by three circular recesses, with figures of prophets and apostles in fresco. Over one door is the Nativity,--over the other, the Resurrection,--also in fresco. On the walls around were pictures somewhat miscellaneous, I thought; for example, John Huss, St. Cecilia, Melanchthon, Luther, several women, saints, apostles, and evangelists. These paintings are all by the first German artists. The floor is a splendid mosaic, and the top of the dome is richly adorned with frescoes.
Still, though beautiful, the chapel seemed to me deficient
in unity of effect. One admires the details too much to appreciate it as a
whole. We passed through the palace rooms. Its paintings are far inferior to
There were portraits of Queen Louisa, very beautiful; of
Then we drove to Charlottenburg to see the Mausoleum. I know not when I have been more deeply affected than there; and yet, not so much by the sweet, lifelike statue of the queen as by that of the king, her husband, executed by the same hand. Such an expression of long-desired rest, after suffering and toil, is shed over the face!--so sweet, so heavenly! There, where he has prayed year after year,--hoping, yearning, longing,--there, at last, he rests, life's long anguish over! My heart melted as I looked at these two, so long divided,--he so long a mourner, she so long mourned,--now calmly resting side by side in a sleep so tranquil.
We went through the palace. We saw the present king's writing desk and table in his study, just as he left them. His writing establishment is about as plain as yours. Men who really mean to do any thing do not use fancy tools. His bed room, also, is in a style of severe simplicity. There were several engravings fastened against the wall; and in the anteroom a bust and medallion of the Empress Eugenie--a thing which I should not exactly have expected in a born king's palace; but beauty is sacred, and kings cannot call it _parvenu_. Then we went into the queen's bed room, finished in green, and then through the rooms of Queen Louisa. Those marks of her presence, which you saw during the old king's lifetime, are now removed: we saw no traces of her dresses, gloves, or books. In one room, draped in white muslin over pink, we were informed the Empress of Russia was born.
In going out to Charlottenburg, we rode through the
Thiergarten, the Tuileries of Berlin. In one of the most quiet and sequestered
spots is the monument erected by the people of
As we were riding home, our guide, who was a full feathered
monarchist, told us, with some satisfaction, the number of palaces in
"We do things more economically in
The guide entered into an animated defence of king and country. These palaces--did not the king keep them for the people? did he not bear all the expense of caring for them, that they might furnish public pleasure grounds and exhibition rooms? Had we not seen the people walking about in them, and enjoying themselves?
This was all true enough, and we assented. The guide continued, Did not the king take the public money to make beautiful museums for the people, where they could study the fine arts?--and did our government do any such thing?
I thought of our surplus revenue, and laid my hand on my mouth. But yet there is a progress of democratic principle indicated by this very understanding that the king is to hold things for the benefit of the people. Times are altered since Louis XIV. was instructed by his tutor, as he looked out on a crowd of people, "These are all yours;" and since he said, "_L'élot, c'est moi_"
Our guide seemed to feel bound, however, to exhaust himself in comparison of our defects with their excellences.
"Some Prussians went over to
"Why not?" said I.
"O, they said there was nothing done there but working and going to church!"
"That's a fact," said W., with considerable earnestness.
"Yes," said our guide; "they said we have but one life to live, and we want to have some comfort in it."
It is a curious fact, that just in proportion as a country
is free and self-governed it has fewer public amusements.
We went over the
I am here in the station house at
How naturally, on reaching a place long heard of and
pondered, do we look round for something uncommon, quaint, and striking!
Nothing of the kind was here; only the dead flat of this most level scenery,
with its dreary prairie-like sameness. Certainly it was not this scenery that
stirred up a soul in Luther, and made him nail up his theses on the
"But, at any rate, let us go to
The church is ancient, and, externally, impressive enough; inside it is wide, cold, whitewashed, prosaic; whoever gets up feeling does it against wind and tide, so far as appearances are concerned. We advance to the spot in the floor where our guide raises a trap door, and shows us underneath the plate inscribed with the name of Luther, and by it the plate recording the resting-place of his well-beloved Philip Melanchthon; then to the grave of the Elector of Saxony, and John the Steadfast; on one side a full length of Luther, by Lucas Cranach; on the other, one of Melanchthon, by the same hand. Well, we have seen; this is all; "He is not here, he is risen." "Is this all?" "All," says our guide, and we go out. I look curiously at the old door where Luther nailed up his theses; but even this is not the identical door; that was destroyed by the French. Still, under that arched doorway he stood, hammer and nails in hand; he held up his paper, he fitted it straight; rap, rap,--there, one nail--another--it is up, and he stands looking at it. These very stones were over that head that are now over mine, this very ground beneath his feet. As I turned away I gave an earnest look at the old church. Grass is growing on its buttresses; it has a desolate look, though strong and well kept. The party pass on, and I make haste to overtake them.
Down we go, doing penance over the round paving stones; and our next halt is momentary. In the market-place, before the town house, (a huge, three-gabled building, like a beast of three horns,) stands Luther's bronze monument; apple women and pear women, onion and beet women, are thickly congregated around, selling as best they may. There stands Luther, looking benignantly, holding and pointing to the open Bible; the women, meanwhile, thinking we want fruit, hold up their wares and talk German. But our conductress has a regular guide's trot, inexorable as fate; so on we go.
Now we come to Luther's house--a part of the old convent. Wide yawns the stone doorway of the court; a grinning masque grotesquely looks down from its centre, and odd carvings from the sides. A colony of swallows have established their nests among the queer old carvings and gnome-like faces, and are twittering in and out, superintending their domestic arrangements. We enter a court surrounded with buildings; then ascend, through a strange doorway, a winding staircase, passing small, lozenge-shaped window. Up these stairs _he_ oft trod, in all the moods of that manifold and wonderful nature--gay, joyous, jocose, fervent, defiant, imploring; and up these stairs have trod wondering visitors, thronging from all parts of the world, to see the man of the age. Up these stairs come Philip Melanchthon, Lucas Cranach, and their wives, to see how fares Luther after some short journey, or some new movement. Now, all past, all solitary; the stairs dirty, the windows dim.
[Illustration: _of Luther's room._]
And this is Luther's room. It was a fine one in its day, that is plain. The arched recesses of the windows; the roof, divided in squares, and, like the walls and cornice, painted in fresco; the windows, with their quaint, round panes,--all, though now so soiled and dim, speak plainly of a time when life was here, and all things wore a rich and joyous glow. In this room that great heart rejoiced in the blessedness of domestic life, and poured forth some of those exulting strains, glorifying the family state, which yet remain. Here his little Magdalen, his little Jacky, and the rest made joyous uproar.
There stands his writing table, a heavy mass of wood; clumsy
as the time and its absurdities, rougher now than ever, in its squalid old age,
and partly chipped away by relic seekers. Here he sat; here lay his paper; over
this table was bent that head whose brain power was the earthquake of
Catharine's nicely-carved cabinet, with its huge bunches of oaken flowers hanging down between its glass panels, shows Luther's drinking cup. There is also his embroidered portrait, on which, doubtless, she expended much thought, as she evidently has much gold thread. I seem to see her conceiving the bold design--she will work the doctor's likeness. She asks Magdalen Cranach's opinion, and Magdalen asks Lucas's, and there is a deal of discussion, and Lucas makes wise suggestions. In the course of many fireside chats, the thing grows. Philip and his Kate, dropping in, are shown it. Little Jacky and Magdalen, looking shyly over their mother's shoulder, are wonderfully impressed with the likeness, and think their mother a great woman. Luther takes it in hand, and passes some jests upon it, which make them laugh all round, and so at last it grows to be a veritable likeness. Poor, faded, tarnished thing! it looks like a ghost now.
In one corner is a work of art by Luther--no less than a stove planned after his own pattern. It is a high, black, iron pyramid, panelled, each panel presenting in relief some Scripture subject. Considering the remote times, this stove is quite an affair; the figures are, some of them, spirited and well conceived, though now its lustre, like all else here, is obscured by dust and dirt. Why do the Germans leave this place so dirty? The rooms of Shakspeare are kept clean and in repair; the Catholics enshrine in gold and silver the relics of their saints, but this Protestant Mecca is left literally to the moles and the bats.
I slipped aside a panel in the curious old windows, and looked down into the court surrounded by the university buildings. I fancied the old times when students, with their scholastic caps and books, were momently passing and repassing. I thought of the stir there was here when the pope's bull against Luther came out, and of the pattering of feet and commotion there were in this court, when Luther sallied out to burn the pope's bull under the oak, just beyond the city wall near by. The students thought it good fun; students are always progressive; they admired the old boy for his spirit; they threw up caps and shouted, and went out to see the ceremony with a will. Philip Melanchthon wondered if brother Martin was not going a little too fast, but hoped it would be overruled, and that all would be for the best! So, coming out, I looked longingly beyond the city gate, and wanted to go to the place of the oak tree, where the ceremony was performed, but the party had gone on.
[Illustration: _of Melanchthon's house._]
Coming back, I made a pause opposite the house on which is seen the inscription, "Here Melanchthon lived, labored, and died." A very good house it was, too, in its day; in architecture it was not unlike this. I went across the street to take a good look at it; then I came over, and as the great arched door stood open, I took the liberty of walking in. Like other continental houses, this had an arched passage running through to a back court and a side door. A stone stairway led up from this into the house, and a small square window, with little round panes, looked through into the passage. A young child was toddling about there, and I spoke to it; a man came out, and looked as if he rather wondered what I might be about; so I retreated. Then I threaded my way past queer peaked-roofed buildings to a paved court, where stood the old church--something like that in Halle, a great Gothic structure, with two high towers connected by a gallery. I entered. Like the other church it has been whitewashed, and has few architectural attractions. It is very large, with two galleries, one over the other, and might hold, I should think, five thousand people.
Here Luther preached. These walls, now so silent, rung to the rare melody of that voice, to which the Roman Catholic writers attributed some unearthly enchantment, so did it sway all who listened. Here, clustering round these pillars, standing on these flags, were myriads of human beings; and what heart-beatings, what surgings of thought, what tempests of feeling, what aspirations, what strivings, what conflicts shook that multitude, and possessed them as he spoke! "I preach," he said, "not for professor this or that, nor for the elector or prince, but for poor Jack behind the door;" and so, striking only on the chords common to all hearts, he bowed all, for he who can inspire the illiterate and poor, callous with ignorance and toil, can move also the better informed. Here, also, that voice of his, which rose above the choir and organ, sang the alto in those chorals which he gave to the world. Monmouth, sung in this great church by five thousand voices, must needs have a magnificent sound.
The altar-piece is a Lord's Supper, by Louis Cranach, who appears in the foreground as a servant. On each side are the pictures of the Sacraments. In baptism, Melanchthon stands by a laver, holding a dripping baby, whom he has just immersed, one of Luther's children, I suppose, for he is standing by; a venerable personage in a long beard holds the towel to receive the little neophyte. From all I know of babies, I should think this form of baptism liable to inconvenient accessories and consequences. On the other side, Luther is preaching, and opposite, foremost of his audience are, Catharine and her little son. Every thing shows how strictly intimate were Luther, Melanchthon, and Cranach; good sociable times they had together. A slab elaborately carved, in the side of the church, marks the last rest of Lucas and Magdalen Cranach.
I passed out of the church, and walked slowly down to the hotel, purchasing by the way, at a mean little shop, some tolerable engravings of Luther's room, the church, &c. To show how immutable every thing has been in Wittenberg since Luther died, let me mention that on coming back through the market-place, we found spread out for sale upon a cloth about a dozen pairs of shoes of the precise pattern of those belonging to Luther, which we had seen in Frankfort--clumsy, rude, and heelless. I have heard that Swedenborg said, that in his visit to the invisible world, he encountered a class of spirits who had been there fifty years, and had not yet found out that they were dead. These Wittenbergers, I think, must be of the same conservative turn of mind.
Failing to get a carriage to the station, we started to walk. I paused a moment before the church, to make some little corrections and emendations in my engravings, and thought, as I was doing so, of that quite other scene years ago, when the body of Luther was borne through this gate by a concourse of weeping thousands. These stones, on which I was standing, then echoed all night to the tread of a closely-packed multitude--a muffled sound, like the patter of rain among leaves. There rose through the long, dark hours, alternately, the unrestrained sobbings of the throng, and the grand choral of Luther's psalms, words and music of his own. Never since the world began was so strange a scene as that. I felt a kind of shadow from it, as I walked homeward gazing on the flat, dreamy distance. A great windmill was creaking its sombre, lazy vanes round and round,--strange, goblin things, these windmills,--and I thought of one of Luther's sayings. "The heart of a human creature is like the millstones: if corn be shaken thereon, it grindeth the corn, and maketh good meal; but if no corn be there, then it grindeth away itself." Luther tried the latter process all the first part of his life; but he got the corn at last, and a magnificent grist he made.
Arrived at the station, we found we must wait till half past five in the afternoon for the train. This would have been an intolerable doom in the disconsolate precincts of an English or American station, but not in a German one. As usual, this had a charming garden, laid out with exquisite taste, and all glowing and fragrant with plats of verbena, fuschias, heliotropes, mignonette, pansies, while rows of hothouse flowers, set under the shelter of neatly trimmed hedges, gave brightness to the scene. Among all these pretty grounds were seats and walks, and a gardener, with his dear pipe in his mouth, was moving about, watering his dear flowers, thus combining the two delights of a German, flowers and smoke. These Germans seem an odd race, a mixture of clay and spirit--what with their beer drinking and smoking, and their slow, stolid ways, you would think them perfectly earthly; but an ethereal fire is all the while working in them, and bursting out in most unexpected little jets of poetry and sentiment, like blossoms on a cactus.
The station room was an agreeable one, painted prettily in frescoes, with two sofas. So we arranged ourselves in a party. S. and I betook ourselves to our embroidery, and C. read aloud to us, or tried the Amati, and when we were tired of reading and music we strolled in the garden, and I wrote to you.
I wonder why we Anglo-Saxons cannot imitate the liberality
of the continent in the matter of railroad stations, and give the traveller
something more agreeable than the grim, bare, forbidding places, which now
There is but one drawback to all this, and that is the smoking. Mythologically represented, these Germans might be considered as a race born of chimneys, with a necessity for smoking in their very nature. A German walking without his pipe is only a dormant volcano; it is in him to smoke all the while; you may be sure the crater will begin to fume before long. Smoking is such an acknowledged attribute of manhood, that the gentler sex seem to have given in to it as one of the immutable things of nature; consequently all the public places where both sexes meet are redolent of tobacco! You see a gentleman doing the agreeable to a lady, cigar in mouth, treating her alternately to an observation and a whiff, both of which seem to her equally matters of course. In the cars some attempt at regulation subsists; there are cars marked "_Nich rauchen_" into which _we_ were always very careful to get; but even in these it is not always possible to make a German suspend an operation which is to him about the same as breathing.
On our way from
I have just been to Luther's cell in the old Augustine
Convent, and if my pilgrimage at
We drove first to the cathedral, which, with an old deserted church, seemingly part of itself, forms a pile of Gothic architecture, a wilderness of spires, minarets, arches, and what not, more picturesque than any cathedral I have seen. It stands high on a sort of platform overlooking a military parade ground, and reached by a long flight of steps.
The choir is very beautiful. I cannot describe how these lofty arches, with their stained glass windows, touch my heart. Architecture never can, and never will, produce their like again. They give us aspiration in its highest form and noblest symbol, and wonderful was that mind which conceived them. This choir so darkly bright, its stalls and seats carved in black oak, its flame-like arches, gorgeous with evening light, were a preparation and excitement of mind. Yet it's remarkable about these old-time cathedrals, that while their is every grand and solemn effect of architecture, there is also always an abundance of subordinate parts, mean, tawdry, revolting, just like the whole system they represent. Out of this beautiful choir I wanted to tear all the tinsel fixtures on its altar, except two very good pictures, and leave it in it noble simplicity.
I remarked here a black oak chandelier, which the guide said
was taken from the cathedral of
From the cathedral we passed out, and stopped a moment to examine the adjoining church, now deserted, but whose three graceful spires have a peculiar beauty. After a turn upon the platform we descended, and drove to the Augustine Convent, now used as an orphan asylum. We ascended through a court yard, full of little children, by some steps into a gallery, where a woman came out with her keys. We passed first into a great hall, the walls of which were adorned with Holbein's Dance of Death.
From this hall we passed into Luther's room--a little cell, ten feet square; the walls covered with inscriptions from his writings. There we saw his inkstand, his pocket Testament, a copy of the Bible that was presented to him, (by whom I could not understand,) splendidly bound and illuminated. But it was the cell itself which affected me, the windows looking out into what were the cloisters of the monastery. Here was that struggle--that mortal agony--that giant soul convulsing and wearing down that strong frame. These walls! to what groans, to what prayers had they listened! Could we suppose a living human form imperishable, capable of struggling and suffering, but not of dying, buried beneath the whole weight of one of these gloomy cathedrals, suffocating in mortal agony, hearing above the tramp of footsteps, the peal of organs, the triumphant surge of chants, and vainly striving to send up its cries under all this load,--such, it would seem, was the suffering of this mighty soul. The whole pomp and splendor of this gorgeous prison house was piled up on his breast, and _his_ struggles rent the prison for the world!
On a piece of parchment which is here kept framed is inscribed in Luther's handwriting, in Latin, "Death is swallowed up in Victory!" Nothing better could be written on the walls of this cell.
This afternoon I walked out a little to observe the German Sabbath. Not like the buoyant, voluble, social Sunday of Paris, though still consecrated to leisure and family enjoyment more than to religious exercises. As I walked down the streets, the doors were standing open, men smoking their pipes, women knitting, and children playing. One place of resort was the graveyard of an antiquated church. A graveyard here is quite different from the solitary, dismal place where we lay our friends, as if to signify that all intercourse with them is at an end. Each grave was trimmed and garlanded with flowers, fastened with long strings of black or white ribbon. Around and among the graves men, women, and children were walking, the men smoking and chatting, not noisily, but in a cheerful, earnest way. It seems to me that this way of treating the dead might lessen the sense of separation. I believe it is generally customary to attend some religious exercise once on Sunday, and after that the rest of the day is devoted to this sort of enjoyment.
[Illustration: _of the Wartburg._]
The morning we started for
The grounds are finely kept: winding paths invite to many a charming stroll. When about half way up, as the rain had partially subsided, I left the carriage, and toiled up the laborious steep on foot, that I might observe better. You approach the castle by a path cut through the rock for about thirty or forty feet. At last I stood under a low archway of solid stone masonry, about twenty feet thick. There had evidently been three successive doors; the outer one was gone, and the two inner were wonderfully massive, braced with iron, and having each a smaller wicket door swung back on its hinges.
As my party were a little behind, I had time to stop and meditate. I fancied a dark, misty night, and the tramp of a party of horsemen coming up the rocky path to the gateway; the parley at the wicket; the unbarred doors, creaking on their rusty hinges,--one, two, three,--are opened; in clatters the cavalcade. In the midst of armed men with visors down, a monk in cowl and gown, and with that firm look about the lips which is so characteristic in Luther's portraits. But here our party came up, and the vision was dispelled. As none of us knew a word of German, we stood rather irresolutely looking at the buildings which, in all shapes and varieties, surround the court. I went into one room--it was a pantry; into another--it was a wash room; into a third--it was a sitting room, garnished with antlers, and hung round with hard old portraits of princes and electors, and occupied by Germans smoking and drinking beer. One is sure that in this respect one cannot fail of seeing the place as it was in Luther's time. If they were Germans, of course they drank beer out of tall, narrow beer glasses; that is as immutable a fact as the old stones of the battlement.
"H.," said C., "did the Germans use to smoke in Luther's day?"
"0, nothing. Only, what could they do with themselves?"
"I do not know, unless they drank the more beer."
"But what could they do with their chimney-hood?"
So saying, the saucy fellow prowled about promiscuously a while, assailing one and another in French, to about as much purpose as one might have tried to storm the walls with discharges of thistle down; all smoked and drank as before. But as several other visitors arrived, and it became evident that if we did not come to see the castle, it was not likely we came for any thing else, a man was fished up from some depths unknown, with a promising bunch of keys. He sallied forth to that part of the castle which is undergoing repairs.
Passing through bricks and mortar, under scaffolds, &c.,
we came to the armory, full of old knights and steeds in complete armor; that
is to say, the armor was there, and, without peeping between the crevices, one
could hardly tell that their owners were not at home in their iron houses.
There sat the Elector of Saxony, in full armor, on his horse, which was
likewise cased in steel. There was the suit of armor in which Constable Bourbon
fell under the walls of
Then we passed up to a grand hall, which is now being
restored with great taste after the style of that day--a long, lofty room, with
an arched roof, and a gallery on one side, and beyond, a row of Romanesque
arched windows, commanding a view of the country around. Having finished the
tour of this part, we went back, ascended an old, rude staircase, and were
ushered into Luther's
Thus ended for me the Lutheran pilgrimage.
I had now been perseveringly to all the shrines, and often inquired of myself
whether our conceptions are helped by such visitations. I decided the question
in the affirmative; that they are, if from the dust of the present we can
recreate the past, and bring again before us the forms as they then lived,
moved, and had their being. For me, I seem to have seen Luther, Cranach,
Melanchthon, and all the rest of them--to have talked with them. By the by, I
forgot to mention the portraits of Luther's father and mother, which are in his
cell. They show that his _mother_ was no common woman. She puts me in mind of
the mother of Samuel J. Mills--a strong, shrewd, bright,
I must not forget to notice, too, a little glitter of
effect--a little, shadowy, fanciful phase of feeling--that came over me when in
Luther's cell at
Monday, August 15. From
"Well," said H., in English, "I suppose he must either smoke or die."
"Ah, yes," I replied, "for the sake of saving his life we will even let him smoke."
"Hope the tobacco is good," added H.; and we went on reading our "Villette," which was very amusing just then. The gentleman had his match already lighted, and was just in the act of puffing preliminarily when H. first spoke. I thought I saw a peculiar expression on his friend's face. He dropped a word or two in German, as if quite incidentally, and I soon observed that the smoking made small progress. Pie kept the cigar in his mouth, it is true, for a while, just to show he would smoke if he chose; but his whiffs were fewer and fainter every minute; and after reading several chapters, happening to cast my eye that way, the cigar had disappeared. Not long after the friend, sitting opposite me, addressed W. in _good English_, and they were soon well agoing in a friendly discussion of our route. The winged word had hit the mark that time.
We passed the night in an agreeable hotel, Roi de Prusse, at
Tuesday, August 16. A long, dull ride from
Wednesday, August 17. Whittridge came at breakfast. The same
mellow, friendly, good-humored voice, and genial soul, I had loved years ago in
the heart of
Thursday, August 18. What gnome's cave is this
Of all German cactus blossoms this is the most ethereal. What head conceived those harmonies, so ghostlike? Every ten minutes, if you lie wakeful, they wind you up in a net of silver wirework, and swing you in the clouds; and the next time they swing you higher, and the next higher, and when the round hour is full the giant bell strikes at the gate of heaven to bring you home!
But this is dreaming. Fie, fie! Let us come down to pictures, masses, and common sense. We came down. We entered the room, and sat before the Descent from the Cross, where the dead body of Jesus seems an actual reality before you. The waves of the high mass came rolling in, muffled by intervening walls, columns, corridors, in a low, mysterious murmur. Then organ, orchestra, and choir, with rising voices urged the mighty acclaim, till the waves seemed beating down the barriers upon us. The combined excitement of the chimes, the painting, the music, was too much. I seemed to breathe ether. Treading on clouds, as it were, I entered the cathedral, and the illusion vanished.
Friday, August 19.
Saturday, August 20. H. and I take up our abode at the house of M. Belloc, where we find every thing so pleasant, that we sigh to think how soon we must leave these dear friends. The rest of our party are at the Hotel Bedford.
Of all quaint places this is one of the most charming. I
have been rather troubled that antiquity has fled before me where I have gone.
It is a fatality of travelling that the sense of novelty dies away, so that we
do not realize that we are seeing any thing extraordinary. I wanted to see
something as quaint as
"I do not think I shall like Rubens," was my reply.
"But you will, though. Yet never judge till you have
So, during our various meanders, I kept my eye with a steady
resolve on this place. I confess I went out to see the painting without much
enthusiasm. My experience with Correggio's Notte, and some of the celebrities
Alter coming down from hearing the chimes, we went into a
side room, and sat down before the painting. My first sensation was of
astonishment, blank, absolute, overwhelming. After all that I had seen, I had
no idea of a painting like this. I was lifted off my feet, as much as by
_Christ is dead_,--dead to your eye as he was to the eye of Mary and of John. Death absolute, hopeless, is written in the faded majesty of that face, peaceful and weary; death in every relaxed muscle. And, surely, in painting this form, some sentiment of reverence and devotion softened into awestruck tenderness that hand commonly so vigorous; for, instead of the almost coarse vitality which usually pervades his manly figures, there is shed over this a spiritualized refinement, not less, but more than human, as if some heavenly voice whispered, "This is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world!" The figures of the disciples are real and individual in expression. The sorrow is homely, earnest, unpicturesque, and grievously heart broken. The cheek of the kneeling Mary at his feet is wet with tears. You cannot ask yourself whether she is beautiful or not. You only see and sympathize with her sorrow. But the apostle John, who receives into his arms the descending form, is the most wonderful of all. Painters that I have seen represent him too effeminately. They forget the ardent soul whom Jesus rebuked for wishing to bring down fire from heaven on his enemies; they forget that it was John who was called the son of thunder, and that his emblem in the early church was the eagle. From the spiritualized softness of his writings we have formed another picture, forgetting that these are the writings of an aged man, in whom the ardor of existence has been softened by long experience of suffering, and habits of friendship with a suffering Lord.
Rubens's conception of John is that of a vigorous and
plenary manhood, whose rush is like that of a torrent, in the very moment when
his great heart is breaking. He had loved his Master with a love like an
eternity; he had believed him; heart and soul, mind and strength--all had he
given to that kingdom which he was to set up; and he had seen him die--die by
lingering torture. And at this moment he feels it all. There is no Christ, no
kingdom--nothing! All is over. "We _trusted_ it had been he who should
After this we went through many galleries and churches
devoted to his works; for
And now, farewell to
I am seated in my snug little room at M. Belloc's. The weather
is overpoweringly hot, but these Parisian houses seem to have seized and
imprisoned coolness. French household ways are delightful. I like their
seclusion from the street, by these deep-paved quadrangles. I like these cool,
smooth, waxed floors so much that I one day queried with my friends, the C.'s,
whether we could not introduce them into
"Ah," says Caroline, "the thing is managed
"I am sure," said I, "here is Fourrier's system in one particular. We enjoy the floors, and the man enjoys the dancing."
Madame Belloc had fitted up my room with the most thoughtful care. A large bouquet adorns the table; fancy writing materials are displayed; and a waiter, with sirups and an extempore soda fount, one of Parisian household refinements, stands just at my elbow. Above all, my walls are hung with beautiful engravings from Claude and Zuccarelli.
This house pertains to the government, and is held by M. Belloc in virtue of his situation as director of the Imperial School of Design, to which institution about one half of it is devoted. A public examination is at hand, in preparing for which M. Belloc is heart and soul engaged. This school is a government provision for the gratuitous instruction of the working classes in art. I went into the rooms where the works of the scholars are arranged for the inspection of the judges. The course of instruction is excellent--commencing with the study of nature. Around the room various plants are growing, which serve for models, interspersed with imitations in drawing or modelling, by the pupils. I noticed a hollyhock and thistle, modelled with singular accuracy. As some pupils can come only at evening, M. Belloc has prepared a set of casts of plants, which he says are plaster daguerreotypes. By pouring warm gelatine upon a leaf, a delicate mould is made, from which these casts are taken. He showed me bunches of leaves, and branches of the vine, executed by them, which were beautiful. In like manner the pupil commences the study of the human figure, with the skeleton, which he copies bone by bone. Gutta percha muscles are added in succession, till finally he has the whole form. Besides, each student has particular objects given him to study for a certain period, after which he copies them from memory. The same course is pursued with prints and engravings.
When an accurate knowledge of forms is gained, the pupil receives lessons in combination. Such subjects as these are given: a vase of flowers, a mediæval or classic vase, shields, Helmets, escutcheons, &c., of different styles. The first prize composition was a hunting frieze, modelled, in which were introduced fanciful combinations of leaf and scroll work, dogs, hunters, and children. Figures of almost every animal and plant were modelled; the drawings and modellings from memory were wonderful, and showed, in their combination, great richness of fancy. Scattered about the room were casts of the best classic figures of the Louvre, placed there, as M. Belloc gracefully remarked, not as models, but as inspirations, to cultivate the sense of beauty.
I was shown, moreover, their books of mathematical studies,
which looked intricate and learned, but of which I appreciated only the
delicate chirography. "And where," said I, "are these young
mechanics taught to read and write?" "In the brothers' schools,"
With such thorough training of the sense of beauty, it may be easily seen that the facility of French enthusiasm in aesthetics is not, as often imagined, superficial pretence. The nerves of beauty are so exquisitely tuned and strung that they must thrill at every touch.
One sees this, in French life, to the very foundation of society. A poor family will give, cheerfully, a part of their bread money to buy a flower. The idea of artistic symmetry pervades every thing, from the arrangement of the simplest room to the composition of a picture. At the chateau of Madame V. the whiteheaded butler begged madame to apologize for the central flower basket on the table. He "had not had time to study the composition."
The English and Americans, seeing the French so serious and
intent on matters of beauty, fancy it to be mere affectation. To be serious on
a barrel of flour, or a bushel of potatoes, we can well understand; but to be
equally earnest in the adorning of a room or the "composition" of a
bouquet seems ridiculous. But did not He who made the appetite for food make
also that for beauty? and while the former will perish
with the body, is not the latter immortal? With all
I went with M. Belloc into the gallery of antique sculpture. How wonderful these old Greeks I What set them out on such a course, I wonder--anymore, for instance, than the Sandwich Islanders? This reminds me to tell you that in the Berlin Museum, which the King of Prussia is now finishing in high style, I saw what is said to be the most complete Egyptian collection in the world; a whole Egyptian temple, word for word--pillars, paintings, and all; numberless sarcophagi, and mummies _ad nauseam!_ They are no more fragrant than the eleven thousand virgins, these mummies! and my stomach revolts equally from the odor of sanctity and of science.
I saw there a mummy of a little baby; and though it was
black as my shoe, and a disgusting, dry thing, nevertheless the little head was
covered with fine, soft, auburn hair. Four thousand years ago, some mother
thought the poor little thing a beauty. Also I saw mummies of cats, crocodiles,
the ibis, and all the other religious _bijouterie_ of
The whole view impressed me with quite an idea of barbarism; much more so than the Assyrian collection. About the winged bulls there is a solemn and imposing grandeur; they have a mountainous and majestic nature. These Egyptian things give one an idea of inexpressible ungainliness. They had a clumsy, elephantine character of mind, these Egyptians. There was not wanting grace, but they seemed to pick it up accidentally; because among all possible forms some must be graceful. They had a kind of grand, mammoth civilization, gloomy and goblin. They seem to have floundered up out of Nile mud, like that old, slimy, pre-Adamite brood, the what's-their-name--_megalosaurus, ichthyosaurus, pterodactyle, iguanodon_, and other misshapen abominations, with now and then wreaths of lotus and water lilies round their tusks.
The human face, as represented in Assyrian sculptures, is a
higher type of face than even the Greek: it is noble and princely; the Egyptian
faces are broad, flat, and clumsy. If
Among the antiques here, my two favorites are Venus de Milon, which I have described to you, and the Diane Chasseresse: this goddess is represented by the side of a stag; and so completely is the marble made alive, that one seems to perceive that a tread so airy would not bend a flower. Every side of the statue is almost equally graceful. The small, proud head is thrown back with the freedom of a stag; there is a gay, haughty self-reliance, an airy defiance, a rejoicing fulness of health and immortal youth in the whole figure. You see before you the whole Greek conception of an immortal--a creature full of intellect, full of the sparkle and elixir of existence, in whom the principle of life seems to be crystallized and concentrated with a dazzling abundance; light, airy, incapable alike of love and of sympathy; living for self, and self only. Alas for poor souls, who, in the heavy anguish of life, had only such goddesses to go to! How far in advance is even the idolatry of Christianity! how different the idea of Mary from the Diana!
Yet, as I walked up and down among these remains of Greek art, I could not but wonder at the spectacle of their civilization: no modern development reproduces it, nor ever can or will. It is well to cherish and make much of that ethereal past, as a specimen of one phase of humanity, for it is past _forever_. Those isles of Greece, with their gold and purple haze of light and shadow, their exquisite, half-spiritual, half-bodily formation--islands where flesh and blood became semi-spiritual, and where the sense of beauty was an existence--have passed as a vision of glory, never to return. One scarcely realizes how full of poetry was their mythology; all successive ages have drawn on it for images of beauty without exhausting it; and painters and artists, to this day, are fettered and repressed by vain efforts to reproduce it. But as a religion for the soul and the heart, all this is vain and void; all powerless to give repose or comfort. One who should seek repose on the bosom of such a mythology is as one who seeks to pillow himself on the many-tinted clouds of evening; soft and beautiful as they are, there is nothing real to them but their dampness and coldness.
Here M. and Madame Belloc entered, and as he wanted my
opinion of the Diane, I let her read this part of the letter to him in French.
You ought to have seen M. Belloc, with tears in his eyes, defending the old
Greeks, and expounding to me, with all manner of rainbow illustrations, the
religious meanings of Greek mythology, and the _morale_ of Greek tragedy. Such
a whole souled devotion to a nation dead and gone could never be found but in
Madame Belloc was the translator of Maria Edgeworth by that lady's desire; corresponded with her for years, and still has many of her letters. Her translation of Uncle Tom has to me all the merit and all the interest of an original composition. In perusing it I enjoy the pleasure of reading the story with scarce any consciousness of its ever having been mine. In the evening Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall called. They are admirably matched--he artist, she author. The one writes stories, the other illustrates them. Madame M. also called. English by birth, she is a true _Parisienne,_ or, rather, seems to have both minds, as she speaks both languages, perfectly. Her husband being a learned Oriental scholar, she, like some other women enjoying similar privileges, has picked up a deal of information, which she tosses about in conversation, in a gay, piquant manner, much as a kitten plays with a pin ball.
Madame remembers Mesdames Recamier and De Stael, and told me
several funny anecdotes of the former. Madame R., she said, was always
coquetting with her own funeral; conversed with different artists on the
arrangements of its details, and tempting now one, now another, with the
brilliant hope of the "composition" of the scene. Madame M. offered
me her services as _cicerone_ to
Begun first in the time of Louis XVI. as a church, in the revolution its destination was altered, and it was to be a temple to the manes of great men, and accordingly Rousseau, Voltaire, and many more are buried here. Well, after the revolution, the Bourbons said it should not be a temple for great men, it should be a church. The next popular upset tipped it back to the great men again; and it staid under their jurisdiction until Louis Napoleon, who is very pious, restored it to the church. It is not possible to say how much further this very characteristic rivalry between great men and their Creator is going to extend. All I have to say is, that I should not think the church much of an acquisition to either party. He that sitteth in the heavens must laugh sometimes at what man calls worship. This Pantheon is, as one might suppose from its history, a hybrid between a church and a theatre, and of course good for neither--purposeless and aimless. The Madeleine is another of these hybrid churches, begun by D'Ivry as a church, completed as a temple to victory by Napoleon, and on second thoughts, re-dedicated to God.
After strolling about a while, the sexton, or some official
of the church, asked us if we did not want to go down into the vaults below. As
a large party seemed to be going to do the same, I said, "0, yes, by all
means; let us see it out." Our guide, with his cocked hat and lantern,
walked ahead, apparently in a now of excellent spirits. These caverns and tombs
appeared to be his particular forte, and he magnified his office in showing
them. Down stairs we went, none of us knowing what we
wanted to see, or why. Our guide steps forth, unlocks
the gate? of Hades, and we enter a dark vault with a
particularly earthy smell. Bang! he shuts the door
after him. Clash! he locks it; now we are in for it! and elevating his lantern, he commences a deafening
proclamation of some general fact concerning the very unsavory place in which
we find ourselves. Of said proclamation I hear only the thundering
_"Voilà"_ at the commencement. Next he proceeds to open the doors of
certain stone vaulted chambers, where the great men are buried, between whose
claims and their Creator's there seems to be such an uncertainty in
_"Voilà le tombeau de Rousseau!"_ says the guide. All walked in piously, and stood to see a wooden tomb painted red. At one end the tomb is made in the likeness of little doors, which stand half open, and a hand is coming out of them holding a flambeau, by which it is intimated, I suppose, that Rousseau in his grave is enlightening the world. After a short proclamation here, we were shown into another stone chamber with _"Voilà le tombeau de Voltaire!"_ This was of wood also, very nicely speckled and painted to resemble some kind of marble. Each corner of the tomb had a tragic mask on it, with that captivating expression of countenance which belongs to the tragic masks generally. There was in the room a marble statue of Voltaire, with that wiry, sharp, keen, yet somewhat spiteful expression which his busts commonly have.
But our guide has finished his prelection here, and is
striding off in the plenitude of his wisdom. Now we are shown a long set of
stone apartments, provided for future great men. Considering the general
scarcity of the article in most countries, these sleeping accommodations are
remarkably ample. Nobody need be discouraged in his attempts at greatness in
Then we were marched into a part of the vault celebrated for its echo. Our guide here outdid himself; first we were commanded to form a line
_en militaire_ with our backs to the wall. Well, we did form
_en militaire._ I did it in the innocence of my heart, entirely
ignorant of what was to come next. Our guide, departing from that heroic grandeur of manner which had hitherto distinguished him, suddenly commenced screaming and hooting in a most unparalleled style. The echo was enough to deafen one, to be sure, and the first blast of it made us all jump. I could think of nothing but Apollyon amusing himself at the expense of the poor pilgrims in the valley of the shadow of death; for the exhibition was persisted in with a pertinacity inscrutable to any wisdom except his own. It ended by a brace of thumps on the wall, each of which produced a report equal to a cannon; and with this salvo of artillery the exhibition finished.
This worthy guide is truly a sublime character. Long may he
live to show the Pantheon; and when he dies, if so disagreeable an event must
be contemplated, may he have the whole of one of these stone chambers to
himself; for nothing less could possibly contain him. He regretted exceedingly
that we could not go up into the dome; but I had had enough of stair climbing
Now this Pantheon seems to me a monument of the faults and
the weakness of this very agreeable nation. Its history shows their enthusiasm,
their hero worship, and the want of stable religious convictions. Nowhere has
there been such a want of reverence for the Creator, unless in the American
Congress. The great men of
I do not mean either to say, as some do, that the French
mind has very little of the religious element. The very sweetest and softest,
as well as the most austere and rigid type of piety has been given by the
French mind; witness Fénélon and John Calvin--Fénélon standing as the type of
the mystic, and Calvin of the rationalistic style of religion. Fénélon, with
his heart so sweet, so childlike, so simple and tender, was yet essentially
French in his nature, and represented one part of French mind; and what English
devotional writer is at all like him? John Newton had his simplicity and
lovingness, but wanted that element of gracefulness and classic sweetness which
gave so high a tone to the writings of Fénélon. As to Calvin, his crystalline
clearness of mind, his calm, cold logic, his severe vehemence are French, also. To this day, a French system of theology
is the strongest and most coercive over the strongest of countries--
After Madame M. and I had finished the Pantheon we drove to
the Conciergerie; for I wanted to see the prison of the hapless Marie
Antoinette. That restless architectural mania, which never lets any thing alone
here, is rapidly modernizing it; the scaffoldings are up, and workmen busy in
making it as little historical as possible. Nevertheless, the old, gloomy
arched gateway, and the characteristic peaked Norman towers,
still remain; and we stopped our carriage the other side of the
So we went to take another view of Notre Dame; the very same Notre Dame whose bells in the good old days could be rung by the waving of Michael Scott's wand:--
"Him listed but his wand to wave
The bells should ring in Notre Dame."
I had been over it once before with Mrs. C., and sitting in
a dark corner, with my head against a cold, stone pillar, had heard vespers,
all in the most approved style of the poetic. I went back to it now to see how
it looked after the cathedrals of
"What a darksome and dismal place!
I wonder that any man has the face
To call such a hole the house of the Lord
And the gate of heaven--yet such is the word.
Ceiling, and walls, and windows old,
Covered with cobwebs, blackened with mould;
Dust on the pulpit, dust on the stairs,
Dust on the benches, and stalls, and chairs."
* * * * *
However, Notre Dame is a beautiful church; but I wish it was
under as good care as Cologne Cathedral, and that instead of building
Madeleines and Pantheons,
Well, Madame M. and I wandered up and down the vast aisles, she with her lively, fanciful remarks, to which there was never wanting a vein both of shrewdness and good sense.
When we came out of Notre Dame, she chattered about the
place. "There used to be an archbishop's palace back of the church in that
garden, but one day the people took it into their heads to pull it down. I saw
the silk-bottomed chairs floating down the
As we were passing over one of the bridges, we saw a flower
market, a gay show of flowers of all hues, and a very brisk trade going on
about them. Madame told me that there was a flower market every day in the
week, in different parts of the city. The flower trade was more than usually
animated to-day, because it is a saint's _fête,_ the
The streets every where showed men, women, and children,
carrying their pots of blooming flowers. Every person in
The life of
Again, there are little hanging baskets suspended from the ceilings, and filled with flowers. These things give a graceful and festive air to apartments. When the plants are out of bloom, the porter of the house takes them, waters, prunes, and tends them, then sells them again: meanwhile the parlor is ornamented with fresh ones. Along the streets on saints' days are little booths, where small vases of artificial flowers are sold to dress the altars. I stopped to look at one of these stalls, all brilliant with cheaply-made, showy vases of flowers, that sell for one or two sous.
We went also to the National Academy of Fine Arts, a government school for the gratuitous instruction of artists, a Grecian building, with a row of all the distinguished painters in front.
In the doorway, as we came in, was an antique, headless
statue of Minerva; literally it was Minerva's _gown_ standing up--a pillar of
drapery, nothing more, and drapery soiled, tattered, and battered; but then it
was an antique, and that is enough. Now, when antique things are ugly, I do not
like them any better for being antique, and I should rather have a modern
statue than Minerva's old gown. We went through all the galleries in this
school, in one of which the prize pieces of scholars are placed. Whoever gets
one of these prizes is sent to study in
This morning M. and Madame Belloc took me with them to call
on Béranger, the poet. He is a charming old man, very animated, with a face
full of feeling and benevolence, and with that agreeable simplicity and
vivacity of manner which is peculiarly French. It was eleven o'clock, but he
had not yet breakfasted; we entreated him to waive ceremony, and so his maid
brought in his chop and coffee, and we all plunged into an animated
conversation. Béranger went on conversing with shrewdness mingled with
childlike simplicity, a blending of the comic, the earnest, and the
complimentary. Conversation in a French circle seems to me like the gambols of
a thistle down, or the rainbow changes in soap bubbles. One laughs with tears
in one's eyes. One moment confounded with the absolute childhood of the
simplicity, in the next one is a little afraid of the keen edge of the
shrewdness. This call gave me an insight into a French circle which both amused
and delighted me. Coming home, M. Belloc enlarged upon Beranger's benevolence
and kindness of heart. "No man," he said, "is more universally
popular with the common people. He has exerted himself much for the families of
the unfortunate deportes to
At tea, Madame M. commented on the manners of a certain English lady of our acquaintance.
"She's an actress; she's too affected!"
Madame Belloc and I defended her.
"Ah," said M. Belloc, "you cannot judge; the
French are never natural in
But it is hard to give a conversation in which the salient points are made by a rapid pantomime, which effervesces like champagne.
Madame Belloc and Madame M. agree that the old French _salon_ is no more; that none in the present iron age can give the faintest idea of the brilliancy of the institution in its palmiest days. The horrors and reverses of successive revolutions, have thrown a pall over the French heart.
I have been now, in all, about a month in this gay and flowery city, seeing the French people, not in hotels and _cafes,_ but in the seclusion of domestic life; received, when introduced, not with ceremonious distance, as a stranger, but with confidence and affection, as a friend.
Though, according to the showing of my friends,
I liked the English and the Scotch as well as I could like any thing. And now, I equally like the French. Exact opposites, you will say. For that reason all the more charming. The goodness and beauty of the divine mind is no less shown in the traits of different races than of different tribes of fruits and flowers. And because things are exact opposites, is no reason why we should not like both. The eye is not like the hand, nor the ear like the foot; yet who condemns any of them for the difference? So I regard nations as parts of a great common body, and national differences as necessary to a common humanity.
I thought, when in English society, that it was as perfect and delightful as it could be. There was worth of character, strength of principle, true sincerity, and friendship, charmingly expressed. I have found all these, too, among the French, and besides them, something which charms me the more, because it is peculiar to the French, and of a kind wholly different from any I have ever had an experience of before. There is an iris-like variety and versatility of nature, a quickness in catching and reflecting the various shades of emotion or fancy, a readiness in seizing upon one's own half-expressed thoughts, and running them out in a thousand graceful little tendrils, which is very captivating.
I know a general prejudice has gone forth, that the French are all mere outside, without any deep reflection or emotion. This may be true of many. No doubt that the strength of that outward life, that acuteness of the mere perceptive organization, and that tendency to social exhilaration, which prevail, will incline to such a fault in many cases. An English reserve inclines to moroseness, and Scotch perseverance to obstinacy; so this aerial French nature may become levity and insincerity; but then it is neither the sullen Englishman, the dogged Scotchman, nor the shallow Frenchman that we are to take as the national ideal. In each country we are to take the very best as the specimen.
Now, it is true that, here in France, one can find people as judicious, quiet, discreet, and religious, as any where in the world; with views of life as serious, and as earnest, not living for pretence or show, but for the most rational and religious ends. Now, when all this goodness is silvered over, as it were, reflecting like mother-of-pearl or opal, a thousand fanciful shades and changes, is not the result beautiful? Some families into which I have entered, some persons with whom I have talked, have left a most delightful impression upon my mind; and I have talked, by means of imperfect English, French, and interpretations, with a good many. They have made my heart bleed over the history of this most beautiful country. It is truly mournful that a people with so many fine impulses, so much genius, appreciation, and effective power, should, by the influence of historical events quite beyond the control of the masses, so often have been thrown into a false position before the world, and been subjected to such a series of agonizing revulsions and revolutions.
"O, the French are half tiger, half monkey!" said
a cultivated American to me the other day. Such remarks cut me to the heart, as
if they had been spoken of a brother. And when they come from the mouth of an
American, the very shade of
It is true, it is a sarcasm of Voltaire's; but Voltaire, though born a Frenchman, neither imbodied nor was capable of understanding the true French ideal. The French _head_ he had, but not the French heart. And from his bitter judgment we might appeal to a thousand noble names. The generous Henri IV., the noble Sully, and Bayard the knight _sans peur et sans reproche_, were these half tiger and half monkey? Were John Calvin and Fénélon half tiger and half monkey? Laplace, Geoffroy St. Hilaire, Cuvier, Des Cartes, Malebranche, Arago--what were they? The tree of history is enriched with no nobler and fairer boughs and blossoms than have grown from the French stock.
It seems a most mysterious providence that some nations, without being wickeder than others, should have a more unfortunate and disastrous history.
The woes of
When the English and Americans sneer at the instability,
turbulence, and convulsions of the French nation for the last century, let us
ask ourselves what our history would have been had the "Gunpowder
Plot" succeeded, and the whole element of the reformation been
exterminated. It is true, vitality and reactive energy might have survived such
a process; but that vitality would have shown itself just as it has in
There are three forces which operate in society: that of
blind faith, of reverent religious freedom, and of irreverent scepticism. Now,
since the human mind is so made that it must have religion, when this middle
element of reasonable religious freedom is withdrawn, society vibrates, like a
pendulum, between scepticism and superstition; the extreme of superstition reacting
to scepticism, and then the barrenness of scepticism reacting
again into superstition. When the persecutions in
The revolution in
One thing more I would say. Since I have been here, I have
made the French and continental mode of keeping Sunday a matter of calm,
dispassionate inquiry and observation. I have tried to divest myself of the
prejudices--if you so please to call them--of my
Now, there are things in our mode of keeping the Sabbath
which have a direct tendency to sustain popular government; for the very
element of a popular government must be self-control in the individual. There
must be enough intensity of individual self-control to make up for the lack of
an extraneous pressure from government. The idea of the Sabbath, as observed by
the Puritans, is the voluntary dissevering of the thoughts and associations
from the things of earth for one day in seen, and the concentrating of the mind
on purely spiritual subjects. In all this there is a weekly recurring necessity
for the greatest self-control. No way could be devised to educate a community
to be thoughtful and reflective better than the weekly recurrence of a day when
all stimulus, both of business and diversion, shall be withdrawn, and the mind
turned in upon itself. The weekly necessity of bringing all business to a close
tends to give habits of system and exactness. The assembling together for
divine worship, and for instruction in the duties of Christianity, is a
training of the highest and noblest energies of the soul. Even that style of abstract theologizing prevailing in New England and
In regard to the present state of affairs here, it has been
my lot to converse unreservedly with some of all parties sufficiently to find
the key note of their thoughts. There are, first, the Bourbonists--mediaeval
people--believers in the divine right of kings in general, and of the Bourbons
in particular. There are many of them exceedingly interesting. There is
something rather poetic and graceful about the antique cast of their ideas;
their chivalrous loyalty to an exiled family, and their devout belief of the
Catholic religion. These, for the most part, keep out of
Then there are the partisans and friends of the
And then there are the republicans--men of the real olden
time, capable of sacrificing every thing that heart holds dear for a principle;
such republicans as were our fathers in all, save their religion, and because
lacking that, losing the chief element of popular control. Nevertheless,
grander men have never been than some of these modern republicans of
Besides all these there is another class, comparatively
small, having neither the prestige of fashion, rank, or wealth, but true,
humble, evangelical Christians, in whom the simplicity and spirituality of the
old Huguenot church seems revived. These men are laboring at the very
foundation of things; laboring to bring back the forgotten Bible; beginning
where Christ began, with preaching the gospel to the poor. If any would wish to
see Christianity in its loveliest form, they would find it in some of these
humble laborers. One, with whom I conversed, devotes his time to the
_chiffoniers,_ (rag pickers.) He gave me an account of
his labors, speaking with such tenderness and compassion, that it was quite
touching. "My poor people," he said, "they are very ignorant,
but they are not so very bad." And when I asked him, "Who supports
you in your labors?" he looked upward, with one of those quick,
involuntary glances by which the French express themselves without words. There
was the same earnestness in him as in one of our city missionaries, but a
touching grace peculiarly national. It was the piety of Fénélon and
It was the testimony of all with whom I conversed, that the national mind had become more and more serious for many years past. Said a French gentleman to me one evening, "The old idea of _l'homme d'esprit_ of Louis XIV.'s time, the man of _bon-mots_, bows, and _salons_, is almost passed away; there is only now and then a specimen of it left. The French are becoming more earnest and more religious." In the Roman Catholic churches which I attended, I saw very full audiences, and great earnestness and solemnity. I have talked intimately, also, with Roman Catholics, in whom I felt that religion was a real and vital thing. One of them, a most lovely lady, presented me with the Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, as a ground on which we could both unite.
I have also been interested to see in these French Catholics, in its most fervent form, the exhibition of that antislavery spirit which, in other ages, was the boast of that church. One charming friend took me to the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, pointing out with great interest the statues and pictures of saints who had been distinguished for their antislavery efforts in France. In a note expressing her warm interest in the cause of the African slave, she says, "It is a tradition of our church, that of the three kings which came to worship Jesus in Bethlehem, one was black; and if Christians would kneel oftener before the manger of Bethlehem they would think less of distinctions of caste and color."
Madame Belloc received, a day or
two since, a letter from a lady in the old town of
A lady a few days since called on me, all whose property was lost in the insurrection at Hayti, but who is, nevertheless, a most earnest advocate of emancipation.
A Catholic lady, in a letter, inquired earnestly, why in my
Key I had not included the Romish clergy of the
I have received numerous calls from members of the Old
French Abolition Society, which existed here for many years. Among these I met,
with great interest, M. Dutrone, its president; also M. ----, who presented me
with his very able ethnological work on the distinctive type of the negro race. One gentleman, greatly distressed in view of the
sufferings of the negro race in America, said, naively enough, to Mrs. C., that
he had heard that the negroes had great capability for music, dancing, and the
fine arts, and inquired whether something could not be done to move sympathy in
their behalf by training them to exhibit characteristic dances and pantomimes.
Mrs. C. quoted to him the action of one of the great ecclesiastical bodies in
In this connection, I cannot but notice, to the credit of the French republican provisional government, how much more consistent they were in their attachment to the principles of liberty than ever our own has been. What do we see in our own history? Our northern free states denouncing slavery as a crime, confessedly inconsistent with their civil and religious principles, yet, for commercial and pecuniary considerations, deliberately entering into a compact with slaveholders tolerating a twenty years' perpetuation of the African slave trade, the rendition of fugitives, the suppression of servile insurrections, and allowing to the slaveholders a virtual property basis of representation. It should qualify the contempt which some Americans express of the French republic, that when the subject of the slave colonies was brought up, and it was seen that consistency demanded immediate emancipation, they immediately emancipated; and not only so, but conferred at once on the slaves the elective franchise.
This point strongly illustrates the difference, in one respect, between the French and the Anglo-Saxons. As a race the French are less commercial, more ideal, more capable of devotion to abstract principles, and of following them out consistently, irrespective of expediency.
There is one thing which cannot but make one indignant here
On the minds of some there lie deep dejection and discouragement. Some, surrounded by their growing families, though they abhor the tyranny of the government, acquiesce wearily, and even dread change lest something worse should arise.
We know not in
At that very time an American traveller, calling on us,
expatiated at length on the peaceful state of things in
Saturday, August 27. Left Paris with H., the rest of our
party having been detained. Reached
And sure enough, the moment her bows passed beyond the pier, the sea struck her, and tossed her like an eggshell, and the deck, from stem to stern, was drenched in a moment, and running with floods as if she had been under water. For a few moments H. and I both enjoyed the motion. We stood amidships, she in her shawl, I in a great tarpauling which I had borrowed of Jack, and every pitch sent the spray over us. We exulted that we were not going to be sick. Suddenly, however, so suddenly that it was quite mysterious, conscience smote me. A profound, a deep-seated remorse developed itself just exactly in the deepest centre of the pit of my stomach.
"H.," said I, with a decided, grave air, "I'm going to be seasick."
"So am I," said she, as if struck by the same convictions that had been impressed on me. We turned, and made our way along the leeward quarter, to a seat by the bulwarks. I stood holding on by the railrope, and every now and then addressing a few incoherent and rather guttural, not to say pectoral, remarks to the green and gloomy sea, as I leaned over the rail. After every paroxysm of communicativeness, (for in seasickness the organ of secretiveness gives way,) I regained my perpendicular, and faced the foe, with a determination that I would stand it through--that the grinning, howling brine should get no more secrets out of me. And, in fact, it did not.
Meanwhile, what horrors--what complicated horrors--did not
that crowded deck present! Did the priestly miscreants of the middle ages ever
represent among the torments of purgatory the deck of a channel steamer? If
not, then they forgot the "lower deep," that Satan doubtless thought
about, according to
There were men and women of every age and complexion, with
faces of every possible shade of expression.
"Nor I neither," was the reply.
About mid channel a wave struck the windward quarter, just behind the wheel, with a stroke like a rock from a ballista, smashed in the bulwarks, stove the boat, which fell and hung in the water by one end, and sent the ladies, who were sitting there with boxes, baskets, shawls, hats, spectacles, umbrellas, cloaks, down to leeward, in a pond of water. One girl I saw with a bruise on her forehead as large as an egg, and the blood streaming from her nostrils. Shrieks resounded, and for a few moments, we had quite a tragic time.
About this time H. gave in, and descended to Tartarus, where
the floor was compactly, densely stowed with one mass of heaving wretches, with
nothing but washbowls to relieve the sombre mosaic. How H. fared there she may
tell; I cannot. I stood by the bulwark with my boots full of water, my eyes
full of salt spray, and my heart full of the most poignant regret that ever I
was born. Alas! was that channel a channel at all? Had
it two shores? Was
At last I seriously began to think of Tartarus myself, and
of a calm repose flat on my back, such as H. told of in his memorable passage.
But just then, dim and faint on the horizon, I thought I discerned the long
line of a bank of land. It was. This was a channel; that was the shore.
Our last letters from home changed all our plans. We concluded to hurry away by the next steamer, if at that late hour we could get passage. We were all in a bustle. The last shoppings for aunts, cousins, and little folks were to be done by us all. The Palais Royal was to be rummaged; bronzes, vases, statuettes, bonbons, playthings--all that the endless fertility of France could show--was to be looked over for the "folks at home."
You ought to have seen our rooms at night, the last evening
we spent in
"Ah," said Jladame B., "it is all quite easy; you must have a packer."
"Yes. He will come, look at your things, provide whatever may be necessary, and pack them all."
So said, so done. The man came, saw, conquered; he brought a trunk, twine, tacks, wrapping paper, and I stood by in admiration while he folded dresses, arranged bonnets, caressingly enveloped flowers in silk paper, fastened refractory bronzes, and muffled my plaster animals with reference to the critical points of ears and noses,--in short, reduced the whole heterogeneous assortment to place and proportion, shut, locked, corded, labelled, handed me the keys, and it was done. The charge for all this was quite moderate.
How we sped across the channel C. relates. We are spending a
few very pleasant days with our kind friends, the L.'s, in
ON BOARD THE
On Thursday, September 1, we reached
As a simple matter of taste, Protestantism has made these buildings more impressive by reducing them to a stricter unity. The multitude of shrines, candlesticks, pictures, statues, and votive offerings, which make the continental churches resemble museums, are constantly at variance with the majestic grandeur of the general impression. Therein they typify the church to which they belong, which has indeed the grand historic basis and framework of Christianity, though overlaid with extraneous and irrelevant additions.
This Cathedral of York has a severe grandeur peculiar to itself. I saw it with a deep undertone of feeling; for it was the last I should behold.
No one who has appreciated the wonders of a new world of art and association can see, without emotion, the door closing upon it, perhaps forever. I lingered long here, and often turned to gaze again; and after going out, went back, once more, to fill my soul with a last, long look, in which I bade adieu to all the historic memories of the old world. I thought of the words, "We have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
These glorious arches, this sublime mystery of human power and skill, is only a shadow of some eternal substance, which, in the ages to come, God will yet reveal to us.
It rained with inflexible pertinacity during all the time we
In riding through the park from the station, we admired an avenue composed of groups of magnificent beeches, sixteen or eighteen in a group, disposed at intervals on either hand.
The castle, a building in the Italian style, rose majestically on a slight eminence in the centre of a green lawn. We alighted in the crisis of one of the most driving gusts of wind and rain, so that we really seemed to be fleeing for shelter. But within all was bright and warm.
Lady Carlisle welcomed us most affectionately, and we
learned that, had we not been so reserved at the
Several of the family were there,
among the rest Lady Dover and Mr. and Mrs. E. Howard. They urged us to remain
over night; but as we had written to
"Belted Will Howard shall come with speed,
And William of Deloraine, good at need."
In one of the long corridors we were traversing, we heard the voice of merriment, and found a gay party of young people and children amusing themselves at games. I thought what a grand hide-and-go-seek place the castle must be--whole companies might lose themselves among the rooms. The central hall of the building goes up to the roof, and is surmounted by a dome. The architecture is in the Italian style, which I think much more suited to the purposes of ordinary life than for strictly religious uses. I never saw a church in that style that produced a very deep impression on me. This hall was gorgeously frescoed by Italian masters. The door commands the view of a magnificent sweep of green lawn, embellished by an artificial lake. It is singular in how fine and subtle a way different nationalities express themselves in landscape gardening, while employing the same materials. I have seen no grounds on the continent that express the particular shade of ideas which characterize the English. There is an air of grave majesty about the wide sweep of their outlines--a quality suggestive of ideas of strength and endurance which is appropriate to their nationality.
[Illustration: _of Castle Howard, with the artificial lake in the foreground._]
In Lord Carlisle's own room we saw pictures of Sumner,
Prescott, and others of his American friends. This custom of showing houses,
which prevails over
After finishing our survey, I went with Lady Carlisle into
her own _boudoir_. There I saw a cabinet full-length picture of her mother, the
Duchess of Devonshire. She is represented with light hair, and seemed to have
been one whose beauty was less that of regular classic model, than the
fascination of a brilliant and buoyant spirit inspiring a graceful form. Lady
Carlisle showed me an album, containing a kind of poetical record made by her
during a passage through the
Lord Carlisle is still in
In one of the rooms that we traversed I saw an immense vase of bog oak and gold, which was presented to Lord Carlisle by those who favored his election on the occasion of his defeat on the corn-law question. The sentiment expressed by the givers was, that a defeat in a noble undertaking was worthy of more honor than a victory in an ignoble one.
After lunch, having waited in vain for the rain to cease, and give us a sunny interval in which to visit the grounds, we sallied out hooded and cloaked, to get at some of the most accessible points of view. The wind was unkindly and discourteous enough, and seemed bent on baffling the hospitable intentions of our friends. If the beauties of an English landscape were set off by our clear sky and sun, then patriotism, I fancy, would run into extravagance. I could see that even one gracious sunset smile might produce in these lawns and groves an effect of enchantment.
I was pleased with what is called the "kitchen garden," which I expected to find a mere collection of vegetables, but found to be a genuine old-fashioned garden, which, like Eden, brought forth all that was pleasant to the eye and good for food.
There were wide walks bordered with flowers, enclosing portions devoted to fruit and vegetables, and, best of all this windy day, the whole enclosed by a high, solid stone wall, which bade defiance to the storm, and made this the most agreeable portion of our walk.
Our friends spoke much of Sumner and Prescott, who had visited there; also of Mr. Lawrence, our former ambassador, who had visited them just before his return.
After a very pleasant day we left, with regret, the warmth of this hospitable circle, thus breaking one more of the links that bind us to the English shore.
Nine o'clock in the evening found us sitting by a cheerful
fire in the parlor of Mr. E. Baines, at
It has occurred to me, that the superior stability of the English aristocracy, as compared with that of other countries, might be traced, in part, to their relations with the representative branch of the government. The eldest son and heir is generally returned to the House of Commons by the vote of the people, before he is called to take his seat in the House of Peers. Thus the same ties bind them to the people which bind our own representatives--a peculiarity which, I believe, never existed permanently with the nobles in any other country. By this means the nobility, when they enter the House of Lords, are better adapted to legislate wisely for the interests, not of a class, but of the whole people.
The next day the house was filled with company, and the
Monday we spent in a delightful visit to Fountains Abbey;
less rich in carvings than
In the course of the afternoon a telegraph came from the
Tuesday we parted from our excellent friends in
Sad letters from home met us there; yet not sad, since they only told us of friends admitted before us to that mystery of glory for which we are longing--of which all that we have seen in art or nature are but dim suggestions and images.
A deputation from
And now came parting, leave taking, last letters, notes, and messages.
The mayor of
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