PASSAGES FROM THE ENGLISH NOTE-BOOKS, VOLUME I.
To Francis Bennoch, Esq.,
The dear and valued friend, who, by his
generous and genial hospitality and unfailing sympathy, contributed so largely
(as is attested by the book itself) to render Mr. Hawthorne's residence in
It seems justly due to Mr. Hawthorne that the occasion of any portion of his private journals being brought before the Public should be made known, since they were originally designed for his own reference only.
There had been a constant and an urgent demand for a life or memoir of Mr. Hawthorne; yet, from the extreme delicacy and difficulty of the subject, the Editor felt obliged to refuse compliance with this demand. Moreover, Mr. Hawthorne had frequently and emphatically expressed the hope that no one would attempt to write his Biography; and the Editor perceived that it would be impossible for any person, outside of his own domestic circle, to succeed in doing it, on account of his extreme reserve. But it was ungracious to do nothing, and therefore the Editor, believing that Mr. Hawthorne himself was alone capable of satisfactorily answering the affectionate call for some sketch of his life, concluded to publish as much as possible of his private records, and even extracts from his private letters, in order to gratify the desire of his friends and of literary artists to become more intimately acquainted with him. The Editor has been severely blamed and wondered at, in some instances, for allowing many things now published to see the light; but it has been a matter both of conscience and courtesy to withhold nothing that could be given up. Many of the journals were doubtless destroyed; for the earliest date found in his American papers was that of 1835.
The Editor has transcribed the manuscripts just as they were left, without making any new arrangement or altering any sequence,--merely omitting some passages, and being especially careful to preserve whatever could throw any light upon his character. To persons on a quest for characteristics, however, each of his books reveals a great many, and it is believed that with the aid of the Notes (both American and English) the Tales and Romances will make out a very complete and true picture of his individuality; and the Notes are often an open sesame to the artistic works.
Several thickly written pages of observations--fine and accurate etchings--have been omitted, sometimes because too personal with regard to himself or others, and sometimes because they were afterwards absorbed into one or another of the Romances or papers in Our Old Home. It seemed a pity not to give these original cartoons fresh from his mind, because they are so carefully finished at the first stroke. Yet, as Mr. Hawthorne chose his own way of presenting them to the public, it was thought better not to exhibit what he himself withheld. Besides, to any other than a fellow-artist they might seem mere repetitions.
It is very earnestly hoped that these volumes of notes--American, English, and presently Italian--will dispel an often-expressed opinion that Mr. Hawthorne was gloomy and morbid. He had the inevitable pensiveness and gravity of a person who possessed what a friend of his called "the awful power of insight"; but his mood was always cheerful and equal, and his mind peculiarly healthful, and the airy splendor of his wit and humor was the light of his home. He saw too far to be despondent, though his vivid sympathies and shaping imagination often made him sad in behalf of others. He also perceived morbidness, wherever it existed, instantly, as if by the illumination of his own steady cheer; and he had the plastic power of putting himself into each person's situation, and of looking from every point of view, which made his charity most comprehensive. From this cause he necessarily attracted confidences, and became confessor to very many sinning and suffering souls, to whom he gave tender sympathy and help, while resigning judgment to the Omniscient and All-wise.
Throughout his journals it will be seen that Mr. Hawthorne is entertaining, and not asserting, opinions and ideas. He questions, doubts, and reflects with his pen, and, as it were, instructs himself. So that these Note-Books should be read, not as definitive conclusions of his mind, but merely as passing impressions often. Whatever conclusions be arrived at are condensed in the works given to the world by his own hand, in which will never be found a careless word. He was so extremely scrupulous about the value and effect of every expression that the Editor has felt great compunction in allowing a single sentence to be printed. unrevised by himself; but, with the consideration of the above remarks always kept in mind, these volumes are intrusted to the generous interpretation of the reader. If any one must be harshly criticised, it ought certainly to be the Editor.
When a person breaks in, unannounced, upon the morning hours of an artist, and finds him not in full dress, the intruder, and not the surprised artist, is doubtless at fault. S. H.
Liverpool, August 4th, 1853.--A month lacking two days since we left America,--a fortnight and some odd days since we arrived in England. I began my services, such as they are, on Monday last, August 1st, and here I sit in my private room at the Consulate, while the Vice-Consul and clerk are carrying on affairs in the outer office.
The pleasantest incident of the morning is when Mr. Pearce
(the Vice-Consul) makes his appearance with the account-books, containing the
receipts and expenditures of the preceding day, and deposits on my desk a
little rouleau of the Queen's coin, wrapped up in a piece of paper. This morning there were eight sovereigns,
four half-crowns, and a shilling,--a pretty fair day's work, though not more
than the average ought to be. This forenoon, thus far, I have had two calls,
not of business,--one from an American captain and his son, another from Mr. H---- B----, whom I
Since I have been in
Just now I have been fooled out of half a crown by a young
woman, who represents herself as an American and destitute, having come over to
see an uncle whom she found dead, and she has no means of getting back again.
Her accent is not that of an American, and her appearance is not particularly
prepossessing, though not decidedly otherwise.
She is decently dressed and modest in deportment, but I do not quite
trust her face. She has been separated
from her husband, as I understand her, by course of law, has had two children,
both now dead. What she wants is to get
At two o'clock I went over to the Royal Rock Hotel, about fifteen or twenty minutes' steaming from this side of the river. We are going there on Saturday to reside for a while. Returning, I found that, Mr. B., from the American Chamber of Commerce, had called to arrange the time and place of a visit to the Consul from a delegation of that body. Settled for to-morrow at quarter past one at Mr. Blodgett's.
August 5th.--An invitation this morning from the Mayor to dine at the Town Hall on Friday next. Heaven knows I had rather dine at the humblest inn in the city, inasmuch as a speech will doubtless be expected from me. However, things must be as they may.
At a quarter past one I was duly on hand at Mr. Blodgett's to receive the deputation from the Chamber of Commerce. They arrived pretty seasonably, in two or three carriages, and were ushered into the drawing-room,--seven or eight gentlemen, some of whom I had met before. Hereupon ensued a speech from Mr. B., the Chairman of the delegation, short and sweet, alluding to my literary reputation and other laudatory matters, and occupying only a minute or two. The speaker was rather embarrassed, which encouraged me a little, and yet I felt more diffidence on this occasion than in my effort at Mr. Crittenden's lunch, where, indeed, I was perfectly self-possessed. But here, there being less formality, and more of a conversational character in what was said, my usual diffidence could not so well be kept in abeyance. However, I did not break down to an intolerable extent, and, winding up my eloquence as briefly as possible, we had a social talk. Their whole stay could not have been much more than a quarter of an hour.
A call, this morning, at the Consulate, from Dr. Bowrug, who is British minister, or something of the kind, in China, and now absent on a twelvemonth's leave. The Doctor is a brisk person, with the address of a man of the world,--free, quick to smile, and of agreeable manners. He has a good face, rather American than English in aspect, and does not look much above fifty, though he says he is between sixty and seventy. I should take him rather for an active lawyer or a man of business than for a scholar and a literary man. He talked in a lively way for ten or fifteen minutes, and then took his leave, offering me any service in his power in London,--as, for instance, to introduce me to the Athenaeum Club.
August 8th.--Day before yesterday I escorted my family to
Rock Ferry, two miles either up or down the Mersey (and I really don't know
which) by steamer, which runs every half-hour.
There are steamers going continually to
At Rock Ferry there was a great throng, forming a scene not
unlike one of our muster-days or a Fourth of July, and there were bands of
music and banners, and small processions after them, and a school of charity
children, I believe, enjoying a festival.
And there was a club of respectable persons, playing at bowls on the
bowling-green of the hotel, and there were children, infants, riding on donkeys
at a penny a ride, while their mothers walked alongside to prevent a fall. Yesterday, while we were at dinner, Mr. B.
came in his carriage to take us to his residence, Poulton Hall. He had invited us to dine; but I misunderstood
him, and thought he only intended to give us a drive. Poulton Hall is about three miles from Rock
Ferry, the road passing through some pleasant rural scenery, and one or two
villages, with houses standing close together, and old stone or brick cottages,
with thatched roofs, and now and then a better mansion, apart among trees. We passed an old church, with a tower and
spire, and, half-way up, a patch of ivy, dark green, and some yellow
wall-flowers, in full bloom, growing out of the crevices of the stone. Mr. B. told us that the tower was formerly
quite clothed with ivy from bottom to top, but that it had fallen away for lack
of the nourishment that it used to find in the lime between the stones. This old church answered to my Transatlantic fancies of
We passed through a considerable extent of private road, and
finally drove over a lawn, studded with trees and closely shaven, till we
reached the door of Poulton Hall. Part
of the mansion is three or four hundred years old; another portion is about a
hundred and fifty, and still another has been built during the present
generation. The house is two stories
high, with a sort of beetle-browed roof in front. It is not very striking, and does not look
older than many wooden houses which I have seen in
Mr. B. did not inherit this old hall, nor, indeed, is he the
owner, but only the tenant of it. He is
a merchant of
While the family and two or three guests went to dinner, we
walked out to see the place. The
gardener, an Irishman, showed us through the garden, which is large and well
cared for. They certainly get everything
from Nature which she can possibly be persuaded to give them, here in
The lawn around Poulton Hall, like thousands of other lawns
in England, is very beautiful, but requires great care to keep it so, being
shorn every three or four days. No other
country will ever have this charm, nor the charm of
lovely verdure, which almost makes up for the absence of sunshine. Without the constant rain and shadow which
strikes us as so dismal, these lawns would be as brown as an autumn leaf. I have not, thus far, found any such
magnificent trees as I expected. Mr. B.
told me that three oaks, standing in a row on his lawn, were the largest in the
county. They were very good trees, to be
sure, and perhaps four feet in diameter near the ground, but with no very noble
spread of foliage. In
By and by a footman, looking very quaint and queer in his
livery coat, drab breeches, and white stockings, came to invite me to the table,
where I found Mr. B. and his sisters and guests sitting at the fruit and wine.
There were port, sherry, madeira, and one bottle of
claret, all very good; but they take here much heavier wines than we drink now
August 9th.--A pretty comfortable day, as to warmth, and I
believe there is sunshine overhead; but a sea-cloud, composed of fog and
Visitors to-day, thus far, have been H. A. B., with whom I
have arranged to dine with us at Rock Ferry, and then he is to take us on board
the Great Britain, of which his father is owner (in great part). Secondly, Monsieur H., the French Consul, who
can speak hardly any English, and who was more powerfully scented with cigar-smoke
than any man I ever encountered; a polite, gray-haired, red-nosed gentleman,
very courteous and formal. Heaven keep
him from me! At one o'clock, or
thereabouts, I walked into the city, down through
We went on board the
August 10th.--I left Rock Ferry for the city at half past
nine. In the boat which arrived thence,
there were several men and women with baskets on their heads, for this is a
favorite way of carrying burdens; and they trudge onward beneath them, without
any apparent fear of an overturn, and seldom putting up a hand to steady
them. One woman, this morning, had a
heavy load of crockery; another, an immense basket of turnips, freshly
gathered, that seemed to me as much as a man could well carry on his back. These must be a stiff-necked people. The women step sturdily and freely, and with
not ungraceful strength. The trip over
to town was pleasant, it being a fair morning, only with a low-hanging
fog. Had it been in
Visitors this morning. Mr. Ogden of
Mr. Pearce's customary matutinal visit was unusually agreeable to-day, inasmuch as he laid on my desk nineteen golden sovereigns and thirteen shillings. It being the day of the steamer's departure, an unusual number of invoice certificates had been required,--my signature to each of which brings me two dollars.
The autograph of a living author has seldom been so much in
request at so respectable a price.
Colonel Crittenden told me that he had received as much as fifty pounds
on a single day. Heaven prosper the
August 15th.--Many scenes which I should have liked to record have occurred; but the pressure of business has prevented me from recording them from day to day.
On Thursday I went, on invitation from Mr. B., to the
On Friday, at 7 P.M., I went to dine with the Mayor. It was a dinner given to the Judges and the Grand Jury. The Judges of England, during the time of holding an Assize, are the persons first in rank in the kingdom. They take precedence of everybody else,--of the highest military officers, of the Lord Lieutenants, of the Archbishops,--of the Prince of Wales,--of all except the Sovereign, whose authority and dignity they represent. In case of a royal dinner, the Judge would lead the Queen to the table.
The dinner was at the Town Hall, and the rooms and the whole affair were all in the most splendid style. Nothing struck me more than the footmen in the city livery. They really looked more magnificent in their gold-lace and breeches and white silk stockings than any officers of state. The rooms were beautiful; gorgeously painted and gilded, gorgeously lighted, gorgeously hung with paintings,--the plate was gorgeous, and the dinner gorgeous in the English fashion.
After the removal of the cloth the Mayor gave various
toasts, prefacing each with some remarks,--the first, of course, the Sovereign,
after which "God save the Queen" was sung, the company standing up
and joining in the chorus, their ample faces glowing with wine, enthusiasm, and
loyalty. Afterwards the Bar, and various other dignities and institutions were
toasted; and by and by came the toast to the
Yesterday, after dinner, I took a walk with my family. We went through by-ways and private roads,
and saw more of rural
August 20th.--This being Saturday, there early commenced a
throng of visitants to Rock Ferry. The
boat in which I came over brought from the city a multitude of
factory-people. They had bands of music,
and banners inscribed with the names of the mills they belong to, and other
devices: pale-looking people, but not looking exactly as if they were underfed.
They are brought on reduced terms by the railways and steamers, and come from
great distances in the interior. These,
I believe, were from
At the dock, the other day, the steamer arrived from Rock
Ferry with a countless multitude of little girls, in coarse blue gowns, who, as
they landed, formed in procession, and walked up the dock. These girls had been taken from the
workhouses and educated at a charity-school, and would by and by be apprenticed
as servants. I should not have conceived
it possible that so many children could have been collected together, without a
single trace of beauty or scarcely of intelligence in so much as one
individual; such mean, coarse, vulgar features and figures betraying
unmistakably a low origin, and ignorant and brutal parents. They did not appear
wicked, but only stupid, animal, and soulless.
It must require many generations of better life to wake the soul in
August 22d.--A Captain Auld, an American, having died here yesterday, I went with my clerk and an American shipmaster to take the inventory of his effects. His boarding-house was in a mean street, an old dingy house, with narrow entrance,--the class of boarding-house frequented by mates of vessels, and inferior to those generally patronized by masters. A fat elderly landlady, of respectable and honest aspect, and her daughter, a pleasing young woman enough, received us, and ushered us into the deceased's bedchamber. It was a dusky back room, plastered and painted yellow; its one window looking into the very narrowest of back-yards or courts, and out on a confused multitude of back buildings, appertaining to other houses, most of them old, with rude chimneys of wash-rooms and kitchens, the bricks of which seemed half loose.
The chattels of the dead man were contained in two trunks, a
chest, a sail-cloth bag, and a barrel, and consisted of clothing, suggesting a
thickset, middle-sized man; papers relative to ships and business, a spyglass,
a loaded iron pistol, some books of navigation, some charts, several great pieces
of tobacco, and a few cigars; some little plaster images, that he had probably
bought for his children, a cotton umbrella, and other trumpery of no great
value. In one of the trunks we found
about twenty pounds' worth of English and American gold and silver, and some
notes of hand, due in
While this was going on, we heard a great noise of men quarrelling in an adjoining court; and, altogether, it seemed a squalid and ugly place to live in, and a most undesirable one to die in. At the conclusion of our labors, the young woman asked us if we would not go into another chamber, and look at the corpse, and appeared to think that we should be rather glad than otherwise of the privilege. But, never having seen the man during his lifetime, I declined to commence his acquaintance now.
His bills for board and nursing amount to about the sum which we found in his trunk; his funeral expenses will be ten pounds more; the surgeon has sent in a bill of eight pounds, odd shillings; and the account of another medical man is still to be rendered. As his executor, I shall pay his landlady and nurse; and for the rest of the expenses, a subscription must be made (according to the custom in such cases) among the shipmasters, headed by myself. The funeral pomp will consist of a hearse, one coach, four men, with crape hatbands, and a few other items, together with a grave at five pounds, over which his friends will be entitled to place a stone, if they choose to do so, within twelve months.
As we left the house, we looked into the dark and squalid dining-room, where a lunch of cold meat was set out; but having no associations with the house except through this one dead man, it seemed as if his presence and attributes pervaded it wholly. He appears to have been a man of reprehensible habits, though well advanced in years. I ought not to forget a brandy-flask (empty) among his other effects. The landlady and daughter made a good impression on me, as honest and respectable persons.
August 24th.--Yesterday, in the forenoon, I received a note,
and shortly afterwards a call at the Consulate from Miss H----, whom I apprehend
to be a lady of literary tendencies. She
said that Miss L. had promised her an introduction, but that, happening to pass
In the afternoon, at three o'clock, I attended the funeral of Captain Auld. Being ushered into the dining-room of his boarding-house, I found brandy, gin, and wine set out on a tray, together with some little spicecakes. By and by came in a woman, who asked if I were going to the funeral; and then proceeded to put a mourning-band on my hat,--a black-silk band, covering the whole hat, and streaming nearly a yard behind. After waiting the better part of an hour, nobody else appeared, although several shipmasters had promised to attend. Hereupon, the undertaker was anxious to set forth; but the landlady, who was arrayed in shining black silk, thought it a shame that the poor man should be buried with such small attendance. So we waited a little longer, during which interval I heard the landlady's daughter sobbing and wailing in the entry; and but for this tender-heartedness there would have been no tears at all. Finally we set forth,--the undertaker, a friend of his, and a young man, perhaps the landlady's son, and myself, in the black-plumed coach, and the landlady, her daughter, and a female friend, in the coach behind. Previous to this, however, everybody had taken some wine or spirits; for it seemed to be considered disrespectful not to do so.
Before us went the plumed hearse, a stately affair, with a bas-relief of funereal figures upon its sides. We proceeded quite across the city to the Necropolis, where the coffin was carried into a chapel, in which we found already another coffin, and another set of mourners, awaiting the clergyman. Anon he appeared,--a stern, broad-framed, large, and bald-headed man, in a black-silk gown. He mounted his desk, and read the service in quite a feeble and unimpressive way, though with no lack of solemnity. This done, our four bearers took up the coffin, and carried it out of the chapel; but, descending the steps, and, perhaps, having taken a little too much brandy, one of them stumbled, and down came the coffin,--not quite to the ground, however; for they grappled with it, and contrived, with a great struggle, to prevent the misadventure. But I really expected to see poor Captain Auld burst forth among us in his grave-clothes.
The Necropolis is quite a handsome burial-place, shut in by high walls, so overrun with shrubbery that no part of the brick or stone is visible. Part of the space within is an ornamental garden, with flowers and green turf; the rest is strewn with flat gravestones, and a few raised monuments; and straight avenues run to and fro between. Captain Auld's grave was dug nine feet deep. It is his own for twelve months; but, if his friends do not choose to give him a stone, it will become a common grave at the end of that time; and four or five more bodies may then be piled upon his. Every one seemed greatly to admire the grave; the undertaker praised it, and also the dryness of its site, which he took credit to himself for having chosen. The grave-digger, too, was very proud of its depth, and the neatness of his handiwork. The clergyman, who had marched in advance of us from the chapel, now took his stand at the head of the grave, and, lifting his hat, proceeded with what remained of the service, while we stood bareheaded around. When he came to a particular part, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," the undertaker lifted a handful of earth, and threw it rattling on the coffin,--so did the landlady's son, and so did I. After the funeral the undertaker's friend, an elderly, coarse-looking man, looked round him, and remarked that "the grass had never grown on the parties who died in the cholera year"; but at this the undertaker laughed in scorn.
As we returned to the gate of the cemetery, the sexton met us, and pointed to a small office, on entering which we found the clergyman, who was waiting for his burial-fees. There was now a dispute between the clergyman and the undertaker; the former wishing to receive the whole amount for the gravestone, which the undertaker, of course, refused to pay. I explained how the matter stood; on which the clergyman acquiesced, civilly enough; but it was very strange to see the worldly, business-like way in which he entered into this squabble, so soon after burying poor Captain Auld.
During our drive back in the mourning-coach, the undertaker, his friend, and the landlady's son still kept descanting on the excellence of the grave,--"Such a fine grave,"--"Such a nice grave,"--"Such a splendid grave,"--and, really, they seemed almost to think it worth while to die, for the sake of being buried there. They deemed it an especial pity that such a grave should ever become a common grave. "Why," said they to me, "by paying the extra price you may have it for your own grave, or for your family!" meaning that we should have a right to pile ourselves over the defunct Captain. I wonder how the English ever attain to any conception of a future existence, since they so overburden themselves with earth and mortality in their ideas of funerals. A drive with an undertaker, in a sable-plumed coach!--talking about graves!--and yet he was a jolly old fellow, wonderfully corpulent, with a smile breaking out easily all over his face,--although, once in a while, he looked professionally lugubrious.
All the time the scent of that horrible mourning-coach is in my nostrils, and I breathe nothing but a funeral atmosphere.
Saturday, August 27th.--This being the gala-day of the
manufacturing people about
It had poured with rain about the time of their arrival,
notwithstanding which they did not seem disheartened; for, of course, in this
climate, it enters into all their calculations to be drenched through and
through. By and by the sun shone out, and it has continued to shine and shade
every ten minutes ever since. All these
people were decently dressed; the men generally in dark clothes, not so smartly
as Americans on a festal day, but so as not to be greatly different as regards
dress. They were paler, smaller, less
wholesome-looking and less intelligent, and, I think, less noisy, than so many
Yankees would have been. The women and
girls differed much more from what American girls and women would be on a
pleasure-excursion, being so shabbily dressed, with no kind of smartness, no
silks, nothing but cotton gowns, I believe, and ill-looking bonnets,--which,
however, was the only part of their attire that they seemed to care about
guarding from the rain. As to their
persons, they generally looked better developed and healthier than the men; but
there was a woful lack of beauty and grace, not a pretty girl among them, all
coarse and vulgar. Their bodies, it
seems to me, are apt to be very long in proportion to their limbs,--in truth,
this kind of make is rather characteristic of both sexes in England. The speech of these folks, in some instances,
was so broad
A WALK TO BEBBINGTON.
Rock Ferry, August 29th.--Yesterday we all took a walk into the country. It was a fine afternoon, with clouds, of course, in different parts of the sky, but a clear atmosphere, bright sunshine, and altogether a Septembrish feeling. The ramble was very pleasant, along the hedge-lined roads in which there were flowers blooming, and the varnished holly, certainly one of the most beautiful shrubs in the world, so far as foliage goes. We saw one cottage which I suppose was several hundred years old. It was of stone, filled into a wooden frame, the black-oak of which was visible like an external skeleton; it had a thatched roof, and was whitewashed. We passed through a village,--higher Bebbington, I believe,--with narrow streets and mean houses all of brick or stone, and not standing wide apart from each other as in American country villages, but conjoined. There was an immense almshouse in the midst; at least, I took it to be so. In the centre of the village, too, we saw a moderate-sized brick house, built in imitation of a castle with a tower and turret, in which an upper and an under row of small cannon were mounted,--now green with moss. There were also battlements along the roof of the house, which looked as if it might have been built eighty or a hundred years ago. In the centre of it there was the dial of a clock, but the inner machinery had been removed, and the hands, hanging listlessly, moved to and fro in the wind. It was quite a novel symbol of decay and neglect. On the wall, close to the street, there were certain eccentric inscriptions cut into slabs of stone, but I could make no sense of them. At the end of the house opposite the turret, we peeped through the bars of an iron gate and beheld a little paved court-yard, and at the farther side of it a small piazza, beneath which seemed to stand the figure of a man. He appeared well advanced in years, and was dressed in a blue coat and buff breeches, with a white or straw hat on his head. Behold, too, in a kennel beside the porch, a large dog sitting on his hind legs, chained! Also, close beside the gateway, another man, seated in a kind of arbor! All these were wooden images; and the whole castellated, small, village-dwelling, with the inscriptions and the queer statuary, was probably the whim of some half-crazy person, who has now, no doubt, been long asleep in Bebbington churchyard.
The bell of the old church was ringing as we went along, and
many respectable-looking people and cleanly dressed children were moving
towards the sound. Soon we reached the
church, and I have seen nothing yet in
It is quite a large edifice, built in the form of a cross, a low peaked porch in the side, over which, rudely cut in stone, is the date 1300 and something. The steeple has ivy on it, and looks old, old, old; so does the whole church, though portions of it have been renewed, but not so as to impair the aspect of heavy, substantial endurance, and long, long decay, which may go on hundreds of years longer before the church is a ruin. There it stands, among the surrounding graves, looking just the same as it did in Bloody Mary's days; just as it did in Cromwell's time. A bird (and perhaps many birds) had its nest in the steeple, and flew in and out of the loopholes that were opened into it. The stone framework of the windows looked particularly old.
There were monuments about the church, some lying flat on
the ground, others elevated on low pillars, or on cross slabs of stone, and
almost all looking dark, moss-grown, and very antique. But on reading some of the inscriptions, I
was surprised to find them very recent; for, in fact, twenty years of this
climate suffices to give as much or more antiquity of aspect, whether to
gravestone or edifice, than a hundred years of our own,--so soon do lichens
creep over the surface, so soon does it blacken, so soon do the edges lose
their sharpness, so soon does Time gnaw away the records. The only really old monuments (and those not
very old) were two, standing close together, and raised on low rude arches, the
dates on which were 1684 and 1686. On
one a cross was rudely cut into the stone. But there may have been hundreds
older than this, the records on which had been quite obliterated, and the
stones removed, and the graves dug over anew.
None of the monuments commemorate people of rank; on only one the buried
person was recorded as "
While we sat on the flat slabs resting ourselves, several little girls, healthy-looking and prettily dressed enough, came into the churchyard, and began to talk and laugh, and to skip merrily from one tombstone to another. They stared very broadly at us, and one of them, by and by, ran up to U. and J., and gave each of them a green apple, then they skipped upon the tombstones again, while, within the church, we heard them singing, sounding pretty much as I have heard it in our pine-built New England meeting-houses. Meantime the rector had detected the voices of these naughty little girls, and perhaps had caught glimpses of them through the windows; for, anon, out came the sexton, and, addressing himself to us, asked whether there had been any noise or disturbance in the churchyard. I should not have borne testimony against these little villagers, but S. was so anxious to exonerate our own children that she pointed out these poor little sinners to the sexton, who forthwith turned them out. He would have done the same to us, no doubt, had my coat been worse than it was; but, as the matter stood, his demeanor was rather apologetic than menacing, when he informed us that the rector had sent him.
We stayed a little longer, looking at the graves, some of which were between the buttresses of the church and quite close to the wall, as if the sleepers anticipated greater comfort and security the nearer they could get to the sacred edifice.
As we went out of the churchyard, we passed the aforesaid little girls, who were sitting behind the mound of a tomb, and busily babbling together. They called after us, expressing their discontent that we had betrayed them to the sexton, and saying that it was not they who made the noise. Going homeward, we went astray in a green lane, that terminated in the midst of a field, without outlet, so that we had to retrace a good many of our footsteps.
Close to the wall of the church, beside the door, there was an ancient baptismal font of stone. In fact, it was a pile of roughly hewn stone steps, five or six feet high, with a block of stone at the summit, in which was a hollow about as big as a wash-bowl. It was full of rainwater.
The church seems to be St. Andrew's Church,
September 1st.--To-day we leave the Rock Ferry Hotel, where
we have spent nearly four weeks. It is a
comfortable place, and we have had a good table and have been kindly
treated. We occupied a large parlor, extending
through the whole breadth of the house, with a bow-window, looking towards
Liverpool, and adown the intervening river, and to
Nevertheless, the parlor-window has given us a pretty good idea of the nautical business of Liverpool; the constant objects being the little black steamers puffing unquietly along, sometimes to our own ferry, sometimes beyond it to Eastham, and sometimes towing a long string of boats from Runcorn or otherwhere up the river, laden with goods, and sometimes gallanting a tall ship in or out. Some of these ships lie for days together in the river, very majestic and stately objects, often with the flag of the stars and stripes waving over them. Now and then, after a gale at sea, a vessel comes in with her masts broken short off in the midst, and with marks of rough handling about the hull. Once a week comes a Cunard steamer, with its red funnel pipe whitened by the salt spray; and, firing off cannon to announce her arrival, she moors to a large iron buoy in the middle of the river, and a few hundred yards from the stone pier of our ferry. Immediately comes poring towards her a little mail-steamer, to take away her mail-bags and such of the passengers as choose to land; and for several hours afterwards the Cunard lies with the smoke and steam coming out of her, as if she were smoking her pipe after her toilsome passage across the Atlantic. Once a fortnight comes an American steamer of the Collins line; and then the Cunard salutes her with cannon, to which the Collins responds, and moors herself to another iron buoy, not far from the Cunard. When they go to sea, it is with similar salutes; the two vessels paying each other the more ceremonious respect, because they are inimical and jealous of each other.
Besides these, there are other steamers of all sorts and sizes, for pleasure-excursions, for regular trips to Dublin, the Isle of Man, and elsewhither; and vessels which are stationary, as floating lights, but which seem to relieve one another at intervals; and small vessels, with sails looking as if made of tanned leather; and schooners, and yachts, and all manner of odd-looking craft, but none so odd as the Chinese junk. This junk lies by our own pier, and looks as if it were copied from some picture on an old teacup. Beyond all these objects we see the other side of the Mersey, with the delectably green fields opposite to us, while the shore becomes more and more thickly populated, until about two miles off we see the dense centre of the city, with the dome of the Custom House, and steeples and towers; and, close to the water, the spire of St. Nicholas; and above, and intermingled with the whole city scene, the duskiness of the coal-smoke gushing upward. Along the bank we perceive the warehouses of the Albert dock, and the Queen's tobacco warehouses, and other docks, and, nigher, to us, a shipyard or two. In the evening all this sombre picture gradually darkens out of sight, and in its place appear only the lights of the city, kindling into a galaxy of earthly stars, for a long distance, up and down the shore; and, in one or two spots, the bright red gleam of a furnace, like the "red planet Mars"; and once in a while a bright, wandering beam gliding along the river, as a steamer cones or goes between us and Liverpool.
September 2d.--We got into our new house in
The house is respectably, though not very elegantly, furnished. It was a dismal, rainy day yesterday, and we had a coal-fire in the sitting-room, beside which I sat last evening as twilight came on, and thought, rather sadly, how many times we have changed our home since we were married. In the first place, our three years at the Old Manse; then a brief residence at Salem, then at Boston, then two or three years at Salem again; then at Lenox, then at West Newton, and then again at Concord, where we imagined that we were fixed for life, but spent only a year. Then this farther flight to England, where we expect to spend four years, and afterwards another year or two in Italy, during all which time we shall have no real home. For, as I sat in this English house, with the chill, rainy English twilight brooding over the lawn, and a coal-fire to keep me comfortable on the first evening of September, and the picture of a stranger--the dead husband of Mrs. Campbell--gazing down at me from above the mantel-piece,--I felt that I never should be quite at home here. Nevertheless, the fire was very comfortable to look at, and the shape of the fireplace--an arch, with a deep cavity--was an improvement on the square, shallow opening of an American coal-grate.
September 7th.--It appears by the annals of Liverpool, contained in Gore's Directory, that in 1076 there was a baronial castle built by Roger de Poictiers on the site of the present St. George's Church. It was taken down in 1721. The church now stands at one of the busiest points of the principal street of the city. The old Church of St. Nicholas, founded about the time of the Conquest, and more recently rebuilt, stood within a quarter of a mile of the castle.
In 1150, Birkenhead Priory was founded on the
In 1252 a tower was built by Sir John Stanley, which
continued to be a castle of defence to the
There appear to have been other baronial castles and
residences in different parts of the city, as a hall in old
About 1582, Edward, Earl of Derby, maintained two hundred and fifty citizens of Liverpool, fed sixty aged persons twice a day, and provided twenty-seven hundred persons with meat, drink, and money every Good Friday.
In 1669 the Mayor of Liverpool kept an inn.
In 1730 there was only one carriage in town, and no
stage-coach came nearer than
In 1734 the Earl of Derby gave a great entertainment in the tower.
In 1737 the Mayor was George Norton, a saddler, who frequently took, the chair with his leather apron on. His immediate predecessor seems to have been the Earl of Derby, who gave the above-mentioned entertainment during his mayoralty. Where George's Dock now is, there used to be a battery of fourteen eighteen-pounders for the defence of the town, and the old sport of bull-baiting was carried on in that vicinity, close to the Church of St. Nicholas.
September 12th.--On Saturday a young man was found wandering
about in West Derby, a suburb of Liverpool, in a state of insanity, and, being
taken before a magistrate, he proved to be an American. As he seemed to be in a respectable station
of life, the magistrate sent the master of the workhouse to me, in order to
find out whether I would take the responsibility of his expenses, rather than
have him put in the workhouse. My clerk
went to investigate the matter, and brought me his papers. His name proves to be ---- ------, belonging
to ------, twenty-five years of age. One
of the papers was a passport from our legation in Naples; likewise there was a
power of attorney from his mother (who seems to have been married a second
time) to dispose of some property of hers abroad; a hotel bill, also, of some
length, in which were various charges for wine; and, among other evidences of
low funds, a pawnbroker's receipt for a watch, which he had pledged at five
pounds. There was also a ticket for his passage to
I decided to put him into the insane hospital, where he now accordingly is, and to-morrow (by which time he may be in a more conversable mood) I mean to pay him a visit.
The clerk tells me that there is now, and has been for three
years, an American lady in the
September 14th.--It appears that Mr. ------ (the insane young gentleman) being unable to pay his bill at the inn where he was latterly staying, the landlord had taken possession of his luggage, and satisfied himself in that way. My clerk, at my request, has taken his watch out of pawn. It proves to be not a very good one, though doubtless worth more than five pounds, for which it was pledged. The Governor of the Lunatic Asylum wrote me yesterday, stating that the patient was in want of a change of clothes, and that, according to his own account, he had left his luggage at the American Hotel. After office-hours, I took a cab, and set out with my clerk, to pay a visit to the Asylum, taking the American Hotel in our way.
The American Hotel is a small house, not at all such a one as American travellers of any pretension would think of stopping at, but still very respectable, cleanly, and with a neat sitting-room, where the guests might assemble, after the American fashion. We asked for the landlady, and anon down she came, a round, rosy, comfortable-looking English dame of fifty or thereabouts. On being asked whether she knew a Mr. ------, she readily responded that he had been there, but, had left no luggage, having taken it away before paying his bill; and that she had suspected him of meaning to take his departure without paying her at all. Hereupon she had traced him to the hotel before mentioned, where she had found that he had stayed two nights,--but was then, I think, gone from thence. Afterwards she encountered him again, and, demanding her due, went with him to a pawnbroker's, where he pledged his watch and paid her. This was about the extent of the landlady's knowledge of the matter. I liked the woman very well, with her shrewd, good-humored, worldly, kindly disposition.
Then we proceeded to the Lunatic Asylum, to which we were admitted by a porter at the gate. Within doors we found some neat and comely servant-women, one of whom showed us into a handsome parlor, and took my card to the Governor. There was a large bookcase, with a glass front, containing handsomely bound books, many of which, I observed, were of a religious character. In a few minutes the Governor came in, a middle-aged man, tall, and thin for an Englishman, kindly and agreeable enough in aspect, but not with the marked look of a man of force and ability. I should not judge from his conversation that he was an educated man, or that he had any scientific acquaintance with the subject of insanity.
He said that Mr. ------ was still quite incommunicative, and not in a very promising state; that I had perhaps better defer seeing him for a few days; that it would not be safe, at present, to send him home to America without an attendant, and this was about all. But on returning home I learned from my wife, who had had a call from Mrs. Blodgett, that Mrs. Blodgett knew Mr. ------ and his mother, who has recently been remarried to a young husband, and is now somewhere in Italy. They seemed to have boarded at Mrs. Blodgett's house on their way to the Continent, and within a week or two, an acquaintance and pastor of Mr. ------, the Rev. Dr. ------, has sailed for America. If I could only have caught him, I could have transferred the care, expense, and responsibility of the patient to him. The Governor of the Asylum mentioned, by the way, that Mr. ------ describes himself as having been formerly a midshipman in the navy.
I walked through the St. James's cemetery yesterday. It is a very pretty place, dug out of the rock, having formerly, I believe, been a stone-quarry. It is now a deep and spacious valley, with graves and monuments on its level and grassy floor, through which run gravel-paths, and where grows luxuriant shrubbery. On one of the steep sides of the valley, hewn out of the rock, are tombs, rising in tiers, to the height of fifty feet or more; some of them cut directly into the rock with arched portals, and others built with stone. On the other side the bank is of earth, and rises abruptly, quite covered with trees, and looking very pleasant with their green shades. It was a warm and sunny day, and the cemetery really had a most agreeable aspect. I saw several gravestones of Americans; but what struck me most was one line of an epitaph on an English woman, "Here rests in peace a virtuous wife." The statue of Huskisson stands in the midst of the valley, in a kind of mausoleum, with a door of plate-glass, through which you look at the dead statesman's effigy.
September 22d.--. . . . Some days ago an American captain
came to the office, and said he had shot one of his men, shortly after sailing
I did not much like the captain from the first,--a hard,
rough man, with little education, and nothing of the gentleman about him, a red
face and a loud voice. He seemed a good
deal excited, and talked fast and much about the event, but yet not as if it
had sunk deeply into him. He observed
that he "would not have had it happen for a thousand dollars," that
being the amount of detriment which he conceives himself to suffer by the
ineffaceable blood-stain on his hand. In
my opinion it is little short of murder, if at all; but what would be murder on
shore is almost a natural occurrence when done in such a hell on earth as one
of these ships, in the first hours of the voyage. The men are then all drunk,--some of them
often in delirium tremens; and the captain feels no safety for his life except
in making himself as terrible as a fiend.
It is the universal testimony that there is a worse set of sailors in
these short voyages between Liverpool and
There is no probability that the captain will ever be called to account for this deed. He gave, at the time, his own version of the affair in his log-book; and this was signed by the entire crew, with the exception of one man, who had hidden himself in the hold in terror of the captain. His mates will sustain his side of the question; and none of the sailors would be within reach of the American courts, even should they be sought for.
October 1st.--On Thursday I went with Mr. Ticknor to
The most utterly indescribable feature of
A large proportion of the edifices in the Rows must be comparatively modern; but there are some very ancient ones, with oaken frames visible on the exterior. The Row, passing through these houses, is railed with oak, so old that it has turned black, and grown to be as hard as stone, which it might be mistaken for, if one did not see where names and initials have been cut into it with knives at some bygone period. Overhead, cross-beams project through the ceiling so low as almost to hit the head. On the front of one of these buildings was the inscription, "GOD'S PROVIDENCE IS MINE INHERITANCE," said to have been put there by the occupant of the house two hundred years ago, when the plague spared this one house only in the whole city. Not improbably the inscription has operated as a safeguard to prevent the demolition of the house hitherto; but a shopman of an adjacent dwelling told us that it was soon to be taken down.
Here and there, about some of the streets through which the
Rows do not run, we saw houses of very aged aspect, with steep, peaked
gables. The front gable-end was
supported on stone pillars, and the sidewalk passed beneath. Most of these old houses seemed to be
taverns,--the Black Bear, the Green Dragon, and such names. We thought of dining at one of them, but, on
inspection, they looked rather too dingy and close, and of questionable
neatness. So we went to the Royal Hotel,
where we probably fared just as badly at much more expense, and where there was
a particularly gruff and crabbed old waiter, who, I suppose, thought himself
free to display his surliness because we arrived at the hotel on foot. For my part, I love to see John Bull show
himself. I must go again and again and
Mr. Ticknor, who has been staying at
October 3d.--Saturday evening, at six, I went to dine with
Mr. Aiken, a wealthy merchant here, to meet two of the sons of Burns. There was a party of ten or twelve, Mr. Aiken
and his two daughters included. The two
sons of Burns have both been in the Indian army, and have attained the ranks of
Colonel and Major; one having spent thirty, and the other twenty-seven years in
The members of this dinner-party were of the more liberal
tone of thinking here in
October 8th.--Coning to my office, two or three mornings
ago, I found Mrs. ------, the mother of Mr. ------, the insane young man of
whom I had taken charge. She is a lady of fifty or thereabouts, and not very
remarkable anyway, nor particularly lady-like.
However, she was just come off a rapid journey, having travelled from
After I had told her all I knew about him, including my personal observations at a visit a week or two since, we drove in a cab to the Asylum. It must have been a dismal moment to the poor lady, as we entered the gateway through a tall, prison-like wall. Being ushered into the parlor, the Governor soon appeared, and informed us that Mr. ------had had a relapse within a few days, and was not now so well as when I saw him. He complains of unjust confinement, and seems to consider himself, if I rightly understand, under persecution for political reasons. The Governor, however, proposed to call him down, and I took my leave, feeling that it would be indelicate to be present at his first interview with his mother. So here ended my guardianship of the poor young fellow.
In the afternoon I called at the Waterloo Hotel, where Mrs.
------ was staying, and found her in the coffee-room with the children. She had determined to take a
lodging in the vicinity of the Asylum, and was going to remove thither
as soon as the children had had something to eat. They seemed to be pleasant and well-behaved
children, and impressed me more favorably than the mother, whom I suspect to be
rather a foolish woman, although her present grief makes her appear in a more
respectable light than at other times.
She seemed anxious to impress me with the respectability and distinction
of her connections in
This was day before yesterday, and I have heard nothing of
her since. The same day I had applications for assistance in two other domestic
affairs; one from an Irishman, naturalized in America, who wished me to get him
a passage thither, and to take charge of his wife and family here, at my own
private expense, until he could remit funds to carry them across. Another was from an Irishman, who had a power
of attorney from a countrywoman of his in
It is easy enough to refuse money to strangers and unknown people, or whenever there may be any question about identity; but it will not be so easy when I am asked for money by persons whom I know, but do not like to trust. They shall meet the eternal "No," however.
October 13th.--In Ormerod's history of Chester it is
mentioned that Randal, Earl of Chester, having made an inroad into Wales about
1225, the Welshmen gathered in mass against him, and drove him into the castle
of Nothelert in Flintshire. The Earl
sent for succor to the Constable of
Another account says Ralph Dutton was the constable's son-in-law, and "a lusty youth."
October 19th.--Coming to the ferry this morning a few minutes before the boat arrived from town, I went into the ferry-house, a small stone edifice, and found there an Irishman, his wife and three children, the oldest eight or nine years old, and all girls. There was a good fire burning in the room, and the family was clustered round it, apparently enjoying the warmth very much; but when I went in both husband and wife very hospitably asked me to come to the fire, although there was not more than room at it for their own party. I declined on the plea that I was warm enough, and then the woman said that they were very cold, having been long on the road. The man was gray-haired and gray-bearded, clad in an old drab overcoat, and laden with a huge bag, which seemed to contain bedclothing or something of the kind. The woman was pale, with a thin, anxious, wrinkled face, but with a good and kind expression. The children were quite pretty, with delicate faces, and a look of patience and endurance in them, but yet as if they had suffered as little as they possibly could. The two elder were cuddled up close to the father, the youngest, about four years old, sat in its mother's lap, and she had taken off its small shoes and stockings, and was warming its feet at the fire. Their little voices had a sweet and kindly sound as they talked in low tones to their parents and one another. They all looked very shabby, and yet had a decency about them; and it was touching to see how they made themselves at home at this casual fireside, and got all the comfort they could out of the circumstances. By and by two or three market-women came in and looked pleasantly at them, and said a word or two to the children.
They did not beg of me, as I supposed they would; but after
looking at them awhile, I pulled out a piece of silver, and handed it to one of
the little girls. She took it very
readily, as if she partly expected it, and then the father and mother thanked
me, and said they had been travelling a long distance, and had nothing to subsist
upon, except what they picked up on the road.
They found it impossible to live in
I have had a good many visitors at the Consulate from the United States within a short time,--among others, Mr. D. D. Barnard, our late minister to Berlin, returning homeward to-day by the Arctic; and Mr. Sickles, Secretary of Legation to London, a fine-looking, intelligent, gentlemanly young man. . . . . With him came Judge Douglas, the chosen man of Young America. He is very short, extremely short, but has an uncommonly good head, and uncommon dignity without seeming to aim at it, being free and simple in manners. I judge him to be a very able man, with the Western sociability and free-fellowship. Generally I see no reason to be ashamed of my countrymen who come out here in public position, or otherwise assuming the rank of gentlemen.
October 20th.--One sees incidents in the streets here,
occasionally, which could not be seen in an American city. For instance, a week or two since, I was
passing a quiet-looking, elderly gentleman, when, all of a sudden, without any
apparent provocation, he uplifted his stick, and struck a black-gowned boy a
smart blow on the shoulders. The boy
looked at him wofully and resentfully, but said nothing, nor can I imagine why
the thing was done. In
October 22d.--At a dinner-party at Mr. Holland's last evening, a gentleman, in instance of Charles Dickens's unweariability, said that during some theatrical performances in Liverpool he acted in play and farce, spent the rest of the night making speeches, feasting, and drinking at table, and ended at seven o'clock in the morning by jumping leap-frog over the backs of the whole company.
Wishing to send a letter to a dead man, who may be supposed to have gone to Tophet,--throw it into the fire.
Sir Arthur Aston had his brains beaten out with his own
wooden leg, at the storming of Tredagh in
The family of Mainwaring (pronounced Mannering), of Bromborough, had an ass's head for a crest.
"Richard Dawson, being sick of the plague, and
perceiving he must die, rose out of his bed and made his grave, and caused his
nephew to cast straw into the grave, which was not far from the house, and went
and laid him down in the said grave, and caused clothes to be laid upon him,
and so departed out of this world. This
he did because he was a strong man, and heavier than his said nephew and a
serving-wench were able to bury. He died about the 24th of August. Thus was I credibly told he did, 1625." This was
At Bickley Hall, taken down a few years ago, used to be shown the room where the body of the Earl of Leicester was laid for a whole twelvemonth,--1659 to 1660,--he having been kept unburied all that time, owing to a dispute which of his heirs should pay his funeral expenses.
November 5th.--We all, together with Mr. Squarey, went to
I passed, to-day, a man chanting a ballad in the street
about a recent murder, in a voice that had innumerable cracks in it, and was
most lugubrious. The other day I saw a
man who was reading in a loud voice what seemed to be an account of the late
riots and loss of life in
November 14th.--There is a heavy dun fog on the river and over the city to-day, the very gloomiest atmosphere that ever I was acquainted with. On the river the steamboats strike gongs or ring bells to give warning of their approach. There are lamps burning in the counting-rooms and lobbies of the warehouses, and they gleam distinctly through the windows.
The other day, at the entrance of the market-house, I saw a woman sitting in a small hand-wagon, apparently for the purpose of receiving alms. There was no attendant at hand; but I noticed that one or two persons who passed by seemed to inquire whether she wished her wagon to be moved. Perhaps this is her mode of making progress about the city, by the voluntary aid of boys and other people who help to drag her. There is something in this--I don't yet well know what--that has impressed me, as if I could make a romance out of the idea of a woman living in this manner a public life, and moving about by such means.
November 29th.--Mr. H. A. B. told me of his friend Mr.
------ (who was formerly attache to the British Legation at
In a garden near
December 1st.--It is curious to observe how many methods people put in practice here to pick up a halfpenny. Yesterday I saw a man standing bareheaded and barelegged in the mud and misty weather, playing on a fife, in hopes to get a circle of auditors. Nobody, however, seemed to take any notice. Very often a whole band of musicians will strike up,--passing a hat round after playing a tune or two. On board the ferry, until the coldest weather began, there were always some wretched musicians, with an old fiddle, an old clarinet, and an old verdigrised brass bugle, performing during the passage, and, as the boat neared the shore, sending round one of their number to gather contributions in the hollow of the brass bugle. They were a very shabby set, and must have made a very scanty living at best. Sometimes it was a boy with an accordion, and his sister, a smart little girl, with a timbrel,--which, being so shattered that she could not play on it, she used only to collect halfpence in. Ballad-singers, or rather chanters or croakers, are often to be met with in the streets, but hand-organ players are not more frequent than in our cities.
I still observe little girls and other children barelegged and barefooted on the wet sidewalks. There certainly never was anything so dismal as the November weather has been; never any real sunshine; almost always a mist; sometimes a dense fog, like slightly rarefied wool, pervading the atmosphere.
An epitaph on a person buried on a hillside in Cheshire, together with some others, supposed to have died of the plague, and therefore not admitted into the churchyards:--
"Think it not strange our bones ly here,
Thine may ly thou knowst not where."
These graves were near the remains of two rude stone crosses, the purpose of which was not certainly known, although they were supposed to be boundary marks. Probably, as the plague-corpses were debarred from sanctified ground, the vicinity of these crosses was chosen as having a sort of sanctity.
"Bang beggar,"--an old
December 2d.--Yesterday, a chill, misty December day, yet I saw a woman barefooted in the street, not to speak of children.
Cold and uncertain as the weather is, there is still a great deal of small trade carried on in the open air. Women and men sit in the streets with a stock of combs and such small things to sell, the women knitting as if they sat by a fireside. Cheap crockery is laid out in the street, so far out that without any great deviation from the regular carriage-track a wheel might pass straight through it. Stalls of apples are innumerable, but the apples are not fit for a pig. In some streets herrings are very abundant, laid out on boards. Coals seem to be for sale by the wheelbarrowful. Here and there you see children with some small article for sale,--as, for instance, a girl with two linen caps. A somewhat overladen cart of coal was passing along and some small quantity of the coal fell off; no sooner had the wheels passed than several women and children gathered to the spot, like hens and chickens round a handful of corn, and picked it up in their aprons. We have nothing similar to these street-women in our country.
December 10th.--I don't know any place that brings all classes into contiguity on equal ground so completely as the waiting-room at Rock Ferry on these frosty days. The room is not more than eight feet, square, with walls of stone, and wooden benches ranged round them, and an open stove in one corner, generally well furnished with coal. It is almost always crowded, and I rather suspect that many persons who have no fireside elsewhere creep in here and spend the most comfortable part of their day.
This morning, when I looked into the room, there were one or two gentlemen and other respectable persons; but in the best place, close to the fire, and crouching almost into it, was an elderly beggar, with the raggedest of overcoats, two great rents in the shoulders of it disclosing the dingy lining, all bepatched with various stuff covered with dirt, and on his shoes and trousers the mud of an interminable pilgrimage. Owing to the posture in which he sat, I could not see his face, but only the battered crown and rim of the very shabbiest hat that ever was worn. Regardless of the presence of women (which, indeed, Englishmen seldom do regard when they wish to smoke), he was smoking a pipe of vile tobacco; but, after all, this was fortunate, because the man himself was not personally fragrant. He was terribly squalid,--terribly; and when I had a glimpse of his face, it well befitted the rest of his development,--grizzled, wrinkled, weather-beaten, yet sallow, and down-looking, with a watchful kind of eye turning upon everybody and everything, meeting the glances of other people rather boldly, yet soon shrinking away; a long thin nose, a gray beard of a week's growth; hair not much mixed with gray, but rusty and lifeless;--a miserable object; but it was curious to see how he was not ashamed of himself, but seemed to feel that he was one of the estates of the kingdom, and had as much right to live as other men. He did just as he pleased, took the best place by the fire, nor would have cared though a nobleman were forced to stand aside for him. When the steamer's bell rang, he shouldered a large and heavy pack, like a pilgrim with his burden of sin, but certainly journeying to hell instead of heaven. On board he looked round for the best position, at first stationing himself near the boiler-pipe; but, finding the deck damp underfoot, he went to the cabin-door, and took his stand on the stairs, protected from the wind, but very incommodiously placed for those who wished to pass. All this was done without any bravado or forced impudence, but in the most quiet way, merely because he was seeking his own comfort, and considered that he had a right to seek it. It was an Englishman's spirit; but in our country, I imagine, a beggar considers himself a kind of outlaw, and would hardly assume the privileges of a man in any place of public resort. Here beggary is a system, and beggars are a numerous class, and make themselves, in a certain way, respected as such. Nobody evinced the slightest disapprobation of the man's proceedings. In America, I think, we should see many aristocratic airs on such provocation, and probably the ferry people would there have rudely thrust the beggar aside; giving him a shilling, however, which no Englishman would ever think of doing. There would also have been a great deal of fun made of his squalid and ragged figure; whereas nobody smiled at him this morning, nor in any way showed the slightest disrespect. This is good; but it is the result of a state of things by no means good. For many days there has been a great deal of fog on the river, and the boats have groped their way along, continually striking their bells, while, on all sides, there are responses of bell and gong; and the vessels at anchor look shadow-like as we glide past them, and the master of one steamer shouts a warning to the master of another which he meets. The Englishmen, who hate to run any risk without an equivalent object, show a good deal of caution and timidity on these foggy days.
December 13th.--Chill, frosty weather; such an atmosphere as
forebodes snow in
At the ferry-room, this morning, was a small, thin, anxious-looking woman, with a bundle, seeming in rather poor circumstances, but decently dressed, and eying other women, I thought, with an expression of slight ill-will and distrust; also, an elderly, stout, gray-haired woman, of respectable aspect, and two young lady-like persons, quite pretty, one of whom was reading a shilling volume of James's "Arabella Stuart." They talked to one another with that up-and-down intonation which English ladies practise, and which strikes an unaccustomed ear as rather affected, especially in women of size and mass. It is very different from an American lady's mode of talking: there is the difference between color and no color; the tone variegates it. One of these young ladies spoke to me, making some remark about the weather,--the first instance I have met with of a gentlewoman's speaking to an unintroduced gentleman. Besides these, a middle-aged man of the lower class, and also a gentleman's out-door servant, clad in a drab great-coat, corduroy breeches, and drab cloth gaiters buttoned from the knee to the ankle. He complained to the other man of the cold weather; said that a glass of whiskey, every half-hour, would keep a man comfortable; and, accidentally hitting his coarse foot against one of the young lady's feet, said, "Beg pardon, ma'am,"--which she acknowledged with a slight movement of the head. Somehow or other, different classes seem to encounter one another in an easier manner than with us; the shock is less palpable. I suppose the reason is that the distinctions are real, and therefore need not be continually asserted.
Nervous and excitable persons need to talk a great deal, by way of letting off their steam.
On board the Rock Ferry steamer, a gentleman coming into the cabin, a voice addresses him from a dark corner, "How do you do, sir?"--"Speak again!" says the gentleman. No answer from the dark corner; and the gentleman repeats, "Speak again!" The speaker now comes out of the dark corner, and sits down in a place where he can be seen. "Ah!" cries the gentleman, "very well, I thank you. How do you do? I did not recognize your voice." Observable, the English caution, shown in the gentleman's not vouchsafing to say, "Very well, thank you!" till he knew his man.
What was the after life of the young man, whom Jesus, looking on, "loved," and bade him sell all that he had, and give to the poor, and take up his cross and follow him? Something very deep and beautiful might be made out of this.
December 31st.--Among the beggars of
January 3d, 1854.--Night before last there was a fall of
snow, about three or four inches, and, following it, a pretty hard frost. On the river, the vessels at anchor showed
the snow along their yards, and on every ledge where it could lie. A blue sky and sunshine overhead, and
apparently a clear atmosphere close at hand; but in the distance a mistiness became perceptible, obscuring the shores of the
river, and making the vessels look dim and uncertain. The steamers were ploughing along, smoking
their pipes through the frosty air. On
the landing stage and in the streets, hard-trodden snow, looking more like my
New England Home than anything I have yet seen.
Last night the thermometer fell as low as 13
degrees, nor probably is it above 20 degrees to-day. No such frost has been known in
January 6th.--I saw, yesterday, stopping at a
cabinet-maker's shop in
Every Englishman runs to "The Times" with his little grievance, as a child runs to his mother.
I was sent for to the police court the other morning, in the
case of an American sailor accused of robbing a shipmate at sea. A large room, with a great
coal-fire burning on one side, and above it the portrait of Mr. Rushton,
deceased, a magistrate of many years' continuance. A long table, with chairs,
and a witness-box. One of the
borough magistrates, a merchant of the city, sat at the head of the table, with
paper and pen and ink before him; but the real judge was the clerk of the
court, whose professional knowledge and experience governed all the
proceedings. In the short time while I
was waiting, two cases were tried, in the first of which the prisoner was
discharged. The second case was of a woman,--a
thin, sallow, hard-looking, careworn, rather young woman,--for stealing a pair
of slippers out of a shop: The trial occupied five minutes or less, and she was
sentenced to twenty-one days' imprisonment,--whereupon, without speaking, she
looked up wildly first into one policeman's face, then into another's, at the
same time wringing her hands with no theatric gesture, but because her torment
took this outward shape,--and was led away.
The Yankee sailor was then brought up,--an intelligent, but ruffian-like
fellow,--and as the case was out of the jurisdiction of the English magistrates,
and as it was not worth while to get him sent over to
If mankind were all intellect, they would be continually changing, so that one age would be entirely unlike another. The great conservative is the heart, which remains the same in all ages; so that commonplaces of a thousand years' standing are as effective as ever.
Monday, February 20th.--At the police court on Saturday, I
attended the case of the second mate and four seamen of the John and Albert,
for assaulting, beating, and stabbing the chief mate. The chief mate has been in the hospital ever
since the assault, and was brought into the court to-day to give evidence,--a
man of thirty, black hair, black eyes, a dark complexion, disagreeable
expression; sallow, emaciated, feeble, apparently in pain, one arm
disabled. He sat bent and drawn upward,
and had evidently been severely hurt, and was not yet fit to be out of bed. He
had some brandy-and-water to enable him to sustain himself. He gave his evidence very clearly,
beginning (sailor-like) with telling in what quarter the wind was at the time
of the assault, and which sail was taken in.
His testimony bore on one man only, at whom he cast a vindictive look;
but I think he told the truth as far as he knew and remembered it. Of the
prisoners the second mate was a mere youth, with long sandy hair, and an
intelligent and not unprepossessing face, dressed as neatly as a three or four
weeks' captive, with small, or no means, could well allow, in a frock-coat, and
with clean linen,--the only linen or cotton shirt in the company. The other four were rude, brutish sailors, in
flannel or red-baize shirts. Three of
them appeared to give themselves little concern; but the fourth, a red-haired
and red-bearded man,--Paraman, by name,--evidently felt the pressure of the
case upon himself. He was the one whom
the mate swore to have given him the first blow; and there was other evidence
of his having been stabbed with a knife.
The captain of the ship, the pilot, the cook, and the steward, all gave
their evidence; and the general bearing of it was, that the chief mate had a
devilish temper, and had misused the second mate and crew,--that the four
seamen had attacked him, and that Paraman had stabbed him; while all but the
steward concurred in saying that the second mate had taken no part in the
affray. The steward, however, swore to
having seen him strike the chief mate with a wooden marlinspike, which was
broken by the blow. The magistrate
dismissed all but Paraman, whom I am to send to
Yesterday I took a walk with my wife and two children to
The grass along the wayside was green, with a few daisies. There was green holly in the hedges, and we passed through a wood, up some of the tree-trunks of which ran clustering ivy.
February 23d.--There came to see me the other day a young
gentleman with a mustache and a blue cloak, who announced himself as William
Allingham, and handed me a copy of his poems, a thin volume, with paper covers,
published by Routledge. I thought I
remembered hearing his name, but had never seen any of his works. His face was intelligent, dark, pleasing, and
not at all John-Bullish. He said that he
had been employed in the Customs in
Yesterday I saw a British regiment march down to George's
Pier, to embark in the Niagara for
February 27th.--We walked to Woodside in the pleasant
forenoon, and thence crossed to
At a dinner at Mr. Bramley Moore's a little while ago, we had a prairie-hen from the West of America. It was a very delicate bird, and a gentleman carved it most skilfully to a dozen guests, and had still a second slice to offer to them.
Aboard the ferry-boat yesterday, there was a laboring man
eating oysters. He took them one by one from his
pocket in interminable succession, opened them with his jack-knife, swallowed
each one, threw the shell overboard, and then sought for another. Having concluded his meal, he took out a clay
tobacco-pipe, filled it, lighted it with a match, and smoked it,--all this,
while the other passengers were looking at him, and with a perfect coolness and
independence, such as no single man can ever feel in
A French military man, a veteran of all Napoleon's wars, is now living, with a false leg and arm, both movable by springs, false teeth, a false eye, a silver nose with a flesh-colored covering, and a silver plate replacing part of the skull. He has the cross of the Legion of Honor.
March 18th.--On Saturday I went with Mr. B---- to the
Dingle, a pleasant domain on the banks of the
Yesterday I walked with my wife and children to the brow of
a hill, overlooking Birkenhead and Tranmere, and commanding a fine view of the
The old-fashioned flowers in the gardens of
March 16th.--Yesterday, at the coroner's court, attending the inquest on a black sailor who died on board an American vessel, after her arrival at this port. The court-room is capable of accommodating perhaps fifty people, dingy, with a pyramidal skylight above, and a single window on one side, opening into a gloomy back court. A private room, also lighted with a pyramidal skylight, is behind the court-room, into which I was asked, and found the coroner, a gray-headed, grave, intelligent, broad, red-faced man, with an air of some authority, well mannered and dignified, but not exactly a gentleman,--dressed in a blue coat, with a black cravat, showing a shirt-collar above it. Considering how many and what a variety of cases of the ugliest death are constantly coming before him, he was much more cheerful than could be expected, and had a kind of formality and orderliness which I suppose balances the exceptionalities with which he has to deal. In the private room with him was likewise the surgeon, who professionally attends the court. We chatted about suicide and such matters,--the surgeon, the coroner, and I,--until the American case was ready, when we adjourned to the court-room, and the coroner began the examination. The American captain was a rude, uncouth Down-Easter, about thirty years old, and sat on a bench, doubled and bent into an indescribable attitude, out of which he occasionally straightened himself, all the time toying with a ruler, or some such article. The case was one of no interest; the man had been frost-bitten, and died from natural causes, so that no censure was deserved or passed upon the captain. The jury, who had been examining the body, were at first inclined to think that the man had not been frostbitten, but that his feet had been immersed in boiling water; but, on explanation by the surgeon, readily yielded their opinion, and gave the verdict which the coroner put into their mouths, exculpating the captain from all blame. In fact, it is utterly impossible that a jury of chance individuals should not be entirely governed by the judgment of so experienced and weighty a man as the coroner. In the court-room were two or three police officers in uniform, and some other officials, a very few idle spectators, and a few witnesses waiting to be examined. And while the case was going forward, a poor-looking woman came in, and I heard her, in an undertone, telling an attendant of a death that had just occurred. The attendant received the communication in a very quiet and matter-of-course way, said that it should be attended to, and the woman retired.
THE DIARY OF A CORONER would be a work likely to meet with
large popular acceptance. A dark
passageway, only a few yards in extent, leads from the liveliest street in
"His lines are cast in pleasant places,"--applied to a successful angler.
A woman's chastity consists, like an onion, of a series of coats. You may strip off the outer ones without doing much mischief, perhaps none at all; but you keep taking off one after another, in expectation of coming to the inner nucleus, including the whole value of the matter. It proves however, that there is no such nucleus, and that chastity is diffused through the whole series of coats, is lessened with the removal of each, and vanishes with the final one, which you supposed would introduce you to the hidden pearl.
March 23d.--Mr. B. and I took a cab Saturday afternoon, and
drove out of the city in the direction of Knowsley. On our way we saw many gentlemen's or rich
people's places, some of them dignified with the title of Halls,--with lodges at their gates, and standing considerably
removed from the road. The greater part
of them were built of brick,--a material with which I have not been accustomed
to associate ideas of grandeur; but it was much in use here in Lancashire, in
the Elizabethan age,--more, I think, than now.
These suburban residences, however, are of much later date than
His house is in very nice order. He had a good many pictures, and, amongst them, a small portrait of his mother, painted by Sir Thomas
Sir Thomas Birch proposed to go with us and get us
The gate-warden of
In one part of the Park we came to a small tower, for what
purpose I know not, unless as an observatory; and near it was a marble statue
on a high pedestal. The statue had been
long exposed to the weather, and was overgrown and ingrained with moss and
lichens, so that its classic beauty was in some sort gothicized. A half-mile or so from this point, we saw the
We left the Park in another direction, and passed through a part of Lord Sefton's property, by a private road.
By the by, we saw half a dozen policemen, in their blue
coats and embroidered collars, after entering Knowsley Park; but the Earl's own
servants would probably have supplied their place, had the family been at
The rooks were talking together very loquaciously in the high tops of the trees near Sir Thomas Birch's house, it being now their building-time. It was a very pleasant sound, the noise being comfortably softened by the remote height. Sir Thomas said that more than half a century ago the rooks used to inhabit another grove of lofty trees, close in front of the house; but being noisy, and not altogether cleanly in their habits, the ladies of the family grew weary of them and wished to remove them. Accordingly, the colony was driven away, and made their present settlement in a grove behind the house. Ever since that time not a rook has built in the ancient grove; every year, however, one or another pair of young rooks attempt to build among the deserted tree-tops, but the old rooks tear the new nest to pieces as often as it is put together. Thus, either the memory of aged individual rooks or an authenticated tradition in their society has preserved the idea that the old grove is forbidden and inauspicious to them.
A soil of General Arnold, named William Fitch Arnold, and
born in 1794, now possesses the estate of Little Messenden Abbey,
April 3d.--I walked with J-----, two days ago, to Eastham, a
village on the road to Chester, and five or six miles from Rock Ferry. On our way we passed through a village, in
the centre of which was a small stone pillar, standing on a pedestal of several
steps, on which children were sitting and playing. I take it to have been an old
Catholic cross; at least, I know not what else it is. It seemed very ancient. Eastham is the finest old English village I
have seen, with many antique houses, and with altogether a rural and
picturesque aspect, unlike anything in
After passing through the churchyard, we saw the village inn
on the other side. The doors were
fastened, but a girl peeped out of the window at us, and let us in, ushering us
into a very neat parlor. There was a
cheerful fire in the grate, a straw carpet on the floor, a mahogany sideboard,
and a mahogany table in the middle of the room; and, on the walls, the
portraits of mine host (no doubt) and of his wife and daughters,--a very nice
parlor, and looking like what I might have found in a country tavern at home, only
this was an ancient house, and there is nothing at home like the glimpse, from
the window, of the church, and its red, ivy-grown tower. I ordered some lunch, being waited on by the
girl, who was very neat, intelligent, and comely,--and more respectful than a
This village is too far from
I stood on the Exchange at noon, to-day, to see the 18th
Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, marching down to embark for the East. They were a body of young, healthy, and
cheerful-looking men, and looked greatly better than the dirty crowd that
thronged to gaze at them. The royal
Some years ago, a piece of rude marble sculpture,
representing St. George and the Dragon, was found over the fireplace of a
cottage near Rock Ferry, on the road to
The following is a legend inscribed on the inner margin of a curious old box:--
A squirrel might leap from tree to tree."
I do not know where Hilbree is; but all round
Good Friday.--The English and Irish think it good to plant on this day, because it was the day when our Saviour's body was laid in the grave. Seeds, therefore, are certain to rise again.
At dinner the other day, Mrs. ------ mentioned the origin of
The grandmother of Mrs. ------ died fifty years ago, at the age of twenty-eight. She had great personal charms, and among them a head of beautiful chestnut hair. After her burial in the family tomb, the coffin of one of her children was laid on her own, so that the lid seems to have decayed, or been broken from this cause; at any rate, this was the case when the tomb was opened about a year ago. The grandmother's coffin was then found to be filled with beautiful, glossy, living chestnut ringlets, into which her whole substance seems to have been transformed, for there was nothing else but these shining curls, the growth of half a century in the tomb. An old man, with a ringlet of his youthful mistress treasured on his heart, might be supposed to witness this wonderful thing.
Madam ------, who is now at my house, and very infirm,
though not old, was once carried to the grave, and on the point of being
buried. It was in
The grandfather of Madam ------, who was a British officer, once horsewhipped Paul Jones,--Jones being a poltroon. How singular it is that the personal courage of famous warriors should be so often called in question!
May 20th.--I went yesterday to a hospital to take the oath of a mate to a protest. He had met with a severe accident by a fall on shipboard. The hospital is a large edifice of red freestone, with wide, airy passages, resounding with footsteps passing through them. A porter was waiting in the vestibule. Mr. Wilding and myself were shown to the parlor, in the first instance,--a neat, plainly furnished room, with newspapers and pamphlets lying on the table and sofas. Soon the surgeon of the house came,--a brisk, alacritous, civil, cheerful young man, by whom we were shown to the apartment where the mate was lying. As we went through the principal passage, a man was borne along in a chair looking very pale, rather wild, and altogether as if he had just been through great tribulation, and hardly knew as yet whereabouts he was. I noticed that his left arm was but a stump, and seemed done up in red baize,--at all events it was of a scarlet line. The surgeon shook his right hand cheerily, and he was carried on. This was a patient who had just had his arm cut off. He had been a rough person apparently, but now there was a kind of tenderness about him, through pain and helplessness.
In the chamber where the mate lay, there were seven beds, all of them occupied by persons who had met with accidents. In the centre of the room was a stationary pine table, about the length of a man, intended, I suppose, to stretch patients upon for necessary operations. The furniture of the beds was plain and homely. I thought that the faces of the patients all looked remarkably intelligent, though they were evidently men of the lower classes. Suffering had educated them morally and intellectually. They gazed curiously at Mr. Wilding and me, but nobody said a word. In the bed next to the mate lay a little boy with a broken thigh. The surgeon observed that children generally did well with accidents; and this boy certainly looked very bright and cheerful. There was nothing particularly interesting about the mate.
After finishing our business, the surgeon showed us into another room of the surgical ward, likewise devoted to cases of accident and injury. All the beds were occupied, and in two of them lay two American sailors who had recently been stabbed. They had been severely hurt, but were doing very well. The surgeon thought that it was a good arrangement to have several cases together, and that the patients kept up one another's spirits,--being often merry together. Smiles and laughter may operate favorably enough from bed to bed; but dying groans, I should think, must be somewhat of a discouragement. Nevertheless, the previous habits and modes of life of such people as compose the more numerous class of patients in a hospital must be considered before deciding this matter. It is very possible that their misery likes such bedfellows as it here finds.
As we were taking our leave, the surgeon asked us if we should not like to see the operating-room; and before we could reply he threw open the door, and behold, there was a roll of linen "garments rolled in blood,"--and a bloody fragment of a human arm! The surgeon glanced at me, and smiled kindly, but as if pitying my discomposure.
Gervase Elwes, son of Sir Gervase Elwes, Baronet, of Stoke,
June 12th.--Barry Cornwall, Mr. Procter, called on me a week
or more ago, but I happened not to be in the office. Saturday last he called again, and as I had
June 17th.--At eleven, at this season (and how much longer I know not), there is still a twilight. If we could only have such dry, deliciously warm evenings as we used to have in our own land, what enjoyment there might be in these interminable twilights! But here we close the window-shutters, and make ourselves cosey by a coal-fire.
All three of the children, and, I think, my wife and myself, are going through the hooping-cough. The east-wind of this season and region is most horrible. There have been no really warm days; for though the sunshine is sometimes hot, there is never any diffused heat throughout the air. On passing from the sunshine into the shade, we immediately feel too cool.
June 20th.--The vagabond musicians about town are very numerous. On board the steam ferry-boats, I have heretofore spoken of them. They infest them from May to November, for very little gain apparently. A shilling a day per man must be the utmost of their emolument. It is rather sad to see somewhat respectable old men engaged in this way, with two or three younger associates. Their instruments look much the worse for wear, and even my unmusical ear can distinguish more discord than harmony. They appear to be a very quiet and harmless people. Sometimes there is a woman playing on a fiddle, while her husband blows a wind instrument. In the streets it is not unusual to find a band of half a dozen performers, who, without any provocation or reason whatever, sound their brazen instruments till the houses re-echo. Sometimes one passes a man who stands whistling a tune most unweariably, though I never saw anybody give him anything. The ballad-singers are the strangest, from the total lack of any music in their cracked voices. Sometimes you see a space cleared in the street, and a foreigner playing, while a girl--weather-beaten, tanned, and wholly uncomely in face and shabby in attire dances ballets. The common people look on, and never criticise or treat any of these poor devils unkindly or uncivilly; but I do not observe that they give them anything.
A crowd--or, at all events, a moderate-sized group--is much more easily drawn together here than with us. The people have a good deal of idle and momentary curiosity, and are always ready to stop when another person has stopped, so as to see what has attracted his attention. I hardly ever pause to look at a shop-window, without being immediately incommoded by boys and men, who stop likewise, and would forthwith throng the pavement if I did not move on.
June 30th.--If it is not known how and when a man dies, it makes a ghost of him for many years thereafter, perhaps for centuries. King Arthur is an example; also the Emperor Frederic, and other famous men, who were thought to be alive ages after their disappearance. So with private individuals. I had an uncle John, who went a voyage to sea about the beginning of the War of 1812, and has never returned to this hour. But as long as his mother lived, as many as twenty years, she never gave up the hope of his return, and was constantly hearing stories of persons whose description answered to his. Some people actually affirmed that they had seen him in various parts of the world. Thus, so far as her belief was concerned, he still walked the earth. And even to this day I never see his name, which is no very uncommon one, without thinking that this may be the lost uncle.
Thus, too, the French Dauphin still exists, or a kind of ghost of him; the three Tells, too, in the cavern of Uri.
July 6th.--Mr. Cecil, the other day, was saying that
July 19th.--A week ago I made a little tour in
The castle is the property of Sir Richard Bulkely, whose
seat is in the vicinity, and who owns a great part of the
In the morning we walked along a delightful road, bordering
on the Menai Straits, to Bangor Ferry.
It was really a very pleasant road, overhung by a growth of young wood,
exceedingly green and fresh. English
trees are green all about their stems, owing to the creeping plants that
overrun them. There were some flowers in
the hedges, such as we cultivate in gardens.
At the ferry, there was a whitewashed cottage; a woman or two, some
children, and a fisherman-like personage, walking to and fro before the
door. The scenery of the strait is very
beautiful and picturesque, and directly opposite to us
At Bangor we went to a handsome hotel, and hired a carriage
and two horses for some Welsh place, the name of which I forget; neither can I
remember a single name of the places through which we posted that day, nor
could I spell them if I heard them pronounced, nor pronounce them if I saw them
spelt. It was a circuit of about forty
miles, bringing us to
Many of the Welsh women, particularly the older ones, wear black beaver hats, high-crowned, and almost precisely like men's. It makes them look ugly and witchlike. Welsh is still the prevalent language, and the only one spoken by a great many of the inhabitants. I have had Welsh people in my office, on official business, with whom I could not communicate except through an interpreter.
At some unutterable village we went into a little church,
where we saw an old stone image of a warrior, lying on his back, with his hands
clasped. It was the natural son (if I remember rightly) of David, Prince of
Wales, and was doubtless the better part of a thousand years old. There was likewise a stone coffin of still
greater age; some person of rank and renown had mouldered to dust within it,
but it was now open and empty. Also, there were monumental brasses on the
walls, engraved with portraits of a gentleman and lady in the costumes of
This was a very delightful town. We saw a great many things which it is now too late to describe, the sharpness of the first impression being gone; but I think I can produce something of the sentiment of it hereafter.
We arrived at
Liverpool, August 8th.--Visiting the Zoological Gardens the other day with J-----, it occurred to me what a fantastic kind of life a person connected with them might be depicted as leading,--a child, for instance. The grounds are very extensive, and include arrangements for all kinds of exhibitions calculated to attract the idle people of a great city. In one enclosure is a bear, who climbs a pole to get cake and gingerbread from the spectators. Elsewhere, a circular building, with compartments for lions, wolves, and tigers. In another part of the garden is a colony of monkeys, the skeleton of an elephant, birds of all kinds. Swans and various rare water-fowl were swimming on a piece of water, which was green, by the by, and when the fowls dived they stirred up black mud. A stork was parading along the margin, with melancholy strides of its long legs, and came slowly towards its, as if for companionship. In one apartment was an obstreperously noisy society of parrots and macaws, most gorgeous and diversified of hue. These different colonies of birds and beasts were scattered about in various parts of the grounds, so that you came upon them unexpectedly. Also, there were archery and shooting-grounds, and a sewing. A theatre, also, at which a rehearsal was going on,--we standing at one of the doors, and looking in towards the dusky stage where the company, in their ordinary dresses, were rehearsing something that had a good deal of dance and action in it. In the open air there was an arrangement of painted scenery representing a wide expanse of mountains, with a city at their feet, and before it the sea, with actual water, and large vessels upon it, the vessels having only the side that would be presented to the spectator. But the scenery was so good that at a first casual glance I almost mistook it for reality. There was a refreshment-room, with drinks and cakes and pastry, but, so far as I saw, no substantial victual. About in the centre of the garden there was an actual, homely-looking, small dwelling-house, where perhaps the overlookers of the place live. Now this might be wrought, in an imaginative description, into a pleasant sort of a fool's paradise, where all sorts of unreal delights should cluster round some suitable personage; and it would relieve, in a very odd and effective way, the stern realities of life on the outside of the garden-walls. I saw a little girl, simply dressed, who seemed to have her habitat within the grounds. There was also a daguerreotypist, with his wife and family, carrying on his business in a shanty, and perhaps having his home in its inner room. He seemed to be an honest, intelligent, pleasant young man, and his wife a pleasant woman; and I had J-----'s daguerreotype taken for three shillings, in a little gilded frame. In the description of the garden, the velvet turf, of a charming verdure, and the shrubbery and shadowy walks and large trees, and the slopes and inequalities of ground, must not he forgotten. In one place there was a maze and labyrinth, where a person might wander a long while in the vain endeavor to get out, although all the time looking at the exterior garden, over the low hedges that border the walks of the maze. And this is like the inappreciable difficulties that often beset us in life.
I will see it again before long, and get some additional record of it.
August 10th.--We went to the
I never saw anything prettier than the little
The structure is extremely plain inside and very small. On the walls, over the pews, are several monumental sculptures,--a quite elaborate one to a Colonel Murray, of the Coldstreamn Guards; his military profession being designated by banners and swords in marble.--Another was to a farmer.
On one side of the church-tower there was a little penthouse, or lean-to,--merely a stone roof, about three or four feet high, and supported by a single pillar, beneath which was once deposited the bier.
I have let too much time pass before attempting to record my impressions of the Isle of Man; but, as regards this church, no description can come up to its quiet beauty, its seclusion, and its every requisite for an English country church.
Last Sunday I went to Eastham, and, entering the churchyard,
sat down on a tombstone under the yew-tree which has been known for centuries
as the Great Tree of Eastham. Some of
the village people were sitting on the graves near the door; and an old woman
came towards me, and said, in a low, kindly, admonishing tone, that I must not
let the sexton see me, because he would not allow any one to be there in
sacrament-time. I inquired why she and
her companions were there, and she said they were waiting for the
sacrament. So I thanked her, gave her a
sixpence, and departed. Close under the
eaves, I saw two upright stones, in memory of two old servants of the
August 12th.--J----- and I went to
There was a camera-obscure, very wretchedly indistinct. At the refreshment-room were ginger-beer and British wines.
August 21st.--I was in the Crown Court on Saturday, sitting in the sheriff's seat. The judge was Baron ------, an old gentleman of sixty, with very large, long features. His wig helped him to look like some strange kind of animal,--very queer, but yet with a sagacious, and, on the whole, beneficent aspect. During the session some mischievous young barrister occupied himself with sketching the judge in pencil; and, being handed about, it found its way to me. It was very like and very laughable, but hardly caricatured. The judicial wig is an exceedingly odd affair; and as it covers both ears, it would seem intended to prevent his Lordship, and justice in his person, from hearing any of the case on either side, that thereby he may decide the better. It is like the old idea of blindfolding the statue of Justice.
It seems to me there is less formality, less distance between the judge, jury, witnesses, and bar, in the English courts than in our own. The judge takes a very active part in the trial, constantly asking a question of the witness on the stand, making remarks on the conduct of the trial, putting in his word on all occasions, and allowing his own sense of the matter in hand to be pretty plainly seen; so that, before the trial is over, and long before his own charge is delivered, he must have exercised a very powerful influence over the minds of the jury. All this is done, not without dignity, yet in a familiar kind of way. It is a sort of paternal supervision of the whole matter, quite unlike the cold awfulness of an American judge. But all this may be owing partly to the personal characteristics of Baron ------. It appeared to me, however, that, from the closer relations of all parties, truth was likely to be arrived at and justice to be done. As an innocent man, I should not be afraid to be tried by Baron ------.
August 24th.--I went to Eaton Hall yesterday with my wife
and Mr. G. P. Bradford, via
Closely connected with the church was the clergyman's house, a comfortable-looking residence; and likewise in the churchyard, with tombstones all about it, even almost at the threshold, so that the doorstep itself might have been a tombstone, was another house, of respectable size and aspect. We surmised that this might be the sexton's dwelling, but it proved not to be so; and a woman, answering our knock, directed us to the place where he might be found. So Mr. Bradford and I went in search of him, leaving S----- seated on a tombstone. The sexton was a jolly-looking, ruddy-faced man, a mechanic of some sort, apparently, and he followed us to the churchyard with much alacrity. We found S----- standing at a gateway, which opened into the most ancient, and now quite ruinous, part of the church, the present edifice covering much less ground than it did some centuries ago. We went through this gateway, and found ourselves in an enclosure of venerable walls, open to the sky, with old Norman arches standing about, beneath the loftiest of which the sexton told us the high altar used to stand. Of course, there were weeds and ivy growing in the crevices, but not so abundantly as I have seen them elsewhere. The sexton pointed out a piece of a statue that had once stood in one of the niches, and which he himself, I think, had dug up from several feet below the earth; also, in a niche of the walls, high above our heads, he showed us an ancient wooden coffin, hewn out of a solid log of oak, the hollow being made rudely in the shape of a human figure. This too had been dug up, and nobody knew how old it was. While we looked at all this solemn old trumpery, the curate, quite a young man, stood at the back door of his house, elevated considerably above the ruins, with his young wife (I presume) and a friend or two, chatting cheerfully among themselves. It was pleasant to see them there. After examining the ruins, we went inside of the church, and found it a dim and dusky old place, quite paved over with tombstones, not an inch of space being left in the aisles or near the altar, or in any nook or corner, uncovered by a tombstone. There were also mural monuments and escutcheons, and close against the wall lay the mutilated statue of a Crusader, with his legs crossed, in the style which one has so often read about. The old fellow seemed to have been represented in chain armor; but he had been more battered and bruised since death than even during his pugnacious life, and his nose was almost knocked away. This figure had been dug up many years ago, and nobody knows whom it was meant to commemorate.
The nave of the church is supported by two rows of Saxon pillars, not very lofty, but six feet six inches (so the sexton says) in diameter. They are covered with plaster, which was laid on ages ago, and is now so hard and smooth that I took the pillars to be really composed of solid shafts of gray stone. But, at one end of the church, the plaster had been removed from two of the pillars, in order to discover whether they were still sound enough to support the building; and they prove to be made of blocks of red freestone, just as sound as when it came from the quarry; for though this stone soon crumbles in the open air, it is as good as indestructible when sheltered from the weather. It looked very strange to see the fresh hue of these two pillars amidst the dingy antiquity of the rest of the structure.
The body of the church is covered with pews, the wooden
enclosures of which seemed of antique fashion.
There were also modern stoves; but the sexton said it was very cold
there, in spite of the stoves. It had, I
must say, a disagreeable odor pervading it, in which the dead people of long
ago had doubtless some share,--a musty odor, by no means amounting to a stench,
but unpleasant, and, I should think, unwholesome. Old wood-work, and old stones, and antiquity
of all kinds, moral and physical, go to make up this smell. I observed it in the cathedral, and
Our miserable cab drew up at the steps of Eaton Hall, and, ascending under the portico, the door swung silently open, and we were received very civilly by two old men,--one, a tall footman in livery; the other, of higher grade, in plain clothes. The entrance-hall is very spacious, and the floor is tessellated or somehow inlaid with marble. There was statuary in marble on the floor, and in niches stood several figures in antique armor, of various dates; some with lances, and others with battle-axes and swords. There was a two-handed sword, as much as six feet long; but not nearly so ponderous as I have supposed this kind of weapon to be, from reading of it. I could easily have brandished it.
I don't think I am a good sight-seer; at least, I soon get satisfied with looking at the sights, and wish to go on to the next.
The plainly dressed old man now led us into a long corridor, which goes, I think, the whole length of the house, about five hundred feet, arched all the way, and lengthened interminably by a looking-glass at the end, in which I saw our own party approaching like a party of strangers. But I have so often seen this effect produced in dry-goods stores and elsewhere, that I was not much impressed. There were family portraits and other pictures, and likewise pieces of statuary, along this arched corridor; and it communicated with a chapel with a scriptural altar-piece, copied from Rubens, and a picture of St. Michael and the Dragon, and two, or perhaps three, richly painted windows. Everything here is entirely new and fresh, this part having been repaired, and never yet inhabited by the family. This brand-newness makes it much less effective than if it had been lived in; and I felt pretty much as if I were strolling through any other renewed house. After all, the utmost force of man can do positively very little towards making grand things or beautiful things. The imagination can do so much more, merely on shutting one's eyes, that the actual effect seems meagre; so that a new house, unassociated with the past, is exceedingly unsatisfactory, especially when you have heard that the wealth mud skill of man has here done its best. Besides, the rooms, as we saw them, did not look by any means their best, the carpets not being down, and the furniture being covered with protective envelopes. However, rooms cannot be seen to advantage by daylight; it being altogether essential to the effect, that they should be illuminated by artificial light, which takes them somewhat out of the region of bare reality. Nevertheless, there was undoubtedly great splendor, for the details of which I refer to the guide-book. Among the family portraits, there was one of a lady famous for her beautiful hand; and she was holding it up to notice in the funniest way, --and very beautiful it certainly was. The private apartments of the family were not shown us. I should think it impossible for the owner of this house to imbue it with his personality to such a degree as to feel it to be his home. It must be like a small lobster in a shell much too large for him.
After seeing what was to be seen of the rooms, we visited
the gardens, in which are noble conservatories and hot-houses, containing all
manner of rare and beautiful flowers, and tropical fruits. I noticed some large pines, looking as if
they were really made of gold. The
gardener (under-gardener I suppose he was) who showed this part of the
spectacle was very intelligent as well as kindly, and seemed to take an
interest in his business. He gave S-----
a purple everlasting flower, which will endure a great many years, as a memento
of our visit to Eaton Hall. Finally, we took a view of the front of the
edifice, which is very fine, and much more satisfactory than the interior,--and
We strolled about under the unsavory Rows, sometimes
scudding from side to side of the street, through the shower; took lunch in a
confectioner's shop, and drove to the railway station in time for the
three-o'clock train. It looked
picturesque to see two little girls, hand in hand, racing along the ancient passages
of the Rows; but
At the railroad station, S----- saw a small edition of "Twice-Told Tales," forming a volume of the Cottage Library; and, opening it, there was the queerest imaginable portrait of myself,--so very queer that we could not but buy it. The shilling edition of "The Scarlet Letter" and "Seven Gables" are at all the book-stalls and shop-windows; but so is "The Lamplighter," and still more trashy books.
August 26th.--All past affairs, all home conclusions, all
people whom I have known in
I think I neglected to record that I saw Miss Martineau a few weeks since. She is a large, robust, elderly woman, and plainly dressed; but withal she has so kind, cheerful, and intelligent a face that she is pleasanter to look at than most beauties. Her hair is of a decided gray, and she does not shrink from calling herself old. She is the most continual talker I ever heard; it is really like the babbling of a brook, and very lively and sensible too; and all the while she talks, she moves the bowl of her ear-trumpet from one auditor to another, so that it becomes quite an organ of intelligence and sympathy between her and yourself. The ear-trumpet seems a sensible part of her, like the antennae of some insects. If you have any little remark to make, you drop it in; and she helps you to make remarks by this delicate little appeal of the trumpet, as she slightly directs it towards you; and if you have nothing to say, the appeal is not strong enough to embarrass you. All her talk was about herself and her affairs; but it did not seem like egotism, because it was so cheerful and free from morbidness. And this woman is an Atheist, and thinks that the principle of life will become extinct when her body is laid in the grave! I will not think so; were it only for her sake. What! only a few weeds to spring out of her mortality, instead of her intellect and sympathies flowering and fruiting forever!
September 13th.--My family went to Rhyl last Thursday, and
on Saturday I joined them there, in company with O'Sullivan, who arrived in the
Behama from Lisbon that morning. We went
by way of
Sunday was a bright and hot day, and in the forenoon I set
out on a walk, not well knowing whither, over a very dusty road, with not a
particle of shade along its dead level.
The Welsh mountains were before me, at the distance of three or four
miles,--long ridgy hills, descending pretty abruptly upon the plain; on either
side of the road, here and there, an old whitewashed, thatched stone cottage,
or a stone farm-house, with an aspect of some antiquity. I never suffered so much before, on this side
of the water, from heat and dust, and should probably have turned back had I
not espied the round towers and walls of an old castle at some distance before
me. Having looked at a guide-book,
previously to setting out, I knew that this must be
The children and grown people stared lazily at me as I passed,
but showed no such alert and vivacious curiosity as a community of Yankees
would have done. I turned up a street
that led me to the castle, which looked very picturesque close at hand,--more
so than at a distance, because the towers and walls have not a sufficiently
broken outline against the sky. There are several round towers at the angles of
the wall very large in their circles, built of gray stone, crumbling,
ivy-grown, everything that one thinks of in an old ruin. I could not get into the inner space of the
castle without climbing over a fence, or clambering
down into the moat; so I contented myself with walking round it, and viewing it
from the outside. Through the gateway I
saw a cow feeding on the green grass in the inner court of the castle. In one of the walls there was a large
triangular gap, where perhaps the assailants had made a breach. Of course there were weeds on the ruinous top
of the towers, and along the summit of the wall. This was the first castle built by Edward I.
After viewing it awhile, and listening to the babble of some children who lay on the grass near by, I resumed my walk, and, meeting a Welshman in the village street, I asked him my nearest way back to Rhyl. "Dim Sassenach," said he, after a pause. How odd that an hour or two on the railway should have brought me amongst a people who speak no English! Just below the castle, there is an arched stone bridge over the river Clwyd, and the best view of the edifice is from hence. It stands on a gentle eminence, commanding the passage of the river, and two twin round towers rise close beside one another, whence, I suppose, archers have often drawn their bows against the wild Welshmen, on the river-banks. Behind was the line of mountains; and this was the point of defence between the hill country and the lowlands. On the bridge stood a good many idle Welshmen, leaning over the parapet, and looking at some small vessels that had come up the river from the sea. There was the frame of a new vessel on the stocks near by.
As I returned, on my way home, I again inquired my way of a man in breeches, who, I found, could speak English very well. He was kind, and took pains to direct me, giving me the choice of three ways, viz. the one by which I came, another across the fields, and a third by the embankment along the river-side. I chose the latter, and so followed the course of the Clwyd, which is very ugly, with a tidal flow and wide marshy banks. On its farther side was Rhyddlan marsh, where a battle was fought between the Welsh and Saxons a thousand years ago. I have forgotten to mention that the castle and its vicinity was the scene of the famous battle of the fiddlers, between De Blandeville, Earl of Chester, and the Welsh, about the time of the Conqueror.
September 13th.--On Monday we went with O'Sullivan to
We went to one of the mines which are still worked, and boys
came running to meet us with specimens of the copper ore for sale. The miners were not now hoisting ore from the
shaft, but were washing and selecting the valuable fragments from great heaps
of crumbled stone and earth. All about
this spot there are shafts and well-holes, looking fearfully deep and black,
and without the slightest protection, so that we might just as easily have
walked into them as not. Having examined
these matters sufficiently, we descended the hill towards the village, meeting
parties of visitors, mounted on donkeys, which is a much more sensible way of
ascending in a hot day than to walk. On
the sides and summit of the hill we found yellow gorse,--heath of two colors, I
think, and very beautiful,--and here and there a harebell. Owing to the long-continued dry weather, the
grass was getting withered and brown, though not so much so as on American
hill-pastures at this season. Returning
to the village, we all went into a confectioner's shop, and made a good
luncheon. The two prettiest young ladies
whom I have seen in
Next we went into the village bazaar,--a sort of tent or
open shop, full of knick-knacks and gewgaws, and bought some playthings for the
children. At half past one we took our seats in the omnibus, to return to
We had as yet only seen the castle wall and the exterior of
the castle; now we were to see the inside.
Right at the foot of it an old woman has her stand for the sale of
lithographic views of
There are numberless intricate passages in the thickness of
the castle walls, forming communications between tower and tower,--damp, chill
passages, with rough stone on either hand, darksome, and very likely leading to
dark pitfalls. The thickness of the
walls is amazing; and the people of those days must have been content with very
scanty light, so small were the apertures,--sometimes merely slits and
loopholes, glimmering through many feet of thickness of stone. One of the towers was said to have been the
residence of Queen Eleanor; and this was better lighted than the others,
containing an oriel-window, looking out of a little oratory, as it seemed to
be, with groined arches and traces of ornamental sculpture, so that we could
dress up some imperfect image of a queenly chamber, though the tower was
roofless and floorless. There was
another pleasant little windowed nook, close beside the oratory, where the
Queen might have sat sewing or looking down the river
We saw, at the corner of this grass-plot around Queen
Eleanor's tower, a real trunk of a tree of ivy, with so stalwart a stem, and
such a vigorous grasp of its strong branches, that it would be a very efficient
support to the wall, were it otherwise inclined to fall. O that we could have ivy in
Before departing, we made the entire circuit of the castle on its walls, and O'Sullivan and I climbed by a ladder to the top of one of the towers. While there, we looked down into the street beneath, and saw a photographist preparing to take a view of the castle, and calling out to some little girl in some niche or on some pinnacle of the walls to stand still that he might catch her figure and face. I think it added to the impressiveness of the old castle, to see the streets and the kitchen-gardens and the homely dwellings that had grown up within the precincts of this feudal fortress, and the people of to-day following their little businesses about it. This does not destroy the charm; but tourists and idle visitors do impair it. The earnest life of to-day, however, petty and homely as it may be, has a right to its place alongside of what is left of the life of other days; and if it be vulgar itself, it does not vulgarize the scene. But tourists do vulgarize it; and I suppose we did so, just like others.
We took the train back to Rhyl, where we arrived at about
four o'clock, and, having dined, we again took the rail for
Yesterday, September 13th, I began to wear a watch from
Bennet's, 65 Cheapside,
September 20th.--I went back to Rhyl last Friday in the
steamer. We arrived at the landing-place
at nearly four o'clock, having started at twelve, and I walked thence to our
lodgings, 18 West Parade. The children
and their mother were all gone out, and I sat some time in our parlor before
anybody came. The next morning I made an
excursion in the omnibus as far as Ruthin, passing through Rhyddlan, St. Asaph,
Denbigh, and reaching Ruthin at one o'clock.
All these are very ancient places. St. Asaph has a cathedral which is
not quite worthy of that name, but is a very large and stately church in
excellent repair. Its square
battlemented tower has a very fine appearance, crowning the clump of village
houses on the hill-top, as you approach from Rhyddlan. The ascent of the hill is very steep; so it
is at Denbigh and at Ruthin,--the steepest streets, indeed, that I ever
climbed. Denbigh is a place of still
more antique aspect than St. Asaph; it looks, I think, even older than Chester,
with its gabled houses, many of their windows opening on hinges, and their
fronts resting on pillars, with an open porch beneath. The castle makes an
admirably ruinous figure on the hill, higher than the village. I had come hither with the purpose of
inspecting it, but as it began to rain just then, I concluded to get into the
omnibus and go to Ruthin. There was
another steep ascent from the commencement of the long street of Ruthin, till I
reached the market-place, which is of nearly triangular shape, and an
exceedingly old-looking place. Houses of stone or plastered brick; one or two with timber frames;
the roofs of an uneven line, and bulging out or sinking in; the slates
moss-grown. Some of them have two
peaks and even three in a row, fronting on the streets, and there is a stone
market-house with a table of regulations.
In this market-place there is said to be a stone on which King Arthur
beheaded one of his enemies; but this I did not see. All these villages were very lively, as the
omnibus drove in; and I rather imagine it was market-day in each of
them,--there being quite a bustle of Welsh people. The old women came round the omnibus
courtesying and intimating their willingness to receive alms,--witch-like
women, such as one sees in pictures or reads of in romances, and very unlike
anything feminine in America. Their
style of dress cannot have changed for centuries. It was quite unexpected to me to hear Welsh
so universally and familiarly spoken. Everybody spoke it. The omnibus-driver could speak but imperfect
English; there was a jabber of Welsh all through the streets and market-places;
and it flowed out with a freedom quite different from the way in which they
expressed themselves in English. I had
had an idea that Welsh was spoken rather as a freak and in fun than as a native
language; it was so strange to find another language the people's actual and
earnest medium of thought within so short a distance of England. But English is scarcely more known to the
body of the Welsh people than to the peasantry of
I took luncheon at the hotel where the omnibus stopped, and then went to search out the castle. It appears to have been once extensive, but the remains of it are now very few, except a part of the external wall. Whatever other portion may still exist, has been built into a modern castellated mansion, which has risen within the wide circuit of the fortress,--a handsome and spacious edifice of red freestone, with a high tower, on which a flag was flying. The grounds were well laid out in walks, and really I think the site of the castle could not have been turned to better account. I am getting tired of antiquity. It is certainly less interesting in the long run than novelty; and so I was well content with the fresh, warm, red hue of the modern house, and the unworn outline of its walls, and its cheerful, large windows; and was willing that the old ivy-grown ruins should exist now only to contrast with the modernisms. These ancient walls, by the by, are of immense thickness. There is a passage through the interior of a portion of them, the width from this interior passage to the outer one being fifteen feet on one side, and I know not how much on the other.
It continued showery all day; and the omnibus was crowded. I had chosen the outside from Rhyl to Denbigh, but, all the rest of the journey, imprisoned myself within. On our way home, an old lady got into the omnibus,--a lady of tremendous rotundity; and as she tumbled from the door to the farthest part of the carriage, she kept advising all the rest of the passengers to get out. "I don't think there will be much rain, gentlemen," quoth she, "you'll be much more comfortable on the outside." As none of us complied, she glanced along the seats. "What! are you all Saas'uach?" she inquired. As we drove along, she talked Welsh with great fluency to one of the passengers, a young woman with a baby, and to as many others as could understand her. It has a strange, wild sound, like a language half blown away by the wind. The lady's English was very good; but she probably prided herself on her proficiency in Welsh. My excursion to-day had been along the valley of the Clwyd, a very rich and fertile tract of country.
The next day we all took a long walk on the beach, picking up shells.
On Monday we took an open carriage and drove to Rhyddlan; whence we sent back the carriage, meaning to walk home along the embankment of the river Clwyd, after inspecting the castle. The fortress is very ruinous, having been dismantled by the Parliamentarians. There are great gaps,--two, at least, in the walls that connect the round towers, of which there were six, one on each side of a gateway in front, and the same at a gateway towards the river, where there is a steep descent to a wall and square tower, at the water-side. Great pains and a great deal of gunpowder must have been used in converting this castle into a ruin. There were one or two fragments lying where they had fallen more than two hundred years ago, which, though merely a conglomeration of small stones and mortar, were just as hard as if they had been solid masses of granite. The substantial thickness of the walls is composed of these agglomerated small stones and mortar, the casing being hewn blocks of red freestone. This is much worn away by the weather, wherever it has been exposed to the air; but, under shelter, it looks as if it might have been hewn only a year or two ago. Each of the round towers had formerly a small staircase turret rising beside and ascending above it, in which a warder might be posted, but they have all been so battered and shattered that it is impossible for an uninstructed observer to make out a satisfactory plan of then. The interior of each tower was a small room, not more than twelve or fifteen feet across; and of these there seem to have been three stories, with loop-holes for archery and not much other light than what came through them. Then there are various passages and nooks and corners and square recesses in the stone, some of which must have been intended for dungeons, and the ugliest and gloomiest dungeons imaginable, for they could not have had any light or air. There is not, the least, splinter of wood-work remaining in any part of the castle,--nothing but bare stone, and a little plaster in one or two places, on the wall. In the front gateway we looked at the groove on each side, in which the portcullis used to rise and fall; and in each of the contiguous round towers there was a loop-hole, whence an enemy on the outer side of the portcullis might be shot through with an arrow.
The inner court-yard is a parallelogram, nearly a square, and is about forty-five of my paces across. It is entirely grass-grown, and vacant, except for two or three trees that have been recently set out, and which are surrounded with palings to keep away the cows that pasture in and about the place. No window looks from the walls or towers into this court-yard; nor are there any traces of buildings having stood within the enclosure, unless it be what looks something like the flue of a chimney within one of the walls. I should suppose, however, that there must have been, when the castle was in its perfect state, a hall, a kitchen, and other commodious apartments and offices for the King and his train, such as there were at Conway and Beaumaris. But if so, all fragments have been carried away, and all hollows of the old foundations scrupulously filled up. The round towers could not have comprised all the accommodation of the castle. There is nothing more striking in these ruins than to look upward from the crumbling base, and see flights of stairs, still comparatively perfect, by which you might securely ascend to the upper heights of the tower, although all traces of a staircase have disappeared below, and the upper portion cannot be attained. On three sides of the fortress is a moat, about sixty feet wide, and cased with stone. It was probably of great depth in its day, but it is now partly filled up with earth, and is quite dry and grassy throughout its whole extent. On the inner side of the moat was the outer wall of the castle, portions of which still remain. Between the outer wall and the castle itself the space is also about sixty feet.
The day was cloudy and lowering, and there were several little spatterings of rain, while we rambled about. The two children ran shouting hither and thither, and were continually clambering into dangerous places, racing along ledges of broken wall. At last they altogether disappeared for a good while; their voices, which had heretofore been plainly audible, were hushed, nor was there any answer when we began to call them, while making ready for our departure. But they finally appeared, coming out of the moat, where they had been picking and eating blackberries,--which, they said, grew very plentifully there, and which they were very reluctant to leave. Before quitting the castle, I must not forget the ivy, which makes a perfect tapestry over a large portion of the walls.
We walked about the village, which is old and ugly; small, irregular streets, contriving to be intricate, though there are few of them; mean houses, joining to each other. We saw, in the principal one, the parliament house in which Edward I. gave a Charter, or allowed rights of some kind to his Welsh subjects. The ancient part of its wall is entirely distinguishable from what has since been built upon it.
Thence we set out to walk along the embankment, although the sky looked very threatening. The wind, however, was so strong, and had such a full sweep at us, on the top of the bank, that we decided on taking a path that led from it across the moor. But we soon had cause to repent of this; for, which way soever we turned, we found ourselves cut off by a ditch or a little stream; so that here we were, fairly astray on Rhyddlan moor, the old battle-field of the Saxons and Britons, and across which, I suppose, the fiddlers and mountebanks had marched to the relief of the Earl of Chester. Anon, too, it began to shower; and it was only after various leaps and scramblings that we made our way to a large farm-house, and took shelter under a cart-shed. The back of the house to which we gained access was very dirty and ill-kept; some dirty children peeped at us as we approached, and nobody had the civility to ask us in; so we took advantage of the first cessation of the shower to resume our way. We were shortly overtaken by a very intelligent-looking and civil man, who seemed to have come from Rhyddlan, and said he was going to Rhyl. We followed his guidance over stiles and along hedge-row paths which we never could have threaded rightly by ourselves.
By and by our kind guide had to stop at an intermediate farm; but he gave us full directions how to proceed, and we went on till it began to shower again pretty briskly, and we took refuge in a little bit of old stone cottage, which, small as it was, had a greater antiquity than any mansion in America. The door was open, and as we approached, we saw several children gazing at us; and their mother, a pleasant-looking woman, who seemed rather astounded at the visit that was about to befall her, tried to draw a tattered curtain over a part of her interior, which she fancied even less fit to be seen than the rest. To say the truth, the house was not at all better than a pigsty; and while we sat there, a pig came familiarly to the door, thrust in his snout, and seemed surprised that he should he driven away, instead of being admitted as one of the family. The floor was of brick; there was no ceiling, but only the peaked gable overhead. The room was kitchen, parlor, and, I suppose, bedroom for the whole family; at all events, there was only the tattered curtain between us and the sleeping accommodations. The good woman either could not or would not speak a word of English, only laughing when S----- said, "Dim Sassenach?" but she was kind and hospitable, and found a chair for each of us. She had been making some bread, and the dough was on the dresser. Life with these people is reduced to its simplest elements. It is only a pity that they cannot or do not choose to keep themselves cleaner. Poverty, except in cities, need not be squalid. When the shower abated a little, we gave all the pennies we had to the children, and set forth again. By the by, there were several colored prints stuck up against the walls, and there was a clock ticking in a corner and some paper-hangings pinned upon the slanting roof.
It began to rain again before we arrived at Rhyl, and we
were driven into a small tavern. After
staying there awhile, we set forth between the drops; but the rain fell still
heavier, so that we were pretty well damped before we got to our lodgings. After dinner, I took the rail for
September 22d.--I dined on Wednesday evening at Mr. John
Heywood's, Norris Green. Mr. Mouckton
Mimes and lady were of the company. Mr.
Mimes is a very agreeable, kindly man, resembling Longfellow a good deal in
personal appearance; and he promotes, by his genial manners, the same pleasant
intercourse which is so easily established with Longfellow. He is said to be a very kind patron of
literary men, and to do a great deal of good among young and neglected people
of that class. He is considered one of
the best conversationists at present in society: it may very well be so; his
style of talking being very simple and natural, anything but obtrusive, so that
you might enjoy its agreeableness without suspecting it. He introduced me to his wife (a daughter of
Lord Crewe), with whom and himself I had a good deal of talk. Mr. Milnes told me that he owns the land in
Yorkshire, whence some of the pilgrims of the Mayflower emigrated
Mem.--An American would never understand the passage in Bunyan about Christian and Hopeful going astray along a by-path into the grounds of Giant Despair,--from there being no stiles and by-paths in our country.
September 26th.--On Saturday evening my wife and I went to a soiree given by the Mayor and Mrs. Lloyd at the Town Hall to receive the Earl of Harrowby. It was quite brilliant, the public rooms being really magnificent, and adorned for the occasion with a large collection of pictures, belonging to Mr. Naylor. They were mostly, if not entirely, of modern artists,--of Turner, Wilkie, Landseer, and others of the best English painters. Turner's seemed too ethereal to have been done by mortal hands.
The British Scientific Association being now in session here, many distinguished strangers were present.
September 29th.--Mr. Monekton Milnes called on me at the
Consulate day before yesterday. He is
pleasant and sensible. Speaking of
American politicians, I remarked that they were seldom anything but
politicians, and had no literary or other culture beyond their own calling. He said the case was the same in
October 5th.--Yesterday I was present at a dejeuner on board the James Barnes, on occasion of her coming under the British flag, having been built for the Messrs. Barnes by Donald McKay of Boston. She is a splendid vessel, and magnificently fitted up, though not with consummate taste. It would be worth while that ornamental architects and upholsterers should study this branch of art, since the ship-builders seem willing to expend a good deal of money on it. In fact, I do not see that there is anywhere else so much encouragement to the exercise of ornamental art. I saw nothing to criticise in the solid and useful details of the ship; the ventilation, in particular, being free and abundant, so that the hundreds of passengers who will have their berths between decks, and at a still lower depth, will have good air and enough of it.
There were four or five hundred persons, principally
I sat between two ladies, one of them Mrs. ------, a
pleasant young woman, who, I believe, is of American provincial nativity, and
whom I therefore regarded as half a countrywoman. We talked a good deal together, and I
confided to her my annoyance at the prospect of being called up to answer a
toast; but she did not pity me at all, though she felt, much alarm about her
husband, Captain ------, who was in the same predicament. Seriously, it is the most awful part of my
official duty,--this necessity of making dinner-speeches at the Mayor's, and
other public or semi-public tables.
However, my neighborhood to Mrs. ------ was good for me, inasmuch as by
laughing over the matter with her came to regard it in a light and ludicrous
way; and so, when the time actually came, I stood up with a careless dare-devil
feeling. The chairman toasted the
president immediately after the Queen, and did me the honor to speak of myself
in a most flattering manner, something like this: "Great by his position under
the Republic,--greater still, I am bold to say, in the Republic of
letters!" I made no reply at all to
this; in truth, I forgot all about it when I began to speak, and merely thanked
the company in behalf of the President, and my countrymen, and made a few
remarks with no very decided point to them.
However, they cheered and applauded, and I took advantage of the
applause to sit down, and Mrs. ------ informed me that I had succeeded
admirably. It was no success at all, to
be sure; neither was it a failure, for I had aimed at nothing, and I had
exactly hit it. But after sitting down,
I was conscious of an enjoyment in speaking to a public assembly, and felt as
if I should like to rise again. It is
something like being under fire,--a sort of excitement, not exactly pleasure,
but more piquant than most pleasures. I
have felt this before, in the same circumstances; but, while on my legs, my
impulse is to get through with my remarks and sit down again as quickly as
possible. The next speech, I think, was by Rev. Dr. ------, the celebrated
Arctic gentleman, in reply to a toast complimentary to the clergy. He turned aside from the matter in hand, to
express his kind feelings towards
Other speeches were made; but from beginning to end there was not one breath of eloquence, nor even one neat sentence; and I rather think that Englishmen would purposely avoid eloquence or neatness in after-dinner speeches. It seems to be no part of their object. Yet any Englishman almost, much more generally than Americans, will stand up and talk on in a plain way, uttering one rough, ragged, and shapeless sentence after another, and will have expressed himself sensibly, though in a very rude manner, before he sits down. And this is quite satisfactory to his audience, who, indeed, are rather prejudiced against the man who speaks too glibly.
The guests began to depart shortly after three o'clock. This morning I have seen two reports of my little speech,--one exceedingly incorrect; another pretty exact, but not much to my taste, for I seem to have left out everything that would have been fittest to say.
October 6th.--The people, for several days, have been in the
utmost anxiety, and latterly in the highest exultation about Sebastopol,--and
October 9th.--My ancestor left
October 16th.--A day or two ago arrived the sad news of the
loss of the Arctic by collision with a French steamer off
October 19th.--It appears to be customary for people of
decent station, but in distressed circumstances, to go round among their
neighbors and the public, accompanied by a friend, who explains the case. I have been accosted in the street in regard to
one of these matters; and to-day there came to my office a grocer, who had
become security for a friend, and who was threatened with an execution,--with
another grocer for supporter and advocate.
The beneficiary takes very little active part in the affair, merely
looking careworn, distressed, and pitiable, and throwing in a word of
corroboration, or a sigh, or an acknowledgment, as the case may demand. In the present instance, the friend, a young,
respectable-looking tradesman, with a
I am impressed with the ponderous and imposing look of an English legal document,--an assignment of real estate in England, for instance,--engrossed on an immense sheet of thickest paper, in a formal hand, beginning with "This Indenture" in German text, and with occasional phrases of form, breaking out into large script,--very long and repetitious, fortified with the Mayor of Manchester's seal, two or three inches in diameter, which is certified by a notary-public, whose signature, again, is to have my consular certificate and official seal.
November 2d.--A young Frenchman enters, of gentlemanly
aspect, with a grayish cloak or paletot overspreading his upper person, and a
handsome and well-made pair of black trousers and well-fitting boots
below. On sitting down, he does not
throw off nor at all disturb the cloak.
Eying him more closely, one discerns that he has no shirt-collar, and
that what little is visible of his shirt-bosom seems not to be of to-day nor of
yesterday,--perhaps not even of the day before.
His manner is not very good; nevertheless, he is a coxcomb and a
jackanapes. He avers himself a
naturalized citizen of
November 9th.--I lent the above Frenchman a small sum; he
advertised for employment as a teacher; and he called this morning to thank me
for my aid, and says Mr. C------ has engaged him for his children, at a guinea
a week, and that he has also another engagement. The poor fellow seems to have been brought to
a very low ebb.
He has pawned everything, even to his last shirt, save the one he had
on, and had been living at the rate of twopence a day. I had procured him a chance to return to
November 14th.--The other day I saw an elderly gentleman
walking in Dale Street, apparently in a state of mania; for as he limped along
(being afflicted with lameness) he kept talking to himself, and sometimes
breaking out into a threat against some casual passenger. He was a very respectable-looking man; and I
remember to have seen him last summer, in the steamer, returning from the
Looking at the moon the other evening, little R----- said, "It blooms out in the morning!" taking the moon to be the bud of the sun.
The English are a most intolerant people. Nobody is permitted, nowadays, to have any opinion but the prevalent one. There seems to be very little difference between their educated and ignorant classes in this respect; if any, it is to the credit of the latter, who do not show tokens of such extreme interest in the war. It is agreeable, however, to observe how all Englishmen pull together,--how each man comes forward with his little scheme for helping on the war,--how they feel themselves members of one family, talking together about their common interest, as if they were gathered around one fireside; and then what a hearty meed of honor they award to their soldiers! It is worth facing death for. Whereas, in America, when our soldiers fought as good battles, with as great proportionate loss, and far more valuable triumphs, the country seemed rather ashamed than proud of them.
Mrs. Heywood tells me that there are many Catholics among
the lower classes in Lancashire and
December 25th.--Commodore P------ called to see me this
morning,--a brisk, gentlemanly, offhand, but not rough, unaffected and sensible
man, looking not so elderly as he ought, on account of a very well made wig. He
is now on his return from a cruise in the East Indian seas, and goes home by
the Baltic, with a prospect of being very well received on account of his treaty
This is a most beautiful day of English winter; clear and
bright, with the ground a little frozen, and the green grass along the waysides
at Rock Ferry sprouting up through the frozen pools of yesterday's rain.
I think I have been happier this Christmas than ever before,--by my own fireside, and with my wife and children about me,--more content to enjoy what I have,--less anxious for anything beyond it in this life.
My early life was perhaps a good preparation for the
declining half of life; it having been such a blank that any thereafter would
compare favorably with it. For a long,
long while, I have occasionally been visited with a singular dream; and I have
an impression that I have dreamed it ever since I have been in
January 3d, 1855.--The progress of the age is trampling over
the aristocratic institutions of
January 6th.--The American ambassador called on me to-day
and stayed a good while,--an hour or two.
He is visiting at Mr. William Browne's, at
January 9th.--I dined at Mr. William Browne's (M. P.) last,
evening with a large party. The whole
table and dessert service was of silver. Speaking of Shakespeare, Mr. ------
said that the Duke of Somerset, who is now nearly fourscore, told him that the
father of John and Charles Kemble had made all possible research into the
events of Shakespeare's life, and that he had found reason to believe that
Shakespeare attended a certain revel at Stratford, and, indulging too much in
the conviviality of the occasion, he tumbled into a ditch on his way home, and
died there! The Kemble patriarch was an aged man when he communicated this to
the Duke; and their ages, linked to each other; would extend back a good way;
scarcely to the beginning of the last century, however. If I mistake not, it was from the traditions
Miss L---- has an English rather than an American aspect,--being of stronger outline than most of our young ladies, although handsomer than English women generally, extremely self-possessed and well poised without affectation or assumption, but quietly conscious of rank, as much so as if she were an Earl's daughter. In truth, she felt pretty much as an Earl's daughter would do towards the merchants' wives and daughters who made up the feminine portion of the party.
I talked with her a little, and found her sensible, vivacious, and firm-textured, rather than soft and sentimental. She paid me some compliments; but I do not remember paying her any.
Mr. J-----'s daughters, two pale, handsome girls, were present. One of them is to be married to a grandson of Mr. ------, who was also at the dinner. He is a small young man, with a thin and fair mustache, . . . . and a lady who sat next me whispered that his expectations are 6,000 pounds per annum. It struck me, that, being a country gentleman's son, he kept himself silent and reserved, as feeling himself too good for this commercial dinner-party; but perhaps, and I rather think so, he was really shy and had nothing to say, being only twenty-one, and therefore quite a boy among Englishmen. The only man of cognizable rank present, except Mr. ------ and the Mayor of Liverpool, was a Baronet, Sir Thomas Birch.
January 17th.--S---- and I were invited to be present at the
wedding of Mr. J-------'s daughter this morning, but we were also bidden to the
funeral services of Mrs. G------, a young American lady; and we went to the
"house of mourning," rather than to the "house of
feasting." Her death was very
sudden. I crossed to Rock Ferry on
Saturday, and met her husband in the boat.
He said his wife was rather unwell, and that he
had just been sent for to see her; but he did not seem at all alarmed. And yet, on reaching home, he found her
dead! The body is to be conveyed to
Mr. G------ sat down and rested his head on the coffin: the clergyman read the service; then knelt down, as did most of the company, and prayed with great propriety of manner, but with no earnestness,--and we separated.
Mr. G------ is a small, smooth, and pretty young man, not emphasized in any way; but grief threw its awfulness about him to-day in a degree which I should not have expected.
January 20th.--Mr. Steele, a gentleman of Rock Ferry, showed me this morning a pencil-case formerly belonging to Dr. Johnson. It is six or seven inches long, of large calibre, and very clumsily manufactured of iron, perhaps plated in its better days, but now quite bare. Indeed, it looks as rough as an article of kitchen furniture. The intaglio on the end is a lion rampant. On the whole, it well became Dr. Johnson to have used such a stalwart pencil-case. It had a six-inch measure on a part of it, so that it must have been at least eight inches long. Mr. Steele says he has seen a cracked earthen teapot, of large size, in which Miss Williams used to make tea for Dr. Johnson.
God himself cannot compensate us for being born for any period short of eternity. All the misery endured here constitutes a claim for another life, and, still more, all the happiness; because all true happiness involves something more than the earth owns, and needs something more than a mortal capacity for the enjoyment of it.
After receiving an injury on the head, a person fancied all the rest of his life that he heard voices flouting, jeering, and upbraiding him.
February 19th.--I dined with the Mayor at the Town Hall last
Friday evening. I sat next to Mr. W.
J------, an Irish-American merchant, who is in very good standing here. He told me that he used to be very well
acquainted with General Jackson, and that he was present at the street fight
between him and the Bentons, and helped to take General Jackson off the
ground. Colonel Benton shot at him from
behind; but it was Jesse Benton's ball that hit him and broke his arm. I did not understand him to infer any
treachery or cowardice from the circumstance of Colonel Benton's shooting at
These dinners of the Mayors are rather agreeable than otherwise, except for the annoyance, in my case, of being called up to speak to a toast, and that is less disagreeable than at first. The suite of rooms at the Town House is stately and splendid, and all the Mayors, as far as I have seen, exercise hospitality in a manner worthy of the chief magistrates of a great city. They are supposed always to spend much more than their salary (which is 2,000 pounds) in these entertainments. The town provides the wines, I am told, and it might be expected that they should be particularly good,--at least, those which improve by age, for a quarter of a century should be only a moderate age for wine from the cellars of centuries-long institutions, like a corporate borough. Each Mayor might lay in a supply of the best vintage he could find, and trust his good name to posterity to the credit of that wine; and so he would be kindly and warmly remembered long after his own nose had lost its rubicundity. In point of fact, the wines seem to be good, but not remarkable. The dinner was good, and very handsomely served, with attendance enough, both in the hall below--where the door was wide open at the appointed hour, notwithstanding the cold--and at table; some being in the rich livery of the borough, and some in plain clothes. Servants, too, were stationed at various points from the hall to the reception-room; and the last one shouted forth the name of the entering guest. There were, I should think, about fifty guests at this dinner. Two bishops were present. The Bishops of Chester and New South Wales, dressed in a kind of long tunics, with black breeches and silk stockings, insomuch that I first fancied they were Catholics. Also Dr. McNeil, in a stiff-collared coat, looking more like a general than a divine. There were two officers in blue uniforms; and all the rest of us were in black, with only two white waistcoats,--my own being one,--and a rare sprinkling of white cravats. How hideously a man looks in them! I should like to have seen such assemblages as must have gathered in that reception-room, and walked with stately tread to the dining-hall, in times past, the Mayor and other civic dignitaries in their robes, noblemen in their state dresses, the Consul in his olive-leaf embroidery, everybody in some sort of bedizenment,--and then the dinner would have been a magnificent spectacle, worthy of the gilded hall, the rich table-service, and the powdered and gold-laced servitors. At a former dinner I remember seeing a gentleman in small-clothes, with a dress-sword; but all formalities of the kind are passing away. The Mayor's dinners, too, will no doubt be extinct before many years go by. I drove home from the Woodside Ferry in a cab with Bishop Burke and two other gentlemen. The Bishop is nearly seven feet high.
After writing the foregoing account of a civic banquet, where I ate turtle-soup, salmon, woodcock, oyster patties, and I know not what else, I have been to the News-room and found the Exchange pavement densely thronged with people of all ages and of all manner of dirt and rags. They were waiting for soup-tickets, and waiting very patiently too, without outcry or disturbance, or even sour looks,--only patience and meekness in their faces. Well, I don't know that they have a right to he impatient of starvation; but, still there does seem to be an insolence of riches and prosperity, which one day or another will have a downfall. And this will be a pity, too.
On Saturday I went with my friend Mr. Bright to Otterpool and to Larkhill to see the skaters on the private waters of those two seats of gentlemen; and it is a wonder to behold--and it is always a new wonder to me--how comfortable Englishmen know how to make themselves; locating their dwellings far within private grounds, with secure gateways and porters' lodges, and the smoothest roads and trimmest paths, and shaven lawns, and clumps of trees, and every bit of the ground, every hill and dell, made the most of for convenience and beauty, and so well kept that even winter cannot cause disarray; and all this appropriated to the same family for generations, so that I suppose they come to believe it created exclusively and on purpose for them. And, really, the result is good and beautiful. It is a home,--an institution which we Americans have not; but then I doubt whether anybody is entitled to a home in this world, in so full a sense.
The day was very cold, and the skaters seemed to enjoy
themselves exceedingly. They were, I
suppose, friends of the owners of the grounds, and Mr. Bright said they were
treated in a jolly way, with hot luncheons. The skaters practise skating more
as an art, and can perform finer manoeuvres on the ice, than our
Mr. W. J------ spoke of General Jackson as having come from
the same part of
February 21st.--Yesterday two companies of work-people came
to our house in
I think that the feeling of an American, divided, as I am, by the ocean from his country, has a continual and immediate correspondence with the national feeling at home; and it seems to be independent of any external communication. Thus, my ideas about the Russian war vary in accordance with the state of the public mind at home, so that I am conscious whereabouts public sympathy is.
March 7th.--J----- and I walked to Tranmere, and passed an
old house which I suppose to be Tranmere Hall.
Our way to it was up a hollow lane, with a bank and hedge on each side,
and with a few thatched stone cottages, centuries old, their ridge-poles
crooked and the stones time-worn, scattered along. At one point there was a wide, deep well,
hewn out of the solid red freestone, and with steps, also hewn in solid rock,
leading down to it. These steps were
much hollowed by the feet of those who had come to the well; and they reach
beneath the water, which is very high.
The well probably supplied water to the old cotters and retainers of
Tranmere Hall five hundred years ago.
The Hall stands on the verge of a long hill which stretches behind
Tranmere and as far as
It is an old gray stone edifice, with a good many gables,
and windows with mullions, and some of them extending the whole breadth of the
gable. In some parts of the house, the windows seem to have been built up;
probably in the days when daylight was taxed.
The form of the Hall is multiplex, the roofs sloping down and
intersecting one another, so as to make the general result indescribable. There were two sun-dials on different sides
of the house, both the dial-plates of which were of stone; and on one the
figures, so far as I could see, were quite worn off, but the gnomon still cast
a shadow over it in such a way that I could judge that it was about noon. The other dial had some half-worn hour-marks,
but no gnomon. The chinks of the stones
of the house were very weedy, and the building looked quaint and venerable; but
it is now converted into a farm-house, with the farm-yard and outbuildings
closely appended. A village, too, has
grown up about it, so that it seems out of place among modern stuccoed
dwellings, such as are erected for tradesmen and other moderate people who have
their residences in the neighborhood of a great city. Among these there are a few thatched
cottages, the homeliest domiciles that ever mortals lived in, belonging to the
old estate. Directly across the street
is a Wayside Inn, "licensed to sell wine, spirits, ale, and tobacco." The street itself has been laid out since the
land grew valuable by the increase of Liverpool and
March 27th.--I attended court to day, at St. George's Hall, with my wife, Mr. Bright, and Mr. Channing, sitting in the High Sheriff's seat. It was the civil side, and Mr. Justice Cresswell presided. The lawyers, as far as aspect goes, seemed to me inferior to an American bar, judging from their countenances, whether as intellectual men or gentlemen. Their wigs and gowns do not impose on the spectator, though they strike him as an imposition. Their date is past. Mr. Warren, of the "Ten Thousand a Year," was in court,--a pale, thin, intelligent face, evidently a nervous man, more unquiet than anybody else in court,--always restless in his seat, whispering to his neighbors, settling his wig, perhaps with an idea that people single him out.
St. George's Hall--the interior hall itself, I mean--is a spacious, lofty, and most rich and noble apartment, and very satisfactory. The pavement is made of mosaic tiles, and has a beautiful effect.
April 7th.--I dined at Mr. J. P. Heywood's on Thursday, and
met there Mr. and Mrs. ------ of Smithell's Hall. The Hall is an old edifice of some five
hundred years, and Mrs. ------ says there is a bloody footstep at the foot of
the great staircase. The tradition is
that a certain martyr, in Bloody Mary's time, being examined before the
occupant of the Hall, and committed to prison, stamped his foot, in earnest
protest against the injustice with which he was treated. Blood issued from his foot, which slid along
the stone pavement, leaving a long footmark, printed in blood. And there it has
remained ever since, in spite of the scrubbings of all succeeding generations. Mrs. ------ spoke of it with much solemnity,
real or affected. She says that they now
cover the bloody impress with a carpet, being unable to remove it. In the History of Lancashire, which I looked
at last night, there is quite a different account,--according to which the
footstep is not a bloody one, but is a slight cavity or inequality in the
surface of the stone, somewhat in the shape of a man's foot with a peaked
shoe. The martyr's name was George
Marsh. He was a curate, and was
afterwards burnt. Mrs. ------ asked me
to go and see the Hall and the footmark; and as it is in
April 12th.--The Earl of ------, whom I saw the other day at
St. George's Hall, has a somewhat elderly look,--a pale and rather thin face,
which strikes one as remarkably short, or compressed from top to bottom.
Nevertheless, it has great intelligence, and
sensitiveness too, I should think, but a cold, disagreeable expression. I should take him to be a man of not very
pleasant temper,--not genial. He has no physical presence nor dignity, yet one sees him to be a
person of rank and consequence. But,
after all, there is nothing about him which it need have taken centuries of
illustrious nobility to produce, especially in a man of remarkable ability, as
Lord ------ certainly is. S-----, who
attended court all through the Hapgood trial, and saw Lord ------ for hours
together every day, has come to conclusions quite different from mine. She thinks him a perfectly natural person,
without any assumption, any self-consciousness, any scorn of the lower
world. She was delighted with his ready
appreciation and feeling of what was passing around him,--his quick enjoyment
of a joke,--the simplicity and unaffectedness of his emotion at whatever
incidents excited his interest,--the genial acknowledgment of sympathy, causing
him to look round and exchange glances with those near him, who were not his
individual friends, but barristers and other casual persons. He seemed to her all that a nobleman ought to
be, entirely simple and free from pretence and self-assertion, which persons of
lower rank can hardly help bedevilling themselves with. I saw him only for a very few moments, so
cannot put my observation against hers, especially as I was influenced by what
I had heard the
I do not know whether I have mentioned that the handsomest
man I have seen in
In my Romance, the original emigrant to
April 24th.--On Saturday I was present at a dejeuner on
board the Donald McKay; the principal guest being Mr. Layard, M. P. There were several hundred people, quite
filling the between decks of the ship, which was converted into a saloon for
the occasion. I sat next to Mr. Layard,
at the head of the table, and so had a good opportunity of seeing and getting
acquainted with him. He is a man in
early middle age,--of middle stature, with an open, frank, intelligent, kindly
face. His forehead is not expansive, but
is prominent in the perceptive regions, and retreats a good deal. His mouth is full,--I
liked him from the first. He was very
kind and complimentary to me, and made me promise to go and see him in
It would have been a very pleasant entertainment, only that
my pleasure in it was much marred by having to acknowledge a toast, in honor of
the President. However, such things do
not trouble me nearly so much as they used to do, and I came through it
tolerably enough. Mr. Layard's speech
was the great affair of the day. He
speaks with much fluency (though he assured me that he had to put great force
upon himself to speak publicly), and, as he warms up, seems to engage with his
whole moral and physical man,--quite possessed with what he has to say. His evident earnestness and good faith make
him eloquent, and stand him instead of oratorical graces. His views of the position of
April 25th.--Taking the deposition of sailors yesterday, in a case of alleged ill-usage by the officers of a vessel, one of the witnesses was an old seaman of sixty. In reply to some testimony of his, the captain said, "You were the oldest man in the ship, and we honored you as such." The mate also said that he never could have thought of striking an old man like that. Indeed, the poor old fellow had a kind of dignity and venerableness about him, though he confessed to having been drunk, and seems to have been a mischief-maker, what they call a sea-preacher,--promoting discontent and grumbling. He must have been a very handsome man in his youth, having regular features of a noble and beautiful cast. His beard was gray; but his dark hair had hardly a streak of white, and was abundant all over his head. He was deaf, and seemed to sit in a kind of seclusion, unless when loudly questioned or appealed to. Once he broke forth from a deep silence thus, "I defy any man!" and then was silent again. It had a strange effect, this general defiance, which he meant, I suppose, in answer to some accusation that he thought was made against him. His general behavior throughout the examination was very decorous and proper; and he said he had never but once hitherto been before a consul, and that was in 1819, when a mate had ill-used him, and, "being a young man then, I gave him a beating,"--whereupon his face gleamed with a quiet smile, like faint sunshine on an old ruin. "By many a tempest has his beard been shook"; and I suppose he must soon go into a workhouse, and thence, shortly, to his grave. He is now in a hospital, having, as the surgeon certifies, some ribs fractured; but there does not appear to have been any violence used upon him aboard the ship of such a nature as to cause this injury, though he swears it was a blow from a rope, and nothing else. What struck me in the case was the respect and rank that his age seemed to give him, in the view of the officers; and how, as the captain's expression signified, it lifted him out of his low position, and made him a person to be honored. The dignity of his manner is perhaps partly owing to the ancient mariner, with his long experience, being an oracle among the forecastle men.
May 3d.--It rains to-day, after a very long period of east-wind and dry weather. The east-wind here, blowing across the island, seems to be the least damp of all the winds; but it is full of malice and mischief, of an indescribably evil temper, and stabs one like a cold, poisoned dagger. I never spent so disagreeable a spring as this, although almost every day for a month has been bright.
Friday, May 11th.--A few weeks ago, a sailor, a most pitiable object, came to my office to complain of cruelty from his captain and mate. They had beaten him shamefully, of which he bore grievous marks about his face and eyes, and bruises on his head and other parts of his person: and finally the ship had sailed, leaving him behind. I never in my life saw so forlorn a fellow, so ragged, so wretched; and even his wits seemed to have been beaten out of him, if perchance he ever had any. He got an order for the hospital; and there he has been, off and on, ever since, till yesterday, when I received a message that he was dying, and wished to see the Consul; so I went with Mr. Wilding to the hospital. We were ushered into the waiting-room,--a kind of parlor, with a fire in the grate, and a centre-table, whereon lay one or two medical journals, with wood engravings; and there was a young man, who seemed to be an official of the house, reading. Shortly the surgeon appeared,--a brisk, cheerful, kindly sort of person, whom I have met there on previous visits. He told us that the man was dying, and probably would not be able to communicate anything, but, nevertheless, ushered us up to the highest floor, and into the room where he lay. It was a large, oblong room, with ten or twelve beds in it, each occupied by a patient. The surgeon said that the hospital was often so crowded that they were compelled to lay some of the patients on the floor. The man whom we came to see lay on his bed in a little recess formed by a projecting window; so that there was a kind of seclusion for him to die in. He seemed quite insensible to outward things, and took no notice of our approach, nor responded to what was said to him,--lying on his side, breathing with short gasps,--his apparent disease being inflammation of the chest, although the surgeon said that he might be found to have sustained internal injury by bruises. he was restless, tossing his head continually, mostly with his eyes shut, and much compressed and screwed up, but sometimes opening them; and then they looked brighter and darker than when I first saw them. I think his face was not at any time so stupid as at his first interview with me; but whatever intelligence he had was rather inward than outward, as if there might be life and consciousness at a depth within, while as to external matters he was in a mist. The surgeon felt his wrist, and said that there was absolutely no pulsation, and that he might die at any moment, or might perhaps live an hour, but that there was no prospect of his being able to communicate with me. He was quite restless, nevertheless, and sometimes half raised himself in bed, sometimes turned himself quite over, and then lay gasping for an instant. His woollen shirt being thrust up on his arm, there appeared a tattooing of a ship and anchor, and other nautical emblems, on both of them, which another sailor-patient, on examining them, said must have been done years ago. This might be of some importance, because the dying man had told me, when I first saw him, that he was no sailor, but a farmer, and that, this being his first voyage, he had been beaten by the captain for not doing a sailor's duty, which he had had no opportunity of learning. These sea-emblems indicated that he was probably a seaman of some years' service.
While we stood in the little recess, such of the other patients as were convalescent gathered near the foot of the bed; and the nurse came and looked on, and hovered about us,--a sharp-eyed, intelligent woman of middle age, with a careful and kind expression, neglecting nothing that was for the patient's good, yet taking his death as coolly as any other incident in her daily business. Certainly, it was a very forlorn death-bed; and I felt--what I have heretofore been inclined to doubt--that it might, be a comfort to have persons whom one loves, to go with us to the threshold of the other world, and leave us only when we are fairly across it. This poor fellow had a wife and two children on the other side of the water.
At first he did not utter any sound; but by and by he moaned a little, and gave tokens of being more sensible to outward concerns,--not quite so misty and dreamy as hitherto. We had been talking all the while--myself in a whisper, but the surgeon in his ordinary tones--about his state, without his paying any attention. But now the surgeon put his mouth down to the man's face and said, "Do you know that you are dying?" At this the patient's head began to move upon the pillow; and I thought at first that it was only the restlessness that he had shown all along; but soon it appeared to be an expression of emphatic dissent, a negative shake of the head. He shook it with all his might, and groaned and mumbled, so that it was very evident how miserably reluctant he was to die. Soon after this he absolutely spoke. "O, I want you to get me well! I want to get away from here!" in a groaning and moaning utterance. The surgeon's question had revived him, but to no purpose; for, being told that the Consul had come to see him, and asked whether he had anything to communicate, he said only, "O, I want him to get me well!" and the whole life that was left in him seemed to be unwillingness to die. This did not last long; for he soon relapsed into his first state, only with his face a little more pinched and screwed up, and his eyes strangely sunken. And lost in his head; and the surgeon said that there would be no use in my remaining. So I took my leave. Mr. Wilding had brought a deposition of the man's evidence, which he had clearly made at the Consulate, for him to sign, and this we left with the surgeon, in case there should be such an interval of consciousness and intelligence before death as to make it possible for him to sign it. But of this there is no probability.
I have just received a note from the hospital, stating that the sailor, Daniel Smith, died about three quarters of an hour after I saw him.
May 18th.--The above-mentioned Daniel Smith had about him a bundle of letters, which I have
examined. They are all very yellow,
stained with sea-water, smelling of bad tobacco-smoke, and much worn at the
folds. Never were such ill-written letters, nor such
incredibly fantastic spelling. They seem
to be from various members of his family,--most of them from a brother, who
purports to have been a deck-hand in the coasting and steamboat trade between
Charleston and other ports; others from female relations; one from his father,
in which he inquires how long his son has been in jail, and when the trial is
to come on,--the offence, however, of which he was accused, not being
indicated. But from the tenor of his
brother's letters, it would appear that he was a small farmer in the interior
The seed of the long-stapled cotton, now cultivated in
May 22d.--Captain J------ says that he saw, in his late voyage to Australia and India, a vessel commanded by an Englishman, who had with him his wife and thirteen children. This ship was the home of the family, and they had no other. The thirteen children had all been born on board, and had been brought up on board, and knew nothing of dry land, except by occasionally setting foot on it.
Captain J------ is a very agreeable specimen of the American shipmaster, --a pleasant, gentlemanly man, not at all refined, and yet with fine and honorable sensibilities. Very easy in his manners and conversation, yet gentle,--talking on freely, and not much minding grammar; but finding a sufficient and picturesque expression for what he wishes to say; very cheerful and vivacious; accessible to feeling, as yesterday, when talking about the recent death of his mother. His voice faltered, and the tears came into his eyes, though before and afterwards he smiled merrily, and made us smile; fond of his wife, and carrying her about the world with him, and blending her with all his enjoyments; an excellent and sagacious man of business; liberal in his expenditure; proud of his ship and flag; always well dressed, with some little touch of sailor-like flashiness, but not a whit too much; slender in figure, with a handsome face, and rather profuse brown beard and whiskers; active and alert; about thirty-two. A daguerreotype sketch of any conversation of his would do him no justice, for its slang, its grammatical mistakes, its mistaken words (as "portable" for "portly"), would represent a vulgar man, whereas the impression he leaves is by no means that of vulgarity; but he is a character quite perfect within itself, fit for the deck and the cabin, and agreeable in the drawing-room, though not amenable altogether to its rules. Being so perfectly natural, he is more of a gentleman for those little violations of rule, which most men, with his opportunities, might escape.
The men whose appeals to the Consul's charity are the
hardest to be denied are those who have no country,---Hungarians,
Poles, Cubans, Spanish-Americans, and French republicans. All exiles for liberty come to me, if the
May 30th.--The two past days have been Whitsuntide holidays;
and they have been celebrated at Tranmere in a manner very similar to that of
the old "Election" in Massachusetts, as I remember it a good many
years ago, though the festival has now almost or quite died out. Whitsuntide was kept up on our side of the water, I am convinced, under pretence of rejoicings at the
election of Governor. It occurred at
precisely the same period of the year,--the same week; the only difference
being, that Monday and Tuesday are the Whitsun festival days, whereas, in
I passed through Tranmere yesterday forenoon, and lingered
awhile to see the sports. The greatest
peculiarity of the crowd, to my eye, was that they seemed not to have any best
clothes, and therefore had put on no holiday suits,--a grimy people, as at all
times, heavy, obtuse, with thick beer in their blood. Coarse, rough-complexioned women and girls
were intermingled, the girls with no maiden trimness in their attire, large and
blowsy. Nobody seemed to have been washed
that day. All the enjoyment was of an
exceedingly sombre character, so far as I saw it, though there was a richer variety of sports than at similar festivals in
May 31st.--Last Sunday week, for the first time, I heard the
note of the cuckoo.
"Cuck-oo--cuck-oo" it says, repeating the word twice, not in a
brilliant metallic tone, but low and flute-like, without the excessive
sweetness of the flute,--without an excess of saccharine juice in the
sound. There are said to be always two
cuckoos seen together. The note is very
soft and pleasant. The larks I have not
yet heard in the sky; though it is not infrequent to hear one singing in a
cage, in the streets of
Brewers' draymen are allowed to drink as much of their master's beverage as they like, and they grow very brawny and corpulent, resembling their own horses in size, and presenting, one would suppose, perfect pictures of physical comfort and well-being. But the least bruise, or even the hurt of a finger, is liable to turn to gangrene or erysipelas, and become fatal.
When the wind blows violently, however clear the sky, the English say, "It is a stormy day." And, on the other hand, when the air is still, and it does not actually rain, however dark and lowering the sky may be, they say, "The weather is fine!"
June 2d.--The English women of the lower classes have a grace of their own, not seen in each individual, but nevertheless belonging to their order, which is not to be found in American women of the corresponding class. The other day, in the police court, a girl was put into the witness-box, whose native graces of this sort impressed me a good deal. She was coarse, and her dress was none of the cleanest, and nowise smart. She appeared to have been up all night, too, drinking at the Tranmere wake, and had since ridden in a cart, covered up with a rug. She described herself as a servant-girl, out of place; and her charm lay in all her manifestations,--her tones, her gestures, her look, her way of speaking and what she said, being so appropriate and natural in a girl of that class; nothing affected; no proper grace thrown away by attempting to appear lady-like,--which an American girl would have attempted,--and she would also have succeeded in a certain degree. If each class would but keep within itself, and show its respect for itself by aiming at nothing beyond, they would all be more respectable. But this kind of fitness is evidently not to be expected in the future; and something else must be substituted for it.
These scenes at the police court are often well worth witnessing. The controlling genius of the court, except when the stipendiary magistrate presides, is the clerk, who is a man learned in the law. Nominally the cases are decided by the aldermen, who sit in rotation, but at every important point there comes a nod or a whisper from the clerk; and it is that whisper which sets the defendant free or sends him to prison. Nevertheless, I suppose the alderman's common-sense and native shrewdness are not without their efficacy in producing a general tendency towards the right; and, no doubt, the decisions of the police court are quite as often just as those of any other court whatever.
June 11th.--I walked with J----- yesterday to
At each entrance of Rock Park, where we live, there is a small Gothic structure of stone, each inhabited by a policeman and his family; very small dwellings indeed, with the main apartment opening directly out-of-doors; and when the door is open, one can see the household fire, the good wife at work, perhaps the table set, and a throng of children clustering round, and generally overflowing the threshold. The policeman walks about the Park in stately fashion, with his silver-laced blue uniform and snow-white gloves, touching his hat to gentlemen who reside in the Park. In his public capacity he has rather an awful aspect, but privately he is a humble man enough, glad of any little job, and of old clothes for his many children, or, I believe, for himself. One of the two policemen is a shoemaker and cobbler. His pay, officially, is somewhere about a guinea a week.
The Park, just now, is very agreeable to look at, shadowy with trees and shrubs, and with glimpses of green leaves and flower-gardens through the branches and twigs that line the iron fences. After a shower the hawthorn blossoms are delightfully fragrant. Golden tassels of the laburnum are abundant.
I may have mentioned elsewhere the traditional prophecy, that, when the ivy should reach the top of Bebbington spire, the tower was doomed to fall. It lies still, therefore, a chance of standing for centuries. Mr. Turner tells me that the font now used is inside of the church, but the one outside is of unknown antiquity, and that it was customary, in papistical time, to have the font without the church.
There is a little boy often on board the Rock Ferry steamer
with an accordion,--an instrument I detest; but nevertheless it becomes
tolerable in his hands, not so much for its music, as for the earnestness and
interest with which he plays it. His
body and the accordion together become one musical instrument on which his soul
plays tunes, for he sways and vibrates with the music from head to foot and
throughout his frame, half closing his eyes and uplifting his face, as painters
represent St. Cecilia and other famous musicians; and sometimes he swings his
accordion in the air, as if in a perfect rapture. After all, my ears, though not very nice, are
somewhat tortured by his melodies, especially when confined within the cabin. The boy is ten years old, perhaps, and rather
pretty; clean, too, and neatly dressed, very unlike all other street and
vagabond children whom I have seen in
J-----, the other day, was describing a soldier-crab to his mother, he being much interested in natural history, and endeavoring to give as strong an idea as possible of its warlike characteristics, and power to harm those who molest it. Little R----- sat by, quietly listening and sewing, and at last, lifting her head, she remarked, "I hope God did not hurt himself, when he was making him!"
June 21st.--We left Rock Ferry and Liverpool on Monday the
18th by the rail for this place; a very dim and rainy day, so that we had no
pleasant prospects of the country; neither would the scenery along the Great
Western Railway have been in any case very striking, though sunshine would have
made the abundant verdure and foliage warm and genial. But a railway naturally finds its way through
all the common places of a country, and is certainly a most unsatisfactory mode
of travelling, the only object being to arrive.
However, we had a whole carriage to ourselves, and the children enjoyed
the earlier part of the journey very much.
During the afternoon we found lodgings, and established ourselves in them before dark.
This English custom of lodgings, of which we had some experience at Rhyl last year, has its advantages; but is rather uncomfortable for strangers, who, in first settling themselves down, find that they must undertake all the responsibility of housekeeping at an instant's warming, and cannot get even a cup of tea till they have made arrangements with the grocer. Soon, however, there comes a sense of being at home, and by our exclusive selves, which never can be attained at hotels nor boarding-houses. Our house is well situated and respectably furnished, with the dinginess, however, which is inseparable from lodging-houses,--as if others had used these things before and would use them again after we had gone,--a well-enough adaptation, but a lack of peculiar appropriateness; and I think one puts off real enjoyment from a sense of not being truly fitted.
July 1st.--On Friday I took the rail with J----- for
I imagine that these ancient towns--such as
It was fair-day in
We rambled about without any definite aim, but found our
way, I believe, to most of the objects that are worth seeing. St. Michael's Church was most
magnificent,--so old, yet enduring; so huge, so rich; with such intricate
minuteness in its finish, that, look as long as you will at it, you can always
discover something new directly before your eyes. I admire this in Gothic architecture,--that
you cannot master it all at once, that it is not a naked outline; but, as deep
and rich as human nature itself, always revealing new ideas. It is as if the builder had built himself and
his age up into it, and as if the edifice had life. Grecian temples are less
interesting to me, being so cold and crystalline. I think this is the only church I have seen
where there are any statues still left standing in the niches of the exterior
walls. We did not go inside. The steeple of St. Michael's is three hundred
and three feet high, and no doubt the clouds often envelop the tip of the
spire. Trinity, another church with a
tall spire, stands near St. Michael's, but did not attract me so much; though
I, perhaps, might have admired it equally, had I seen it first or alone. We certainly know nothing of church-building
In the course of the forenoon, searching about everywhere in quest of Gothic architecture, we found our way into St. Mary's Hall. The doors were wide open; it seemed to be public,--there was a notice on the wall desiring visitors to give nothing to attendants for showing it, and so we walked in. I observed, in the guide-books, that we should have obtained an order for admission from some member of the town council; but we had none, and found no need of it. An old woman, and afterwards an old man, both of whom seemed to be at home on the premises, told us that we might enter, and troubled neither themselves nor us any further.
St. Mary's Hall is now the property of the Corporation of Coventry, and seems to be the place where the Mayor and Council hold their meetings. It was built by one of the old guilds or fraternities of merchants and tradesmen The woman shut the kitchen door when I approached, so that I did not see the great fireplaces and huge cooking-utensils which are said to be there. Whether these are ever used nowadays, and whether the Mayor of Coventry gives such hospitable banquets as the Mayor of Liverpool, I do not know.
We went to the Red Lion, and had a luncheon of cold lamb and
cold pigeon-pie. This is the best way of
dining at English hotels,--to call the meal a luncheon, in which case you will
get as good or better a variety than if it were a dinner, and at less than half
the cost. Having lunched, we again
wandered about town, and entered a quadrangle of gabled houses, with a church,
and its churchyard on one side. This proved
We were now rather tired, and went to the railroad,
intending to go home; but we got into the wrong train, and were carried by
express, with hurricane speed, to Bradon, where we alighted, and waited a good
while for the return train to
July 2d.--To-day I shall set out on my return to
TO THE LAKES.
July 4th.--I left Leamington on Monday, shortly after
twelve, having been accompanied to the railway station by U---- and J-----,
whom I sent away before the train started.
While I was waiting, a rather gentlemanly, well-to-do, English-looking
man sat down by me, and began to talk of the Crimea, of human affairs in
general, of God and his Providence, of the coming troubles of the world, and of
spiritualism, in a strange free way for an Englishman, or, indeed, for any
man. It was easy to see that he was an
enthusiast of some line or other. He
being bound for
[Here follows a long account of a visit to
July 6th.--The day after my arrival, by way of Lichfield and
Uttoxeter, at Liverpool, the door of the Consulate opened, and in came the very
sociable personage who accosted me at the railway station at Leamington. He was
on his way towards
NEWBY BRIDGE.--FOOT OF WINDERMERE.
July 13th.--I left Liverpool on Saturday last, by the London
and Northwestern Railway, for Leamington, spent Sunday there, and started on
Monday for the English lakes, with the whole family. We should not have taken this journey just
now, but I had an official engagement which it was convenient to combine with a
pleasure-excursion. The first night we
It is a very agreeable place: not striking as to scenery, but with a pleasant rural aspect. A stone bridge of five arches crosses the river Severn (which is the communication between Windermere Lake and Morecambe Bay) close to the house, which sits low--and well sheltered in the lap of hills,--an old-fashioned inn, where the landlord and his people have a simple and friendly way of dealing with their guests, and yet provide them with all sorts of facilities for being comfortable. They load our supper and breakfast tables with trout, cold beef, ham, toast, and muffins; and give us three fair courses for dinner, and excellent wine, the cost of all which remains to be seen. This is not one of the celebrated stations among the lakes; but twice a day the stage-coach passes from Milnethorpe towards Ulverton, and twice returns, and three times a little steamer passes to and fro between our hotel and the head of the lake. Young ladies, in broad-brimmed hats, stroll about, or row on the river in the light shallops, of which there are abundance; sportsmen sit on the benches under the windows of the hotel, arranging their fishing-tackle; phaetons and post-chaises, with postilions in scarlet jackets and white breeches, with one high-topped boot, and the other leathered far up on the leg to guard against friction between the horses, dash up to the door. Morning and night comes the stage-coach, and we inspect the outside passengers, almost face to face with us, from our parlor-windows, up one pair of stairs. Little boys, and J----- among them, spend hours on hours fishing in the clear, shallow river for the perch, chubs, and minnows that may be seen flashing, like gleams of light over the flat stones with which the bottom is paved. I cannot answer for the other boys, but J----- catches nothing.
There are a good many trees on the hills and roundabout, and pleasant roads loitering along by the gentle river-side, and it has been so sunny and warm since we came here that we shall have quite a genial recollection of the place, if we leave it before the skies have time to frown. The day after we came, we climbed a high and pretty steep hill, through a path shadowed with trees and shrubbery, up to a tower, from the summit of which we had a wide view of mountain scenery and the greater part of Windermere. This lake is a lovely little pool among the hills, long and narrow, beautifully indented with tiny bays and headlands; and when we saw it, it was one smile (as broad a smile as its narrowness allowed) with really brilliant sunshine. All the scenery we have yet met with is in excellent taste, and keeps itself within very proper bounds,--never getting too wild and rugged to shock the sensibilities of cultivated people, as American scenery is apt to do. On the rudest surface of English earth, there is seen the effect of centuries of civilization, so that you do not quite get at naked Nature anywhere. And then every point of beauty is so well known, and has been described so much, that one must needs look through other people's eyes, and feels as if he were seeing a picture rather than a reality. Man has, in short, entire possession of Nature here, and I should think young men might sometimes yearn for a fresher draught. But an American likes it.
Yesterday, July 12th, we took a phaeton and went to Furness
Abbey,--a drive of about sixteen miles, passing along the course of the Leam to
We reached Furness Abbey about twelve. There is a railway station close by the ruins; and a new hotel stands within the precincts of the abbey grounds; and continually there is the shriek, the whiz, the rumble, the bell-ringing, denoting the arrival of the trains; and passengers alight, and step at once (as their choice may be) into the refreshment-room, to get a glass of ale or a cigar,--or upon the gravelled paths of the lawn, leading to the old broken walls and arches of the abbey. The ruins are extensive, and the enclosure of the abbey is stated to have covered a space of sixty-five acres. It is impossible to describe them. The most interesting part is that which was formerly the church, and which, though now roofless, is still surrounded by walls, and retains the remnants of the pillars that formerly supported the intermingling curves of the arches. The floor is all overgrown with grass, strewn with fragments and capitals of pillars. It was a great and stately edifice, the length of the nave and choir having been nearly three hundred feet, and that of the transept more than half as much. The pillars along the nave were alternately a round, solid one and a clustered one. Now, what remains of some of them is even with the ground; others present a stump just high enough to form a seat; and others are, perhaps, a man's height from the ground,--and all are mossy, and with grass and weeds rooted into their chinks, and here and there a tuft of flowers, giving its tender little beauty to their decay. The material of the edifice is a soft red stone, and it is now extensively overgrown with a lichen of a very light gray line, which, at a little distance, makes the walls look as if they had long ago been whitewashed, and now had partially returned to their original color. The arches of the nave and transept were noble and immense; there were four of them together, supporting a tower which has long since disappeared,--arches loftier than I ever conceived to have been made by man. Very possibly, in some cathedral that I have seen, or am yet to see, there may be arches as stately as these; but I doubt whether they can ever show to such advantage in a perfect edifice as they do in this ruin,--most of them broken, only one, as far as I recollect, still completing its sweep. In this state they suggest a greater majesty and beauty than any finished human work can show; the crumbling traces of the half-obliterated design producing somewhat of the effect of the first idea of anything admirable, when it dawns upon the mind of an artist or a poet,--an idea which, do what he may, he is sure to fall short of in his attempt to embody it.
In the middle of the choir is a much-dilapidated monument of a cross-legged knight (a crusader, of course) in armor, very rudely executed; and, against the wall, lie two or three more bruised and battered warriors, with square helmets on their heads and visors down. Nothing can be uglier than these figures; the sculpture of those days seems to have been far behind the architecture. And yet they knew how to put a grotesque expression into the faces of their images, and we saw some fantastic shapes and heads at the lower points of arches which would do to copy into Punch. In the chancel, just at the point below where the high altar stands, was the burial-place of the old Barons of Kendal. The broken crusader, perhaps, represents one of them; and some of their stalwart bones might be found by digging down. Against the wall of the choir, near the vacant space where the altar was, are some stone seats with canopies richly carved in stone, all quite perfectly preserved, where the priests used to sit at intervals, during the celebration of mass. Conceive all these shattered walls, with here and there an arched door, or the great arched vacancy of a window; these broken stones and monuments scattered about; these rows of pillars up and down the nave; these arches, through which a giant might have stepped, and not needed to bow his head, unless in reverence to the sanctity of the place,--conceive it all, with such verdure and embroidery of flowers as the gentle, kindly moisture of the English climate procreates on all old things, making them more beautiful than new,--conceive it with the grass for sole pavement of the long and spacious aisle, and the sky above for the only roof. The sky, to be sure, is more majestic than the tallest of those arches; and yet these latter, perhaps, make the stronger impression of sublimity, because they translate the sweep of the sky to our finite comprehension. It was a most beautiful, warm, sunny day, and the ruins had all the pictorial advantage of bright light and deep shadows. I must not forget that birds flew in and out among the recesses, and chirped and warbled, and made themselves at home there. Doubtless, the birds of the present generation are the posterity of those who first settled in the ruins, after the Reformation; and perhaps the old monks of a still earlier day may have watched them building about the abbey, before it was a ruin at all.
We had an old description of the place with us, aided by which we traced out the principal part of the edifice, such as the church, as already mentioned, and, contiguous to this, the Chapter-house, which is better preserved than the church; also the kitchen, and the room where the monks met to talk; and the range of wall, where their cells probably were. I never before had given myself the trouble to form any distinct idea of what an abbey or monastery was,--a place where holy rites were daily and continually to be performed, with places to eat and sleep contiguous and convenient, in order that the monks might always be at hand to perform those rites. They lived only to worship, and therefore lived under the same roof with their place of worship, which, of course, was the principal object in the edifice, and hallowed the whole of it. We found, too, at one end of the ruins, what is supposed to have been a school-house for the children of the tenantry or villeins of the abbey. All round this room is a bench of stone against the wall, and the pedestal also of the master's seat. There are, likewise, the ruins of the mill; and the mill-stream, which is just as new as ever it was, still goes murmuring and babbling, and passes under two or three old bridges, consisting of a low gray arch overgrown with grass and shrubbery. That stream was the most fleeting and vanishing thing about the ponderous and high-piled abbey; and yet it has outlasted everything else, and might still outlast another such edifice, and be none the worse for wear.
There is not a great deal of ivy upon the walls, and though an ivied wall is a beautiful object, yet it is better not to have too much,--else it is but one wall of unbroken verdure, on which you can see none of the sculptural ornaments, nor any of the hieroglyphics of Time. A sweep of ivy here and there, with the gray wall everywhere showing through, makes the better picture; and I think that nothing is so effective as the little bunches of flowers, a mere handful, that grow in spots where the seeds have been carried by the wind ages ago.
I have made a miserable botch of this description; it is no description, but merely an attempt to preserve something of the impression it made on me, and in this I do not seem to have succeeded at all. I liked the contrast between the sombreness of the old walls, and the sunshine falling through them, and gladdening the grass that floored the aisles; also, I liked the effect of so many idle and cheerful people, strolling into the haunts of the dead monks, and going babbling about, and peering into the dark nooks; and listening to catch some idea of what the building was from a clerical-looking personage, who was explaining it to a party of his friends. I don't know how well acquainted this gentleman might be with the subject; but he seemed anxious not to impart his knowledge too extensively, and gave a pretty direct rebuff to an honest man who ventured an inquiry of him. I think that the railway, and the hotel within the abbey grounds, add to the charm of the place. A moonlight solitary visit might be very good, too, in its way; but I believe that one great charm and beauty of antiquity is, that we view it out of the midst of quite another mode of life; and the more perfectly this can be done, the better. It can never be done more perfectly than at Furness Abbey, which is in itself a very sombre scene, and stands, moreover, in the midst of a melancholy valley, the Saxon name of which means the Vale of the Deadly Nightshade.
The entrance to the stable-yard of the hotel is beneath a pointed arch of Saxon architecture, and on one side of this stands an old building, looking like a chapel, but which may have been a porter's lodge. The Abbot's residence was in this quarter; and the clerical personage, before alluded to, spoke of these as the oldest part of the ruins.
About half a mile on the hither side of the abbey stands the village of Dalton, in which is a castle built on a Roman foundation, and which was afterwards used by the abbots (in their capacity of feudal lords) as a prison. The abbey was founded about 1027 by King Stephen, before he came to the throne; and the faces of himself and of his queen are still to be seen on one of the walls.
We had a very agreeable drive home (our drive hither had been uncomfortably sunny and hot), and we stopped at Ulverton to buy a pair of shoes for J----- and some drawing-books and stationery. As we passed through the little town in the morning, it was all alive with the bustle and throng of the weekly market; and though this had ceased on our return, the streets still looked animated, because the heat of the day drew most of the population, I should imagine, out of doors. Old men look very antiquated here in their old-fashioned coats and breeches, sunning themselves by the wayside.
We reached home somewhere about eight o'clock,--home I see I
have called it; and it seems as homelike a spot as any we have found in
England,--the old inn, close by the bridge, beside the clear river, pleasantly
overshadowed by trees. It is entirely
English, and like nothing that one sees in
Mr. W------, our landlord, has lent us a splendid work with engravings, illustrating the antiquities of Furness Abbey. I gather from it that the hotel must have been rebuilt or repaired from an old manor-house, which was itself erected by a family of Prestons, after the Reformation, and was a renewal from the Abbot's residence. Much of the edifice probably, as it exists now, may have been part of the original one; and there are bas-reliefs of Scripture subjects, sculptured in stone, and fixed in the wall of the dining-room, which have been there since the Abbot's time. This author thinks that what we had supposed to be the school-house (on the authority of an old book) was really the building for the reception of guests, with its chapel. He says that the tall arches in the church are sixty feet high. The Earl of Burlington, I believe, is the present proprietor of the abbey.
July 16th.--On Saturday, we left
We arrived at the Lowwood Hotel, which is very near the head
of the lake, not long after two o'clock.
It stands almost on the
A steamboat comes to the pier as many as six times a day, and stage-coaches and omnibuses stop at the door still oftener, communicating with Ambleside and the town of Windermere, and with the railway, which opens London and all the world to us. We get no knowledge of our fellow-guests, all of whom, like ourselves, live in their own circles, and are just as remote from us as if the lake lay between. The only words I have spoken since arriving here have been to my own family or to a waiter, save to one or two young pedestrians who met me on a walk, and asked me the distance to Lowwood Hotel. "Just beyond here," said I, and I might stay for months without occasion to speak again.
Yesterday forenoon J----- and I walked to Ambleside,--distant barely two miles. It is a little town, chiefly of modern aspect, built on a very uneven hillside, and with very irregular streets and lanes, which bewilder the stranger as much as those of a larger city. Many of the houses look old, and are probably the cottages and farm-houses which composed the rude village a century ago; but there are stuccoed shops and dwellings, such as may have been built within a year or two; and three hotels, one of which has the look of a good old village inn; and the others are fashionable or commercial establishments. Through the midst of the village comes tumbling and rumbling a mountain streamlet, rushing through a deep, rocky dell, gliding under an old stone inch, and turning, when occasion calls, the great block of a water-mill. This is the only very striking feature of the village,--the stream taking its rough pathway to the lake as it used to do before the poets had made this region fashionable.
In the evening, just before eight o'clock, I took a walk
alone, by a road which goes up the hill, back of our hotel, and which I
supposed might be the road to the town of
This morning it is raining, and we are not very comfortable
nor contented, being all confined to our little parlor, which has a broken
window, against which I have pinned The Times to keep out the chill damp
air. U---- has
been ill, in consequence of having been overheated at
Since writing the above, I have found the first volume of
Sir Charles Grandison, and two of G. P. R. James's works, in the
coffee-room. The days pass heavily here,
and leave behind them a sense of having answered no very good purpose. They are long enough, at all events, for the
sun does not set till after eight o'clock, and rises I
know not when. One of the most
remarkable distinctions between
In front of our hotel, on the lawn between us and the lake, there are two trees, which we have hitherto taken to be yews; but on examining them more closely, I find that they are pine-trees, and quite dead and dry, although they have the aspect of dark rich life. But this is caused by the verdure of two great ivy-vines, which have twisted round them like gigantic snakes, and, clambering up and throttling the life out of them, have put out branches, and made crowns of thick green leaves, so that, at a little distance, it is quite impossible not to take them for genuine trees. The trunks of the ivy-vines must be more than a foot in circumference, and one feels they have stolen the life that belonged to the pines. The dead branches of one of the pines stick out horizontally through the ivy-boughs. The other shows nothing but the ivy, and in shape a good deal resembles a poplar. When the pine trunks shall have quite crumbled away, the ivy-stems will doubtless have gained sufficient strength to sustain themselves independently.
July 19th.--Yesterday S----- went down the lake in the
steamboat to take U----, baby, and nurse to Newby Bridge, while the three rest
of us should make a tour through the lake region. After mamma's departure, and when I had
finished some letters, J----- and I set out on a walk, which finally brought us
to Bowness, through much delightful shade of woods, and past beautiful rivulets
or brooklets, and up and down many hills.
This chief harbor of the lakes seemed alive and bustling with tourists,
it being a sunny and pleasant day, so that they were all abroad, like summer
insects. The town is a confused and
irregular little place, of very uneven surface.
There is an old church in it, and two or three large hotels. We stayed there perhaps half an hour, and
then went to the pier, where shortly a steamer arrived, with music
sounding,--on the deck of which, with her back to us, sat a lady in a gray
travelling-dress. J----- cried out, "Mamma! mamma!" to which the lady
deigned no notice, but, he repeating it, she turned round, and was as much surprised,
no doubt, to see her husband and son, as if this little lake had been the great
ocean, and we meeting each other from opposite shores of it. We soon steamed back to Lowwood, and took a
car thence for Rydal and
Our road to Rydal lay through Ambleside, which is certainly a very pretty town, and looks cheerfully in a sunny day. We saw Miss Martineau's residence, called "The Knoll," standing high up on a hillock, and having at its foot a Methodist chapel, for which, or whatever place of Christian worship, this good lady can have no occasion. We stopped a moment in the street below her house, and deliberated a little whether to call on her; but concluded we would not.
After leaving Ambleside, the road winds in and out among the
hills, and soon brings us to a sheet (or napkin, rather than a sheet) of water,
which the driver tells us is
On the roadside, as we reach the foot of the lake, stands a
spruce and rather large house of modern aspect, but with several gables and
much overgrown with ivy,--a very pretty and comfortable house, built, adorned,
and cared for with commendable taste. We
inquired whose it was, and the coachman said it was "Mr.
Wordsworth's," and that "Mrs. Wordsworth was still residing
there." So we were much delighted
to have seen his abode, and as we were to stay the night at
Reaching the house that had been pointed out to us as Wordsworth's residence, we began to peer about at its front and gables, and over the garden wall, on both sides of the road, quickening our enthusiasm as much as we could, and meditating to pilfer some flower or ivy-leaf from the house or its vicinity, to be kept as sacred memorials. At this juncture a man approached, who announced himself as the gardener of the place, and said, too, that this was not Wordsworth's house at all, but the residence of Mr. Ball, a Quaker gentleman; but that his ground adjoined Wordsworth's, and that he had liberty to take visitors through the latter. How absurd it would have been if we had carried away ivy-leaves and tender recollections from this domicile of a respectable Quaker! The gardener was an intelligent man, of pleasant, sociable, and respectful address; and as we went along he talked about the poet, whom he had known, and who, he said, was very familiar with the country people. He led us through Mr. Ball's grounds, up a steep hillside, by winding, gravelled walks, with summer-houses at points favorable for them. It was a very shady and pleasant spot, containing about an acre of ground, and all turned to good account by the manner of laying it out; so that it seemed more than it really is. In one place, on a small, smooth slab of slate, let into a rock, there is an inscription by Wordsworth, which I think I have read in his works, claiming kindly regards from those who visit the spot after his departure, because many trees had been spared at his intercession. His own grounds, or rather his ornamental garden, is separated from Mr. Ball's only by a wire fence, or some such barrier, and the gates have no fastening, so that the whole appears like one possession, and doubtless was so as regarded the poet's walks and enjoyments. We approached by paths so winding that I hardly know how the house stands in relation to the road; but, after much circuity, we really did see Wordsworth's residence,--an old house with an uneven ridge-pole, built of stone, no doubt, but plastered over with some neutral tint,--a house that would not have been remarkably pretty in itself, but so delightfully situated, so secluded, so hedged about with shrubbery, and adorned with flowers, so ivy-grown on one side, so beautified with the personal care of him who lived in it and loved it, that it seemed the very place for a poet's residence; and as if, while he lived so long in it, his poetry had manifested itself in flowers, shrubbery, and ivy. I never smelt such a delightful fragrance of flowers as there was all through the garden. In front of the house there is a circular terrace of two ascents, in raising which Wordsworth had himself performed much of the labor; and here there are seats, from which we obtained a fine view down the valley of the Rothay, with Windermere in the distance,--a view of several miles, and which we did not suppose could be seen, after winding among the hills so far from the lake. It is very beautiful and picture-like. While we sat here, S----- happened to refer to the ballad of little Barbara Lewthwaite, and J----- began to repeat the poem concerning her, and the gardener said that "little Barbara" had died not a great while ago, an elderly woman, leaving grown-up children behind her. Her marriage-name was Thompson, and the gardener believed there was nothing remarkable in her character.
There is a summer-house at one extremity of the grounds, in deepest shadow, but with glimpses of mountain views through trees which shut it in, and which have spread intercepting boughs since Wordsworth died. It is lined with pine-cones, in a pretty way enough, but of doubtful taste. I rather wonder that people of real taste should help Nature out, and beautify her, or perhaps rather prettify her so much as they do,--opening vistas, showing one thing, hiding another, making a scene picturesque, whether or no. I cannot rid myself of the feeling that there is something false--a kind of humbug--in all this. At any rate, the traces of it do not contribute to my enjoyment, and, indeed, it ought to be done so exquisitely as to leave no trace. But I ought not to criticise in any way a spot which gave me so much pleasure, and where it is good to think of Wordsworth in quiet, past days, walking in his home-shadow of trees which he knew, and training flowers, and trimming shrubs, and chanting in an undertone his own verses up and down the winding walks.
The gardener gave J----- a cone from the summer-house, which had fallen on the seat, and S----- got some mignonette, and leaves of laurel and ivy, and we wended our way back to the hotel. Wordsworth was not the owner of this house; it being the property of Lady Fleming. Mrs. Wordsworth still lives there, and is now at home.
Five o'clock.---All day it has been cloudy and showery, with thunder now and then; the mists hang low on the surrounding hills, adown which, at various points, we can see the snow-white fall of little streamlets ("forces" they call them here) swollen by the rain. An overcast day is not so gloomy in the hill-country as in the lowlands; there are more breaks, more transfusion of skylight through the gloom, as has been the case to-day, and as I found in Lenox; we get better acquainted with clouds by seeing at what height they be on the hillsides, and find that the difference betwixt a fair day and a cloudy and rainy one is very superficial, after all. Nevertheless, rain is rain, and wets a man just as much among the mountains as anywhere else; so we have been kept within doors all day, till an hour or so ago, when J----- and I went down to the village in quest of the post-office.
We took a path that leads from the hotel across the fields,
and, coming into a wood, crosses the Rothay by a one-arched bridge and passes
the village church. The Rothay is very
swift and turbulent to-day, and hurries along with foam-specks on its surface,
filling its banks from brim to brim,--a stream perhaps twenty feet wide,
perhaps more; for I am willing that the good little river should have all it
can fairly claim. It is the St. Lawrence of several of these English lakes,
through which it flows, and carries off their superfluous waters. In its haste, and with its rushing sound, it
was pleasant both to see and hear; and it sweeps by one side of the old
churchyard where Wordsworth lies buried,---the side
where his grave is made. The
At this corner of the churchyard there is a hawthorn bush or tree, the extremest branches of which stretch as far as where Wordsworth lies. This whole corner seems to be devoted to himself and his family and friends; and they all lie very closely together, side by side, and head to foot, as room could conveniently be found. Hartley Coleridge lies a little behind, in the direction of the church, his feet being towards Wordsworth's head, who lies in the row of those of his own blood. I found out Hartley Coleridge's grave sooner than Wordsworth's; for it is of marble, and, though simple enough, has more of sculptured device about it, having been erected, as I think the inscription states, by his brother and sister. Wordsworth has only the very simplest slab of slate, with "William Wordsworth" and nothing else upon it. As I recollect it, it is the midmost grave of the row. It is or has been well grass-grown, but the grass is quite worn away from the top, though sufficiently luxuriant at the sides. It looks as if people had stood upon it, and so does the grave next to it, which I believe is one of his children. I plucked some grass and weeds from it, and as he was buried within so few years they may fairly be supposed to have drawn their nutriment from his mortal remains, and I gathered them from just above his head. There is no fault to be found with his grave,--within view of the hills, within sound of the river, murmuring near by,--no fault except that he is crowded so closely with his kindred; and, moreover, that, being so old a churchyard, the earth over him must all have been human once. He might have had fresh earth to himself; but he chose this grave deliberately. No very stately and broad-based monument can ever be erected over it without infringing upon, covering, and overshadowing the graves, not only of his family, but of individuals who probably were quite disconnected with him. But it is pleasant to think and know--were it but on the evidence of this choice of a resting-place--that he did not care for a stately monument.
After leaving the churchyard, we wandered about in quest of
the post-office, and for a long time without success. This little town of
Since writing the above, I have been again with S----- to see Wordsworth's grave, and, finding the door of the church open, we went in. A woman and little girl were sweeping at the farther end, and the woman came towards us out of the cloud of dust which she had raised. We were surprised at the extremely antique appearance of the church. It is paved with bluish-gray flagstones, over which uncounted generations have trodden, leaving the floor as well laid as ever. The walls are very thick, and the arched windows open through them at a considerable distance above the floor. There is no middle aisle; but first a row of pews next either wall, and then an aisle on each side of the pews, occupying the centre of the church,--then, two side aisles, but no middle one. And down through the centre or the church runs a row of five arches, very rude and round-headed, all of rough stone, supported by rough and massive pillars, or rather square, stone blocks, which stand in the pews, and stood in the same places probably, long before the wood of those pews began to grow. Above this row of arches is another row, built upon the same mass of stone, and almost as broad, but lower; and on this upper row rests the framework, the oaken beams, the black skeleton of the roof. It is a very clumsy contrivance for supporting the roof, and if it were modern, we certainly should condemn it as very ugly; but being the relic of a simple age it comes in well with the antique simplicity of the whole structure. The roof goes up, barn-like, into its natural angle, and all the rafters and cross-beams are visible. There is an old font; and in the chancel is a niche, where (judging from a similar one in Furness Abbey) the holy water used to be placed for the priest's use while celebrating mass. Around the inside of the porch is a stone bench, against the wall, narrow and uneasy, but where a great many people had sat, who now have found quieter resting-places.
The woman was a very intelligent-looking person, not of the usual English ruddiness, but rather thin and somewhat pale, though bright, of aspect. Her way of talking was very agreeable. She inquired if we wished to see Wordsworth's monument, and at once showed it to us,--a slab of white marble fixed against the upper end of the central row of stone arches, with a pretty long inscription, and a profile bust, in bas-relief, of his aged countenance. The monument, is placed directly over Wordsworth's pew, and could best be seen and read from the very corner seat where he used to sit. The pew is one of those occupying the centre of the church, and is just across the aisle from the pulpit, and is the best of all for the purpose of seeing and hearing the clergyman, and likewise as convenient as any, from its neighborhood to the altar. On the other side of the aisle, beneath the pulpit, is Lady Fleming's pew. This and one or two others are curtained, Wordsworth's was not. I think I can bring up his image in that corner seat of his pew--a white-headed, tall, spare man, plain in aspect--better than in any other situation. The woman said that she had known him very well, and that he had made some verses on a sister of hers. She repeated the first lines, something about a lamb, but neither S----- nor I remembered them.
On the walls of the chancel there are monuments to the Flemings, and painted escutcheons of their arms; and along the side walls also, and on the square pillars of the row of arches, there are other monuments, generally of white marble, with the letters of the inscription blackened. On these pillars, likewise, and in many places in the walls, were hung verses from Scripture, painted on boards. At one of the doors was a poor-box,--an elaborately carved little box, of oak, with the date 1648, and the name of the church--St. Oswald's--upon it. The whole interior of the edifice was plain, simple, almost to grimness,--or would have been so, only that the foolish church-wardens, or other authority, have washed it over with the same buff color with which they have overlaid the exterior. It is a pity; it lightens it up, and desecrates it greatly, especially as the woman says that there were formerly paintings on the walls, now obliterated forever. I could have stayed in the old church much longer, and could write much more about it, but there must be an end to everything. Pacing it from the farther end to the elevation before the altar, I found that it was twenty-five paces long.
On looking again at the Rothay, I find I did it some
injustice; for at the bridge, in its present swollen state, it is nearer twenty
yards than twenty feet across. Its
waters are very clear, and it rushes along with a speed which is delightful to
see, after an acquaintance with the muddy and sluggish
Since tea I have taken a stroll from the hotel in a
different direction from heretofore, and passed the Swan Inn, where Scott used
to go daily to get a draught of liquor, when he was visiting Wordsworth, who
had no wine nor other inspiriting fluid in his
house. It stands directly on the
wayside,--a small, whitewashed house, with an addition in the rear that seems
to have been built since Scott's time.
On the door is the painted sign of a swan, and the name "Scott's
Swan Hotel." I walked a
considerable distance beyond it, but, a shower cooling up, I turned back,
entered the inn, and, following the mistress into a snug little room, was
served with a glass of bitter ale. It is
a very plain and homely inn, and certainly could not have satisfied Scott's
wants if he had required anything very far-fetched or delicate in his potations. I found two Westmoreland peasants in the
room, with ale before them. One went
away almost immediately; but the other remained, and, entering into
conversation with him, he told me that he was going to
July 21st.--We left
I question whether any part of the world looks so beautiful as
Passing through Ambleside, our phaeton and pair turned
towards Ullswater, which we were to reach through the
About the centre and at the highest point of the pass stands
an old stone building of mean appearance, with the usual sign of an alehouse,
"Licensed to retail foreign spirits, ale, and tobacco," over the
door, and another small sign, designating it as the highest inhabitable house
The Kirkstone, which gives the pass its name, is not seen in
approaching from Ambleside, until some time after you begin to descend towards
Brothers' Water. When the driver first pointed
it out, a little way up the hill on our left, it looked no more than a bowlder
of a ton or two in weight, among a hundred others nearly as big; and I saw
hardly any resemblance to a church or church-spire, to which the fancies of
past generations have likened it. As we
descended the pass, however, and left the stone farther and farther behind, it
continued to show itself, and assumed a more striking and prominent aspect,
standing out clearly relieved against the sky, so that no traveller would fail
to observe it, where there are so few defined objects to attract notice, amid
the naked monotony of the stern hills; though, indeed, if I had taken it for
any sort of an edifice, it would rather have been for a wayside inn or a
shepherd's hut than for a church. We
lost sight of it, and again beheld it more and more brought out against the
sky, by the turns of the road, several times in the course of our descent. There is a very fine view of Brothers' Water,
shut in by steep hills, as we go down
At about half past twelve we reached Patterdale, at the foot of Ullswater, and here took luncheon. The hotels are mostly very good all through this region, and this deserved that character. A black-coated waiter, of more gentlemanly appearance than most Englishmen, yet taking a sixpence with as little scruple as a lawyer would take his fee; the mistress, in lady-like attire, receiving us at the door, and waiting upon us to the carriage-steps; clean, comely housemaids everywhere at hand,--all appliances, in short, for being comfortable, and comfortable, too, within one's own circle. And, on taking leave, everybody who has done anything for you, or who might by possibility have done anything, is to be feed. You pay the landlord enough, in all conscience; and then you pay all his servants, who have been your servants for the time. But, to say the truth, there is a degree of the same kind of annoyance in an American hotel, although it is not so much an acknowledged custom. Here, in the houses where attendance is not charged in the bill, no wages are paid by the host to those servants--chambermaid, waiter, and boots--who come into immediate contact with travellers. The drivers of the cars, phaetons, and flys are likewise unpaid, except by their passengers, and claim threepence a mile with the same sense of right as their masters in charging for the vehicles and horses. When you come to understand this claim, not as an appeal to your generosity, but as an actual and necessary part of the cost of the journey, it is yielded to with a more comfortable feeling; and the traveller has really option enough, as to the amount which he will give, to insure civility and good behavior on the driver's part.
Ullswater is a beautiful lake, with steep hills walling it about, so steep, on the eastern side, that there seems hardly room for a road to run along the base. We passed up the western shore, and turned off from it about midway, to take the road towards Keswick. We stopped, however, at Lyulph's Tower, while our chariot went on up a hill, and took a guide to show us the way to Airey Force,--a small cataract, which is claimed as private property, and out of which, no doubt, a pretty little revenue is raised. I do not think that there can be any rightful appropriation, as private property, of objects of natural beauty. The fruits of the land, and whatever human labor can produce from it, belong fairly enough to the person who has a deed or a lease; but the beautiful is the property of him who can hive it and enjoy it. It is very unsatisfactory to think of a cataract under lock and key. However, we were shown to Airey Force by a tall and graceful mountain-maid, with a healthy cheek, and a step that had no possibility of weariness in it. The cascade is an irregular streak of foamy water, pouring adown a rude shadowy glen. I liked well enough to see it; but it is wearisome, on the whole, to go the rounds of what everybody thinks it necessary to see. It makes me a little ashamed. It is somewhat as if we were drinking out of the same glass, and eating from the same dish, as a multitude of other people.
Within a few miles of Keswick, we passed along at the foot
of Saddleback, and by the entrance of the Vale of St. John, and down the
valley, on one of the slopes, we saw the
We went up a private lane that led to the rear of the place, and so penetrated quite into the back-yard without meeting anybody,--passing a small kennel, in which were two hounds, who gazed at us, but neither growled nor wagged their tails. The house is three stories high, and seems to have a great deal of room in it, so as not to discredit its name, "Greta Hall,"--a very spacious dwelling for a poet. The windows were nearly all closed; there were no signs of occupancy, but a general air of neglect. S-----, who is bolder than I in these matters, ventured through what seemed a back garden gate, and I soon heard her in conversation with some man, who now presented himself, and proved to be a gardener. He said he had formerly acted in that capacity for Southey, although a gardener had not been kept by him as a regular part of his establishment. This was an old man with an odd crookedness of legs, and strange, disjointed limp. S----- had told him that we were Americans, and he took the idea that we had come this long distance, over sea and land, with the sole purpose of seeing Southey's residence, so that he was inclined to do what he could towards exhibiting it. This was but little; the present occupant (a Mr. Radday, I believe the gardener called him) being away, and the house shut up.
But he showed us about the grounds, and allowed us to peep into the windows of what had been Southey's library, and into those of another of the front apartments, and showed us the window of the chamber in the rear, in which Southey died. The apartments into which we peeped looked rather small and low,--not particularly so, but enough to indicate an old building. They are now handsomely furnished, and we saw over one of the fireplaces an inscription about Southey; and in the corner of the same room stood a suit, of bright armor. It is taller than the country-houses of English gentlemen usually are, and it is even stately. All about, in front, beside it and behind, there is a great profusion of trees, most of which were planted by Southey, who came to live here more than fifty years ago, and they have, of course, grown much more shadowy now than he ever beheld them; for he died about fourteen years since. The grounds are well laid out, and neatly kept, with the usual lawn and gravelled walks, and quaint little devices in the ornamental way. These may be of later date than Southey's time. The gardener spoke respectfully of Southey, and of his first wife, and observed that "it was a great loss to the neighborhood when that family went down."
The house stands directly above the Greta, the murmur of which is audible all about it; for the Greta is a swift little river, and goes on its way with a continual sound, which has both depth and breadth. The gardener led us to a walk along its banks, close by the Hall, where he said Southey used to walk for hours and hours together. He might, indeed, get there from his study in a moment. There are two paths, one above the other, well laid out on the steep declivity of the high bank; and there is such a very thick shade of oaks and elms, planted by Southey himself over the bank, that all the ground and grass were moist, although it had been a sunny day. It is a very sombre walk; not many glimpses of the sky through those dense boughs. The Greta is here, perhaps, twenty yards across, and very dark of hue, and its voice is melancholy and very suggestive of musings and reveries; but I should question whether it were favorable to any settled scheme of thought. The gardener told us that there used to be a pebbly beach on the margin of the river, and that it was Southey's habit to sit and write there, using a tree of peculiar shape for a table. An alteration in the current of the river has swept away the beach, and the tree, too, has fallen. All these things were interesting to me, although Southey was not, I think, a picturesque man, --not one whose personal character takes a strong hold on the imagination. In these walks he used to wear a pair of shoes heavily clamped with iron; very ponderous they must have been, from the particularity with which the gardener mentioned them.
The gardener took leave of us at the front entrance of the
grounds, and, returning to the King's Arms, we ordered a one-horse fly for the
fall of Lodore. Our drive thither was
along the banks of Derwentwater, and it is as beautiful a road, I imagine, as
can be found in
There is a good inn at Lodore,--a small, primitive country inn, which has latterly been enlarged and otherwise adapted to meet the convenience of the guests brought thither by the fame of the cascade; but it is still a country inn, though it takes upon itself the title of hotel.
We found pleasant rooms here, and established ourselves for the night. From this point we have a view of the beautiful lake, and of Skiddaw at the head of it. The cascade is within three or four minutes' walk, through the garden gate, towards the cliff, at the base of which the inn stands. The visitor would need no other guide than its own voice, which is said to be audible sometimes at the distance of four miles. As we were coming from Keswick, we caught glimpses of its white foam high up the precipice; and it is only glimpses that can be caught anywhere, because there is no regular sheet of falling water. Once, I think, it must have fallen abruptly over the edge of the long line of precipice that here extends along parallel with the shore of the lake; but, in the course of time, it has gnawed and sawed its way into the heart of the cliff,--this persistent little stream,--so that now it has formed a rude gorge, adown which it hurries and tumbles in the wildest way, over the roughest imaginable staircase. Standing at the bottom of the fall, you have a far vista sloping upward to the sky, with the water everywhere as white as snow, pouring and pouring down, now on one side of the gorge, now on the other, among immense bowlders, which try to choke its passage. It does not attempt to leap over these huge rocks, but finds its way in and out among then, and finally gets to the bottom after a hundred tumbles. It cannot be better described than in Southey's verses, though it is worthy of better poetry than that. After all, I do not know that the cascade is anything more than a beautiful fringe to the grandeur of the scene; for it is very grand,--this fissure through the cliff,--with a steep, lofty precipice on the right hand, sheer up and down, and on the other hand, too, another lofty precipice, with a slope of its own ruin on which trees and shrubbery have grown. The right-hand precipice, however, has shelves affording sufficient hold for small trees, but nowhere does it slant. If it were not for the white little stream falling gently downward, and for the soft verdure upon either precipice, and even along the very pathway of the cascade, it would be a very stern vista up that gorge.
I shall not try to describe it any more. It has not been praised too much, though it may have been praised amiss. I went thither again in the morning, and climbed a good way up, through the midst of its rocky descent, and I think I could have reached the top in this way. It is remarkable that the bounds of the water, from one step of its broken staircase to another, give an impression of softness and gentleness; but there are black, turbulent pools among the great bowlders, where the stream seems angry at the difficulties which it meets with. Looking upward in the sunshine, I could see a rising mist, and I should not wonder if a speck of rainbow were sometimes visible. I noticed a small oak in the bed of the cascade, and there is a lighter vegetation scattered about.
At noon we took a car for Portinscale, and drove back along the road to Keswick, through which we passed, stopping to get a perhaps of letters at the post-office, and reached Portinscale, which is a mile from Keswick. After dinner we walked over a bridge, and through a green lane, to the church where Southey is buried. It is a white church, of Norman architecture, with a low, square tower. As we approached, we saw two persons entering the portal, and, following them in, we found the sexton, who was a tall, thin old man, with white hair, and an intelligent, reverent face, showing the edifice to a stout, red-faced, self-important, good-natured John Bull of a gentleman. Without any question on our part, the old sexton immediately led us to Southey's monument, which is placed in a side aisle, where there is not breadth for it to stand free of the wall; neither is it in a very good light. But, it seemed to me a good work of art,--a recumbent figure of white marble, on a couch, the drapery of which he has drawn about him,--being quite enveloped in what may be a shroud. The sculptor has not intended to represent death, for the figure lies on its side, and has a book in its hand, and the face is lifelike, and looks full of expression,--a thin, high-featured, poetic face, with a finely proportioned head and abundant hair. It represents Southey rightly, at whatever age he died, in the full maturity of manhood, when he was strongest and richest. I liked the statue, and wished that it lay in a broader aisle, or in the chancel, where there is an old tomb of a knight and lady of the Ratcliffe family, who have held the place of honor long enough to yield it now to a poet. Southey's sculptor was Lough. I must not forget to mention that John Bull, climbing on a bench, to get a better view of the statue, tumbled off with a racket that resounded irreverently through the church.
The old, white-headed, thin sexton was a model man of his class, and appeared to take a loving and cheerful interest in the building, and in those who, from age to age, have worshipped and been buried there. It is a very ancient and interesting church. Within a few years it has been thoroughly repaired as to the interior, and now looks as if it might endure ten more centuries; and I suppose we see little that is really ancient, except the double row of Norman arches, of light freestone, that support the oaken beams and rafters of the roof. All the walls, however, are venerable, and quite preserve the identity of the edifice. There is a stained-glass window of modern manufacture, and in one of the side windows, set amidst plain glass, there is a single piece, five hundred years old, representing St. Anthony, very finely executed, though it looks a little faded. Along the walls, on each side, between the arched windows, there are marble slabs affixed, with inscriptions to the memories of those who used to occupy the seats beneath. I remember none of great antiquity, nor any old monument, except that in the chancel, over the knight and lady of the Ratcliffe family. This consists of a slab of stone, on four small stone pillars, about two feet high. The slab is inlaid with a brass plate, on which is sculptured the knight in armor, and the lady in the costume of Elizabeth's time, exceedingly well done and well preserved, and each figure about eighteen inches in length. The sexton showed us a rubbing of them on paper. Under the slab, which, supported by the low stone pillars, forms a canopy for them, lie two sculptured figures of stone, of life size, and at full length, representing the same persons; but I think the sculptor was hardly equal in his art to the engraver.
The most-curious antique relic in the church is the
font. The bowl is very capacious,
sufficiently so to admit of the complete immersion of a child of two or three
months old. On the outside, in several
compartments, there are bas-reliefs of Scriptural and symbolic subjects, --such
as the tree of life, the word proceeding out of God's mouth, the crown of
thorns,--all in the quaintest taste, sculptured by some hand of a thousand
years ago, and preserving the fancies of monkish brains, in stone. The sexton was very proud of this font and
its sculpture, and took a kindly personal interest, in showing it; and when we
had spent as much time as we could inside, he led us to Southey's grave in the
churchyard. He told us that he had known
Southey long and well, from early manhood to old age; for he was only
twenty-nine when he came to Keswick to reside.
He had known Wordsworth too, and Coleridge, and Lovell; and he had seen
Southey and Wordsworth walking arm in arm together in that churchyard. He seemed to revere Southey's memory, and
said that he had been much lamented, and that as many as a hundred people came
to the churchyard when he was buried. He
spoke with great praise of Mrs. Southey, his first wife, telling of her charity
to the poor, and how she was a blessing to the neighborhood; but he said
nothing in favor of the second Mrs. Southey, and only mentioned her selling the
library, and other things, after her husband's death, and going to
Over his grave there is a ponderous, oblong block of slate, a native mineral of this region, as hard as iron, and which will doubtless last quite as long as Southey's works retain any vitality in English literature. It is not a monument fit for a poet. There is nothing airy or graceful about it,--and, indeed, there cannot he many men so solid and matter-of-fact as to deserve a tomb like that. Wordsworth's grave is much better, with only a simple headstone, and the grass growing over his mortality, which, for a thousand years, at least, it never can over Southey's. Most of the monuments are of this same black slate, and some erect headstones are curiously sculptured, and seem to have been recently erected.
We now returned to the hotel, and took a car for the
About a mile beyond the castle we stopped at a little
wayside inn, the King's Head, and put up for the night. This, I believe, is the only inn which I have
While we remained here, I took various walks to get a glimpse of Helvellyn, and a view of Thirlmere,--which is rather two lakes than one, being so narrow at one point as to be crossed by a foot-bridge. Its shores are very picturesque, coming down abruptly upon it, and broken into crags and prominences, which view their shaggy faces in its mirror; and Helvellyn slopes steeply upward, from its southern shore, into the clouds. On its eastern bank, near the foot-bridge, stands Armboth House, which Miss Martineau says is haunted; and I saw a painted board at the entrance of the road which leads to it advertising lodgings there. The ghosts, of course, pay nothing for their accommodations.
At noon, on the day after our arrival, J----- and I went to
After dinner we ordered a car for Ambleside, and while it
was getting ready, I went to look at the
We drove down the valley, and gazed at the vast slope of Helvellyn, and at Thirlmere beneath it, and at Eagle's Crag and Raven's Crag, which beheld themselves in it, and we cast many a look behind at Blencathra, and that noble brotherhood of mountains out of the midst of which we came. But, to say the truth, I was weary of fine scenery, and it seemed to me that I had eaten a score of mountains, and quaffed as many lakes, all in the space of two or three days,--and the natural consequence was a surfeit. There was scarcely a single place in all our tour where I should not have been glad to spend a month; but, by flitting so quickly from one point to another, I lost all the more recondite beauties, and had come away without retaining even the surface of much that I had seen. I am slow to feel,--slow, I suppose, to comprehend, and, like the anaconda, I need to lubricate any object a great deal before I can swallow it and actually make it my own. Yet I shall always enjoy having made this journey, and shall wonder the more at England, which comprehends so much, such a rich variety, within its narrow bounds. If England were all the world, it still would have been worth while for the Creator to have made it, and mankind would have had no cause to find fault with their abode; except that there is not room enough for so many as might be happy here.
We left the great inverted arch of the valley behind us,
looking back as long as we could at Blencathra, and Skiddaw over its shoulder,
and the clouds were gathering over them at our last glimpse. Passing by Dummail Raise (which is a mound of
stones over an old British king), we entered
Westmoreland, and soon had the vale of
And to-day, July 23d, I have written this most incomplete and unsatisfactory record of what we have done and seen since Wednesday last. I am pretty well convinced that all attempts at describing scenery, especially mountain scenery, are sheer nonsense. For one thing, the point of view being changed, the whole description, which you made up from the previous point of view, is immediately falsified. And when you have done your utmost, such items as those setting forth the scene in a play,--"a mountainous country, in the distance a cascade tumbling over a precipice, and in front a lake; on one side an ivy-covered cottage,"--this dry detail brings the matter before one's mind's eyes more effectually than all the art of word-painting.
July 27th.--We are still at
Yesterday came one of those bands of music that seem to
itinerate everywhere about the country.
It consisted of a young woman who played the harp, a bass-viol player, a
fiddler, a flutist, and a bugler, besides a little child, of whom, I suppose,
the woman was the mother. They sat down
on a bench by the roadside, opposite the house, and played several tunes, and
by and by the waiter brought them a large pitcher of ale, which they quaffed
with apparent satisfaction; though they seemed to be foreigners by their
mustachios and sallow hue, and would perhaps have preferred a vinous
potation. One would like to follow these
people through their vagrant life, and see them in their social relations, and
overhear their talk with each other. All
vagrants are interesting; and there is a much greater variety of them here than
It is remarkable what a natural interest everybody feels in fishing. An angler from the bridge immediately attracts a group to watch his luck. It is the same with J-----, fishing for minnows, on the platform near which the steamer lands its passengers. By the by, U---- caught a minnow last evening, and, immediately after, a good-sized perch,--her first fish.
July 30th.--We left
Perhaps a part of my weariness is owing to the hotel-life which we lead. At an English hotel the traveller feels as if everybody, from the landlord downward, united in a joint and individual purpose to fleece him, because all the attendants who come in contact with him are to be separately considered. So, after paying, in the first instance, a very heavy bill, for what would seem to cover the whole indebtedness, there remain divers dues still to be paid, to no trifling amount, to the landlord's servants,--dues not to be ascertained, and which you never can know whether you have properly satisfied. You can know, perhaps, when you have less than satisfied them, by the aspect of the waiter, which I wish I could describe, not disrespectful in the slightest degree, but a look of profound surprise, a gaze at the offered coin (which he nevertheless pockets) as if he either did not see it, or did not know it, or could not believe his eyesight;--all this, however, with the most quiet forbearance, a Christian-like non-recognition of an unmerited wrong and insult; and finally, all in a moment's space indeed, he quits you and goes about his other business. If you have given him too much, you are made sensible of your folly by the extra amount of his gratitude, and the bows with which he salutes you from the doorstep. Generally, you cannot very decidedly say whether you have been right or wrong; but, in almost all cases, you decidedly feel that you have been fleeced. Then the living at the best of English hotels, so far as my travels have brought me acquainted with them, deserves but moderate praise, and is especially lacking in variety. Nothing but joints, joints, joints; sometimes, perhaps, a meat-pie, which, if you eat it, weighs upon your conscience, with the idea that you have eaten the scraps of other people's dinners. At the lake hotels, the fare is lamb and mutton and grout,--the latter not always fresh, and soon tired of. We pay like nabobs, and are expected to be content with plain mutton.
We spent the day yesterday at
At Lowwood, the landlady espied me from the window, and sent
out a large packet that had arrived by mail; but as it was addressed to some
person of the Christian name of William, I did not venture to open it. She said, also, that a gentleman had been
there, who very earnestly desired to see me, and I have since had reason to
suppose that this was Allingham, the poet.
We arrived at Windermere at half past seven, and waited nearly an hour
for the train to start. I took a ticket
I had purposed to rise betimes, and see the town of
The train left
Our coachman from
August 2d.--Mr. ------ has urged me very much to go with his
father and family to see the launch of a great ship which has been built for
their house, and afterwards to partake of a picnic; so, on Tuesday morning I
presented myself at the landing-stage, and met the party, to take passage for
Chester. It was a showery morning, and
looked wofully like a rainy day; but nothing better is to be expected in
The ship had been built on the banks of the
The ship was expected to go off at about twelve o'clock, and
at that juncture all Mr. ------'s friends assembled under the bows of the ship,
where we were a little sheltered from the rain by the projection of that part
of the vessel over our heads. The bottle
of port-wine with which she was to be christened was suspended from the bows to
the platform where we stood by a blue ribbon; and the ceremony was to be
performed by Mrs. ------, who, I could see, was very nervous in anticipation of
the ceremony. Mr. ------ kept giving her
instructions in a whisper, and showing her how to throw the bottle; and as the
critical moment approached, he took hold of it along with her. All this time we were waiting in momentary
expectation of the ship going off, everything being ready, and only the touch
of a spring, as it were, needed to make her slide into the water. But the chief manager kept delaying a little
longer, and a little longer; though the pilot on board sent to tell him that it
was time she was off. "Yes, yes;
but I want as much water as I can get," answered the manager; and so he
held on till, I suppose, the tide had raised the river
The ship moved majestically down toward the river; and
unless it were
[This steamer was afterwards successfully floated off on the 29th of the same month.]
There was no help for it. A steamboat was hitched on to the stranded vessel, but broke two or three cables without stirring her an inch. So, after waiting long after we had given up all hope, we went to the office of the ship-yard, and there took a lunch; and still the rain was pouring, pouring, pouring, and I never experienced a blacker affair in all my days. Then we had to wait a great while for a train to take us back, so that it was almost five o'clock before we arrived at Chester, where I spent an hour in rambling about the old town, under the Rows; and on the walls, looking down on the treetops, directly under my feet, and through their thick branches at the canal, which creeps at the base, and at the cathedral; walking under the dark intertwining arches of the cloisters, and looking up at the great cathedral tower, so wasted away externally by time and weather that it looks, save for the difference of color between white snow and red freestone, like a structure of snow, half dissolved by several warm days.
At the lunch I met with a graduate of
Mr. M------ remarked of newspaper reporters, that they may be known at all celebrations, and of any public occasion, by the enormous quantity of luncheon they eat.
August 12th.--Mr. B------ dined with us at the Rock Ferry Hotel the day before yesterday. Speaking of Helvellyn, and the death of Charles Cough, about whom Wordsworth and Scott have both sung, Mr. B------ mentioned a version of that story which rather detracts from the character of the faithful dog.
But somehow it lowers one's opinion of human nature itself, to be compelled so to lower one's standard of a dog's nature. I don't intend to believe the disparaging story, but it reminds me of the story of the New-Zealander who was asked whether he loved a missionary who had been laboring for his soul and those of his countrymen. "To be sure I loved him. Why, I ate a piece of him for my breakfast this morning!"
For the last week or two I have passed my time between the hotel and the Consulate, and a weary life it is, and one that leaves little of profit behind it. I am sick to death of my office,--brutal captains and brutal sailors; continual complaints of mutual wrong, which I have no power to set right, and which, indeed, seem to have no right on either side; calls of idleness or ceremony from my travelling countrymen, who seldom know what they are in search of at the commencement of their tour, and never have attained any desirable end at the close of it; beggars, cheats, simpletons, unfortunates, so mixed up that it is impossible to distinguish one from another, and so, in self-defence, the Consul distrusts them all. . . . .
At the hotel, yesterday, there was a large company of
factory people from
Thackeray has a dread of servants, insomuch that he hates to address them, or to ask them for anything. His morbid sensibility, in this regard, has perhaps led him to study and muse upon them, so that he may be presumed to have a more intimate knowledge of this class than any other man.
Carlyle dresses so badly, and wears such a rough outside, that the flunkies are rude to him at gentlemen's doors.
In the afternoon J----- and I took a walk towards Tranmere
Hall, and beyond, as far as Oxton. This
part of the country, being so near Liverpool and
August 17th.--Yesterday afternoon J----- and I went to
Birkenhead Park, which I have already described. . . . . It so happened that
there was a large school spending its holiday there; a school of girls of the
lower classes, to the number of a hundred and fifty, who disported themselves
on the green, under the direction of the schoolmistresses and of an old
gentleman. It struck me, as it always
has, to observe how the lower orders of this country indicate their birth and
station by their aspect and features. In
These girls were all dressed in black gowns, with white aprons and neckerchiefs, and white linen caps on their heads,--a very dowdyish attire, and well suited to their figures. I saw only two of their games,--in one, they stood in a circle, while two of their number chased one another within and without the ring of girls, which opened to let the fugitive pass, but closed again to impede the passage of the pursuer. The other was blind-man's-buff on a new plan: several of the girls, sometimes as many as twenty, being blinded at once, and pursuing a single one, who rang a hand-bell to indicate her whereabouts. This was very funny; the bell-girl keeping just beyond their reach, and drawing them after her in a huddled group, so that they sometimes tumbled over one another and lay sprawling. I think I have read of this game in Strutt's "English Sports and Pastimes."
We walked from the Park home to Rock Ferry, a distance of three or four miles,--a part of which was made delightful by a foot-path, leading us through fields where the grass had just been mown, and others where the wheat harvest was commenced. The path led us into the very midst of the rural labor that was going forward; and the laborers rested a moment to look at us; in fact, they seemed to be more willing to rest than American laborers would have been. Children were loitering along this path or sitting down beside it; and we met one little maid, passing from village to village, intent on some errand. Reaching Tranmere, I went into an alehouse, nearly opposite the Hall, and called for a glass of ale. The doorstep before the house, and the flagstone floor of the entry and tap-room, were chalked all over in corkscrew lines,--an adornment that gave an impression of care and neatness, the chalked lines being evidently freshly made. It was a low, old-fashioned room ornamented with a couple of sea-shells, and an earthen-ware figure on the mantel-piece; also with advertisements of Allsop's ale, and other drinks, and with a pasteboard handbill of "The Ancient Order of Foresters"; any member of which, paying sixpence weekly, is entitled to ten shillings per week, and the attendance of a first-rate physician in sickness, and twelve pounds to be paid to his friends in case of death. Any member of this order, when travelling, is sure (says the handbill) to meet with a brother member to lend him a helping hand, there being nearly three thousand districts of this order, and more than a hundred and nine thousand members in Great Britain, whence it has extended to Australia, America, and other countries.
Looking up at the gateway of Tranmere Hall, I discovered an inscription on the red freestone lintel, and, though much time-worn, I succeeded in reading it. "Labor omnia vincit. 1614." There were likewise some initials which I could not satisfactorily make out. The sense of this motto would rather befit the present agricultural occupants of the house than the idle gentlefolks who built and formerly inhabited it.
August 25th.--On Thursday I went by invitation to Smithell's
Smithell's Hall is one of the oldest residences of
The entrance-hall opens right upon the quadrangular court; and is a large, low room, with a settle of carved old oak, and other old oaken furniture,--a centre-table with periodicals and newspapers on it,--some family pictures on the walls,--and a large, bright coal-fire in the spacious grate. The fire is always kept up, throughout summer and winter, and it seemed to me an excellent plan, and rich with cheerful effects; insuring one comfortable place, and that the most central in the house, whatever may be the inclemency of the weather. It was a cloudy, moist, showery day, when I arrived; and this fire gave me the brightest and most hospitable smile, and took away any shivery feeling by its mere presence. The servant showed me thence into a low-studded dining-room, where soon Mrs. ------ made her appearance, and, after some talk, brought me into the billiard-room, opening from the hall, where Mr. ------ and a young gentleman were playing billiards, and two ladies looking on. After the game was finished, Mr. ------ took me round to see the house and grounds.
The peculiarity of this house is what is called "The Bloody Footstep." In the time of Bloody Mary, a Protestant clergyman--George Marsh by name --was examined before the then proprietor of the Hall, Sir Roger Barton, I think, and committed to prison for his heretical opinions, and was ultimately burned at the stake. As his guards were conducting him from the justice-room, through the stone-paved passage that leads from front to rear of Smithell's Hall, he stamped his foot upon one of the flagstones in earnest protestation against the wrong which he was undergoing. The foot, as some say, left a bloody mark in the stone; others have it, that the stone yielded like wax under his foot, and that there has been a shallow cavity ever since. This miraculous footprint is still extant; and Mrs. ------ showed it to me before her husband took me round the estate. It is almost at the threshold of the door opening from the rear of the house, a stone two or three feet square, set among similar ones, that seem to have been worn by the tread of many generations. The footprint is a dark brown stain in the smooth gray surface of the flagstone; and, looking sidelong at it, there is a shallow cavity perceptible, which Mrs. ------ accounted for as having been worn by people setting their feet just on this place, so as to tread the very spot, where the martyr wrought the miracle. The mark is longer than any mortal foot, as if caused by sliding along the stone, rather than sinking into it; and it might be supposed to have been made by a pointed shoe, being blunt at the heel, and decreasing towards the toe. The blood-stained version of the story is more consistent with the appearance of the mark than the imprint would be; for if the martyr's blood oozed out through his shoe and stocking, it might have made his foot slide along the stone, and thus have lengthened the shape. Of course it is all a humbug,--a darker vein cropping up through the gray flagstone; but, it is probably a fact, and, for aught I know, may be found in Fox's Book of Martyrs, that George Marsh underwent an examination in this house [There is a full and pathetic account of the examination and martyrdom of George Marsh in the eleventh section of Fox's Book of Martyrs, as I have just found (June 9, 1867). He went to Smithell's hall, among other places, to be questioned by Mr. Barton.--ED.]; and the tradition may have connected itself with the stone within a short time after the martyrdom; or, perhaps, when the old persecuting knight departed this life, and Bloody Mary was also dead, people who had stood at a little distance from the Hall door, and had seen George Marsh lift his hand and stamp his foot just at this spot,--perhaps they remembered this action and gesture, and really believed that Providence had thus made an indelible record of it on the stone; although the very stone and the very mark might have lain there at the threshold hundreds of years before. But, even if it had been always there, the footprint might, after the fact, be looked upon as a prophecy, from the time when the foundation of the old house was laid, that a holy and persecuted man should one day set his foot here, on the way that was to lead him to the stake. At any rate, the legend is a good one.
Mrs. ------ tells me that the miraculous stone was once taken up from the pavement, and flung out of doors, where it remained many years; and in proof of this, it is cracked quite across at one end. This is a pity, and rather interferes with the authenticity, if not of the stone itself, yet of its position in the pavement. It is not far from the foot of the staircase, leading up to Sir Roger Barton's examination-room, whither we ascended, after examining the footprint. This room now opens sideways on the Chapel, into which it looks down, and which is spacious enough to accommodate a pretty large congregation. On one of the walls of the Chapel there is a marble tablet to the memory of one of the present family,--Mr.------'s father, I suppose; he being the first of the name who possessed the estate. The present owners, however, seem to feel pretty much the same pride in the antiquity and legends of the house as if it had come down to them in an unbroken succession of their own forefathers. It has, in reality, passed several times from one family to another, since the Conquest.
Mr. ------ led me through a spacious old room, which was formerly panelled with carved oak, but which is converted into a brew-house, up a pair of stairs, into the garret of one of the gables, in order to show me the ancient framework of the house. It is of oak, and preposterously ponderous,--immense beams and rafters, which no modern walls could support,--a gigantic old skeleton, which architects say must have stood a thousand years; and, indeed, it is impossible to ascertain the date of the original foundation, though it is known to have been repaired and restored between five and six centuries ago. Of course, in the lapse of ages, it must continually have been undergoing minor changes, but without at all losing its identity. Mr. ------ says that this old oak wood, though it looks as strong and as solid as ever, has really lost its strength, and that it would snap short off, on application of any force.
After this we took our walk through the grounds, which are
well wooded, though the trees will bear no comparison with those which I have
seen in the midland parts of
Beneath the trees there is a thick growth of ferns, serving as cover for the game. A little terrier-dog, who had hitherto kept us company, all at once disappeared; and soon afterwards we heard the squeak of some poor victim in the cover, whereupon Mr. ------ set out with agility, and ran to the rescue.--By and by the terrier came back with a very guilty look. From the wood we passed into the open park, whence we had a distant view of the house; and, returning thither, we viewed it in other aspects, and on all sides. One portion of it is occupied by Mr. ------'s gardener, and seems not to have been repaired, at least as to its exterior, for a great many years,--showing the old wooden frame, painted black, with plaster in the interstices; and broad windows, extending across the whole breadth of the rooms, with hundreds of little diamond-shaped panes of glass. Before dinner I was shown to my room, which opens from an ancient gallery, lined with oak, and lighted by a row of windows along one side of the quadrangle. Along this gallery are the doors of several sleeping-chambers, one of which--I think it is here--is called "The Dead Man's Chamber." It is supposed to have been the room where the corpses of persons connected with the household used to be laid out. My own room was called "The Beam Chamber," from am immense cross-beam that projects from the ceiling, and seems to be an entire tree, laid across, and left rough-hewn, though at present it is whitewashed. The but of the tree (for it diminishes from one end of the chamber to the other) is nearly two feet square, in its visible part.
We dined, at seven o'clock, in a room some thirty-five or forty feet long, and proportionably broad, all panelled with the old carved oak which Mr. ------ took from the room which he had converted into a brew-house. The oak is now of a very dark brown hue, and, being highly polished, it produces a sombre but rich effect. It is supposed to be of the era of Henry the Seventh, and when I examined it the next morning, I found it very delicately and curiously wrought. There are carved profiles of persons in the costume of the times, done with great skill; also foliage, intricate puzzles of intersecting lines, sacred devices, anagrams, and, among others, the device of a bar across a tun, indicating the name of Barton. Most of the carving, however, is less elaborate and intricate than these specimens, being in a perpendicular style, and on one pattern. Before the wood grew so very dark, the beauty of the work must have been much more easily seen than now, as to particulars, though I hardly think that the general effect could have been better; at least, the sombre richness that overspreads the entire square of the room is suitable to such an antique house. An elaborate Gothic cornice runs round the whole apartment. The sideboard and other furniture are of Gothic patterns, and, very likely, of genuine antiquity; but the fireplace is perhaps rather out of keeping, being of white marble with the arms of this family sculptured on it.
Though hardly sunset when we sat down to dinner, yet, it being an overcast day, and the oaken room so sombre, we had candles burning on the table; and, long before dinner was over, the candle-light was all the light we had. It is always pleasanter to dine by artificial light. Mrs. ------'s dinner was a good one, and Mr. ------'s wines were very good. I had Mrs. ------ on one side, and another lady on the other side. . . . .
After dinner there were two card-parties formed in the dining-room, at one of which there was a game of Vingt-et-un, and at the other a game of whist, at which Mrs. ------ and I lost several shillings to a Mrs. Halton and Mr. Gaskell. . . . . After finishing our games at cards, Mrs. Halton drove off in a pony-chaise to her own house; the other ladies retired, and the gentlemen sat down to chat awhile over the hall fire, occasionally sipping a glass of wine-and-water, and finally we all went off to our rooms. It was past twelve o'clock when I composed myself to sleep, and I could not have slept long, when a tremendous clap of thunder woke me just in time to see a vivid flash of lightning. I saw no ghosts, though Mrs. ------ tells me there is one, which makes a disturbance, unless religious services are regularly kept up in the Chapel.
In the morning, before breakfast, we had prayers, read by
Mr. ------, in the oak dining-room, all the servants coming in, and everybody
kneeling down. I should like to know how
much true religious feeling is indicated by this regular observance of
religious rites in English families. In
There was a parrot in a corner of the dining-room, and, when prayers were over, Mrs. ------ praised it very highly for having been so silent; it being Poll's habit, probably, to break in upon the sacred exercises with unseemly interjections and remarks. While we were at breakfast, Poll began to whistle and talk very vociferously, and in a tone and with expressions that surprised me, till I learned that the bird is usually kept in the kitchen and servants' hall, and is only brought into the dining-room at prayer-time and breakfast. Thus its mouth is full of kitchen talk, which flows out before the gentlefolks with the queerest effect.
After breakfast I examined the carvings of the room. Mr. ------ has added to its decorations the coats of arms of all the successive possessors of the house, with those of the families into which they married, including the Ratcliffes, Stanleys, and others. From the dining-room I passed into the library, which contains books enough to make a rainy day pass pleasantly. I remember nothing else that I need to record; and as I sat by the hall fire, talking with Mr. Gaskell, at about eleven o'clock, the butler brought me word that a fly, which I had bespoken, was ready to convey me to the railway. I took leave of Mrs. ------, her last request being that I would write a ghost-story for her house,--and drove off.
September 5th.--Yesterday we all of us set forth from Rock
Ferry at half past twelve, and reached Shrewsbury between three and four
o'clock, and took up our quarters at the Lion Hotel. We found
The first curious thing we particularly noticed, when we
strolled out after dinner, was the old market-house, which stands in the midst
of an oblong square; a gray edifice, elevated on pillars and arches, and with
the statue of an armed knight, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, in a central
niche, in its front. The statue is older
than the market-house, having been moved thither from one of the demolished
towers of the city wall in 1795. The
market-house was erected in 1595. There
are other curious sculptures and carvings and quirks of architecture about this
building; and the houses that stand about the square are, many of them, very
striking specimens of what dwelling-houses used to be in
We strolled to a pleasant walk under a range of trees, along
the shore of the
J----- and I afterwards walked
forth again, and went this time to the castle, which stands exactly above the
railway station. A path, from its
breadth quite a street, leads up to the arched gateway; but we found a board,
giving notice that these are private grounds, and no strangers admitted; so
that we only passed through the gate a few steps, and looked about us, and
retired, on perceiving a man approaching us through the trees and
shrubbery. A private individual, it
seems, has burrowed in this old warlike den, and turned the keep, and any other
available apartment, into a modern dwelling, and laid out his pleasure-grounds
within the precincts of the castle wall, which allows verge enough for the
purpose. The ruins have been
considerably repaired. This castle was
built at various times, the keep by Edward I., and other portions at an earlier
period, and it stands on the isthmus left by the
In the course of this walk, we passed St. Mary's Church,--a very old church indeed, no matter how old, but say, eight hundred or a thousand years. It has a very tall spire, and the spire is now undergoing repairs; and, seeing the door open, I went into the porch, but found no admission further. Then, walking around it, through the churchyard, we saw that all the venerable Gothic windows--one of them grand in size--were set with stained glass, representing coats of arms and ancient armor, and kingly robes, and saints with glories about their heads, and Scriptural people; but all of these, as far as our actual perception was concerned, quite colorless, and with only a cold outline, dimly filled up. Yet, had we been within the church, and had the sunlight been streaming through, what a warm, rich, gorgeous, roseate, golden life would these figures have showed!
In the churchyard, close upon the street, so that its dust
must be continually scattered over the spot, I saw a heavy gray tombstone, with
a Latin inscription, purporting that Bishop Butler, the author of the Analogy,
in his lifetime had chosen this as a burial-place for himself and his
family. There is a statue of him within
the church. From the top of the spire a
man, above a hundred years ago, attempted to descend, by means of a rope, to
the other side of the
I remember nothing more that we saw yesterday; but, before breakfast, J----- and I sallied forth again, and inspected the gateway and interior court of the Council House,--a very interesting place, both in itself and for the circumstances connected with it, it having been the place where the councillors for the Welsh marches used to reside during their annual meetings; and Charles the First also lived here for six weeks in 1612. James II. likewise held his court here in 1687. The house was originally built in 1501,--that is, the Council House itself,--the gateway, and the house through which it passes, being of as late date as 1620. This latter is a fine old house, in the usual style of timber architecture, with the timber lines marked out, and quaint adornments in black paint; and the pillars of the gateway which passes beneath the front chamber are of curiously carved oak, which has probably stood the action of English atmosphere better than marble would have done. Passing through this gateway, we entered a court, and saw some old buildings more or less modernized, but without destroying their aged stateliness, standing round three sides of it, with arched entrances and bow-windows, and windows in the roofs, and peaked gables, and all the delightful irregularity and variety that these houses have, and which make them always so fresh,--and with so much detail that every minute you see something heretofore unseen. It must have been no unfit residence for a king and his court, when those three sides of the square, all composing one great fantastic house, were in their splendor. The square itself, too, must have been a busy and cheerful scene, thronged with attendants, guests, horses, etc.
After breakfast, we all walked out, and, crossing the
Returning into the town, we penetrated some narrow lanes, where, as the old story goes, people might almost shake hands across from the top windows of the opposite houses, impending towards each other. Emerging into a wider street, at a spot somewhat more elevated than other parts of the town, we went into a shop to buy some Royal Shrewsbury cakes, which we had seen advertised at several shop windows. They are a very rich cake, with plenty of eggs, sugar, and butter, and very little flour.
A small public building of stone, of modern date, was close
by; and asking the shopwoman what it was, she said it was the Butter Cross, or
market for butter, eggs, and poultry. It
is a remarkable site, for here, in ancient times, stood a stone cross, where
heralds used to make proclamation, and where criminals of state used to be
executed. David, the last of the Welsh
princes, was here cruelly put to death by Edward I., and many noblemen were
beheaded on this spot, after being taken prisoners in the battle of
I can only notice one other memorable place in
September 7th.--On Wednesday, just before
dusk, J----- and I walked forth, for the first time, in
Yesterday forenoon I went out alone, and plunged headlong
I did not find these streets of the old city so narrow and
irregular as I expected. All the
principal ones are sufficiently broad, and there are few houses that look
antique, being, I suppose, generally modern-fronted, when not actually of
modern substance. There is little or no
show or pretension in this part of
I must not forget to say that I crossed the Thames over a
bridge which, I think, is near
Omnibuses are a most important aid to wanderers about
September 8th.--Yesterday forenoon S-----, the two eldest
children, and I went forth into London streets, and proceeded down Regent
Street, and thence to St. James's Park, at the entrance of which is a statue of
somebody,--I forget whom. On the very
spacious gravel-walks, covering several acres, in the rear of the Horse Guards,
some soldiers were going through their exercise; and, after looking at them
awhile, we strolled through the Park, alongside of a sheet of water, in which
various kinds of ducks, geese, and rare species of waterfowl were
swimming. There was one swan of immense
size, which moved about among the lesser fowls like a stately, full-rigged ship
among gunboats. By and by we found
ourselves near what we since have discovered to be Buckingham Palace,--a long
building, in the Italian style, but of no impressiveness, and which one soon
wearies of looking at. The Queen having
S----- asked a man in a sober suit of livery (of whom we saw
several about the Park), whose were some of the large mansions which we saw,
and he pointed out Stafford House, the residence of the Duke of Sutherland, --a
very noble edifice, much more beautiful than the palace, though not so large;
also the house of the Earl of Ellesmere, and residences of other noblemen. This range of mansions, along the park, from
the spot whence we viewed them, looks very much like
From this place we wandered into what I believe to be
The corner of Hyde Park was within a short distance, and I
took a Hansom at the cab-stand there, and drove to the American Despatch
From this point I went through Covent Garden Market, and got
astray in the city, so that I can give no clear account of my afternoon's
wanderings. I passed through Holborn,
however, and I think it was from that street that I passed through an archway
(which I almost invariably do, when I see one), and found myself in a very
spacious, gravelled square, surrounded on the four sides by a continuous
edifice of dark brick, very plain, and of cold and stern aspect. This was Gray's
I think I must have been under a spell of enchantment
to-day, connecting me with
I watched a man tearing down the brick wall of a house that did not appear very old; but it surprised me to see how crumbly the brick-work was, one stroke of his pick often loosening several bricks in a row. It is my opinion that brick houses, after a moderate term of years, stand more by habit and courtesy than through any adhesive force of the old mortar.
I recommenced my wanderings; but I remember nothing else particularly claiming to be mentioned, unless it be Paternoster Row,--a little, narrow, darksome lane, in which, it being now dusk in that density of the city, I could not very well see what signs were over the doors. In this street, or thereabouts, I got into an omnibus, and, being set down near Regent's Circus, reached home well wearied.
September 9th.--Yesterday, having some tickets to the Zoological Gardens, we went thither with the two eldest children. It was a most beautiful sunny day, the very perfection of English weather,--which is as much as to say, the best weather in the world, except, perhaps, some few days in an American October. These gardens are at the end of Regent's Park, farthest from London, and they are very extensive; though, I think, not quite worthy of London,--not so good as one would expect them to be,--not so fine and perfect a collection of beasts, birds, and fishes, as one might fairly look for, when the greatest metropolis of the world sets out to have such a collection at all.--My idea was, that here every living thing was provided for, in the way best suited to its nature and habits, and that the refinement of civilization had here restored a garden of Eden, where all the animal kingdom had regained a happy home. This is not quite the case; though, I believe, the creatures are as comfortable as could he expected, and there are certainly a good many strange beasts here. The hippopotamus is the chief treasure of the collection,--an immense, almost misshapen, mass of flesh. At this moment I do not remember anything that interested me except a sick monkey,--a very large monkey, and elderly he seemed to be. His keeper brought him some sweetened apple and water, and some tea; for the monkey had quite lost his appetite, and refused all ordinary diet. He came, however, quite eagerly, and smelt of the tea and apple, the keeper exhorting him very tenderly to eat. But the poor monkey shook his head slowly, and with the most pitiable expression, at the same time extending his hand to take the keeper's, as if claiming his sympathy and friendship. By and by the keeper (who is rather a surly fellow) essayed harsher measures, and insisted that the monkey should eat what had been brought for him, and hereupon ensued somewhat of a struggle, and the tea was overturned upon the straw of the bed. Then the keeper scolded him, and, seizing him by one arm, drew him out of his little bedroom into the larger cage, upon which the wronged monkey began a loud, dissonant, reproachful chatter, more expressive of a sense of injury than any words could be.
Observing the spectators in front of the cage, he seemed to appeal to them, and addressed his chatter thitherward, and stretched out his long, lean arm and black hand between the bars, as if claiming the grasp of any one friend he might have in the whole world. He was placable, however; for when the keeper called him in a gentler tone, he hobbled towards him with a very stiff and rusty movement, and the scene closed with their affectionately hugging one another. But I fear the poor monkey will die. In a future state of being, I think it will be one of my inquiries, in reference to the mysteries of the present state, why monkeys were made. The Creator could not surely have meant to ridicule his own work. It might rather be fancied that Satan had perpetrated monkeys, with a malicious purpose of parodying the masterpiece of creation!
The Aquarium, containing, in some of its compartments, specimens of the animal and vegetable life of the sea, and, in others, those of the fresh water, was richly worth inspecting; but not nearly so perfect as it might be. Now I think we have a right to claim, in a metropolitan establishment of this kind, in all its departments, a degree of perfection that shall quite outdo the unpractised thought of any man on that particular subject.
There were a good many well-dressed people and children in the gardens, Saturday being a fashionable day for visiting them. One great amusement was feeding some bears with biscuits and cakes, of which they seemed exceedingly fond. One of the three bears clambered to the top of a high pole, whence he invited the spectators to hand him bits of cake on the end of a stick, or to toss them into his mouth, which he opened widely for that purpose. Another, apparently an elderly bear, not having skill nor agility for these gymnastics, sat on the ground, on his hinder end, groaning most pitifully. The third took what stray bits he could get, without earning them by any antics.
At four o'clock there was some music from the band of the
First Life-Guards, a great multitude of chairs being set on the greensward in
the sunshine and shade, for the accommodation of the auditors. Here we had the usual exhibition of English
beauty, neither superior nor otherwise to what I have seen in other parts of
September 10th.--Yesterday forenoon we walked out with the
children, intending for Charing Cross; but, missing our way, as usual, we went
down a rather wide and stately street, and saw before us an old brick edifice
with a pretty extensive front, over which rose a clock-tower,--the whole dingy,
and looking both gloomy and mean. There
was an arched entrance beneath the clock-tower, at which two Guardsmen, in
their bear-skin caps, were stationed as sentinels; and from this circumstance,
and our having some guess at the locality, we concluded the old brick building
to be St. James's Palace. Otherwise we
might have taken it for a prison, or for a hospital, which, in truth, it was at
first intended for. But, certainly,
there are many paupers in
Seeing other people go through the archway, we also went,
meeting no impediment from the sentinels, and found ourselves in a large paved
court, in the centre of which a banner was stuck down, with a few soldiers
standing near it. This flag was the banner
of the regiment of guards on duty. The
aspect of the interior court was as naked and dismal as the outside, the brick
being of that dark hue almost universal in
Then we skirted along St. James's Park, passing Marlborough
House,--a red brick building,--and a very long range of stone edifices, which,
whether they were public or private, one house or twenty, we knew not. We ascended the steps of the
Northumberland House, now, and for a long while, the town residence of the Percys, stands on the Strand side,--over the entrance a lion, very spiritedly sculptured, flinging out his long tail. On another side of the square is Morley's Hotel, exceedingly spacious, and looking more American than anything else in the hotel line that I have seen here.
The Nelson monument, with Lord Nelson, in a cocked hat, on
its top, is very grand in its effect.
All about the square there were sundry loungers, people looking at the
bas-reliefs on Nelson's Column, children paddling in the reservoirs of the
fountains; and, it being a sunny day, it was a cheerful and lightsome, as well
as an impressive scene. On second
thoughts, I do not know but that
In the afternoon S----- and I set out to attend divine
service in Westminster Abbey. On our way
thither we passed through
I find that the day after I reached London, I entirely passed by Westminster Abbey without knowing it, partly because my eyes were attracted by the gaudier show of the new Houses of Parliament, and partly because this part of the Abbey has been so much repaired and renewed that it has not the marks of age. Looking at its front, I now found it very grand and venerable; but it is useless to attempt a description: these things are not to be translated into words; they can be known only by seeing them, and, until seen, it is well to shape out no idea of them. Impressions, states of mind, produced by noble spectacles of whatever kind, are all that it seems worth while to attempt reproducing with the pen.
After coming out of the Abbey, we looked at the two Houses of Parliament, directly across the way,--an immense structure, and certainly most splendid, built of a beautiful warm-colored stone. The building has a very elaborate finish, and delighted me at first; but by and by I began to be sensible of a weariness in the effect, a lack of variety in the plan and ornament, a deficiency of invention; so that instead of being more and more interested the longer one looks, as is the case with an old Gothic edifice, and continually reading deeper into it, one finds that one has seen all in seeing a little piece, and that the magnificent palace has nothing better to show one or to do for one. It is wonderful how the old weather-stained and smoke-blackened Abbey shames down this brand-newness; not that the Parliament houses are not fine objects to look at, too.
Yesterday morning we walked to Charing Cross, with U---- and
J-----, and there took a cab to the Tower, driving thither through the Strand,
Fleet Street, past
There is a great deal of ground within the outer precincts;
and it has streets and houses and inhabitants and a church within it; and,
going up and down behind the warder, without any freedom to get acquainted with
the place by strolling about, I know little more about it than when I went
in,--only recollecting a mean and disagreeable confusion of brick walls,
barracks, paved courts, with here and there a low bulky turret, of rather
antique aspect, and, in front of one of the edifices, a range of curious old
cannon, lying on the ground, some of them immensely large and long, and
beautifully wrought in brass. I observed
by a plan, however, that the
Then we went up a winding stair to another room, containing
armor and weapons, and beautiful brass cannon, that appeared to have been for
ornament rather than use, some of them being quite covered with embossed
sculpture, marvellously well wrought. In
this room was John of Gaunt's suit, indicating a man seven feet high, and the
armor seems to bear the marks of much wear; but this may be owing to great
scrubbing, throughout the centuries since John of Gaunt died. There, too, we saw the cloak in which Wolfe
fell, on the
Following into still another room, we were told that this
was Sir Walter Raleigh's apartment, while confined in the Tower, so that it was
within these walls that he wrote the History of the World. The room was formerly lighted by lancet
windows, and must have been very gloomy; but, if he had the whole length of it
to himself, it was a good space to walk and meditate in. On one side of the apartment is a low door,
giving admittance, we were told, to the cell where Raleigh slept; so we went
in, and found it destitute of any window, and so dark that we could not
estimate its small extent except by feeling about. At the threshold of this sleeping-kennel,
there were one or two inscriptions, scratched in the wall, but not, I believe,
In this apartment, among a great many other curious things,
are shown the devilish instruments of torture which the Spaniards were bringing
The warder then led us into a paved court, which he said was
the place of execution of all royal personages and others, who, from motives of
fear or favor, were beheaded privately.
We now wished to see the Thames, and therefore threaded our
way along Thames Street, towards London Bridge, passing through a fish-market,
which I suppose to be the actual Billingsgate, whence originated all the foul
language in England. Under
We now left the hospital, and steamed back to
Descending, I put S----- and the children into a cab, and I
myself wandered about the city. Passing
along Fleet Street, I turned in through an archway, which I rightly guessed to
be the entrance to the
Emerging from the
The best view we had of the town--in fact, the only external
view, and the only time we really saw the
September 13th.--Mr. ------, the American Minister, called
on me on Tuesday, and left his card; an intimation that I ought sooner to have
paid my respects to him; so yesterday forenoon I set out to find his residence,
56 Harley Street. It is a street out of
The tall, large figure of Mr. ------ has a certain air of state and dignity; he carries his head in a very awkward way, but still looks like a man of long and high authority, and, with his white hair, is now quite venerable. There is certainly a lack of polish, a kind of rusticity, notwithstanding which you feel him to be a man of the world. I should think he might succeed very tolerably in English society, being heavy and sensible, cool, kindly, and good-humored, with a great deal of experience of life. We talked about various matters, politics among the rest; and he observed that if the President had taken the advice which he gave him in two long letters, before his inauguration, he would have had a perfectly quiet and successful term of office. The advice was, to form a perfectly homogeneous cabinet of Union men, and to satisfy the extremes of the party by a fair distribution of minor offices; whereas he formed his cabinet of extreme men, on both sides, and gave the minor offices to moderate ones. But the antislavery people, surely, had no representative in the cabinet. Mr. ------ further observed, that he thought the President had a fair chance of re-nomination, for that the South could not, in honor, desert him; to which I replied that the South had been guilty of such things heretofore. Mr. ------ thinks that the next Presidential term will be more important and critical, both as to our foreign relations and internal affairs, than any preceding one,--which I should judge likely enough to be the case, although I heard the sane prophecy often made respecting the present term.
The ambassador dined with us at Rock Park a year or two ago,
and I then felt, and always feel, as if he were a man of hearty feeling and
simplicity, and certainly it would be unjust to conclude otherwise, merely from
the fact (very suspicious, it is true) of his having been a life-long
politician. After we had got through a
little matter of business (respecting a young American who has enlisted at
She was going farther towards the West End, and I into the
city; so we soon parted, and I lost myself among the streets and squares,
arriving at last at Oxford Street, though even then I did not know whether my
face were turned cityward or in the opposite direction. Crossing
We talked, in the first place, about poetry and such
After parting from him, it being three o'clock or thereabouts, I resumed my wanderings about the city, of which I never weary as long as I can put one foot before the other.
Seeing that the door of
The organ was played while I was there, and there was an
anthem beautifully chanted by voices that came from afar off and remotely
above, as if out of a sunny sky.
Meanwhile I looked at such monuments as were near; chiefly those erected
to military or naval men,--Picton, General Ponsonby, Lord St. Vincent, and
others; but against one of the pillars stands a statue of Dr. Johnson,--a noble
and thoughtful figure, with a development of muscle befitting an athlete. I doubt whether sculptors do not err in point
of taste, by making all their statues models of physical perfection, instead of
expressing by them the individual character and habits of the man. The statue in the market-place at
I saw Mr. Appleton of the Legation, and Dr. Brown, on the
floor of the cathedral. They were about
to go over the whole edifice, and had engaged a guide for that purpose; but, as
I intend to go thither again with S-----, I did not accompany them, but went
away the quicker that one of the gentlemen put on his hat, and I was ashamed of
being seen in company with a man who could wear his hat in a cathedral. Not that he meant any irreverence; but simply
felt that he was in a great public building,--as big, nearly, as all out of
doors,--and so forgot that it was a consecrated place of worship. The sky is the dome of a greater cathedral
I remember no other event of importance, except that I
penetrated into a narrow lane or court, either in the
September 14th.--Yesterday, in the earlier part of the day,
it poured with rain, and I did not go out till five o'clock in the afternoon;
nor did I then meet with anything interesting.
I walked through
At seven o'clock S-----, U----, and I went to dine with Mr.
Speaking of Thackeray, I cannot but wonder at his coolness in respect to his own pathos, and compare it with my emotions, when I read the last scene of The Scarlet Letter to my wife, just after writing it,--tried to read it rather, for my voice swelled and heaved, as if I were tossed up and down on an ocean as it subsides after a storm. But I was in a very nervous state then, having gone through a great diversity of emotion, while writing it, for many months. I think I have never overcome my own adamant in any other instance.
Tumblers, hand-organists, puppet-showmen, bagpipers, and all
such vagrant mirth-makers, are very numerous in the streets of
September 15th.--It was raining yesterday, and I kept within
doors till after four o'clock, when J----- and I took a walk into the
city. Seeing the entrance to Clement's
Inn, we went through it, and saw the garden, with a kneeling bronze figure in
it; and when just in the midst of the Inn, I remembered that Justice Shallow
was of old a student there. I do not
well understand these Inns of Court, or how they differ from other places. Anybody seems to be free to reside in them,
and a residence does not seem to involve any obligation to study law, or to
have any connection therewith. Clement's
September 16th.--I took the ten-o'clock train yesterday morning from the Euston station, and arrived at Liverpool at about five, passing through the valley of Trent, without touching at Birmingham. English scenery, on the tracks, is the tamest of the tame, hardly a noticeable hill breaking the ordinary gentle undulation of the landscape, but still the verdure and finish of the fields and parks make it worth while to throw out a glance now and then, as you rush by. Few separate houses are seen, as in America; but sometimes a village, with the square, gray, battlemented tower of its Norman church, and rows of thatched cottages, reminding one of the clustered mud-nests of swallows, under the eaves of a barn; here and there a lazy little river, like the Trent; perhaps, if you look sharply where the guide-book indicates, the turrets of an old castle in the distance; perhaps the great steeple and spires of a cathedral; perhaps the tall chimney of a manufactory; but, on the whole, the traveller comes to his journey's end unburdened with a single new idea. I observe that the harvest is not all gathered in as yet, and this rainy weather must look very gloomy to the farmer. I saw gleaners, yesterday, in the stubble-fields. There were two gentlemen in the same railway-carriage with me, and we did not exchange half a dozen words the whole day.
I am here, established at Mrs. Blodgett's boarding-house,
which I find quite full; insomuch that she had to send one of her sea-captains
to sleep in another house, in order to make room for me. It is exclusively American society: four
shipmasters, and a doctor from
The captains talk together about their voyages, and how they
manage with their unruly mates and crews; and how freights are in
September 17th.--It is singular to feel a sense of my own country returning upon me with the intercourse of the people whom I find here. . . . .
The doctor is much the most talkative of our company, and
sometimes bores me thereby; though he seldom says anything that is not either
instructive or amusing. He tells a
curious story of
I think, perhaps, we talk of kings and queens more at our table than people do at other tables in England; not, of course, that we like them better, or admire them more, but that they are curiosities. Yet I would not say that the doctor may not be susceptible on the point of royal attentions; for he told us with great complacency how emphatically, on two or three occasions, Louis Napoleon had returned his bow, and the last time had turned and made some remark (evidently about the doctor) to the Empress. . . . .
I ought not to omit mentioning that he has been told in
I saw in an American paper yesterday, that an opera, still
unfinished, had been written on the story of The Scarlet Letter, and that
several scenes of it had been performed successfully in
September 24th.--On Saturday, at half past three o'clock, I
left Liverpool by the
Nothing remarkable occurred on the journey to
Yesterday the children went with Fanny to the Zoological
Gardens; and, after sending them off, S----- and I walked to Piccadilly, and
there took a cab for
There were a good many well-dressed people scattered through
the grounds,--young men and girls, husbands with their wives and children,
nursery-maids and little babes playing about in the grass. Anybody might have entered the gardens, I
suppose; but only well-dressed people were there not, of the upper classes, but
shop-keepers, clerks, apprentices, and respectability of that sort. It is pleasant to think that the people have
the freedom, and therefore the property, of parks like this, more beautiful and
stately than a nobleman can keep to himself.
The extent of
In the evening I walked forth to Charing Cross, and thence
September 25th.--Yesterday forenoon J----- and I walked out,
with no very definite purpose; but, seeing a narrow passageway from the Strand
down to the river, we went through it, and gained access to a steamboat, plying
thence to London Bridge. The fare was a
halfpenny apiece, and the boat almost too much crowded for standing-room. This part of the river presents the
water-side of London in a rather pleasanter aspect than below London
Bridge,--the Temple, with its garden, Somerset House,--and generally, a less
tumble-down and neglected look about the buildings; although, after all, the
metropolis does not see a very stately face in its mirror. I saw Alsatia betwixt the
From this remote part of
In the afternoon, at four o'clock, S----- and I went to call on the American Ambassador and Miss L------. The lady was not at home, but we went in to see Mr. ------ and were shown into a stately drawing-room, the furniture of which was sufficiently splendid, but rather the worse for wear,--being hired furniture, no doubt. The ambassador shortly appeared, looking venerable, as usual,--or rather more so than usual,--benign, and very pale. His deportment towards ladies is highly agreeable and prepossessing, and he paid very kind attention to S-----, thereby quite confirming her previous good feeling towards him. She thinks that he is much changed since she saw him last, at dinner, at our house,--more infirm, more aged, and with a singular depression in his manner. I, too, think that age has latterly come upon him with great rapidity. He said that Miss L------ was going home on the 6th of October, and that he himself had long purposed going, but had received despatches which obliged him to put off his departure. The President, he said, had just written, requesting him to remain till April, but this he was determined not to do. I rather think that he does really wish to return, and not for any ambitious views concerning the Presidency, but from an old man's natural desire to be at home, and among his own people.
S----- spoke to him about an order
from the Lord Chamberlain for admission to view the two Houses of Parliament;
and the ambassador drew from his pocket a colored silk handkerchief, and made a
knot in it, in order to remind himself to ask the Lord Chamberlain. The homeliness of this little incident has a
sort of propriety and keeping with much of Mr. ------'s manner, but I would
rather not have him do so before English people. He arranged to send a close carriage for us
to come and see him socially this evening.
After leaving his house we drove round
September 26th.--Yesterday, at eleven, I walked towards
Westminster Abbey, and as I drew near the Abbey bells were clamorous for joy,
chiming merrily, musically, and, obstreperously,--the most rejoicing sound that
can be conceived; and we ought to have a chime of bells in every American town
and village, were it only to keep alive the celebration of the Fourth of July. I conjectured that there might have been
another victory over the Russians, that perhaps the northern side of
It is pleasant to recognize the mould and fashion of English
features through the marble of many of the statues and busts in the Abbey, even
though they may be clad in Roman robes.
I am inclined to think them, in many cases, faithful likenesses; and it
brings them nearer to the mind, to see these original sculptures,--you see the
man at but one remove, as if you caught his image in a looking-glass. The bust of Gay seemed to me very good,--a
thoughtful and humorous sweetness in the face.
Goldsmith has as good a position as any poet in the Abbey, his bust and
tablet filling the pointed arch over a door that seems to lead towards the
cloisters. No doubt he would have liked
to be assured of so conspicuous a place.
There is one monument to a native American,
"Charles Wragg, Esq., of
Leaving the Abbey about one o'clock, I walked into the city
as far as
At eight o'clock Mr. ------ sent his carriage, according to
previous arrangement, to take us to spend the evening socially. Miss L------received us with proper
cordiality, and looked quite becomingly,--more sweet and simple in aspect than
when I have seen her in full dress. Shortly the ambassador appeared, and made himself highly agreeable; not that he is a brilliant
conversationist, but his excellent sense and good-humor, and all that he has
seen and been a part of, are sufficient resources to draw upon. We talked of the Queen, whom he spoke of with
high respect; . . . . of the late Czar, whom he knew
intimately while minister to
September 27th.--Yesterday, much earlier than English people
ever do such things, General ------ made us a call on his way to the Consulate,
and sat talking a stricken hour or thereabouts.
Scarcely had he gone when Mrs. Oakford and her daughter came. After sitting a long while, they took U----
to their house, near
The train of carriages stops within the domain of the
palace, where there is a long ascending corridor up into the edifice. There was a very pleasant odor of heliotrope
diffused through the air; and, indeed, the whole atmosphere of the
The first thing we did, before fairly getting into the
palace, was to sit down in a large ante-hall, and get some bread and butter and
a pint of Bass's pale ale, together with a cup of coffee for S-----. This was the best refreshment we could find
at that spot; but farther within we found abundance of refreshment-rooms, and
John Bull and his wife and family at fifty little round tables, busily engaged
with cold fowl, cold beef, ham, tongue, and bottles of ale and stout, and
half-pint decanters of sherry. The English probably eat with more simple
enjoyment than any other people; not ravenously, as we often do, and not
exquisitely and artificially, like the French, but deliberately and vigorously,
and with due absorption in the business, so that nothing good is lost upon
them. . . . . It is remarkable how large a feature the refreshment-rooms make
in the arrangements of the
In the pool of a fountain, of which there are several
beautiful ones within the palace, besides larger ones in the garden before it,
we saw tropical plants growing,--large water-lilies of various colors, some
white, like our
The palace is very large, and our time was short, it being
desirable to get home early; so, after a stay of little more than two hours, we
took the rail back again, and reached
September 28th.--8---- and I walked to Charing Cross yesterday forenoon, and there took a Hansom cab to St. Paul's Cathedral. It had been a thick, foggy morning, but had warmed and brightened into one of the balmiest and sunniest of noons. As we entered the cathedral, the long bars of sunshine were falling from its upper windows through the great interior atmosphere, and were made visible by the dust, or mist, floating about in it. It is a grand edifice, and I liked it quite as much as on my first view of it, although a sense of coldness and nakedness is felt when we compare it with Gothic churches. It is more an external work than the Gothic churches are, and is not so made out of the dim, awful, mysterious, grotesque, intricate nature of man. But it is beautiful and grand. I love its remote distances, and wide, clear spaces, its airy massiveness; its noble arches, its sky-like dome, which, I think, should be all over light, with ground-glass, instead of being dark, with only diminutive windows.
We walked round, looking at the monuments, which are so arranged, at the bases of columns and in niches, as to coincide with the regularity of the cathedral, and be each an additional ornament to the whole, however defective individually as works of art. We thought that many of these monuments were striking and impressive, though there was a pervading sameness of idea,--a great many Victorys and Valors and Britannias, and a great expenditure of wreaths, which must have cost Victory a considerable sum at any florist's whom she patronizes. A very great majority of the memorials are to naval and military men, slain in Bonaparte's wars; men in whom one feels little or no interest (except Picton, Abercrombie, Moore, Nelson, of course, and a few others really historic), they having done nothing remarkable, save having been shot, nor shown any more brains than the cannonballs that killed them. All the statues have the dust of years upon then, strewn thickly in the folds of their marble garments, and on any limb stretched horizontally, and on their noses, so that the expression is much obscured. I think the nation might employ people to brush away the dust from the statues of its heroes. But, on the whole, it is very fine to look through the broad arches of the cathedral, and see, at the foot of some distant pillar, a group of sculptured figures, commemorating some man and deed that (whether worth remembering or not) the nation is so happy as to reverence. In Westminster Abbey, the monuments are so crowded, and so oddly patched together upon the walls, that they are ornamental only in a mural point of view; and, moreover, the quaint and grotesque taste of many of them might well make the spectator laugh,--an effect not likely to be produced by the monuments in St. Paul's. But, after all, a man might read the walls of the Abbey day after day with ever-fresh interest, whereas the cold propriety of the cathedral would weary him in due time.
We did not ascend to the galleries and other points of interest aloft, nor go down into the vaults, where Nelson's sarcophagus is shown, and many monuments of the old Gothic cathedral, which stood on this site, before the great fire. They say that these lower regions are comfortably warm and dry; but as we walked round in front, within the iron railing of the churchyard, we passed an open door, giving access to the crypt, and it breathed out a chill like death upon us.
It is pleasant to stand in the centre of the cathedral, and
hear the noise of
Coming from the cathedral, we went through Paternoster Row,
and saw Ave
Leaving the gallery, we wandered through the rest of the
bazaar, which is devoted to the sale of ladies' finery, jewels, perfumes,
children's toys, and all manner of small and pretty rubbish. . . . . In the
evening I again sallied forth, and lost myself for an hour or two; at last
recognizing my whereabouts in Tottenham Court Road. In such quarters of
September 29th.--Yesterday we walked to the
We went first among some antique marbles,--busts, statues, terminal gods, with several of the Roman emperors among them. We saw here the bust whence Haydon took his ugly and ridiculous likeness of Nero,--a foolish thing to do. Julius Caesar was there, too, looking more like a modern old man than any other bust in the series. Perhaps there may be a universality in his face, that gives it this independence of race and epoch. We glimpsed along among the old marbles,--Elgin and others, which are esteemed such treasures of art;--the oddest fragments, many of them smashed by their fall from high places, or by being pounded to pieces by barbarians, or gnawed away by time; the surface roughened by being rained upon for thousands of years; almost always a nose knocked off; sometimes a headless form; a great deficiency of feet and hands,--poor, maimed veterans in this hospital of incurables. The beauty of the most perfect of them must be rather guessed at, and seen by faith, than with the bodily eye; to look at the corroded faces and forms is like trying to see angels through mist and cloud. I suppose nine tenths of those who seem to be in raptures about these fragments do not really care about them; neither do I. And if I were actually moved, I should doubt whether it were by the statues or by my own fancy.
We passed, too, through Assyrian saloons and Egyptian saloons,--all full of monstrosities and horrible uglinesses, especially the Egyptian, and all the innumerable relics that I saw of them in these saloons, and among the mummies, instead of bringing me closer to them, removed me farther and farther; there being no common ground of sympathy between them and us. Their gigantic statues are certainly very curious. I saw a hand and arm up to the shoulder fifteen feet in length, and made of some stone that seemed harder and heavier than granite, not having lost its polish in all the rough usage that it has undergone. There was a fist on a still larger scale, almost as big as a hogshead. Hideous, blubber-lipped faces of giants, and human shapes with beasts' heads on them. The Egyptian controverted Nature in all things, only using it as a groundwork to depict, the unnatural upon. Their mummifying process is a result of this tendency. We saw one very perfect mummy,--a priestess, with apparently only one more fold of linen betwixt us and her antique flesh, and this fitting closely to her person from head to foot, so that we could see the lineaments of her face and the shape of her limbs as perfectly as if quite bare. I judge that she may have been very beautiful in her day,--whenever that was. One or two of the poor thing's toes (her feet were wonderfully small and delicate) protruded from the linen, and, perhaps, not having been so perfectly embalmed, the flesh had fallen away, leaving only some little bones. I don't think this young woman has gained much by not turning to dust in the time of the Pharaohs. We also saw some bones of a king that had been taken out of a pyramid; a very fragmentary skeleton. Among the classic marbles I peeped into an urn that once contained the ashes of dead people, and the bottom still had an ashy hue. I like this mode of disposing of dead bodies; but it would be still better to burn them and scatter the ashes, instead of hoarding them up,--to scatter them over wheat-fields or flowerbeds.
Besides these antique halls, we wandered through saloons of
antediluvian animals, some set up in skeletons, others imprisoned in solid
stone; also specimens of still extant animals, birds, reptiles, shells,
minerals,--the whole circle of human knowledge and guess-work,--till I wished
that the whole Past might be swept away, and each generation compelled to bury
and destroy whatever it had produced, before being permitted to leave the
stage. When we quit a house, we are
expected to make it clean for the next occupant; why ought we not to leave a
clean world for the next generation? We
did not see the library of above half a million of volumes; else I suppose I
should have found full occasion to wish that burnt and buried likewise. In truth, a greater part of it is as good as
buried, so far as any readers are concerned.
Leaving the Museum, we sauntered home. After a little rest, I set out for
By and by Mr. Oakford came in, well soaked with the heaviest shower that I ever knew in England, which had been rattling on the roof of the little side room where we sat, and had caught him on the outside of the omnibus. At a little before eight o'clock I came home with U---- in a cab,--the gaslight glittering on the wet streets through which we drove, though the sky was clear overhead.
September 30th.--Yesterday, a little before twelve, we took a cab, and went to the two Houses of Parliament,--the most immense building, methinks, that ever was built; and not yet finished, though it has now been occupied for years. Its exterior lies hugely along the ground, and its great unfinished tower is still climbing towards the sky; but the result (unless it be the riverfront, which I have not yet seen) seems not very impressive. The interior is much more successful. Nothing can be more magnificent and gravely gorgeous than the Chamber of Peers,--a large oblong hall, panelled with oak, elaborately carved, to the height of perhaps twenty feet. Then the balustrade of the gallery runs around the hall, and above the gallery are six arched windows on each side, richly painted with historic subjects. The roof is ornamented and gilded, and everywhere throughout there is embellishment of color and carving on the broadest scale, and, at the same time, most minute and elaborate; statues of full size in niches aloft; small heads of kings, no bigger than a doll; and the oak is carved in all parts of the panelling as faithfully as they used to do it in Henry VII's time,--as faithfully and with as good workmanship, but with nothing like the variety and invention which I saw in the dining-room of Smithell's Hall. There the artist wrought with his heart and head; but much of this work, I suppose, was done by machinery. Be that as it may, it is a most noble and splendid apartment, and, though so fine, there is not a touch of finery; it glistens and glows with even a sombre magnificence, owing to the rich, deep lines, and the dim light, bedimmed with rich colors by coming through the painted windows. In arched recesses, that serve as frames, at each end of the hall, there are three pictures by modern artists from English history; and though it was not possible to see them well as pictures, they adorned and enriched the walls marvellously as architectural embellishments. The Peers' seats are four rows of long sofas on each side, covered with red morocco; comfortable seats enough, but not adapted to any other than a decorously exact position. The woolsack is between these two divisions of sofas, in the middle passage of the floor,--a great square seat, covered with scarlet, and with a scarlet cushion set up perpendicularly for the Chancellor to lean against. In front of the woolsack there is another still larger ottoman, on which he might be at full length,--for what purpose intended, I know not. I should take the woolsack to be not a very comfortable seat, though I suppose it was originally designed to be the most comfortable one that could be contrived, in view of the Chancellor's much sitting.
The throne is the first object you see on entering the hall, being close to the door; a chair of antique form, with a high, peaked back, and a square canopy above, the whole richly carved and quite covered with burnished gilding, besides being adorned with rows of rock crystals,--which seemed to me of rather questionable taste.
It is less elevated above the floor than one imagines it ought to be. While we were looking at it, I saw two Americans,--Western men, I should judge,--one of them with a true American slouch, talking to the policeman in attendance, and describing our Senate Chamber in contrast with the House of Lords. The policeman smiled and ah-ed, and seemed to make as courteous and liberal responses as he could. There was quite a mixed company of spectators, and, I think, other Americans present besides the above two and ourselves. The Lord Chamberlain's tickets appear to be distributed with great impartiality. There were two or three women of the lower middle class, with children or babies in arms, one of whom lifted up its voice loudly in the House of Peers.
We next, after long contemplating this rich hall, proceeded
through passages and corridors to a great central room, very beautiful, which
seems to be used for purposes of refreshment, and for electric telegraphs;
though I should not suppose this could be its primitive and ultimate
design. Thence we went into the House of
Commons, which is larger than the Chamber of Peers, and much less richly
ornamented, though it would have appeared splendid had it come first in
order. The speaker's chair, if I remember
rightly, is loftier and statelier than the throne itself. Both in this hall and in that of the Lords,
we were at first surprised by the narrow limits within which the great ideas of
the Lords and
Thence we went to Westminster Hall, through a gallery with
statues on each side,--beautiful statues too, I
thought; seven of them, of which four were from the times of the civil
wars,--Clarendon, Falkland, Hampden, Selden, Somers,
We entered Westminster Hall (which is incorporated into this new edifice, and forms an integral part of it) through a lofty archway, whence a double flight of broad steps descends to the stone pavement. After the elaborate ornament of the rooms we had just been viewing, this venerable hall looks extremely simple and bare,--a gray stone floor, gray and naked stone walls, but a roof sufficiently elaborate, its vault being filled with carved beams and rafters of chestnut, very much admired and wondered at for the design and arrangement. I think it would have pleased me more to have seen a clear vaulted roof, instead of this intricacy of wooden points, by which so much skylight space is lost. They make (be it not irreverently said) the vast and lofty apartment look like the ideal of an immense barn. But it is a noble space, and all without the support of a single pillar. It is about eighty of my paces from the foot of the steps to the opposite end of the hall, and twenty-seven from side to side; very high, too, though not quite proportionately to its other dimensions. I love it for its simplicity and antique nakedness, and deem it worthy to have been the haunt and home of History through the six centuries since it was built. I wonder it does not occur to modern ingenuity to make a scenic representation, in this very hall, of the ancient trials for life or death, pomps, feasts, coronations, and every great historic incident in the lives of kings, Parliaments, Protectors, and all illustrious men, that have occurred here. The whole world cannot show another hall such as this, so tapestried with recollections of whatever is most striking in human annals.
Westminster Abbey being just across the street, we went
thither from the hall, and sought out the cloisters, which we had not yet
visited. They are in excellent
preservation,--broad walks, canopied with intermingled
arches of gray stone, on which some sort of lichen, or other growth of ages
(which seems, however, to have little or nothing vegetable in it), has
grown. The pavement is entirely made of
flat tombstones, inscribed with half-effaced names of the dead people beneath;
and the wall all round bears the marble tablets which give a fuller record of
their virtues. I think it was from a
meditation in these cloisters that
As we came out from the cloisters, and walked along by the
churchyard of the Abbey, a woman came begging behind us very earnestly. "A bit of bread," she said,
"and I will give you a thousand blessings! Hunger is hard to bear. O kind gentleman and kind lady, a penny for a
bit of bread! It is a hard thing that
gentlemen and ladies should see poor people wanting bread, and make no
difference whether they are good or bad."
And so she followed us almost all round the Abbey, assailing our hearts
in most plaintive terms, but with no success; for she did it far too well to be
anything but an impostor, and no doubt she had breakfasted better, and was
likely to have a better dinner, than ourselves.
And yet the natural man cries out against the philosophy that rejects
beggars. It is a thousand to one that they are impostors, but yet we do
ourselves a wrong by hardening our hearts against them. At last, without turning round, I told her
that I should give her nothing,--with some asperity, doubtless, for the effort
to refuse creates a bitterer repulse than is necessary. She still followed us a little farther, but
at last gave it up, with a deep groan. I
could not have performed this act of heroism on my first arrival from
Whether the beggar-woman had invoked curses on us, and
Heaven saw fit to grant some slight response, I know not, but it now began to
rain on my wife's velvet; so I put her and J----- into a cab, and hastened to
ensconce myself in Westminster Abbey while the shower should last. Poets'
Corner has never seemed like a strange place to me; it has been familiar from
the very first; at all events, I cannot now recollect the previous conception,
of which the reality has taken the place.
I seem always to have known that somewhat dim corner, with the bare
brown stone-work of the old edifice aloft, and a window shedding down its light
on the marble busts and tablets, yellow with time, that cover the three walls
of the nook up to a height of about twenty feet. Prior's is the largest and richest
monument. It is observable that the bust
I walked round the aisles, and paced the nave, and came to
the conclusion that Westminster Abbey, both in itself and for the variety and
interest of its monuments, is a thousand times preferable to
The shower being over, I walked down into the city, where I called on Mr. B------ and left S-----'s watch to be examined and put in order. He told me that he and his brother had lately been laying out and letting a piece of land at Blackheath, that had been left them by their father, and that the ground-rent would bring them in two thousand pounds per annum. With such an independent income, I doubt whether any American would consent to be anything but a gentleman,--certainly not an operative watchmaker. How sensible these Englishmen are in some things!
Thence I went at a venture, and lost myself, of course. At one part of my walk I came upon St. Luke's
Hospital, whence I returned to
October 2d.--Yesterday forenoon I went with J----- into the
After seeing the steam-officials, we went to
October 3d.--I again went into the city yesterday forenoon,
to settle about the passages to
Growing rather weary anon, we got into an omnibus, which
took us as far as the Surrey Zoological Gardens, which J----- wished very much
to see. They proved to be a rather poor place of suburban amusement; poor, at
least, by daylight, their chief attraction for the public consisting in
out-of-door representations of battles and sieges. The storming of Sebastopol (as likewise at
the Cremorne Gardens) was advertised for the evening, and we saw the scenery of
Sebastopol, painted on a vast scale, in the open air, and really looking like
miles and miles of hill and water; with a space for the actual manoeuvring of
ships on a sheet of real water in front of the scene, on which some ducks were
now swimming about, in place of men-of-war.
The climate of
The garden is shaded with trees, and set out with greensward and gravel-walks, from which the people were sweeping the withered autumnal leaves, which now fall every day. Plaster statues stand here and there, one of them without a head, thus disclosing the hollowness of the trunk; there were one or two little drizzly fountains, with the water dripping over the rock-work, of which the English are so fond; and the buildings for the animals and other purposes had a flimsy, pasteboard aspect of pretension. The garden was in its undress; few visitors, I suppose, coming hither at this time of day,--only here and there a lady and children, a young man and girl, or a couple of citizens, loitering about. I take pains to remember these small items, because they suggest the day-life or torpidity of what may look very brilliant at night. These corked-up fountains, slovenly greensward, cracked casts of statues, pasteboard castles, and duck-pond Bay of Balaclava then shining out in magic splendor, and the shabby attendants whom we saw sweeping and shovelling probably transformed into the heroes of Sebastopol.
J----- thought it a delightful
place; but I soon grew very weary, and came away about four o'clock, and,
getting into a city omnibus, we alighted on the hither side of Blackfriar's
Bridge. Turning into Fleet Street, I
looked about for a place to dine at, and chose the Mitre Tavern, in memory of
Johnson and Boswell. It stands behind a
front of modern shops, through which is an archway, giving admittance into a
narrow court-yard, which, I suppose, was formerly open to Fleet Street. The
house is of dark brick, and, comparing it with other London edifices, I should
take it to have been at least refronted since Johnson's time; but within, the
low, sombre coffee-room which we entered might well enough have been of that
era or earlier. It seems to be a good,
plain, respectable inn; and the waiter gave us each a plate of boiled beef,
and, for dessert, a damson tart, which made up a comfortable dinner. After dinner, we zigzagged homeward through
Clifford's link passage, Holborn,
There is a woman who has several times passed through this Hanover Street, in which we live, stopping occasionally to sing songs under the windows; and last evening, between nine and ten o'clock, she came and sang "Kathleen O'Moore" richly and sweetly. Her voice rose up out of the dim, chill street, and made our hearts throb in unison with it as we sat in our comfortable drawing-room. I never heard a voice that touched me more deeply. Somebody told her to go away, and she stopped like a nightingale suddenly shot; but, finding that S----- wished to know something about her, Fanny and one of the maids ran after her, and brought her into the hall. It seems she was educated to sing at the opera, and married an Italian opera-singer, who is now dead; lodging in a model lodging-house at threepence a night, and being a penny short to-night, she tried this method, in hope of getting this penny. She takes in plain sewing when she can get any, and picks up a trifle about the street by means of her voice, which, she says, was once sweet, but has now been injured by the poorness of her living. She is a pale woman, with black eyes, Fanny says, and may have been pretty once, but is not so now. It seems very strange, that with such a gift of Heaven, so cultivated, too, as her voice is, making even an unsusceptible heart vibrate like a harp-string, she should not have had an engagement among the hundred theatres and singing-rooms of London; that she should throw away her melody in the streets for the mere chance of a penury, when sounds not a hundredth part so sweet are worth from other lips purses of gold.
October 5th.--It rained almost all day on Wednesday, so that
I did not go out till late in the afternoon, and then only took a stroll along
Oxford Street and Holborn, and back through Fleet Street and the Strand.
Yesterday, at a little after ten, I went to the ambassador's to get my wife's
I next went to Westminster Abbey, where I had long promised
myself another quiet visit; for I think I never could be weary of it; and when
I finally leave
There is a beautiful statue in memory of Horace Walpole's
mother; and I took it to be really a likeness, till the verger said that it was
a copy of a statue which her son had admired in
October 6th.--Yesterday was not an eventful day. I took J----- with me to the city, called on
Mr. Sturgis at the Barings' House, and got his checks for a bank
post-note. The house is at
October 11th.--We all left London on Sunday morning, between
ten and eleven, from the Waterloo station, and arrived in Southampton about
two, without meeting with anything very remarkable on the way. We put up at Chapple's Castle Hotel, which is
one of the class styled "commercial," and,
though respectable, not such a one as the nobility and gentry usually
frequent. I saw little difference in the
accommodation, except that young women attended us instead of men,--a pleasant
change. It was a showery day, but J-----
and I walked out to see the shore and the town and the docks, and, if possible,
the ship in which S----- was to sail. The most noteworthy object was the
remains of an old castle, near the water-side; the square, gray, weed grown,
weird keep of which shows some modern chimney-pots above its battlements, while
remaining portions of the fortress are made to seem as one of the walls for
coal-depots, and perhaps for small dwellings.
The English characteristically patch new things into old things in this manner,
materially, legally, constitutionally, and morally. Walking along the pier, we observed some
pieces of ordnance, one of which was a large brass
cannon of Henry VIII.'s time, about twelve feet long, and very finely
From the shore we went up into the town, which is handsome,
and of a cheerful aspect, with streets generally wide and well paved,--a
cleanly town, not smoke-begrimed. The
houses, if not modern, are, at least with few exceptions, new fronted. We saw one relic of antiquity,--a fine
mediaeval gateway across the principal street, much more elevated than the
gates of Chester, with battlements at the top, and a spacious apartment over
the great arch for the passage of carriages, and the smaller one on each side
for foot-passengers. There were two
statues in armor or antique costume on the hither side of the gateway, and two
old paintings on the other. This, so far
as I know, is the only remnant of the old wall of
On Monday the morning was bright, alternating with a little
showeriness. U----, J-----, and I went into the town to do some shopping before
the steamer should sail; and a little after twelve we drove down to the dock.
It was three o'clock when we left
At Worcester we put ourselves into the hands of a cabman, who drove us to the Crown Hotel,--one of the old-fashioned hotels, with an entrance through an arched passage, by which vehicles were admitted into the inn-yard, which has also an exit, I believe, into another street. On one side of the arch was the coffee-room, where, after looking at our sleeping-chambers on the other side of the arch, we had some cold pigeon-pie for supper, and for myself a pint of ale.
It should be mentioned, that, in the morning, before
embarking S----- and the children on board the steamer, I saw a fragment of a
rainbow among the clouds, and remembered the old adage bidding "sailors
take warning." In the afternoon, as J----- and I were railing from
October 14th.---In the morning of
Tuesday, after breakfast in the coffee-room, J----- and I walked about to see
the remarkables of
Worcester Cathedral would have impressed me much had I seen
it earlier; though its aspect is less venerable than that of
We renewed our rambles through the town, and, passing the Museum of the Worcester Natural History Society, I yielded to J-----'s wish to go in. There are three days in the week, I believe, on which it is open to the public; but this being one of the close days, we were admitted on payment of a shilling. It seemed a very good and well-arranged collection in most departments of Natural History, and J-----, who takes more interest in these matters than I do, was much delighted. We were left to examine the hall and galleries quite at our leisure. Besides the specimens of beasts, birds, shells, fishes, minerals, fossils, insects, and all other natural things before the flood and since, there was a stone bearing a Roman inscription, and various antiquities, coins, and medals, and likewise portraits, some of which were old and curious.
Leaving the museum, we walked down to the stone bridge over
the Severn, which is here the largest river I have seen in
We returned to our hotel, and ordered luncheon,--some cold chicken, cold ham, and ale, and after paying the bill (about fifteen shillings, to which I added five shillings for attendance) we took our departure in a fly for the railway. The waiter (a young woman), chambermaid, and boots, all favored us with the most benign and deferential looks at parting, whence it was easy to see that I had given them more than they had any claim to receive. Nevertheless, this English system of fees has its good side, and I never travel without finding the advantage of it, especially on railways, where the officials are strictly forbidden to take fees, and where, in consequence, a fee secures twice as much good service as anywhere else. Be it recorded, that I never knew an Englishman to refuse a shilling,--or, for that matter, a halfpenny.
There was a crowd of people in the street; such a crowd that we could hardly make a passage through them, and so many cabs and omnibuses that it was difficult to cross the ways. Some of the illuminations were very brilliant; but there was a woful lack of variety and invention in the devices. The star of the garter, which kept flashing out from the continual extinguishment of the wind and rain,--V and A, in capital letters of light,--were repeated a hundred times; as were loyal and patriotic mottoes,--crowns formed by colored lamps. In some instances a sensible tradesman had illuminated his own sign, thereby at once advertising his loyalty and his business. Innumerable flags were suspended before the houses and across the streets, and the crowd plodded on, silent, heavy, and without any demonstration of joy, unless by the discharge of pistols close at one's ear. The rain, to be sure, was quite sufficient to damp any joyous ebullition of feeling; but the next day, when the rain had ceased, and when the streets were still thronged with people, there was the same heavy, purposeless strolling from place to place, with no more alacrity of spirit than while it rained. The English do not know how to rejoice; and, in their present circumstances, to say the truth, have not much to rejoice for. We soon came home; but I believe it was nearly, if not quite, eleven.
At Mrs. Blodgett's, Mr. Archer (surgeon to some prison or
house of correction here in
November 14th.--At dinner at Mr. Bright's, a week or two
ago, Mr. Robertson Gladstone spoke of a magistrate of
November 16th.--I went to the North Hospital yesterday, to take the deposition of a dying man as to his ill treatment by the second and third mates of the ship Assyria, on the voyage from New Orleans. This hospital is a very gloomy place, with its wide bleak entries and staircases, which may be very good for summer weather, but which are most congenial at this bleak November season. I found the physicians of the house laughing and talking very cheerfully with Mr. Wilding, who had preceded me. We went forthwith, up two or three pairs of stairs, to the ward where the sick man lay, and where there were six or eight other beds, in almost each of which was a patient,--narrow beds, shabbily furnished. The man whom I came to see was the only one who was not perfectly quiet; neither was he very restless. The doctor, informing him of my presence, intimated that his disease might be lethal, and that I was come to hear what he had to say as to the causes of his death. Afterwards, a Testament was sought for, in order to swear him, and I administered the oath, and made him kiss the book. He then (in response to Mr. Wilding's questions) told how he had been beaten and ill-treated, hanged and thwacked, from the moment he came on board, to which usage he ascribed his death. Sometimes his senses seemed to sink away, so that I almost thought him dead; but by and by the questions would appear to reach him, and bring him back, and he went on with his evidence, interspersing it, however, with dying groans, and almost death rattles. In the midst of whatever he was saying, he often recurred to a sum of four dollars and a half, which he said he had put into the hands of the porter of the hospital, and which he wanted to get back. Several times he expressed his wish to return to America (of which he was not a native), and, on the whole, I do not think he had any real sense of his precarious condition, notwithstanding that he assented to the doctor's hint to that effect. He sank away so much at one time, that they brought him wine in a tin cup, with a spout to drink out of, and he mustered strength to raise himself in his bed and drink; then hemmed, with rather a disappointed air, as if it did not stimulate and refresh him, as drink ought to do. When he had finished his evidence (which Mr. Wilding took down in writing from his mouth), he marked his cross at the foot of the paper, and we ceased to torment him with further question. His deposition will probably do no good, so far as the punishment of the persons implicated is concerned; for he appears to have come on board in a sickly state, and never to have been well during the passage. On a pallet, close by his bed, lay another seaman of the same ship, who had likewise been abused by the same men, and bore more ostensible marks of ill usage than this man did, about the head and face. There is a most dreadful state of things aboard our ships. Hell itself can be no worse than some of them, and I do pray that some New-Englander with the rage of reform in him may turn his thoughts this way. The first step towards better things--the best practicable step for the present--is to legalize flogging on shipboard; thereby doing away with the miscellaneous assaults and batteries, kickings, fisticuffings, ropes'-endings, marline-spikings, which the inferior officers continually perpetrate, as the only mode of keeping up anything like discipline. As in many other instances, philanthropy has overshot itself by the prohibition of flogging, causing the captain to avoid the responsibility of solemn punishment, and leave his mates to make devils of themselves, by habitual and hardly avoidable ill treatment of the seamen.
After I left the dying sailor, his features seemed to
contract and grow sharp. Some young
medical students stood about the bed, watching death creep upon him, and
anticipating, perhaps, that in a day or two they would have the poor fellow's
body on the dissecting-table. Dead
patients, I believe, undergo this fate, unless somebody chooses to pay their
funeral expenses; but the captain of the
Sea-captains call a dress-coat a "claw-hammer."
November 22d.--I went on board the ship William Lapscott,
lying in the river, yesterday, to take depositions in reference to a homicide
committed in New York. I sat on a sofa
in the cabin, and Mr. Wilding at a table, with his writing-materials before
him, and the crew were summoned, one by one,--rough, piratical-looking fellows,
contrasting strongly with the gewgaw cabin in which I received them. There is no such finery on land as in the
cabin of one of these ships in the
The first sailor that I examined was a black-haired,
powerful fellow, in an oil-skin jacket, with a good face enough, though he,
too, might have been taken for a pirate.
In the affray in which the homicide occurred, he had received a cut
across the forehead, and another slantwise across his nose, which had quite cut
it in two, on a level with the face, and had thence gone downward to his lower
jaw. But neither he nor any one else
could give any testimony elucidating the matter into which I had come to
inquire. A seaman had been stabbed just
before the vessel left
While the examination proceeded, there was a drawing of corks in a side closet; and, at its conclusion, the captain asked us to stay to dinner, but we excused ourselves, and drank only a glass of wine. The captain apologized for not joining us, inasmuch as he had drunk no wine for the last seventeen years. He appears to be a particularly good and trustworthy man, and is the only shipmaster whom I have met with, who says that a crew can best be governed by kindness. In the inner closet there was a cage containing two land-birds, who had come aboard him, tired almost to death, three or four hundred miles from shore; and he had fed them and been tender of them, from a sense of what was due to hospitality. He means to give them to J-----.
November 28th.--I have grown wofully aristocratic in my tastes,
I fear, since coming to England; at all events, I am conscious of a certain
disgust at going to dine in a house with a small entrance-hall and a narrow
staircase, parlor with chintz curtains, and all other arrangements on a similar
scale. This is pitiable. However, I really do not think I should mind
these things, were it not for the bustle, the affectation, the intensity, of
the mistress of the house. It is certain
that a woman in
A beautiful subject for a romance, or for a sermon, would be the subsequent life of the young man whom Jesus bade to sell all he had and give to the poor; and he went away sorrowful, and is not recorded to have done what he was bid.
December 11th.--This has been a foggy morning and forenoon, snowing a little now and then, and disagreeably cold. The sky is of an inexpressibly dreary, dun color. It is so dark at times that I have to hold my book close to my eyes, and then again it lightens up a little. On the whole, disgustingly gloomy; and thus it has been for a long while past, although the disagreeableness seems to be very near the earth, and just above the steeples and house-tops very probably there may be a bright, sunshiny day. At about twelve there is a faint glow of sunlight, like the gleaming reflection from a not highly polished copper kettle.
December 26th.--On Christmas eve and yesterday, there were little branches of mistletoe hanging in several parts of the house, in the kitchen, the entries, the parlor, and the smoking-room,--suspended from the gas-fittings. The maids of the house did their utmost to entrap the gentlemen boarders, old and young; under the privileged places, and there to kiss them, after which they were expected to pay a shilling. It is very queer, being customarily so respectful, that they should assume this license now, absolutely trying to pull the gentlemen into the kitchen by main force, and kissing the harder and more abundantly the more they were resisted. A little rosy-checked Scotch lass--at other times very modest --was the most active in this business. I doubt whether any gentleman but myself escaped. I heard old Mr. S------ parleying with the maids last evening, and pleading his age; but he seems to have met with no mercy, for there was a sound of prodigious smacking immediately afterwards. J----- was assaulted, and fought, most vigorously; but was outrageously kissed,--receiving some scratches, moreover, in the conflict. The mistletoe has white, wax-looking berries, and dull green leaves, with a parasitical stem.
Early in the morning of Christmas day, long before daylight,
I heard music in the street, and a woman's voice, powerful and melodious,
singing a Christmas hymn. Before bedtime
I presume one half of
The market-houses, at this season, show the national taste for heavy feeding,--carcasses of prize oxen, immensely fat, and bulky; fat sheep, with their woolly heads and tails still on, and stars and other devices ingeniously wrought on the quarters; fat pigs, adorned with flowers, like corpses of virgins; hares, wild-fowl, geese, ducks, turkeys; and green boughs and banners suspended about the stalls,--and a great deal of dirt and griminess on the stone floor of the market-house, and on the persons of the crowd.
There are some Englishmen whom I like,--one or two for whom I might say I have an affection; but still there is not the same union between us as if they were Americans. A cold, thin medium intervenes betwixt our most intimate approaches. It puts me in mind of Alnaschar and his princess, with the cold steel blade of his scimitar between them. Perhaps if I were at home I might feel differently; but in a foreign land I can never forget the distinction between English and American.
January 1st, 1856.--Last night, at Mrs. Blodgett's, we sat up till twelve o'clock to open the front door, and let the New Year in. After the coming guest was fairly in the house, the back door was to be opened, to let the Old Year out; but I was tired, and did not wait for the latter ceremony. When the New Year made its entrance, there was a general shaking of hands, and one of the shipmasters said that it was customary to kiss the ladies all round; but to my great satisfaction, we did not proceed to such extremity. There was singing in the streets, and many voices of people passing, and when twelve had struck, all the bells of the town, I believe, rang out together. I went up stairs, sad and lonely, and, stepping into J-----'s little room, wished him a Happy New Year, as he slept, and many of them.
To a cool observer, a country does not show to best advantage during a time of war. All its self-conceit is doubly visible, and, indeed, is sedulously kept uppermost by direct appeals to it. The country must be humbugged, in order to keep its courage up.
Sentiment seems to me more abundant in middle-aged ladies in
The shipmasters bear testimony to the singular delicacy of common sailors in their behavior in the presence of women; and they say that this good trait is still strongly observable even in the present race of seamen, greatly deteriorated as it is. On shipboard, there is never an indecorous word or unseemly act said or done by sailors when a woman can be cognizant of it; and their deportment in this respect differs greatly from that of landsmen of similar position in society. This is remarkable, considering that a sailor's female acquaintances are usually and exclusively of the worst kind, and that his intercourse with them has no relation whatever to morality or decency. For this very reason, I suppose, he regards a modest woman as a creature divine and to be reverenced.
January 16th.---I have suffered
wofully from low spirits for some time past; and this has not often been the
case since I grew to be a man, even in the least auspicious periods of my
life. My desolate bachelor condition, I
suppose, is the cause. Really, I have no
pleasure in anything, and I feel my tread to be heavier, and my physical
movement more sluggish, than in happier times.
A weight is always upon me. My
appetite is not good. I sleep ill, lying
awake till late at night, to think sad thoughts and to imagine sombre things,
and awaking before light with the same thoughts and fancies still in my
mind. My heart sinks always as I ascend
the stairs to my office, from a dim augury of ill news from
I was at a dinner, the other evening, at Mr. B------'s, where the entertainment was almost entirely American,--New York oysters, raw, stewed, and fried; soup of American partridges, particularly good; also terrapin soup, rich, but not to my taste; American pork and beans, baked in Yankee style; a noble American turkey, weighing thirty-one pounds; and, at the other end of the table, an American round of beef, which the Englishmen present allowed to be delicious, and worth a guinea an ounce. I forget the other American dishes, if there were any more,--O yes! canvas-back ducks, coming on with the sweets, in the usual English fashion. We ought to have had Catawba wine; but this was wanting, although there was plenty of hock, champagne, sherry, madeira, port, and claret. Our host is a very jolly man, and the dinner was a merrier and noisier one than any English dinner within my experience.
February 8th.--I read to-day, in the little office-Bible (greasy with perjuries) St. Luke's account of the agony, the trial, the crucifixion, and the resurrection; and how Christ appeared to the two disciples, on their way to Emmaus, and afterwards to a company of disciples. On both these latter occasions he expounded the Scriptures to them, and showed the application of the old prophecies to himself; and it is to be supposed that he made them fully, or at least sufficiently, aware what his character was,--whether God, or man, or both, or something between, together with all other essential points of doctrine. But none of this doctrine or of these expositions is recorded, the mere facts being most simply stated, and the conclusion to which he led them, that, whether God himself, or the Son of God, or merely the Son of man, he was, at all events, the Christ foretold in the Jewish Scriptures. This last, therefore, must have been the one essential point.
February 18th.--On Saturday there called on me an elderly
Robinson-Crusoe sort of man, Mr. H------, shipwright, I believe, of
He was at
It seems to me that the British Ministry, in its notion of a life-peerage, shows an entire misunderstanding of what makes people desire the peerage. It is not for the immediate personal distinction; but because it removes the peer and his consanguinity from the common rank of men, and makes a separate order of them, as if they should grow angelic. A life-peer is but a mortal amid the angelic throng.
February 28th.--I went yesterday with Mrs. ------ and
another lady, and Mr. M------, to the
[Here comes in the visit to the West Derby Workhouse, which was made the subject of a paper in Our Old Home, called "Outside Glimpses of English Poverty." As the purpose in publishing these passages from the private note-books is to give to those who ask for a memoir of Mr. Hawthorne every possible incident recorded by himself which shows his character and nature, the editor thinks it proper to disclose the fact that Mr. Hawthorne was himself the gentleman of that party who took up in his arms the little child, so fearfully repulsive in its condition. And it seems better to quote his own words in reference to it, than merely to say it was he.
Under date February 28, 1856.
"After this, we went to the ward where the children were kept, and, on entering this, we saw, in the first place, two or three unlovely and unwholesome little imps, who were lazily playing together. One of them (a child about six years old, but I know not whether girl or boy) immediately took the strangest fancy for me. It was a wretched, pale, half-torpid little thing, with a humor in its eyes which the Governor said was the scurvy. I never saw, till a few moments afterwards, a child that I should feel less inclined to fondle.
But this little, sickly, humor-eaten fright prowled around me, taking hold of my skirts, following at my heels, and at last held up its hands, smiled in my face, and, standing directly before me, insisted on my taking it up! Not that it said a word, for I rather think it was underwitted, and could not talk; but its face expressed such perfect confidence that it was going to be taken up and made much of, that it was impossible not to do it. It was as if God had promised the child this favor on my behalf, and that I must needs fulfil the contract. I held my undesirable burden a little while; and, after setting the child down, it still followed me, holding two of my fingers and playing with them, just as if it were a child of my own. It was a foundling, and out of all human kind it chose me to be its father! We went up stairs into another ward; and, on coming down again, there was this same child waiting for me, with a sickly smile round its defaced mouth, and in its dim red eyes. . . . . I never should have forgiven myself if I had repelled its advances."--ED.]
After leaving the workhouse, we drove to Norris Green; and
Mrs. ------showed me round the grounds, which are very good and nicely
kept. O these English homes, what
delightful places they are! I wonder how
many people live and die in the workhouse, having no other home, because other
people have a great deal more home than enough. . . . . We had a very pleasant
dinner, and Mr. M------ and I walked back, four miles and a half, to
Why did Christ curse the fig-tree? It was not in the least to blame; and it seems most unreasonable to have expected it to bear figs out of season. Instead of withering it away, it would have been as great a miracle, and far more beautiful, and, one would think, of more beneficent influence, to have made it suddenly rich with ripe fruit. Then, to be sure, it might have died joyfully, having answered so good a purpose. I have been reminded of this miracle by the story of a man in Heywood, a town in Lancashire, who used such horribly profane language that a plane-tree in front of his cottage is said to have withered away from that hour. I can draw no moral from the incident of the fig-tree, unless it be that all things perish from the instant when they cease to answer some divine purpose.
March 6th.--Yesterday I lunched on board Captain Russell's
After lunch, we all got into an omnibus, and went to the Mersey Iron Foundry, to see the biggest piece of ordnance in the world, which is almost finished. The overseer of the works received us, and escorted us courteously throughout the establishment; which is very extensive, giving employment to a thousand men, what with night-work and day-work. The big gun is still on the axle, or turning-machine, by means of which it has been bored. It is made entirely of wrought and welded iron, fifty tons of which were originally used; and the gun, in its present state, bored out and smoothed away, weighs nearly twenty-three tons. It has, as yet, no trunnions, and does not look much like a cannon, but only a huge iron cylinder, immensely solid, and with a bore so large that a young man of nineteen shoved himself into it, the whole length, with a light, in order to see whether it is duly smooth and regular. I suppose it will have a better effect, as to the impression of size, when it is finished, polished, mounted, aid fully equipped, after the fashion of ordinary cannon. It is to throw a ball of three hundred pounds' weight five miles, and woe be to whatever ship or battlement shall bear the brunt!
After inspecting the gun we went through other portions of the establishment, and saw iron in various stages of manufacture. I am not usually interested in manufacturing processes, being quite unable to understand them, at least in cotton-machinery and the like; but here there were such exhibitions of mighty strength, both of men and machines, that I had a satisfaction in looking on. We saw lumps of iron, intensely white-hot, and in all but a melting state, passed through rollers of various size and pressure, and speedily converted into long bars, which came curling and waving out of the rollers like great red ribbons, or like fiery serpents wriggling out of Tophet; and finally, being straightened out, they were laid to cool in heaps. Trip-hammers are very pleasant things to look at, working so massively as they do, and yet so accurately; chewing up the hot iron, as it were, and fashioning it into shape, with a sort of mighty and gigantic gentleness in their mode of action. What great things man has contrived, and is continually performing! What a noble brute he is!
Also, I found much delight in looking at the molten iron, boiling and bubbling in the furnace, and sometimes slopping over, when stirred by the attendant. There were numberless fires on all sides, blinding us with their intense glow; and continually the pounding strokes of huge hammers, some wielded by machinery and others by human arms. I had a respect for these stalwart workmen, who seemed to be near kindred of the machines amid which they wrought,--mighty men, smiting stoutly, and looking into the fierce eyes of the furnace fearlessly, and handling the iron at a temperature which would have taken the skin off from ordinary fingers. They looked strong, indeed, but pale; for the hot atmosphere in which they live cannot but be deleterious, and I suppose their very strength wears them quickly out. But I would rather live ten years as an iron-smith than fifty as a tailor.
So much heat can be concentrated into a mass of iron, that a lump a foot square heats all the atmosphere about it, and burns the face at a considerable distance. As the trip-hammer strikes the lump, it seems still more to intensify the heat by squeezing it together, and the fluid iron oozes out like sap or juice.
"He was ready for the newest fashions!"--this expression was used by Mrs. Blodgett in reference to Mr. ------ on his first arrival in England, and it is a very tender way of signifying that a person is rather poorly off as to apparel.
March 15th.--Mr. ------, our new ambassador, arrived on
Thursday afternoon by the
I called again the next morning, and introduced Mrs. ------, who, I believe, accompanied the ladies about town. This simplicity in Mr. ------'s manner puzzles and teases me; for, in spite of it, there was a sort of self-consciousness, as if he were being looked at,--as if he were having his portrait taken.
March 22d.--Yesterday,--no, day before yesterday,--I left
After a slight lunch and a glass of wine, we walked out, along
Piccadilly, and to
This St. James's Place is in close vicinity to St. James's
Palace, the gateway and not very splendid front of which we can see from the
corner. The club-houses and the best life of the town are near at hand.
After writing the above, I walked along the Strand, Fleet
Street, Ludgate Hill and Cheapside to Wood Street,--a very narrow street,
insomuch that one has to press close against the wall to escape being grazed
when a cart is passing. At No. 77 I
found the place of business of Mr. Bennoch, who came to see me at Rock Ferry
with Mr. Jerdan, not long after my arrival in
After arranging to go to Greenwich Fair, and afterwards to
dine with Bennoch, I left him and went to Mr. ------'s office, and afterwards
strayed forth again, and crossed
March 24th.--Yesterday being a clear day for
We then walked to the Waterloo station, on the same side of
the river; and at twenty minutes past one took the rail for Hampton Court,
distant some twelve or fifteen miles. On
arriving at the terminus, we beheld
We first went into Wolsey's great Hall, up a most spacious staircase, the walls and ceiling of which were covered with an allegorical fresco by Verrio, wonderfully bright and well preserved; and without caring about the design or execution, I greatly liked the brilliancy of the colors. The great Hall is a most noble and beautiful room, above a hundred feet long and sixty high and broad. Most of the windows are of stained or painted glass, with elaborate designs, whether modern or ancient I know not, but certainly brilliant in effect. The walls, from the floor to perhaps half their height, are covered with antique tapestry, which, though a good deal faded, still retains color enough to be a very effective adornment, and to give an idea of how rich a mode of decking a noble apartment this must have been. The subjects represented were from Scripture, and the figures seemed colossal. On looking closely at this tapestry, you could see that it was thickly interwoven with threads of gold, still glistening. The windows, except one or two that are long, do not descend below the top of this tapestry, and are therefore twenty or thirty feet above the floor; and this manner of lighting a great room seems to add much to the impressiveness of the enclosed space. The roof is very magnificent, of carved oak, intricately and elaborately arched, and still as perfect to all appearance as when it was first made. There are banners, so fresh in their hues, and so untattered, that I think they must be modern, suspended along beneath the cornice of the hall, and exhibiting Wolsey's arms and badges. On the whole, this is a perfect sight, in its way.
Next to the hall there is a withdrawing-room, more than seventy feet long, and twenty-five feet high. The walls of this apartment, too, are covered with ancient tapestry, of allegorical design, but more faded than that of the hall. There is also a stained-glass window; and a marble statue of Venus on a couch, very lean and not very beautiful; and some cartoons of Carlo Cignani, which have left no impression on my memory; likewise, a large model of a splendid palace of some East Indian nabob.
I am not sure, after all, that Verrio's frescoed grand
staircase was not in another part of the palace; for I remember that we went
from it through an immensely long suite of apartments, beginning with the
Guard-chamber. All these rooms are
wainscoted with oak, which looks new, being, I believe, of the date of King
William's reign. Over many of the doorways,
or around the panels, there are carvings in wood by Gibbons, representing
wreaths of flowers, fruit, and foliage, the most perfectly beautiful that can
be conceived; and the wood being of a light hue (lime-wood, I believe), it has
a fine effect on the dark oak panelling. The apartments open one beyond
another, in long, long, long succession,--rooms of state, and kings' and
queens' bedchambers, and royal closets bigger than ordinary drawing-rooms, so
that the whole suite must be half a mile, or it may be a mile, in extent. From the windows you get views of the
palace-grounds, broad and stately walks, and groves of trees, and lawns, and
fountains, and the
We saw, in one of the rooms, the funeral canopy beneath which the Duke of Wellington lay in state,--very gorgeous, of black velvet embroidered with silver and adorned with escutcheons; also, the state bed of Queen Anne, broad, and of comfortable appearance, though it was a queen's,--the materials of the curtains, quilt, and furniture, red velvet, still brilliant in hue; also King William's bed and his queen Mary's, with enormously tall posts, and a good deal the worse for time and wear.
The last apartment we entered was the gallery containing Raphael's cartoons, which I shall not pretend to admire nor to understand. I can conceive, indeed, that there is a great deal of expression in them, and very probably they may, in every respect, deserve all their fame; but on this point I can give no testimony. To my perception they were a series of very much faded pictures, dimly seen (for this part of the palace was now in shadow), and representing figures neither graceful nor beautiful, nor, as far as I could discern, particularly grand. But I came to them with a wearied mind and eye; and also I had a previous distaste to them through the medium of engravings.
But what a noble palace, nobly enriched, is this
Leaving Hampton Court at about four o'clock, we walked
through Bushy Park,--a beautiful tract of ground, well wooded with fine old
trees, green with moss, all up their twisted trunks,--through several villages,
Twickenham among the rest, to Richmond.
Before entering Twickenham, we passed a lath-and-plaster castellated
edifice, much time-worn, and with the plaster peeling off from the laths, which
I fancied might be Horace Walpole's toy-castle.
Not that it really could have been; but it was like the image,
wretchedly mean and shabby, which one forms of such a place, in its decay. From
March 25th.--Yesterday, at one o'clock, I called by
appointment on Mr. Bennoch, and lunched with him and his partners and
clerks. This lunch seems to be a
legitimate continuation of the old
After lunch, Mr. Bennoch took me round the establishment,
which is quite extensive, occupying, I think, two or three adjacent houses, and
requiring more. He showed me innumerable
packages of ribbons, and other silk manufactures, and all sorts of silks, from
the raw thread to the finest fabrics. He
then offered to show me some of the curiosities of old
Beside this great picture hung a most exquisite portrait by
Vandyke; an elderly, bearded man, of noble and refined countenance, in a rich,
grave dress. There are many other
pictures of distinguished men of the company, in long past times, and of some
of the kings and great people of England, all darkened with age, and producing
a rich and sombre effect, in this stately old hall. Nothing is more curious in
I should like to be present at one of these feasts. I saw also an old vellum manuscript, in black-letter, which appeared to be a record of the proceedings of the company; and at the end there were many pages ruled for further entries, but none had been made in the volume for the last three or four hundred years.
I think it was in the neighborhood of Barber-Surgeons' Hall, which stands amid an intricacy of old streets, where I should never have thought of going, that I saw a row of ancient almshouses, of Elizabethan structure. They looked wofully dilapidated. In front of one of them was an inscription, setting forth that some worthy alderman had founded this establishment for the support of six poor men; and these six, or their successors, are still supported, but no larger number, although the value of the property left for that purpose would now suffice for a much larger number.
Then Mr. Bennoch took me to Cripplegate, and, entering the
door of a house, which proved to be a sexton's residence, we passed by a side
entrance into the church-porch of St. Giles, of which the sexton's house seems
to be an indivisible contiguity. This is
a very ancient church, that escaped the great fire of
Treading over the tombstones of the old citizens of London,
both in the aisles and the porch, and within doors and without, we went into
the churchyard, one side of which is fenced in by a portion of London Wall,
very solid, and still high, though the accumulation of human dust has covered
much of its base. This is the most
considerable portion now remaining of the ancient wall of
This old church-tower was formerly lighted by three large windows,--one of them of very great size; but the thrifty church-wardens of a generation or two ago had built them up with brick, to the great disfigurement of the church. The sexton called my attention to the organ-pipe, which is of sufficient size, I believe, to admit three men.
From Cripplegate we went to
[This fair is described in Our Old Home, in "A Loudon Suburb."]
Reaching Mr. Bennoch's house, we found it a pretty and comfortable one, and adorned with many works of art; for he seems to be a patron of art and literature, and a warm-hearted man, of active benevolence and vivid sympathies in many directions. His face shows this. I have never seen eyes of a warmer glow than his. On the walls of one room there were a good many sketches by Haydon, and several artists' proofs of fine engravings, presented by persons to whom he had been kind. In the drawing-room there was a marble bust of Mrs. ------, and one, I think, of himself, and one of the Queen, which Mr. Bennoch said was very good, and it is unlike any other I have seen. It is intended as a gift, from a number of subscribers, to Miss Nightingale. Likewise a crayon sketch of
------, looking rather morbid and unwholesome, as the poor lady really
is. Also, a small picture of Mr. Bennoch in a military dress, as an officer, probably of city-horse. By and by came in a young gentleman, son of Haydon, the painter of high art, and one or two ladies staying in the house, and anon Mrs. ------. And so we went in to dinner.
Bennoch is an admirable host, and warms his guests like a
household fire by the influence of his kindly face and glowing eyes, and by
such hospitable demeanor as best suits this aspect. After the cloth was removed, came in Mr.
Newton Crosland, a young man who once called on me in
We had heard the sound of the piano in the drawing-room for
some time, and now adjourning thither, I had the pleasure to be introduced to
Mrs. Newton Crosland,--a rather tall, thin, pale, and lady-like person,
looking, I thought, of a sensitive character.
She expressed in a low tone and quiet way great delight at seeing my
distinguished self! for she is a vast admirer of The
Scarlet Letter, and especially of the character of Hester; indeed, I remember
seeing a most favorable criticism of the book from her pen, in one of the
At eleven o'clock Mrs. Crosland entered the tiniest pony-carriage, and set forth for her own residence, with a lad walking at the pony's head, and carrying a lantern. . . . .
March 26th.--Yesterday was not a very eventful day. After writing in my journal I went out at twelve, and visited, for the first time, the National Gallery. It is of no use for me to criticise pictures, or to try to describe them, but I have an idea that I might acquire a taste, with a little attention to the subject, for I find I already begin to prefer some pictures to others. This is encouraging. Of those that I saw yesterday, I think I liked several by Murillo best. There were a great many people in the gallery, almost entirely of the middle, with a few of the lower classes; and I should think that the effect of the exhibition must at least tend towards refinement. Nevertheless, the only emotion that I saw displayed was in broad grins on the faces of a man and two women, at sight of a small picture of Venus, with a Satyr peeping at her with an expression of gross animal delight and merriment. Without being aware of it, this man and the two women were of that same Satyr breed.
If I lived in
Leaving the gallery, I walked down into the city, and passed
Coming homeward, I went into the enclosure of the
This morning there have been letters from Mr. Wilding, enclosing an invitation to me to be one of the stewards of the anniversary dinner of the Literary Fund.
No, I thank you, gentlemen!
March 27th.--Yesterday I went out at about twelve, and
After leaving the Museum, I went to see Bennoch, and arrange
with him our expedition of to-day; and he read me a letter from Topper, very
earnestly inviting me to come and spend a night or two with him. Then I wandered about the city, and was lost
in the vicinity of Holborn; so that for a long while I was under a spell of
bewilderment, and kept returning, in the strangest way, to the same point in
Mr. Bowman and I went to the Princess's Theatre in the
evening. Charles Kean performed in Louis
XI. very well indeed,--a thoughtful and highly skilled
actor,--much improved since I saw him, many years ago, in
April 1st.--After my last date on Thursday, I visited the
National Gallery. At three o'clock,
having packed a travelling-bag, I went to Bennoch's office, and lunched with
him; and at about five we took the rail from the
At seven o'clock we dined at the regimental mess, with the
officers of the
All the officers of the regiment are Irishmen,
and all of them, I believe, men of fortune; and they do what they can towards
alleviating their hardships in camp by eating and drinking of the best that can
be obtained of all good things. The
table service and plate were as fine as those in any nobleman's establishment;
the dishes numerous and admirably got up; and the wines delectable and
genuine,--as they had need to be; for there is a great consumption of
them. I liked these Irish officers
exceedingly;--not that it would be possible to live long among them without
finding existence a bore; for they have no thought, no intellectual movement,
no ideas, that I was aware of, beyond horses, dogs, drill, garrisons,
field-days, whist, wine, cigars, and all that kind of thing; yet they were
really gentlemen living on the best terms with one another,--courteous, kind,
most hospitable, with a rich Irish humor, softened down by social refinements,--not
too refined either, but a most happy sort of behavior, as natural as that of
children, and with a safe freedom that made one feel entirely at my ease. I think well of the Irish gentlemen, for
their sakes; and I believe I might fairly attribute to Lieutenant-Colonel
Stowell (next whom I sat) a higher and finer cultivation than the above
description indicates. Indeed, many of
them may have been capable of much more intellectual intercourse than that of
the mess-table; but I suppose it would not have been in keeping with their camp
life, nor suggested by it. Several of
the elder officers were men who had been long in the army; and the Colonel--a
bluff, hearty old soldier, with a profile like an eagle's head and beak--was a
veteran of the Peninsula, and had a medal on his breast with clasps for three
famous battles besides that of
The regimental band played during dinner, and the Lieutenant-Colonel apologized to me for its not playing "Hail Columbia," the tune not coning within their musical accomplishments. It was no great matter, however; for I should not have distinguished it from any other tune; but, to do me what honor was possible, in the way of national airs, the band was ordered to play a series of negro melodies, and I was entirely satisfied. It is really funny that the "wood-notes wild" of those poor black slaves should have been played in a foreign laud as an honorable compliment to one of their white countrymen.
After dinner we played whist, and then had some broiled bones for supper, and finally went home to our respective huts not much earlier than four o'clock. But I don't wonder these gentlemen sit up as long as they can keep their eyes open; for never was there anything so utterly comfortless as their camp-beds. They are really worse than the bed of honor, no wider, no softer, no warmer, and affording not nearly so sound sleep. Indeed, I got hardly any sleep at all, and almost as soon as I did close my eyes, the bugles sounded, and the drums beat reveille, and from that moment the camp was all astir; so I pretty soon uprose, and went to the mess-room for my breakfast, feeling wonderfully fresh and well, considering what my night had been.
Long before this, however, this whole regiment, and all the other regiments, marched off to take part in a general review, and Bennoch and I followed, as soon as we had eaten a few mutton-chops. It was a bright, sunshiny day; but with a strong east-wind, as piercing and pitiless as ever blew; and this wide, undulating plain of Aldershott seemed just the place where the east-wind was at home. Still, it acted, on the whole, like an invigorating cordial; and whereas in pleasanter circumstances I should have lain down, and gone to sleep, I now felt as if I could do without sleep for a month.
In due time we found out the place of the North Cork Regiment in the general battle-array, and were greeted as old comrades by the Colonel and other officers. Soon the soldiers (who, when we first reached them, were strolling about, or standing at ease) were called into order; and anon we saw a group of mounted officers riding along the lines, and among them a gentleman in a civilian's round hat, and plain frock and trousers, riding on a white horse. This group of riders turned the front of the regiment, and then passed along the rear, coming close to where we stood; and as the plainly dressed gentleman rode by, he bent towards me, and I tried to raise my hat, but did not succeed very well, because the fierce wind had compelled me to jam it tightly upon my head. The Duke of Cambridge (for this was he) is a comely-looking gentlemanly man, of bluff English face, with a great deal of brown beard about it. Though a pretty tall man, he appears, on horseback, broad and round in proportion to his height. I looked at him with a certain sort of interest, and a feeling of kindness; for one does feel kindly to whatever human being is anywise marked out from the rest, unless it be by his disagreeable qualities.
The troops, from twelve to fifteen thousand, now fell into marching order, and went to attack a wood, where we were to suppose the enemy to be stationed. The sham-fight seemed to me rather clumsily managed, and without any striking incident or result. The officers had prophesied, the night before, that General K------, commanding in the camp, would make a muddle of it; and probably he did. After the review, the Duke of Cambridge with his attendant officers took their station, and all the regiments marched in front of him, saluting as they passed. As each colonel rode by, and as the banner of each regiment was lowered, the Duke lifted his hat.
The most splendid effect of this parade was the gleam of the sun upon the long line of bayonets,--the sheen of all that steel appearing like a wavering fringe of light upon the dark masses of troops below. It was very fine. But I was glad when all was done, and I could go back to the mess-room, whither I carried an excellent appetite for luncheon. After this we walked about the camp,--looked at some model tents, inspected the arrangements and modes of living in the huts of the privates; and thus gained more and more adequate ideas of the vile uncomfortableness of a military life. Finally, I went to the anteroom and turned over the regimental literature,--a peerage and baronetage,--an army and militia register, a number of the Sporting Magazine, and one of the United Service, while Bennoch took another walk. Before dinner we both tried to catch a little nap by way of compensation for last night's deficiencies; but, for my part, the attempt was fruitless.
The dinner was as splendid and as agreeable as that of the
evening before; and I believe it was nearly two o'clock when Bennoch and I bade
farewell to our kind entertainers. For
my part I fraternized with these military gentlemen in a way that augurs the
very best things for the future peace of the two countries. They all expressed the warmest sympathies
Early in the morning the drums and bugles began the usual bedevilment; and shortly after six I dressed, and we had breakfast at the mess-room, shook hands with Lieutenant Shaw (our more especial host), and drove off to the railway station at Ash.
I know not whether I have mentioned that the villages neighboring to the camp have suffered terribly as regards morality from the vicinity of the soldiers. Quiet old English towns, that till within a little time ago had kept their antique simplicity and innocence, have now no such thing as female virtue in them, so far as the lower classes are concerned. This is expressing the matter too strongly, no doubt; but there is too much truth in it, nevertheless; and one of the officers remarked that even ladies of respectability had grown much more free in manners and conversation than at first. I have heard observations similar to this from a Nova-Scotian, in reference to the moral influence of soldiers when stationed in the provinces.
Wooton stands in a hollow, near the summit of one of the
long swells that here undulate over the face of the country. There is a good deal of wood behind it, as
should be the case with the residence of the author of the Sylva; but I believe
few, if any, of these trees are known to have been planted by John Evelyn, or
even to have been coeval with his time.
The house is of brick, partly ancient, and consists of a front and two
projecting wings, with a porch and entrance in the centre. It has a desolate, meagre aspect, and needs
something to give it life and stir and jollity.
The present proprietor is of the old Evelyn family, and is now one of
the two members of Parliament for
Mrs. Tupper and I waited a good while, and then Bennoch and Tupper came back, without having found Mr. ------. Tupper wished very much to show the prayer-book used by King Charles at his execution, and some curious old manuscript volumes; but the servant said that his master always kept these treasures locked up, and trusted the key to nobody. We therefore had to take our leave without seeing them; and I have not often entered a house that one feels to be more forlorn than Wooton,--although we did have a glimpse of a dining-room, with a table laid for three or four guests, and looking quite brilliant with plate and glass and snowy napery. There was a fire, too, in this one room. Mr. ------ is making extensive alterations in the house, or has recently done so, and this is perhaps one reason of its ungenial meagreness and lack of finish.
Before our departure from Wooton, Tupper had asked me to leave my card for Mr. ------; but I had no mind to overstep any limit of formal courtesy in dealing with an Englishman, and therefore declined. Tupper, however, on his own responsibility, wrote his name, Bennoch's, and mine on a piece of paper, and told the servant to show them to Mr. ------. We soon had experience of the good effect of this; for we had scarcely got back before somebody drove up to Tupper's door, and one of the girls, looking out, exclaimed that there was Mr. ------ himself, and another gentleman. He had set out, the instant he heard of our call, to bring the three precious volumes for me to see. This surely was most kind; a kindness which I should never have dreamed of expecting from a shy, retiring man like Mr. ------.
So he and his friend were ushered into the dining-room, and introduced. Mr. ------ is a young-looking man, dark, with a mustache, rather small, and though he has the manners of a man who has seen the world, it evidently requires an effort in him to speak to anybody; and I could see his whole person slightly writhing itself, as it were, while he addressed me. This is strange in a man of his public position, member for the county, necessarily mixed up with life in many forms, the possessor of sixteen thousand pounds a year, and the representative of an ancient name. Nevertheless, I liked him, and felt as if I could become intimately acquainted with him, if circumstances were favorable; but, at a brief interview like this, it was hopeless to break through two great reserves; so I talked more with his companion--a pleasant young man, fresh from college, I should imagine--than with Mr. ------ himself.
The three books were really of very great interest. One was an octavo volume of manuscript in John Evelyn's own hand, the beginning of his published diary, written as distinctly as print, in a small, clear character. It can be read just as easily as any printed book. Another was a Church of England prayer-book, which King Charles used on the scaffold, and which was stained with his sacred blood, and underneath are two or three lines in John Evelyn's hand, certifying this to be the very book. It is an octavo, or small folio, and seems to have been very little used, scarcely opened, except in one spot; its leaves elsewhere retaining their original freshness and elasticity. It opens most readily at the commencement of the common service; and there, on the left-hand page, is a discoloration, of a yellowish or brownish hue, about two thirds of an inch large, which, two hundred years ago and a little more, was doubtless red. For on that page had fallen a drop of King Charles's blood.
The other volume was large, and contained a great many original letters, written by the king during his troubles. I had not time to examine them with any minuteness, and remember only one document, which Mr. ------pointed out, and which had a strange pathos and pitifulness in it. It was a sort of due-bill, promising to pay a small sum for beer, which had been supplied to his Majesty, so soon as God should enable him, or the distracted circumstances of his kingdom make it possible,--or some touching and helpless expression of that kind. Prince Hal seemed to consider it an unworthy matter, that a great prince should think of "that poor creature, small beer," at all; but that a great prince should not be able to pay for it is far worse.
Mr. ------ expressed his regret that I was not staying longer in this part of the country, as he would gladly have seen me at Wooten, and he succeeded in saying something about my books; and I hope I partly succeeded in showing him that I was very sensible of his kindness in letting me see those relics. I cannot say whether or no I expressed it sufficiently. It is better with such a man, or, indeed, with any man, to say too little than too much; and, in fact, it would have been indecorous in me to take too much of his kindness to my own share, Bennoch being likewise in question.
We had a cup of coffee, and then took our leave; Tupper accompanying us part way down the village street, and bidding us an affectionate farewell.
Bennoch and I recommenced our travels, and, changing from
one railway to another, reached Tunbridge Wells at nine or ten in the evening.
. . . . The next day was spent at Tunbridge Wells, which is famous for a
chalybeate spring, and is a watering-place of note, most healthily situated on
a high, breezy hill, with many pleasant walks in the neighborhood. . . . . From
Tunbridge Wells we transported ourselves to Battle,--the village in which is
Battle Abbey. It is a large village,
with many antique houses and some new ones; and in its principal street, on one
side, with a wide, green space before it, you see the gray, embattled, outer
wall, and great, square, battlemented entrance tower (with a turret at each
corner), of the ancient Abbey. It is the
perfect reality of a Gothic battlement and gateway, just as solid and massive
as when it was first built, though hoary and venerable with the many
intervening centuries. There are only
two days in the week on which visitors are allowed entrance, and this was not
one of them. Nevertheless, Bennoch was determined to get in, and he wished me
to send Lady Webster my card with his own; but this I utterly refused, for the
The church has been whitewashed in modern times, and does not look so venerable as it ought, with its arches and pillared aisles. In the chancel stands a marble tomb, heavy, rich, and elaborate, on the top of which lie the broken-nosed statues of Sir Anthony Browne and his lady, who were the Lord and Lady of Battle Abbey in Henry VIII.'s time. The knight is in armor, and the lady in stately garb, and (save for their broken noses) they are in excellent preservation. The pavement of the chancel and aisles is all laid with tombstones, and on two or three of these there were engraved brasses, representing knights in armor, and churchmen, with inscriptions in Latin. Some of them are very old. On the walls, too, there are various monuments, principally of dignitaries connected with the Abbey. Two hatchments, in honor of persons recently dead, were likewise suspended in the chancel. The best pew of the church is, of course, that of the Webster family. It is curtained round, carpeted, furnished with chairs and footstools, and more resembles a parlor than a pew; especially as there is a fireplace in one of the pointed archways, which I suppose has been bricked up in order to form it. On the opposite side of the aisle is the pew of some other magnate, containing a stove. The rest of the parishioners have to keep themselves warm with the fervor of their own piety. I have forgotten what else was interesting, except that we were shown a stone coffin, recently dug up, in which was hollowed a place for the head of the corpse.
Returning to the bookshop, we found that Lady Webster had sent her compliments, and would be very happy to have us see the Abbey. How thoroughly kind these English people can be when they like, and how often they like to be so!
We lost no time in ringing the bell at the arched entrance, under the great tower, and were admitted by an old woman who lives, I believe, in the thickness of the wall. She told us her room used to be the prison of the Abbey, and under the great arch she pointed to a projecting beam, where she said criminals used to be hanged.
At two of the intersecting points of the arches, which form the roof of the gateway, were carved faces of stone, said to represent King Harold and William the Conqueror. The exterior wall, of which this tower is the gateway, extends far along the village street, and encloses a very large space, within which stands the mansion, quite secluded from unauthorized visitors, or even from the sight of those without, unless it be at very distant eyeshot.
We rang at the principal door of the edifice (it is under a
deep arch, in the Norman style, but of modern date), and a footman let its in, and then delivered us over to a respectable old lady
in black. She was a Frenchwoman by birth,
but had been very long in the service of the family, and spoke English almost
without an accent; her French blood being indicated only by her thin and
withered aspect, and a greater gentility of manner than would have been seen in
an Englishwoman of similar station. She
ushered us first into a grand and noble hall, the arched and carved oaken roof
of which ascended into the gable. It was
nearly sixty feet long, and its height equal to its length,--as stately a hall,
I should imagine, as is anywhere to be found in a private mansion. It was
lighted, at one end, by a great window, beneath which, occupying the whole
breadth of the hall, hung a vast picture of the Battle of Hastings; and whether
a good picture or no, it was a rich adornment of the hall. The walls were wainscoted high upward with
oak: they were almost covered with noble pictures of ancestry, and of kings and
great men, and beautiful women; there were trophies of armor hung aloft; and
two armed figures, one in brass mail, the other in bright steel, stood on a
raised dais, underneath the great picture.
At the end of the hall, opposite the picture, a third of the way up
towards the roof, was a gallery. All these things that I have enumerated were
in perfect condition, without rust, untouched by decay or injury of any kind;
but yet they seemed to belong to a past age, and were mellowed, softened in
their splendor, a little dimmed with time,--toned down into a venerable
magnificence. Of all domestic things
that I have seen in
Then the Frenchwoman showed us into various rooms and
offices, most of which were contrived out of the old abbey-cloisters, and the
vaulted cells and apartments in which the monks used to live. If any house be haunted, I should suppose
this might be. If any church-property bring a curse with it, as people say, I do not see how the
owners of Battle Abbey can escape it, taking possession of and dwelling in
these holy precincts, as they have done, and laying their kitchen hearth with
the stones of overthrown altars. The
Abbey was first granted, I believe, to Sir Anthony Browne, whom I saw asleep
with his lady in the church. It was his
first wife. I wish it had been his
second; for she was
Mr. Bennoch gave the nice old French lady half a crown, and we next went round among the ruined portions of the Abbey, under the gardener's guidance. We saw two ivied towers, insulated from all other ruins; and an old refectory, open to the sky, and a vaulted crypt, supported by pillars; and we saw, too, the foundation and scanty remains of a chapel, which had been long buried out of sight of man, and only dug up within present memory,--about forty years ago. There had always been a tradition that this was the spot where Harold had planted his standard, and where his body was found after the battle; and the discovery of the ruined chapel confirmed the tradition.
I might have seen a great deal more, had there been time; and I have forgotten much of what I did see; but it is an exceedingly interesting place. There is an avenue of old yew-trees, which meet above like a cloistered arch; and this is called the Monks' Walk. I rather think they were ivy, though growing unsupported.
As we were retiring, the gardener suddenly stopped, as if he were alarmed, and motioned to us to do the same, saying, "I believe it is my lady!" And so it was,--a tall and stately lady in black, trimming shrubs in the garden. She bowed to us very graciously,--we raised our hats, and thus we met and parted without more ado. As we went through the arch of the entrance tower, Bennoch gave the old female warder a shilling, and the gardener followed us to get half a crown.
We took a fly and driver from the principal hotel of Battle,
and drove off for
Clambering down on another side from that of our ascent, we
entered the town of
These were Mr. Martin, the author of Bon Gaultier's ballads,
and his wife, the celebrated actress, Helen Faucett. Mr. Martin is a barrister, a gentleman whose
face and manners suited me at once; a simple, refined, sincere, not too
demonstrative person. His wife, too, I
liked; a tall, dark, fine, and lady-like woman, with the simplest manners, that give no trouble at all, and so must be perfect. With these two persons I felt myself, almost
in a moment, on friendly terms, and in true accord, and so I talked, I think,
more than I have at any time since coming to
We took a pleasant lunch at their house; and then they walked with us to the railway station, and there they took leave of Bennoch affectionately and of me hardly less so; for, in truth, we had grown to be almost friends in this very little while. And as we rattled away, I said to Bennoch earnestly, "What good people they are!"--and Bennoch smiled, as if he had known perfectly well that I should think and say so. And thus we rushed onward to London; and I reached St. James's Place between nine and ten o'clock, after a very interesting tour, the record of which I wish I could have kept as we went along, writing each day's history before another day's adventures began.
END OF VOL. I.