PASSAGES FROM THE ENGLISH NOTE-BOOKS, VOLUME II.
April 4th, 1856.--On Tuesday I went to No. 14 Ludgate Hill, to dine with Bennoch at the Milton Club; a club recently founded for dissenters, nonconformists, and people whose ideas, religious or political, are not precisely in train with the establishment in church and state. I was shown into a large reading-room, well provided with periodicals and newspapers, and found two or three persons there; but Bennoch had not yet arrived. In a few moments, a tall gentleman with white hair came in,--a fine and intelligent-looking man, whom I guessed to be one of those who were to meet me. He walked about, glancing at the periodicals; and soon entered Mr. Tupper, and, without seeing me, exchanged warm greetings with the white-haired gentleman. "I suppose," began Mr. Tupper, "you have come to meet--" Now, conscious that my name was going to be spoken, and not knowing but the excellent Mr. Tupper might say something which he would not, quite like me to overhear, I advanced at once, with outstretched hand, and saluted him. He expressed great joy at the recognition, and immediately introduced me to Mr. Hall.
The dining-room was pretty large and lofty, and there were sixteen guests at table, most of them authors, or people connected with the press; so that the party represented a great deal of the working intellect of London at this present day and moment,--the men whose plays, whose songs, whose articles, are just now in vogue. Mr. Tom Taylor was one of the very few whose writings I had known anything about. He is a tall, slender, dark young man, not English-looking, and wearing colored spectacles, so that I should readily have taken him for an American literary man. I did not have much opportunity of talking with him, nor with anybody else, except Dr. ------, who seemed a shrewd, sensible man, with a certain slight acerbity of thought. Mr. Herbert Ingram, recently elected member of Parliament, was likewise present, and sat on Bennoch's left.
It was a very good dinner, with an abundance of wine, which Bennoch sent round faster than was for the next day's comfort of his guests. It is singular that I should thus far have quite forgotten W------ H--------, whose books I know better than those of any other person there. He is a white-headed, stout, firm-looking, and rather wrinkled-faced old gentleman, whose temper, I should imagine, was not the very sweetest in the world. There is all abruptness, a kind of sub-acidity, if not bitterness, in his address; he seemed not to be, in short, so genial as I should have anticipated from his books.
As soon as the cloth was removed, Bennoch, without rising from his chair, made a speech in honor of his eminent and distinguished guest, which illustrious person happened to be sitting in the selfsame chair that I myself occupied. I have no recollection of what he said, nor of what I said in reply, but I remember that both of us were cheered and applauded much more than the occasion deserved. Then followed about fifty other speeches; for every single individual at table was called up (as Tupper said, "toasted and roasted"), and, for my part, I was done entirely brown (to continue T-----'s figure). Everybody said something kind, not a word or idea of which can I find in my memory. Certainly, if I never get any more praise in my life, I have had enough of it for once. I made another little bit of a speech, too, in response to something that was said in reference to the present difficulties between England and America, and ended, as a proof that I deemed war impossible, with drinking success to the British army, and calling on Lieutenant Shaw, of the Aldershott Camp, to reply. I am afraid I must have said something very wrong, for the applause was vociferous, and I could hear the gentlemen whispering about the table, "Good!" "Good!" "Yes, he is a fine fellow,"--and other such ill-earned praises; and I took shame to myself, and held my tongue (publicly) the rest of the evening. But in such cases something must be allowed to the excitement of the moment, and to the effect of kindness and goodwill, so broadly and warmly displayed; and even a sincere man must not be held to speak as if he were under oath.
We separated, in a blessed state of contentment with one
another, at about eleven; and (lest I should starve before morning) I went with
Mr. D------ to take supper at his house in
The principal talk during supper (which consisted of
Welsh-rabbit and biscuits, with champagne and sodawater) was about the Times,
and the two contributors expressed vast admiration of Mr. ------, who has the
chief editorial management of the paper.
It is odd to find how little we outsiders know of men who really
exercise a vast influence on affairs, for this Mr. ------ is certainly of far
more importance in the world than a minister of state. He writes nothing himself; but the character
of the Times seems to depend upon his intuitive, unerring judgment; and if ever
he is absent from his post, even for a day or two, they say that the paper immediately
shows it. In reply to my questions, they
appeared to acknowledge that he was a man of expediency, but of a very high
expediency, and that he gave the public the very best principles which it was
capable of receiving. Perhaps it may be
so: the Times's articles are certainly not written in so high a moral vein as
might be wished; but what they lack in height they gain in breadth. Every sensible man in
Apropos of public speaking, Dr. ------ said that Sir Lytton Bulwer asked him (I think the anecdote was personal to himself) whether he felt his heart beat when he was going to speak. "Yes." "Does your voice frighten you?" "Yes." "Do all your ideas forsake you?" "Yes." "Do you wish the floor to open and swallow you?" "Yes." "Why, then, you'll make an orator!" Dr. ------ told of Canning, too, how once, before rising to speak in the House of Commons, he bade his friend feel his pulse, which was throbbing terrifically. "I know I shall make one of my best speeches," said Canning, "because I'm in such an awful funk!" President Pierce, who has a great deal of oratorical power, is subject to a similar horror and reluctance.
April 5th.--On Thursday, at eight o'clock, I went to the Reform Club, to dine with Dr. ------. The waiter admitted me into a great basement hall, with a tessellated or mosaic or somehow figured floor of stone, and lighted from a dome of lofty height. In a few minutes Dr. ------appeared, and showed me about the edifice, which is very noble and of a substantial magnificence that was most satisfactory to behold,--no wood-work imitating better materials, but pillars and balustrades of marble, and everything what it purports to be. The reading-room is very large, and luxuriously comfortable, and contains an admirable library: there are rooms and conveniences for every possible purpose; and whatever material for enjoyment a bachelor may need, or ought to have, he can surely find it here, and on such reasonable terms that a small income will do as much for him as a far greater one on any other system.
In a colonnade, on the first floor, surrounding the great
basement hall, there are portraits of distinguished reformers, and black niches
for others yet to come. Joseph Hume, I
believe, is destined to fill one of these blanks; but I remarked that the
larger part of the portraits, already hung up, are of men of high rank,--the
Duke of Sussex, for instance; Lord Durham, Lord Grey; and, indeed, I remember
no commoner. In one room, I saw on the wall the fac-simile, so common in the
Descending again to the basement hall, an elderly gentleman came in, and was warmly welcomed by Dr. ------. He was a very short man, but with breadth enough, and a back excessively bent,--bowed almost to deformity; very gray hair, and a face and expression of remarkable briskness and intelligence. His profile came out pretty boldly, and his eyes had the prominence that indicates, I believe, volubility of speech, nor did he fail to talk from the instant of his appearance; and in the tone of his voice, and in his glance, and in the whole man, there was something racy,--a flavor of the humorist. His step was that of an aged man, and he put his stick down very decidedly at every footfall; though as he afterwards told me that he was only fifty-two, he need not yet have been infirm. But perhaps he has had the gout; his feet, however, are by no means swollen, but unusually small. Dr. ------ introduced him as Mr. Douglas Jerrold, and we went into the coffee-room to dine.
The coffee-room occupies one whole side of the edifice, and is provided with a great many tables, calculated for three or four persons to dine at; and we sat down at one of these, and Dr. ------ ordered some mulligatawny soup, and a bottle of white French wine. The waiters in the coffee-room are very numerous, and most of them dressed in the livery of the Club, comprising plush breeches and white-silk stockings; for these English Reformers do not seem to include Republican simplicity of manners in their system. Neither, perhaps, is it anywise essential.
After the soup, we had turbot, and by and by a bottle of
Chateau Margaux, very delectable; and then some lambs' feet, delicately done,
and some cutlets of I know not what peculiar type; and finally a ptarmigan,
which is of the same race of birds as the grouse, but feeds high up towards the
summits of the Scotch mountains. Then
some cheese, and a bottle of Chambertin.
It was a very pleasant dinner, and my companions were both very
agreeable men; both taking a shrewd, satirical, yet not ill-natured, view of
life and people, and as for Mr. Douglas Jerrold, he often reminded me of E----
C------, in the richer veins of the latter, both by his face and expression,
and by a tincture of something at once wise and humorously absurd in what he
said. But I think he has a kinder, more
genial, wholesomer nature than E----, and under a very thin crust of outward
acerbity I grew sensible of a very warm heart, and even of much simplicity of
character in this man, born in
I wish I had any faculty whatever of remembering what people
say; but, though I appreciate anything good at the moment, it never stays in my
memory; nor do I think, in fact, that anything definite, rounded, pointed,
separable, and transferable from the general lump of conversation was said by
anybody. I recollect that they laughed
at Mr. ------, and at his shedding a tear into a Scottish river, on occasion of
some literary festival. . . . . They spoke approvingly of Bulwer, as valuing
his literary position, and holding himself one of the brotherhood of authors;
and not so approvingly of Charles Dickens, who, born a plebeian, aspires to
aristocratic society. But I said that it
was easy to condescend, and that Bulwer knew he could not put off his rank, and
that he would have all the advantages of it in spite of his authorship. We
talked about the position of men of letters in
Douglas Jerrold talked of Thackeray and his success in
In the course of the evening, Jerrold spoke with high
appreciation of Emerson; and of Longfellow, whose Hiawatha he considered a
wonderful performance; and of
------, who, being connected with the Illustrated News, and otherwise a
writer, might be inclined to draw attention to then. Douglas Jerrold asked why he should not have
them too. I hesitated a little, but as
he pressed me, and would have an answer, I said that I did not feel quite so
sure of his kindly judgment on Thoreau's books; and it so chanced that I used
the word "acrid" for lack of a better, in endeavoring to express my
idea of Jerrold's way of looking at men and books. It was not quite what I meant; but, in fact,
he often is acrid, and has written pages and volumes of acridity, though, no
doubt, with an honest purpose, and from a manly disgust at the cant and humbug
of the world. Jerrold said no more, and
I went on talking with Dr. ------; but, in a minute or two, I became aware that
something had gone wrong, and, looking at Douglas Jerrold, there was an
expression of pain and emotion on his face.
By this time a second bottle of
------ said that he likewise had a reputation for bitterness; and I
assured him, if I might venture to join myself to the brotherhood of two such men, that I was considered a very ill-natured person by many people in my own country. Douglas Jerrold said he was glad of it.
We were now in sweetest harmony, and Jerrold spoke more than it would become me to repeat in praise of my own books, which he said he admired, and he found the man more admirable than his books! I hope so, certainly.
We now went to the Haymarket Theatre, where Douglas Jerrold is on the free list; and after seeing a ballet by some Spanish dancers, we separated, and betook ourselves to our several homes. I like Douglas Jerrold very much.
April 8th.--On Saturday evening, at ten o'clock, I went to a supper-party at Mr. D------'s, and there met five or six people,--Mr. Faed, a young and distinguished artist; Dr. Eliotson, a dark, sombre, taciturn, powerful-looking man, with coal-black hair, and a beard as black, fringing round his face; Mr. Charles Reade, author of Christie Johnstone and other novels, and many plays,--a tall man, more than thirty, fair-haired, and of agreeable talk and demeanor.
On April 6th, I went to the
Our host and hostess had by this time returned from church, and Mrs. Hall came frankly and heartily to the door to greet us, scolding us (kindly) for having got wet. . . . . I liked her simple, easy, gentle, quiet manners, and I liked her husband too.
He has a wide and quick sympathy, and expresses it freely. . . . . The world is the better for him.
The shower being now over, we went out upon the beautiful
lawn before his house, where there were a good many trees of various kinds,
many of which have been set out by persons of great or small distinction, and
are labelled with their names. Thomas
Moore's name was appended to one; Maria Edgeworth's to another; likewise
Fredrika Bremer's, Jenny Lind's; also Grace
We dined early, and had a very pleasant dinner, and, after the cloth was removed, Mr. Hall was graciously pleased to drink my health, following it with a long tribute to my genius. I answered briefly; and one half of my short speech was in all probability very foolish. . . . .
After the ladies (there were three, one being a girl of seventeen, with rich auburn hair, the adopted daughter of the Halls) had retired, Dr.
------ having been toasted himself, proposed Mrs. Hall's health.
I did not have a great deal of conversation with Mrs. Hall;
but enough to make me think her a genuine and good woman, unspoilt by a
literary career, and retaining more sentiment than even most girls keep beyond
seventeen. She told me that it had been
the dream of her life to see Longfellow and myself! . . . . Her dream is half
accomplished now, and, as they say Longfellow is coming over this summer, the
remainder may soon be rounded out. On
taking leave, our kind hosts presented me with some beautiful flowers, and with
three volumes of a work, by themselves, on
[Here follows an account of the Lord Mayor's dinner, taken mostly for Our Old Home; but I think I will copy this more exact description of the lady mentioned in "Civic Banquets."--ED.]
. . . . My eyes were mostly drawn to a young lady, who sat nearly opposite me, across the table. She was, I suppose, dark, and yet not dark, but rather seemed to be of pure white marble, yet not white; but the purest and finest complexion, without a shade of color in it, yet anything but sallow or sickly. Her hair was a wonderful deep raven-black, black as night, black as death; not raven-black, for that has a shiny gloss, and hers had not, but it was hair never to be painted nor described,--wonderful hair, Jewish hair. Her nose had a beautiful outline, though I could see that it was Jewish too; and that, and all her features, were so fine that sculpture seemed a despicable art beside her, and certainly my pen is good for nothing. If any likeness could be given, however; it must be by sculpture, not painting. She was slender and youthful, and yet had a stately and cold, though soft and womanly grace; and, looking at her, I saw what were the wives of the old patriarchs in their maiden or early-married days,--what Judith was, for, womanly as she looked, I doubt, not she could have slain a man in a just cause,--what Bathsheba was, only she seemed to have no sin in her,--perhaps what Eve was, though one could hardly think her weak enough to eat the apple. . . . . Whether owing to distinctness of race, my sense that she was a Jewess, or whatever else, I felt a sort of repugnance, simultaneously with my perception that she was an admirable creature.
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
At ten o'clock the next day [after the Lord Mayor's dinner]
I went to lunch with Bennoch, and afterwards accompanied him to one of the
government offices in
We were to dine at the Refectory of the House with the new
The character of the debate, however, did not grow more luminous or vivacious; so we went down into the vestibule, and there waited for Mr. ------, who soon came and led us into the Refectory. It was very much like the coffee-room of a club. The strict rule forbids the entrance of any but members of Parliament; but it seems to be winked at, although there is another room, opening beyond this, where the law of seclusion is strictly enforced.
The dinner was good, not remarkably so, but good enough,--a soup, some turbot or salmon, cutlets, and I know not what else, and claret, sherry, and port; for, as Mr. ------ said, "he did not wish to be stingy." Mr. ------ is a self-made man, and a strong instance of the difference between the Englishman and the American, when self-made, and without early education. He is no more a gentleman now than when he began life, --not a whit more refined, either outwardly or inwardly; while the American would have been, after the same experience, not distinguishable outwardly, and perhaps as refined within, as nine tenths of the gentlemen born, in the House of Commons. And, besides, an American comes naturally to any distinctions to which success in life may bring him; he takes them as if they were his proper inheritance, and in no wise to be wondered at. Mr. ------, on the other hand, took evidently a childish delight in his position, and felt a childish wonder in having arrived at it; nor did it seem real to him, after all. . . . .
We again saw Disraeli, who has risen from the people by modes perhaps somewhat like those of Mr. ------. He came and stood near our table, looking at the bill of fare, and then sat down on the opposite side of the room with another gentleman, and ate his dinner. The story of his marriage does him much credit; and indeed I am inclined to like Disraeli, as a man who has made his own place good among a hostile aristocracy, and leads instead of following them.
From the House of Commons we went to Albert Smith's
exhibition, or lecture, of the ascent of
Nothing of moment happened the next day, at least, not till two o'clock, when I went with Mr. Bowman to Birch's eating-house (it is not Birch's now, but this was the name of the original founder, who became an alderman, and has long been dead) for a basin of turtle-soup. It was very rich, very good, better than we had at the Lord Mayor's, and the best I ever ate.
In the evening, Mr. J. B. Davis, formerly our Secretary of
Legation, called to take us to dine at Mr. ------'s in
In the interim Mr. ------ showed us some rare old books,
which he has in his private collection, a black-letter edition of Chaucer, and
other specimens of the early English printers; and I was impressed, as I have
often been, with the idea that we have made few, if any, improvements in the
art of printing, though we have greatly facilitated the modes of it. He showed
us Dryden's translation of Virgil, with Dr. Johnson's autograph in it and a
large collection of Bibles, of all dates,--church Bibles, family Bibles of the
common translation, and older ones. He
says he has written or is writing a history of the Bible (as a printed work, I
presume). Many of these Bibles had, no
doubt, been in actual and daily use from generation to generation; but they
were now all splendidly bound, and were likewise very clean and smooth,--in
fact, every leaf had been cleansed by a delicate process, a part of which
consisted in soaking the whole book in a tub of water, during several
days. Mr. ------ is likewise rich in
manuscripts, having a Spanish document with the signature of the son of
Mr. Taylor is reckoned a brilliant conversationist; but I suppose he requires somebody to draw him out and assist him; for I could hear nothing that I thought very remarkable on this occasion. He is not a kind of man whom I can talk with, or greatly help to talk; so, though I sat next to him, nothing came of it. He told me some stories of his life in the Temple,--little funny incidents, that he afterwards wrought into his dramas; in short, a sensible, active-minded, clearly perceptive man, with a humorous way of showing up men and matters. . . . . I wish I could know exactly what the English style good conversation. Probably it is something like plum-pudding,--as heavy, but seldom so rich.
After dinner Mr. Tom Taylor and Mr. D------, with their respective ladies, took their leave; but when we returned to the drawing-room, we found it thronged with a good many people. Mr. S. C. Hall was there with his wife, whom I was glad to see again, for this was the third time of meeting her, and, in this whirl of new acquaintances, I felt quite as if she were an old friend. Mr. William Howitt was also there, and introduced me to his wife,--a very natural, kind, and pleasant lady; and she presented me to one or two daughters. Mr. Marston, the dramatist, was also introduced to me; and Mr. Helps, a thin, scholarly, cold sort of a man. Dr. Mackay and his wife were there, too; and a certain Mr. Jones, a sculptor,--a jolly, large, elderly person, with a twinkle in his eye. Also a Mr. Godwin, who impressed me as quite a superior person, gentlemanly, cultivated, a man of sensibility; but it is quite impossible to take a clear imprint from any one character, where so many are stamped upon one's notice at once. This Mr. Godwin, as we were discussing Thackeray, said that he is most beautifully tender and devoted to his wife, whenever she can be sensible of his attentions. He says that Thackeray, in his real self, is a sweet, sad man. I grew weary of so many people, especially of the ladies, who were rather superfluous in their oblations, quite stifling me, indeed, with the incense that they burnt under my nose. So far as I could judge, they had all been invited there to see me. It is ungracious, even hoggish, not to be gratified with the interest they expressed in me; but then it is really a bore, and one does not know what to do or say. I felt like the hippopotamus, or--to use a more modest illustration--like some strange insect imprisoned under a tumbler, with a dozen eyes watching whatever I did. By and by, Mr. Jones, the sculptor, relieved me by standing up against the mantel-piece, and telling an Irish story, not to two or three auditors, but to the whole drawing-room, all attentive as to a set exhibition. It was very funny.
The next day after this I went with Mr. Bowman to call on
our minister, and found that he, and four of the ladies of his family, with his
son, had gone to the Queen's Drawing-room.
We lunched at the
May 10th.--Last Friday, May 2d, I took the rail, with Mr.
Bowman, from the
In the morning I rambled largely about
In another part of the High Street, up a pretty steep slope, and on one side of a public green, near an edifice which I think is a medical college, stands St. Mungo's Cathedral. It is hardly of cathedral dimensions, though a large and fine old church. The price of a ticket of admittance is twopence; so small that it might be as well to make the entrance free. The interior is in excellent repair, with the nave and side aisles, and clustered pillars, and intersecting arches, that belong to all these old churches; and a few monuments along the walls. I was going away without seeing any more than this; but the verger, a friendly old gentleman, with a hearty Scotch way of speaking, told me that the crypts were what chiefly interested strangers; and so he guided me down into the foundation-story of the church, where there is an intricacy and entanglement of immensely massive and heavy arches, supporting the structure above. The view through these arches, among the great shafts of the columns, was very striking. In the central part is a monument; a recumbent figure, if I remember rightly, but it is not known whom it commemorates. There is also a monument to a Scotch prelate, which seems to have been purposely defaced, probably in Covenant times. These intricate arches were the locality of one of the scenes in "Rob Roy," when Rob gives Frank Osbaldistone some message or warning, and then escapes from him into the obscurity behind. In one corner is St. Mungo's well, secured with a wooden cover; but I should not care to drink water that comes from among so many old graves.
After viewing the cathedral, I got back to the hotel just in
time to go from thence to the steamer wharf, and take passage up the
Arriving at Balloch, we found it a small village, with no
marked features, and a hotel, where we got some lunch, and then we took a
stroll over the bridge across the Levers, while waiting for the steamer to take
The day was bright and cloudless; but there was a strong,
cold breeze blowing down the lake, so that it was impossible, without vast
discomfort, to stand in the bow of the steamer and look at the scenery. I
looked at it, indeed, along the sides, as we passed, and on our track behind;
and no doubt it was very fine; but from all the experience I have had, I do not
think scenery can be well seen from the water.
At any rate, the shores of
The whole voyage up
We had excellent beds and sleeping-rooms in this new hotel,
and I remember nothing more till morning, when we were astir betimes, and had
some chops for breakfast. Then our host,
Mr. Macregor, who is also the host of our hotel at Glasgow, and has many of the
characteristics of an American landlord, claiming to be a gentleman and the
equal of his guests, took us in a drosky, and drove us to the shore of Loch
Lomond, at a point about four miles from Arroquhar. The lake is here a mile and a half wide, and
it was our object to cross to Inversnaid, on the opposite shore; so first we
waved a handkerchief, and then kindled some straw on the beach, in order to
attract the notice of the ferryman at Inversnaid. It was half an hour before
our signals and shoutings resulted in the putting off of a boat, with two
oarsmen, who made the transit pretty speedily; and thus we got across
We were now in Rob Roy's country, and at the distance of a mile or so, along the shore of the lake, is Rob Roy's cave, where he and his followers are supposed to have made their abode in troublous times. While lunch was getting ready, we again took the boat, and went thither. Landing beneath a precipitous, though not very lofty crag, we clambered up a rude pathway, and came to the mouth of the cave, which is nothing but a fissure or fissures among some great rocks that have tumbled confusedly together. There is hardly anywhere space enough for half a dozen persons to crowd themselves together, nor room to stand upright. On the whole, it is no cave at all, but only a crevice; and, in the deepest and darkest part, you can look up and see the sky. It may have sheltered Rob Roy for a night, and might partially shelter any Christian during a shower.
Returning to the hotel, we started in a drosky (I do not
know whether this is the right name of the vehicle, or whether it has a right
name, but it is a carriage in which four persons sit back to back, two before
and two behind) for Aberfoyle. The mountain-side
ascends very steeply from the inn door, and, not to damp the horse's courage in
the outset, we went up on foot. The
guide-book says that the prospect from the summit of the ascent is very fine;
but I really believe we forgot to turn round and look at it. All through our drive, however, we had
mountain views in plenty, especially of great Ben Lomond, with his snow-covered
head, round which, since our entrance into the
The day was sunless, and very uncomfortably cold; and we were not sorry to walk whenever the steepness of the road gave us cause. I do not remember what o'clock it was, but not far into the afternoon, when we reached the Baillie Nicol-Jarvie Inn at Aberfoyle; a scene which is much more interesting in the pages of Rob Roy than we found it in reality. Here we got into a sort of cart, and set out, over another hill-path, as dreary as or drearier than the last, for the Trosachs. On our way, we saw Ben Venue, and a good many other famous Bens, and two or three lochs; and when we reached the Trosachs, we should probably have been very much enraptured if our eyes had not already been weary with other mountain shapes. But, in truth, I doubt if anybody ever does really see a mountain, who goes for the set and sole purpose of seeing it. Nature will not let herself be seen in such cases. You must patiently bide her time; and by and by, at some unforeseen moment, she will quietly and suddenly unveil herself, and for a brief space allow you to look right into the heart of her mystery. But if you call out to her peremptorily, "Nature! unveil yourself this very moment!" she only draws her veil the closer; and you may look with all your eyes, and imagine that you see all that she can show, and yet see nothing. Thus, I saw a wild and confused assemblage of heights, crags, precipices, which they call the Trosachs, but I saw them calmly and coldly, and was glad when the drosky was ready to take us on to Callender. The hotel at the Trosachs, by the by, is a very splendid one, in the form of an old feudal castle, with towers and turrets. All among these wild hills there is set preparation for enraptured visitants; and it seems strange that the savage features do not subside of their own accord, and that there should still be cold winds and snow on the top of Ben Lomond, and rocks and heather, and ragged sheep, now that there are so many avenues by which the commonplace world is sluiced in among the Highlands. I think that this fashion of the picturesque will pass away.
We drove along the
After dinner, as dusk was coming on and we had still a long
drive before us (eighteen miles, I believe), we took a close carriage and two
horses, and set off for
In the morning we were stirring betimes, and found
Then we mounted the castle wall, where it broods over a precipice of many hundred feet perpendicular, looking down upon a level plain below, and forth upon a landscape, every foot of which is richly studded with historic events. There is a small peep-hole in the wall, which Queen Mary is said to have been in the habit of looking through. It is a most splendid view; in the distance, the blue Highlands, with a variety of mountain outlines that I could have studied unweariably; and in another direction, beginning almost at the foot of the Castle Hill, were the Links of Forth, where, over a plain of miles in extent the river meandered, and circled about, and returned upon itself again and again and again, as if knotted into a silver chain, which it was difficult to imagine to be all one stream. The history of Scotland might be read from this castle wall, as on a book of mighty page; for here, within the compass of a few miles, we see the field where Wallace won the battle of Stirling, and likewise the battle-field of Bannockburn, and that of Falkirk, and Sheriffmuir, and I know not how many besides.
Around the Castle Hill there is a walk, with seats for old and infirm persons, at points sheltered from the wind. We followed it downward, and I think we passed over the site where the games used to be held, and where, this morning, some of the soldiers of the garrison were going through their exercises. I ought to have mentioned, that, passing through the inner gateway of the castle, we saw the round tower, and glanced into the dungeon, where the Roderic Dhu of Scott's poem was left to die. It is one of the two round towers, between which the portcullis rose and fell.
At eleven o'clock we took the rail for
Thence we passed into the old historic rooms of the Palace,--Darnley's and Queen Mary's apartments, which everybody has seen and described. They are very dreary and shabby-looking rooms, with bare floors, and here and there a piece of tapestry, faded into a neutral tint; and carved and ornamented ceilings, looking shabbier than plain whitewash. We saw Queen Mary's old bedstead, low, with four tall posts,--and her looking-glass, which she brought with her from France, and which has often reflected the beauty that set everybody mad,--and some needlework and other womanly matters of hers; and we went into the little closet where she was having such a cosey supper-party with two or three friends, when the conspirators broke in, and stabbed Rizzio before her face. We saw, too, the blood-stain at the threshold of the door in the next room, opening upon the stairs. The body of Rizzio was flung down here, and the attendant told us that it lay in that spot all night. The blood-stain covers a large space,--much larger than I supposed,--and it gives the impression that there must have been a great pool and sop of blood on all the spot covered by Rizzio's body, staining the floor deeply enough never to be washed out. It is now of a dark brown hue; and I do not see why it may not be the genuine, veritable stain. The floor, thereabouts, appears not to have been scrubbed much; for I touched it with my finger, and found it slightly rough; but it is strange that the many footsteps should not have smoothed it, in three hundred years.
One of the articles shown us in Queen Mary's apartments was the breastplate supposed to have been worn by Lord Ruthven at the murder, a heavy plate of iron, and doubtless a very uncomfortable waistcoat.
From the Palace, we passed into the contiguous ruin of Holyrood Abbey; which is roofless, although the front, and some broken columns along the nave, and fragments of architecture here and there, afford hints of a magnificent Gothic church in bygone times. It deserved to be magnificent; for here have been stately ceremonials, marriages of kings, coronations, investitures, before the high altar, which has now been overthrown or crumbled away; and the floor--so far as there is any floor --consists of tombstones of the old Scottish nobility. There are likewise monuments, bearing the names of illustrious Scotch families; and inscriptions, in the Scotch dialect, on the walls.
In one of the front towers,--the only remaining one, indeed,--we saw the marble tomb of a nobleman, Lord Belhaven, who is represented reclining on the top,--with a bruised nose, of course. Except in Westminster Abbey, I do not remember ever to have seen an old monumental statue with the nose entire. In all political or religious outbreaks, the mob's first impulse is to hit the illustrious dead on their noses.
At the other end of the Abbey, near the high altar, is the vault where the old Scottish kings used to be buried; but, looking in through the window, I saw only a vacant space,--no skull, nor bone, nor the least fragment of a coffin. In fact, I believe the royal dead were turned out of their last home, on occasion of the Revolutionary movements, at the accession of William III.
HIGH STREET AND THE GRASS-MARKET.
Quitting the Abbey and the Palace, we turned into the
Canongate, and passed thence into High Street, which, I think, is a
continuation of the Canongate; and being now in the old town of Edinburgh, we
saw those immensely tall houses, seven stories high, where the people live in
tiers, all the way from earth to middle air.
They were not so quaint and strange looking as I expected; but there
were some houses of very antique individuality, and among them that of John
Knox, which looks still in good repair.
One thing did not in the least fall short of my expectations,--the evil
odor, for which
From the High Street we turned aside into the Grass-Market, the scene of the Porteous Mob; and we found in the pavement a cross on the site where the execution of Porteous is supposed to have taken place.
Returning thence to the High Street, we followed it up to
the Castle, which is nearer the town, and of more easy access from it, than I
had supposed. There is a large court or
parade before the castle gate, with a parapet on the abrupt side of the hill,
looking towards Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags, mud overhanging a portion of
the old town. As we leaned over this
parapet, my nose was conscious of the bad odor of
After the soldier had shown us to the extent of his jurisdiction, we went into a suite of rooms, in one of which I saw a portrait of Queen Mary, which gave me, for the first time, an idea that she was really a very beautiful woman. In this picture she is wonderfully so,--a tender womanly grace, which was none the less tender and graceful for being equally imbued with queenly dignity and spirit. It was too lovely a head to be cut off. I should be glad to know the authenticity of this picture.
I do not know that we did anything else worthy of note,
Our first object, of course, was to see the Abbey, which stands just on the outskirts of the village, and is attainable only by applying at a neighboring house, the inhabitant of which probably supports himself, and most comfortably, too, as a showman of the ruin. He unlocked the wooden gate, and admitted us into what is left of the Abbey, comprising only the ruins of the church, although the refectory, the dormitories, and the other parts of the establishment, formerly covered the space now occupied by a dozen village houses. Melrose Abbey is a very satisfactory ruin, all carpeted along its nave and transepts with green grass; and there are some well-grown trees within the walls. We saw the window, now empty, through which the tints of the painted glass fell on the tombstone of Michael Scott, and the tombstone itself, broken in three pieces, but with a cross engraven along its whole length. It must have been the monument of an old monk or abbot, rather than a wizard. There, too, is still the "marble stone" on which the monk and warrior sat them down, and which is supposed to mark the resting-place of Alexander of Scotland. There are remains, both without and within the Abbey, of most curious and wonderfully minute old sculpture,--foliage, in places where it is almost impossible to see them, and where the sculptor could not have supposed that they would be seen, but which yet are finished faithfully, to the very veins of each leaf, in stone; and there is a continual variety of this accurate toil. On the exterior of the edifice there is equal minuteness of finish, and a great many niches for statues; all of which, I believe, are now gone, although there are carved faces at some points and angles. The graveyard around the Abbey is still the only one which the village has, and is crowded with gravestones, among which I read the inscription of one erected by Sir Walter Scott to the memory of Thomas Pardy, one of his servants. Some sable birds--either rooks or jackdaws--were flitting about the ruins, inside and out.
Mr. Bowman and I talked about revisiting
Leaving the Abbey, we took a path or a road which led us to the river Tweed, perhaps a quarter of a mile off; and we crossed it by a foot-bridge,--a pretty wide stream, a dimpling breadth of transparent water flowing between low banks, with a margin of pebbles. We then returned to our inn, and had tea, and passed a quiet evening by the fireside. This is a good, unpretentious inn; and its visitors' book indicates that it affords general satisfaction to those who come here.
In the morning we breakfasted on broiled salmon, taken, no
doubt, in the neighboring
After breakfast we took a drosky, or whatever these fore-and-aft-seated vehicles are called, and set out for
three miles distant.
It was a cold though rather bright morning, with a most shrewd and
bitter wind, which blew directly in my face as I sat beside the driver. An English wind is bad enough, but methinks a
Scotch one, is rather worse; at any rate, I was half frozen, and wished
Dryburgh Abbey in Tophet, where it would have been warmer work to go and see
it. Some of the border hills were striking, especially the Cowden Knowe, which
ascends into a prominent and lofty peak.
Such villages as we passed did not greatly differ from English
villages. By and by we came to the banks
The ferryman here is a young girl; and, stepping into the boat, she shoved off, and so skilfully took advantage of the eddies of the stream, which is here deep and rapid, that we were soon on the other side. She was by no means an uncomely maiden, with pleasant Scotch features, and a quiet intelligence of aspect, gleaming into a smile when spoken to; much tanned with all kinds of weather, and, though slender, yet so agile and muscular that it was no shame for a man to let himself be rowed by her.
From the ferry we had a walk of half a mile, more or less, to a cottage, where we found another young girl, whose business it is to show the Abbey. She was of another mould than the ferry-maiden,--a queer, shy, plaintive sort of a body,--and answered all our questions in a low, wailing tone. Passing through an apple-orchard, we were not long in reaching the Abbey, the ruins of which are much more extensive and more picturesque than those of Melrose, being overrun with bushes and shrubbery, and twined about with ivy, and all such vegetation as belongs, naturally, to old walls. There are the remains of the refectory, and other domestic parts of the Abbey, as well as the church, and all in delightful state of decay,--not so far gone but that we had bits of its former grandeur in the columns and broken arches, and in some portions of the edifice that still retain a roof.
In the chapter-house we saw a marble statue of
On one side of the church, within an arched recess, are the
monuments of Sir Walter Scott and his family,--three ponderous tombstones of
Dryburgh Abbey must be a most beautiful spot of a summer
afternoon; and it was beautiful even on this not very genial morning,
especially when the sun blinked out upon the ivy, and upon the shrubberied
paths that wound about the ruins. I
think I recollect the birds chirruping in this neighborhood of it. After viewing it sufficiently,--sufficiently
for this one time,--we went back to the ferry, and, being set across by the
same Undine, we drove back to
three miles off. The
We were not long in reaching Abbotsford. The house, which is more compact, and of considerably less extent than I anticipated, stands in full view from the road, and at only a short distance from it, lower down towards the river. Its aspect disappointed me; but so does everything. It is but a villa, after all; no castle, nor even a large manor-house, and very unsatisfactory when you consider it in that light. Indeed, it impressed me, not as a real house, intended for the home of human beings,--a house to die in or to be born in,--but as a plaything,--something in the same category as Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill. The present owner seems to have found it insufficient for the actual purposes of life; for he is adding a wing, which promises to be as extensive as the original structure.
We rang at the front door (the family being now absent), and were speedily admitted by a middle-aged or somewhat elderly man,--the butler, I suppose, or some upper servant,--who at once acceded to our request to be permitted to see the house. We stepped from the porch immediately into the entrance-hall; and having the great Hall of Battle Abbey in my memory, and the ideal of a baronial hall in my mind, I was quite taken aback at the smallness and narrowness and lowness of this; which, however, is a very fine one, on its own little scale. In truth, it is not much more than a vestibule. The ceiling is carved; and every inch of the walls is covered with claymores, targets, and other weapons and armor, or old-time curiosities, tastefully arranged, many of which, no doubt, have a history attached to them,--or had, in Sir Walter's own mind. Our attendant was a very intelligent person, and pointed out much that was interesting; but in such a multitudinous variety it was almost impossible to fix the eye upon any one thing. Probably the apartment looked smaller than it really was, on account of being so wainscoted and festooned with curiosities. I remember nothing particularly, unless it be the coal-grate in the fireplace, which was one formerly used by Archbishop Sharpe, the prelate whom Balfour of Burley murdered. Either in this room or the next one, there was a glass case containing the suit of clothes last worn by Scott,--a short green coat, somewhat worn, with silvered buttons, a pair of gray tartan trousers, and a white hat. It was in the hall that we saw these things; for there too, I recollect, were a good many walking-sticks that had been used by Scott, and the hatchet with which he was in the habit of lopping branches from his trees, as he walked among them.
From the hall we passed into the study;--a small room, lined with the books which Sir Walter, no doubt, was most frequently accustomed to refer to; and our guide pointed out some volumes of the Moniteur, which he used while writing the history of Napoleon. Probably these were the driest and dullest volumes in his whole library. About mid-height of the walls of the study there is a gallery, with a short flight of steps for the convenience of getting at the upper books. A study-table occupied the centre of the room, and at one end of the table stands an easy-chair, covered with morocco, and with ample space to fling one's self back. The servant told me that I might sit down in this chair, for that Sir Walter sat there while writing his romances, "and perhaps," quoth the man, smiling, "you may catch some inspiration." What a bitter word this would have been if he had known me to be a romance-writer! "No, I never shall be inspired to write romances!" I answered, as if such an idea had never occurred to me. I sat down, however. This study quite satisfied me, being planned on principles of common-sense, and made to work in, and without any fantastic adaptation of old forms to modern uses.
Next to the study is the library, an apartment of respectable size, and containing as many books as it can hold, all protected by wire-work. I did not observe what or whose works were here; but the attendant showed us one whole compartment full of volumes having reference to ghosts, witchcraft, and the supernatural generally. It is remarkable that Scott should have felt interested in such subjects, being such a worldly and earthly man as he was; but then, indeed, almost all forms of popular superstition do clothe the ethereal with earthly attributes, and so make it grossly perceptible.
The library, like the study, suited me well,--merely the fashion of the apartment, I mean,--and I doubt not it contains as many curious volumes as are anywhere to be met with within a similar space. The drawing-room adjoins it; and here we saw a beautiful ebony cabinet, which was presented to Sir Walter by George IV.; and some pictures of much interest,--one of Scott himself at thirty-five, rather portly, with a heavy face, but shrewd eyes, which seem to observe you closely. There is a full-length of his eldest son, an officer of dragoons, leaning on his charger; and a portrait of Lady Scott,--a brunette, with black hair and eyes, very pretty, warm, vivacious, and un-English in her aspect. I am not quite sure whether I saw all these pictures in the drawing-room, or some of them in the dining-room; but the one that struck me most--and very much indeed--was the head of Mary, Queen of Scots, literally the head cut off and lying on a dish. It is said to have been painted by an Italian or French artist, two days after her death. The hair curls or flows all about it; the face is of a death-like hue, but has an expression of quiet, after much pain and trouble,--very beautiful, very sweet and sad; and it affected me strongly with the horror and strangeness of such a head being severed from its body. Methinks I should not like to have it always in the room with me. I thought of the lovely picture of Mary that I had seen at Edinburgh Castle, and reflected what a symbol it would be,--how expressive of a human being having her destiny in her own hands,--if that beautiful young Queen were painted as carrying this dish, containing her own woful head, and perhaps casting a curious and pitiful glance down upon it, as if it were not her own.
Also, in the drawing-room, there was a plaster cast of Sir Walter's face, taken after death; the only one in existence, as our guide assured us. It is not often that one sees a homelier set of features than this; no elevation, no dignity, whether bestowed by nature or thrown over them by age or death; sunken cheeks, the bridge of the nose depressed, and the end turned up; the mouth puckered, and no chin whatever, or hardly any. The expression was not calm and happy; but rather as if he were in a perturbed slumber, perhaps nothing short of nightmare. I wonder that the family allow this cast to be shown,--the last record that there is of Scott's personal reality, and conveying such a wretched and unworthy idea of it.
Adjoining the drawing-room is the dining-room, in one corner
of which, between two windows, Scott died.
It was now a quarter of a century since his death; but it seemed to me
that we spoke with a sort of hush in our voices, as if he were still dying
here, or had but just departed. I
remember nothing else in this room. The
next one is the armory, which is the smallest of all that we had passed
through; but its walls gleam with the steel blades of swords, and the barrels
of pistols, matchlocks, firelocks, and all manner of deadly weapons, whether
European or Oriental; for there are many trophies here of East Indian
warfare. I saw Rob Roy's gun, rifled and
of very large bore; and a beautiful pistol, formerly Claverhouse's; and the
sword of Montrose, given him by King Charles, the silver hilt of which I
grasped. There was also a superb
claymore, in an elaborately wrought silver sheath, made for Sir Walter Scott,
and presented to him by the Highland Society, for his services in marshalling
the clans when George IV. came to
We had now gone through all the show-rooms; and the next
door admitted us again into the entrance-hall, where we recorded our names in
the visitors' book. It contains more
names of Americans, I should judge, from casting my eyes back over last year's
record, than of all other people in the world, including
Bidding farewell to Abbotsford, I cannot but confess a sentiment of remorse for having visited the dwelling-place--as just before I visited the grave of the mighty minstrel and romancer with so cold a heart and in so critical a mood,--his dwelling-place and his grave whom I had so admired and loved, and who had done so much for my happiness when I was young. But I, and the world generally, now look at him from a different point of view; and, besides, these visits to the actual haunts of famous people, though long dead, have the effect of making us sensible, in some degree, of their human imperfections, as if we actually saw them alive. I felt this effect, to a certain extent, even with respect to Shakespeare, when I visited Stratford-on-Avon. As for Scott, I still cherish him in a warm place, and I do not know that I have any pleasanter anticipation, as regards books, than that of reading all his novels over again after we get back to the Wayside.
[This Mr. Hawthorne did, aloud to his family, the year following his return to America.--ED.]
It was now one or two o'clock, and time for us to take the
rail across the borders. Many a mile
behind us, as we rushed onward, we could see the threefold Eildon Hill, and probably
every pant of the engine carried us over some spot of ground which Scott has
made fertile with poetry. For
a town which seems to belong both to
the way to which, for a considerable distance, lies within
sight of the sea; and in close vicinity to the shore we saw Holy Isle, on which
are the ruins of an abbey.
We established ourselves at the Station Hotel, and then
walked out to see something of the town; but I remember only a few streets of
duskiness and dinginess, with a glimpse of the turrets of a castle to which we
could not find our way. So, as it was
getting twilightish and very cold, we went back to the hotel, which is a very
good one, better than any one I have seen in the South of England, and almost
or quite as good as those of Scotland.
The coffee-room is a spacious and handsome apartment, adorned with a
full-length portrait of
The next morning, May 8th, I rose and breakfasted early, and
took the rail soon after eight o'clock, leaving Mr. Bowman behind; for he had
crooked, narrow, or of unequal width, puzzling, and many of
them bearing the name of the particular gate in the old walls of the city to
which they lead. There were no such
fine, ancient, stately houses as some of those in
I found my way by a sort of instinct, as directly as possible, to
It stands in the midst of a small open space,--or a space that looks small in comparison with the vast bulk of the cathedral. I was not so much impressed by its exterior as I have usually been by Gothic buildings; because it is rectangular in its general outline and in its towers, and seems to lack the complexity and mysterious plan which perplexes and wonder-strikes me in most cathedrals. Doubtless, however, if I had known better how to admire it, I should have found it wholly admirable. At all events, it has a satisfactory hugeness. Seeking my way in, I at first intruded upon the Registry of Deeds, which occupies a building patched up against the mighty side of the cathedral, and hardly discernible, so small the one and so large the other. I finally hit upon the right door, and I felt no disappointment in my first glance around at the immensity of enclosed space;--I see now in my mind's eye a dim length of nave, a breadth in the transepts like a great plain, and such an airy height beneath the central tower that a worshipper could certainly get a good way towards heaven without rising above it. I only wish that the screen, or whatever they call it, between the choir and nave, could be thrown down, so as to give us leave to take in the whole vastitude at once. I never could understand why, after building a great church, they choose to sunder it in halves by this mid-partition. But let me be thankful for what I got, and especially for the height and massiveness of the clustered pillars that support the arches on which rests the central tower. I remember at Furness Abbey I saw two tall pillars supporting a broken arch, and thought it, the most majestic fragment of architecture that could possibly be. But these pillars have a nobler height, and these arches a greater sweep. What nonsense to try to write about a cathedral!
There is a great, cold bareness and bleakness about the interior; for there are very few monuments, and those seem chiefly to be of ecclesiastical people. I saw no armed knights, asleep on the tops of their tombs; but there was a curious representation of a skeleton, at full length, under the table-slab of one of the monuments. The walls are of a grayish hue, not so agreeable as the rich dark tint of the inside of Westminster Abbey; but a great many of the windows are still filled with ancient painted glass, the very small squares and pieces of which are composed into splendid designs of saints and angels, and scenes from Scripture.
There were a few watery blinks of sunshine out of doors, and whenever these came through the old painted windows, some of the more vivid colors were faintly thrown upon the pavement of the cathedral,--very faintly, it is true; for, in the first place, the sunshine was not brilliant; and painted glass, too, fades in the course of the ages, perhaps, like all man's other works. There were two or three windows of modern manufacture, and far more magnificent, as to brightness of color and material beauty, than the ancient ones; but yet they looked vulgar, glaring, and impertinent in comparison, because such revivals or imitations of a long-disused art cannot have the good faith and earnestness of the originals. Indeed, in the very coloring, I felt the same difference as between heart's blood and a scarlet dye. It is a pity, however, that the old windows cannot be washed, both inside and out, for now they have the dust of centuries upon them.
The screen or curtain between the nave and choir has eleven carved figures, at full length, which appeared to represent kings, some of them wearing crowns, and bearing sceptres or swords. They were in wood, and wrought by some Gothic hand. These carvings, and the painted windows, and the few monuments, are all the details that the mind can catch hold of in the immensity of this cathedral; and I must say that it was a dreary place on that cold, cloudy day. I doubt whether a cathedral is a sort of edifice suited to the English climate. The first buildings of the kind were probably erected by people who had bright and constant sunshine, and who desired a shadowy awfulness--like that of a forest, with its arched wood-paths--into which to retire in their religious moments.
After emerging from this great gloom, I wandered to and fro
I found my way to the ferry over the Ouse, according to this kind Yorkist's instructions. The ferryman told me that the fee for crossing was a halfpenny, which seemed so ridiculously small that I offered him more; but this unparalleled Englishman declined taking anything beyond his rightful halfpenny. This seems so wonderful to me that I can hardly trust my own memory.
Reaching the station, I got some dinner, and at four
o'clock, just as I was starting, came Mr. Bowman, my very agreeable and
sensible travelling companion. Our
journeying together was ended here; for he was to keep on to
One thing that struck me as much as anything else in the
York is full of old churches, some of them very antique in appearance, the stones weather-worn, their edges rounded by time, blackened, and with all the tokens of sturdy and age-long decay; and in some of them I noticed windows quite full of old painted glass, a dreary kind of minute patchwork, all of one dark and dusty hue, when seen from the outside. Yet had I seen them from the interior of the church, there doubtless would have been rich and varied apparitions of saints, with their glories round their heads, and bright-winged angels, and perhaps even the Almighty Father himself, so far as conceivable and representable by human powers. It requires light from heaven to make them visible. If the church were merely illuminated from the inside,--that is, by what light a man can get from his own understanding,--the pictures would be invisible, or wear at best but a miserable aspect.
May 24th.--Day before yesterday I had a call at the
Consulate from one of the Potentates of the Earth,--a woolly-haired negro,
rather thin and spare, between forty and fifty years of age, plainly dressed;
at the first glimpse of whom, I could readily have mistaken him for some ship's
steward, seeking to enter a complaint of his captain. However, this was President Roberts, of
The same day I took the rail from the Little Street station for
to meet Bennoch, who had asked me thither to dine with
him. I had never visited
Returning to the hotel, I sat down in the room where we were
to dine, and in due time Bennoch made his appearance, with the same glow and
friendly warmth in his face that I had left burning there when we parted in
Mr. W------ is a very sensible man. He has spent two or three years in
We sat late at table, and after the other guests had
retired, Bennoch and I had some very friendly talk, and he proposed that on my
wife's return we should take up our residence in his house at Blackheath, while
Mrs. Bennoch and himself were absent for two months on a trip to
The next morning we went out to see the Exchange, and
whatever was noticeable about the town.
Time being brief, I did not visit the cathedral, which, I believe, is a
thousand years old. There are many
handsome shops in
There was a new picture by Millais, the distinguished Pre-Raphaelite artist, representing a melancholy parting between two lovers. The lady's face had a great deal of sad and ominous expression; but an old brick wall, overrun with foliage, was so exquisitely and elaborately wrought that it was hardly possible to look at the personages of the picture. Every separate leaf of the climbing and clustering shrubbery was painfully made out; and the wall was reality itself, with the weather-stains, and the moss, and the crumbling lime between the bricks. It is not well to be so perfect in the inanimate, unless the artist can likewise make man and woman as lifelike, and to as great a depth, too, as the Creator does.
Bennoch left town for some place in Yorkshire, and I for
Dining at Mr. Rathbone's one evening last week (May 21st), it was mentioned that
author of the Bible in
If an Englishman were individually acquainted with all our twenty-five millions of Americans, and liked every one of them, and believed that each man of those millions was a Christian, honest, upright, and kind, he would doubt, despise, and hate them in the aggregate, however he might love and honor the individuals.
Captain ------ and his wife Oakum; they spent all evening at
Mrs. B------'s. The Captain is a
June 11th.--Monday night (9th), just as I was retiring, I received a telegraphic message announcing my wife's arrival at
So, the next day, I arranged the consular business for an
absence of ten days, and set forth with J-----, and reached
To me as well as to J----- the hot streets were terribly oppressive; so we went into the Roebuck Hotel, where we found a cool and pleasant coffee-room. The entrance to this hotel is through an arch, opening from High Street, and giving admission into a paved court, the buildings all around being part of the establishment,--old edifices with pointed gables and old-fashioned projecting windows, but all in fine repair, and wearing a most quiet, retired, and comfortable aspect. The court was set all round with flowers, growing in pots or large pedestalled vases; on one side was the coffee-room, and all the other public apartments, and the other side seemed to be taken up by the sleeping-chambers and parlors of the guests. This arrangement of an inn, I presume, is very ancient, and it resembles what I have seen in the hospitals, free schools, and other charitable establishments in the old English towns; and, indeed, all large houses were arranged on somewhat the same principle.
By and by two or three young men came in, in wide-awake hats, and loose, blouse-like, summerish garments; and from their talk I found them to be students of the University, although their topics of conversation were almost entirely horses and boats. One of them sat down to cold beef and a tankard of ale; the other two drank a tankard of ale together, and went away without paying for it,--rather to the waiter's discontent. Students are very much alike, all the world over, and, I suppose, in all time; but I doubt whether many of my fellows at college would have gone off without paying for their beer.
June 15th.--The first day after we reached Southampton was sunny and pleasant; but we made little use of the fine weather, except that S-----and I walked once along the High Street, and J----- and I took a little ramble about town in the afternoon. The next day there was a high and disagreeable wind, and I did not once stir out of the house. The third day, too, I kept entirely within doors, it being a storm of wind and rain. The Castle Hotel stands within fifty yards of the water-side; so that this gusty day showed itself to the utmost advantage,--the vessels pitching and tossing at their moorings, the waves breaking white out of a tumultuous gray surface, the opposite shore glooming mistily at the distance of a mile or two; and on the hither side boatmen and seafaring people scudding about the pier in waterproof clothes; and in the street, before the hotel door, a cabman or two, standing drearily beside his horse. But we were sunny within doors.
Yesterday it was breezy, sunny, shadowy, showery; and we
ordered a cab to take us to Clifton Villa, to call on Mrs. ------, a friend of
B------'s, who called on us the day after our arrival. Just, as we were ready to start, Mrs. ------
again called, and accompanied us back to her house. It is in Shirley, about two
June 17th.--Yesterday morning, June 16th, S-----, Mrs.
------, and I took the rail for
I do not remember any cathedral with so fine a site as this,
rising up out of the centre of a beautiful green, extensive enough to show its
full proportions, relieved and insulated from all other patchwork and
impertinence of rusty edifices. It is of
gray stone, and looks as perfect as when just finished, and with the
perfection, too, that could not have come in less than six centuries of
venerableness, with a view to which these edifices seem to have been
built. A new cathedral would lack the
last touch to its beauty and grandeur.
It needs to be mellowed and ripened, like some pictures; although I
suppose this awfulness of antiquity was supplied, in the minds of the
generation that built cathedrals, by the sanctity which they attributed to
them. Salisbury Cathedral is far more
beautiful than that of
When we went in, we heard the organ, the forenoon service being near conclusion. If I had never seen the interior of York Cathedral, I should have been quite satisfied, no doubt, with the spaciousness of this nave and these side aisles, and the height of their arches, and the girth of these pillars; but with that recollection in my mind they fell a little short of grandeur. The interior is seen to disadvantage, and in a way the builder never meant it to be seen; because there is little or no painted glass, nor any such mystery as it makes, but only a colorless, common daylight, revealing everything without remorse. There is a general light hue, moreover, like that of whitewash, over the whole of the roof and walls of the interior, pillars, monuments, and all; whereas, originally, every pillar was polished, and the ceiling was ornamented in brilliant colors, and the light came, many-hued, through the windows, on all this elaborate beauty, in lieu of which there is nothing now but space.
Between the pillars that separate the nave from the side aisles, there are ancient tombs, most of which have recumbent statues on them. One of these is Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, son of Fair Rosamond, in chain mail; and there are many other warriors and bishops, and one cross-legged Crusader, and on one tombstone a recumbent skeleton, which I have likewise seen in two or three other cathedrals. The pavement of the aisles and nave is laid in great part with flat tombstones, the inscriptions on which are half obliterated, and on the walls, especially in the transepts, there are tablets, among which I saw one to the poet Bowles, who was a canon of this cathedral. The ecclesiastical dignitaries bury themselves and monument themselves to the exclusion of almost everybody else, in these latter times; though still, as of old, the warrior has his place. A young officer, slain in the Indian wars, was memorialized by a tablet, and may be remembered by it, six hundred years hence, as we now remember the old Knights and Crusaders. It deserves to be mentioned that I saw one or two noses still unbroken among these recumbent figures. Most of the antique statues, on close examination, proved to be almost, entirely covered with names and initials, scratched over the once polished surface. The cathedral and its relics must have been far less carefully watched, at some former period, than now.
Between the nave and the choir, as usual, there is a screen that half destroys the majesty of the building, by abridging the spectator of the long vista which he might otherwise have of the whole interior at a glance. We peeped through the barrier, and saw some elaborate monuments in the chancel beyond; but the doors of the screen are kept locked, so that the vergers may raise a revenue by showing strangers through the richest part of the cathedral. By and by one of these vergers came through the screen, with a gentleman and lady whom he was taking round, and we joined ourselves to the party. He showed us into the cloisters, which had long been neglected and ruinous, until the time of Bishop Dennison, the last prelate, who has been but a few years dead. This Bishop has repaired and restored the cloisters in faithful adherence to the original plan; and they now form a most delightful walk about a pleasant and verdant enclosure, in the centre of which sleeps good Bishop Dennison, with a wife on either side of him, all three beneath broad flat stones. Most cloisters are darksome and grim; but these have a broad paved walk beneath the vista of arches, and are light, airy, and cheerful; and from one corner you can get the best possible view of the whole height and beautiful proportion of the cathedral spire. One side of this cloistered walk seems to be the length of the nave of the cathedral. There is a square of four such sides; and of places for meditation, grave, yet not too sombre, it seemed to me one of the best. While we stayed there, a jackdaw was walking to and fro across the grassy enclosure, and haunting around the good Bishop's grave. He was clad in black, and looked like a feathered ecclesiastic; but I know not whether it were Bishop Dennison's ghost, or that of some old monk.
On one side of the cloisters, and contiguous to the main body of the cathedral, stands the chapter-house. Bishop Dennison had it much at heart to repair this part of the holy edifice; and, if I mistake not, did begin the work; for it had been long ruinous, and in Cromwell's time his dragoons stationed their horses there. Little progress, however, had been made in the repairs when the Bishop died; and it was decided to restore the building in his honor, and by way of monument to him. The repairs are now nearly completed; and the interior of this chapter-house gave me the first idea, anywise adequate, of the splendor of these Gothic church edifices. The roof is sustained by one great central pillar of polished marble,--small pillars clustered about a great central column, which rises to the ceiling, and there gushes out with various beauty, that overflows all the walls; as if the fluid idea had sprung out of that fountain, and grown solid in what we see. The pavement is elaborately ornamented; the ceiling is to be brilliantly gilded and painted, as it was of yore, and the tracery and sculptures around the walls are to be faithfully renewed from what remains of the original patterns.
After viewing the chapter-house, the verger--an elderly man of grave, benign manner, clad in black and talking of the cathedral and the monuments as if he loved them--led us again into the nave of the cathedral, and thence within the screen of the choir. The screen is as poor as possible,--mere barren wood-work, without the least attempt at beauty. In the chancel there are some meagre patches of old glass, and some of modern date, not very well worth looking at. We saw several interesting monuments in this part of the cathedral,--one belonging to the ducal family of Somerset, and erected in the reign of James I.; it is of marble, and extremely splendid and elaborate, with kneeling figures and all manner of magnificence,--more than I have seen in any monument except that of Mary of Scotland in Westminster Abbey. The more ancient tombs are also very numerous, and among them that of the Bishop who founded the cathedral. Within the screen, against the wall, is erected a monument, by Chantrey, to the Earl of Malmesbury; a full-length statue of the Earl in a half-recumbent position, holding an open volume and looking upward,--a noble work,--a calm, wise, thoughtful, firm, and not unbenignant face. Beholding its expression, it really was impossible not to have faith in the high character of the individual thus represented; and I have seldom felt this effect from any monumental bust or statue, though I presume it is always aimed at.
I am weary of trying to describe cathedrals. It is utterly useless; there is no possibility of giving the general effect, or any shadow of it, and it is miserable to put down a few items of tombstones, and a bit of glass from a painted window, as if the gloom and glory of the edifice were thus to be reproduced. Cathedrals are almost the only things (if even those) that have quite filled out my ideal here in this old world; and cathedrals often make me miserable from my inadequacy to take them wholly in; and, above all, I despise myself when I sit down to describe them.
We now walked around the Close, which is surrounded by some of the quaintest and comfortablest ecclesiastical residences that can be imagined. These are the dwelling-houses of the Dean and the canons, and whatever other high officers compose the Bishop's staff; and there was one large brick mansion, old, but not so ancient as the rest, which we took to be the Bishop's palace. I never beheld anything--I must say again so cosey, so indicative of domestic comfort for whole centuries together,--houses so fit to live in or to die in, and where it would be so pleasant to lead a young wife beneath the antique portal, and dwell with her till husband and wife were patriarchal,--as these delectable old houses. They belong naturally to the cathedral, and have a necessary relation to it, and its sanctity is somehow thrown over them all, so that they do not quite belong to this world, though they look full to overflowing of whatever earthly things are good for man. These are places, however, in which mankind makes no progress; the rushing tumult of human life here subsides into a deep, quiet pool, with perhaps a gentle circular eddy, but no onward movement. The same identical thought, I suppose, goes round in a slow whirl from one generation to another, as I have seen a withered leaf do in the vortex of a brook. In the front of the cathedral there is a most stately and beautiful tree, which flings its verdure upward to a very lofty height; but far above it rises the tall spire, dwarfing the great tree by comparison.
When the cathedral had sufficiently oppressed us with its
beauty, we returned to sublunary matters, and went wandering about
Seven miles from
and also knew that the reality was going to dwindle wofully within my ideal, as almost everything else does. When we reached the spot, we found a picnic-party just finishing their dinner, on one of the overthrown stones of the druidical temple; and within the sacred circle an artist was painting a wretched daub of the scene, and an old shepherd --the very Shepherd of Salisbury Plain sat erect in the centre of the ruin.
There never was a ruder thing than
After we had been there about an hour, there came a horseman
within the Druid's circle,--evidently a clerical personage by his white
neckcloth, though his loose gray riding pantaloons were not quite in
keeping. He looked at us rather
earnestly, and at last addressed Mrs. ------, and announced himself as Mr.
Hinchman,--a clergyman whom she had been trying to find in Salisbury, in order to
avail herself of him as a cicerone; and he had now ridden hither to meet
us. He told us that the artist whom we
found here could give us more information than anybody about
Mr. Hinchman rode with us over the plain, and pointed out
------'s pupils was residing with her aunt,--a thatched house of two
stories high, built in what was originally a sand-pit, but which, in the course of a good many years, has been transformed into the most delightful and homelike little nook almost that can be found in England. A thatched cottage suggests a very rude dwelling indeed; but this had a pleasant parlor and drawing-room, and chambers with lattice-windows, opening close beneath the thatched roof; and the thatch itself gives an air to the place as if it were a bird's nest, or some such simple and natural habitation. The occupants are an elderly clergyman, retired from professional duty, and his sister; and having nothing else to do, and sufficient means, they employ themselves in beautifying this sweet little retreat,-- planting new shrubbery, laying out new walks around it, and helping Nature to add continually another charm; and Nature is certainly a more genial playfellow in England than in my own country. She is always ready to lend her aid to any beautifying purpose.
Leaving these good people, who were very hospitable, giving
tea and offering wine, we reached
June 18th.--Yesterday we left the Castle Hotel, after paying
a bill of twenty pounds for a little more than a week's board. In
J----- and I, quitting the hotel, walked towards Shinley
along the water-side, leaving the rest of the family to follow in a fly. There are many traces, along the shore, of
the fortifications by which
After getting beyond the precincts of
June 29th.--Yesterday, 28th, I left Liverpool from the
English railway carriages seem to me more tiresome than any other; and I suppose it is owing to the greater motion, arising from their more elastic springs. A slow train, too, like that which I was now in, is more tiresome than a quick one, at least to the spirits, whatever it may be to the body. We loitered along through afternoon and evening, stopping at every little station, and nowhere getting to the top of our speed, till at last, in the late dusk, we reached
and I put up at the Wellington Hotel, which is but a little
way from the station. I took tea and a
slice or two of ham in the coffee-room, and had a little talk with two people
there; one of whom, on learning that I was an American, said, "But I
suppose you have now been in
The next morning I went into the city, the hotel being on
its outskirts, and rambled along in search of the cathedral. Some church-bells were chiming and clashing
for a wedding or other festal occasion, and I followed the sound, supposing
that it might proceed from the cathedral, but this was not the case. It was not till I had got to a bridge over
I did not see much that was strange or interesting in
though I found no point from which a good view of the exterior can be seen.
It has a very beautiful and rich outside, however, and a lofty tower, very large and ponderous, but so finished off, and adorned with pinnacles, and all manner of architectural devices,--wherewith these old builders knew how to alleviate their massive structures,--that it seems to sit lightly in the air. The porch was open, and some workmen were trundling barrows into the nave; so I followed, and found two young women sitting just within the porch, one of whom offered to show me round the cathedral. There was a great dust in the nave, arising from the operations of the workmen. They had been laying a new pavement, and scraping away the plaster, which had heretofore been laid over the pillars and walls. The pillars come out from the process as good as new,--great, round, massive columns, not clustered like those of most cathedrals; they are twenty-one feet in circumference, and support semicircular arches. I think there are seven of these columns, on each side of the nave, which did not impress me as very spacious; and the dust and racket of the work-people quite destroyed the effect which should have been produced by the aisles and arches; so that I hardly stopped to glance at this part, though I saw some mural monuments and recumbent statues along the walls.
The choir is separated from the nave by the usual screen,
and now by a sail-cloth or something of that kind, drawn across, in order to
keep out the dust, while the repairs are going on. When the young woman conducted me hither, I
was at once struck by the magnificent eastern window, the largest in England,
which fills, or looks vast enough to fill, all that end of the cathedral,--a
most splendid window, full of old painted glass, which looked as bright as
sunshine, though the sun was not really shining through it. The roof of the choir is of oak and very
fine, and as much as ninety feet high.
There are chapels opening from the choir, and within them the monuments
of the eminent people who built them, and of benefactors or prelates, or of
those otherwise illustrious in their day. My recollection of what I saw here is
very dim and confused; more so than I anticipated. I remember somewhere within the choir the
tomb of Edward II. with his effigy upon the top of it, in a long robe, with a
crown on his head, and a ball and sceptre in his hand; likewise, a statue of
Robert, son of the Conqueror, carved in Irish oak and painted. He lolls in an easy posture on his tomb, with
one leg crossed lightly over the other, to denote that he was a Crusader. There are several monuments of mitred abbots
who formerly presided over the cathedral.
A Cavalier and his wife, with the dress of the period elaborately
represented, lie side by side in excellent preservation; and it is remarkable
that though their noses are very prominent, they have come down from the past
without any wear and tear. The date of
the Cavalier's death is 1637, and I think his statue could not have been
sculptured until after the Restoration, else he and his dame would hardly have
come through Cromwell's time unscathed. Here, as in all the other churches in
There is one large and beautiful chapel, styled the Lady's Chapel, which is, indeed, a church by itself, being ninety feet long, and comprising everything that appertains to a place of worship. Here, too, there are monuments, and on the floor are many old bricks and tiles, with inscriptions on them, or Gothic devices, and flat tombstones, with coats of arms sculptured on them; as, indeed, there are everywhere else, except in the nave, where the new pavement has obliterated them. After viewing the choir and the chapels, the young woman led me down into the crypts below, where the dead persons who are commemorated in the upper regions were buried. The low ponderous pillars and arches of these crypts are supposed to be older than the upper portions of the building. They are about as perfect, I suppose, as when new, but very damp, dreary, and darksome; and the arches intersect one another so intricately, that, if the girl had deserted me, I might easily have got lost there. These are chapels where masses used to be said for the souls of the deceased; and my guide said that a great many skulls and bones had been dug up here. No doubt a vast population has been deposited in the course of a thousand years. I saw two white skulls, in a niche, grinning as skulls always do, though it is impossible to see the joke. These crypts, or crypts like these, are doubtless what Congreve calls the "aisles and monumental caves of Death," in that passage which Dr. Johnson admired so much. They are very singular,--something like a dark shadow or dismal repetition of the upper church below ground.
Ascending from the crypts, we went next to the cloisters,
which are in a very perfect state, and form an unbroken square about the green
grass-plot, enclosed within. Here also
it is said Cromwell stabled his horses; but if so, they were remarkably quiet
beasts, for tombstones, which form the pavement, are not broken, nor cracked,
nor bear any hoof-marks. All around the
cloisters, too, the stone tracery that shuts them in like a closed curtain,
carefully drawn, remains as it was in the days of the monks, insomuch that it
is not easy to get a glimpse of the green enclosure. Probably there used to be painted glass in
the larger apertures of this stone-work; otherwise it is perfect. These cloisters are very different from the
free, open, and airy ones of
July 6th.--Monday, June 30th, was a warm and beautiful day,
and my wife and I took a cab from
about three or four miles. The remains of the Abbey stand in a sheltered place, but within view of Southampton Water; and it is a most picturesque and perfect ruin, all ivy-grown, of course, and with great trees where the pillars of the nave used to stand, and also in the refectory and the cloister court; and so much soil on the summit of the broken walls, that weeds flourish abundantly there, and grass too; and there was a wild rosebush, in full bloom, as much as thirty or forty feet from the ground. S----- and I ascended a winding stair, leading up within a round tower, the steps much foot-worn; and, reaching the top, we came forth at the height where a gallery had formerly run round the church, in the thickness of the wall. The upper portions of the edifice were now chiefly thrown down; but I followed a foot-path, on the top of the remaining wall, quite to the western entrance of the church. Since the time when the Abbey was taken from the monks, it has been private property; and the possessor, in Henry VIII.'s days, or subsequently, built a residence for himself within its precincts out of the old materials. This has now entirely disappeared, all but some unsightly old masonry, patched into the original walls. Large portions of the ruin have been removed, likewise, to be used as building-materials elsewhere; and this is the Abbey mentioned, I think, by Dr. Watts, concerning which a Mr. William Taylor had a dream while he was contemplating pulling it down. He dreamed that a part of it fell upon his head; and, sure enough, a piece of the wall did come down and crush him. In the nave I saw a large mass of conglomerated stone that had fallen from the wall between the nave and cloisters, and thought that perhaps this was the very mass that killed poor Mr. Taylor.
The ruins are extensive and very interesting; but I have put off describing them too long, and cannot make a distinct picture of them now. Moreover, except to a spectator skilled in architecture, all ruined abbeys are pretty much alike. As we came away, we noticed some women making baskets at the entrance, and one of them urged us to buy some of her handiwork; for that she was the gypsy of Netley Abbey, and had lived among the ruins these thirty years. So I bought one for a shilling. She was a woman with a prominent nose, and weather-tanned, but not very picturesque or striking.
On the 6th July, we left the Villa, with our enormous
luggage, and took our departure from
On Thursday I went into London by one of the morning trains,
and wandered about all day,--visiting the Exhibition of the Royal Academy, and
Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, the two latter of which I have already
written about in former journals. On
Friday, S-----, J-----, and I walked over the heath, and through the Park to
In the evening I went with Mr. and Mrs. ------ to a conversazione at Mrs. Newton Crosland's, who lives on Blackheath. . . . . I met with one person who interested me,--Mr. Bailey, the author of Festus; and I was surprised to find myself already acquainted with him. It is the same Mr. Bailey whom I met a few months ago, when I first dined at Mr. -----'s,--a dark, handsome, rather picturesque-looking man, with a gray beard, and dark hair, a little dimmed with gray. He is of quiet and very agreeable deportment, and I liked him and believed in him. . . . . There is sadness glooming out of him, but no unkindness nor asperity. Mrs. Crosland's conversazione was enriched with a supper, and terminated with a dance, in which Mr. ------ joined with heart and soul, but Mrs. ------ went to sleep in her chair, and I would gladly have followed her example if I could have found a chair to sit upon. In the course of the evening I had some talk with a pale, nervous young lady, who has been a noted spiritual medium.
Yesterday I went into town by the steamboat from Greenwich to London Bridge, with a nephew of Mr. ------'s, and, calling at his place of business, he procured us an order from his wine-merchants, by means of which we were admitted into
THE WINE-VAULTS OF THE
We there found parties, with an acquaintance, who was going, with two French gentlemen, into the vaults. It is a good deal like going down into a mine, each visitor being provided with a lamp at the end of a stick; and following the guide along dismal passages, running beneath the streets, and extending away interminably,--roughly arched overhead with stone, from which depend festoons of a sort of black fungus, caused by the exhalations of the wine. Nothing was ever uglier than this fungus. It is strange that the most ethereal effervescence of rich wine can produce nothing better.
The first series of vaults which we entered were filled with port-wine, and occupied a space variously estimated at from eleven to sixteen acres,--which I suppose would hold more port-wine than ever was made. At any rate, the pipes and butts were so thickly piled that in some places we could hardly squeeze past them. We drank from two or three vintages; but I was not impressed with any especial excellence in the wine. We were not the only visitors, for, far in the depths of the vault, we passed a gentleman and two young ladies, wandering about like the ghosts of defunct wine-bibhers, in a Tophet specially prepared for then. People employed here sometimes go astray, and, their lamps being extinguished, they remain long in this everlasting gloom. We went likewise to the vaults of sherry-wine, which have the same characteristics as those just described, but are less extensive.
It is no guaranty for the excellence or even for the purity of the wine, that it is kept in these cellars, under the lock and key of the government; for the merchants are allowed to mix different vintages, according to their own pleasure, and to adulterate it as they like. Very little of the wine probably comes out as it goes in, or is exactly what it pretends to be. I went back to Mr. ------'s office, and we drove together to make some calls jointly and separately. I went alone to Mrs. Heywood's; afterwards with Mr. ------ to the American minister's, whom we found at home; and I requested of him, on the part of the Americans at Liverpool, to tell me the facts about the American gentleman being refused admittance to the Levee. The ambassador did not seem to me to make his point good for having withdrawn with the rejected guest.
July 9th. (Our wedding-day.)--We were invited yesterday
evening to Mrs. S. C. Hall's, where Jenny Lind was to sing; so we left
Blackheath at about eight o'clock in a brougham, and reached
Jenny Lind is rather tall,--quite tall, for a
woman,--certainly no beauty, but with sense and self-reliance in her aspect and
manners. She was suffering under a
severe cold, and seemed worn down besides, so probably I saw her under
disadvantages. Her conversation is quite
simple, and I should have great faith in her sincerity; and there is about her
the manner of a person who knows the world, and has conquered it. She said something or other about The Scarlet
Letter; and, on my part, I paid her such compliments as a man could pay who had
never heard her sing. . . . . Her conversational voice is an agreeable one,
rather deep, and not particularly smooth.
She talked about
The rooms, which were respectably filled when we arrived,
were now getting quite full. I saw Mr.
Stevens, the American man of libraries, and had some talk with him; and Durham,
the sculptor; and Mr. and Mrs. Hall introduced me to various people, some of
whom were of note,--for instance, Sir Emerson Tennent, a man of the world, of
some parliamentary distinction, wearing a star; Mr. Samuel Lover, a most
good-natured, pleasant Irishman, with a shining and twinkling visage; Miss
Jewsbury, whom I found very conversable.
She is known in literature, but not to me. We talked about Emerson, whom she seems to
have been well acquainted with while he was in
After our return, Mrs. ------ told us that Miss Jewsbury had written, among other things, three histories, and as she asked me to introduce her to S-----, and means to cultivate our acquaintance, it would be well to know something of them. We were told that she is now employed in some literary undertaking of Lady Morgan's, who, at the age of ninety, is still circulating in society, and is as brisk in faculties as ever. I should like to see her ladyship, that is, I should not be sorry to see her; for distinguished people are so much on a par with others, socially, that it would be foolish to be overjoyed at seeing anybody whomsoever.
Leaving out the illustrious Jenny Lind, I suspect that I was myself the greatest lion of the evening; for a good many persons sought the felicity of knowing me, and had little or nothing to say when that honor and happiness was conferred on them. It is surely very wrong and ill-mannered in people to ask for an introduction unless they are prepared to make talk; it throws too great an expense and trouble on the wretched lion, who is compelled, on the spur of the moment, to convert a conversable substance out of thin air, perhaps for the twentieth time that evening. I am sure I did not say--and I think I did not hear said--one rememberable word in the course of this visit; though, nevertheless, it was a rather agreeable one. In due season ices and jellies were handed about; and some ladies and gentlemen--professional, perhaps--were kind enough to sing songs, and play on the piano and harp, while persons in remote corners went on with whatever conversation they had in hand. Then came supper; but there were so many people to go into the supper-room that we could not all crowd thither together, and, coming late, I got nothing but some sponge-cake and a glass of champagne, neither of which I care for. After supper, Mr. Lover sang some Irish songs, his own in music and words, with rich, humorous effect, to which the comicality of his face contributed almost as much as his voice and words. The Lord Mayor looked in for a little while, and though a hard-featured Jew enough, was the most picturesque person there.
July 10th.--Mrs. Heywood had invited me to dinner last
evening. . . . . Her house is very finely situated, overlooking
But I should like much to see him Mr. Tom Taylor, during dinner, made some fun for the benefit of the ladies on either side of him. I liked him very well this evening.
When the ladies had not long withdrawn, and after the wine
had once gone round, I asked Mr. Heywood to make my apologies to Mrs. Heywood,
and took leave; all London lying betwixt me and the London Bridge station,
where I was to take the rail homeward.
At the station I found Mr. Bennoch, who had been dining with the Lord
Mayor to meet Sir William Williams, and we railed to
This afternoon I had taken up the fourth volume of Jerdan's
Autobiography,--wretched twaddle, though it records such constant and
apparently intimate intercourse with distinguished people,--and was reading it,
between asleep and awake, on the sofa, when Mr. Jerdan himself was
announced. I saw him, in company with
Mr. Bennoch, nearly three years ago, at
I suspect--and long practice at the Consulate has made me keen-sighted--that Mr. Jerdan contemplated some benefit from my purse; and, to the extent of a sovereign or so, I would not mind contributing to his comfort. He spoke of a secret purpose of Mr. ------ and himself to obtain me a degree or diploma in some Literary Institution,--what one I know not, and did not ask; but the honor cannot be a high one, if this poor old fellow can do aught towards it. I am afraid he is a very disreputable senior, but certainly not the less to be pitied on that account; and there was something very touching in his stiff and infirm movement, as he resumed his stick and took leave, waving me a courteous farewell, and turning upon me a smile, grim with age, as he went down the steps. In that gesture and smile I fancied some trace of the polished man of society, such as he may have once been; though time and hard weather have roughened him, as they have the once polished marble pillars which I saw so rude in aspect at Netley Abbey.
Speaking of Dickens last evening, Mr. ------ mentioned his
domestic tastes,--how he preferred home enjoyments to all others, and did not
willingly go much into society. Mrs.
------, too, the other day told us of his taking on himself all possible
trouble as regards his domestic affairs. . . . . There is a great variety of
testimony, various and varied, as to the character of Dickens. I must see him before I finally leave
July 13th.--On Friday morning (11th), at nine o'clock, I
took the rail into town to breakfast with Mr. Milnes. As he had named a little after ten as the
hour, I could not immediately proceed to his house, and so walked moderately
over London Bridge and into the city, meaning to take a cab from Charing Cross,
or thereabouts. Passing through some
street or other, contiguous to
Lord Nelson, too, has a monument, and so, I think, has some other modern worthy. At one end of the hall, under one of the great painted windows, stand three or four old statues of mediaeval kings, whose identities I forget; and in the two corners of the opposite end are two gigantic absurdities of painted wood, with grotesque visages, whom I quickly recognized as Gog and Magog. They stand each on a pillar, and seem to be about fifteen feet high, and look like enormous playthings for the children of giants; and it is strange to see them in this solemn old hall, among the memorials of dead heroes and statesmen. There is an annual banquet in the Guildhall, given by the Lord Mayor and sheriffs, and I believe it is the very acme of civic feasting.
After viewing the hall, as it still lacked something of ten,
I continued my walk through that entanglement of city streets, and quickly
found myself getting beyond my reckoning.
I cannot tell whither I went, but I passed through a very dirty region,
and I remember a long, narrow, evil-odored street, cluttered up with stalls, in
which were vegetables and little bits of meat for sale; and there was a frowzy
multitude of buyers and sellers. Still I
blundered on, and was getting out of the density of the city into broader
streets, but still shabby ones, when, looking at my watch, I found it to be
past ten, and no cab-stand within sight.
It was a quarter past when I finally got into one; and the driver told
me that it would take half an hour to go from thence to
Mr. Ticknor, the Historian of Spanish Literature, now
greeted me. Mr. Milnes introduced me to
Mrs. Browning, and assigned her to me to conduct into the breakfast-room. She is a small, delicate woman, with ringlets
of dark hair, a pleasant, intelligent, and sensitive face, and a low, agreeable
voice. She looks youthful and comely,
and is very gentle and lady-like. And so
we proceeded to the breakfast-room, which is hung round with pictures; and in
the middle of it stood a large round table, worthy to have been King Arthur's,
and here we seated ourselves without any question of precedence or ceremony. On one side of me was an elderly lady, with a
very fine countenance, and in the course of breakfast I discovered her to be
the mother of Florence Nightingale. One
of her daughters (not
It was a pleasant and sociable meal, and, thanks to my cold
beef and coffee at home, I had no occasion to trouble myself much about the
fare; so I just ate some delicate chicken, and a very small cutlet, and a slice
of dry toast, and thereupon surceased from my labors. Mrs. Browning and I talked a good deal during
breakfast, for she is of that quickly appreciative and responsive order of
women with whom I can talk more freely than with any man; and she has, besides,
her own originality, wherewith to help on conversation, though, I should say,
not of a loquacious tendency. She
introduced the subject of spiritualism, which, she says, interests her very
much; indeed, she seems to be a believer. Mr. Browning, she told me, utterly
rejects the subject, and will not believe even in the outward manifestations,
of which there is such overwhelming evidence.
We also talked of Miss Bacon; and I developed something of that lady's
theory respecting Shakespeare, greatly to the horror of Mrs. Browning, and that
of her next neighbor,--a nobleman, whose name I did not hear. On the whole, I like her the better for
loving the man Shakespeare with a personal love. We talked, too, of Margaret Fuller, who spent
her last night in
Mrs. Nightingale had been talking at first with Lord Lansdowne, who sat next her, but by and by she turned to nee, and began to speak of London smoke Then, there being a discussion about Lord Byron on the other side of the table, she spoke to me about Lady Byron, whom she knows intimately, characterizing her as a most excellent and exemplary person, high-principled, unselfish, and now devoting herself to the care of her two grandchildren,--their mother, Byron's daughter, being dead. Lady Byron, she says, writes beautiful verses. Somehow or other, all this praise, and more of the same kind, gave me an idea of an intolerably irreproachable person; and I asked Mrs. Nightingale if Lady Byron were warm-hearted. With some hesitation, or mental reservation,--at all events, not quite outspokenly,--she answered that she was.
I was too much engaged with these personal talks to attend much to what was going on elsewhere; but all through breakfast I had been more and more impressed by the aspect of one of the guests, sitting next to Milnes. He was a man of large presence,--a portly personage, gray-haired, but scarcely as yet aged; and his face had a remarkable intelligence, not vivid nor sparkling, but conjoined with great quietude,--and if it gleamed or brightened at one time more than another, it was like the sheen over a broad surface of sea. There was a somewhat careless self-possession, large and broad enough to be called dignity; and the more I looked at him, the more I knew that he was a distinguished person, and wondered who. He might have been a minister of state; only there is not one of them who has any right to such a face and presence. At last,--I do not know how the conviction came,--but I became aware that it was Macaulay, and began to see some slight resemblance to his portraits. But I have never seen any that is not wretchedly unworthy of the original. As soon as I knew him, I began to listen to his conversation, but he did not talk a great deal, contrary to his usual custom; for I am told he is apt to engross all the talk to himself. Probably he may have been restrained by the presence of Ticknor, and Mr. Palfrey, who were among his auditors and interlocutors; and as the conversation seemed to turn much on American subjects, he could not well have assumed to talk them down. I am glad to have seen him,--a face fit for a scholar, a man of the world, a cultivated intelligence.
After we left the table, and went into the library, Mr.
Browning introduced himself to me,--a younger man than I expected to see,
handsome, with brown hair. He is very
simple and agreeable in manner, gently impulsive, talking as if his heart were
uppermost. He spoke of his pleasure in
meeting me, and his appreciation of my books; and--which has not often happened
to me--mentioned that The Blithedale Romance was the one he admired most. I wonder why.
I hope I showed as much pleasure at his praise as he did at mine; for I
was glad to see how pleasantly it moved him.
After this, I talked with Ticknor and Miles, and with Mr. Palfrey, to
whom I had been introduced very long ago by George Hillard, and had never seen
him since. We looked at some autographs,
of which Mr. Milnes has two or three large volumes. I recollect a leaf from Swift's Journal to
Stella; a letter from
I liked greatly the manners of almost all,--yes, as far as I observed,--all the people at this breakfast, and it was doubtless owing to their being all people either of high rank or remarkable intellect, or both. An Englishman can hardly be a gentleman, unless he enjoy one or other of these advantages; and perhaps the surest way to give him good manners is to make a lord of him, or rather of his grandfather or great-grandfather. In the third generation, scarcely sooner, he will be polished into simplicity and elegance, and his deportment will be all the better for the homely material out of which it is wrought and refined. The Marquis of Lansdowne, for instance, would have been a very commonplace man in the common ranks of life; but it has done him good to be a nobleman. Not that his tact is quite perfect. In going up to breakfast, he made me precede him; in returning to the library, he did the same, although I drew back, till he impelled me up the first stair, with gentle persistence. By insisting upon it, he showed his sense of condescension much more than if, when he saw me unwilling to take precedence, he had passed forward, as if the point were not worth either asserting or yielding. Heaven knows, it was in no humility that I would have trodden behind him. But he is a kind old man; and I am willing to believe of the English aristocracy generally that they are kind, and of beautiful deportment; for certainly there never can have been mortals in a position more advantageous for becoming so. I hope there will come a time when we shall be so; and I already know a few Americans, whose noble and delicate manners may compare well with any I have seen.
I left the house with Mr. Palfrey. He has cone to
July 16th.--Monday morning I took the rail from Blackheath
Speaking of ghosts, Mr. H. A. B------ told me a singular
story to-day of an apparition that haunts the Times Office, in
July 29th.--On Saturday, 26th, I took the rail from the
Sunday morning my wife and I, with J-----, railed into
[Here follows a long record of Mr. Hawthorne's visit to Miss Bacon,--condensed in Our Old Hone, in the paper called "Recollections of a Gifted Woman."]
August 2d.--On Wednesday (30th July) we went to Marlborough
House to see the
Marlborough House was the residence of the Great Duke, and
is to be that of the Prince of Wales, when another place is found for the
pictures. It adjoins St. James's
Palace. In its present state it is not a
very splendid mansion, the rooms being small, though handsomely shaped, with
vaulted ceilings, and carved white-marble fireplaces. I left S----- here after an hour or two, and
walked forth into the hot and busy city with J-----. . . . . I called at
Routledge's bookshop, in hopes to make an arrangement with him about Miss
Bacon's business. But Routledge himself
is making a journey in the north, and neither of the partners was there, so
that I shall have to go thither some other day.
Then we stepped into St. Paul's Cathedral to cool ourselves, and it was
delightful so to escape from the sunny, sultry turmoil of Fleet Street and
Ludgate, and find ourselves at once in this remote, solemn, shadowy seclusion,
marble-cool. O that we had cathedrals in
After thus refreshing myself in the cathedral, I went again
to Routledge's in
Thence I went to the Picture Gallery at the British Institution, where there are three rooms full of paintings by the first masters, the property of private persons. Every one of them, no doubt, was worth studying for a long, long time; and I suppose I may have given, on an average, a minute to each. What an absurdity it would seem, to pretend to read two or three hundred poems, of all degrees between an epic and a ballad, in an hour or two! And a picture is a poem, only requiring the greater study to be felt and comprehended; because the spectator must necessarily do much for himself towards that end. I saw many beautiful things,--among them some landscapes by Claude, which to the eye were like the flavor of a rich, ripe melon to the palate.
August 7th.--Yesterday we took the rail for London, it being
a fine, sunny day, though not so very warm as many of the preceding days have
been. . . . . We went along Piccadilly as far as the Egyptian Hall. It is quite remarkable how comparatively
quiet the town has become, now that the season is over. One can see the difference in all the region
west of Temple Bar; and, indeed, either the hot weather or some other cause
seems to have operated in assuaging the turmoil in the city itself. I never saw
We then drove to
Taking our leave, we returned along
August 10th.--I journeyed to Liverpool via
Mr. Frank Scott Haydon, of the Record Office,
August 21st.--Yesterday, at twelve o'clock, I took the steamer for Runcorn, from the pier-head. In the streets, I had noticed that it was a breezy day; but on the river there was a very stiff breeze from the northeast, right ahead, blowing directly in our face the whole way; and truly this river Mersey is never without a breeze, and generally in the direction of its course,--an evil-tempered, unkindly, blustering wind, that you cannot meet without being exasperated by it. As it came straight against us, it was impossible to find a shelter anywhere on deck, except it were behind the stove-pipe; and, besides, the day was overcast and threatening rain.
I have undergone very miserable hours on the
Before reaching Runcorn, we stopped to land some passengers
at another little port, where there was a pier and a lighthouse, and a church
within a few yards of the river-side,--a good many of the river-craft, too, in
dock, forming quite a crowd of masts.
About ten minutes' further steaming brought us to Runcorn, where were
two or three tall manufacturing chimneys, with a pennant of black smoke from
each; two vessels of considerable size on the stocks; a church or two; and a
meagre, uninteresting, shabby, brick-built town, rising from the edge of the
river, with irregular streets,--not village-like, but paved, and looking like a
dwarfed, stunted city. I wandered
through it till I came to a tall, high-pedestalled windmill on the outer verge,
the vans of which were going briskly round.
Thence retracing my steps, I stopped at a poor hotel, and took lunch,
and, finding that I was in time to take the steamer back, I hurried on board,
and we set sail (or steam) before three.
I have heard of an old castle at Runcorn, but could discover nothing of
it. It was well that I returned so
promptly, for we had hardly left the pier before it began to rain, and there
was a heavy downfall throughout the voyage homeward. Runcorn is fourteen miles from
An incident in S. C. Hall's
August 24th.--Day before yesterday I took the rail for
I saw a large brick edifice, enclosed within a wall, and
with somewhat the look of an almshouse or hospital; and it proved to be an
Infirmary, charitably established for the reception of poor invalids, who need
sea-air and cannot afford to pay for it.
Two or three of such persons were sitting under its windows. I do not think that the visitors of Southport
are generally of a very opulent class, but of the middle rank, from
[Mr. Hawthorne extracted from his recorded
August 31st.--. . . . Yesterday we took the rail for
After establishing ourselves at these lodgings, we walked
forth to take a preliminary glimpse of the city, and Mr. Hall, being familiar
with the localities, served admirably as a guide. If I remember aright, I spoke very
slightingly of the exterior aspect of
In the High Street, which, I suppose, is the noblest old
It is not now term time, and
At six we went to dine with the hospitable Ex-Mayor, across
the wide, tree-bordered street; for his house is nearly opposite our
lodgings. He is an intelligent and
gentlemanly person, and was Mayor two years ago, and has done a great deal to
make peace between the University and the town, heretofore bitterly inimical. His house is adorned with pictures and drawings,
and he has an especial taste for art. . . . . The dinner-table was decorated
with pieces of plate, vases, and other things, which were presented to him as
tokens of public or friendly regard and approbation of his action in the
Mayoralty. After dinner, too, he
produced a large silver snuff-box, which had been given him on the same
account; in fact, the inscription affirmed that it was one of five pieces of
plate so presented. The vases are really
splendid,--one of them two feet high, and richly ornamented. It will hold five or six bottles of wine, and
he said that it had been filled, and, I believe, sent round as a loving-cup at
some of his entertainments. He cordially
enjoys these things, and his genuine benevolence produces all this excellent
hospitality. . . . . But Bennoch proposed a walk, and we set forth. We rambled pretty extensively about the
streets, sometimes seeing the shapes of old edifices dimly and doubtfully, it
being an overcast night; or catching a partial view of a gray wall, or a pillar,
or a Gothic archway, by lamplight. . . . . The clock had some time ago struck
eleven, when we were passing under a long extent of antique wall and towers,
which were those of
After lunch to-day we (that is, Mrs. Hall, her adopted
daughter, S-----, and I, with the Ex-Mayor) set forth, in an open barouche, to
see the remarkables of
These gardens of New College are indescribably beautiful,--not gardens in an American sense, but lawns of the richest green and softest velvet grass, shadowed over by ancient trees, that have lived a quiet life here for centuries, and have been nursed and tended with such care, and so sheltered from rude winds, that certainly they must have been the happiest of all trees. Such a sweet, quiet, sacred, stately seclusion--so age-long as this has been, and, I hope, will continue to be--cannot exist anywhere else. One side of the garden wall is formed by the ancient wall of the city, which Cromwell's artillery battered, and which still retains its pristine height and strength. At intervals, there are round towers that formed the bastions; that is to say, on the exterior they are round towers, but within, in the garden of the College, they are semicircular recesses, with iron garden-seats arranged round them. The loop-holes through which the archers and musketeers used to shoot still pierce through deep recesses in the wall, which is here about six feet thick. I wish I could put into one sentence the whole impression of this garden, but it could not be done in many pages.
We looked also at the outside of the wall, and Mr. Parker,
deeply skilled in the antiquities of the spot, showed us a weed growing,--here
in little sprigs, there in large and heavy festoons,--hanging plentifully
downward from a shallow root. It is
The sacristan opened a tall and narrow little recess in the wall of the chancel, and showed it entirely filled with the crosier of William of Wickham. It appears to be made of silver gilt, and is a most rich and elaborate relic, at least six feet high. Modern art cannot, or does not, equal the chasing and carving of this splendid crosier, which is enriched with figures of saints and, apostles, and various Gothic devices,--very minute, but all executed as faithfully as if the artist's salvation had depended upon every notch he made in the silver. . . . .
On our return into the city, we passed through
Thence we went through High Street and Broad Street, and
passing by Baliol College,--a most satisfactory pile and range of old towered
and gabled edifices,--we came to the cross on the pavement, which is supposed
to mark the spot where the bishops were martyred. But Mr. Parker told us the mortifying fact,
that he had ascertained that this could not possibly have been the genuine spot
of martyrdom, which must have taken place at a point within view, but
considerably too far off to be moistened by any tears that may be shed here. It is too bad. We concluded the rambles of the day by
visiting the gardens of St. John's College; and I desire, if possible, to say
even more in admiration of them than of those of New College,--such beautiful
lawns, with tall, ancient trees, and heavy clouds of foliage, and sunny
glimpses through archways of leafy branches, where, to-day, we could see
parties of girls, making cheerful contrast with the sombre walls and solemn
shade. The world, surely, has not
another place like
At dinner, to-day, the golden vases were all ranged on the table, the largest and central one containing a most magnificent bouquet of dahlias and other bright-hued flowers.
On Tuesday, our first visit was to
Thence we went into the kitchen, which is arranged very much
as it was three centuries ago, with two immense fireplaces. There was likewise a gridiron, which, without
any exaggeration, was large enough to have served for the martyrdom of St.
Lawrence. The college dinners are good,
but plain, and cost the students one shilling and eleven pence each, being
rather cheaper than a similar one could be had at an inn. There is no provision for breakfast or supper
in commons; but they can have these meals sent to their rooms from the buttery,
at a charge proportioned to the dishes they order. There seems to be no necessity for a great
expenditure on the part of
From the kitchen we went to the chapel, which is the
Our next visit was to
which, though not one of the great colleges, is as old as any of them, and looks exceedingly venerable. We were here received by a friend of Mr. Spiers, in his academic cap, but without his gown, which is not worn, except in term time. He is a very civil gentleman, and showed us some antique points of architecture,--such as a Norman archway, with a passage over it, through which the Queen of Charles I. used to go to chapel; and an edifice of the thirteenth century, with a stone roof, which is considered to be very curious.
How ancient is the aspect of these college quadrangles! so
gnawed by time as they are, so crumbly, so blackened, and so gray where they
are not black,--so quaintly shaped, too, with here a line of battlement and
there a row of gables; and here a turret, with probably a winding stair inside;
and lattice-windows, with stone mullions, and little panes of glass set in
lead; and the cloisters, with a long arcade, looking upon the green or pebbled
enclosure. The quality of the stone has
a great deal to do with the apparent antiquity.
It is a stone found in the neighborhood of
Mr. E------ showed us the library of
He then showed us the chapel, a large part of which has been
renewed and ornamented with pictured windows and other ecclesiastical splendor,
and paved with encaustic tiles, according to the Puseyite taste of the day; for
Merton has adopted the Puseyite doctrines, and is one of their chief
From the chapel we went into the college gardens, which are
very pleasant, and possess the advantage of looking out on the broad verdure of
This is a very handsome edifice, of a circular shape; the
lower story consisting altogether of arches, open on all sides, as if to admit
anybody to the learning here stored up.
I always see great beauty and lightsomeness in these classic and Grecian
edifices, though they seem cold and intellectual, and not to have had their
mortar moistened with human life-blood, nor to have the mystery of human life
in them, as Gothic structures do. The
library is in a large and beautiful room, in the story above the basement, and,
as far as I saw, consisted chiefly or altogether of scientific works. I saw Silliman's Journal on one of the desks,
being the only trace of American science, or American learning or ability in
any department, which I discovered in the
THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY.
Mr. Spiers tried to get us admittance to the Bodleian
Library; but this is just the moment when it is closed for the purpose of being
cleaned; so we missed seeing the principal halls of this library, and were only
admitted into what was called the Picture Gallery. This, however, satisfied all my desires, so
far as the backs of books are concerned, for they extend through a gallery,
running round three sides of a quadrangle, making an aggregate length of more
than four hundred feet,--a solid array of bookcases, full of books, within a
protection of open iron-work. Up and
down the gallery there are models of classic temples; and about midway in its
extent stands a brass statue of Earl Pembroke, who was Chancellor of the
University in James I's time; not in scholarly garb, however, but in plate and
mail, looking indeed like a thunderbolt of war. I rapped him with my knuckles,
and he seemed to be solid metal, though, I should imagine, hollow at
heart. A thing which interested me very
much was the lantern of Guy Fawkes. It
was once tinned, no doubt, but is now nothing but rusty iron, partly
broken. As this is called the Picture
Gallery, I must not forget the pictures, which are ranged in long succession
over the bookcases, and include almost all Englishmen whom the world has ever
heard of, whether in statesmanship or literature, I saw a canvas on which had
once been a lovely and unique portrait of Mary of Scotland; but it was
consigned to a picture-cleaner to be cleansed, and, discovering that it was
painted over another picture, he had the curiosity to clean poor Mary quite
away, thus revealing a wishy-washy woman's face, which now hangs in the
gallery. I am so tired of seeing notable
things that I almost wish that whatever else is remarkable in
From the Bodleian we went to
THE TAYLOR INSTITUTE,
which was likewise closed; but the woman who had it in charge had formerly been a servant of Mr. Spiers, and he so overpersuaded her that she finally smiled and admitted us. It would truly have been a pity to miss it; for here, on the basement floor, are the original models of Chantrey's busts and statues, great and small; and in the rooms above are a far richer treasure,--a large collection of original drawings by Raphael and Michael Angelo. These are far better for my purpose than their finished pictures,--that is to say, they bring me much closer to the hands that drew them and the minds that imagined them. It is like looking into their brains, and seeing the first conception before it took shape outwardly (I have somewhere else said about the same thing of such sketches). I noticed one of Raphael's drawings, representing the effect of eloquence; it was a man speaking in the centre of a group, between whose ears and the orator's mouth connecting lines were drawn. Raphael's idea must have been to compose his picture in such a way that their auricular organs should not fail to be in a proper relation with the eloquent voice; and though this relation would not have been individually traceable in the finished picture, yet the general effect--that of deep and entranced attention--would have been produced.
In another room there are some copies of Raphael's cartoons, and some queer mediaeval pictures, as stiff and ugly as can well be conceived, yet successful in telling their own story. We looked a little while at these, and then, thank Heaven! went home and dressed for dinner. I can write no more to-day. Indeed, what a mockery it is to write at all!
[Here follows the drive to
September 9th.--The morning after our excursion on the
This was the last important incident of our visit to
It had been a very pleasant visit, and all the persons whom we met were kind and agreeable, and disposed to look at one another in a sunny aspect. I saw a good deal of Mr. Hall. He is a thoroughly genuine man, of kind heart and true affections, a gentleman of taste and refinement, and full of humor.
On the Saturday after our return to Blackheath, we went to
about which, as I have already recorded a visit to it, I
need say little here. But I was again
impressed with the stately grandeur of Wolsey's great Hall, with its great
window at each end, and one side window, descending almost to the floor, and a
row of windows on each side, high towards the roof, and throwing down their
many-colored light on the stone pavement, and on the Gobelin tapestry, which
must have been gorgeously rich when the walls were first clothed with it. I fancied, then, that no modern architect
could produce so fine a room; but oddly enough, in the great entrance-hall of
the Euston station, yesterday, I could not see how this last fell very much
short of Wolsey's Hall in grandeur. We
were quite wearied in passing through the endless suites of rooms in
Yesterday J----- and I left Blackheath, and reached
The evening set in misty and obscure; and it was dark almost when J-----and I arrived at the landing stage on our return. I was struck with the picturesque effect of the high tower and tall spire of St. Nicholas, rising upward, with dim outline, into the duskiness; while midway of its height the dial-plates of an illuminated clock blazed out, like two great eyes of a giant.
September 13th.--On Saturday my wife, with all her train, arrived at Mrs. B------'s; and on Tuesday--vagabonds as we are--we again struck our tent, and set out for
I do not know what sort of character it will form in the
children,--this unsettled, shifting, vagrant life, with no central home to turn
to, except what we carry in ourselves.
It was a windy day, and, judging by the look of the trees, on the way to
The English system of lodging-houses has its good points; but it is, nevertheless, a contrivance for bearing the domestic cares of home about with you whithersoever you go; and immediately you have to set about producing your own bread and cheese. However, Fanny took most of this trouble off our hands, though there was inevitably the stiffness and discomfort of a new housekeeping on the first day of our arrival; besides that, it was cool, and the wind whistled and grumbled and eddied into the chinks of the house.
Meanwhile, in all my experience of
Betimes, the forenoon after our arrival, I had to take the
Evening.--Later, I walked out with U----, and, looking seaward, we saw the foam and spray of the advancing tide, tossed about on the verge of the horizon,--a long line, like the crests and gleaming helmets of an army. In about half an hour we found almost the whole waste of sand covered with water, and white waves breaking out all over it; but, the bottom being so nearly level, and the water so shallow, there was little of the spirit and exultation of the sea in a strong breeze. Of the long line of bathing-machines, one after another was hitched to a horse, and trundled forth into the water, where, at a long distance from shore, the bathers found themselves hardly middle deep.
September 19th.--The wind grumbled and made itself miserable all last night, and this morning it is still howling as ill-naturedly as ever, and roaring and rumbling in the chimneys. The tide is far out, but, from an upper window, I fancied, at intervals, that I could see the plash of the surf-wave on the distant limit of the sand; perhaps, however, it was only a gleam on the sky. Constantly there have been sharp spatters of rain, hissing and rattling against the windows, while a little before or after, or perhaps simultaneously, a rainbow, somewhat watery of texture, paints itself on the western clouds. Gray, sullen clouds hang about the sky, or sometimes cover it with a uniform dulness; at other times, the portions towards the sun gleam almost lightsomely; now, there may be an airy glimpse of clear blue sky in a fissure of the clouds; now, the very brightest of sunshine comes out all of a sudden, and gladdens everything. The breadth of sands has a various aspect, according as there are pools, or moisture enough to glisten, or a drier tract; and where the light gleams along a yellow ridge or bar, it is like sunshine itself. Certainly the temper of the day shifts; but the smiles come far the seldomest, and its frowns and angry tears are most reliable. By seven o'clock pedestrians began to walk along the promenade, close buttoned against the blast; later, a single bathing-machine got under way, by means of a horse, and travelled forth seaward; but within what distance it finds the invisible margin I cannot say,--at all events, it looks like a dreary journey. Just now I saw a sea-gull, wheeling on the blast, close in towards the promenade.
September 21st.--Yesterday morning was bright, sunny and
windy, and cool and exhilarating. I went
This morning we have been walking with J----- and R----- out over the "ribbed sea sands," a good distance from shore. Throughout the week, the tides will be so low as not to cover the shallow basin of this bay, if a bay it be. The weather was sullen, with now and then a faint gleam of sunshine, lazily tracing our shadows on the sand; the wind rather quieter than on preceding days. . . . . In the sunshine the sands seem to be frequented by great numbers of gulls, who begin to find the northern climate too wintry. You see their white wings in the sunlight, but they become almost or quite invisible in the shade. We shall soon have an opportunity of seeing how a watering-place looks when the season is quite over; for we have concluded to remain here till December, and everybody else will take flight in a week or two.
A short time ago, in the evening, in a street of
October 7th.--On Saturday evening, I gave a dinner to
Bennoch, at the Adelphi Hotel. The chief
point or characteristic of English customs was, that Mr. Radley, our landlord,
himself attended at table, and officiated as chief waiter. He has a fortune of 100,000 pounds,--half a
million of dollars,--and is an elderly man of good address and appearance. In
A donkey, the other day, stubbornly refusing to come out of a boat which had brought him across the Mersey; at last, after many kicks had been applied, and other persecutions of that kind, a man stepped forward, addressing him affectionately, "Come along, brother,"--and the donkey obeyed at once.
October 26th.--On Thursday, instead of taking the rail for
The country about
In the fields, along the roadside, men and women were harvesting their carrots and other root-crops, especially digging potatoes,--the pleasantest of all farm labor, in my opinion, there being such a continual interest in opening the treasures of each hill. As I went on, the country began to get almost imperceptibly less flat, and there was some little appearance of trees. I had determined to go to Ormskirk, but soon got out of the way, and came to a little hamlet that looked antique and picturesque, with its small houses of stone and brick, built, with the one material and repaired with the other perhaps ages afterward. Here I inquired my way of a woman, who told me, in broad Lancashire dialect, "that I main go back, and turn to my left, till I came to a finger-post"; and so I did, and found another little hamlet, the principal object in which was a public-house, with a large sign, representing a dance round a Maypole. It was now about one o'clock; so I entered, and, being ushered into what, I suppose, they called the coffee-room, I asked for some cold neat and ale. There was a jolly, round, rather comely woman for a hostess, with a free, hospitable, yet rather careless manner.
The coffee-room smelt rather disagreeably of bad
tobacco-smoke, and was shabbily furnished with an old sofa and flag-bottomed
chairs, and adorned with a print of "Old Billy," a horse famous for a
longevity of about sixty years; and also with colored engravings of
old-fashioned hunting-scenes, conspicuous with scarlet coats. There was a very small bust of
I then set forth again. It was still sunny and warm, and I walked more slowly than before dinner; in fact, I did little more than lounge along, sitting down, at last, on the stone parapet of a bridge.
The country grew more pleasant, more sylvan, and, though still of a level character, not so drearily flat. Soon appeared the first symptom that I had seen of a gentleman's residence,--a lodge at a park gate, then a long stretch of wall, with a green lawn, and afterwards an extent of wooded land; then another gateway, with a neat lodge on each side of it, and, lastly, another extent of wood. The Hall or Mansion-house, however, was nowhere apparent, being, doubtless, secluded deep and far within its grounds. I inquired of a boy who was the owner of the estate, and he answered, "Mr. Scarisbrick"; and no doubt it is a family of local eminence.
Along the road,--an old inn; some aged stone houses, built for merely respectable occupants; a canal, with two canal-boats, heaped up with a cargo of potatoes; two little girls, who were watching lest some cows should go astray, and had their two little chairs by the roadside, and their dolls and other playthings, and so followed the footsteps of the cows all day long. I met two boys, coming from Ormskirk, mounted on donkeys, with empty panniers, on which they had carried vegetables to market. Finally, between two and three o'clock, I saw the great tower of Ormskirk Church, with its spire, not rising out of the tower, but sprouting up close beside it; and, entering the town, I directed my steps first to this old church.
It stands on a gentle eminence, sufficient to give it a good site, and has a pavement of flat gravestones in front. It is doubtless, as regards its foundation, a very ancient church, but has not exactly a venerable aspect, being in too good repair, and much restored in various parts; not ivy-grown, either, though green with moss here and there. The tower is square and immensely massive, and might have supported a very lofty spire; so that it is the more strange that what spire it has should be so oddly stuck beside it, springing out of the church wall. I should have liked well enough to enter the church, as it is the burial-place of the Earls of Derby, and perhaps may contain some interesting monuments; but as it was all shut up, and even the iron gates of the churchyard closed and locked, I merely looked at the outside.
From the church, a street leads to the market-place, in which I found a throng of men and women, it being market-day; wares of various kinds, tin, earthen, and cloth, set out on the pavements; droves of pigs; ducks and fowls; baskets of eggs; and a man selling quack medicines, recommending his nostrums as well as he could. The aspect of the crowd was very English,--portly and ruddy women; yeomen with small-clothes and broad-brimmed hats, all very quiet and heavy and good-humored. Their dialect was so provincial that I could not readily understand more than here and there a word.
But, after all, there were few traits that could be made a
note of. I soon grew weary of the scene,
and so I went to the railway station, and waited there nearly an hour for the
train to take me to
November 30th.--A week ago last Monday, Herman Melville came
to see me at the Consulate, looking much as he used to do, and with his
characteristic gravity and reserve of manner. . . . . We soon found ourselves
on pretty much our former terms of sociability and confidence. . . . . He is
thus far on his way to
We went to
Its gray nave impressed me more than at any former visit. Passing into the cloisters, an attendant took possession of us, and showed us about.
Within the choir there is a profusion of very rich oaken carving, both on the screen that separates it from the nave, and on the seats and walls; very curious and most elaborate, and lavished (one would say) most wastefully, where nobody would think of looking for it,--where, indeed, amid the dimness of the cathedral, the exquisite detail of the elaboration could not possibly be seen. Our guide lighted some of the gas-burners, of which there are many hundreds, to help us see them; but it required close scrutiny, even then. It must have been out of the question, when the whole means of illumination were only a few smoky torches or candles. There was a row of niches, where the monks used to stand, for four hours together, in the performance of some of their services; and to relieve them a little, they were allowed partially to sit on a projection of the seats, which were turned up in the niche for that purpose; but if they grew drowsy, so as to fail to balance themselves, the seat was so contrived as to slip down, thus bringing the monk to the floor. These projections on the seats are each and all of them carved with curious devices, no two alike. The guide showed us one, representing, apparently, the first quarrel of a new-married couple, wrought with wonderful expression. Indeed, the artist never failed to bring out his idea in the most striking manner,--as, for instance, Satan, under the guise of a lion, devouring a sinner bodily; and again in the figure of a dragon, with a man halfway down his gullet, the legs hanging out. The carver may not have seen anything grotesque in this, nor intended it at all by way of joke; but certainly there would appear to be a grim mirthfulness in some of the designs. One does not see why such fantasies should be strewn about the holy interior of a cathedral, unless it were intended to contain everything that belongs to the heart of man, both upward and downward.
In a side aisle of the choir, we saw a tomb, said to be that
of the Emperor Henry IV. of
Afterwards, we were shown into the ancient refectory, now
used as the city grammar-school, and furnished with the usual desks and seats
for the boys. In one corner of this
large room was the sort of pulpit or elevated seat, with a broken staircase of
stone ascending to it, where one of the monks used to read to his brethren,
while sitting at their meals. The desks
were cut and carved with the scholars' knives, just as they used to be in the
school-rooms where I was a scholar.
Thence we passed into the chapter-house, but, before that, we went
through a small room, in which Melville opened a cupboard, and discovered a
dozen or two of wine-bottles; but our guide told us that they were now empty,
and never were meant for jollity, having held only sacramental wine. In the chapter-house, we saw the library,
some of the volumes of which were antique folios. There were two dusty and tattered banners
hanging on the wall, and the attendant promised to make us laugh by something
that he would tell us about them. The
joke was that these two banners had been in the battle of
After leaving the cathedral we sought out the Yacht Inn,
near the water-gate. This was, for a
long period of time, the principal inn of Chester, and was the house at which
Swift once put up, on his way to Holyhead, and where he invited the clergy to
come and sup with him. We sat down in a
small snuggery, conversing with the landlord.
The Yacht Tavern is a very old house, in the gabled style. The timbers and framework are still perfectly sound. In the same street is the Bishop's house (so called as having been the residence of a prelate long ago), which is covered with curious sculpture, representing Scriptural scenes. And in the same neighborhood is the county court, accessible by an archway, through which we penetrated, and found ourselves in a passage, very ancient and dusky, overlooked from the upper story by a gallery, to which an antique staircase ascended, with balustrades and square landing-places. A printer saw us here, and asked us into his printing-office, and talked very affably; indeed, he could have hardly been more civil, if he had known that both Melville and I have given a good deal of employment to the brethren of his craft.
December 15th.--An old gentleman has recently paid me a good
many visits,--a Kentucky man, who has been a good deal in England and Europe
generally without losing the freshness and unconventionality of his earlier
life. He was a boatman, and afterwards
captain of a steamer on the
R------ himself, with one of his twenty-four shots, hit a British officer, who fell forward on his face, about thirty paces from our line, and as the enemy were then retreating (they advanced and were repelled two or three times) he ran out, and turned him over on his back. The officer was a man about thirty-eight, tall and fine-looking; his eyes were wide open, clear and bright, and were fixed full on R------ with a somewhat stern glance, but there was the sweetest and happiest smile over his face that could be conceived. He seemed to be dead;--at least, R------ thinks that he did not really see him, fixedly as he appeared to gaze. The officer held his sword in his hand, and R------ tried in vain to wrest it from him, until suddenly the clutch relaxed. R------ still keeps the sword hung up over his mantel-piece. I asked him how the dead man's aspect affected him. He replied that he felt nothing at the time; but that ever since, in all trouble, in uneasy sleep, and whenever he is out of tune, or waking early, or lying awake at night, he sees this officer's face, with the clear bright eyes and the pleasant smile, just as distinctly as if he were bending over him. His wound was in the breast, exactly on the spot that R------ had aimed at, and bled profusely. The enemy advanced in such masses, he says, that it was impossible not to hit them unless by purposely firing over their heads.
After the battle, R------ leaped over the rampart, and took a prisoner who was standing unarmed in the midst of the slain, having probably dropped down during the heat of the action, to avoid the hail-storm of rifle-shots. As he led him in, the prisoner paused, and pointed to an officer who was lying dead beside his dead horse, with his foot still in the stirrup. "There lies our General," said he. The horse had been killed by a grape-shot, and Pakenham himself, apparently, by a six-pounder ball, which had first struck the earth, covering him from head to foot with mud and clay, and had then entered his side, and gone upward through his breast. His face was all besmirched with the moist earth. R------ took the slain General's foot out of the stirrup, and then went to report his death.
Much more he told me, being an exceedingly talkative old man, and seldom, I suppose, finding so good a listener as myself. I like the man,--a good-tempered, upright, bold and free old fellow; of a rough breeding, but sufficiently smoothed by society to be of pleasant intercourse. He is as dogmatic as possible, having formed his own opinions, often on very disputable grounds, and hardened in them; taking queer views of matters and things, and giving shrewd and not ridiculous reasons for them; but with a keen, strong sense at the bottom of his character.
A little while ago I met an Englishman in a railway
carriage, who suggests himself as a kind of contrast to this warlike and
vicissitudinous backwoodsman. He was
about the same age as R------, but had spent, apparently, his whole life in
Liverpool, and has long occupied the post of Inspector of Nuisances,--a rather
puffy and consequential man; gracious, however, and affable, even to casual
strangers like myself. The great
contrast betwixt him and the American lies in the narrower circuit of his
ideas; the latter talking about matters of history of his own country and the
world,--glancing over the whole field of politics, propounding opinions and
theories of his own, and showing evidence that his mind had operated for better
or worse on almost all conceivable matters; while the Englishman was odorous of
his office, strongly flavored with that, and otherwise most insipid. He began his talk by telling me of a dead
body which he had lately discovered in a house in Liverpool, where it had been
kept about a fortnight by the relatives, partly from want of funds for the
burial, and partly in expectation of the arrival of some friends from
December 21st.--On Thursday evening I dined for the first
time with the new Mayor at the Town Hall.
I wish to preserve all the characteristic traits of such banquets,
because, being peculiar to
The Mayor toasted his guests by their professions,--the merchants, for instance, the bankers, the solicitors,--and while one of the number responded, his brethren also stood up, each in his place, thus giving their assent to what he said. I think the very worst orator was a major of Artillery, who spoke in a meek, little, nervous voice, and seemed a good deal more discomposed than probably he would have been in the face of the enemy. The first toast was "The Ladies," to which an old bachelor responded.
December 31st.--Thus far we have come through the winter, on
this bleak and blasty shore of the Irish Sea, where, perhaps, the drowned body
of Milton's friend Lycidas might have been washed ashore more than two
centuries ago. This would not be very
likely, however, so wide a tract of sands, never deeply covered by the tide,
intervening betwixt us and the sea. But
it is an excessively windy place, especially here on the Promenade; always a
whistle and a howl,--always an eddying gust through the corridors and
chambers,--often a patter of hail or rain or snow against the windows; and in
the long evenings the sounds outside are very much as if we were on shipboard
in mid-ocean, with the waves dashing against the vessel's sides. I go to town almost daily, starting at about
eleven, and reaching
Christmas time has been marked by few characteristics. For a week or two previous to Christmas day, the newspapers contained rich details respecting market-stalls and butchers' shops,--what magnificent carcasses of prize oxen and sheep they displayed. . . . .
The Christmas Waits came to us on Christmas eve, and on the day itself, in the shape of little parties of boys or girls, singing wretched doggerel rhymes, and going away well pleased with the guerdon of a penny or two. Last evening came two or three older choristers at pretty near bedtime, and sang some carols at our door. They were psalm tunes, however. Everybody with whom we have had to do, in any manner of service, expects a Christmas-box; but, in most cases, a shilling is quite a satisfactory amount. We have had holly and mistletoe stuck up on the gas-fixtures and elsewhere about the house.
On the mantel-piece in the coroner's court the other day, I saw corked and labelled phials, which it may be presumed contained samples of poisons that have brought some poor wretches to their deaths, either by murder or suicide. This court might be wrought into a very good and pregnant description, with its grimy gloom illuminated by a conical skylight, constructed to throw daylight down on corpses; its greasy Testament covered over with millions of perjured kisses; the coroner himself, whose life is fed on all kinds of unnatural death; its subordinate officials, who go about scenting murder, and might be supposed to have caught the scent in their own garments; its stupid, brutish juries, settling round corpses like flies; its criminals, whose guilt is brought face to face with them here, in closer contact than at the subsequent trial.
O---- P------, the famous Mormonite, called on me a little
while ago,--a short, black-haired, dark-complexioned man; a shrewd,
intelligent, but unrefined countenance, excessively unprepossessing; an uncouth
gait and deportment; the aspect of a person in comfortable circumstances, and
decently behaved, but of a vulgar nature and destitute of early culture. I
think I should have taken him for a shoemaker, accustomed to reflect in a rude,
strong, evil-disposed way on matters of this world and the next, as he sat on
his bench. He said he had been residing
in Liverpool about six months; and his business with me was to ask for a letter
of introduction that should gain him admittance to the
March 1st, 1857.--On the night of last Wednesday week, our house was broken into by robbers. They entered by the back window of the breakfast-room, which is the children's school-room, breaking or cutting a pane of glass, so as to undo the fastening. I have a dim idea of having heard a noise through my sleep; but if so, it did not more than slightly disturb me. U---- heard it, she being at watch with R-----; and J-----, having a cold, was also wakeful, and thought the noise was of servants moving about below. Neither did the idea of robbers occur to U----. J-----, however, hearing U---- at her mother's door, asking for medicine for R-----, called out for medicine for his cold, and the thieves probably thought we were bestirring ourselves, and so took flight. In the morning the servants found the hall door and the breakfast-room window open; some silver cups and some other trifles of plate were gone from the sideboard, and there were tokens that the whole lower part of the house had been ransacked; but the thieves had evidently gone off in a hurry, leaving some articles which they would have taken, had they been more at leisure.
We gave information to the police, and an inspector and
constable soon came to make investigations, taking a list of the missing
articles, and informing themselves as to all particulars that could be
known. I did not much expect ever to
hear any more of the stolen property; but on Sunday a constable came to request
my presence at the police-office to identify the lost things. The thieves had been caught in
In a corner of the police-office stood a contrivance for precisely measuring the heights of prisoners; and I took occasion to measure J-----, and found him four feet seven inches and a half high. A set of rules for the self-government of police-officers was nailed on the door, between twenty and thirty in number, and composing a system of constabulary ethics. The rules would be good for men in almost any walk of life; and I rather think the police-officers conform to them with tolerable strictness. They appear to be subordinated to one another on the military plan. The ordinary constable does not sit down in the presence of his inspector, and this latter seems to be half a gentleman; at least, such is the bearing of our Southport inspector, who wears a handsome uniform of green and silver, and salutes the principal inhabitants, when meeting them in the street, with an air of something like equality. Then again there is a superintendent, who certainly claims the rank of a gentleman, and has perhaps been an officer in the army. The superintendent of this district was present on this occasion.
The thieves were brought down from
There seems to be a strong case against the prisoners. A boy attached to the railway testified to
having seen them at Birchdale on Wednesday afternoon, and directed them on
their way to Southport; Peter Pickup recognized them as having applied to him
for lodgings in the course of that evening; a pawnbroker swore to one of them
as having offered my top-coat for sale or pledge in Liverpool; and my boots
were found on the feet of one of them,--all this in addition to other
circumstances of pregnant suspicion. So
they were committed for trial at the
February 27th.--Coming along the promenade, a little before
sunset, I saw the mountains of the Welsh coast shadowed very distinctly against
the horizon. Mr. Channing told me that
he had seen these mountains once or twice during his stay at
April 10th.--At Skipton.
My wife, J-----, and I left Southport to-day for a short tour to
Skipton is an ancient town, and has an ancient though well-repaired aspect, the houses being built of gray stone, but in no picturesque shapes; the streets well paved; the site irregular and rising gradually towards Skipton Castle, which overlooks the town, as an old lordly castle ought to overlook the feudal village which it protects. The castle was built shortly after the Conquest by Robert de Romeli, and was afterwards the property and residence of the famous Cliffords. We met an honest man, as we approached the gateway, who kindly encouraged us to apply for admittance, notwithstanding it was Good Friday; telling us how to find the housekeeper, who would probably show us over the castle. So we passed through the gate, between two embattled towers; and in the castle court we met a flock of young damsels, who had been rambling about the precincts. They likewise directed us in our search for the housekeeper, and S-----, being bolder than I in such assaults on feudal castles, led the way down a dark archway, and up an exterior stairway, and, knocking at a door, immediately brought the housekeeper to a parley.
She proved to be a nowise awful personage, but a homely, neat, kindly, intelligent, and middle-aged body. She seemed to be all alone in this great old castle, and at once consented to show us about,--being, no doubt, glad to see any Christian visitors. The castle is now the property of Sir R. Tufton; but the present family do not make it their permanent residence, and have only occasionally visited it. Indeed, it could not well be made an eligible or comfortable residence, according to modern ideas; the rooms occupying the several stories of large round towers, and looking gloomy and sombre, if not dreary,--not the less so for what has been done to modernize them; for instance, modern paper-hangings, and, in some of the rooms, marble fireplaces. They need a great deal more light and higher ceilings; and I rather imagine that the warm, rich effect of glowing tapestry is essential to keep one's spirit cheerful in these ancient rooms. Modern paper-hangings are too superficial and wishy-washy for the purpose. Tapestry, it is true, there is now, completely covering the walls of several of the rooms, but all faded into ghastliness; nor could some of it have been otherwise than ghastly, even in its newness, for it represented persons suffering various kinds of torture, with crowds of monks and nuns looking on. In another room there was the story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and other subjects not to be readily distinguished in the twilight that was gathering in these antique chambers. We saw, too, some very old portraits of the Cliffords and the Thanets, in black frames, and the pictures themselves sadly faded and neglected. The famous Countess Anne of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery was represented on one of the leaves of a pair of folding doors, and one of her husbands, I believe, on the other leaf. There was the picture of a little idiot lordling, who had choked himself to death; and a portrait of Oliver Cromwell, who battered this old castle, together with almost every other English or Welsh castle that I ever saw or heard of. The housekeeper pointed out the grove of trees where his cannon were planted during the siege. There was but little furniture in the rooms; amongst other articles, an antique chair, in which Mary, Queen of Scots, is said to have rested.
The housekeeper next took us into the part of the castle which has never been modernized since it was repaired, after the siege of Cromwell. This is a dismal series of cellars above ground, with immensely thick walls, letting in but scanty light, and dim staircases of stone; and a large hall, with a vast fireplace, where every particle of heat must needs have gone up chimney,--a chill and heart-breaking place enough. Quite in the midst of this part of the castle is the court-yard,--a space of some thirty or forty feet in length and breadth, open to the sky, but shut completely in on every side by the buildings of the castle, and paved over with flat stones. Out of this pavement, however, grows a yew-tree, ascending to the tops of the towers, and completely filling, with its branches and foliage, the whole open space between them. Some small birds--quite a flock of them--were twittering and fluttering among the upper branches. We went upward, through two or three stories of dismal rooms,--among others, through the ancient guard-room,--till we came out on the roof of one of the towers, and had a very fine view of an amphitheatre of ridgy hills which shut in and seclude the castle and the town. The upper foliage was within our reach, close to the parapet of the tower; so we gathered a few twigs as memorials. The housekeeper told us that the yew-tree is supposed to be eight hundred years old, and, comparing it with other yews that I have seen, I should judge that it must measure its antiquity by centuries, at all events. It still seems to be in its prime.
Along the base of the castle, on the opposite side to the entrance, flows a stream, sending up a pleasant murmur from among the trees. The housekeeper said it was not a stream, but only a "wash," whatever that may be; and I conjecture that it creates the motive-power of some factory-looking edifices, which we saw on our first arrival at Skipton.
We now took our leave of the housekeeper, and came homeward to our inn, where I have written the foregoing pages by a bright fire; but I think I write better descriptions after letting the subject lie in my mind a day or two. It is too new to be properly dealt with immediately after coming from the scene.
The castle is not at all crumbly, but in excellent repair, though so venerable. There are rooks cawing about the shapeless patches of their nests, in the tops of the trees. In the castle wall, as well as in the round towers of the gateway, there seem to be little tenements, perhaps inhabited by the servants and dependants of the family. They looked in very good order, with tokens of present domesticity about them. The whole of this old castle, indeed, was as neat as a new, small dwelling, in spite of an inevitable musty odor of antiquity.
April 11th.--This morning we took a carriage and two horses, and set out for
a distance of about six miles. The morning was cool, with breezy clouds, intermingled with sunshine, and, on the whole, as good as are nine tenths of English mornings. J----- sat beside the driver, and S----- and I in the carriage, all closed but one window. As we drove through Skipton, the little town had a livelier aspect than yesterday when it wore its Good Friday's solemnity; but now its market-place was thronged, principally with butchers, displaying their meat under little movable pent-houses, and their customers. The English people really like to think and talk of butcher's meat, and gaze at it with delight; and they crowd through the avenues of the market-houses and stand enraptured round a dead ox.
We passed along by the castle wall, and noticed the escutcheon of the Cliffords or the Thanets carved in stone over the portal, with the motto Desormais, the application of which I do not well see; these ancestral devices usually referring more to the past, than to the future. There is a large old church, just at the extremity of the village, and just below the castle, on the slope of the hill. The gray wall of the castle extends along the road a considerable distance, in good repair, with here and there a buttress, and the semicircular bulge of a tower.
The scenery along the road was not particularly
striking,--long slopes, descending from ridges; a generally hard outline of
country, with not many trees, and those, as yet, destitute of foliage. It needs to be softened with a good deal of
wood. There were stone farm-houses,
looking ancient, and able to last till twice as old. Instead of the hedges, so universal in other
We passed an ancient, many-gabled inn, large, low, and comfortable, bearing the name of the Devonshire House, as does our own hotel, for the Duke of Devonshire is a great proprietor in these parts. A mile or so beyond, we came to a gateway, broken through what, I believe, was an old wall of the Priory grounds; and here we alighted, leaving our driver to take the carriage to the inn. Passing through this hole in the wall, we saw the ruins of the Priory at the bottom of the beautiful valley about a quarter of a mile off; and, well as the monks knew how to choose the sites of their establishments, I think they never chose a better site than this,--in the green lap of protecting hills, beside a stream, and with peace and fertility looking down upon it on every side. The view down the valley is very fine, and, for my part, I am glad that some peaceable and comfort-loving people possessed these precincts for many hundred years, when nobody else knew how to appreciate peace and comfort.
The old gateway tower, beneath which was formerly the arched entrance into the domain of the Priory, is now the central part of a hunting-seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and the edifice is completed by a wing of recent date on each side. A few hundred yards from this hunting-box are the remains of the Priory, consisting of the nave of the old church, which is still in good repair, and used as the worshipping-place of the neighborhood (being a perpetual curacy of the parish of Skipton), and the old ruined choir, roofless, with broken arches, ivy-grown, but not so rich and rare a ruin as either Melrose, Netley, or Furness. Its situation makes its charm. It stands near the river Wharfe,--a broad and rapid stream, which hurries along between high banks, with a sound which the monks must have found congenial to their slumberous moods. It is a good river for trout, too; and I saw two or three anglers, with their rods and baskets, passing through the ruins towards its shore. It was in this river Wharfe that the boy of Egremont was drowned, at the Strid, a mile or two higher up the stream.
In the first place, we rambled round the exterior of the ruins; but, as I have said, they are rather bare and meagre in comparison with other abbeys, and I am not sure that the especial care and neatness with which they are preserved does not lessen their effect on the beholder. Neglect, wildness, crumbling walls, the climbing and conquering ivy; masses of stone lying where they fell; trees of old date, growing where the pillars of the aisles used to stand,--these are the best points of ruined abbeys. But, everything here is kept with such trimness that it gives you the idea of a petrifaction. Decay is no longer triumphant; the Duke of Devonshire has got the better of it. The grounds around the church and the ruins are still used for burial, and there are several flat tombstones and altar tombs, with crosiers engraved or carved upon them, which at first I took to be the memorials of bishops or abbots, and wondered that the sculpture should still be so distinct. On one, however, I read the date 1850 and the name of a layman; for the tombstones were all modern, the humid English atmosphere giving them their mossy look of antiquity, and the crosier had been assumed only as a pretty device.
Close beside the ruins there is a large, old stone farm-house, which must have been built on the site of a part of the Priory,--the cells, dormitories, refectory, and other portions pertaining to the monks' daily life, I suppose, and built, no doubt, with the sacred stones. I should imagine it would be a haunted house, swarming with cowled spectres. We wished to see the interior of the church, and procured a guide from this farm-house,--the sexton, probably,--a gray-haired, ruddy, cheery, and intelligent man, of familiar though respectful address. The entrance of the church was undergoing improvement, under the last of the abbots, when the Reformation occurred; and it has ever remained in an unfinished state, till now it is mossy with age, and has a beautiful tuft of wall-flowers growing on a ledge over the Gothic arch of the doorway. The body of the church is of much anterior date, though the oaken roof is supposed to have been renewed in Henry VIII's time. This, as I said before, was the nave of the old Abbey church, and has a one-sided and unbalanced aspect, there being only a single aisle, with its row of sturdy pillars. The pavement is covered with pews of old oak, very homely and unornamental; on the side opposite the aisle there are two or three windows of modern stained glass, somewhat gaudy and impertinent; there are likewise some hatchments and escutcheons over the altar and elsewhere. On the whole, it is not an impressive interior; but, at any rate, it had the true musty odor which I never conceived of till I came to England,--the odor of dead men's decay, garnered up and shut in, and kept from generation to generation; not disgusting nor sickening, because it is so old, and of the past.
On one side of the altar there was a small square chapel,--or what had once been a chapel, separated from the chancel by a partition about a man's height, if I remember aright. Our guide led us into it, and observed that some years ago the pavement had been taken up in this spot, for burial purposes; but it was found that it had already been used in that way, and that the corpses had been buried upright. Inquiring further, I found that it was the Clapham family, and another that was called Morley, that were so buried; and then it occurred to me that this was the vault Wordsworth refers to in one of his poems,--the burial-place of the Claphams and Mauleverers, whose skeletons, for aught I know, were even then standing upright under our feet. It is but a narrow place, perhaps a square of ten feet. We saw little or nothing else that was memorable, unless it were the signature of Queen Adelaide in a visitors' book.
On our way back to Skipton it rained and hailed, but the sun
again shone out before we arrived. We
took the train for
in an hour or two. We put up at the Black Swan, and before tea went out, on the cool bright edge of evening, to get a glimpse of the cathedral, which impressed me more grandly than when I first saw it, nearly a year ago. Indeed, almost any object gains upon me at the second sight. I have spent the evening in writing up my journal,--an act of real virtue.
After walking round the cathedral, we went up a narrow and crooked street, very old and shabby, but with an antique house projecting as much as a yard over the pavement on one side,--a timber house it seemed to be, plastered over and stained yellow or buff. There was no external door, affording entrance into this edifice; but about midway of its front we came to a low, Gothic, stone archway, passing right through the house; and as it looked much time-worn, and was sculptured with untraceable devices, we went through. There was an exceedingly antique, battered, and shattered pair of oaken leaves, which used doubtless to shut up the passage in former times, and keep it secure; but for the last centuries, probably, there has been free ingress and egress. Indeed, the portal arch may never have been closed since the Reformation. Within, we found a quadrangle, of which the house upon the street formed one side, the others being composed of ancient houses, with gables in a row, all looking upon the paved quadrangle, through quaint windows of various fashion. An elderly, neat, pleasant-looking woman now came in beneath the arch, and as she had a look of being acquainted here, we asked her what the place was; and she told us, that in the old Popish times the prebends of the cathedral used to live here, to keep them from doing mischief in the town. The establishment, she said, was now called "The College," and was let in rooms and small tenements to poor people. On consulting the York Guide, I find that her account was pretty correct; the house having been founded in Henry VI.'s time, and called St. William's College, the statue of the patron saint being sculptured over the arch. It was intended for the residence of the parsons and priests of the cathedral, who had formerly caused troubles and scandals by living in the town.
We returned to the front of the cathedral on our way homeward, and an old man stopped us, to inquire if we had ever seen the Fiddler of York. We answered in the negative, and said that we had not time to see him now; but the old gentleman pointed up to the highest pinnacle of the southern front, where stood the Fiddler of York, one of those Gothic quaintnesses which blotch the grandeur and solemnity of this and other cathedrals.
April 12th.--This morning was bleak and most ungenial; a chilly sunshine, a piercing wind, a prevalence of watery cloud,--April weather, without the tenderness that ought to be half revealed in it. This is
and service at the cathedral commenced at half past ten; so we set out betimes and found admittance into the vast nave, and thence into the choir. An attendant ushered S----- and J----- to a seat at a distance from me, and then gave me a place in one of the stalls where the monks used to sit or kneel while chanting the services. I think these stalls are now appropriated to the prebends. They are of carved oaken wood, much less elaborate and wonderfully wrought than those of Chester Cathedral, where all was done with head and heart, each a separate device, instead of cut, by machinery like this. The whole effect of this carved work, however, lining the choir with its light tracery and pinnacles, is very fine. The whole choir, from the roof downward, except the old stones of the outer walls, is of modern renovation, it being but a few years since this part of the cathedral was destroyed by fire. The arches and pillars and lofty roof, however, have been well restored; and there was a vast east window, full of painted glass, which, if it be modern, is wonderfully chaste and Gothic-like. All the other windows have painted glass, which does not flare and glare as if newly painted. But the light, whitewashed aspect of the general interior of the choir has a cold and dreary effect. There is an enormous organ, all clad in rich oaken carving, of similar pattern to that of the stalls. It was communion day, and near the high altar, within a screen, I saw the glistening of the gold vessels wherewith the services were to be performed.
The choir was respectably filled with a pretty numerous congregation, among whom I saw some officers in full dress, with their swords by their sides, and one, old white-bearded warrior, who sat near me, seemed very devout at his religious exercises. In front of me and on the corresponding benches, on the other side of the choir, sat two rows of white-robed choristers, twenty in all, and these, with some women; performed the vocal part of the music. It is not good to see musicians, for they are sometimes coarse and vulgar people, and so the auditor loses faith in any fine and spiritual tones that they may breathe forth.
The services of Easter Sunday comprehend more than the ordinary quantity of singing and chanting; at all events, nearly an hour and a half were thus employed, with some intermixture of prayers and reading of Scriptures; and, being almost congealed with cold, I thought it would never come to an end. The spirit of my Puritan ancestors was mighty within me, and I did not wonder at their being out of patience with all this mummery, which seemed to me worse than papistry because it was a corruption of it. At last a canon gave out the text, and preached a sermon about twenty minutes long,--the coldest, driest, most superficial rubbish; for this gorgeous setting of the magnificent cathedral, the elaborate music, and the rich ceremonies seem inevitably to take the life out of the sermon, which, to be anything, must be all. The Puritans showed their strength of mind and heart by preferring a sermon an hour and a half long, into which the preacher put his whole soul, and lopping away all these externals, into which religious life had first leafed and flowered, and then petrified.
After the service, while waiting for my wife in the nave, I
was accosted by a young gentleman who seemed to be an American, and whom I have
certainly seen before, but whose name I could not recollect. This, he said, was his first visit to
After dinner, we set forth and took a promenade along the wall, and a ramble through some of the crooked streets, noting the old, jutting-storied houses, story above story, and the old churches, gnawed like a bone by the tooth of Time, till we came suddenly to the Black Swan before we expected it. . . . . I rather fancy that I must have observed most of the external peculiarities at my former visit, and therefore need not make another record of them in this journal.
In the course of our walk we saw a procession of about fifty charity-school boys, in flat caps, each with bands under his chin, and a green collar to his coat; all looking unjoyous, and as if they had no home nor parents' love. They turned into a gateway, which closed behind them; and as the adjoining edifice seemed to be a public institution,--at least, not private,--we asked what it was, and found it to be a hospital or residence for Old Maiden ladies, founded by a gentlewoman of York; I know not whether she herself is of the sisterhood. It must be a very singular institution, and worthy of intimate study, if it were possible to make one's way within the portal.
After writing the above, J----- and I went out for another ramble before tea; and, taking a new course, we came to a grated iron fence and gateway, through which we could see the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey. They are very extensive, and situated quite in the midst of the city, and the wall and then a tower of the Abbey seem to border more than one of the streets. Our walk was interesting, as it brought us unexpectedly upon several relics of antiquity,--a loop-holed and battlemented gateway; and at various points fragments of the old Gothic stone-work, built in among more recent edifices, which themselves were old; grimness intermixed with quaintness and grotesqueness; old fragments of religious or warlike architecture mingled with queer domestic structures,--the general effect sombre, sordid, and grimy; but yet with a fascination that makes us fain to linger about such scenes, and come to them again.
We passed round the cathedral, and saw jackdaws fluttering round the pinnacles, while the bells chimed the quarters, and little children played on the steps under the grand arch of the entrance. It is very stately, very beautiful, this minster; and doubtless would be very satisfactory, could I only know it long and well enough,--so rich as its front is, even with almost all the niches empty of their statues; not stern in its effect, which I suppose must be owing to the elaborate detail with which its great surface is wrought all over, like the chasing of a lady's jewel-box, and yet so grand! There is a dwelling-house on one side, gray with antiquity, which has apparently grown out of it like an excrescence; and though a good-sized edifice, yet the cathedral is so large that its vastness is not in the least deformed by it. If it be a dwelling-house, I suppose it is inhabited by the person who takes care of the cathedral. This morning, while listening to the tedious chanting and lukewarm sermon, I depreciated the whole affair, cathedral and all; but now I do more justice, at least to the latter, and am only sorry that its noble echoes must follow at every syllable, and re-reverberate at the commas and semicolons, such poor discourses as the canon's. But, after all, it was the Puritans who made the sermon of such importance in religious worship as we New-Englanders now consider it; and we are absurd in considering this magnificent church and all those embroidered ceremonies only in reference to it.
Before going back to the hotel, I went again up the narrow
and twisted passage of
Monday, April 13th.--This morning was chill, and, worse, it
was showery, so that our purposes to see
The barriers being now withdrawn, we walked adown the length of the nave, which did not seem to me so dim and vast as the recollection which I have had of it since my visit of a year ago. But my pre-imaginations and my memories are both apt to play me false with all admirable things, and so create disappointments for me, while perhaps the thing itself is really far better than I imagine or remember it. We engaged an old man, one of the attendants pertaining to the cathedral, to be our guide, and he showed us first the stone screen in front of the choir, with its sculptured kings of England; and then the tombs in the north transept,--one of a modern archbishop, and one of an ancient one, behind which the insane person who set fire to the church a few years ago hid himself at nightfall. Then our guide unlocked a side door, and led us into the chapter-house,--an octagonal hall, with a vaulted roof, a tessellated floor, and seven arched windows of old painted glass, the richest that I ever saw or imagined, each looking like an inestimable treasury of precious stories, with a gleam and glow even in the sullen light of this gray morning. What would they be with the sun shining through them! With all their brilliancy, moreover, they were as soft as rose-leaves. I never saw any piece of human architecture so beautiful as this chapter-house; at least, I thought so while I was looking at it, and think so still; and it owed its beauty in very great measure to the painted windows: I remember looking at these windows from the outside yesterday, and seeing nothing but an opaque old crust of conglomerated panes of glass; but now that gloomy mystery was radiantly solved.
Returning into the body of the cathedral, we next entered the choir, where, instead of the crimson cushions and draperies which we had seen yesterday, we found everything folded in black. It was a token of mourning for one of the canons, who died on Saturday night. The great east window, seventy-five feet high, and full of old painted glass in many exquisitely wrought and imagined Scriptural designs, is considered the most splendid object in the Minster. It is a pity that it is partially hidden from view, even in the choir, by a screen before the high altar; but indeed, the Gothic architects seem first to imagine beautiful and noble things, and then to consider how they may best be partially screened from sight. A certain secrecy and twilight effect belong to their plan.
We next went round the side aisles of the choir, which contain many interesting monuments of prelates, and a specimen of the very common Elizabethan design of an old gentleman in a double ruff and trunk breeches, with one of his two wives on either side of him, all kneeling in prayer; and their conjoint children, in two rows, kneeling in the lower compartments of the tomb. We saw, too, a rich marble monument of one of the Strafford family, and the tombstone of the famous Earl himself,--a flat tombstone in the pavement of the aisle, covering the vault where he was buried, and with four iron rings fastened into the four corners of the stone whereby to lift it.
And now the guide led us into the vestry, where there was a
good fire burning in the grate, and it really thawed my heart, which was
congealed with the dismal chill of the cathedral. Here we saw a good many curious things,--for
instance, two wooden figures in knightly armor, which had stood sentinels
beside the ancient clock before it was replaced by a modern one; and, opening a
closet, the guide produced an old iron helmet, which had been found in a tomb
where a knight had been buried in his armor; and three gold rings and one brass
one, taken out of the graves, and off the finger-bones of mediaeval
archbishops,--one of them with a ruby set in it; and two silver-gilt chalices,
also treasures of the tombs; and a wooden head, carved in human likeness, and
painted to the life, likewise taken from a grave where an archbishop was
supposed to have been buried. They found
no veritable skull nor bones, but only this block-head, as if Death had
betrayed the secret of what the poor prelate really was. We saw, too, a canopy of cloth, wrought with
gold threads, which had been borne over the head of King James I., when he came
After looking at these things, we went down into the crypts, under the choir. These were very interesting, as far as we could see them; being more antique than anything above ground, but as dark as any cellar. There is here, in the midst of these sepulchral crypts, a spring of water, said to be very pure and delicious, owing to the limestone through which the rain that feeds its source is filtered. Near it is a stone trough, in which the monks used to wash their hands.
I do not remember anything more that we saw at the cathedral, and at noon we returned to the Black Swan. The rain still continued, so that S-----could not share in any more of my rambles, but J----- and I went out again, and discovered the Guildhall. It is a very ancient edifice of Richard II.'s time, and has a statue over the entrance which looks time-gnawed enough to be of coeval antiquity, although in reality it is only a representation of George II. in his royal robes. We went in, and found ourselves in a large and lofty hall, with an oaken roof and a stone pavement, and the farther end was partitioned off as a court of justice. In that portion of the hall the Judge was on the bench, and a trial was going forward; but in the hither portion a mob of people, with their hats on, were lounging and talking, and enjoying the warmth of the stoves. The window over the judgment-seat had painted glass in it, and so, I think, had some of the hall windows. At the end of the hall hung a great picture of Paul defending himself before Agrippa, where the Apostle looked like an athlete, and had a remarkably bushy black beard. Between two of the windows hung an Indian bell from Burmah, ponderously thick and massive. Both the picture and the bell had been presented to the city as tokens of affectionate remembrance by its children; and it is pleasant to think that such failings exist in these old stable communities, and that there are permanent localities where such gifts can be kept from generation to generation.
At four o'clock we left the city of
We took the train for
a particularly black and grimy edifice, containing some genuine old wood carvings within the choir. We stayed a good while, in order to see some people married. One couple, with their groomsman and bride's-maid, were sitting within the choir; but when the clergyman was robed and ready, there entered five other couples, each attended by groomsman and bride's-maid. They all were of the lower orders; one or two respectably dressed, but most of them poverty-stricken,--the men in their ordinary loafer's or laborer's attire, the women with their poor, shabby shawls drawn closely about them; faded untimely, wrinkled with penury and care; nothing fresh, virgin-like, or hopeful about them; joining themselves to their mates with the idea of making their own misery less intolerable by adding another's to it. All the six couple stood up in a row before the altar, with the groomsmen and bride's-maids in a row behind them; and the clergyman proceeded to marry them in such a way that it almost seemed to make every man and woman the husband and wife of every other. However, there were some small portions of the service directed towards each separate couple; and they appeared to assort themselves in their own fashion afterwards, each one saluting his bride with a kiss. The clergyman, the sexton, and the clerk all seemed to find something funny in this affair; and the woman who admitted us into the church smiled too, when she told us that a wedding-party was waiting to be married. But I think it was the saddest thing we have seen since leaving home; though funny enough if one likes to look at it from a ludicrous point of view. This mob of poor marriages was caused by the fact that no marriage fee is paid during Easter.
This ended the memorable things of our tour; for my wife and
April 19th.--On the 15th, having been invited to attend at the laying of the corner-stone of
MR. BROWNE'S FREE LIBRARY,
I went to the Town Hall, according to the programme, at
eleven o'clock. There was already a large number of people (invited guests,
members of the Historical Society, and other local associations) assembled in
the great hall-room, and one of these was delivering an address to Mr. Browne
as I entered. Approaching the outer edge
of the circle, I was met and cordially greeted by Monckton Milnes, whom I like,
and who always reminds me of Longfellow, though his physical man is more
massive. While we were talking together,
a young man approached him with a pretty little expression of surprise and
pleasure at seeing him there. He had a
slightly affected or made-up manner, and was rather a comely person. Mr. Milnes introduced him to me as Lord
------. Hereupon, of course, I observed
him more closely; and I must say that I was not long in discovering a gentle
dignity and half-imperceptible reserve in his manner; but still my first
impression was quite as real as my second one. He occupies, I suppose, the
foremost position among the young men of
In a little while we formed ourselves into a procession,
four in a row, and set forth from the Town Hall, through James Street, Lord
Street, Lime Street, all the way through a line of policemen and a throng of
people; and all the windows were alive with heads, and I never before was so
conscious of a great mass of humanity, though perhaps I may often have seen as
great a crowd. But a procession is the
best point of view from which to see the crowd that collects together. The day, too, was very fine, even sunshiny,
and the streets dry,--a blessing which cannot be overestimated; for we should
have been in a strange trim for the banquet, had we been compelled to wade
through the ordinary mud of
The site of the projected edifice is on one of the streets bordering on St. George's Hall; and when we came within the enclosure, the corner-stone, a large square of red freestone, was already suspended over its destined place. It has a brass plate let into it, with an inscription, which will perhaps not be seen again till the present English type has grown as antique as black-letter is now. Two or three photographs were now taken of the site, the corner-stone, Mr. Browne, the distinguished guests, and the crowd at large; then ensued a prayer from the Bishop of Chester, and speeches from Mr. Holme, Mr. Browne, Lord
------, Sir John Pakington, Sir Henry Smith, and as many others as there
was time for. Lord ------ acquitted himself very creditably, though brought out unexpectedly, and with evident reluctance. I am convinced that men, liable to be called on to address the public, keep a constant supply of commonplaces in their minds, which, with little variation, can be adapted to one subject about as well as to another; and thus they are always ready to do well enough, though seldom to do particularly well.
From the scene of the corner-stone, we went to St. George's Hall, where a drawing-room and dressing-room had been prepared for the principal guests. Before the banquet, I had some conversation with Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, who had known Miss Bronte very intimately, and bore testimony to the wonderful fidelity of Mrs. Gaskell's life of her. He seemed to have had an affectionate regard for her, and said that her marriage promised to have been productive of great happiness; her husband being not a remarkable man, but with the merit of an exceeding love for her.
Mr. Browne now took me up into the gallery, which by this time was full of ladies; and thence we had a fine view of the noble hall, with the tables laid, in readiness for the banquet. I cannot conceive of anything finer than this hall: it needs nothing but painted windows to make it perfect, and those I hope it may have one day or another.
At two o'clock we sat down to the banquet, which hardly
justified that name, being only a cold collation, though sufficiently splendid
in its way. In truth, it would have been
impossible to provide a hot dinner for nine hundred people in a place remote
from kitchens. The principal table
extended lengthwise of the hall, and was a little elevated above the other
tables, which stretched across, about twenty in all. Before each guest, besides the bill of fare,
was laid a programme of the expected toasts, among which appeared my own name,
to be proposed by Mr. Monckton Milnes.
These things do not trouble me quite as much as they used, though still
it sufficed to prevent much of the enjoyment which I might have had if I could
have felt myself merely a spectator. My
left-hand neighbor was Colonel Campbell of the Artillery; my right-hand one was
Mr. Picton, of the Library Committee; and I found them both companionable men,
especially the Colonel, who had served in
I was really tired to death before my own turn came, sitting
all that time, as it were, on the scaffold, with the rope round my neck. At last Monckton Milnes was called up and
made a speech, of which, to my dismay, I could hardly hear a single word, owing
to his being at a considerable distance, on the other side of the chairman, and
flinging his voice, which is a bass one, across the hall, instead of adown it,
in my direction. I could not distinguish
one word of any allusions to my works, nor even when he came to the toast, did
I hear the terms in which he put it, nor whether I was toasted on my own basis,
or as representing American literature, or as Consul of the
After rising from table, Lord ------ and I talked about our respective oratorical performances; and he appeared to have a perception that he is not naturally gifted in this respect. I like Lord ------, and wish that it were possible that we might know one another better. If a nobleman has any true friend out of his own class, it ought to be a republican. Nothing further of interest happened at the banquet, and the next morning came out the newspapers with the reports of my speech, attributing to me a variety of forms of ragged nonsense, which, poor speaker as I am, I was quite incapable of uttering.
May 10th.--The winter is over, but as yet we scarcely have
what ought to be called spring; nothing but cold east-winds, accompanied with
sunshine, however, as east-winds generally are in this country. All milder winds seem to bring rain. The grass has been green for a
month,--indeed, it has never been entirely brown,--and now the trees and hedges
are beginning to be in foliage. Weeks
ago the daisies bloomed, even in the sandy grass-plot bordering on the
promenade beneath our front windows; and in the progress of the daisy, and
towards its consummation, I saw the propriety of Burns's epithet, "wee,
modest, crimson-nipped flower,"--its little white petals in the bud being
fringed all round with crimson, which fades into pure white when the flower
blooms. At the beginning of this month I
saw fruit-trees in blossom, stretched out flat against stone walls, reminding
me of a dead bird nailed against the side of a barn. But it has been a backward
and dreary spring; and I think Southport, in the course of it, has lost its
advantage over the rest of the
Nevertheless, the columns, of the Southport Visitor begin to be well replenished with the names of guests, and the town is assuming its aspect of summer life. To say the truth, except where cultivation has done its utmost, there is very little difference between winter and summer in the mere material aspect of Southport; there being nothing but a waste of sand intermixed with plashy pools to seaward, and a desert of sand-hillocks on the land side. But now the brown, weather-hardened donkey-women haunt people that stray along the reaches, and delicate persons face the cold, rasping, ill-tempered blast on the promenade, and children dig in the sands; and, for want of something better, it seems to be determined that this shall be considered spring.
Southport is as stupid a place as I ever lived in; and I
cannot but bewail our ill fortune to have been compelled to spend so many
months on these barren sands, when almost every other square yard of
In the same gale that wrecked the above-mentioned vessel, a
portion of a ship's mast was driven ashore, after evidently having been a very
long time in and under water; for it was covered with great barnacles, and torn
sea-weed, insomuch that there was scarcely a bare place along its whole length;
clusters of sea-anemones were sticking to it, and I know not what strange
marine productions besides. J----- at
once recognized the sea-anemones, knowing them by his much reading of Gosse's
Aquarium; and though they must now have been two or three days high and dry out
of water, he made an extempore aquarium out of a bowl, and put in above a dozen
of these strange creatures. In a little
while they bloomed out wonderfully, and even seemed to produce young anemones;
but, from some fault in his management, they afterwards grew sickly and
died. S-----thinks that the old
storm-shattered mast, so studded with the growth of the ocean depths, is a relic
of the Spanish Armada which strewed its wrecks along all the shores of
Yesterday we all of us except R----- went to
[Here follow the visits to
May 27th.--We left
of the towers and arches of which we had already had a glimpse from our parlor window.
Our journey from
We entered through a side portal, and sat down on a bench in the nave, and kept ourselves quiet; for the organ was sounding, and the choristers were chanting in the choir. The nave and transepts are very noble, with clustered pillars and Norman arches, and a great height under the central tower; the whole, however, being covered with plaster and whitewash, except the roof, which is of painted oak. This latter adornment has the merit, I believe, of being veritably ancient; but certainly I should prefer the oak of its native hue, for the effect of the paint is to make it appear as if the ceiling were covered with imitation mosaic-work or an oil-cloth carpet.
After sitting awhile, we were invited by a verger, who came from within the screen, to enter the choir and hear the rest of the service. We found the choristers there in their white garments, and an audience of half a dozen people, and had time to look at the interior of the choir. All the carved wood-work of the tabernacle, the Bishop's throne, the prebends' stalls, and whatever else, is modern; for this cathedral seems to have suffered wofully from Cromwell's soldiers, who hacked at the old oak, and hammered and pounded upon the marble tombs, till nothing of the first and very few of the latter remain. It is wonderful how suddenly the English people lost their sense of the sanctity of all manner of externals in religion, without losing their religion too. The French, in their Revolution, underwent as sudden a change; but they became pagans and atheists, and threw away the substance with the shadow.
I suspect that the interior arrangement of the choir and the chancel has been greatly modernized; for it is quite unlike anything that I have seen elsewhere. Instead of one vast eastern window, there are rows of windows lighting the Lady Chapel, and seen through rows of arches in the screen of the chancel; the effect being, whoever is to have the credit of it, very rich and beautiful. There is, I think, no stained glass in the windows of the nave, though in the windows of the chancel there is some of recent date, and from fragments of veritable antique. The effect of the whole interior is grand, expansive, and both ponderous and airy; not dim, mysterious, and involved, as Gothic interiors often are, the roundness and openness of the arches being opposed to this latter effect.
When the chanting came to a close, one verger took his stand at the entrance of the choir, and another stood farther up the aisle, and then the door of a stall opened, and forth came a clerical dignity of much breadth and substance, aged and infirm, and was ushered out of the choir with a great deal of ceremony. We took him for the bishop, but he proved to be only a canon. We now engaged an attendant to show us through the Lady Chapel and the other penetralia, which it did not take him long to accomplish. One of the first things he showed us was the tombstone, in the pavement of the southern aisle, beneath which Mary, Queen of Scots, had been originally buried, and where she lay for a quarter of a century, till borne to her present resting-place in Westminster Abbey. It is a plain marble slab, with no inscription. Near this, there was a Saxon monument of the date 870, with sculpture in relief upon it,--the memorial of an Abbot Hedda, who was killed by the Danes when they destroyed the monastery that preceded the abbey and church. I remember, likewise, the recumbent figure of the prelate, whose face has been quite obliterated by Puritanic violence; and I think that there is not a single tomb older than the parliamentary wars, which has not been in like manner battered and shattered, except the Saxon abbot's just mentioned. The most pretentious monument remaining is that of a Mr. Deacon, a gentleman of George I.'s time, in wig and breeches, leaning on his elbow, and resting one hand upon a skull. In the north aisle, precisely opposite to that of Queen Mary, the attendant pointed out to us the slab beneath which lie the ashes of Catharine of Aragon, the divorced queen of Henry VIII.
In the nave there was an ancient font, a venerable and beautiful relic, which has been repaired not long ago, but in such a way as not to lessen its individuality. This sacred vessel suffered especial indignity from Cromwell's soldiers; insomuch that if anything could possibly destroy its sanctity, they would have effected that bad end. On the eastern wall of the nave, and near the entrance, hangs the picture of old Scarlet, the sexton who buried both Mary of Scotland and Catharine of Aragon, and not only these two queens, but everybody else in Peterborough, twice over. I think one feels a sort of enmity and spite against these grave-diggers, who live so long, and seem to contract a kindred and partnership with Death, being boon companions with him, and taking his part against mankind.
In a chapel or some side apartment, there were two pieces of tapestry wretchedly faded, the handiwork of two nuns, and copied from two of Raphael's cartoons.
We now emerged from the cathedral, and walked round its
exterior, admiring it to our utmost capacity, and all the more because we had
not heard of it beforehand, and expected to see nothing so huge, majestic,
grand, and gray. And of all the lovely
closes that I ever beheld, that of Peterborough Cathedral is to me the most
delightful; so quiet it is, so solemnly and nobly cheerful, so verdant, so
sweetly shadowed, and so presided over by the stately minster, and surrounded
by ancient and comely habitations of Christian men. The most enchanting place, the most enviable as
a residence in all this world, seemed to me that of the Bishop's secretary,
standing in the rear of the cathedral, and bordering on the churchyard; so that
you pass through hallowed precincts in order to come at it, and find it a
Paradise, the holier and sweeter for the dead men who sleep so near. We looked through the gateway into the lawn,
which really seemed hardly to belong to this world, so bright and soft the
sunshine was, so fresh the grass, so lovely the trees, so trained and refined
and mellowed down was the whole nature of the spot, and so shut in and guarded
from all intrusion. It is in vain to
write about it; nowhere but in
May 28th.--I walked up into the town this morning, and again
visited the cathedral. On the way, I
observed the Falcon Inn, a very old-fashioned hostelry, with a thatched roof,
and what looked like the barn door or stable door in a side front. Very likely it may have been an inn ever
since Queen Elizabeth's time. The Guildhall,
as I supposed it to be, in the market-place, has a basement story entirely open
on all sides, but from its upper story it communicates with a large old house
in the rear. I have not seen an older-looking town than
Towards noon we all walked into the town again, and on our way went into the old church with the projecting portal, which I mentioned yesterday. A woman came hastening with the keys when she saw us looking up at the door. The interior had an exceeding musty odor, and was very ancient, with side aisles opening by a row of pointed arches into the nave, and a gallery of wood on each side, and built across the two rows of arches. It was paved with tombstones, and I suppose the dead people contributed to the musty odor. Very naked and unadorned it was, except with a few mural monuments of no great interest. We stayed but a little while, and amply rewarded the poor woman with a sixpence. Thence we proceeded to the cathedral, pausing by the way to look at the old Guildhall, which is no longer a Guildhall, but a butter-market; and then we bought some prints of exterior and interior views of the Minster, of which there are a great variety on note-paper, letter-sheets, large engravings, and lithographs. It is very beautiful; there seems to be nothing better than to say this over again. We found the doors most hospitably open, and every part entirely free to us,--a kindness and liberality which we have nowhere else experienced in England, whether as regards cathedrals or any other public buildings. My wife sat down to draw the font, and I walked through the Lady Chapel meanwhile, pausing over the empty bed of Queen Mary, and the grave of Queen Catharine, and looking at the rich and sumptuous roof, where a fountain, as it were, of groins of arches spouts from numberless pilasters, intersecting one another in glorious intricacy. Under the central tower, opening to either transept, to the nave, and to the choir, are four majestic arches, which I think must equal in height those of which I saw the ruins, and one, all but perfect, at Furness Abbey. They are about eighty feet high.
I may as well give up
May 28th.--We left Peterborough this afternoon, and, however
reluctant to leave the cathedral, we were glad to get away from the hotel; for,
though outwardly pretentious, it is a wretched and uncomfortable place, with
scanty table, poor attendance, and enormous charges. The first stage of our journey to-day was to
Grantham, through a country the greater part of which was as level as the
At Grantham, our route branches off from the main line; and there was a delay of about an hour, during which we walked up into the town, to take a nearer view of a tall gray steeple which we saw from the railway station. The streets that led from the station were poor and commonplace; and, indeed, a railway seems to have the effect of making its own vicinity mean. We noticed nothing remarkable until we got to the marketplace, in the centre of which there is a cross, doubtless of great antiquity, though it is in too good condition not to have been recently repaired. It consists of an upright pillar, with a pedestal of half a dozen stone steps, which are worn hollow by the many feet that have scraped their hobnailed shoes upon them. Among these feet, it is highly probable, may have been those of Sir Isaac Newton, who was a scholar of the free school of this town; and when J----- scampered up the steps, we told him so. Visible from the market-place also stands the Angel Inn, which seems to be a wonderfully old inn, being adorned with gargoyles and other antique sculpture, with projecting windows, and an arched entrance, and presenting altogether a frontispiece of so much venerable state that I feel curious to know its history. Had I been aware that the chief hotel of Grantham were such a time-honored establishment, I should have arranged to pass the night there, especially as there were interesting objects enough in the town to occupy us pleasantly. The church--the steeple of which is seen over the market-place, but is removed from it by a street or two--is very fine; the tower and spire being adorned with arches, canopies, and niches,--twelve of the latter for the twelve Apostles, all of whom have now vanished,--and with fragments of other Gothic ornaments. The jackdaws have taken up their abodes in the crevices and crannies of the upper half of the steeple.
We left Grantham at nearly seven, and reached
just before eight. The castle, situated on a high and precipitous rock, directly over the edge of which look the walls, was visible, as we drove from the station to our hotel. We followed the advice of a railway attendant in going first to the May Pole, which proved to be a commercial inn, with the air of a drinking-shop, in a by-alley; and, furthermore, they could not take us in. So we drove to the George the Fourth, which seems to be an excellent house; and here I have remained quiet, the size of the town discouraging me from going out in the twilight which was fast coming on after tea. These are glorious long days for travel; daylight fairly between four in the morning and nine at night, and a margin of twilight on either side.
May 29th.--After breakfast, this morning, I wandered out and
lost myself; but at last found the post-office, and a letter from Mr. Wilding,
with some perplexing intelligence.
we began to see copious plantations, principally of firs,
larches, and trees of that order, looking very sombre, though with some
intermingling of lighter foliage. It was
after one when we reached "The Hut,"--a small, modern wayside inn,
almost directly across the road from the entrance-gate of Newstead. The post-boy calls the distance ten miles
I suppose ten thousand people, three fourths of them Americans, have written descriptions of Newstead Abbey; and none of them, so far as I have read, give any true idea of the place; neither will my description, if I write one. In fact, I forget very much that I saw, and especially in what order the objects came. In the basement was Byron's bath,--a dark and cold and cellarlike hole, which it must have required good courage to plunge into; in this region, too, or near it, was the chapel, which Colonel Wildman has decorously fitted up, and where service is now regularly performed, but which was used as a dog's kennel in Byron's time.
After seeing this, we were led to Byron's own bedchamber,
which remains just as when he slept in it,--the furniture and all the other
arrangements being religiously preserved.
It was in the plainest possible style, homely, indeed, and almost
mean,--an ordinary paper-hanging, and everything so commonplace that it was
only the deep embrasure of the window that made it look unlike a bedchamber in
a middling-class lodging-house. It would
have seemed difficult, beforehand, to fit up a room in that picturesque old
edifice so that it should be utterly void of picturesqueness; but it was
effected in this apartment, and I suppose it is a specimen of the way in which
old mansions used to be robbed of their antique character, and adapted to
modern tastes, before mediaeval antiquities came into fashion. Some prints of the
It is very different now. After showing us these two apartments of Byron and his servant, the housekeeper led us from one to another and another magnificent chamber fitted up in antique style, with oak panelling, and heavily carved bedsteads, of Queen Elizabeth's time, or of the Stuarts, hung with rich tapestry curtains of similar date, and with beautiful old cabinets of carved wood, sculptured in relief, or tortoise-shell and ivory. The very pictures and realities, these rooms were, of stately comfort; and they were called by the name of kings,--King Edward's, King Charles II's, King Henry VII's chamber; and they were hung with beautiful pictures, many of them portraits of these kings. The chimney-pieces were carved and emblazoned; and all, so far as I could judge, was in perfect keeping, so that if a prince or noble of three centuries ago were to come to lodge at Newstead Abbey, he would hardly know that he had strayed out of his own century. And yet he might have known by some token, for there are volumes of poetry and light literature on the tables in these royal bedchambers, and in that of Henry VII. I saw The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter in Routledge's edition.
Certainly the house is admirably fitted up; and there must have been something very excellent and comprehensive in the domestic arrangements of the monks, since they adapt themselves so well to a state of society entirely different from that in which they originated. The library is a very comfortable room, and provocative of studious ideas, though lounging and luxurious. It is long, and rather low, furnished with soft couches, and, on the whole, though a man might dream of study, I think he would be most likely to read nothing but novels there. I know not what the room was in monkish times, but it was waste and ruinous in Lord Byron's. Here, I think, the housekeeper unlocked a beautiful cabinet, and took out the famous skull which Lord Byron transformed into a drinking-goblet. It has a silver rim and stand, but still the ugly skull is bare and evident, and the naked inner bone receives the wine. I should think it would hold at least a quart,--enough to overpower any living head into which this death's-head should transfer its contents; and a man must be either very drunk or very thirsty, before he would taste wine out of such a goblet. I think Byron's freak was outdone by that of a cousin of my own, who once solemnly assured me that he had a spittoon made out of the skull of his enemy. The ancient coffin in which the goblet-skull was found was shown us in the basement of the Abbey.
There was much more to see in the house than I had any
previous notion of; but except the two chambers already noticed, nothing
remained the least as Byron left it.
Yes, another place there was,--his own small dining-room, with a table
of moderate size, where, no doubt, the skull-goblet has often gone its rounds. Colonel Wildman's dining-room was once
Byron's shooting-gallery, and the original refectory of the monks. It is now magnificently arranged, with a
vaulted roof, a music-gallery at one end, suits of armor and weapons on the
walls, and mailed arms extended, holding candelabras. There are one or two painted windows,
commemorative of the Peninsular war, and the battles in which the Colonel and
his two brothers fought,--for these Wildmen seem to have been mighty troopers,
and Colonel Wildman is represented as a fierce-looking mustachioed hussar at
two different ages. The housekeeper
spoke of him affectionately, but says that he is now getting into years, and
that they fancy him failing. He has no
children. He appears to have been on
good terms with Byron, and had the latter ever returned to
We parted with the housekeeper, and I with a good many shillings, at the door by which we entered; and our next business was to see the private grounds and gardens. A little boy attended us through the first part of our progress, but soon appeared the veritable gardener,--a shrewd and sensible old man, who has been very many years on the place. There was nothing of special interest as concerning Byron until we entered the original old monkish garden, which is still laid out in the same fashion as the monks left it, with a large, oblong piece of water in the centre, and terraced banks rising at two or three different stages with perfect regularity around it; so that the sheet of water looks like the plate of an immense looking-glass, of which the terraces form the frame. It seems as if, were there any giant large enough, he might raise up this mirror and set it on end. In the monks' garden, there is a marble statue of Pan, which, the gardener told us, was brought by the "Wicked Lord" (great-uncle of Byron) from Italy, and was supposed by the country people to represent the Devil, and to be the object of his worship,--a natural idea enough, in view of his horns and cloven feet and tail, though this indicates, at all events, a very jolly devil. There is also a female statue, beautiful from the waist upward, but shaggy and cloven-footed below, and holding a little cloven-footed child by the hand. This, the old gardener assured us, was Pandora, wife of the above-mentioned Pan, with her son. Not far from this spot, we came to the tree on which Byron carved his own name and that of his sister Augusta. It is a tree of twin stems,--a birch-tree, I think,--growing up side by side. One of the stems still lives and flourishes, but that on which he carved the two names is quite dead, as if there had been something fatal in the inscription that has made it forever famous. The names are still very legible, although the letters had been closed up by the growth of the bark before the tree died. They must have been deeply cut at first.
There are old yew-trees of unknown antiquity in this garden, and many other interesting things; and among them may be reckoned a fountain of very pure water, called the "Holy Well," of which we drank. There are several fountains, besides the large mirror in the centre of the garden; and these are mostly inhabited by carp, the genuine descendants of those which peopled the fish-ponds in the days of the monks. Coming in front of the Abbey, the gardener showed us the oak that Byron planted, now a vigorous young tree; and the monument which he erected to his Newfoundland dog, and which is larger than most Christians get, being composed of a marble, altar-shaped tomb, surrounded by a circular area of steps, as much as twenty feet in diameter. The gardener said, however, that Byron intended this, not merely as the burial-place of his dog, but for himself too, and his sister. I know not how this may have been, but this inconvenience would have attended his being buried there, that, on transfer of the estate, his mortal remains would have become the property of some other man.
We had now come to the empty space,--a smooth green lawn, where had once been the Abbey church. The length had been sixty-four yards, the gardener said, and within his remembrance there had been many remains of it, but now they are quite removed, with the exception of the one ivy-grown western wall, which, as I mentioned, forms a picturesque part of the present front of the Abbey. Through a door in this wall the gardener now let us out. . . . .
In the evening our landlady, who seems to be a very intelligent woman, of a superior class to most landladies, came into our parlor, while I was out, and talked about the present race of Byrons and Lovelaces, who have often been at this house. There seems to be a taint in the Byron blood which makes those who inherit it wicked, mad, and miserable. Even Colonel Wildman comes in for a share of this ill luck, for he has almost ruined himself by his expenditure on the estate, and by his lavish hospitality, especially to the Duke of Sussex, who liked the Colonel, and used often to visit him during his lifetime, and his Royal Highness's gentlemen ate and drank Colonel Wildman almost up. So says our good landlady. At any rate, looking at this miserable race of Byrons, who held the estate so long, and at Colonel Wildman, whom it has ruined in forty years, we might see grounds for believing in the evil fate which is supposed to attend confiscated church property. Nevertheless, I would accept the estate, were it offered me.
. . . . Glancing back, I see that I have omitted some items that were curious in describing the house; for instance, one of the cabinets had been the personal property of Queen Elizabeth. It seems to me that the fashion of modern furniture has nothing to equal these old cabinets for beauty and convenience. In the state apartments, the floors were so highly waxed and polished that we slid on them as if on ice, and could only make sure of our footing by treading on strips of carpeting that were laid down.
June 7th.--We left Nottingham a week ago, and made our first stage to Derby, where we had to wait an hour or two at a great, bustling, pell-mell, crowded railway station. It was much thronged with second and third class passengers, coming and departing in continual trains; for these were the Whitsuntide holidays, which set all the lower orders of English people astir. This time of festival was evidently the origin of the old "Election" holidays in Massachusetts; the latter occurring at the same period of the year, and being celebrated (so long as they could be so) in very much the same way, with games, idleness, merriment of set purpose, and drunkenness. After a weary while we took the train for
via Ambergate, and arrived of the former place late in the
We put up at the old Bath Hotel,--an immense house, with passages of such extent that at first it seemed almost a day's journey from parlor to bedroom. The house stands on a declivity, and after ascending one pair of stairs, we came, in travelling along the passageway, to a door that opened upon a beautifully arranged garden, with arbors and grottos, and the hillside rising steep above. During all the time of our stay at Matlock there was brilliant sunshine, and, the grass and foliage being in their freshest and most luxuriant phase, the place has left as bright a picture as I have anywhere in my memory.
The morning after our arrival we took a walk, and, following
the sound of a church-bell, entered what appeared to be a park, and, passing
along a road at the base of a line of crags, soon came in sight of a beautiful
church. I rather imagine it to be the place
of worship of the Arkwright family, whose seat is in this vicinity,--the
descendants of the famous Arkwright who contributed so much towards turning
The next day, Monday, we went to see the grand cavern. The entrance is high up on the hillside, whither we were led by a guide, of whom there are many, and they all pay tribute to the proprietor of the cavern. There is a small shed by the side of the cavern mouth, where the guide provided himself and us with tallow candles, and then led us into the darksome and ugly pit, the entrance of which is not very imposing, for it has a door of rough pine boards, and is kept under lock and key. This is the disagreeable phase-one of the disagreeable phases--of man's conquest over nature in England,--cavern mouths shut up with cellar doors, cataracts under lock and key, precipitous crags compelled to figure in ornamented gardens,--and all accessible at a fixed amount of shillings or pence. It is not possible to draw a full free breath under such circumstances. When you think of it, it makes the wildest scenery look like the artificial rock-work which Englishmen are so fond of displaying in the little bit of grass-plot under their suburban parlor windows. However, the cavern was dreary enough and wild enough, though in a mean sort of way; for it is but a long series of passages and crevices, generally so narrow that you scrape your elbows, and so low that you hit your head. It has nowhere a lofty height, though sometimes it broadens out into ample space, but not into grandeur, the roof being always within reach, and in most places smoky with the tallow candles that have been held up to it. A very dirty, sordid, disagreeable burrow, more like a cellar gone mad than anything else; but it served to show us how the crust of the earth is moulded. This cavern was known to the Romans, and used to be worked by them as a lead-mine. Derbyshire spar is now taken from it; and in some of its crevices the gleam of the tallow candles is faintly reflected from the crystallizations; but, on the whole, I felt like a mole, as I went creeping along, and was glad when we came into the sunshine again. I rather think my idea of a cavern is taken from the one in the Forty Thieves, or in Gil Blas,--a vast, hollow womb, roofed and curtained with obscurity. This reality is very mean.
Leaving the cavern, we went to the guide's cottage, situated
high above the village, where he showed us specimens of ornaments and toys
manufactured by himself from Derbyshire spar and other materials. There was very pretty mosaic work, flowers of
spar, and leaves of malachite, and miniature copies of Cleopatra's Needle, and
other Egyptian monuments, and vases of graceful pattern, brooches, too, and
many other things. The most valuable
spar is called Blue John, and is only to be found in one spot, where, also, the
supply is said to be growing scant. We
bought a number of articles, and then came homeward, still with our guide, who
showed us, on the way, the Romantic Rocks.
These are some crags which have been rent away and stand insulated from
the hillside, affording a pathway between it and then; while the places can yet
be seen where the sundered rocks would fit into the craggy hill if there were
but a Titan strong enough to adjust them again.
It is a very picturesque spot, and the price for seeing it is twopence;
though in our case it was included in the four shillings which we had paid for
seeing the cavern. The representative
Returning to the hotel, J----- and his mother went through the village to the river, near the railway, where J----- set himself to fishing, and caught three minnows. I followed, after a while, to fetch them back, and we called into one or two of the many shops in the village, which have articles manufactured of the spar for sale. Some of these are nothing short of magnificent. There was an inlaid table, valued at sixty guineas, and a splendid ornament for any drawing-room; another, inlaid with the squares of a chess-board. We heard of a table in the possession of the Marquis of Westminster, the value of which is three hundred guineas. It would be easy and pleasant to spend a great deal of money in such things as we saw there; but all our purchases in Matlock did not amount to more than twenty shillings, invested in brooches, shawl-pins, little vases and toys, which will be valuable to us as memorials on the other side of the water. After this, we visited a petrifying cave, of which there are several hereabouts. The process of petrifaction requires some months, or perhaps a year or two, varying with the size of the article to be operated upon. The articles are placed in the cave, under the drippings from the roof, and a hard deposit is formed upon them, and sometimes, as in the case of a bird's-nest, causes a curious result,--every straw and hair being immortalized and stiffened into stone. A horse's head was in process of petrifaction; and J----- bought a broken eggshell for a penny, though larger articles are expensive. The process would appear to be entirely superficial,--a mere crust on the outside of things,--but we saw some specimens of petrified oak, where the stony substance seemed to be intimately incorporated with the wood, and to have really changed it into stone. These specimens were immensely ponderous, and capable of a high polish, which brought out beautiful streaks and shades.
One might spend a very pleasant summer in Matlock, and I
think there can be no more beautiful place in the world; but we left it that
afternoon, and railed to Manchester, where we arrived between ten and eleven at
night. The next day I left S----- to go
to the Art Exhibition, and took J----- with me to
These are delightfully long days. Last night, at half past nine, I could read with perfect ease in parts of the room remote from the window; and at nearly half past eleven there was a broad sheet of daylight in the west, gleaming brightly over the plashy sands. I question whether there be any total night at this season.
June 21st.--Southport, I presume, is now in its most vivid
aspect; there being a multitude of visitors here, principally of the middling
classes, and a frequent crowd, whom I take to be working-people from
June 25th.--The war-steamer Niagara came up the Mersey a few
days since, and day before yesterday Captain Hudson called at my office,--a
somewhat meagre, elderly gentleman, of simple and hearty manners and address,
having his purser, Mr. Eldredge, with him, who, I think, rather prides himself
upon having a Napoleonic profile. The
captain is an old acquaintance of Mrs. Blodgett, and has cone ashore principally
with a view to calling on her; so, after we had left our cards for the Mayor, I
showed these naval gentlemen the way to her house. Mrs. Blodgett and Miss W------ were
prodigiously glad to see him and they all three began to talk of old times and
old acquaintances; for when Mrs. Blodgett was a rich lady at Gibraltar, she
used to have the whole navy-list at her table,--young midshipmen and
lieutenants then perhaps, but old, gouty, paralytic commodores now, if still
even partly alive. It was arranged that
Mrs. Blodgett, with as many of the ladies of her family as she chose to bring,
should accompany me on my official visit to the ship the next day; and
yesterday we went accordingly, Mrs. Blodgett, Miss W------, and six or seven
American captains' wives, their husbands following in another boat. I know too little of ships to describe one,
or even to feel any great interest in the details of this or of any other ship;
but the nautical people seemed to see much to admire. She lay in the Sloyne, in the midst of a
broad basin of the Mersey, with a pleasant landscape of green
After seeing the ship, we landed, all of us, ladies and captain, and went to the gardens of the Rock Ferry Hotel, where J----- and I stayed behind the rest.
June 28th.--On the 26th my wife, J-----, and I left
Southport, taking the train for Preston, and as we had to stop an hour or two
before starting for Carlisle, I walked up into the town. The street through which most of my walk lay
was brick-built, lively, bustling, and not particularly noteworthy; but,
turning a little way down another street, the town had a more ancient
aspect. The day was intensely hot, the
sun lying bright and broad as ever I remember it in an American city; so that I
was glad to get back again to the shade and shelter of the station. The heat and dust, moreover, made our journey
The notable objects were a castle and a cathedral; and we
first found our way to the castle, which stands on elevated ground, on the side
of the city towards
It was an intelligent young soldier who showed as round the castle, and very civil, as I always find soldiers to be. He had not anything particularly interesting to show, nor very much to say about it; and what be did say, so far as it referred to the history of the castle, was probably apocryphal.
The castle has an inner and outer ward on the descent of the
hill; and included within the circuit of the exterior wall. Having been always occupied by soldiers, it
has not been permitted to assume the picturesque aspect of a ruin, but the
buildings of the interior have either been constantly repaired, as they required
it, or have been taken down when past repair.
We saw a small part of the tower where Mary, Queen of Scots, was
confined on her first coming to
The castle, after all, was not particularly worth seeing. The soldier's most romantic story was of a daughter of Lord Scroope, a former governor of the castle, when Mary of Scotland was confined here. She attempted to assist the Queen in escaping, but was shot dead in the gateway by the warder; and the soldier pointed out the very spot where the poor young lady fell and died;--all which would be very interesting were there a word of truth in the story. But we liked our guide for his intelligence, simplicity, and for the pleasure which he seemed to take, as an episode of his dull daily life, in talking to strangers. He observed that the castle walls were solid, and, indeed, there was breadth enough to drive a coach and four along the top; but the artillery of the Crimea would have shelled them into ruins in a very few hours. When we got back to the guard-house, he took us inside, and showed the dismal and comfortless rooms where soldiers are confined for drunkenness, and other offences against military laws, telling us that he himself had been confined there, and almost perished with cold. I should not much wonder if he were to get into durance again, through misuse of the fee which I put into his hand at parting.
The cathedral is at no great distance from the castle; and though the streets are mean and sordid in the vicinity, the close has the antique repose and shadowy peace, at once domestic and religious, which seem peculiar and universal in cathedral closes. The foundation of this cathedral church is very ancient, it having been the church portion of an old abbey, the refectory and other remains of which are still seen around the close. But the whole exterior of the building, except here and there a buttress, and one old patch of gray stones, seems to have been renewed within a very few years with red freestone; and, really, I think it is all the more beautiful for being new,--the ornamental parts being so sharply cut, and the stone, moreover, showing various shadings, which will disappear when it gets weatherworn. There is a very large and fine east window, of recent construction, wrought with delicate stone tracery. The door of the south transept stood open, though barred by an iron grate. We looked in, and saw a few monuments on the wall, but found nobody to give us admittance. The portal of this entrance is very lovely with wreaths of stone foliage and flowers round the arch, recently carved; yet not so recently but that the swallows have given their sanction to it, as if it were a thousand years old, and have built their nests in the deeply carved recesses. While we were looking, a little bird flew into the small opening between two of these petrified flowers, behind which was his nest, quite out of sight. After some attempts to find the verger, we went back to the hotel. . . . .
In the morning my wife and J----- went back to see the
interior of the cathedral, while I strayed at large about the town, again
passing round the castle site, and thence round the city, where I found some
inconsiderable portions of the wall which once girt it about. It was market-day in
[Here follows the record of the visits to the "Haunts of Burns," already published in Our Old Home.--ED.]
July 1st.--Immediately after our arrival yesterday, we went
out and inquired our way to the cathedral, which we reached through a good deal
of Scotch dirt, and a rabble of Scotch people of all sexes and ages. The women of
The upper portion of the minster, though very stately and beautiful, is not nearly so extraordinary as the crypts. Here the intricacy of the arches, and the profound system on which they are arranged, is inconceivable, even when you see them,--a whole company of arches uniting in one keystone; arches uniting to form a glorious canopy over the shrine or tomb of a prelate; arches opening through and beyond one another, whichever way you look,-- all amidst a shadowy gloom, yet not one detail wrought out the less beautifully and delicately because it could scarcely be seen. The wreaths of flowers that festoon one of the arches are cut in such relief that they do but just adhere to the stone on which they grow. The pillars are massive, and the arches very low, the effect being a twilight, which at first leads the spectator to imagine himself underground; but by and by I saw that the sunshine came in through the narrow windows, though it scarcely looked like sunshine then. For many years these crypts were used as burial-ground, and earth was brought in, for the purpose of making graves; so that the noble columns were half buried, and the beauty of the architecture quite lost and forgotten. Now the dead men's bones and the earth that covered them have all been removed, leaving the original pavement of the crypt, or a new one in its stead, with only the old relics of saints, martyrs, and heroes underneath, where they have lain so long that they have become a part of the spot. . . . . I was quite chilled through, and the old verger regretted that we had not come during the late hot weather, when the everlasting damp and chill of the spot would have made us entirely comfortable. These crypts originated in the necessity of keeping the floor of the upper cathedral on one level, the edifice being built on a declivity, and the height of the crypt being measured by the descent of the site.
After writing the above, we walked out and saw something of
the newer portion of
Afterwards he led us into the Divinity Hall, where, he said,
there were some old portraits of historic people, and among them an original
picture of Mary, Queen of Scots. There
was, indeed, a row of old portraits at each end of the apartment,--for
instance, Zachariah Boyd, who wrote the rhyming version of the Bible, which is
still kept, safe from any critical eye, in the library of the University to
which he presented this, besides other more valuable benefactions,--for which
they have placed his bust in a niche in the principal quadrangle; also, John
Knox makes one of the row of portraits; and a dozen or two more of Scotch
worthies, all very dark and dingy. As to
the picture of Mary of Scotland, it proved to be not hers at all, but a picture
of Queen Mary, the consort of William III., whose portrait, together with that
of her sister, Queen Anne, hangs in the same row. We told our guide this, but he seemed
unwilling to accept it as a fact. There
is a museum belonging to the University; but this, for some reason or other, could
not be shown to us just at this time, and there was little else to show. We just looked at the gardens, but, though of
large extent, they are so meagre and bare--so unlike that lovely shade of the
Then we went back to our hotel, and if there were not
already more than enough of description, both past and to come, I should
describe George's Square, on one side of which the hotel is situated. A tall column rises in the grassy centre of
it, lifting far into the upper air a fine statue of Sir Walter Scott, which we
saw to great advantage last night, relieved against the sunset sky; and there
are statues of Sir John Moore, a native of
After lunch we embarked on board the steamer, and came up
July 2d.--After tea, not far from seven o'clock, it being a beautiful decline of day, we set out to walk to
which stands apart from the town, and is said to have been
once surrounded by the waters of the
The lowest battery looks towards the river, and consists of a few twelve-pound cannon; but probably the chief danger of attack was from the land, and the chief pains have been taken to render the castle defensible in that quarter. There are flights of stone stairs ascending up through the natural avenue, in the cleft of the double-summited rock; and about midway there is an arched doorway, beneath which there used to be a portcullis,--so that if an enemy had won the lower part of the fortress, the upper portion was still inaccessible. Where the cleft of the rock widens into a gorge, there are several buildings, old, but not appertaining to the ancient castle, which has almost entirely disappeared. We ascended both summits, and, reaching the loftiest point on the right, stood upon the foundation of a tower that dates back to the fifth century, whence we had a glorious prospect of Highlands and Lowlands; the chief object being Ben Lomond, with its great dome, among a hundred other blue and misty hills, with the sun going down over them; and, in another direction, the Clyde, winding far downward through the plain, with the headland of Dumbeck close at hand, and Douglas Castle at no great distance. On the ramparts beneath us the soldier pointed out the spot where Wallace scaled the wall, climbing an apparently inaccessible precipice, and taking the castle. The principal parts of the ancient castle appear to have been on the other and lower summit of the hill, and thither we now went, and traced the outline of its wall, although none of it is now remaining. Here is the magazine, still containing some powder, and here is a battery of eighteen-pound guns, with pyramids of balls, all in readiness against an assault; which, however, hardly any turn of human affairs can hereafter bring about. The appearance of a fortress is kept up merely for ceremony's sake; and these cannon have grown antiquated. Moreover, as the soldier told us, they are seldom or never fired, even for purposes of rejoicing or salute, because their thunder produces the singular effect of depriving the garrison of water. There is a large tank, and the concussion causes the rifts of the stone to open, and thus lets the water out. Above this battery, and elsewhere about the fortress, there are warders' turrets of stone, resembling great pepper-boxes. When Dr. Johnson visited the castle, he introduced his bulky person into one of these narrow receptacles, and found it difficult to get out again. A gentleman who accompanied him was just stepping forward to offer his assistance, but Boswell whispered him to take no notice, lest Johnson should be offended; so they left him to get out as he could. He did finally extricate himself, else we might have seen his skeleton in the turret. Boswell does not tell this story, which seems to have been handed down by local tradition.
The less abrupt declivities of the rock are covered with grass, and afford food for a few sheep, who scamper about the heights, and seem to have attained the dexterity of goats in clambering. I never knew a purer air than this seems to be, nor a lovelier golden sunset.
Descending into the gorge again, we went into the armory, which is in one of the buildings occupying the space between the two hill-tops. It formerly contained a large collection of arms; but these have been removed to the Tower of London, and there are now only some tattered banners, of which I do not know the history, and some festoons of pistols, and grenades, shells, and grape and canister shot, kept merely as curiosities; and, far more interesting than the above, a few battle-axes, daggers, and spear-heads from the field of Bannockburn; and, more interesting still, the sword of William Wallace. It is a formidable-looking weapon, made for being swayed with both hands, and, with its hilt on the floor, reached about to my chin; but the young girl who showed us the armory said that about nine inches had been broken off the point. The blade was not massive, but somewhat thin, compared with its great length; and I found that I could blandish it, using both hands, with perfect ease. It is two-edged, without any gaps, and is quite brown and lustreless with old rust, from point to hilt.
These were all the memorables of our visit to
We now returned to our hotel, a very nice one, and found the street of Dumbarton all alive in the summer evening with the sports of children and the gossip of grown people. There was almost no night, for at twelve o'clock there was still a golden daylight, and Yesterday, before it died, must have met the Morrow.
In the lower part of the fortress there is a large sun-dial of stone, which was made by a French officer imprisoned here during the Peninsular war. It still numbers faithfully the hours that are sunny, and it is a lasting memorial of him, in the stronghold of his enemies.
Evening.--After breakfast at Dumbarton, I went out to look
at the town, which is of considerable size, and possesses both commerce and
manufactures. There was a
screw-steamship at the pier, and many sailor-looking people were seen about the
streets. There are very few old houses,
though still the town retains an air of antiquity which one does not well see
how to account for, when everywhere there is a modern front, and all the
characteristics of a street built to-day.
Turning from the main thoroughfare I crossed a bridge over the Clyde,
and gained from it the best view of the cloven crag of
We left Dumbarton at noon, taking the rail to Balloch, and
the steamer to the head of
Wild mountain scenery is not very good to describe, nor do I
think any distinct impressions are ever conveyed by such attempts; so I mean to
be brief in what I saw about this part of our tour, especially as I suspect
that I have said whatever I knew how to say in the record of my former visit to
the Highlands. As for
Our little steamer stopped at half a dozen places on its
voyage up the lake, most of them being stations where hotels have been
established. Morally, the
At the head of the lake, we found that there was only a
horse-cart to convey our luggage to the hotel at Inverannan, and that we
ourselves must walk, the distance being two miles. It had sprinkled occasionally during our
voyage, but was now sunshiny, and not excessively warm; so we set forth
contentedly enough, and had an agreeable walk along an almost perfectly level
road; for it is one of the beauties of these hills, that they descend abruptly
down, instead of undulating away forever.
There were lofty heights on each side of us, but not so lofty as to have
won a distinctive name; and adown their sides we could see the rocky pathways
of cascades, which, at this season, are either quite dry, or mere trickles of a
rill. The hills and valleys abound in
streams, sparkling through pebbly beds, and forming here and there a dark pool;
and they would be populous with trout if all
July 3d.--Last night seemed to close in clear, and even at
midnight it was still light enough to read; but this morning rose on us misty
and chill, with spattering showers of rain.
Clouds momentarily settled and shifted on the hill-tops, shutting us in
even more completely than these steep and rugged green walls would be sure to
do, even in the clearest weather. Often
these clouds came down and enveloped us in a drizzle, or rather a shower, of
such minute drops that they had not weight enough to fall. This, I suppose, was a genuine Scotch mist;
and as such it is well enough to have experienced it, though I would willingly
never see it again. Such being the state
of the weather, my wife did not go out at all, but I strolled about the
premises, in the intervals of rain-drops, gazing up at the hillsides, and
recognizing that there is a vast variety of shape, of light and shadow, and
incidental circumstance, even in what looks so monotonous at first as the green
slope of a hill. The little rills that
come down from the summits were rather more distinguishable than yesterday,
having been refreshed by the night's rain; but still they were very much out of
proportion with the wide pathways of bare rock adown which they ran. These little rivulets, no doubt, often lead
through the wildest scenery that is to be found in the
I suspect the American clouds are more picturesque than
Whenever I looked upward, I thought it might be going to clear up; but, instead of that, it began to rain more in earnest after midday, and at half past two we left Inverannan in a smart shower. At the head of the lake, we took the steamer, with the rain pouring more heavily than ever, and landed at Inversnaid under the same dismal auspices. We left a very good hotel behind us, and have come to another that seems also good. We are more picturesquely situated at this spot than at Inverannan, our hotel being within a short distance of the lake shore, with a glen just across the water, which will doubtless be worth looking at when the mist permits us to see it. A good many tourists were standing about the door when we arrived, and looked at us with the curiosity of idle and weather-bound people. The lake is here narrow, but a hundred fathoms deep; so that a great part of the height of the mountains which beset it round is hidden beneath its surface.
July 4th.--This morning opened still misty, but with a more
hopeful promise than yesterday, and when I went out, after breakfast, there
were gleams of sunshine here and there on the hillsides, falling, one did not
exactly see how, through the volumes of cloud.
Close beside the hotel of Inversnaid is the waterfall; all night, my
room being on that side of the house, I had heard its voice, and now I ascended
beside it to a point where it is crossed by a wooden bridge. There is thence a view, upward and downward,
of the most striking descents of the river, as I believe they call it, though
it is but a mountain-stream, which tumbles down an irregular and broken
staircase in its headlong haste to reach the lake. It is very picturesque,
however, with its ribbons of white foam over the precipitous steps, and its
deep black pools, overhung by black rocks, which reverberate the rumble of the
falling water. J----- and I ascended a
little distance along the cascade, and then turned aside; he going up the hill,
and I taking a path along its side which gave me a view across the lake. I rather think this particular stretch of
Loch Lomond, in front of Inversnaid, is the most beautiful lake and
We now engaged a boat, and were rowed to Rob Roy's cave,
which is perhaps half a mile distant up the lake. The shores look much more striking from a
rowboat, creeping along near the margin, than from a steamer in the middle of
the loch; and the ridge, beneath which Rob's cave lies, is precipitous with
gray rocks, and clothed, too, with thick foliage. Over the cave itself there is a huge ledge of
rock, from which immense fragments have tumbled down, ages and ages ago, and
fallen together in such a way as to leave a large irregular crevice in Rob
Roy's cave. We scrambled up to its mouth
by some natural stairs, and scrambled down into its depths by the aid of a
ladder. I suppose I have already
described this hole in the record of my former visit. Certainly, Rob Roy, and Robert Bruce, who is
said to have inhabited it before him, were not to be envied their
accommodations; yet these were not so very intolerable when compared with a
J----- had chosen to remain to fish. On our return from the cave, we found that he had caught nothing; but just as we stepped into the boat, a fish drew his float far under water, and J------ tugging at one end of the line, and the fish at the other, the latter escaped, with the hook in his month. J------ avers that he saw the fish, and gives its measurement as about eighteen inches; but the fishes that escape us are always of tremendous size. The boatman thought, however, that it might have been a pike.
THE TROSACHS' HOTEL.--ARDCHEANOCHROCHAN.
July 5th.--Not being able to get a post-chaise, we took
places in the omnibus for the bead of Loch Katrine. Going up to pay a parting visit to the
waterfall before starting, I met with Miss C------, as she lately was, who is
now on her wedding tour as Mrs. B------.
She was painting the falls in oil, with good prospect of a successful
picture. She came down to the hotel to
see my wife, and soon afterwards J----- and I set out to ascend the steep hill
that comes down upon the lake of Inversnaid, leaving the omnibus to follow at
leisure. The Highlander who took us to
Rob Roy's cave had foreboded rain, from the way in which the white clouds hung
about the mountain-tops; nor was his augury at fault, for just at three
o'clock, the time he foretold, there were a few rain-drops, and a more defined
shower during the afternoon, while we were on Loch Katrine. The few drops,
however, did not disturb us; and, reaching the top of the hill, J----- and I
turned aside to examine the old stone fortress which was erected in this
mountain pass to bridle the Highlanders after the rebellion of 1745. It stands in a very desolate and dismal
situation, at the foot of long bare slopes, on mossy ground, in the midst of a
disheartening loneliness, only picturesque because it is so exceedingly
ungenial and unlovely. The chief
interest of this spot in the fact that Wolfe, in his earlier military career,
was stationed here. The fortress was a
very plain structure, built of rough stones, in the form of a parallelogram,
one side of which I paced, and found it between thirty and forty of my paces
long. The two ends have fallen down; the
two sides that remain are about twenty feet high, and have little port-holes
for defence, but no openings of the size of windows. The roof is gone, and the interior space
overgrown with grass. Two little girls
were at play in one corner, and, going round to the rear of the ruin, I saw
that a small
We kept on our way, often looking back towards
and went on board the steamer Rob Roy; and, setting forth on
our voyage, a
We did not see Loch Katrine, perhaps, under its best
presentment; for the surface was roughened with a little wind, and darkened
even to inky blackness by the clouds that overhung it. The hill-tops, too, wore a very dark frown. A lake of this size cannot be terrific, and
is therefore seen to best advantage when it is beautiful. The scenery of its shores is not altogether
so rich and lovely as I had preimagined; not equal, indeed, to the best parts
of Loch Lomond,--the hills being lower and of a more ridgy shape, and
exceedingly bare, at least towards the lower end. But they turn the lake aside with headland
after headland, and shut it in closely, and open one vista after another, so
that the eye is never weary, and, least of all, as we approach the end. The length of the loch is ten miles, and at
its termination it meets the pass of the Trosachs, between Ben An and Ben
Venue, which are the rudest and shaggiest of hills. The steamer passes Ellen's Isle, but to the
right, which is the side opposite to that on which Fitz-James must be supposed
to have approached it. It is a very
small island, situated where the loch narrows, and is perhaps less than a
quarter of a mile distant from either shore.
It looks like a lump of rock, with just soil enough to support a crowd
of dwarf oaks, birches, and firs, which do not grow so high as to be shadowy
trees. Our voyage being over, we landed,
and found two omnibuses, one of which took us through the famous pass of the
Trosachs, a distance of a mile and a quarter, to a hotel, erected in
castellated guise by Lord Willoughby d'Eresby.
We were put into a parlor within one of the round towers, panelled all
round, and with four narrow windows, opening through deep embrasures. No play-castle was ever more like the
reality, and it is a very good hotel, like all that we have had experience of
This morning opened cloudily; but after breakfast I set out alone, and walked through the pass of the Trosachs, and thence by a path along the right shore of the lake. It is a very picturesque and beautiful path, following the windings of the lake,--now along the beach, now over an impending bank, until it comes opposite to Ellen's Isle, which on this side looks more worthy to be the island of the poem than as we first saw it. Its shore is craggy and precipitous, but there was a point where it seemed possible to land, nor was it too much to fancy that there might be a rustic habitation among the shrubbery of this rugged spot. It is foolish to look into these matters too strictly. Scott evidently used as much freedom with his natural scenery as he did with his historic incidents; and he could have made nothing of either one or the other if he had been more scrupulous in his arrangement and adornment of them. In his description of the Trosachs, he has produced something very beautiful, and as true as possible, though certainly its beauty has a little of the scene-painter's gloss on it. Nature is better, no doubt, but Nature cannot be exactly reproduced on canvas or in print; and the artist's only resource is to substitute something that may stand instead of and suggest the truth.
The path still kept onward, after passing Ellen's Isle, and
I followed it, finding it wilder, more shadowy with overhanging foliage of
trees, old and young,--more like a mountain-path in Berkshire or New Hampshire,
yet still with an Old World restraint and cultivation about it,--the farther I
went. At last I came upon some bars, and
though the track was still seen beyond, I took this as a hint to stop,
especially as I was now two or three miles from the hotel, and it just then
began to rain. My umbrella was a poor
one at best, and had been tattered and turned inside out, a day or two ago, by
a gust on
July 6th.--We dined yesterday at the table d'hote, at the suggestion of the butler, in order to give less trouble to the servants of the hotel, and afford them an opportunity to go to kirk. The dining-room is in accordance with the rest of the architecture and fittings up of the house, and is a very good reproduction of an old baronial hall, with high panellings and a roof of dark, polished wood. There were about twenty guests at table; and if they and the waiters had been dressed in mediaeval costume, we might have imagined ourselves banqueting in the Middle Ages.
After dinner we all took a walk through the Trosachs' pass again, and by the right-hand path along the lake as far as Ellen's Isle. It was very pleasant, there being gleams of calm evening sunshine gilding the mountain-sides, and putting a golden crown occasionally on the Tread of Ben Venue. It is wonderful how many aspects a mountain has,--how many mountains there are in every single mountain!---how they vary too, in apparent attitude and bulk. When we reached the lake its surface was almost unruffled, except by now and then the narrow pathway of a breeze, as if the wing of an unseen spirit had just grazed it in flitting across. The scene was very beautiful, and, on the whole, I do not know that Walter Scott has overcharged his description, although he has symbolized the reality by types and images which it might not precisely suggest to other minds. We were reluctant to quit the spot, and cherish still a hope of seeing it again, though the hope does not seem very likely to be gratified.
This was a lowering and sullen morning, but soon after
breakfast I took a walk in the opposite direction to Loch Katrine, and reached
the Brig of Turk, a little beyond which is the new Trosachs' Hotel, and the
J----- had gone with me part of the way, but stopped to fish
with a pin-hook in Loch Achray, which bordered along our path. When I returned, I found him much elated at
having caught a fish, which, however, had got away, carrying his pin-hook along
with it. Then he had amused himself with
taking some lizards by the tail, and had collected several in a small hollow of
the rocks. We now walked home together,
and at half past three we took our seats in a genuine old-fashioned
stage-coach, of which there are few specimens now to be met with. The coachman was smartly dressed in the
Queen's scarlet, and was a very pleasant and affable personage, conducting
himself towards the passengers with courteous authority. Inside we were four, including J-----, but on
the top there were at least a dozen, and I would willingly have been there too,
but had taken an inside seat, under apprehension of rain, and was not allowed
to change it. Our drive was not marked
by much describable incident. On
changing horses at Callender, we alighted, and saw Ben Ledi behind us, making a
picturesque background to the little town, which seems to be the meeting-point
of the Highlands and
BRIG OF ALLAN.
The place is three miles short of
July 7th.--We bestirred ourselves early this morning, . . .
. and took the rail for
We climbed the steep slope of the Castle Hill, sometimes
passing an antique-looking house, with a high, notched gable, perhaps with an
ornamented front, until we came to the sculptures and battlemented wall, with
an archway, that stands just below the castle. . . . . A shabby-looking man now
accosted us, and could hardly be shaken off.
I have met with several such boors in my experience of
sight-seeing. He kept along with us, in
spite of all hints to the contrary, and insisted on pointing out objects of
interest. He showed us a house in
Beyond all doubt, I have written quite as good a description of the castle and Carse of Stirling in a former portion of my journal as I can now write. We passed through the outer rampart of Queen Anne; through the old round gate-tower of an earlier day, and beneath the vacant arch where the portcullis used to fall, thus reaching the inner region, where stands the old palace on one side, and the old Parliament House on the other. The former looks aged, ragged, and rusty, but makes a good appearance enough pictorially, being adorned all round about with statues, which may have been white marble once, but are as gray as weather-beaten granite now, and look down from between the windows above the basement story. A photograph would give the idea of very rich antiquity, but as it really stands, looking on a gravelled court-yard, and with "CANTEEN" painted on one of its doors, the spectator does not find it very impressive. The great hall of this palace is now partitioned off into two or three rooms, and the whole edifice is arranged to serve as barracks. Of course, no trace of ancient magnificence, if anywise destructible, can be left in the interior. We were not shown into this palace, nor into the Parliament House, nor into the tower, where King James stabbed the Earl of Douglas. When I was here a year ago, I went up the old staircase and into the room where the murder was committed, although it had recently been the scene of a fire, which consumed as much of it as was inflammable. The window whence the Earl's body was thrown then remained; but now the whole tower seems to have been renewed, leaving only the mullions of the historic window.
We merely looked up at the new, light-colored freestone of
the restored tower in passing, and ascended to the ramparts, where we found one
of the most splendid views, morally and materially, that this world can show.
Indeed, I think there cannot be such a landscape as the Carse of Stirling, set
in such a frame as it is,--the Highlands, comprehending our friends, Ben
Lomond, Ben Venue, Ben An, and the whole Ben brotherhood, with the Grampians
surrounding it to the westward and northward, and in other directions some
range of prominent objects to shut it in; and the plain itself, so worthy of
the richest setting, so fertile, so beautiful, so written over and over again
with histories. The silver Links of
Forth are as sweet and gently picturesque an object as a man sees in a
lifetime. I do not wonder that
I do not remember seeing the hill of execution before,--a
mound on the same level as the castle's base, looking towards the
Descending from the ramparts, we went into the Armory, which
I did not see on my former visit. The
superintendent of this department is an old soldier of very great intelligence
and vast communicativeness, and quite absorbed in thinking of and handling
weapons; for he is a practical armorer.
He had few things to show us that were very interesting,--a helmet or
two, a bomb and grenade from the Crimea; also some muskets from the same
quarter, one of which, with a sword at the end, he spoke of admiringly, as the
best weapon in the collection, its only fault being its extreme weight. He showed us, too, some Minie rifles, and
whole ranges of the old-fashioned Brown Bess, which had helped to win
Then the armorer showed us a
Our soldier, who had resigned the care of us to the armorer,
met us again at the door, and led us round the remainder of the ramparts,
dismissing us finally at the gate by which we entered. All the time we were in the castle there had
been a great discordance of drums and fifes, caused by the musicians who were
practising just under the walls; likewise the sergeants were drilling their
squads of men, and putting them through strange gymnastic motions. Most, if not all, of the garrison belongs to
A hospital it was, or had been intended for; but the
authorities of the town had made some convenient arrangement with those
entitled to its charity, and had appropriated the ancient edifice to
themselves. So said a boy who showed us
into the Guildhall,--an apartment with a vaulted oaken roof, and otherwise of
antique aspect and furniture; all of which, however, were modern
restorations. We then went into an old
church or cathedral, which was divided into two parts; one of them, in which I
saw the royal arms, being probably for the Church-of-England service, and the
other for the Kirk of Scotland. I
remember little or nothing of this edifice, except that the Covenanters had
uplifted it with pews and a gallery, and whitewash; though I doubt not it was a
stately Gothic church, with innumerable enrichments and incrustations of
beauty, when it passed from popish hands into theirs. Thence we wandered downward, through a back
street, amid very shabby houses, some of which bore tokens of having once been
the abodes of courtly and noble personages.
We paused before one that displayed, I think, the sign of a
spirit-retailer, and looked as disreputable as a house could, yet was built of
stalwart stone, and had two circular towers in front, once, doubtless, crowned
with conical tops. We asked an elderly
man whether he knew anything of the history of this house; and he said that he
had been acquainted with it for almost fifty years, but never knew anything
noteworthy about it. Reaching the foot of the hill, along whose back the
streets of Stirling run, and which blooms out into the Castle Craig, we
returned to the railway, and at noon took leave of
I forgot to tell of the things that awakened rather more
sympathy in us than any other objects in the castle armory. These were some rude weapons--pikes, very
roughly made; and old rusty muskets, broken and otherwise out of order; and
swords, by no means with
. . . . I believe I cannot go on to recount any further this
evening the experiences of to-day. It has
been a very rich day; only that I have seen more than my sluggish powers of
reception can well take in at once. After quitting
and, alighting, took up our quarters at the Star and Garter Hotel,
which, like almost all the Scottish caravan-saries of which we have had
experience, turns out a comfortable one. . . . . We stayed within doors for an
hour or two, and I busied myself with writing up my journal. At about three, however, the sky brightened a
little, and we set forth through the ancient, rusty, and queer-looking town of
July 8th.--At about three o'clock yesterday, as I said, we
walked forth through the ancient street of Linlithgow, and, coming to the
market-place, stopped to look at an elaborate and heavy stone fountain, which
we found by an inscription to be the fac-simile of an old one that used to
stand on the same site. Turning to the
right, the outer entrance to the palace fronts on this market-place, if such it
be; and close to it, a little on one side, is the church. A young woman, with a key in her hand,
offered to admit us into the latter; so we went in, and found it divided by a
wall across the middle into two parts.
The hither portion, being the nave, was whitewashed, and looked as bare
and uninteresting as an old Gothic
We stayed but a little while in the church, and then proceeded to the palace, which, as I said, is close at hand. On entering the outer enclosure through an ancient gateway, we were surprised to find how entire the walls seemed to be; but the reason is, I suppose, that the ruins have not been used as a stone-quarry, as has almost always been the case with old abbeys and castles. The palace took fire and was consumed, so far as consumable, in 1745, while occupied by the soldiers of General Hawley; but even yet the walls appear so stalwart that I should imagine it quite possible to rebuild and restore the stately rooms on their original plan. It was a noble palace, one hundred and seventy-five feet in length by one hundred and sixty-five in breadth, and though destitute of much architectural beauty externally, yet its aspect from the quadrangle which the four sides enclose is venerable and sadly beautiful. At each of the interior angles there is a circular tower, up the whole height of the edifice and overtopping it, and another in the centre of one of the sides, all containing winding staircases. The walls facing upon the enclosed quadrangle are pierced with many windows, and have been ornamented with sculpture, rich traces of which still remain over the arched entrance-ways; and in the grassy centre of the court there is the ruin and broken fragments of a fountain, which once used to play for the delight of the king and queen, and lords and ladies, who looked down upon it from hall and chamber. Many old carvings that belonged to it are heaped together there; but the water has disappeared, though, had it been a natural spring, it would have outlasted all the heavy stone-work.
As far as we were able, and could find our way, we went through every room of the palace, all round the four sides. From the first floor upwards it is entirely roofless. In some of the chambers there is an accumulation of soil, and a goodly crop of grass; in others there is still a flooring of flags or brick tiles, though damp and moss-grown, and with weeds sprouting between the crevices. Grass and weeds, indeed, have found soil enough to flourish in, even on the highest ranges of the walls, though at a dizzy height above the ground; and it was like an old and trite touch of romance, to see how the weeds sprouted on the many hearth-stones and aspired under the chimney-flues, as if in emulation of the long-extinguished flame. It was very mournful, very beautiful, very delightful, too, to see how Nature takes back the palace, now that kings have done with it, and adopts it as a part of her great garden.
On one side of the quadrangle we found the roofless chamber where Mary, Queen of Scots, was born, and in the same range the bedchamber that was occupied by several of the Scottish Jameses; and in one corner of the latter apartment there is a narrow, winding staircase, down which I groped, expecting to find a door, either into the enclosed quadrangle or to the outside of the palace. But it ends in nothing, unless it be a dungeon; and one does not well see why the bedchamber of the king should be so convenient to a dungeon. It is said that King James III. once escaped down this secret stair, and lay concealed from some conspirators who had entered his chamber to murder him. This range of apartments is terminated, like the other sides of the palace, by a circular tower enclosing a staircase, up which we mounted, winding round and round, and emerging at various heights, until at last we found ourselves at the very topmost point of the edifice; and here there is a small pepper-box of a turret, almost as entire as when the stones were first laid. It is called Queen Margaret's bower, and looks forth on a lovely prospect of mountain and plain, and on the old red roofs of Linlithgow town, and on the little loch that lies within the palace grounds. The cold north-wind blew chill upon us through the empty window-frames, which very likely were never glazed; but it must be a delightful nook in a calmer and warmer summer evening.
Descending from this high perch, we walked along ledges and through arched corridors, and stood, contemplative, in the dampness of the banqueting-hall, and sat down on the seats that still occupy the embrasures of the deep windows. In one of the rooms, the sculpture of a huge fireplace has recently been imitated and restored, so as to give an idea of what the richness of the adornments must have been when the building was perfect. We burrowed down, too, a little way, in the direction of the cells, where prisoners used to be confined; but these were too ugly and too impenetrably dark to tempt us far. One vault, exactly beneath a queen's very bedchamber, was designated as a prison. I should think bad dreams would have winged up, and made her pillow an uncomfortable one.
There seems to be no certain record as respects the date of
this palace, except that the most recent part was built by James I., of
After tea we took another walk, and this time went along the High Street, in quest of the house whence Bothwellhaugh fired the shot that killed the Regent Murray. It has been taken down, however; or, if any part of it remain, it has been built into and incorporated with a small house of dark stone, which forms one range with two others that stand a few feet back from the general line of the street. It is as mean-looking and commonplace an edifice as is anywhere to be seen, and is now occupied by one Steele, a tailor. We went under a square arch (if an arch can be square), that goes quite through the house, and found ourselves in a little court; but it was not easy to identify anything as connected with the historic event, so we did but glance about us, and returned into the street. It is here narrow, and as Bothwellhaugh stood in a projecting gallery, the Regent must have been within a few yards of the muzzle of his carbine. The street looks as old as any that I have seen, except, perhaps, a vista here and there in Chester,--the houses all of stone, many of them tall, with notched gables, and with stone staircases going up outside, the steps much worn by feet now dust; a pervading ugliness, which yet does not fail to be picturesque; a general filth and evil odor of gutters and people, suggesting sorrowful ideas of what the inner houses must be, when the outside looks and smells so badly; and, finally, a great rabble of the inhabitants, talking, idling, sporting, staring about their own thresholds and those of dram-shops, the town being most alive in the long twilight of the summer evening. There was nothing uncivil in the deportment of these dirty people, old or young; but they did stare at us most unmercifully.
We walked very late, entering, after all that we had seen,
into the palace grounds, and skirting along Linlithgow Loch, which would be
very beautiful if its banks were made shadowy with trees, instead of being
almost bare. We viewed the palace on the
outside, too, and saw what had once been the principal entrance, but now looked
like an arched window, pretty high in the wall; for it had not been accessible
except by a drawbridge. I might write
pages in telling how venerable the ruin, looked, as the twilight fell deeper
and deeper around it; but we have had enough of Linlithgow, especially as there
have been so many old palaces and old towns to write about, and there will
still be more. We left Linlithgow early
this morning, and reached
July 9th.--Arriving at
and acting under advice of the cabman, we drove to Addison's
Our first visit was to the castle, which we reached by going
across the causeway that bridges the valley, and has some edifices of Grecian
architecture on it, contrasting strangely with the nondescript ugliness of the
old town, into which we immediately pass.
As this is my second visit to
Twelve o'clock came, and we went into the crown-room, with a
throng of other visitors,--so many that they could only be admitted in separate
groups. The Regalia of Scotland lie on a
circular table within an iron railing, round and round which the visitors pass,
gazing with all their eyes. The room was
dark, however, except for the dim twinkle of a candle or gaslight; and the
regalia did not show to any advantage, though there are some rich jewels, set
in their ancient gold. The articles
consist of a two-handed sword, with a hilt and scabbard of gold, ornamented
with gems, and a mace, with a silver handle, all very beautifully made; besides
the golden collar and jewelled badge of the Garter, and something else which I
forget. Why they keep this room so dark
I cannot tell; but it is a poor show, and gives the spectator an idea of the poverty
Thence we went into Queen Mary's room, and saw that
beautiful portrait--that very queen and very woman--with which I was so much
impressed at my last visit. It is
wonderful that this picture does not drive all the other portraits of Mary out
of the field, whatever may be the comparative proofs of their
authenticity. I do not know the history
of this one, except that it is a copy by Sir William Gordon of a picture by an
Italian, preserved at
After seeing what the castle had to show, which is but little except itself, its rocks, and its old dwellings of princes and prisoners, we came down through the High Street, inquiring for John Knox's house. It is a strange-looking edifice, with gables on high, projecting far, and some sculpture, and inscriptions referring to Knox. There is a tobacconist's shop in the basement story, where I learned that the house used to be shown to visitors till within three months, but it is now closed, for some reason or other. Thence we crossed a bridge into the new town, and came back through Prince's Street to the hotel, and had a good dinner, as preparatory to fresh wearinesses; for there is no other weariness at all to be compared to that of sight-seeing.
In mid afternoon we took a cab and drove to
We left the palace, and toiled up through the dirty Canongate, looking vainly for a fly, and employing our time, as well as we could, in looking at the squalid mob of Edinburgh, and peeping down the horrible vistas of the closes, which were swarming with dirty life, as some mouldy and half-decayed substance might swarm with insects,--vistas down alleys where sin, sorrow, poverty, drunkenness, all manner of sombre and sordid earthly circumstances, had imbued the stone, brick, and wood of the habitations for hundreds of years. And such a multitude of children too; that was a most striking feature.
After tea I went down into the valley between the old town and the new, which is now laid out as an ornamental garden, with grass, shrubbery, flowers, gravelled walks, and frequent seats. Here the sun was setting, and gilded the old town with its parting rays, making it absolutely the most picturesque scene possible to be seen. The mass of tall, ancient houses, heaped densely together, looked like a Gothic dream; for there seemed to be towers and all sorts of stately architecture, and spires ascended out of the mass; and above the whole was the castle, with a diadem of gold on its topmost turret. It wanted less than a quarter of nine when the last gleam faded from the windows of the old town, and left the crowd of buildings dim and indistinguishable, to reappear on the morrow in squalor, lifting their meanness skyward, the home of layer upon layer of unfortunate humanity. The change symbolized the difference between a poet's imagination of life in the past--or in a state which he looks at through a colored and illuminated medium--and the sad reality.
This morning we took a cab, and set forth between ten and
eleven to see
Then we went to St. Giles's Cathedral, which I shall not
describe, it having been kirkified into three interior divisions by the
Covenanters; and I left my wife to take drawings, while J----- and I went to
Short's Observatory, near the entrance of the castle. Here we saw a camera-obscura, which brought
before us, without our stirring a step, almost all the striking objects which
we had been wandering to and fro to see.
We also saw the mites in cheese, gigantically magnified by a solar
microscope; likewise some dioramic views, with all which I was mightily pleased,
and for myself, being tired to death of sights, I would as lief see them as
anything else. We found, on calling for
mamma at St. Giles's, that she had gone away; but she rejoined us between four
and five o'clock at our hotel, where the next thing we did was to dine. Again
after dinner we walked out, looking at the shop-windows of jewellers, where
ornaments made of cairngorm pebbles are the most peculiar attraction. As it was our wedding-day, . . . . I gave
S----- a golden and amethyst-bodied cairngorm beetle with a ruby head; and
after sitting awhile in Prince's
July 10th.--Last evening I walked round the castle rock, and
through the Grass-Market, where I stood on the inlaid cross in the pavement,
thence down the High Street beyond John Knox's house. The throng in that part of the town was very
great. There is a strange fascination in
these old streets, and in the peeps down the closes; but it doubtless would be
a great blessing were a fire to sweep through the whole of ancient
My wife has gone to Roslin this morning, and since her
departure it has been drizzly, so that J----- and I, after a walk through the
new part of the town, are imprisoned in our parlor with little resource except
to look across the valley to the castle, where Mons Meg is plainly visible on the
upper platform, and the lower ramparts, zigzagging about the edge of the
precipice, which nearly in front of us is concealed or softened by a great deal
of shrubbery, but farther off descends steeply down to the grass below. Somewhere on this side of the rock was the
point where Claverhouse, on quitting
The old town of
July 11th.--We left Edinburgh, where we had found at
Addison's, 87 Prince's Street, the most comfortable hotel in Great Britain, and
went to Melrose, where we put up at the George.
This is all travelled ground with me, so that I need not much perplex
myself with further description, especially as it is impossible, by any
repetition of attempts, to describe Melrose Abbey. We went thither immediately after tea, and
were shown over the ruins by a very delectable old Scotchman, incomparably the
best guide I ever met with. I think he
must take pains to speak the Scotch dialect, he does it with such pungent
felicity and effect, and it gives a flavor to everything he says, like the
mustard and vinegar in a salad. This is
not the man I saw when here before. The
Scotch dialect is still, in a greater or less degree, universally prevalent in
We went all over the ruins, of course, and saw the marble
stone of King Alexander, and the spot where Bruce's heart is said to be buried,
and the slab of Michael Scott, with the cross engraved upon it; also the
exquisitely sculptured kail-leaves, and other foliage and flowers, with which
the Gothic artists inwreathed this edifice, bestowing more minute and faithful
labor than an artist of these days would do on the most delicate piece of
cabinet-work. We came away sooner than
we wished, but we hoped to return thither this morning; and, for my part, I
cherish a presentiment that this will not be our last visit to
It was not a pleasant morning; but we started immediately after breakfast for
which is but about three miles distant. The country between Melrose and that place is not in the least beautiful, nor very noteworthy,--one or two old irregular villages; one tower that looks principally domestic, yet partly warlike, and seems to be of some antiquity; and an undulation, or rounded hilly surface of the landscape, sometimes affording wide vistas between the slopes. These hills, which, I suppose, are some of them on the Abbotsford estate, are partly covered with woods, but of Scotch fir, or some tree of that species, which creates no softened undulation, but overspreads the hill like a tightly fitting wig. It is a cold, dreary, disheartening neighborhood, that of Abbotsford; at least, it has appeared so to me at both of my visits,--one of which was on a bleak and windy May morning, and this one on a chill, showery morning of midsummer.
The entrance-way to the house is somewhat altered since my
last visit; and we now, following the direction of a painted finger on the
wall, went round to a side door in the basement story, where we found an
elderly man waiting as if in expectation of visitors. He asked us to write our names in a book, and
told us that the desk on the leaf of which it lay was the one in which Sir
Walter found the forgotten manuscript of
We had intended to go to Dryburgh Abbey; but as the weather
more than threatened rain, . . . . we gave up the idea, and so took the rail
for Berwick, after one o'clock. On our
road we passed several ruins in
I wandered out in the dusk of the evening,--for the dusk comes on comparatively early as we draw southward,--and found a beautiful and shadowy path along the river-side, skirting its high banks, up and adown which grow noble elms. I could not well see, in that obscurity of twilight boughs, whither I was going, or what was around me; but I judged that the castle or cathedral, or both, crowned the highest line of the shore, and that I was walking at the base of their walls. There was a pair of lovers in front of me, and I passed two or three other tender couples. The walk appeared to go on interminably by the river-side, through the same sweet shadow; but I turned and found my way into the cathedral close, beneath an ancient archway, whence, issuing again, I inquired my way to the Waterloo Hotel, where we had put up.
ITEMS.--We saw the Norham Castle of Marmion, at a short distance from the station of the same name. Viewed from the railway, it has not a very picturesque appearance,--a high, square ruin of what I suppose was the keep.--At Abbotsford, treasured up in a glass case in the drawing-room, were memorials of Sir Walter Scott's servants and humble friends,--for instance, a brass snuff-box of Tom Purdie,--there, too, among precious relics of illustrious persons.--In the armory, I grasped with some interest the sword of Sir Adam Ferguson, which he had worn in the Peninsular war. Our guide said, of his own knowledge, that "he was a very funny old gentleman." He died only a year or two since.
July 11th.--The morning after our arrival in
has one advantage over the others which I have seen, there being no organ-screen, nor any sort of partition between the choir and nave; so that we saw its entire length, nearly five hundred feet, in one vista. The pillars of the nave are immensely thick, but hardly of proportionate height, and they support the round Norman arch; nor is there, as far as I remember, a single pointed arch in the cathedral. The effect is to give the edifice an air of heavy grandeur. It seems to have been built before the best style of church architecture had established itself; so that it weighs upon the soul, instead of helping it to aspire. First, there are these round arches, supported by gigantic columns; then, immediately above, another row of round arches, behind which is the usual gallery that runs, as it were, in the thickness of the wall, around the nave of the cathedral; then, above all, another row of round arches, enclosing the windows of the clere-story. The great pillars are ornamented in various ways,--some with a great spiral groove running from bottom to top; others with two spirals, ascending in different directions, so as to cross over one another; some are fluted or channelled straight up and down; some are wrought with chevrons, like those on the sleeve of a police-inspector. There are zigzag cuttings and carvings, which I do not know how to name scientifically, round the arches of the doors and windows; but nothing that seems to have flowered out spontaneously, as natural incidents of a grand and beautiful design. In the nave, between the columns of the side aisles, I saw one or two monuments. . . . .
The cathedral service is very long; and though the choral part of it is pleasant enough, I thought it not best to wait for the sermon, especially as it would have been quite unintelligible, so remotely as I sat in the great space. So I left my seat, and after strolling up and down the aisle a few times, sallied forth into the churchyard. On the cathedral door there is a curious old knocker, in the form of a monstrous face, which was placed there, centuries ago, for the benefit of fugitives from justice, who used to be entitled to sanctuary here. The exterior of the cathedral, being huge, is therefore grand; it has a great central tower, and two at the western end; and reposes in vast and heavy length, without the multitude of niches, and crumbling statues, and richness of detail, that make the towers and fronts of some cathedrals so endlessly interesting. One piece of sculpture I remember,--a carving of a cow, a milk-maid, and a monk, in reference to the legend that the site of the cathedral was, in some way, determined by a woman bidding her cow go home to Dunholme. Cadmus was guided to the site of his destined city in some such way as this.
It was a very beautiful day, and though the shadow of the cathedral fell on this side, yet, it being about noontide, it did not cover the churchyard entirely, but left many of the graves in sunshine. There were not a great many monuments, and these were chiefly horizontal slabs, some of which looked aged, but on closer inspection proved to be mostly of the present century. I observed an old stone figure, however, half worn away, which seemed to have something like a bishop's mitre on its head, and may perhaps have lain in the proudest chapel of the cathedral before occupying its present bed among the grass. About fifteen paces from the central tower, and within its shadow, I found a weather-worn slab of marble, seven or eight feet long, the inscription on which interested me somewhat. It was to the memory of Robert Dodsley, the bookseller, Johnson's acquaintance, who, as his tombstone rather superciliously avers, had made a much better figure as an author than "could have been expected in his rank of life." But, after all, it is inevitable that a man's tombstone should look down on him, or, at all events, comport itself towards him "de haut en bas." I love to find the graves of men connected with literature. They interest me more, even though of no great eminence, than those of persons far more illustrious in other walks of life. I know not whether this is because I happen to be one of the literary kindred, or because all men feel themselves akin, and on terms of intimacy, with those whom they know, or might have known, in books. I rather believe that the latter is the case.
My wife had stayed in the cathedral, but she came out at the end of the sermon, and told me of two little birds, who had got into the vast interior, and were in great trouble at not being able to find their way out again. Thus, two winged souls may often have been imprisoned within a faith of heavy ceremonials.
We went round the edifice, and, passing into the close, penetrated through an arched passage into the crypt, which, methought, was in a better style of architecture than the nave and choir. At one end stood a crowd of venerable figures leaning against the wall, being stone images of bearded saints, apostles, patriarchs, kings,--personages of great dignity, at all events, who had doubtless occupied conspicuous niches in and about the cathedral till finally imprisoned in this cellar. I looked at every one, and found not an entire nose among them, nor quite so many heads as they once had.
Thence we went into the cloisters, which are entire, but not particularly interesting. Indeed, this cathedral has not taken hold of my affections, except in one aspect, when it was exceedingly grand and beautiful.
After looking at the crypt and the cloisters, we returned through the close and the churchyard, and went back to the hotel through a path by the river-side. This is the same dim and dusky path through which I wandered the night before, and in the sunshine it looked quite as beautiful as I knew it must,-- a shadow of elm-trees clothing the high bank, and overarching the paths above and below; some of the elms growing close to the water-side, and flinging up their topmost boughs not nearly so high as where we stood, and others climbing upward and upward, till our way wound among their roots; while through the foliage the quiet river loitered along, with this lovely shade on both its banks, to pass through the centre of the town. The stately cathedral rose high above us, and farther onward, in a line with it, the battlemented walls of the old Norman castle, gray and warlike, though now it has become a University. This delightful walk terminates at an old bridge in the heart of the town; and the castle hangs immediately over its busiest street. On this bridge, last night, in the embrasure, or just over the pier, where there is a stone seat, I saw some old men seated, smoking their pipes and chatting. In my judgment, a river flowing through the centre of a town, and not too broad to make itself familiar, nor too swift, but idling along, as if it loved better to stay there than to go, is the pleasantest imaginable piece of scenery; so transient as it is, and yet enduring,--just the same from life's end to life's end; and this river Wear, with its sylvan wildness, and yet so sweet and placable, is the best of all little rivers,--not that it is so very small, but with a bosom broad enough to be crossed by a three-arched bridge. Just above the cathedral there is a mill upon its shore, as ancient as the times of the Abbey.
We went homeward through the market-place and one or two narrow streets; for the town has the irregularity of all ancient settlements, and, moreover, undulates upward and downward, and is also made more unintelligible to a stranger, in its points and bearings, by the tortuous course of the river.
After dinner J----- and I walked along the bank opposite to
that on which the cathedral stands, and found the paths there equally
delightful with those which I have attempted to describe. We went onward while the river gleamed through
the foliage beneath us, and passed so far beyond the cathedral that we began to
think we were getting into the country, and that it was time to return; when
all at once we saw a bridge before us, and beyond that, on the opposite bank of
the Wear, the cathedral itself! The stream had made a circuit without our
knowing it. We paused upon the bridge,
and admired and wondered at the beauty and glory of the scene, with those vast,
ancient towers rising out of the green shade, and looking as if they were based
upon it. The situation of Durham
Cathedral is certainly a noble one, finer even than that of
where we arrived at about half past nine. We put up at the Black Swan, with which we
had already made acquaintance at our previous visit to
In the morning, before breakfast, I strolled out, and walked
round the cathedral, passing on my way the sheriff's javelin-men, in long gowns
of faded purple embroidered with gold, carrying halberds in their hands; also a
gentleman in a cocked hat, gold-lace, and breeches, who, no doubt, had
something to do with the ceremonial of the Sessions. I saw, too, a procession of a good many old
cabs and other carriages, filled with people, and a banner flaunting above each
vehicle. These were the piano-forte
After breakfast we all went to the cathedral, and no sooner were we within it than we found how much our eyes had recently been educated, by our greater power of appreciating this magnificent interior; for it impressed us both with a joy that we never felt before. J----- felt it too, and insisted that the cathedral must have been altered and improved since we were last here. But it is only that we have seen much splendid architecture since then, and so have grown in some degree fitted to enjoy it. York Cathedral (I say it now, for it is my present feeling) is the most wonderful work that ever came from the hands of man. Indeed, it seems like "a house not made with hands," but rather to have come down from above, bringing an awful majesty and sweetness with it and it is so light and aspiring, with all its vast columns and pointed arches, that one would hardly wonder if it should ascend back to heaven again by its mere spirituality. Positively the pillars and arches of the choir are so very beautiful that they give the impression of being exquisitely polished, though such is not the fact; but their beauty throws a gleam around them. I thank God that I saw this cathedral again, and I thank him that he inspired the builder to make it, and that mankind has so long enjoyed it, and will continue to enjoy it.
July 14th.--We left
We resumed our journey, and reached
July 22d.--We left Southport for good on the 20th, and have
established ourselves in this place, in lodgings that had been provided for us
by Mr. Swain; our principal object being to spend a few weeks in the proximity
of the Arts' Exhibition. We are here,
about three miles from the Victoria Railway station in
Betimes in the morning the Exhibition omnibuses begin to trundle along, and pass at intervals of two and a half minutes through the day,--immense vehicles constructed to carry thirty-nine passengers, and generally with a good part of that number inside and out. The omnibuses are painted scarlet, bordered with white, have three horses abreast, and a conductor in a red coat. They perform the journey from this point into town in about half an hour; and yesterday morning, being in a hurry to get to the railway station, I found that I could outwalk them, taking into account their frequent stoppages.
We have taken the whole house (except some inscrutable holes, into which the family creeps), of respectable people, who never took lodgers until this juncture. Their furniture, however, is of the true lodging-house pattern, sofas and chairs which have no possibility of repose in them; rickety tables; an old piano and old music, with "Lady Helen Elizabeth" somebody's name written on it. It is very strange how nothing but a genuine home can ever look homelike. They appear to be good people; a little girl of twelve, a daughter, waits on table; and there is an elder daughter, who yesterday answered the door-bell, looking very like a young lady, besides five or six smaller children, who make less uproar of grief or merriment than could possibly be expected. The husband is not apparent, though I see his hat in the hall. The house is new, and has a trim, light-colored interior of half-gentility. I suppose the rent, in ordinary times, might be 25 pounds per annum; but we pay at the rate of 335 pounds for the part which we occupy. This, like all the other houses in the neighborhood, was evidently built to be sold or let; the builder never thought of living in it himself, and so that subtile element, which would have enabled him to create a home, was entirely left out.
This morning, J----- and I set forth on a walk, first
towards the palace of the Arts' Exhibition, which looked small compared with my
idea of it, and seems to be of the
It has showered this afternoon; and I beguiled my time for half an hour by setting down the vehicles that went past; not that they were particularly numerous, but for the sake of knowing the character of the travel along the road.
July 26th.--Day before yesterday we went to the Arts' Exhibition, of which I do not think that I have a great deal to say. The edifice, being built more for convenience than show, appears better in the interior than from without,--long vaulted vistas, lighted from above, extending far away, all hung with pictures; and, on the floor below, statues, knights in armor, cabinets, vases, and all manner of curious and beautiful things, in a regular arrangement. Scatter five thousand people through the scene, and I do not know how to make a better outline sketch. I was unquiet, from a hopelessness of being able to enjoy it fully. Nothing is more depressing to me than the sight of a great many pictures together; it is like having innumerable books open before you at once, and being able to read only a sentence or two in each. They bedazzle one another with cross lights. There never should be more than one picture in a room, nor more than one picture to be studied in one day. Galleries of pictures are surely the greatest absurdities that ever were contrived, there being no excuse for them, except that it is the only way in which pictures can be made generally available and accessible.
We went first into the Gallery of British Painters, where there were hundreds of pictures, every one of which would have interested me by itself; but I could not fix nay mind on one more than another, so I wandered about, to get a general idea of the Exhibition. Truly it is very fine; truly, also, every great show is a kind of humbug. I doubt whether there were half a dozen people there who got the kind of enjoyment that it was intended to create,--very respectable people they seemed to be, and very well behaved, but all skimming the surface, as I did, and none of them so feeding on what was beautiful as to digest it, and make it a part of themselves. Such a quantity of objects must be utterly rejected before you can get any real profit from one! It seemed like throwing away time to look twice even at whatever was most precious; and it was dreary to think of not fully enjoying this collection, the very flower of Time, which never bloomed before, and never, by any possibility, can bloom again. Viewed hastily, moreover, it is somewhat sad to think that mankind, after centuries of cultivation of the beautiful arts, can produce no more splendid spectacle than this. It is not so very grand, although, poor as it is, I lack capacity to take in even the whole of it.
What gave me most pleasure (because it required no trouble
nor study to come at the heart of it) were the individual relics of antiquity,
of which there are some very curious ones in the cases ranged along the
principal saloon or nave of the building.
For example, the dagger with which Felton killed the Duke of
Buckingham,--a knife with a bone handle and a curved blade, not more than three
inches long; sharp-pointed, murderous-looking, but of very coarse
manufacture. Also, the Duke of Alva's
leading staff of iron; and the target of the Emperor Charles V., which seemed
to be made of hardened leather, with designs artistically engraved upon it, and
gilt. I saw Wolsey's portrait, and, in
close proximity to it, his veritable cardinal's hat in a richly ornamented glass
case, on which was an inscription to the effect that it had been bought by
Charles Kean at the sale of Horace Walpole's collection. It is a felt hat with a brim about six inches
wide all round, and a rather high crown; the color was, doubtless, a bright red
originally, but now it is mottled with a grayish hue, and there are cracks in
the brim, as if the hat had seen a good deal of wear. I suppose a far greater curiosity than this
is the signet-ring of one of the Pharaohs, who reigned over Egypt during
Joseph's prime ministry,--a large ring to be worn on the thumb, if at all,--of
massive gold, seal part and all, and inscribed with some characters that looked
like Hebrew. I had seen this before in
Mr. Mayer's collection in
I mean to go again and again, many times more, and will take each day some one department, and so endeavor to get some real use and improvement out of what I see. Much that is most valuable must be immitigably rejected; but something, according to the measure of my poor capacity, will really be taken into my mind. After all, it was an agreeable day, and I think the next one will be more so.
July 28th.--Day before yesterday I paid a second visit to
the Exhibition, and devoted the day mainly to seeing the works of British
painters, which fill a very large space,--two or three great saloons at the
right side of the nave. Among the
earliest are Hogarth's pictures, including the Sigismunda, which I remember to
have seen before, with her lover's heart in her hand, looking like a monstrous
strawberry; and the March to Finchley, than which nothing truer to English life
and character was ever painted, nor ever can be; and a large stately portrait
of Captain Coram, and others, all excellent in proportion as they come near to
ordinary life, and are wrought out through its forms. All English painters resemble Hogarth in this
respect. They cannot paint anything
high, heroic, and ideal, and their attempts in that direction are wearisome to
look at; but they sometimes produce good effects by means of awkward figures in
ill-made coats and small-clothes, and hard, coarse-complexioned faces, such as
they might see anywhere in the street. They are strong in homeliness and
ugliness, weak in their efforts at the beautiful. Sir Thomas Lawrence attains a sort of grace,
which you feel to be a trick, and therefore get disgusted with it. Reynolds is not quite genuine, though
certainly he has produced some noble and beautiful heads. But Hogarth is the only English painter,
except in the landscape department; there are no others who interpret life to
me at all, unless it be some of the modern Pre-Raphaelites. Pretty village scenes of common life,--pleasant
domestic passages, with a touch of easy humor in them,--little pathoses and
fancynesses, are abundant enough; and Wilkie, to be sure, has done more than
this, though not a great deal more. His
merit lies, not in a high aim, but in accomplishing his aim so perfectly. It is
unaccountable that the English painters' achievements should be so much
inferior to those of the English poets, who have really elevated the human
mind; but, to be sure, painting has only become an English art subsequently to
the epochs of the greatest poets, and since the beginning of the last century,
No doubt I am doing vast injustice to a great many gifted men in what I have here written,--as, for instance, Copley, who certainly has painted a slain man to the life; and to a crowd of landscape-painters, who have made wonderful reproductions of little English streams and shrubbery, and cottage doors and country lanes. And there is a picture called "The Evening Gun" by Danby,--a ship of war on a calm, glassy tide, at sunset, with the cannon-smoke puffing from her porthole; it is very beautiful, and so effective that you can even hear the report breaking upon the stillness, with so grand a roar that it is almost like stillness too. As for Turner, I care no more for his light-colored pictures than for so much lacquered ware or painted gingerbread. Doubtless this is my fault, my own deficiency; but I cannot help it,--not, at least, without sophisticating myself by the effort. The only modern pictures that accomplish a higher end than that of pleasing the eye--the only ones that really take hold of my mind, and with a kind of acerbity, like unripe fruit--are the works of Hunt, and one or two other painters of the Pre-Raphaelite school. They seem wilfully to abjure all beauty, and to make their pictures disagreeable out of mere malice; but at any rate, for the thought and feeling which are ground up with the paint, they will bear looking at, and disclose a deeper value the longer you look. Never was anything so stiff and unnatural as they appear; although every single thing represented seems to be taken directly out of life and reality, and, as it were, pasted down upon the canvas. They almost paint even separate hairs. Accomplishing so much, and so perfectly, it seems unaccountable that the picture does not live; but Nature has an art beyond these painters, and they leave out some medium,--some enchantment that should intervene, and keep the object from pressing so baldly and harshly upon the spectator's eyeballs. With the most lifelike reproduction, there is no illusion. I think if a semi-obscurity were thrown over the picture after finishing it to this nicety, it might bring it nearer to nature. I remember a heap of autumn leaves, every one of which seems to have been stiffened with gum and varnish, and then put carefully down into the stiffly disordered heap. Perhaps these artists may hereafter succeed in combining the truth of detail with a broader and higher truth. Coming from such a depth as their pictures do, and having really an idea as the seed of them, it is strange that they should look like the most made-up things imaginable. One picture by Hunt that greatly interested me was of some sheep that had gone astray among heights and precipices, and I could have looked all day at these poor, lost creatures,--so true was their meek alarm and hopeless bewilderment, their huddling together, without the slightest confidence of mutual help; all that the courage and wisdom of the bravest and wisest of them could do being to bleat, and only a few having spirits enough even for this.
After going through these modern masters, among whom were some French painters who do not interest me at all, I did a miscellaneous business, chiefly among the water-colors and photographs, and afterwards among the antiquities and works of ornamental art. I have forgotten what I saw, except the breastplate and helmet of Henry of Navarre, of steel, engraved with designs that have been half obliterated by scrubbing. I remember, too, a breastplate of an Elector of Saxony, with a bullet-hole through it. He received his mortal wound through that hole, and died of it two days afterwards, three hundred years ago.
There was a crowd of visitors, insomuch that, it was difficult to get a satisfactory view of the most interesting objects. They were nearly all middling-class people; the Exhibition, I think, does not reach the lower classed at all; in fact, it could not reach them, nor their betters either, without a good deal of study to help it out. I shall go to-day, and do my best to get profit out of it.
July 30th.--We all, with R----- and Fanny, went to the
Exhibition yesterday, and spent the day there; not J-----, however, for he went
to the Botanical Gardens. After some
little skirmishing with other things, I devoted myself to the historical
portraits, which hang on both sides of the great nave, and went through them
pretty faithfully. The oldest are
pictures of Richard II. and Henry IV. and Edward IV. and Jane Shore, and seem
to have little or no merit as works of art, being cold and stiff, the life
having, perhaps, faded out of them; but these older painters were trustworthy,
inasmuch as they had no idea of making a picture, but only of getting the face
before them on canvas as accurately as they could. All English history scarcely supplies half a
dozen portraits before the time of Henry VIII.; after that period, and through
the reigns of Elizabeth and James, there are many ugly pictures by Dutchmen and
Italians; and the collection is wonderfully rich in portraits of the time of
Charles I. and the Commonwealth. Vandyke
seems to have brought portrait-painting into fashion; and very likely the
king's love of art diffused a taste for it throughout the nation, and remotely
suggested, even to his enemies, to get their pictures painted.
I have a haunting doubt of the value of portrait-painting; that is to say, whether it gives you a genuine idea of the person purporting to be represented. I do not remember ever to have recognized a man by having previously seen his portrait. Vandyke's pictures are full of grace and nobleness, but they do not look like Englishmen,--the burly, rough, wine-flushed and weather-reddened faces, and sturdy flesh and blood, which we see even at the present day, when they must naturally have become a good deal refined from either the country gentleman or the courtier of the Stuarts' age. There is an old, fat portrait of Gervoyse Holles, in a buff-coat,--a coarse, hoggish, yet manly man. The painter is unknown; but I honor him, and Gervoyse Holles too,--for one was willing to be truly rendered, and the other dared to do it. It seems to be the aim of portrait-painters generally, especially of those who have been most famous, to make their pictures as beautiful and noble as can anywise consist with retaining the very slightest resemblance to the person sitting to them. They seldom attain even the grace and beauty which they aim at, but only hit some temporary or individual taste. Vandyke, however, achieved graces that rise above time and fashion, and so did Sir Peter Lely, in his female portraits; but the doubt is, whether the works of either are genuine history. Not more so, I suspect, than the narrative of a historian who should seek to make poetry out of the events which he relates, rejecting those which could not possibly be thus idealized.
I observe, furthermore, that a full-length portrait has seldom face enough; not that it lacks its fair proportion by measurement, but the artist does not often find it possible to make the face so intellectually prominent as to subordinate the figure and drapery. Vandyke does this, however. In his pictures of Charles I., for instance, it is the melancholy grace of the visage that attracts the eye, and it passes to the rest of the composition only by an effort. Earlier and later pictures are but a few inches of face to several feet of figure and costume, and more insignificant than the latter because seldom so well done; and I suspect the same would generally be the case now, only that the present simplicity of costume gives the face a chance to be seen.
I was interrupted here, and cannot resume the thread; but considering how much of his own conceit the artist puts into a portrait, how much affectation the sitter puts on, and then again that no face is the same to any two spectators; also, that these portraits are darkened and faded with age, and can seldom be more than half seen, being hung too high, or somehow or other inconvenient, on the whole, I question whether there is much use in looking at them. The truest test would be, for a man well read in English history and biography, and himself an observer of insight, to go through the series without knowing what personages they represented, and write beneath each the name which the portrait vindicated for itself.
After getting through the portrait-gallery, I went among the engravings and photographs, and then glanced along the old masters, but without seriously looking at anything. While I was among the Dutch painters, a gentleman accosted me. It was Mr. J------, whom I once met at dinner with Bennoch. He told me that "the Poet Laureate" (as he called him) was in the Exhibition rooms; and as I expressed great interest, Mr. J------was kind enough to go in quest of him. Not for the purpose of introduction, however, for he was not acquainted with Tennyson. Soon Mr. J------ returned, and said that he had found the Poet Laureate,--and, going into the saloon of the old masters, we saw him there, in company with Mr. Woolner, whose bust of him is now in the Exhibition.
Gazing at him with all my eyes, I liked him well, and rejoiced more in him than in all the other wonders of the Exhibition.
How strange that in these two or three pages I cannot get one single touch that may call him up hereafter!
I would most gladly have seen more of this one poet of our day, but forbore to follow him; for I must own that it seemed mean to be dogging him through the saloons, or even to look at him, since it was to be done stealthily, if at all.
He is as un-English as possible; indeed an Englishman of genius usually lacks the national characteristics, and is great abnormally. Even the great sailor, Nelson, was unlike his countrymen in the qualities that constituted him a hero; he was not the perfection of an Englishman, but a creature of another kind,--sensitive, nervous, excitable, and really more like a Frenchman.
Un-English as he was, Tennyson had not, however, an American look. I cannot well describe the difference; but there was something more mellow in him,--softer, sweeter, broader, more simple than we are apt to be. Living apart from men as he does would hurt any one of us more than it does him. I may as well leave him here, for I cannot touch the central point.
August 2d.--Day before yesterday I went again to the Exhibition, and began the day with looking at the old masters. Positively, I do begin to receive some pleasure from looking at pictures; but as yet it has nothing to do with any technical merit, nor do I think I shall ever get so far as that. Some landscapes by Ruysdael, and some portraits by Murillo, Velasquez, and Titian, were those which I was most able to appreciate; and I see reason for allowing, contrary to my opinion, as expressed a few pages back, that a portrait may preserve some valuable characteristics of the person represented. The pictures in the English portrait-gallery are mostly very bad, and that may be the reason why I saw so little in them. I saw too, at this last visit, a Virgin and Child, which appeared to me to have an expression more adequate to the subject than most of the innumerable virgins and children, in which we see only repetitions of simple maternity; indeed, any mother, with her first child, would serve an artist for one of them. But, in this picture the Virgin had a look as if she were loving the infant as her own child, and at the same time rendering him an awful worship, as to her Creator.
While I was sitting in the central saloon, listening to the music, a young man accosted me, presuming that I was so-and-so, the American author. He himself was a traveller for a publishing firm; and he introduced conversation by talking of Uttoxeter, and my description of it in an annual. He said that the account had caused a good deal of pique among the good people of Uttoxeter, because of the ignorance which I attribute to them as to the circumstance which connects Johnson with their town. The spot where Johnson stood can, it appears, still be pointed out. It is on one side of the market-place, and not in the neighborhood of the church. I forget whether I recorded, at the time, that an Uttoxeter newspaper was sent me, containing a proposal that a statue or memorial should be erected on the spot. It would gratify me exceedingly if such a result should come from my pious pilgrimage thither.
My new acquaintance, who was cockneyish, but very
intelligent and agreeable, went on to talk about many literary matters and
characters; among others, about Miss Bronte, whom he had seen at the Chapter
Coffee-House, when she and her sister Anne first went to
Chorlton Road, August 9th.--We have changed our lodgings since my last date, those at Old Trafford being inconvenient, and the landlady a sharp, peremptory housewife, better fitted to deal with her own family than to be complaisant to guests. We are now a little farther from the Exhibition, and not much better off as regards accommodation, but the housekeeper is a pleasant, civil sort of a woman, auspiciously named Mrs. Honey. The house is a specimen of the poorer middle-class dwellings as built nowadays,--narrow staircase, thin walls, and, being constructed for sale, very ill put together indeed,--the floors with wide cracks between the boards, and wide crevices admitting both air and light over the doors, so that the house is full of draughts. The outer walls, it seems to me, are but of one brick in thickness, and the partition walls certainly no thicker; and the movements, and sometimes the voices, of people in the contiguous house are audible to us. The Exhibition has temporarily so raised the value of lodgings here that we have to pay a high price for even such a house as this.
Mr. Wilding having gone on a tour to
Afterwards I looked at many of the pictures of the old
masters, and found myself gradually getting a taste for them; at least, they
give me more and more pleasure the oftener I come to see them. Doubtless, I shall be able to pass for a man
of taste by the time I return to
Among the last pictures that I looked at was Hogarth's March to Finchley; and surely nothing can be covered more thick and deep with English nature than that piece of canvas. The face of the tall grenadier in the centre, between two women, both of whom have claims on him, wonderfully expresses trouble and perplexity; and every touch in the picture meant something and expresses what it meant.
The price of admission, after two o'clock, being sixpence, the Exhibition was thronged with a class of people who do not usually come in such large numbers. It was both pleasant and touching to see how earnestly some of them sought to get instruction from what they beheld. The English are a good and simple people, and take life in earnest.
August 14th.--Passing by the gateway of the Manchester
Cathedral the other morning, on my way to the station, I found a crowd
collected, and, high overhead, the bells were chiming for a wedding. These chimes of bells are exceedingly
impressive, so broadly gladsome as they are, filling the whole air, and every
nook of one's heart with sympathy. They
are good for a people to rejoice with, and good also for a marriage, because
through all their joy there is something solemn,--a tone of that voice which we
have heard so often at funerals. It is
good to see how everybody, up to this old age of the world, takes an interest
in weddings, and seems to have a faith that now, at last, a couple have come
together to make each other happy. The
high, black, rough old cathedral tower sent out its chime of bells as earnestly
as for any bridegroom and bride that came to be married five hundred years
ago. I went into the churchyard, but
there was such a throng of people on its pavement of flat tombstones, and
especially such a cluster along the pathway by which the bride was to depart,
that I could only see a white dress waving along, and really do not know
whether she was a beauty or a fright.
The happy pair got into a post-chaise that was waiting at the gate, and
immediately drew some crimson curtains, and so vanished into their
In a railway carriage, two or three days ago, an old merchant made rather a good point of one of the uncomfortable results of the electric telegraph. He said that formerly a man was safe from bad news, such as intelligence of failure of debtors, except at the hour of opening his letters in the morning; and then he was in some degree prepared for it, since, among (say) fifteen letters, he would be pretty certain to find some "queer" one. But since the telegraph has come into play, he is never safe, and may be hit with news of failure, shipwreck, fall of stocks, or whatever disaster, at all hours of the day.
I went to the Exhibition on Wednesday with U----, and looked at the pencil sketches of the old masters; also at the pictures generally, old and new. I particularly remember a spring landscape, by John Linnell the younger. It is wonderfully good; so tender and fresh that the artist seems really to have caught the evanescent April and made her permanent. Here, at least, is eternal spring.
I saw a little man, behind an immense beard, whom I take to be the Duke of Newcastle; at least, there was a photograph of him in the gallery, with just such a beard. He was at the Palace on that day.
August 16th.--I went again to the Exhibition day before yesterday, and looked much at both the modern and ancient pictures, as also at the water-colors. I am making some progress as a connoisseur, and have got so far as to be able to distinguish the broader differences of style,--as, for example, between Rubens and Rembrandt. I should hesitate to claim any more for myself thus far. In fact, however, I do begin to have a liking for good things, and to be sure that they are good. Murillo seems to me about the noblest and purest painter that ever lived, and his "Good Shepherd" the loveliest picture I have seen. It is a hopeful symptom, moreover, of improving taste, that I see more merit in the crowd of painters than I was at first competent to acknowledge. I could see some of their defects from the very first; but that is the earliest stage of connoisseurship, after a formal and ignorant admiration. Mounting a few steps higher, one sees beauties. But how much study, how many opportunities, are requisite to form and cultivate a taste! The Exhibition must be quite thrown away on the mass of spectators.
Both they and I are better able to appreciate the specimens of ornamental art contained in the Oriental Room, and in the numerous cases that are ranged up and down the nave. The gewgaws of all Time are here, in precious metals, glass, china, ivory, and every other material that could be wrought into curious and beautiful shapes; great basins and dishes of embossed gold from the Queen's sideboard, or from the beaufets of noblemen; vessels set with precious stones; the pastoral staffs of prelates, some of them made of silver or gold, and enriched with gems, and what have been found in the tombs of the bishops; state swords, and silver maces; the rich plate of colleges, elaborately wrought,--great cups, salvers, tureens, that have been presented by loving sons to their Alma Mater; the heirlooms of old families, treasured from generation to generation, and hitherto only to be seen by favored friends; famous historical jewels, some of which are painted in the portraits of the historical men and women that hang on the walls; numerous specimens of the beautiful old Venetian glass, some of which looks so fragile that it is a wonder how it could bear even the weight of the wine, that used to be poured into it, without breaking. These are the glasses that tested poison, by being shattered into fragments at its touch. The strangest and ugliest old crockery, pictured over with monstrosities,--the Palissy ware, embossed with vegetables, fishes, lobsters, that look absolutely real; the delicate Sevres china, each piece made inestimable by pictures from a master's hand;--in short, it is a despair and misery to see so much that is curious and beautiful, and to feel that far the greater portion of it will slip out of the memory, and be as if we had never seen it. But I mean to look again and again at these things. We soon perceive that the present day does not engross all the taste and ingenuity that has ever existed in the mind of man; that, in fact, we are a barren age in that respect.
August 20th.--I went to the Exhibition on Monday, and again yesterday, and measurably enjoyed both visits. I continue to think, however, that a picture cannot be fully enjoyed except by long and intimate acquaintance with it, nor can I quite understand what the enjoyment of a connoisseur is. He is not usually, I think, a man of deep, poetic feeling, and does not deal with the picture through his heart, nor set it in a poem, nor comprehend it morally. If it be a landscape, he is not entitled to judge of it by his intimacy with nature; if a picture of human action, he has no experience nor sympathy of life's deeper passages. However, as my acquaintance with pictures increases, I find myself recognizing more and more the merit of the acknowledged masters of the art; but, possibly, it is only because I adopt the wrong principles which may have been laid down by the connoisseurs. But there can be no mistake about Murillo,--not that I am worthy to admire him yet, however.
Seeing the many pictures of Holy Families, and the Virgin and Child, which have been painted for churches and convents, the idea occurs, that it was in this way that the poor monks and nuns gratified, as far as they could, their natural longing for earthly happiness. It was not Mary and her heavenly Child that they really beheld, or wished for; but an earthly mother rejoicing over her baby, and displaying it probably to the world as an object worthy to be admired by kings,--as Mary does, in the Adoration of the Magi. Every mother, I suppose, feels as if her first child deserved everybody's worship.
I left the Exhibition at three o'clock, and went to
The interior of the house is very pretty, and nicely, even handsomely and almost sumptuously, furnished; and I was very glad to find him so comfortable. His recognition as a poet has been hearty enough to give him a feeling of success, for he showed me various tokens of the estimation in which he is held,--for instance, a presentation copy of Southey's works, in which the latter had written "Amicus amico,--poeta poetae." He said that Southey had always been most kind to him. . . . . There were various other testimonials from people of note, American as well as English. In his parlor there is a good oil-painting of himself, and in the drawing-room a very fine crayon sketch, wherein his face, handsome and agreeable, is lighted up with all a poet's ecstasy; likewise a large and fine engraving from the picture. The government has recognized his poetic merit by a pension of fifty pounds,--a small sung, it is true, but enough to mark him out as one who has deserved well of his country. . . . . The man himself is very good and lovable. . . . . I was able to gratify him by saying that I had recently seen many favorable notices of his poems in the American newspapers; an edition having been published a few months since on our side of the ocean. He was much pleased at this, and asked me to send him the notices. . . . .
August 30th.--I have been two or three times to the
Exhibition since my last date, and enjoy it more as I become familiar with
it. There is supposed to be about a
third of the good pictures here which
Last week I dined at Mr. F. Heywood's to meet Mr. Adolphus, the author of a critical work on the Waverley Novels, published long ago, and intended to prove, from internal evidence, that they were written by Sir Walter Scott. . . . . His wife was likewise of the party, . . . . and also a young Spanish lady, their niece, and daughter of a Spaniard of literary note. She herself has literary tastes and ability, and is well known to Prescott, whom, I believe, she has assisted in his historical researches, and also to Professor Ticknor; and furthermore she is very handsome and unlike an English damsel, very youthful and maiden-like; and her manners have all ardor and enthusiasm that were pleasant to see, especially as she spoke warmly of my writings; and yet I should wrong her if I left the impression of her being forthputting and obtrusive, for it was not the fact in the least. She speaks English like a native, insomuch that I should never have suspected her to be anything else.
My nerves recently have not been in an exactly quiet and
normal state. I begin to weary of
September 6th.--I think I paid my last visit to the Exhibition, and feel as if I had had enough of it, although I have got but a small part of the profit it might have afforded me. But pictures are certainly quite other things to me now from what they were at my first visit; it seems even as if there were a sort of illumination within them, that makes me see them more distinctly. Speaking of pictures, the miniature of Anne of Cleves is here, on the faith of which Henry VIII. married her; also, the picture of the Infanta of Spain, which Buckingham brought over to Charles I. while Prince of Wales. This has a delicate, rosy prettiness.
One rather interesting portion of the Exhibition is the Refreshment-room, or rather rooms; for very much space is allowed both to the first and second classes. I have looked most at the latter, because there John Ball and his wife may be seen in full gulp aid guzzle, swallowing vast quantities of cold boiled beef, thoroughly moistened with porter or bitter ale; and very good meat and drink it is.
At my last visit, on Friday, I met Judge Pollock of
Liverpool, who introduced me to a gentleman in a gray slouched hat as Mr. Du
Val, an artist, resident in
I took my leave at half past ten, and found my cab at the door, and my cabman snugly asleep inside of it; and when Mr. Du Val awoke him, he proved to be quite drunk, insomuch that I hesitated whether to let him clamber upon the box, or to take post myself, and drive the cabman home. However, I propounded two questions to him: first, whether his horse would go of his own accord; and, secondly, whether be himself was invariably drunk at that time of night, because, if it were his normal state, I should be safer with him drunk than sober. Being satisfied on these points, I got in, and was driven home without accident or adventure; except, indeed, that the cabman drew up and opened the door for me to alight at a vacant lot on Stratford Road, just as if there had been a house and home and cheerful lighted windows in that vacancy. On my remonstrance he resumed the whip and reins, and reached Boston Terrace at last; and, thanking me for an extra sixpence as well as he could speak, he begged me to inquire for "Little John" whenever I next wanted a cab. Cabmen are, as a body, the most ill-natured and ungenial men in the world; but this poor little man was excellently good-humored.
Speaking of the former rudeness of manners, now gradually
refining away, of the
Lansdowne Cirrus, September 10th.--We have become quite
weary of our small, mean, uncomfortable, and unbeautiful lodgings at Chorlton
Road, with poor and scanty furniture within doors, and no better prospect from
the parlor windows than a mud-puddle, larger than most English lakes, on a
vacant building-lot opposite our house.
The Exhibition, too, was fast becoming a bore; for you must really love
a picture, in order to tolerate the sight of it many times. Moreover, the smoky and sooty air of that
The rain poured down upon us as we drove away in two cabs,
laden with mountainous luggage to the
September 13th.--The weather was very uncertain through the
last week, and yesterday morning, too, was misty and sunless; notwithstanding
which we took the rail for
We saw but little of the
The ruins are perhaps two hundred yards from the gate-house and the road, and the space between is a pasture for sheep, which also browse in the inner court, and shelter themselves in the dungeons and state apartments of the castle. Goats would be fitter occupants, because they would climb to the tops of the crumbling towers, and nibble the weeds and shrubbery that grow there. The first part of the castle which we reach is called Caesar's Tower, being the oldest portion of the ruins, and still very stalwart and massive, and built of red freestone, like all the rest. Caesar's Tower being on the right, Leicester's Buildings, erected by the Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth's favorite, are on the left; and between these two formerly stood other structures which have now as entirely disappeared as if they had never existed; and through the wide gap, thus opened, appears the grassy inner court, surrounded on three sides by half-fallen towers and shattered walls. Some of these were erected by John of Gaunt; and among these ruins is the Banqueting-Hall,--or rather was,--for it has now neither floor nor roof, but only the broken stone-work of some tall, arched windows, and the beautiful, old ivied arch of the entrance-way, now inaccessible from the ground. The ivy is very abundant about the ruins, and hangs its green curtains quite from top to bottom of some of the windows. There are likewise very large and aged trees within the castle, there being no roof nor pavement anywhere, except in some dungeon-like nooks; so that the trees having soil and air enough, and being sheltered from unfriendly blasts, can grow as if in a nursery. Hawthorn, however, next to ivy, is the great ornament and comforter of these desolate ruins. I have not seen so much nor such thriving hawthorn anywhere else,--in the court, high up on crumbly heights, on the sod that carpets roofless rooms,--everywhere, indeed, and now rejoicing in plentiful crops of red berries. The ivy is even more wonderfully luxuriant; its trunks being, in some places, two or three feet in diameter, and forming real buttresses against the walls, which are actually supported and vastly strengthened by this parasite, that clung to them at first only for its own convenience, and now holds them up, lest it should be ruined by their fall. Thus an abuse has strangely grown into a use, and I think we may sometimes see the same fact, morally, in English matters. There is something very curious in the close, firm grip which the ivy fixes upon the wall, closer and closer for centuries. Neither is it at all nice as to what it clutches, in its necessity for support. I saw in the outer court an old hawthorn-tree, to which a plant of ivy had married itself, and the ivy trunk and the hawthorn trunk were now absolutely incorporated, and in their close embrace you could not tell which was which.
At one end of the Banqueting-Hall, there are two large
bay-windows, one of which looks into the inner court, and the other affords a
view of the surrounding country. The
former is called Queen Elizabeth's Dressing-room. Beyond the Banqueting-Hall is what is called
By this time the sun had come out brightly, and with such
warmth that we were glad to sit down in the shadow. Several sight-seers were now rambling about,
and among them some school-boys, who kept scrambling up to points whither no
other animal, except a goat, would have ventured. Their shouts and the sunshine
made the old castle cheerful; and what with the ivy and the hawthorn, and the
other old trees, it was very beautiful and picturesque. But a castle does not make nearly so
interesting and impressive a ruin as an abbey, because the latter was built for
beauty, and on a plan in which deep thought and feeling were involved; and
having once been a grand and beautiful work, it continues grand and beautiful
through all the successive stages of its decay.
But a castle is rudely piled together for strength and other material
conveniences; and, having served these ends, it has nothing left to fall back
upon, but crumbles into shapeless masses, which are often as little picturesque
as a pile of bricks. Without the ivy and
the shrubbery, this huge
We stayed from eleven till two, and identified the various parts of the castle as well as we could by the guide-book. The ruins are very extensive, though less so than I should have imagined, considering that seven acres were included within the castle wall. But a large part of the structures have been taken away to build houses in Kenilworth village and elsewhere, and much, too, to make roads with, and a good deal lies under the green turf in the court-yards, inner and outer. As we returned to the gate, my wife and U---- went into the gate-house to see an old chimney-piece, and other antiquities, and J----- and I proceeded a little way round the outer wall, and saw the remains of the moat, and Lin's Tower,--a real and shattered fabric of John of Gaunt.
The omnibus now drove up, and one of the old men at the gate came hobbling up to open the door, and was rewarded with a sixpence, and we drove down to the King's Head. . . . . We then walked out and bought prints of the castle, and inquired our way to the church and to the ruins of the Priory. The latter, so far as we could discover them, are very few and uninteresting; and the church, though it has a venerable exterior, and an aged spire, has been so modernized within, and in so plain a fashion, as to have lost what beauty it may once have had. There were a few brasses and mural monuments, one of which was a marble group of a dying woman and her family by Westmacott. The sexton was a cheerful little man, but knew very little about his church, and nothing of the remains of the Priory. The day was spent very pleasantly amid this beautiful green English scenery, these fine old Warwickshire trees, and broad, gently swelling fields.
September 17th.--I took the train for Rugby, and thence to
There is likewise here a young American, named A------, who has been at a German University, and favors us with descriptions of his student life there, which seems chiefly to have consisted in drinking beer and fighting duels. He shows a cut on his nose as a trophy of these combats. He has with him a dog of St. Bernard, who is a much more remarkable character than himself,--an immense dog, a noble and gentle creature; and really it touches my heart that his master is going to take him from his native snow-mountain to a Southern plantation to die. Mr. A------ says that there are now but five of these dogs extant at the convent; there having, within two or three years, been a disease among them, with which this dog also has suffered. His master has a certificate of his genuineness, and of himself being the rightful purchaser; and he says that as he descended the mountain, every peasant along the road stopped him, and would have compelled him to give up the dog had he not produced this proof of property. The neighboring mountaineers are very jealous of the breed being taken away, considering them of such importance to their own safety. This huge animal, the very biggest dog I ever saw, though only eleven months old, and not so high by two or three inches as he will be, allows Mr. ------ to play with him, and take him on his shoulders (he weighs, at least, a hundred pounds), like any lapdog.
Lansdowne Circus, October 10th.--I returned hither from
On Saturday we took the rail for
Right across the narrow street stands St. Michael's Church with its tall, tall tower and spire. The body of the church has been almost entirely recased with stone since I was here before; but the tower still retains its antiquity, and is decorated with statues that look down from their lofty niches seemingly in good preservation. The tower and spire are most stately and beautiful, the whole church very noble. We went in, and found that the vulgar plaster of Cromwell's time has been scraped from the pillars and arches, leaving them all as fresh and splendid as if just made.
We looked also into
We saw nothing else particularly worthy of remark except Ford's Hospital, in Grey Friars' Street. It has an Elizabethan front of timber and plaster, facing on the street, with two or three peaked gables in a row, beneath which is a low, arched entrance, giving admission into a small paved quadrangle, open to the sky above, but surrounded by the walls, lozenge-paned windows, and gables of the Hospital. The quadrangle is but a few paces in width, and perhaps twenty in length; and, through a half-closed doorway, at the farther end, there was a glimpse into a garden. Just within the entrance, through an open door, we saw the neat and comfortable apartment of the Matron of the Hospital; and, along the quadrangle, on each side, there were three or four doors, through which we glanced into little rooms, each containing a fireplace, a bed, a chair or two,--a little, homely, domestic scene, with one old woman in the midst of it; one old woman in each room. They are destitute widows, who have their lodging and home here,--a small room for each one to sleep, cook, and be at home in,--and three and sixpence a week to feed and clothe themselves with,--a cloak being the only garment bestowed on them. When one of the sisterhood dies each old woman has to pay twopence towards the funeral; and so they slowly starve and wither out of life, and claim each their twopence contribution in turn. I am afraid they have a very dismal time.
There is an old man's hospital in another part of the town, on a similar plan. A collection of sombre and lifelike tales might be written on the idea of giving the experiences of these Hospitallers, male and female; and they might be supposed to be written by the Matron of one, who had acquired literary taste and practice as a governess,--and by the Master of the other, a retired school-usher.
It was market-day in Coventry, and far adown the street leading from it there were booths and stalls, and apples, pears, toys, books, among which I saw my Twice-Told Tales, with an awful portrait of myself as frontispiece,--and various country produce, offered for sale by men, women, and girls. The scene looked lively, but had not much vivacity in it.
October 27th.--The autumn has advanced progressively, and is now fairly established, though still there is much green foliage, in spite of many brown trees, and an enormous quantity of withered leaves, too damp to rustle, strewing the paths,--whence, however, they are continually swept up and carried off in wheelbarrows, either for neatness or for the agricultural worth, as manure, of even a withered leaf. The pastures look just as green as ever,--a deep, bright verdure, that seems almost sunshine in itself, however sombre the sky may be. The little plats of grass and flowers, in front of our circle of houses, might still do credit to an American midsummer; for I have seen beautiful roses here within a day or two; and dahlias, asters, and such autumnal flowers, are plentiful; and I have no doubt that the old year's flowers will bloom till those of the new year appear. Really, the English winter is not so terrible as ours.
October 30th.--Wednesday was one of the most beautiful of all days, and gilded almost throughout with the precious English sunshine,--the most delightful sunshine ever made, both for its positive fine qualities and because we seldom get it without too great an admixture of water. We made no use of this lovely day, except to walk to an Arboretum and Pinetum on the outskirts of the town. U---- and Mrs. Shepard made an excursion to Guy's Cliff.
[Here comes in the visit to
From Redfern's we went back to the market-place, expecting
to find J-----at the Museum, but the keeper said he had gone away. We went into this museum, which contains the
collections in Natural History, etc., of a county society. It is very well arranged, and is rich in
specimens of ornithology, among which was an albatross, huge beyond
imagination. I do not think that
Coleridge could have known the size of the fowl when he caused it to be hung
round the neck of his Ancient Mariner.
There were a great many humming-birds from various parts of the world,
and some of their breasts actually gleamed and shone as with the brightest
lustre of sunset. Also, many strange
fishes, and a huge pike taken from the river Avon, and so long that I wonder
how he could turn himself about in such a little river as the Avon is near
[The visit to Whitnash intervenes here.--ED.]
24 Great Russell Street, November 10th.--We have been thinking and negotiating about taking lodgings in London lately, and this morning we left Leamington and reached London with no other misadventure than that of leaving the great bulk of our luggage behind us,--the van which we hired to take it to the railway station having broken down under its prodigious weight, in the middle of the street. On our journey we saw nothing particularly worthy of note,--but everywhere the immortal verdure of England, scarcely less perfect than in June, so far as the fields are concerned, though the foliage of the trees presents pretty much the same hues as those of our own forests, after the gayety and gorgeousness have departed from them.
Our lodgings are in close vicinity to the
I felt restless and uncomfortable, and soon strolled forth,
without any definite object, and walked as far as
Before I reached our lodgings, the dusk settled into the streets, and a mist bedewed and bedamped me, and I went astray, as is usual with me, and had to inquire my way; indeed, except in the principal thoroughfares, London is so miserably lighted that it is impossible to recognize one's whereabouts. On my arrival I found our parlor looking cheerful with a brisk fire; . . . . but the first day or two in new lodgings is at best an uncomfortable time. Fanny has just come in with more unhappy news about ------. Pray Heaven it may not be true! . . . . Troubles are a sociable brotherhood; they love to come hand in hand, or sometimes, even, to come side by side, with long looked-for and hoped-for good fortune. . . . .
November 11th.--This morning we all went to the
We went first to the railway station, in quest of our
luggage, which we found. Then we made a
pretty straight course down to Holborn, and through
Then we went into
From Bennett's shop--which is so near the steeple of Bow Church that it would tumble upon it if it fell over--we strolled still eastward, aiming at London Bridge; but missed it, and bewildered ourselves among many dingy and frowzy streets and lanes. I bore towards the right, however, knowing that that course must ultimately bring me to the Thames; and at last I saw before me ramparts, towers, circular and square, with battlemented summits, large sweeps and curves of fortification, as well as straight and massive walls and chimneys behind them (all a great confusion--to my eye), of ancient and more modern structure, and four loftier turrets rising in the midst; the whole great space surrounded by a broad, dry moat, which now seemed to be used as an ornamental walk, bordered partly with trees. This was the Tower; but seen from a different and more picturesque point of view than I have heretofore gained of it. Being so convenient for a visit, I determined to go in. At the outer gate, which is not a part of the fortification, a sentinel walks to and fro, besides whom there was a warder, in the rich old costume of Henry VIII's time, looking very gorgeous indeed,--as much so as scarlet and gold can make him.
As J----- and I were not going to look at the Jewel-room, we
loitered about in the open space, before the
Lastly, the warder led us under the
We now left the Tower, and made our way deviously westward, passing St. Paul's, which looked magnificently and beautifully, so huge and dusky as it was, with here and there a space on its vast form where the original whiteness of the marble came out like a streak of moonshine amid the blackness with which time has made it grander than it was in its newness. It is a most noble edifice; and I delight, too, in the statues that crown some of its heights, and in the wreaths of sculpture which are hung around it.
November 12th.--This morning began with such fog, that at
the window of my chamber, lighted only from a small court-yard, enclosed by
high, dingy walls, I could hardly see to dress.
It kept alternately darkening, and then brightening a little, and
darkening again, so much that we could but just discern the opposite houses;
but at eleven or thereabouts it grew so much clearer that we resolved to
venture out. Our plan for the day was to
go in the first place to Westminster Abbey; and to the National Gallery, if we
should find time. . . . . The fog darkened again as we went down
The painted windows of the Abbey, though mostly modern, are exceedingly rich and beautiful; and I do think that human art has invented no other such magnificent method of adornment as this.
Our final visit to-day was to the National Gallery, where I
came to the conclusion that Murillo's
November 12th.--This morning we issued forth, and found the
atmosphere chill and almost frosty, tingling upon our cheeks. . . . . The
gateway of Somerset House attracted us, and we walked round its spacious
quadrangle, encountering many government clerks hurrying to their various
offices. At least, I presumed them to be so.
This is certainly a handsome square of buildings, with its Grecian
facades and pillars, and its sculptured bas-reliefs, and the group of statuary
in the midst of the court. Besides the part of the edifice that rises above
ground, there appear to be two subterranean stories below the surface. From Somerset House we pursued our way
through Temple Bar, but missed it, and therefore entered by the passage from
what was formerly Alsatia, but which now seems to be a very respectable and
humdrum part of
Leaving these grounds, we went to the Hall of the
We next went to the
We now went to
November 15th.--Yesterday morning we went to London Bridge and along Lower Thames Street, and quickly found ourselves in Billingsgate Market, --a dirty, evil-smelling, crowded precinct, thronged with people carrying fish on their heads, and lined with fish-shops and fish-stalls, and pervaded with a fishy odor. The footwalk was narrow,--as indeed was the whole street,--and filthy to travel upon; and we had to elbow our way among rough men and slatternly women, and to guard our heads from the contact of fish-trays; very ugly, grimy, and misty, moreover, is Billingsgate Market, and though we heard none of the foul language of which it is supposed to be the fountain-head, yet it has its own peculiarities of behavior. For instance, U---- tells me that one man, staring at her and her governess as they passed, cried out, "What beauties!"--another, looking under her veil, greeted her with, "Good morning, my love!" We were in advance, and heard nothing of these civilities. Struggling through this fishy purgatory, we caught sight of the Tower, as we drew near the end of the street; and I put all my party under charge of one of the Trump Cards, not being myself inclined to make the rounds of the small part of the fortress that is shown, so soon after my late visit.
When they departed with the warder, I set out by myself to
wander about the exterior of the Tower, looking with interest at what I suppose
to be Tower Hill,--a slight elevation of the large open space into which Great
Tower Street opens; though, perhaps, what is now called Trinity Square may have
been a part of Tower Hill, and possibly the precise spot where the executions
took place. Keeping to the right, round
the Tower, I found the moat quite surrounded by a fence of iron rails,
excluding me from a pleasant gravel-path, among flowers and shrubbery, on the
inside, where I could see nursery-maids giving children their airings. Possibly these may have been the privileged
inhabitants of the Tower, which certainly might contain the population of a
large village. The aspect of the
fortress has so much that is new and modern about it that it can hardly be
called picturesque, and yet it seems unfair to withhold that epithet from such
a collection of gray ramparts. I
followed the iron fence quite round the outer grounds, till it approached the
I went a little way into St. Katharine's Dock, and found it
crowded with great ships; then, returning, I strolled along the range of shops
that front towards this side of the Tower.
They have all something to do with ships, sailors, and commerce; being
for the sale of ships' stores, nautical instruments, arms, clothing, together
with a tavern and grog-shop at every other door; bookstalls, too, covered with
cheap novels and song-books; cigar-shops in great numbers; and everywhere were
sailors, and here and there a soldier, and children at the doorsteps, and women
showing themselves at the doors or windows of their domiciles. These latter
figures, however, pertain rather to the street up which I walked, penetrating
into the interior of this region, which, I think, is Blackwall--no, I forget
what its name is. At all events, it has
an ancient and most grimy and rough look, with its old gabled houses, each of
them the seat of some petty trade and business in its basement story. Among
these I saw one house with three or four peaks along its front,--a second story
projecting over the basement, and the whole clapboarded over. . . . . There was
a butcher's stall in the lower story, with a front open to the street, in the
ancient fashion, which seems to be retained only by butchers' shops. This part of
At the end of an hour I went back to the Refreshment-room, within the outer gate of the Tower, where the rest of us shortly appeared. We now returned westward by way of Great Tower Street, Eastcheap, and Cannon Street, and, entering St. Paul's, sat down beneath the misty dome to rest ourselves. The muffled roar of the city, as we heard it there, is very soothing, and keeps one listening to it, somewhat as the flow of a river keeps us looking at it. It is a grand and quiet sound; and, ever and anon, a distant door slammed somewhere in the cathedral, and reverberated long and heavily, like the roll of thunder or the boom of cannon. Every noise that is loud enough to be heard in so vast an edifice melts into the great quietude. The interior looked very sombre, and the dome hung over us like a cloudy sky. I wish it were possible to pass directly from St. Paul's into York Minster, or from the latter into the former; that is, if one's mind could manage to stagger under both in the same day. There is no other way of judging of their comparative effect.
Under the influence of that grand lullaby,--the roar of the
city,--we sat for some time after we were sufficiently rested; but at last
plunged forth again, and went up Newgate Street, pausing to look through the
iron railings of Christ's Hospital. The
boys, however, were not at play; so we went onward, in quest of
November 16th.--Mr. Silsbee called yesterday, and talked
about matters of art, in which he is deeply interested, and which he has had
good opportunities of becoming acquainted with, during three years' travel on
the Continent. He is a man of great
intelligence and true feeling, and absolutely brims over with ideas,--his
conversation flowing in a constant stream, which it appears to be no trouble
whatever to him to keep up. . . . . He took his leave after a long call, and
left with us a manuscript, describing a visit to
We drove to the
We were under Mr. Silshee's guidance for the day, . . . . and first we looked at the sculpture, which is composed chiefly of casts or copies of the most famous statues of all ages, and likewise of those crumbs and little fragments which have fallen from Time's jaw,--and half-picked bones, as it were, that have been gathered up from spots where he has feasted full,--torsos, heads and broken limbs, some of them half worn away, as if they had been rolled over and over in the sea. I saw nothing in the sculptural way, either modern or antique, that impressed me so much as a statue of a nude mother by a French artist. In a sitting posture, with one knee over the other, she was clasping her highest knee with both hands; and in the hollow cradle thus formed by her arms lay two sweet little babies, as snug and close to her heart as if they had not yet been born,--two little love-blossoms,--and the mother encircling them and pervading them with love. But an infinite pathos and strange terror are given to this beautiful group by some faint bas-reliefs on the pedestal, indicating that the happy mother is Eve, and Cain and Abel the two innocent babes.
Then we went to the Alhambra, which looks like an enchanted palace. If it had been a sunny day, I should have enjoyed it more; but it was miserable to shiver and shake in the Court of the Lions, and in those chambers which were contrived as places of refuge from a fervid temperature. Furthermore, it is not quite agreeable to see such clever specimens of stage decoration; they are so very good that it gets to be past a joke, without becoming actual earnest. I had not a similar feeling in respect to the reproduction of mediaeval statues, arches, doorways, all brilliantly colored as in the days of their first glory; yet I do not know but that the first is as little objectionable as the last. Certainly, in both cases, scenes and objects of a past age are here more vividly presented to the dullest mind than without such material facilities they could possibly be brought before the most powerful imagination. Truly, the Crystal Palace, in all its departments, offers wonderful means of education. I marvel what will come of it. Among the things that I admired most was Benvenuto Cellini's statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa, and standing over her headless and still writhing body, out of which, at the severed neck, gushed a vast exuberance of snakes. Likewise, a sitting statue, by Michel Angelo, of one of the Medici, full of dignity and grace and reposeful might. Also the bronze gate of a baptistery in Florence, carved all over with relieves of Scripture subjects, executed in the most lifelike and expressive manner. The cast itself was a miracle of art. I should have taken it for the genuine original bronze.
We then wandered into the House of Diomed, which seemed to me a dismal abode, affording no possibility of comfort. We sat down in one of the rooms, on an iron bench, very cold.
It being by this time two o'clock, we went to the Refreshment-room and lunched; and before we had finished our repast, my wife discovered that she had lost her sable tippet, which she had been carrying on her arm. Mr. Silsbee most kindly and obligingly immediately went in quest of it, . . . . but to no purpose. . . . .
Upon entering the Tropical Saloon, we found a most welcome and delightful change of temperature among those gigantic leaves of banyan-trees, and the broad expanse of water-plants, floating on lakes, and spacious aviaries, where birds of brilliant plumage sported and sang amid such foliage as they knew at home. Howbeit, the atmosphere was a little faint and sickish, perhaps owing to the odor of the half-tepid water. The most remarkable object here was the trunk of a tree, huge beyond imagination, --a pine-tree from California. It was only the stripped-off bark, however, which had been conveyed hither in segments, and put together again beyond the height of the palace roof; and the hollow interior circle of the tree was large enough to contain fifty people, I should think. We entered and sat down in all the remoteness from one another that is attainable in a good-sized drawing-room. We then ascended the gallery to get a view of this vast tree from a more elevated position, and found it looked even bigger from above. Then we loitered slowly along the gallery as far as it extended, and afterwards descended into the nave; for it was getting dusk, and a horn had sounded, and a bell rung a warning to such as delayed in the remote regions of the building. Mr. Silsbee again most kindly went in quest of the sables, but still without success. . . . . I have not much enjoyed the Crystal Palace, but think it a great and admirable achievement.
November 19th.--On Tuesday evening Mr. Silsbee came to read some letters which he has written to his friends, chiefly giving his observations on Art, together with descriptions of Venice and other cities on the Continent. They were very good, and indicate much sensibility and talent. After the reading we had a little oyster-supper and wine.
I had written a note to ------, and received an answer, indicating that he was much weighed down by his financial misfortune. . . . . However, he desired me to come and see him; so yesterday morning I wended my way down into the city, and after various reluctant circumlocutions arrived at his house. The interior looked confused and dismal.
It seems to me nobody else runs such risks as a man of business, because he risks everything. Every other man, into whatever depth of poverty he may sink, has still something left, be he author, scholar, handicraftman, or what not; the merchant has nothing.
We parted with a long and strong grasp of the hand, and ------ promised to come and see us soon. . . . .
On my way home I called at Truebner's in Pater Noster Row. . . . . I waited a few minutes, he being busy with a tall, muscular, English-built man, who, after he had taken leave, Truebner told me was Charles Reade. I once met him at an evening party, but should have been glad to meet him again, now that I appreciate him so much better after reading Never too Late to Mend.
December 6th.--All these days, since my last date, have been marked by nothing very well worthy of detail and description. I have walked the streets a great deal in the dull November days, and always take a certain pleasure in being in the midst of human life,--as closely encompassed by it as it is possible to be anywhere in this world; and in that way of viewing it there is a dull and sombre enjoyment always to be had in Holborn, Fleet Street, Cheapside, and the other busiest parts of London. It is human life; it is this material world; it is a grim and heavy reality. I have never had the same sense of being surrounded by materialisms and hemmed in with the grossness of this earthly existence anywhere else; these broad, crowded streets are so evidently the veins and arteries of an enormous city. London is evidenced in every one of them, just as a megatherium is in each of its separate bones, even if they be small ones. Thus I never fail of a sort of self-congratulation in finding myself, for instance, passing along Ludgate Hill; but, in spite of this, it is really an ungladdened life to wander through these huge, thronged ways, over a pavement foul with mud, ground into it by a million of footsteps; jostling against people who do not seem to be individuals, but all one mass, so homogeneous is the street-walking aspect of them; the roar of vehicles pervading me,--wearisome cabs and omnibuses; everywhere the dingy brick edifices heaving themselves up, and shutting out all but a strip of sullen cloud, that serves London for a sky,--in short, a general impression of grime and sordidness; and at this season always a fog scattered along the vista of streets, sometimes so densely as almost to spiritualize the materialism and make the scene resemble the other world of worldly people, gross even in ghostliness. It is strange how little splendor and brilliancy one sees in London,--in the city almost none, though some in the shops of Regent Street. My wife has had a season of indisposition within the last few weeks, so that my rambles have generally been solitary, or with J----- only for a companion. I think my only excursion with my wife was a week ago, when we went to Lincoln's Inn Fields, which truly are almost fields right in the heart of London, and as retired and secluded as if the surrounding city were a forest, and its heavy roar were the wind among the branches. We gained admission into the noble Hall, which is modern, but built in antique style, and stately and beautiful exceedingly. I have forgotten all but the general effect, with its lofty oaken roof, its panelled walls, with the windows high above, and the great arched window at one end full of painted coats of arms, which the light glorifies in passing through them, as if each were the escutcheon of some illustrious personage. Thence we went to the chapel of Lincoln's Inn, where, on entering, we found a class of young choristers receiving instruction from their music-master, while the organ accompanied their strains. These young, clear, fresh, elastic voices are wonderfully beautiful; they are like those of women, yet have something more birdlike and aspiring, more like what one conceives of the singing of angels. As for the singing of saints and blessed spirits that have once been human, it never can resemble that of these young voices; for no duration of heavenly enjoyments will ever quite take the mortal sadness out of it.
In this chapel we saw some painted windows of the time of James I., a period much subsequent, to the age when painted glass was in its glory; but the pictures of Scriptural people in these windows were certainly very fine,--the figures being as large as life, and the faces having much expression. The sunshine came in through some of them, and produced a beautiful effect, almost as if the painted forms were the glorified spirits of those holy personages.
After leaving Lincoln's Inn, we looked at Gray's Inn, which is a great, quiet domain, quadrangle beyond quadrangle, close beside Holborn, and a large space of greensward enclosed within it. It is very strange to find so much of ancient quietude right in the monster city's very jaws, which yet the monster shall not eat up,--right in its very belly, indeed, which yet, in all these ages, it shall not digest and convert into the same substance as the rest of its bustling streets. Nothing else in London is so like the effect of a spell, as to pass under one of these archways, and find yourself transported from the jumble, mob, tumult, uproar, as of an age of week-days condensed into the present hour, into what seems an eternal sabbath. Thence we went into Staple Inn, I think it was,--which has a front upon Holborn of four or five ancient gables in a row, and a low arch under the impending story, admitting you into a paved quadrangle, beyond which you have the vista of another. I do not understand that the residences and chambers in these Inns of Court are now exclusively let to lawyers; though such inhabitants certainly seem to preponderate there.
Since then J----- and I walked down into the Strand, and found ourselves unexpectedly mixed up with a crowd that grew denser as we approached Charing Cross, and became absolutely impermeable when we attempted to make our way to Whitehall. The wicket in the gate of Northumberland House, by the by, was open, and gave me a glimpse of the front of the edifice within,--a very partial glimpse, however, and that obstructed by the solid person of a footman, who, with some women, were passing out from within. The crowd was a real English crowd, perfectly undemonstrative, and entirely decorous, being composed mostly of well-dressed people, and largely of women. The cause of the assemblage was the opening of Parliament by the Queen, but we were too late for any chance of seeing her Majesty. However, we extricated ourselves from the multitude, and, going along Pall Mall, got into the Park by the steps at the foot of the Duke of York's Column, and thence went to the Whitehall Gateway, outside of which we found the Horse Guards drawn up,--a regiment of black horses and burnished cuirasses. On our way thither an open carriage came through the gateway into the Park, conveying two ladies in court dresses; and another splendid chariot pressed out through the gateway,--the coachman in a cocked hat and scarlet and gold embroidery, and two other scarlet and gold figures hanging behind. It was one of the Queen's carriages, but seemed to have nobody in it. I have forgotten to mention what, I think, produced more effect on me than anything else, namely, the clash of the bells from the steeple of St. Martin's Church and those of St. Margaret. Really, London seemed to cry out through them, and bid welcome to the Queen.
December 7th.--This being a muddy and dismal day, I went only to the
which is but a short walk down the street (Great Russell Street). I have now visited it often enough to be on more familiar terms with it than at first, and therefore do not feel myself so weighed down by the many things to be seen. I have ceased to expect or hope or wish to devour and digest the whole enormous collection; so I content myself with individual things, and succeed in getting now and then a little honey from them. Unless I were studying some particular branch of history or science or art, this is the best that can be done with the British Museum.
I went first to-day into the Townley Gallery, and so along through all the ancient sculpture, and was glad to find myself able to sympathize more than heretofore with the forms of grace and beauty which are preserved there,--poor, maimed immortalities as they are,--headless and legless trunks, godlike cripples, faces beautiful and broken-nosed,--heroic shapes which have stood so long, or lain prostrate so long, in the open air, that even the atmosphere of Greece has almost dissolved the external layer of the marble; and yet, however much they may be worn away, or battered and shattered, the grace and nobility seem as deep in them as the very heart of the stone. It cannot be destroyed, except by grinding them to powder. In short, I do really believe that there was an excellence in ancient sculpture, which has yet a potency to educate and refine the minds of those who look at it even so carelessly and casually as I do. As regards the frieze of the Parthenon, I must remark that the horses represented on it, though they show great spirit and lifelikeness, are rather of the pony species than what would be considered fine horses now. Doubtless, modern breeding has wrought a difference in the animal. Flaxman, in his outlines, seems to have imitated these classic steeds of the Parthenon, and thus has produced horses that always appeared to me affected and diminutively monstrous.
From the classic sculpture, I passed through an Assyrian
room, where the walls are lined with great slabs of marble sculptured in bas-relief
with scenes in the life of Senmacherib, I believe; very ugly, to be sure, yet
artistically done in their own style, and in wonderfully good
preservation. Indeed, if the chisel had
cut its last stroke in them yesterday, the work could not be more sharp and
distinct. In glass cases, in this room,
are little relics and scraps of utensils, and a great deal of fragmentary
rubbish, dug up by Layard in his researches,--things that it is hard to call
anything but trash, but which yet may be of great significance as indicating
the modes of life of a long-past race. I
remember nothing particularly just now, except some pieces of broken glass,
iridescent with certainly the most beautiful hues in the world,--indescribably
beautiful, and unimaginably, unless one can conceive of the colors of the
rainbow, and a thousand glorious sunsets, and the autumnal forest-leaves of
America, all condensed upon a little fragment of a glass cup,--and that, too,
without becoming in the least glaring or flagrant, but mildly glorious, as we
may fancy the shifting lines of an angel's wing may be. I think this chaste splendor will glow in my
memory for years to come. It is the
effect of time, and cannot be imitated by any known process of art. I have seen it in specimens of old Roman
glass, which has been famous here in
Ascending the stairs, I went through the halls of fossil remains,--which I care little for, though one of them is a human skeleton in limestone,--and through several rooms of mineralogical specimens, including all the gems in the world, among which is seen, not the Koh-i-noor itself, but a fac-simile of it in crystal. I think the aerolites are as interesting as anything in this department, and one piece of pure iron, laid against the wall of the room, weighs about fourteen hundred pounds. Whence could it have come? If these aerolites are bits of other planets, how happen they to be always iron? But I know no more of this than if I were a philosopher.
Then I went through rooms of shells and fishes and reptiles
and tortoises, crocodiles and alligators and insects, including all manner of
butterflies, some of which had wings precisely like leaves, a little withered
and faded, even the skeleton and fibres of the leaves represented; and immense
hairy spiders, covering, with the whole circumference of their legs, a space as
big as a saucer; and centipedes little less than a foot long; and winged insects
that look like jointed twigs of a tree.
By and by I entered the room of Egyptian mummies, of which there are a good many, one of which, the body of a priestess, is unrolled, except the innermost layer of linen. The outline of her face is perfectly visible. Mummies of cats, dogs, snakes, and children are in the wall-cases, together with a vast many articles of Egyptian manufacture and use,--even children's toys; bread, too, in flat cakes; grapes, that have turned to raisins in the grave; queerest of all, methinks, a curly wig, that is supposed to have belonged to a woman,--together with the wooden box that held it. The hair is brown, and the wig is as perfect as if it had been made for some now living dowager.
To return to my to-day's progress through the Museum;--next
to the classic rooms are the collections of Saxon and British and early English
antiquities, the earlier portions of which are not very interesting to me,
possessing little or no beauty in themselves, and indicating a kind of life too
remote from our own to be readily sympathized with. Who cares for glass beads and copper
brooches, and knives, spear-heads, and swords, all so rusty that they look as
much like pieces of old iron hoop as anything else? The bed of the
Among the mediaeval relics, the carvings in ivory are often
very exquisite and elaborate. There are
likewise caskets and coffers, and a thousand other
Here--not to speak of the noble rooms and halls--there are numberless treasures beyond all price; too valuable in their way for me to select any one as more curious and valuable than many others. Letters of statesmen and warriors of all nations, and several centuries back,--among which, long as it has taken Europe to produce them, I saw none so illustrious as those of Washington, nor more so than Franklin's, whom America gave to the world in her nonage; and epistles of poets and artists, and of kings, too, whose chirography appears to have been much better than I should have expected from fingers so often cramped in iron gauntlets. In another case there were the original autograph copies of several famous works,--for example, that of Pope's Homer, written on the backs of letters, the direction and seals of which appear in the midst of "the Tale of Troy divine," which also is much scratched and interlined with Pope's corrections; a manuscript of one of Ben Jonson's masques; of the Sentimental Journey, written in much more careful and formal style than might be expected, the book pretending to be a harum-scarum; of Walter Scott's Kenilworth, bearing such an aspect of straightforward diligence that I shall hardly think of it again as a romance;--in short, I may as well drop the whole matter here.
All through the long vista of the king's library, we come to
cases in which--with their pages open beneath the glass--we see books worth
their weight in gold, either for their uniqueness or their beauty, or because
they have belonged to illustrious men, and have their autographs in them. The
copy of the English translation of Montaigne, containing the strange scrawl of
Shakespeare's autograph, is here.
Bacon's name is in another book; Queen Elizabeth's in another; and there
is a little devotional volume, with Lady Jane Grey's writing in it. She is supposed to have taken it to the
scaffold with her. Here, too, I saw a
copy, which was printed at a Venetian press at the time, of the challenge which
the Admirable Crichton caused to be posted on the church doors of
As I do not mean to fill any more pages with the British Museum, I will just mention the hall of Egyptian antiquities on the ground-floor of the edifice, though I did not pass through it to-day. They consist of things that would be very ugly and contemptible if they were not so immensely magnified; but it is impossible not to acknowledge a certain grandeur, resulting from the scale on which those strange old sculptors wrought. For instance, there is a granite fist of prodigious size, at least a yard across, and looking as if it were doubled in the face of Time, defying him to destroy it. All the rest of the statue to which it belonged seems to have vanished; but this fist will certainly outlast the Museum, and whatever else it contains, unless it be some similar Egyptian ponderosity. There is a beetle, wrought out of immensely hard black stone, as big as a hogshead. It is satisfactory to see a thing so big and heavy. Then there are huge stone sarcophagi, engraved with hieroglyphics within and without, all as good as new, though their age is reckoned by thousands of years. These great coffins are of vast weight and mass, insomuch that when once the accurately fitting lids were shut down, there might have seemed little chance of their being lifted again till the Resurrection. I positively like these coffins, they are so faithfully made, and so black and stern,--and polished to such a nicety, only to be buried forever; for the workmen, and the kings who were laid to sleep within, could never have dreamed of the British Museum.
There is a deity named Pasht, who sits in the hall, very big, very grave, carved of black stone, and very ludicrous, wearing a dog's head. I will just mention the Rosetta Stone, with a Greek inscription, and another in Egyptian characters which gave the clew to a whole field of history; and shall pretermit all further handling of this unwieldy subject.
In all the rooms I saw people of the poorer classes, some of
whom seemed to view the objects intelligently, and to take a genuine interest
in them. A poor man in
It deserves to be noticed that some small figures of Indian Thugs, represented as engaged in their profession and handiwork of cajoling and strangling travellers, have been removed from the place which they formerly occupied in the part of the Museum shown to the general public. They are now in the more private room, and the reason of their withdrawal is, that, according to the Chaplain of Newgate, the practice of garroting was suggested to the English thieves by this representation of Indian Thugs. It is edifying, after what I have written in the preceding paragraph, to find that the only lesson known to have been inculcated here is that of a new mode of outrage.
December 8th.--This morning, when it was time to rise, there was but a glimmering of daylight, and we had candles on the breakfast-table at nearly ten o'clock. All abroad there was a dense dim fog brooding through the atmosphere, insomuch that we could hardly see across the street. At eleven o'clock I went out into the midst of the fog-bank, which for the moment seemed a little more interfused with daylight; for there seem to be continual changes in the density of this dim medium, which varies so much that now you can but just see your hand before you, and a moment afterwards you can see the cabs dashing out of the duskiness a score of yards off. It is seldom or never, moreover, an unmitigated gloom, but appears to be mixed up with sunshine in different proportions; sometimes only one part sun to a thousand of smoke and fog, and sometimes sunshine enough to give the whole mass a coppery line. This would have been a bright sunny day but for the interference of the fog; and before I had been out long, I actually saw the sun looking red and rayless, much like the millionth magnification of a new halfpenny.
I was bound towards Bennoch's; for he had written a note to apologize for not visiting us, and I had promised to call and see him to-day.
I went to Marlborough House to look at the English pictures,
which I care more about seeing, here in
Marlborough House may be converted, I think, into a very handsome residence for the young Prince of Wales. The entrance from the court-yard is into a large, square central hall, the painted ceiling of which is at the whole height of the edifice, and has a gallery on one side, whence it would be pleasant to look down on a festal scene below. The rooms are of fine proportions, with vaulted ceilings, and with fireplaces and mantel-pieces of great beauty, adorned with pillars and terminal figures of white and of variegated marble; and in the centre of each mantel-piece there is a marble tablet, exquisitely sculptured with classical designs, done in such high relief that the figures are sometimes almost disengaged from the background. One of the subjects was Androcles, or whatever was his name, taking the thorn out of the lion's foot. I suppose these works are of the era of the first old Duke and Duchess. After all, however, for some reason or other, the house does not at first strike you as a noble and princely one, and you have to convince yourself of it by examining it more in detail.
On leaving Marlborough House, I stepped for a few moments
into the National Gallery, and looked, among other things, at the Turners and
Claudes that hung there side by side.
These pictures, I think, are quite the most comprehensible of Turner's
productions; but I must say I prefer the Claudes. The latter catches "the light that never
was on sea or land" without taking you quite away from nature for it. Nevertheless, I will not be quite certain
that I care for any painter except Murillo, whose
From the Gallery I almost groped my way towards the city, for the fog seemed to grow denser and denser as I advanced; and when I reached St. Paul's, the sunny intermixture above spoken of was at its minimum, so that, the smoke-cloud grew really black about the dome and pinnacles, and the statues of saints looked down dimly from their standpoints on high. It was very grand, however, to see the pillars and porticos, and the huge bulk of the edifice, heaving up its dome from an obscure foundation into yet more shadowy obscurity; and by the time I reached the corner of the churchyard nearest Cheapside, the whole vast cathedral had utterly vanished, leaving "not a wrack behind," unless those thick, dark vapors were the elements of which it had been composed, and into which it had again dissolved. It is good to think, nevertheless,--and I gladly accept the analogy and the moral,--that the cathedral was really there, and as substantial as ever, though those earthly mists had hidden it from mortal eyes.
I found ------ in better spirits than when I saw him last, but his misfortune has been too real not to affect him long and deeply. He was cheerful, however, and his face shone with almost its old lustre. It has still the cheeriest glow that I ever saw in any human countenance.
I went home by way of Holborn, and the fog was denser than
ever,--very black, indeed more like a distillation of mud than anything else;
the ghost of mud,--the spiritualized medium of departed mud, through which the
dead citizens of London probably tread in the Hades whither they are
translated. So heavy was the gloom, that
gas was lighted in all the shop-windows; and the little charcoal-furnaces of
the women and boys, roasting chestnuts, threw a ruddy, misty glow around
them. And yet I liked it. This fog seems an atmosphere proper to huge,
On reaching home, I found the same fog diffused through the drawing-room, though how it could have got in is a mystery. Since nightfall, however, the atmosphere is clear again.
December 20th.--Here we are still in
I have been out only for one evening; and that was at Dr. ------'s, who had been attending all the children in the measles. (Their illness was what detained us.) He is a homoeopathist, and is known in scientific or general literature; at all events, a sensible and enlightened man, with an un-English freedom of mind on some points. For example, he is a Swedenborgian, and a believer in modern spiritualism. He showed me some drawings that had been made under the spiritual influence by a miniature-painter who possesses no imaginative power of his own, and is merely a good mechanical and literal copyist; but these drawings, representing angels and allegorical people, were done by an influence which directed the artist's hand, he not knowing what his next touch would be, nor what the final result. The sketches certainly did show a high and fine expressiveness, if examined in a trustful mood. Dr. ------also spoke of Mr. Harris, the American poet of spiritualism, as being the best poet of the day; and he produced his works in several volumes, and showed me songs, and paragraphs of longer poems, in support of his opinion. They seemed to me to have a certain light and splendor, but not to possess much power, either passionate or intellectual. Mr. Harris is the medium of deceased poets, Milton and Lord Byron among the rest; and Dr. ------ said that Lady Byron--who is a devoted admirer of her husband, in spite of their conjugal troubles--pronounced some of these posthumous strains to be worthy of his living genius. Then the Doctor spoke of various strange experiences which he himself has had in these spiritual matters; for he has witnessed the miraculous performances of Home, the American medium, and he has seen with his own eyes, and felt with his own touch, those ghostly hands and arms the reality of which has been certified to me by other beholders. Dr. ------ tells me that they are cold, and that it is a somewhat awful matter to see and feel them. I should think so, indeed. Do I believe in these wonders? Of course; for how is it possible to doubt either the solemn word or the sober observation of a learned and sensible man like Dr. ------? But again, do I really believe it? Of course not; for I cannot consent to have heaven and earth, this world and the next, beaten up together like the white and yolk of an egg, merely out of respect to Dr. ------'s sanity and integrity. I would not believe my own sight, nor touch of the spiritual hands; and it would take deeper and higher strains than those of Mr. Harris to convince me. I think I might yield to higher poetry or heavenlier wisdom than mortals in the flesh have ever sung or uttered.
Meanwhile, this matter of spiritualism is surely the strangest that ever was heard of; and yet I feel unaccountably little interest in it,--a sluggish disgust, and repugnance to meddle with it,--insomuch that I hardly feel as if it were worth this page or two in my not very eventful journal. One or two of the ladies present at Dr. ------'s little party seemed to be mediums.
I have made several visits to the picture-galleries since my last date; and I think it fair towards my own powers of appreciation to record that I begin to appreciate Turner's pictures rather better than at first. Not that I have anything to recant as respects those strange, white-grounded performances in the chambers at the Marlborough House; but some of his happier productions (a large landscape illustrative of Childe Harold, for instance) seem to me to have more magic in them than any other pictures. I admire, too, that misty, morning landscape in the National Gallery; and, no doubt, his very monstrosities are such as only he could have painted, and may have an infinite value for those who can appreciate the genius in them.
The shops in London begin to show some tokens of approaching
Christmas; especially the toy-shops, and the confectioners',--the latter
ornamenting their windows with a profusion of bonbons and all manner of pygmy
figures in sugar; the former exhibiting Christmas-trees, hung with rich and
gaudy fruit. At the butchers' shops,
there is a great display of fat carcasses, and an abundance of game at the
poulterers'. We think of going to the
December 27th.--Still leading an idle life, which, however, may not be quite thrown away, as I see some things, and think many thoughts.
The other day we went to Westminster Abbey, and through the
chapels; and it being as sunny a day as could well be in
I presume I was sufficiently minute in describing my first
visit to the chapels, so I shall only mention the stiff figure of a lady of
Queen Elizabeth's court, reclining on the point of her elbow under a mural arch
through all these dusty years; . . . . and the old coronation-chair, with the
I continue to go to the picture-galleries. I have an idea that the face of Murillo's
About equestrian statues, as those of various kings at
Charing Cross, and otherwhere about London, and of the Duke of Wellington
opposite Apsley House, and in front of the Exchange, it strikes me as absurd,
the idea of putting a man on horseback on a place where one movement of the
steed forward or backward or sideways would infallibly break his own and his
rider's neck. The English sculptors
generally seem to have been aware of this absurdity, and have endeavored to
lessen it by making the horse as quiet as a cab-horse on the stand, instead of
rearing rampant, like the bronze group of
January 3d, 1858.--On Thursday we had the pleasure of a call
from Mr. Coventry Patmore, to whom Dr. Wilkinson gave me a letter of
introduction, and on whom I had called twice at the British Museum without
finding him. We had read his Betrothal and Angel in the House with unusual
pleasure and sympathy, and therefore were very glad to make his personal
acquaintance. He is a man of much more
youthful aspect than I had expected, . . . . a slender person to be an
Englishman, though not remarkably so had he been an American; with an
intelligent, pleasant, and sensitive face,--a man very evidently of refined
feelings and cultivated mind. . . . . He is very simple and agreeable in his
manners; a little shy, yet perfectly frank, and easy to meet on real grounds. .
. . . He said that his wife had proposed to come with him, and had, indeed,
accompanied him to town, but was kept away. . . . . We were very sorry for
this, because Mr. Patmore seems to acknowledge her as the real "Angel in
the House," although he says she herself ignores all connection with the
poem. It is well for her to do so, and
for her husband to feel that the character is her real portrait; and both, I
suppose, are right. It is a most
beautiful and original poem,--a poem for happy married people to read together,
and to understand by the light of their own past and present life; but I doubt
whether the generality of English people are capable of appreciating it. I told Mr. Patmore that I thought his
popularity in America would be greater than at home, and he said that it was
already so; and he appeared to estimate highly his American fame, and also our
general gift of quicker and more subtle recognition of genius than the English
public. . . . . We mutually gratified each other by expressing high admiration
of one another's works, and Mr. Patmore regretted that in the few days of our
further stay here we should not have time to visit him at his home. It would really give me pleasure to do so. .
. . . I expressed a hope of seeing him in
We are now making preparations for our departure, which we expect will take place on Tuesday; and yesterday I went to our Minister's to arrange about the passport. The very moment I rang at his door, it swung open, and the porter ushered me with great courtesy into the anteroom; not that he knew me, or anything about me, except that I was an American citizen. This is the deference which an American servant of the public finds it expedient to show to his sovereigns. Thank Heaven, I am a sovereign again, and no longer a servant; and really it is very singular how I look down upon our ambassadors and dignitaries of all sorts, not excepting the President himself. I doubt whether this is altogether a good influence of our mode of government.
I did not see, and, in fact, declined seeing, the Minister
himself, but only his son, the Secretary of Legation, and a Dr. P------, an
American traveller just from the Continent.
He gave a fearful account of the difficulties that beset a person landing
with much luggage in
Bennoch came to take tea with us on the 5th, it being his
first visit since we came to
On his departure, J----- and I walked a good way down
END OF VOL. II.