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'PUBLIC I- .-.y. 

! 



Lord Nelson 



OUR OLD HOME 

BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 
ANNOTATED WITH PASSAGES 
FROM THE AUTHOR'S NOTE- 
BOOK, AND ILLUSTRATED 
WITH PHOTOGRAVURES 



IjflssaESSF; 




itm^msm 



VOLUME 
II 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

MDCCCXCI 



^yjb 



PU&LIC LIBRARY 


977874A 


4^1, Umff AND 

fOJMN FOrNOAHONB 

£ 19»» I* 



Copyright, 1863. 
Bv NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

Copyright, 1870. 
By SOPHIA HAWTHORNE. 

Copyright, 188^, 1890, 
By HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & Ca 

All rights reserved. 



The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S. A. 
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Ounpany. 



CONTENTS AND LIST OF 
ILLUSTRATIONS 

[Pfudogravures execuUdby A, JV. Elson &• Co., BoitffH,] 

PAGB 

Lord Nelson Frontispiece. 

NEAR OXFORD 281 

Blenheim 292 

The Thames at Oxford from Folly Bridge 318 
Magdalen College, Oxford, from the Cher. 

WELL 322 

SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS . . .325 

Robert Burns 334 

Burns's Birthplace, Alloway Parish, near 

Ayr 350 

The Auld Brig o* Doon, Ayr . . . .354 
Alloway Kirk 356 

A LONDON SUBURB . . . . . . -359 

A Country House 364 

The Houses of Parliament .... 374 

UP THE THAMES 4" 

London Bridge 412 

Tower of London, showing Traitors* Gate 428 

St. Paul's Cathedral 430 

Pqets* Corner, Westminster Abbey . . 452 

OUTSIDE GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 470 
An English Almshouse 500 

CIVIC BANQUETS 527 



o 

CD 

X 

00 
00 



OUR OLD HOME 



VII. 

NEAR OXFORD 

On a fine morning in September we set 
out on an excursion to Blenheim, — the 
sculptor and myself being seated on the 
box of our four-horse carriage, two more of 
the party in the dicky, and the others less 
agreeably accommodated inside. We had 
no coachman, but two postilions in short 
scarlet jackets and leather breeches with 
top-boots, each astride of a horse ; so that, 
all the way along, when not otherwise at- 
tracted, we had the interesting spectacle of 
their up-and-down bobbing in the saddle. 
It was a sunny and beautiful day, a speci- 
men of the perfect English weather, just 
warm enough for comfort, — indeed, a little 
too warm, perhaps, in the noontide sun, — 
yet retaining a mere spice or suspicion 
of austerity, which made it all the more 
enjoyable. 



282 OUR OLD HOME 

The country between Oxford and Blen- 
heim is not particularly interesting, being 
almost level, or undulating very slightly ; 
nor is Oxfordshire, agriculturally, a rich 
part of England. We saw one or two 
hamlets, and I especially remember a pic- 
turesque old gabled house at a turnpike 
gate, and, altogether, the wayside scenery 
had an aspect of old-fashioned English life ; 
but there was nothing very memorable till 
we reached Woodstock, and stopped to 
water our horses at the Black Bear. This 
neighborhood is called New Woodstock, 
but has by no means the brand-new appear- 
ance of an American town, being a large 
village of stone houses, most of them pretty 
well time-worn and weather-stained. The 
Black Bear is an ancient inn, large and 
respectable, with balustraded staircases, and 
intricate passages and corridors, and queer 
old pictures and engravings hanging in the 
entries and apartments. We ordered a 
lunch (the most delightful of English insti- 
tutions, next to dinner) to be ready against 
our return, and then resumed our drive to 
Blenheim. 

The park gate of Blenheim stands close 
to the end of the village street of Wood- 
stock. Immediately on passing through its 



NEAR OXFORD 283 

portals we saw the stately palace in the 
distance, but made a wide circuit of the 
park before approaching it. This noble 
park contains three thousand acres of land, 
and is fourteen miles in circumference. 
Having been, in part, a royal domain before 
it was granted to the Marlborough family, 
it contains many trees of unsurpassed an- 
tiquity, and has doubtless been the haunt 
of game and deer for centuries. We saw 
pheasants in abundance, feeding in the 
open lawns and glades ; and the stags 
tossed their antlers and bounded away, not 
affrighted, but only shy and gamesome, as 
we drove by. It is a magnificent pleasure- 
ground, not too tamely kept, nor rigidly 
subjected within rule, but vast enough to 
have lapsed back into nature again, after 
all the pains that the landscape-gardeners 
of Queen Anne's time bestowed on it, when 
the domain of Blenheim was scientifically 
laid out. The great, knotted, slanting 
trunks of the old oaks do not now look as 
if man had much intermeddled with their 
growth and postures. The trees of later 
date, that were set out in the Great Duke's 
time, are arranged on the plan of the order 
of battle in which the illustrious comman- 
der ranked his troops at Blenheim ; but the 



284 OUR OLD HOME 

ground covered is so extensive, and the 
trees now so luxuriant, that the spectator 
is not disagreeably conscious of their stand- 
ing in military array, as if Orpheus had 
siunmoned them together by beat of drum. 
The effect must have been very formal a 
hundred and fifty years ago, but has ceased 
to be so, — although the trees, I presume, 
have kept their ranks with even more fidel- 
ity than Marlborough's veterans did. 

One of the park-keepers, on horseback, 
rode beside our carriage, pointing out the 
choice views, and glimpses at the palace, as 
we drove through the domain. There is a 
very large artificial lake (to say the truth, 
it seemed to me fully worthy of being com- 
pared with the Welsh lakes, at least, if not 
with those of Westmoreland), which was 
created by Capability Brown, and fills the 
basin that he scooped for it, just as if Na- 
ture had poured these broad waters into 
one of her own valleys. It is a most beauti- 
ful object at a distance, and not less so on 
its immediate banks ; for the water is very 
pure, being supplied by a small river, of the 
choicest transparency, which was turned 
thitherward for the purpose. And Blen- 
heim owes not merely this water scenery, 
but almost all its other beauties, to the 



NEAR OXFORD 285 

contrivance of man. Its natural features 
are not striking ; but Art has eflfected such 
wonderful things that the uninstructed visi- 
tor would never guess that nearly the whole 
scene was but the embodied thought of 
a human mind. A skillful painter hardly 
does more for his blank sheet of canvas 
than the landscape-gardener, the planter, 
the arranger of trees, has done for the 
monotonous surface of Blenheim, — making 
the most of every undulation, — flinging 
down a hillock, a big lump of earth out of 
a giant's hand, wherever it was needed, — 
putting in beauty as often as there was a 
niche for it, — opening vistas to every 
point that deserved to be seen, and throw- 
ing a veil of impenetrable foliage around 
what ought to be hidden; — and then, to 
be sure, the lapse of a century has softened 
the harsh outline of man*s labors, and has 
given the place back to Nature again with 
the addition of what consummate science 
could achieve. 

After driving a good way, we came to 
a battlemented tower and adjoining house, 
which used to be the residence of the 
Ranger of Woodstock Park, who held 
charge of the property for the King before 
the Duke of Marlborough possessed it. 



286 OUR OLD HOME 

The keeper opened the door for us, and in 
the entrance-hall we found various things 
that had to do with the chase and wood- 
land sports. We mounted the staircase, 
through several stories, up to the top of 
the tower, whence there was a view of the 
spires of Oxford, and of points much far- 
ther off, — very indistinctly seen, however, 
as is usually the case with the misty 
distances of England. Returning to the 
ground-floor, we were ushered into the 
room in which died Wilmot, the wicked 
Earl of Rochester, who was Ranger of the 
Park in Charles II. 's time. It is a low 
and bare little room, with a window in front, 
and a smaller one behind ; and in the con- 
tiguous entrance-room there are the re- 
mains of an old bedstead, beneath the can- 
opy of which, perhaps, Rochester may have 
made the penitent end that Bishop Burnet 
attributes to him. I hardly know what it 
is, in this poor fellow's character, which 
affects us with greater tenderness on his 
behalf than for all the other profligates of 
his day, who seem to have been neither 
better nor worse than himself. I rather 
suspect that he had a human heart which 
never quite died out of him, and the warmth 
of which is still faintly perceptible amid 
the dissolute trash which he left behind 



NEAR OXFORD 28/ 

Methinks, if such good fortune ever be- 
fell a bookish man, I should choose this 
lodge for my own residence, with the top- 
most room of the tower for a study, and all 
the seclusion of cultivated wildness beneath 
to ramble in. There being no such pos- 
sibility, we drove on, catching glimpses of 
the palace in new points of view, and by 
and by came to Rosamond's Well. The par- 
ticular tradition that connects Fair Rosa- 
mond with it is not now in my memory ; 
but if Rosamond ever lived and loved, and 
ever had her abode in the maze of Wood- 
stock, it may well be believed that she and 
Henry sometimes sat beside this spring. 
It gushes out from a bank, through some 
old stone-work, and dashes its little cascade 
(about as abundant as one might turn out 
of a large pitcher) into a pool, whence it 
steals away towards the lake, which is not 
far removed. The water is exceedingly 
cold, and as pure as the legendary Rosa- 
mond was not, and is fancied to possess me- 
dicinal virtues, like springs at which saints 
have quenched their thirst. There were 
two or three old women and some children 
in attendance with tumblers, which they 
present to visitors, full of the consecrated 
water ; but most of us filled the tumblers 
for ourselves, and drank. 



288 OUR OLD HOME 

Thence we drove to the Triumphal Pillar 
which was erected in honor of the Great 
Duke, and on the summit of which he 
stands, in a Roman garb, holding a winged 
figure of Victory in his hand, as an ordi- 
nary man might hold a bird. The column 
is I know not how many feet high, but 
lofty enough, at any rate, to elevate Marl- 
borough far above the rest of the world, 
and to be visible a long way oflf ; and it is 
so placed in reference to other objects, 
that, wherever the hero wandered about 
his grounds, and especially as he issued 
from his mansion, he must inevitably have 
been reminded of his glory. In truth, until 
I came to Blenheim, I never had so posi- 
tive and material an idea of what Fame 
really is — of what the admiration of his 
country can do for a successful warrior — 
as I carry away with me and shall always 
retain. Unless he had the moral force 
of a thousand men together, his egotism 
(beholding himself everywhere, imbuing 
the entire soil, growing in the woods, 
rippling and gleaming in the water, and 
pervading the very air with his greatness) 
must have been swollen within him like 
the liver of a Strasburg goose. On the 
huge tablets inlaid into the pedestal of 



NEAR OXFORD 289 

the column, the entire Act of Parliament, 
bestowing Blenheim on the Duke of Marl- 
borough and his posterity, is engraved in 
deep letters, painted black on the marble 
ground. The pillar stands exactly a mile 
from the principal front of the palace, in a 
straight line with the precise centre of its 
entrance-hall ; so that, as already said, it 
was the Duke's principal object of con- 
templation. 

We now proceeded to the palace-gate, 
which is a great pillared archway, of won- 
derful loftiness and state, giving admit- 
tance into a spacious quadrangle. A stout, 
elderly, and rather surly footman in livery 
appeared at the entrance, and took posses- 
sion of whatever canes, umbrellas, and par- 
asols he could get hold of, in order to 
claim sixpence on our departure. This 
had a somewhat ludicrous eflfect. There is 
much public outcry against the meanness 
of the present Duke in his arrangements 
for the admission of visitors (chiefly, of 
course, his native countrymen) to view the 
magnificent palace which their forefathers 
bestowed upon his own. In many cases, 
it seems hard that a private abode should 
be exposed to the intrusion of the public 
merely because the proprietor has inherited 



290 OUR OLD HOME 

or created a splendor which attracts gen- 
eral curiosity ; insomuch that his home 
loses its sanctity and seclusion for the 
very reason that it is better than other 
men's houses. But in the case of Blen- 
heim, the public have certainly an equi- 
table claim to admission, both because the 
fame of its first inhabitant is a national 
possession, and because the mansion was 
a national gift, one of the purposes of 
which was to be a token of gratitude and 
glory to the English people themselves. 
If a man chooses to be illustrious, he is 
very likely to incur some little inconven- 
iences himself, and entail them on his pos- 
terity. Nevertheless, his present Grace 
of Marlborough absolutely ignores the pub- 
lic claim above suggested, and (with a 
thrift of which even the hero of Blenheim 
himself did not set the example) sells 
tickets admitting six persons at ten shil- 
lings ; if only one person enters the gate, 
he must pay for six ; and if there are seven 
in company, two tickets are required to 
admit them. The attendants, who meet 
you everywhere in the park and palace, 
expect fees on their own private account, 
— their noble master pocketing the ten 
shillings. But, to be sure, the visitor gets 



NEAR OXFORD 29 1 

his money's worth, since it buys him the 
right to speak just as freely of the Duke 
of Marlborough as if he were the keeper 
of the Cremorne Gardens.^ 

Passing through a gateway on the op- 
posite side of the quadrangle, we had be- 
fore us the noble classic front of the pal- 
ace, with its two projecting wings. We 
ascended the lofty steps of the portal, and 
were admitted into the entrance-hall, the 
height of which, from floor to ceiling, is 
not much less than seventy feet, being the 
entire elevation of the edifice. The hall 
is lighted by windows in Jhe upper story, 
and, it being a clear, bright day, was very 
radiant with lofty sunshine, amid which a 
swallow was flitting to and fro. The ceiling 
was painted by Sir James Thomhill in some 
allegorical design (doubtless commemora- 
tive of Marlborough's victories), the pur- 
port of which I did not take the trouble 
to make out, — contenting myself with the 
general effect, which was most splendidly 
and effectively ornamental. 

1 The above was written two or three years ago, or 
more ; and the Duke of that day has since transmitted 
his coronet to his successor, who, we understand, has 
adopted much more liberal arrangements. There is 
seldom anything to criticise or complain of, as regards 
the facility of obtaining admission to interesting private 
houses in England. 



292 OUR OLD HOME 

We were guided through the show-rooms 
by a very civil person, who allowed us to 
take pretty much- our own time in looking 
at the pictures. The collection is exceed- 
ingly valuable, — many of these works of 
Art having been presented to the Great 
Duke by the crowned heads of England or 
the Continent. One room was all aglow 
with pictures by Rubens ; and there were 
works of Raphael, and many other famous 
painters, any one of which would be suffi- 
cient to illustrate the meanest house that 
might contain it. I remember none of 
them, however (not being in a picture-see- 
ing mood), so well as Vandyck's large and 
familiar picture of Charles I. on horseback, 
with a figure and face of melancholy dig- 
nity such as never by any other hand was 
put on canvas. Yet, on considering this 
face of Charles (which I find often repeated 
in half-lengths) and translating it from the 
ideal into literalism, I doubt whether the 
unfortunate king was really a handsome 
or impressive-looking man : a high, thin- 
ridged nose, a meagre, hatchet face, and 
reddish hair and beard, — these are the lit- 
eral facts. It is the painter's art that has 
thrown such pensive and shadowy grace 
around him. 



BlinhetM 



NEAR OXFORD 293 

On our passage through this beautiful 
suite of apartments, we saw, through the 
vista of open doorways, a boy of ten or 
twelve years old coming towards us from 
the farther rooms. He had on a straw 
hat, a linen sack that had certainly been 
washed and rewashed for a summer or 
two, and gray trousers a good deal worn, 
— ^a dress, in short, which an American 
mother in middle station would have 
thought too shabby for her darling school- 
boy's ordinary wear. This urchin's face 
was rather pale (as those of English chil- 
dren are apt to be, quite as often as our 
own), but he had pleasant eyes, an intelli- 
gent look, and an agreeable boyish manner. 
It was Lord Sunderland, grandson of the 
present Duke, and heir — though not, I 
think, in the direct line — of the blood of 
the great Marlborough, and of the title and 
estate. 

After passing through the first suite of 
rooms, we were conducted through a corre- 
sponding suite on the opposite side of the 
entrance-hall. These latter apartments 
are most richly adorned with tapestries, 
wrought and presented to the first Duke 
by a sisterhood of Flemish nuns ; they look 
like great, glowing pictures, and completely 



294 OUR OLD HOME 

cover the walls of the rooms. The designs 
purport to represent the Duke's battles 
and sieges; and everywhere we see the 
hero himself, as large as life, and as gor- 
geous in scarlet and gold as the holy sisters 
could make him, with a three-cornered hat 
and flowing wig, reining in his horse, and 
extending his leading-stafiF in the attitude 
of command. Next to Marlborough, Prince 
Eugene is the most prominent figure. In 
the way of upholstery, there can never have 
been anything more magnificent than these 
tapestries ; and, considered as works of Art, 
they have quite as much merit as nine pic- 
tures out of ten. 

One whole wing of the palace is occupied 
by the library, a most noble room, with a 
vast perspective length from end to end. 
Its atmosphere is brighter and more cheer- 
ful than that of most libraries : a wonderful 
contrast to the old college libraries of Ox- 
ford, and perhaps less sombre and sugges- 
tive of thoughtf ulness than any large library 
ought to be ; inasmuch as so many stu- 
dious brains as have left their deposit on 
the shelves cannot have conspired without 
producing a very serious and ponderous 
result. Both walls and ceiling are white, 
and there are elaborate doorways and fire- 



NEAR OXFORD 295 

places of white marble. The floor is of 
oak, so highly polished that our feet slipped 
upon it as if it had been New England ice. 
At one end of the room stands a statue 
of Queen Anne in her royal robes, which 
are so admirably designed and exquisitely 
wrought that the spectator certainly gets 
a strong conception of her royal dignity; 
while the face of the statue, fleshy and 
feeble, doubtless conveys a suitable idea of 
her personal character.^ The marble of 
this work, long as it has stood there, is as 
white as snow just fallen, and must have 
required most faithful and religious care to 
keep it so. As for the volumes of the 
library, they are wired within the cases> 
and turn their gilded backs upon the vis- 
itor, keeping their treasures of wit and 
wisdom just as intangible as if still in the 
unwrought mines of human thought. , 

I remember nothing else in the palace, 
except the chapel, to which we were con- 
ducted last, and where we saw a splendid 
monument to the first Duke and Duchess, 
sculptured by Rysbrach, at the cost, it is 
said, of forty thousand pounds. The de- 

^In front of St. Paul's there is a statue of Queen 
Anne, which looks rather more majestic, I doubt not, 
than that fat old dame ever did. — II 97. 



296 OUR OLD HOME 

sign includes the statues of the deceased 
dignitaries, and various allegorical flour- 
ishes, fantasies, and confusions; and be- 
neath sleep the great Duke and his proud 
wife, their veritable bones and dust, and 
probably all the Marlboroughs that have 
since died. It is not quite a comfortable 
idea that these mouldy ancestors still in- 
habit, after their fashion, the house where 
their successors spend the passing day ; but 
the adulation lavished upon the hero of 
Blenheim could not have been consum- 
mated, unless the palace of his lifetime had 
become likewise a stately mausoleum over 
his remains, — and such we felt it all to be, 
after gazing at his tomb. 

The next business was to see the private 
gardens. An old Scotch under-gardener 
admitted us and led the way, and seemed 
to have a fair prospect of earning the fee 
all by himself ; but by and by another re- 
spectable Scotchman made his appearance 
and took us in charge, proving to be the 
head-gardener in person. He was ex- 
tremely intelligent and agreeable, talking 
both scientifically and lovingly about trees 
and plants, of which there is every variety 
capable of English cultivation. Positively, 
the Garden of Eden cannot have been 



NEAR OXFORD 297 

more beautiful than this private garden of 
Blenheim. It contains three hundred acres, 
and by the artful circumlocution of the 
paths, and the undulations, and the skillfully 
interposed clumps of trees, is made to ap- 
pear limitless. The sylvan delights of a 
whole country are compressed into this 
space, as whole fields of Persian roses go 
to the concoction of an ounce of precious 
attar. The world within that garden-fence 
is not the same weary and dusty world 
with which we outside mortals are conver- 
sant ; it is a finer, lovelier, more harmonious 
Nature ; and the Great Mother lends her- 
self kindly to the gardener's will, knowing 
that he will make evident the half-obliter- 
ated traits of her pristine and ideal beauty, 
and allow her to take all the credit and 
praise to herself. I doubt whether there 
is ever any winter within that precinct, — 
any clouds, except the fleecy ones of sum- 
mer. The sunshine that I saw there rests 
upon my recollection of it as if it were 
eternal. The lawns and glades are like 
the memory of places where one has wan- 
dered when first in love. 

What a good and happy life might be 
spent in a paradise like this ! And yet, at 
that very moment, the besotted Duke (ah ! 



298 OUR OLD HOME 

I have let out a secret which I meant to 
keep to myself ; but the ten shillings must 
pay for all) was in that very garden (for 
the guide told us so, and cautioned our 
young people not to be too uproarious), 
and, if in a condition for arithmetic, was 
thinking of nothing nobler than how many 
ten-shilling tickets had that day been sold. 
Republican as I am, I should still love to 
think that noblemen lead noble lives, and 
that all this stately and beautiful environ- 
ment may serve to elevate them a little 
way above the rest of us. If it fail to 
do so, the disgrace falls equally upon the 
whole race of mortals as on themselves; 
because it proves that no more favorable 
conditions of existence would eradicate our 
vices and weaknesses. How sad, if this be 
so ! Even a herd of swine, eating the 
acorns under those magnificent oaks of 
Blenheim, would be cleanlier and of better 
habits than ordinary swine. 

Well, all that I have written is pitifully 
meagre, as a description of Blenheim ; and 
I hate to leave it without some more ade- 
quate expression of the noble edifice, with 
its rich domain, all as I saw them in that 
beautiful sunshine ; for, if a day had been 
chosen out of a hundred years, it could not 



NEAR OXFORD 299 

have been a finer one. But I must give 
up the attempt; only further remarking 
that the finest trees here were cedars, of 
which I saw one — and there may have 
been many such — immense in girth, and 
not less than three centuries old. I like- 
wise saw a vast heap of laurel, two hundred 
feet in circumference, all growing from one 
root ; and the gardener offered to show us 
another growth of twice that stupendous 
size. If the Great Duke himself had been 
buried in that spot, his heroic heart could 
not have been the seed of a more plentiful 
crop of laurels. 

We now went back to the Black Bear, 
and sat down to a cold collation, of which 
we ate abundantly, and drank (in the good 
old English fashion) a due proportion of 
various delightful liquors. A stranger in 
England, in his rambles to various quarters 
of the country, may learn little in regard 
to wines (for the ordinary English taste is 
simple, though sound, in that particular), 
but he makes acquaintance with more va- 
rieties of hop and malt liquor than he pre- 
viously supposed to exist. I remember a 
sort of foaming stuff, called hop -cham- 
pagne, which is very vivacious, and appears 
to be a hybrid between ale and bottled 



97J'874A 



300 OUR OLD HOME 

cider. Another excellent tipple for warm 
weather is concocted by mixing brown-stout 
or bitter ale with ginger-beer, the foam of 
which stirs up the heavier liquor from its 
depths, forming a compound of singular 
vivacity and sufficient body. But of all 
things ever brewed from malt (unless it be 
the Trinity Ale of Cambridge, which I 
drank long afterwards, and which Barry 
Cornwall has celebrated in immortal verse), 
commend me to the Archdeacon, as the' 
Oxford scholars call it, in honor of the 
jovial dignitary who first taught these eru- 
dite worthies how to brew their favorite 
nectar. John Barleycorn has given his 
very heart to this admirable liquor ; it is 
a superior kind of ale, the Prince of Ales, 
with a richer flavor and a mightier spirit 
than you can find elsewhere in this weary 
world. Much have we been strengthened 
and encouraged by the potent blood of the 
Archdeacon ! 

A few days after our excursion to Blen- 
heim, the same party set forth, in two flies, 
on a tour to some other places of interest 
in the neighborhood of Oxford. It was 
again a delightful day ; and, in truth, every 
day, of late, had been so pleasant that it 
seemed as if each must be the very last of 



NEAR OXFORD 301 

such perfect weather; and yet the long 
succession had given us confidence in as 
many more to come. The climate of Eng- 
land has been shamefully maligned, its sul- 
kiness and asperities are not nearly so 
offensive as Englishmen tell us (their cli- 
mate being the only attribute of their coun- 
try which they never overvalue) ; and the 
really good summer - weather is the very 
kindest and sweetest that the world knows. 
We first drove to the village of Cumnor, 
about six miles from Oxford, and alighted 
at the entrance of the church. Here, while 
waiting for the keys, we looked at an old 
wall of the churchyard, piled up of loose 
gray stones, which are said to have once 
formed a portion of Cumnor Hall, cele- 
brated in Mickle's ballad and Scott's ro- 
mance. The hall must have been in very 
close vicinity to the church, — not more 
than twenty yards off ; and I waded through 
the long, dewy grass of the churchyard, 
and tried to peep over the wall, in hopes 
to discover some tangible and traceable 
remains of the edifice. But the wall was 
just too high to be overlooked, and difficult 
to clamber over without tumbling down 
some of the stones ; so I took the word of 
one of our party, who had been here be- 



302 OUR OLD HOME 

fore, that there is nothing interesting on 
the other side. The churchyard is in rather . 
a neglected state, and seems not to have 
been mown for the benefit of the parson's 
cow ; it contains a good many gravestones, 
of which I remember only some upright 
memorials of slate to individuals of the 
name of Tabbs. 

Soon a woman arrived with the key of 
the church-door, and we entered the simple 
old edifice, which has the pavement of let- 
tered tombstones, the sturdy pillars and low 
arches, and other ordinary characteristics 
of an English country church. One or two 
pews, probably those of the gentle folk of 
the neighborhood, were better furnished 
than the rest, but all in a modest style. 
Near the high altar, in the holiest place, 
there is an oblong, angular, ponderous 
tomb of blue marble, built against the wall, 
and surmounted by a carved canopy of the 
same material; and over the tomb, and 
beneath the canopy, are two monumental 
brasses, such as we oftener see inlaid into 
a church pavement. On these brasses are 
engraved the figures of a gentleman in 
armor, and a lady in an antique garb, each 
about a foot high, devoutly kneeling in 
prayer ; and there is a long Latin in scrip- 



NEAR OXFORD 303 

tion likewise cut into the enduring brass, 
bestowing the highest eulogies on the 
character of Anthony Forster, who, with 
his virtuous dame, lies buried beneath this 
tombstone. His is the knightly figure that 
kneels above ; and if Sir Walter Scott 
ever saw this tomb, he must have had an 
even greater than common disbelief in 
laudatory epitaphs, to venture on depicting 
Anthony Forster in such hues as blacken 
him in the romance. For my part, I read 
the inscription in full faith, and believe 
the poor deceased gentleman to be a much- 
wronged individual, with good grounds for 
bringing an action of slander in the courts 
above. 

But the circumstance, lightly as we treat 
it, has its serious moral. What nonsense 
it is, this anxiety, which so worries us 
about our good fame, or our bad fame, 
after death ! If it were of the slightest 
real moment, our reputations would have 
been placed by Providence more in our 
own power, and less in other people's, than 
we now find them to be. If poor Anthony 
Forster happens to have met Sir Walter 
in the other world, I doubt whether he has 
ever thought it worth while to complain of 
the latter's misrepresentations. 



304 OUR OLD HOME 

We did not remain long in the church, 
as it contains nothing else of interest ; 
and, driving through the village, we passed 
a pretty large and rather antique-looking 
inn, bearing the sign of the Bear and 
Ragged Staff. It could not be so old, how- 
ever, by at least a hundred years, as Giles 
Gosling's time ; nor is there any other ob- 
ject to remind the visitor of the Eliza- 
bethan age, unless it be a few ancient cot- 
tages, that are perhaps of still earlier date. 
Cumnor is not nearly so large a village, 
nor a place of such mark, as one antici- 
pates from its romantic and legendary 
fame ; but, being still inaccessible by rail- 
way, it has retained more of a sylvan char- 
acter than we often find in English coun- 
try towns. In this retired neighborhood 
the road is narrow and bordered with 
grass, and sometimes interrupted by gates ; 
the hedges grow in unpruned luxuriance ; 
there is not that close-shaven neatness and 
trimness that characterize the ordinary 
English landscape. The whole scene con- 
veys the idea of seclusion and remoteness. 
We met no travelers, whether on foot or 
otherwise. 

I cannot very distinctly trace out this 
day's peregrinations ; but, after leaving 



NEAR OXFORD 305 

Cumnor a few miles behind us, I think we 
came to a ferry over the Thames, where 
an old woman served as ferryman, and 
pulled a boat across by means of a rope 
stretching from shore to shore. Our two 
vehicles being thus placed on the other 
side, we resumed our drive, — first glanc- 
ing^ however, at the old woman's antique 
cottage, with its stone floor, and the cir- 
cular settle round the kitchen fireplace, 
which was quite in the mediaeval English 
style. 

We next stopped at Stanton Harcourt, 
where we were received at the parsonage 
with a liospitality which we should take 
delight in describing, if it were allowable 
to make public acknowledgment of the pri- 
vate and personal kindnesses which we 
never failed to find ready for our needs. 
An American in an English house will 
soon adopt the opinion that the English 
are the very kindest people on earth, and 
will retain that idea as long, at least, as 
he remains on the inner side of the thresh- 
old. Their magnetism is of a kind that 
repels strongly while you keep beyond a 
certain limit, but attracts as forcibly if you 
get within the magic line. 

It was at this place, if I remember right, 



306 OUR OLD HOME 

that I heard a gentleman ask a friend of 
mine whether he was the author of " The 
Red Letter A ; " and, after some consid- 
eration (for he did not seem to recognize 
his own book, at first, under this improved 
title), our countryman responded doubt- 
fully, that he believed so. The gentleman 
proceeded to inquire whether our friend 
had spent much time in America, — evi- 
dently thinking that he must have been 
caught young, and have had a tincture of 
English breeding, at least, if not birth, to 
speak the language so tolerably, and ap- 
pear so much like other people. This in- 
sular narrowness is exceedingly queer, and 
of very frequent occurrence, and is quite 
as much a characteristic of men of educa- 
tion and culture as of clowns. 

Stanton Harcourt is a very curious old 
place. It was formerly the seat of the an- 
cient family of Harcourt, which now has 
its principal abode at Nuneham Courtney, 
a few miles off. The parsonage is a relic 
of the family mansion, or castle, other por- 
tions of which are close at hand ; for, 
across the garden, rise two gray towers, 
both of them picturesquely venerable, and 
interesting for more than their antiquity. 
One of these towers, in its entire capacity. 



NEAR OXFORD 307 

from height to depth, constituted the 
kitchen of the ancient castle, and is still 
used for domestic purposes, although it 
has not, nor ever had, a chimney ; or, we 
might rather say, it is itself one vast chim- 
ney, with a hearth of thirty feet square, 
and a flue and aperture of the same size. 
There are two huge fireplaces within, and 
the interior walls of the tower are black- 
ened with the smoke that for centuries 
used to gush forth from them, and climb 
upward, seeking an exit through some wide 
air-holes in the conical roof, full seventy 
feet above. These lofty openings were 
capable of being so arranged, with reference 
to the wind, that the cooks are said to have 
been seldom troubled by the smoke ; and 
here, no doubt, they were accustomed to 
roast oxen whole, with as little fuss and 
ado as a modem cook would roast a fowl. 
The inside of the tower is very dim and 
sombre (being nothing but rough stone 
walls, lighted only from the apertures above 
mentioned), and has still a pungent odor 
of smoke and soot, the reminiscence of 
the fires and feasts of generations that 
have passed away. Methinks the extremest 
range of domestic economy lies between 
an American cooking-stove and the ancient 



308 OUR OLD HOME 

kitchen, seventy dizzy feet in height and 
all one fireplace, of Stanton Harcourt. 

Now — the place being without a parallel 
in England, and therefore necessarily be- 
yond the experience of an American — it 
is somewhat remarkable that, while we 
stood gazing at this kitchen, I was haunted 
and perplexed by an idea that somewhere 
or other I had seen just this strange spec- 
tacle before. The height, the blackness, 
the dismal void, before my eyes, seemed as 
familiar as the decorous neatness of my 
grandmother's kitchen ; only my unac- 
countable memory of the scene was lighted 
up with an image of lurid fires blazing all 
round the dim interior circuit of the tower. 
I had never before had so pertinacious an 
attack, as I could not but suppose it, of 
that odd state of mind wherein we fitfully 
and teasingly remember some previous 
scene or incident, of which the one now 
passing appears to be but the echo and 
reduplication. Though the explanation of 
the mystery did not for some time occur 
to me, I may as well conclude the matter 
here. In a letter of Pope's, addressed 
to the Duke of Buckingham, there is an 
account of Stanton Harcourt (as I now 
find, although the name is not mentioned). 



NEAR OXFORD 309 

where he resided while translating a part 
of the " Iliad." It is one of the most ad- 
mirable pieces of description in the lan- 
guage, — playful and picturesque, with fine 
touches of humorous pathos, — and con- 
veys as perfect a picture as ever was drawn 
of a decayed English country-house ; and 
among other rooms, most of which have 
since crumbled down and disappeared, he 
dashes off the grim aspect of this kitchen, — 
which, moreover, he peoples with witches, 
engaging Satan himself as head cook, who 
stirs the infernal caldrons that seethe and 
bubble over the fires. This letter, and 
others relative to his abode here, were very 
familiar to my earlier reading, and, remain- 
ing still fresh at the bottom of my memory, 
caused the weird and ghostly sensation 
that came over me on beholding the real 
spectacle that had formerly been made so 
vivid to my imagination. 

Our next visit was to the church, which 
stands close by, and is quite as ancient as 
the remnants of the castle. In a chapel 
or side aisle, dedicated to the Harcourts, 
are found some very interesting family 
monuments, — and among them, recum- 
bent on a tombstone, the figure of an armed 
knight of the Lancastrian party, who was 



3IO OUR OLD HOME 

slain in the Wars of the Roses. His fea- 
tures, dress, and armor are painted in col- 
ors, still wonderfully fresh, and there still 
blushes the symbol of the Red Rose, de- 
noting the faction for which he fought and 
died. His head rests on a marble or ala- 
baster helmet ; and on the tomb lies the 
veritable helmet, it is to be presumed, 
which he wore in battle, — a ponderous 
iron case, with the visor complete, aiid 
remnants of the gilding that once covered 
it. The crest is a large peacock, not of 
metal, but of wood. Very possibly, this 
helmet was but an heraldic adornment of 
his tomb ; and, indeed, it seems strange 
that it has not been stolen before now, es- 
pecially in Cromwell's time, when knightly 
tombs were little respected, and when ar- 
mor was in request. However, it is need- 
less to dispute with the dead knight about 
the identity of his iron pot, and we may as 
well allow it to be the very same that so 
often gave him the headache in his life- 
time. Leaning against the wall, at the foot 
of the tomb, is the shaft of a spear, with a 
wofuUy tattered and utterly faded banner 
appended to it, — the knightly banner be- 
neath which he marshaled his followers in 
the field. As it was absolutely falling to 



NEAR OXFORD 311 

pieces, I tore off one little bit, no bigger 
than a finger-nail, and put it into my waist- 
coat pocket ; but seeking it subsequently, 
it was not to be found. 

On the opposite side of the little chapel, 
two or three yards from this tomb, is an- 
other monument, on which lie, side by side, 
one of the same knightly race of Harcourts 
and his lady. The tradition of the family 
is, that this knight was the standard-bearer 
of Henry of Richmond in the Battle of 
Bosworth Field ; and a banner, supposed 
to be the same that he carried, now droops 
over his effigy. It is just such a colorless 
silk rag as the one already described. The 
knight has the order of the Garter on his 
knee, and the lady wears it on her left 
arm, — an odd place enough for a garter ; 
but, if worn in its proper locality, it could 
not be decorously visible. The complete 
preservation and good condition of these 
statues, even to the minutest adornment 
of the sculpture, and their very noses, — 
the most vulnerable part of a marble man, 
as of a living one, — are miraculous. Ex- 
cept in Westminster Abbey, among the 
chapels of the kings, I have seen none so 
well preserved. Perhaps they owe it to 
the loyalty of Oxfordshire, diffused through- 



312 OUR OLD HOME 

out its neighborhood by the influence of 
the University, during the great Civil War 
and the rule of the Parliament. It speaks 
well, too, for the upright and kindly char- 
acter of this old family, that the peasantry, 
among whom they had lived for ages, did 
not desecrate their tombs, when it might 
have been done with impunity. 

There are other and more recent memo- 
rials of the Harcourts, one of which is the 
tomb of the last lord, who died about a 
hundred years ago. His figure, like those 
of his ancestors, lies on the top of his tomb, 
clad, hot in armor, but in his robes as a 
peer. The title is now extinct, but the 
family survives in a younger branch, and • 
still holds this patrimonial estate, though 
they have long since quitted it as a resi- 
dence. 

We next went to see the ancient fish- 
ponds appertaining to the mansion, and 
which used to be of vast dietary importance 
to the family in Catholic times, and when 
fish was not otherwise attainable. There 
are two or three, or more, of these reser- 
voirs, one of which is of very respectable 
size, — large enough, indeed, to be really 
a picturesque object, with its grass-green 
borders, and the trees drooping over it, and 



NEAR OXFORD 3 13 

the towers of the castle and the church 
reflected within the weed-grown depths of 
its smooth mirror. A sweet fragrance, as 
it were, of ancient time and present quiet 
and seclusion was breathing all around ; 
the sunshine of to-day had a mellow charm 
of antiquity in its brightness. These 
ponds are said still to breed abundance of 
such fish as love deep and quiet waters; 
but I saw only some minnows, and one or 
two snakes, which were lying among the 
weeds on the top pf the water, sunning and 
bathing themselves at once. 

I mentioned that there were two towers 
remaining of the old castle : the one con- 
taining the kitchen we have already visited ; 
the other, still more interesting, is next to 
be described. It is some seventy feet high, 
gray and reverend, but in excellent repair, 
though I could not perceive that anything 
had been d9ne to renovate it. The base- 
ment story was once the family chapel, and 
is, of course, still a consecrated spot. At 
one comer of the tower is a circular turret, 
within which a narrow staircase, with worn 
steps of stone, winds round and round as 
it climbs upward, giving access to a cham- 
ber on each floor, and finally emerging on 
the battlemented roof. Ascending this 



314 OUR OLD HOME 

turret stair, and arriving at the third story, 
we entered a chamber, not large, though 
occupying the whole area of the tower, and 
lighted by a window on each side. It was 
wainscoted from floor to ceiling with dark 
oak, and had a little fireplace in one of the 
comers. The window-panes were small 
and set in lead. The curiosity of this 
room is, that it was once the residence of 
Pope, and that he here wrote a considerable 
part of the translation of Homer, and like- 
wise, no doubt, the admirable letters to 
which I have referred above. The room 
once contained a record by himself, 
scratched with a diamond on one of the 
window-panes (since removed for safe- 
keeping to Nuneham Courtney, where it 
was shown me), purporting that he had 
here finished the fifth book of the " Iliad " 
on such a day. 

A poet has a fragrance aboujt him, such 
as no other human being is gifted withal ; 
it is indestructible, and clings forevermore 
to everything that he has touched. I was 
not impressed, at Blenheim, with any sense 
that the mighty Duke still haunted the 
palace that was created for him ; but here, 
after a century and a half, we are still 
conscious of the presence of that decrepit 



NEAR OXFORD 3 15 

little figure of Queen Anne's time, although 
he was merely a casual guest in the old 
tower, during one or two summer months. 
However brief the time and slight the 
connection, his spirit cannot be exorcised 
so long as the tower stands. In my mind, 
moreover. Pope, or any other person with 
an available claim, is right in adhering to 
the spot, dead or alive ; for I never saw a 
chamber that I should like better to in- 
habit, — so comfortably small, in such a 
safe and inaccessible seclusion, and with a 
varied landscape from each window. One 
of them looks upon the church, close at 
hand, and down into the green churchyard, 
extending almost to the foot of the tower ; 
the others have views wide and far, over a 
gently undulating tract of country. If 
desirous of a loftier elevation, about a 
dozen more steps of the turret stair will 
bring the occupant to the summit of the 
tower, — where Pope used to come, no 
doubt, in the summer evenings, and peep — 
poor little shrimp that he was! — through 
the embrasures of the battlement. 

From Stanton Harcourt we drove — I 
forget how far — to a point where a boat 
was waiting for us upon the Thames, or 
some other stream ; for I am ashamed to 



3l6 OUR OLD HOME 

confess my ignorance of the precise geo- 
graphical whereabout. We were, at any 
rate, some miles above Oxford, and, I should 
imagine, pretty near one of the sources of 
England's mighty river. It was little more 
than wide enough for the boat, with ex- 
tended oars, tc pass, — shallow, too, and 
bordered with bulrushes and water-weeds, 
which, in some places, quite overgrew the 
surface of the river from bank to bank. 
The shores were flat and meadow-like, and 
sometimes, the boatman told us, are over- 
flowed by the rise of the stream. The 
water looked clean and pure, but not partic- 
ularly transparent, though enough so to 
show us. that the bottom is very much 
weed-grown ; and I was told that the weed 
is an American production, brought to 
England with importations of timber, and 
now threatening to choke up the Thames 
and other English rivers. I wonder it does 
not try its obstructive powers upon the 
Merrimack, the Connecticut, or the Hud- 
son, — not to speak of the St. Lawrence or 
the Mississippi ! 

It was an open boat, with cushioned 
seats astern, comfortably accommodating 
our party; the day continued sunny and 
warm, and perfectly still; the boatman, 



NEAR OXFORD 317 

well trained to his business, managed the 
oars skillfully and vigorously : and we went 
down the stream quite as swiftly as it was 
desirable to go, the scene being so pleas- 
ant, and the passing hours §0 thoroughly 
agreeable. The river grew a little wider 
and deeper, perhaps, as we glided ©n, but 
was still an inconsiderable stream : for it 
had a good deal more than a hundred miles 
to meander through before it should bear 
fleets on its bosom, and reflect palaces and 
towers and Parliament houses and dingy 
and sordid piles of various structure, as it 
rolled to and fro with the tide, dividing 
London asunder. Not, in truth, that I ever 
saw any edifice whatever reflected in its 
turbid breast, when the sylvan stream, as 
we beheld it now, is swollen into the 
Thames at London. 

Once, on our voyage, we had to land, 
while the boatman and some other persons 
drew our skiff round some rapids, which 
we could not otherwise have passed ; an- 
other time, the boat went through a lock. 
We, meanwhile, stepped ashore to examine 
the ruins of the old nunnery of Godstowe, 
where Fair Rosamond secluded herself, 
after being separated from her royal lover. 
There is a long line of ruinous wall, and a 



3l8 OUR OLD HOME 

shattered tower at one of the angles ; the 
whole much ivy-grown, — brimming over, 
indeed, with clustering ivy, which is rooted 
inside of the walls. The nunnery is now, 
I believe, held in lease by the city of Ox- 
ford, which has converted its precincts into 
a barnyard. The gate was under lock and 
key, so that we could merely look at the 
outside, and soon resumed our places in 
the boat. 

At three o'clock or thereabouts (or 
sooner or later, — for I took little heed of 
time, and only wished that these delightful 
wanderings might last forever) we reached 
Folly Bridge, at Oxford. Here we took pos- 
session of a spacious barge, with a house in 
it, and a comfortable dining-room or draw- 
ing-room within the house, and a level roof, 
on which we could sit at ease, or dance if 
so inclined. These barges are common at 
Oxford, — some very splendid ones being 
owned by the students of the different col- 
leges, or by clubs. They are drawn by 
horses, like canal-boats ; and a horse be- 
ing attached to our own barge, he trotted 
off at a reasonable pace, and we slipped 
through the water behind him, with a 
gentle and pleasant motion, which, save 
for the constant vicissitude of cultivated 



NEAR OXFORD 319 

scenery, was like no motion at alL It was 
life without the trouble of living ; nothing 
was ever more quietly agreeable. In this 
happy state of mind and body we gazed at 
Christ Church meadows, as we passed, 
and at the receding spires and towers of 
Oxford, and on a good deal of pleasant va- 
riety along the banks : young men rowing 
or fishing ; troops of naked boys bathing, 
as if this were Arcadia, in the simplicity 
of the Golden Age ; country-houses, cot- 
tages, water-side inns, all with something 
fresh about them, as not being sprinkled 
with the dust of the highway. We were a 
large party now ; for a number of addi- 
tional guests had joined us at Folly Bridge, 
and we comprised poets, novelists, scholars, 
sculptors, painters^ architects, men and 
women of renown, dear friends, genial, out- 
spoken, open - hearted Englishmen, — all 
voyaging onward together, like the wise 
ones of Gotham in a bowl. I remember 
not a single annoyance, except, indeed, 
that a swarm of wasps came aboard of us 
and alighted on the head of one of our 
young gentlemen, attracted by the scent of 
the pomatum which he had been rubbing 
into his hair. He was the only victim, and 
his small trouble the one little flaw in our 



320 OUR OLD HOME 

day's felicity, to put us in mind that we 
were mortal. 

Meanwhile, a table had been laid in the 
interior of our barge, and spread with cold 
ham, cold fowl, cold pigeon-pie, cold beef, 
and other substantial cheer, such as the 
English love, and Yankees too, — besides 
tarts, and cakes, and pears, and plums, — 
not forgetting, of course, a goodly provi- 
sion of port, sherry, and champagne, and 
bitter ale, which is like mother's milk to 
an Englishman, and soon grows equally 
acceptable to his American cousin. By the 
time these matters had been properly at- 
tended to, we had arrived at that part of 
the Thames which passes by Nuneham 
Courtney, a fine estate belonging to the 
Harcourts, and the present residence of 
the family. Here we landed, and, climb- 
ing a steep slope from the river -side, 
paused a moment or two to look at an ar- 
chitectural object, called the Carfax, the 
purport of which I do not well understand. 
Thence we proceeded onward, through the 
loveliest park and woodland scenery I ever 
saw, and under as beautiful a declining 
sunshine as heaven ever shed over earth, 
to the stately mansion-house. 

As we here cross a private threshold, 



NEAR OXFORD 32 1 

it is not. allowable to pursue my feeble nar- 
rative of this delightful day with the same 
freedom as heretofore ; so, perhaps, I may 
as well bring it to a close. I may mention, 
however, that I saw the library, a fine, 
large apartment, hung round with portraits 
of eminent literary men, principally of the 
last century, most of whom were familiar 
guests of the Harcourts. The house it- 
self is about eighty years old, and is built 
in the classic style, as if the family had been 
anxious to diverge as far as possible from 
the Gothic picturesqueness of their old 
abode at Stanton Harcourt. The grounds 
were laid out in part by Capability Brown, 
and seemed to me even more beautiful 
than those of Blenheim. Mason the poet, 
a friend of the house, gave the design of a 
portion of the garden. Of the whole place 
I will not be niggardly of my rude Trans- 
atlantic praise, but be bold to say that it 
appeared to me as perfect as anything 
earthly can be, — utterly and entirely fin- 
ished^ as if the years and generations had 
done all that the hearts and minds of the 
successive owners could contrive for a spot 
they dearly loved. Such homes as Nune- 
ham Courtney are among the splendid 
results of long hereditary possession ; and 



322 OUR OLD HOME 

we Republicans, whose households melt 
away like new-fallen snow in a spring morn- 
ing, must content ourselves with our many 
counterbalancing advantages, — for this 
one, so apparently desirable to the far-pro- 
jecting selfishness of our nature, we are 
certain never to attain. 

It must not be supposed, nevertheless, 
that Nuneham Courtney is one of the great 
show-places of England. It is merely a 
fair specimen of the better class of coun- 
try-seats, and has a hundred rivals, and 
many superiors, in the features of beauty, 
and expansive, manifold, redundant com- 
fort, which most impressed me. A moder- 
ate man might be content with such a 
home, — that is all. 

And now I take leave of Oxford without 
even an attempt to describe it, — there be- 
ing no literary faculty, attainable or con- 
ceivable by me, which can avail to put it 
adequately, or even tolerably, upon paper* 
It must remain its own sole expression ; 
and those whose sad fortune it may be 
never to behold it have no better resource 
than to dream about gray, weather-stained, 
ivy -grown edifices, wrought with quaint 
Gothic ornament, and standing , around 
grassy quadrangles, where cloistered walks 



j^ " — .rr — -—.^ *^3^iwJ 



NEAR OXFORD 323 

iiave echoed to the quiet footsteps of 
twenty generations, — lawns and gardens 
of luxurious repose, shadowed with cano- 
pies of foliage, and lit up with sunny 
glimpses through archways of great boughs, 

— spires, towers, and turrets, each with its 
history and legend, — dimly magnificent 
chapels, with painted windows of rare 
beauty and brilliantly diversified hues, 
creating an atmosphere of richest gloom, 
— vast college halls, high-windowed, oaken- 
paneled, and hung round with portraits of 
the men, in every age, whom the univer- 
sity has nurtured to be illustrious, — long 
vistas of alcoved libraries, where the wis- 
dom and learned folly of all time is shelved, 

— kitchens (we throw in this feature by 
way of ballast, and because it would not be 
English Oxford without its beef and beer), 
with huge fireplaces, capable of roasting a 
hundred joints at once, — and cavernous 
cellars, where rows of piled-up hogsheads 
seethe and fume with that mighty malt- 
liquor which is the true milk of Alma 
Mater : make all these things vivid in your 
dream, and you will never know nor be- 
lieve how inadequate is the result to repre- 
sent even the merest outside of Oxford. 

We feel a genuine reluctance to conclude 



324 OUR OLD HOME 

this article without making our grateful 
acknowledgments, by name, to a gentleman 
whose overflowing kindness was the main 
condition of all our sight-seeings and enjoy- 
ments. Delightful as will always be our 
recollection of Oxford and its neighborhood, 
we partly suspect that it owes much of 
its happy coloring to the genial medium 
through which the objects were presented 
to us, — to the kindly magic of a hospitality 
unsurpassed, within our experience, in the 
quality of making the guest contented with 
his host, with himself, and everything about 
him. He has inseparably mingled his image 
with our remembrance of the Spires of 
Oxford. 



VIII. 
SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 

We left Carlisle at a little past eleven, 
and within the half hour were at Gretna 
Green. Thence we rushed onward into 
Scotland through a flat and dreary tract of 
country, consisting mainly of desert and 
bog, where probably the moss-troopers were 
accustomed to take refuge after their raids 
into England. Anon, however, the hills 
hove themselves up to view, occasionally 
attaining a height which might almost be 
called mountainous. In about two hours 
we reached Dumfries, and alighted at the 
station there. 

Chill as the Scottish summer is reputed 
to be, we found it an awfully hot day, not 
a whit less so than the day before ; but we 
sturdily adventured through the burning 
sunshine up into the town, inquiring our 
way to the residence of Burns. The street 
leading from the station is called Shake- 
speare Street ; and at its farther extremity 
we read ** Bums Street" on a comer-house, 



326 OUR OLD HOME 

— the avenue thus designated having been 
formerly known as "Mill-Hole Brae/' It 
is a vile lane, paved with small, hard stones 
from side to side, and bordered by cottages 
or mean houses of whitewashed stone, join- 
ing one to another along the whole length 
of the street. With not a tree, of course, 
or a blade of grass between the paving- 
stones, the narrow lane was as hot as 
Tophet, and reeked with a genuine Scotch 
odor, being infested with unwashed chil- 
dren, and altogether in a state of chronic 
filth ; although some women seemed to be 
hopelessly scrubbing the thresholds of their 
wretched dwellings. I never saw an out- 
skirt of a town less fit for a poet's residence, 
or in which it would be more miserable for 
any man of cleanly predilections to spend 
his days. 

We asked for Burns's dwelling; and a 
woman pointed across the street to a two- 
story house, built of stone, and white- 
washed, like its neighbors, but perhaps of a 
little more respectable aspect than most of 
them, though I hesitate in saying so. It 
was not a separate structure, but under the 
same continuous roof with the next. There 
was an inscription on the door, bearing no 
reference to Bums, but indicating that the 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 327 

house was now occupied by a ragged or 
industrial school. On knocking, we were 
instantly admitted by a servant-girl, who 
smiled intelligently when we told our er- 
rand, and showed us into a low and very 
plain parlor, not more than twelve or fifteen 
feet square. A young woman, who seemed 
to be a teacher in the school, soon ap- 
peared, and told us that this had been 
Bums's usual sitting-room, and that he had 
written many of his songs here. 

She then led us up a narrow staircase 
into a little bedchamber over the parlor. 
Connecting with it, there is a very small 
room, or windowed closet, which Bums 
used as a study ; and the bedchamber itself 
was the one where he slept in his later 
lifetime, and in which he died at last. 
Altogether, it is an exceedingly unsuitable 
place for a pastoral and rural poet to live 
or die in, — even more unsatisfactory than 
Shakespeare's house, which has a certain 
homely picturesqueness that contrasts fa- 
vorably with the suburban sordidness of 
the abode before us. The narrow lane, 
the paving-stones, and the contiguity of 
wretched hovels are depressing to remem- 
ber; and the steam of them (such is our 
human weakness) might almost make the 
poet's memory less fragrant. 



328 OUR OLD HOME 

As already observed, it was an intoler- 
ably hot day. After leaving the house, 
we found our way into the principal street 
of the town, which, it may be fair to say, is 
of very different aspect from the wretched 
outskirt above described. Entering a hotel 
(in which, as a Dumfries guide-book as- 
sured us, Prince Charles Edward had once 
spent a night), we rested and refreshed 
ourselves, and then set forth in quest of 
the mausoleum of Burns. 

Coming to St. MichaeFs Church, we saw 
a man digging a grave, and, scrambling out 
of the hole, he let us into the churchyard, 
which was crowded full of monuments. 
Their general shape and construction are 
peculiar to Scotland, being a perpendicular 
tablet of marble or other stone, within a 
framework of the same material, somewhat 
resembling the frame of a looking-glass ; 
and, all over the churchyard, these sepul- 
chral memorials rise to the height of ten, 
fifteen, or twenty feet, forming quite an 
imposing collection of monuments, but in- 
scribed with names of small general signi- 
ficance. It was easy, indeed, to ascertain 
the rank of those who slept below ; for in 
Scotland it is the custom to put the occupa- 
tion of the buried personage (as ** Skin- 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 329 

ner," "Shoemaker," "Flesher") on his 
tombstone. As another peculiarity, wives 
are buried under their maiden names, in- 
stead of those of their husbands, thus giv- 
ing a disagreeable impression that the mar- 
ried pair have bidden each other an eternal 
farewell on the edge of the grave. 

There was a foot-path through this crowd- 
ed churchyard, sufficiently well worn to 
guide us to the grave of Burns ; but a 
woman followed behind us, who, it ap- 
peared kept the key of the mausoleum, 
and was privileged to show it to strangers. 
The monument is a sort of Grecian temple, 
with pilasters and a dome, covering a space 
of about twenty feet square. It was for- 
merly open to all the inclemencies of the 
Scotch atmosphere,- but is now protected 
and shut in by large squares of rough 
glass, each pane being of the size of one 
whole side of the structure. The woman 
unlocked the door, and admitted us into 
the interior. Inlaid into the floor of the 
mausoleum is the gravestone of Bums, — 
the very same that was laid over his grave 
by Jean Armour, before this monument 
was built. Displayed against the surround- 
ing wall is a marble statue of Burns at the 
plough, with the Genius of Caledonia sum- 



330 OUR OLD HOME 

moning the ploughman to turn poet. Me- 
thought it was not a very successful piece 
of work ; for the plough was better sculp- 
tured than the man, and the man, though 
heavy and cloddish, was more effective 
than the goddess. Our guide informed us 
that an old man of ninety, who knew 
Bums, certifies this statue to be very like 
the original. 

The bones of the poet, and of Jean 
Armour, and of some of their children, lie 
in the vault over which we stood. Our guide 
(who was intelligent, in her own plain way., 
and very agreeable to talk withal) said 
that the vault was opened about three 
weeks ago, on occasion of the burial of 
the eldest son of Burns. The poet's bones 
were disturbed, and the dry skull, once so 
brimming over with powerful thought and 
bright and tender fantasies, was taken 
away, and kept for several days by a Dum- 
fries doctor. It has since been deposited 
in a new leaden coffin, and restored to the 
vault. We learned that there is a surviv- 
ing daughter of Bums*s eldest son, and 
daughters likewise of the two younger 
sons, — and, besides these, an illegitimate 
posterity by the eldest son, who appears 
to have been of disreputable life in his 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 33 1 

younger days. He inherited his father's 
failings, with some faint shadow, I have 
also understood, of the great qualities 
which have made the world tender of his 
father's vices and weaknesses. 

We listened readily enough to this paltry 
gossip, but found that it robbed the poet's 
memory of some of the reverence that was 
its due. Indeed, this talk over his grave 
had very much the same tendency and ef- 
fect as the home-scene of his life, which 
we had been visiting just previously. Be- 
holding his poor, mean dwelling and its 
surroundings, and picturing his outward 
life and earthly manifestations from these, 
one does not so much wonder that the 
people of that day should have failed to 
recognize all that was admirable and im- 
mortal in a disreputable, drunken, shabbily 
clothed, and shabbily housed man, consort- 
ing with associates of damaged character, 
and, as his only ostensible occupation, 
gauging the whiskey, which he too often 
tasted. Siding with Burns, as we needs 
must, in his plea against the world, let us 
try to do the world a little justice too. It 
is far easier to know and honor a poet 
when his fame has taken shape in the 
spotlessness of marble than when the ac- 



332 OUR OLD HOME 

ttial man comes staggering before you, be- 
smeared with the sordid stains of his daily 
life. For my part, I chiefly wonder that 
his recognition dawned so brightly while 
he was still living. There must have been 
something very g^nd in his immediate 
presence, some strangely impressive char- 
acteristic in his natural behavior, to have 
caused him to seem like a demigod so 
soon. 

As we went back through the church- 
yard, we saw a spot where neariy four hun- 
dred inhabitants of Dumfries were buried 
during the cholera year; and also some 
curious old monuments, with raised letters, 
the inscriptions on which were not suffi- 
ciently legible to induce us to puzzle them 
out ; but, I believe, they mark the resting- 
places of old Covenanters, some of whom 
were killed by Claverhouse and his fellow- 
ruffians. 

St. Michael's Church is of red freestone, 
and was built about a hundred years ago, 
on an old Catholic foundation. Our guide 
admitted us into it, and showed us, in the 
porch, a very pretty little marble figure 
of a child asleep, with a drapery over the 
lower part, from beneath which appeared 
its two baby feet. It was truly a sweet 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 333 

little statue ; and the woman told us that 
it represented a child of the sculptor, and 
that the baby (here still in its marble in- 
fancy) had died more than twenty-six years 
ago. ** Many ladies/* she said, ** especially 
such as had ever lost a child, had shed 
tears over it." It was very pleasant to 
think of the sculptor bestowing the best of 
.his genius and art to re-create his tender 
child in stone, and to make the representa- 
tion as soft and sweet as the original ; but 
the conclusion of the story has something 
that jars with our awakened sensibilities. 
A gentleman from London had seen the 
statue, and was so much delighted with it 
that he bought it of the father-artist, after 
it had lain above a quarter of a century in 
the church-porch. So this was not the 
real, tender image that came out of the 
father's heart ; he had sold that truest one 
for a himdred guineas, and sculptured this 
mere copy to replace it. The first figure 
was entirely naked in its earthly and spir- 
itual innocence. The copy, as I have said 
above, has a drapery over the lower limbs. 
But, after all, if we come to the truth of 
the matter, the sleeping baby may be as 
fitly reposited in the drawing-room of a 
connoisseur as in a cold and dreary church- 
porch. 



334 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

We went into the church, and found it 
very plain and naked, without altar deco- 
rations, and having its floor quite covered 
with unsightly wooden pews. The woman 
led us to a pew, cornering on one of the 
side aisles, and, telling us that it used to be 
Bums*s family pew, showed us his seat, 
which is in the corner by the aisle. It is 
so situated, that a sturdy pillar hid him. 
from the pulpit, and from the minister's 
eye ; " for Robin was no great friends with 
the ministers," said she. This touch — his 
seat behind the pillar, and Bums himself 
nodding in sermon-time, or keenly obser- 
vant of profane things — brought him be- 
fore us to the life. In the comer-seat of 
the next pew, right before Bums, and not 
more than two feet off, sat the young lady 
on whom the poet saw that unmention- 
able parasite, which he has immortalized 
in song. We were ungenerous enough to 
ask the lady's name, but the good woman 
could not tell it. This was the last thing 
which we saw in Dumfries worthy of record; 
and it ought to be noted that our guide re- 
fused some money which my companion 
offered her, because I had already paid her 
what she deemed sufficient. 

At the railway-station we spent more 



Robert Bums 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 335 

than a weary hour, waiting for the train, 
which at last came up, and took us to 
Mauchline. We got into an omnibus, the 
only conveyance to be had, and drove about 
a mile to the village, where we established 
ourselves at the Loudoun Hotel, one of 
the veriest country inns which we have 
found in Great Britain. The town of 
Mauchline, a place more redolent of Bums 
than almost any other, consists of a street 
or two of contiguous cottages, mostly white- 
washed, and with thatched roofs. It has 
nothing sylvan or rural in the immediate 
village, and is as ugly a place as mortal man 
could contrive to make, or to render uglier 
through a succession of untidy generations. 
The fashion of paving the village street, and 
patching one shabby house on the gable- 
end of another, quite shuts out all verdure 
and pleasantness ; but, I presume, we are 
not likely to see a more genuine old Scotch 
village, such as they used to be in Burns's 
time, and long before, than this of Mauch- 
line. The church stands about midway up 
the street, and is built of red freestone, 
very simple in its architecture, with a square 
tower and pinnacles. In this sacred edifice, 
and its churchyard, was the scene of one 
of Burns's most characteristic productions, 
"The Holy Fair." 



336 OUR OLD HOME 

Almost directly opposite its gate, across 
the village street, stands Posie Nansie's inn, 
where the "Jolly Beggars" congregated. 
The latter is a two-story, red-stone, thatched 
house, looking old, but by no means ven- 
erable, like a drunken patriarch. It has 
small, old-fashioned windows, and may well 
have stood for centuries, — though, seventy 
or eighty years ago, when Burns was con- 
versant with it, I should fancy it might 
have been something better than a beggars' 
alehouse. The whole town of Mauchline 
looks rusty and time-worn, — even the 
newer houses, of which there are several, 
being shadowed and darkened by the gen- 
eral aspect of the place. When we arrived, 
all the wretched little dwellings seemed to 
have belched forth their inhabitants into 
the warm summer evening : everybody was 
chatting with everybody, on the most fa- 
miliar terms; the bare -legged children 
gamboled or quarreled uproariously, and 
came freely, moreover, and looked into the 
window of our parlor. When we ventured 
out, we were followed by the gaze of the 
old town : people standing in their door- 
ways, old women popping their heads from 
the chamber* windows, and stalwart men — 
idle on Saturday at e'en, after their week's 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 337 

hard labor — clustering at the street-cor- 
ners, merely to stare' at our unpretending 
selves. Except in some remote little town 
of Italy (where, besides, the inhabitants had 
the intelligible stimulus of beggary), I have 
never been honored with nearly such an 
amount of public notice. 

The next forenoon my companion put 
me to shame by attending church, after 
vainly exhorting me to do the like ; and it 
being Sacrament Sunday, and my poor 
friend being wedged into the farther end 
of a closely filled pew, he was forced to 
stay through the preaching of four several 
sermons, and came back perfectly exhausted 
and desperate. He was somewhat consoled, 
however, on finding that he had witnessed 
a spectacle of Scotch manners identical with 
that of Bums*s " Holy Fair " on the very 
spot where the poet located that immortal 
description. By way of further conform- 
ance to the customs of the country, we 
ordered a sheep's head and the broth, and 
did penance accordingly; and at five o'clock 
we took a fly, and set out for Bums's farm 
of Moss Giel. 

Moss Giel is not more than a mile from 
Mauchline, and the road extends over a 
high ridge of land, with a view of far hills 



338 OUR OLD HOME 

and green slopes on either side. Just be- 
fore we reached the farm, the driver stopped 
to point out a hawthorn, growing by the 
wayside, which he said was Bums*s " Lousie 
Thorn ; " and I devoutly plucked a branch, 
although I have really forgotten where or 
how this illustrious shrub has been cele- 
brated. We then turned into a rude gate- 
way, and almost immediately came to the 
farm-house of Moss Giel, standing some 
fifty yards removed from the high-road, 
behind a tall hedge of hawthorn, and con- 
siderably overshadowed by trees. The 
house is a whitewashed stone cottage, like 
thousands of others in England and Scot- 
land, with a thatched roof, on which grass 
and weeds have intruded a picturesque, 
though alien, growth. There is a door and 
one window in front, besides another little 
window that peeps out among the thatch. 
Close by the cottage, and extending back 
at right angles from it, so as to inclose the 
farm-yard, are two other buildings of the 
same size, shape, and general appearance 
as the house : any one of the three looks 
just as fit for a human habitation as the 
two others, and all three look still more 
suitable for donkey-stables and pigsties. 
As we drove into the farm-yard, bounded 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 339 

on three sides by these three hovels, a 
large dog began to bark at us ; and some 
women and children made their appear- 
ance, but seemed to demur about admit- 
ting us, because the master and mistress 
were very religious people, and had not yet 
come back from the Sacrament at Mauch- 
line. 

However, it would not do to be turned 
back from the very threshold of Robert 
Bums; and as the women seemed to be 
merely straggling visitors, and nobody, at all 
events, had a right to send us away, we went 
into the back door, and, turning to the right, 
entered a kitchen. It showed a deplorable 
lack of housewifely neatness, and in it there 
were three or four children, one of whom, 
a girl eight or nine years old, held a baby 
in her arms. She proved to be the daugh- 
ter of the people of the house, and gave us 
what leave she could to look about us. 
Thence we stepped across the narrow mid- 
passage of the cottage into the only other 
apartment below stairs, a sitting-room, 
where we found a young man eating bread 
and cheese. He informed us that he did 
not live there, and had only called in to 
refresh himself on his way home from 
church. This room, like the kitchen, was 



340 OUR OLD HOME 

a noticeably poor one, and, besides being 
all that the cottage had to show for a par- 
lor, it was a sleeping-apartment, having two 
beds, which might be curtained oflf, on 
occasion. The young man allowed us lib- 
erty (so far as in him lay) to go up stairs. 
Up we crept, accordingly ; and a few steps 
brought us to the top of the staircase, over 
the kitchen, where we found the wretch- 
edest little sleeping-chamber in the world, 
with a sloping roof under the thatch, and 
two beds spread upon the bare floor. This, 
most probably, was Bums*s chamber; or, 
perhaps, it may have been that of his moth- 
er's servant-maid ; and, in either case, this 
rude floor, at one time or another, must 
have creaked beneath the poet's midnight 
tread. On the opposite side of the passage 
was the door of another attic-chamber, 
opening which, I saw a considerable num- 
ber of cheeses on the floor. 

The whole house was pervaded with a 
frowzy smell, and also a dunghill odor ; 
and it is not easy to understand how the 
atmosphere of such a dwelling can be any 
more agreeable or salubrious morally than 
it appeared to be physically. No virgin, 
surely, could keep a holy awe about her 
while stowed higgledy-piggledy with coarse- 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 341 

natured rustics into this narrowness and 
filth. Such a habitation is calculated to 
make beasts of men and women; and it 
indicates a degree of barbarism which I 
did not imagine to exist in Scotland, that 
a tiller of broad fields, like the farmer of 
Mauchline, should have his abode in a 
pigsty. It is sad to think of anybody — 
not to say a poet, but any human being 
— sleeping, eating, thinking, praying, and 
spending all his home-life in this miser- 
able hovel ; but, methinks, I never in the 
least knew how to estimate the miracle of 
Burns's genius, nor his heroic merit for 
being no worse man, until I thus learned 
the squalid hindrances amid which he de- 
veloped himself. Space, a free atmosphere, 
and cleanliness have a vast deal to do with 
the possibilities of human virtue. 

The biographers talk of the farm of 
Moss Giel as being damp and unwhole- 
some ; but I do not see why, outside of the 
cottage-walls, it should possess so evil a re- 
putation. It occupies a high, broad ridge, 
enjoying, surely, whatever benefit can come 
of a breezy site, and sloping far downward 
before any marshy soil is reached. The 
high hedge, and the trees that stand be- 
side the cottage, give it a pleasant aspect 



342 OUR OLD HOME 

enough to one who does not know the 
grimy secrets of the interior ; and the 
summer afternoon was now so bright that 
I shall remember the scene with a great 
deal of sunshine over it. 

Leaving the cottage, we drove through 
a field, which the driver told us was that 
in which Bums turned up the mouse's 
nest. It is the inclosure nearest to the 
cottage, and seems now to be a pasture, 
and a rather remarkably unfertile one. A 
little farther on, the ground was whitened 
with an immense number of daisies, — 
daisies, daisies everywhere ; and in answer 
to my inquiry, the driver said that this was 
the field where Burns ran his ploughshare 
over the daisy. If so, the soil seems to 
have been consecrated to daisies by the 
song which he bestowed on that first im- 
mortal one. I alighted, and plucked a 
whole handful of these " wee, modest, crim- 
son-tipped flowers," which will be precious 
to many friends in our own country as 
coming from Burns's farm, and being of 
the same race and lineage as that daisy 
which he turned into an amaranthine flower 
while seeming to destroy it.^ 

1 SouTHPORT, May \oth. The grass has been green 
for a month, — indeed, it has never been entirely brown, 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 343 

From Moss Giel we drove through a va- 
riety of pleasant scenes, some of which 
were familiar to us by their connection 
with Bums. We skirted, too, along a por- 
tion of the estate of Auchinleck, which 
still belongs to the Boswell family, — the 
present possessor being Sir James Bos- 
well,^ a grandson of Johnson's friend, and 
son of the Sir Alexander who was killed in 
a duel Our driver spoke of Sir James as 
a kind, free-hearted man, but addicted to 
horse-races and similar pastimes, and a 
little too familiar with the wine-cup; so 
that poor Bozzy's booziness would appear 
to have become hereditary in his ancient 
line. There is no male heir to the estate 
of Auchinleck. The portion of the lands 
which we saw is covered with wood and 
much undermined with rabbit-warrens ; 
nor, though the territory extends over a 

— and now the trees and hedges are begmning 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 
Bums's epithet, " wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower," — 
its little white petals in the bud being fringed all round 
with crimson, which fades into pure white when the 
flower blooms. — II. 419. 

^ Sir James Boswell is now dead. 



344 <^^^ ^^^ HOME 

large number of acres, is the income very 
considerable. 

By and by we came to the spot where 
Bums saw Miss Alexander, the Lass of 
Ballochmyle. It was on a bridge, which 
(or, more probably, a bridge that has suc- 
ceeded to the old one, and is made of iron) 
crosses from bank to bank, high in air 
over a deep gorge of the road ; so that the 
young lady may have appeared to Bums 
like a creature between earth and sky, and 
compounded chiefly of celestial elements. 
But, in honest tmth, the great charm of a 
woman, in Bums's eyes, was always her 
womanhood, and not the angelic mixture 
which other poets find in her. 

Our driver pointed out the course taken 
by the Lass of Ballochmyle, through the 
shmbbery, to a rock on the banks of the 
Lugar, where it seems to be the tradition 
that Burns accosted her. The song im- 
plies no such interview. Lovers, of what- 
ever condition, high or low, could desire 
no lovelier scene in which to breathe their 
vows : the river flowing over its pebbly 
bed, sometimes gleaming into the sun- 
shine, sometimes hidden deep in verdure, 
and here and there eddying at the foot of 
high and precipitous cliffs. This beautiful 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 345 

estate of Ballochmyle is still held by the 
family of Alexanders, to whom Bums's 
song has given renown on cheaper terms 
than any other set of people ever attained 
it. How slight the tenure seems ! A 
young lady happened to walk out, one 
summer afternoon, and crossed the path 
of a neighboring farmer, who celebrated 
the little incident in four or five warm, 
rude, — at least, not refined, though rather 
ambitious, — and somewhat ploughman- 
like verses. Bums has written hundreds 
of better things ; but henceforth, for cen- 
turies, that maiden has free admittance 
into the dream-land of Beautiful Women, 
and she and all her race are famous. I 
should like to know the present head of 
the family, and ascertain what value, if any, 
the members of it put upon the celebrity 
thus won. 

We passed through Catrine, known here- 
abouts as "the clean village of Scotland." 
Certainly, as regards the point indicated, 
it has greatly the advantage of Mauchline, 
whither we now returned without seeing 
anything else worth writing about. 

There was a rain-storm during the night, 
and, in the morning, the rusty, old, slop- 
ing street of Mauchline was glistening with 



346 OUR OLD HOME 

wet, whil^ frequent showers came spatter- 
ing down. The intense heat of many days 
past was exchanged for a chilly atmosphere, 
much more suitable to a stranger's idea of 
what Scotch temperature ought to be. We 
found, after breakfast, that the first train 
northward had already gone by, and that 
we must wait till nearly two o'clock for the 
next. I merely ventured out once, during 
the forenoon, and took a brief walk through 
the village, in which I have left little to 
describe. Its chief business appears to 
be the manufacture of snuff-boxes. There 
are perhaps five or six shops, or more, in- 
cluding those licensed to sell only tea and 
tobacco ; the best of them have the char- 
acteristics of village stores in the United 
States, dealing in a small way with an ex- 
tensive variety of articles. I peeped into 
the open gateway of the churchyard, and 
saw that the ground was absolutely stuffed 
with dead people, and the surface crowded 
with gravestones, both perpendicular and 
horizontal. All Burns's old Mauchline ac- 
quaintance are doubtless there, and the 
Armours among them, except Bonny Jean, 
who sleeps by her poet's side. The fam- 
ily of Armour is now extinct in Mauch- 
line. 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 347 

Arriving at the railway-station, we found 
a tall, elderly, comely gentleman walking 
to and fro and waiting for the train. He 
proved to be a Mr. Alexander, — it may 
fairly be presumed the Alexander of Bal- 
lochmyle, a blood relation of the lovely lass. 
Wonderful efficacy of a poet's verse, that 
could shed a glory from Long Ago on this 
old gentleman's white hair ! These Alex- 
anders, by the by, are not an old family on 
the Ballochmyle estate ; the father of the 
lass having made a fortune in trade, and 
established himself as the first landed pro- 
prietor of his name in these parts. The 
original family was named Whitefoord. 

Ouf ride to Ayr presented nothing very 
remarkable ; and, indeed, a cloudy and rainy 
day takes the varnish off the scenery, and 
causes a woful diminution in the beauty 
and impressiveness of everything we see. 
Much of our way lay along a flat, sandy 
level, in a southerly direction. We reached 
Ayr in the midst of hopeless rain, and drove 
to the King's Arms Hotel. In the intervals 
of showers I took peeps at the town, which 
appeared to have many modem or modem- 
fronted edifices; although there are like- 
wise tall, gray, gabledj and quaint-looking 
houses in the by-streets, here and there, 



348 OUR OLD HOME 

betokening an ancient place, The town 
lies on both sides of the Ayr, which is 
here broad and stately, and bordered with 
dwellings that look from their windows 
directly down into the passing tide. 

I crossed the river by a modern and 
handsome stone bridge, and recrossed it, at 
no great distance, by a venerable structure 
of four gray arches, which must have be- 
stridden the stream ever since the early 
days of Scottish history. These are the 
"Two Briggs of Ayr," whose midnight 
conversation was overheard by Bums, while 
other auditors were aware only of the rush 
and rumble of the wintry stream among the 
arches. The ancient bridge is steep and 
narrow, and paved like a street, and de- 
fended by a parapet of red freestone, except 
at the two ends, where some mean old shops 
allow scanty room for the pathway to creep 
between. Nothing else impressed me here- 
abouts, unless I mention that, during the 
rain, the women and girls went about the 
streets of Ayr barefooted to save their 
shoes. 

The next morning wore a lowering as- 
pect as if it felt itself destined to be one 
of many consecutive days of storm. After 
a good Scotch breakfast, however, of fr^sh 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 349 

herrings and eggs, we took a fly, and started 
at a little past ten for the banks of the 
Doon. On our way, at about two miles 
from A)rr, we drew up at a roadside cottage, 
on which was an inscription to the effect 
that Robert Bums was bom within its 
walls. It is now a public house; and, of 
course, we alighted and entered its little 
sitting-room, which, as we at present see it, 
is a neat apartment with the modem im- 
provement of a ceiling. The walls are 
much overscribbled with names of visitors, 
and the wooden door of a cupboard in the 
wainscot, as well as all the other wood-work 
of the room, is cut and carved with initial 
letters. So, likewise, are two tables, which, 
having received a coat of varnish over the 
inscriptions, form really curious and inter- 
esting articles of furniture. I have seldom 
(though I do not personally adopt this 
mode of illustrating my humble name) felt 
inclined to ridicule the natural impulse of 
most people thus to record themselves at 
the shrines of poets and heroes. 

On a panel, let into the wall in a comer 
of the room, is a portrait of Bums, copied 
from the original picture by Nasmyth. The 
floor of this apartment is of boards, which 
are probably a recent substitute for the 



350 OUR OLD HOME 

ordinary flag-stones of a peasant's cottage. 
There is but one other room pertaining to 
the genuine birthplace of Robert Bums: 
it is the kitchen, into which we now went. 
It has a floor of flag-stones, even ruder than 
those of Shakespeare's house, — though, 
perhaps, not so strangely cracked and bro- 
ken as the latter, over which the hoof of 
Satan himself might seem to have been 
trampling. A new window has been opened 
through the wall, towards the road ; but on 
the opposite side is the little original win- 
dow, of only four small panes, through 
which came the first daylight that shone 
upon the Scottish poet. At the side of 
the room, opposite the fireplace, is a recess, 
containing a bed, which can be hidden by 
curtains. In that humble nook, of all places 
in the world. Providence was pleased to de- 
posit the germ of richest human life which 
mankind then had within its circumference. 
These two rooms, as I have said, make 
up the whole sum and substance of Bums's 
birthplace : for there were no chambers, 
nor even attics ; and the thatched roof 
formed the only ceiling of kitchen and sit- 
ting-room, the height of which was that of 
the whole house. The cottage, however, is 
attached to another edifice of the same size 



Bums^s Birthplace 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 351 

and description, .as these little habitations 
often are ; and, moreover, a splendid addi- 
tion has been made to it, since the poet's 
renown began to draw visitors to the way- 
side alehouse. The old woman of the house 
led us through an entry, and showed a 
vaulted hall, of no vast dimensions, to be 
sure, but marvelously large and splendid 
as compared with what might be antici- 
pated from the outward aspect of the cot- 
tage. It contained a bust of Bums, and 
was hung round with pictures and engrav- 
ings, principally illustrative of his life and 
poems. In this part of the house, too, 
there is a parlor, fragrant with tobacco- 
smoke; and, no doubt, many a noggin of 
whiskey is here quaffed to the memory of 
the bard, who professed to draw so much 
inspiration from that potent liquor. 

We bought some engravings of Kirk 
AUoway, the Bridge of Doon, and the mon- 
ument, and gave the old woman a fee be- 
sides, and took our leave. A very short 
drive farther brought us within sight of the 
monument, and to the hotel, situated close 
by the entrance of the ornamental grounds 
within which the former is inclosed. We 
rang the bell at the gate of the inclosure, 
but were forced to wait a considerable time ; 



352 OUR OLD HOME 

because the old man, the regular superin- 
tendent of the spot, had gone to assist at 
the laying of the corner-stone of a new 
kirk. He appeared anon, and admitted us, 
but immediately hurried away to be present 
at the concluding ceremonies, leaving us 
locked up with Bums. 

The inclosure around the monument is 
beautifully laid out as an ornamental gar- 
den, and abundantly provided with rare 
flowers and shrubbery, all tended with lov- 
ing care. The monument stands on an ele- 
vated site, and consists of a massive base- 
ment story, three-sided, above which rises 
a light and elegant Grecian temple, — a 
mere dome, supported on Corinthian pil- 
lars, and open to all the winds. The edi- 
fice is beautiful in itself ; though I know 
not what peculiar appropriateness it may 
have, as the memorial of a Scottish rural 
poet. 

The door of the basement story stood 
open; and, entering, we saw a bust of 
Bums in a niche, looking keener, more re- 
fined, but not so warm and whole-souled 
as his pictures usually do. I think the 
likeness cannot be good. In the centre of 
the room stood a glass case, in which were 
reposited the two volumes of the little 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 353 

Pocket Bible that Bums gave to Highland 
Mary, when they pledged their troth to 
one another. It is poorly printed on coarse 
paper. A verse of Scripture referring to 
the solemnity and awf ulness of vows is writ- 
ten within the cover of each volume, in the 
poet's own hand ; and fastened to one of 
the covers is a lock of Highland Mary's 
golden hair. This Bible had been carried 
to America by one of her relatives, but was 
sent back to be fitly treasured here. 

There is a staircase within the monu- 
ment, by which we ascended to the top, 
and had a view of both Briggs of Doon : 
the scene of Tam O'Shanter's misadven- 
ture being close at hand. Descending, we 
wandered through the inclosed garden, and 
came to a little building in a corner, on en- 
tering which, we found the two statues of 
Tam and Sutor Wat, — ponderous stone- 
work enough, yet permeated in a remark- 
able degree with living warmth and jovial 
hilarity. From this part of the garden, 
too, we again beheld the old Brigg of 
Doon, over which Tam galloped in such 
imminent and awful peril. It is a beauti- 
ful object in the landscape, with one high, 
graceful arch, ivy-grown, and shadowed all 
over and around with foliage 



354 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

When we had waited a good while, the 
old gardener came, telling us that he had 
heard an excellent prayer at laying the cor- 
ner-stone of the new kirk. He now gave 
us some roses and sweetbrier, and let us 
out from his pleasant garden. We imme- 
diately hastened to Kirk AUoway, which 
is within two or three minutes* walk of the 
monument. A few steps ascend from the 
roadside, through a gate, into the old 
graveyard, in the midst of which stands 
the kirk. The edifice is wholly roofless, 
but the side-walls and gable-ends are quite 
entire, though portions of them are evi- 
dently modem restorations. Never was 
there a plainer little church, or one with 
smaller architectural pretensions ; no New 
England meeting-house has more simpli- 
city in its very self, though poetry and fun 
have clambered and clustered so wildly 
over Kirk Alloway that it is difficult to 
see it as it actually exists. By the by, 
I do not understand why Satan and an as- 
sembly of witches should hold their revels 
within a consecrated precinct ; but the 
weird scene has so established itself in the 
world's imaginative faith that it must be 
accepted as an authentic incident, in spite 
of rule and reason to the contrary. Pos- 



The Auld Brig o' Boon 



SOME OF THE HAUNTS OF BURNS 35$ 

sibly, some carnal minister, some priest of 
pious aspect and hidden infidelity, had dis- 
pelled the consecration of the holy edifice 
by his pretense of prayer, and thus made 
it the resort of unhappy ghosts and sorcer- 
ers and devils. 

The interior of the kirk, even now, is 
applied to quite as impertinent a purpose 
as when Satan and the witches used it as 
a dancing-hall; for it is divided in the 
midst by a wall of stone-masonry, and each 
compartment has been converted into a 
family burial-place. The name on one of 
the monuments is Crawfurd ; the other 
bore no inscription. It is impossible not 
to feel that these good people, whoever 
they may be, had no business to thrust 
their prosaic bones into a spot that belongs 
to the world, and where their presence jars 
with the emotions, be they sad or gay, 
which the pilgrim brings thither. They 
shut us out from our own precincts, too, 
— from that inalienable possession which 
Burns bestowed in free gift upon mankind, 
by taking it from the actual earth and an- 
nexing it to the domain of imagination. 
And here these wretched squatters have 
lain down to their long sleep, after barring 
each of the two doorways of the kirk with 



3S6 OUR OLD HOME 

an iron grate ! May their rest be troubled, 
till they rise and let us in ! 

Kirk Alloway is inconceivably small, 
considering how large a space it fills in our 
imagination before we see it. I paced its 
length, outside of the wall, and found it 
only seventeen of my paces, and not more 
than ten of them in breadth. There seem 
to have been but very few windows, all of 
which, if I rightly remember, are now 
blocked up with mason -work of stone. 
One muUioned window, tall and narrow, in 
the eastern gable, might have been seen 
by Tam O'Shanter, blazing with devilish 
light, as he approached along the road 
from Ayr ; and there is a small and square 
one, on the side nearest the road, into 
which he might have peered, as he sat on 
horseback. Indeed, I could easily have 
looked through it, standing on the ground, 
had not the opening been walled up. There 
is an odd kind of belfry at the peak of 
one of the gables, with the small bell still 
hanging in it. And this is all that I 
remember of Kirk Alloway, except that 
the stones of its material are gray and 
irregular. 

The road from Ayr passes Alloway Kirk, 
and crosses the Doon by a modem bridge, 



Alloway Kirk 



35 8 OUR OLD HOME 

from that sacred spot. This done, we re- 
turned as speedily as might be to Ayr, 
whence, taking the rail, we soon beheld 
Ailsa Craig rising like a pyramid out of 
the sea. Drawing nearer to Glasgow, Ben 
Lomond hove in sight, with a dome -like 
summit, supported by a shoulder on each 
side. But a man is better than a moun- 
tain ; and we had been holding intercourse, 
if not with the reality, at least with the 
stalwart ghost of one of Earth's memo- 
rable sons, amid the scenes where he lived 
and sung. We shall appreciate him better 
as a poet, hereafter ; for there is no writer 
whose life, as a man, has so much to do 
with his fame, and throws such a neces- 
sary light upon whatever he has pro- 
duced. Henceforth, there will be a per- 
sonal warmth for us in everything that he 
wrote ; and, like his countrymen, we shall 
know him in a kind of personal way, as if 
we had shaken hands with him, and felt 
the thrill of his actual voice. 



IX. 

A LONDON SUBURB 

One of our English summers looks, in the 
retrospect, as if it had been patched with 
more frequent sunshine than the sky of 
England ordinarily affords; but I believe 
that it may be only a moral effect, — a 
"light that never was on sea or land,*' — 
caused by our having found a particularly 
delightful abode in the neighborhood of 
London. In order to enjoy it, however, 
I was compelled to solve the problem of 
living in two places at once, — an impossi- 
bility which I so far accomplished as to 
vanish, at frequent intervals, out of men's 
sight and knowledge on one side of Eng- 
land, and take my place in a circle of 
familiar faces on the other, so quietly that 
I seemed to have been there all along. It 
was the easier to get accustomed to our 
new residence, because it was not only rich 
in all the material properties of a home, 
but had also the home-like atmosphere, the 
household element, which is of too intan- 



360 OUR OLD HOME 

gible a character to be let even with the 
most thoroughly furnished lodging-house. 
A friend had given us his suburban resi- 
dence, with all its conveniences, elegances, 
and snuggeries, — its drawing-rooms and 
library, still warm and bright with the recol- 
lection of the genial presences that we had 
known there, — its closets, chambers, kitch- 
en, and even its wine-cellar, if we could 
have availed ourselves of so dear and deli- 
cate a trust, — its lawn and cosey garden- 
nooks, and whatever else makes up the 
multitudinous idea of an English home, — 
he had transferred it all to us, pilgrims and 
dusty wayfarers, that we might rest and 
take our ease during his summer's absence 
on the Continent. We had long been 
dwelling in tents, as it were, and morally 
shivering by hearths which, heap the bitu- 
minous coal upon them as we might, no 
blaze could render cheerful. I remember, 
to this day, the dreary feeling with which 
I sat by our first English fireside, and 
watched the chill and rainy twilight of 
an autumn day darkening down upon the 
garden ; while the portrait of the preceding 
occupant of the house (evidently a most un- 
amiable personage in his lifetime) scowled 
inhospitably from above the mantelpiece, 



A LONDON SUBURB 36 1 

as if indignant that an American should try 
to make himself at home there. Possibly 
it may appease his sulky shade to know 
that I quitted his abode as much a stranger 
as I entered it. But now, at last, we were 
in a genuine British home, where refined 
and warm-hearted people had just been 
living their daily life, and had left us 
a summer's inheritance of slowly ripened 
days, such as a stranger's hasty opportuni- 
ties so seldom permit him to enjoy. 

Within so trifling a distance of the cen- 
tral spot of all the world (which, as Ameri- 
cans have at present no centre of their own, 
we may allow to be somewhere in the vicin- 
ity, we will say, of St. Paul's Cathedral), it 
might have seemed natural that I should be 
tossed about by the turbulence of the vast 
London whirlpool. But I had drifted into 
a still eddy, where conflicting movements 
made a repose, and, wearied with a good 
deal of uncongenial activity, I found the 
quiet of my temporary haven more attrac- 
tive than anything that the great town 
could offer. I already knew London well ; 
that is to say, I had long ago satisfied (so 
far as it was capable of satisfaction) that 
mysterious yearning — the magnetism of 
millions of hearts operating upon one — 



362 OUR OLD HOME 

which impels every man's individuality to 
mingle itself with the immensest mass of 
human life within his scope. Day after 
day, at an earlier period, I had trodden the 
thronged thoroughfares, the broad, lonely 
squares, the lanes, alleys, and strange laby- 
rinthine courts, the parks, the gardens and 
inclosures of ancient studious societies, so 
retired and silent amid the city uproar, the 
markets, the foggy streets along the river- 
side, the bridges, — I had sought all parts 
of the metropolis, in short, with an unweari- 
able and indiscriminating curiosity; until 
few of the native inhabitants, I fancy, had 
turned so many of its comers as myself. 
These aimless wanderings (in which my 
prime purpose and achievement were to 
lose my way, and so to find it the more 
surely) had brought me, at one time or 
another, to the sight and actual presence 
of almost all the objects and renowned 
localities that I had read about, and which 
had made London the dream-city of my 
youth. I had found it better than my 
dream; for there is nothing else in life 
comparable (in that species of enjoyment, 
I mean) to the thick, heavy, oppressive, 
sombre delight which an American is sen- 
sible of, hardly knowing whether to call it 



A LONDON SUBURB 363 

a pleasure or a pain, in the atmosphere of 
London. The result was, that I acquired 
a home-feeling there, as nowhere else in 
the world, — though afterwards I came to 
have a soniewhat similar sentiment in re- 
gard to Rome; and as long as either of 
those two great cities shall exist, the cities 
of the Past and of the Present, a man's 
native soil may crumble beneath his feet 
without leaving him altogether homeless 
upon earth. 

Thus, having once fully yielded to its 
influence, I was in a manner free of the 
city, and could approach or keep away from 
it as I pleased. Hence it happened that, 
living within a quarter of an hour's rush of 
the London Bridge Terminus, I was oftener 
tempted to spend a whole summer day in 
our garden than to seek anything new or 
old, wonderful or commonplace, beyond its 
precincts. It was a delightful garden, of 
no great extent, but comprising a good 
many facilities for repose and enjoyment, 
such as arbors and garden-seats, shrubbery, 
flower-beds, rose-bushes in a profusion of 
bloom, pinks, poppies, geraniums, sweet- 
peas, and a variety of other scarlet, yellow, 
blue, and purple blossoms, which I did not 
trouble myself to recognize individually. 



364 OUR OLD HOME 

yet had always a vague sense of their 
beauty about me. The dun sky of England 
has a most happy effect on the coloring of 
flowers, blending richness with delicacy in 
the same texture; but in this garden, as 
everywhere else, the exuberance of English 
verdure had a greater charm than any trop- 
ical splendor or diversity of hue. The 
hunger for natural beauty might be satis- 
fied with gprass and green leaves forever. 
Conscious of the triumph of England in 
this respect, and loyally anxious for the 
credit of my own country, it gratified me 
to observe what trouble and pains the Eng- 
lish gardeners are fain to throw away in 
producing a few sour plums and abortive 
pears and apples, — as, for example, in this 
very garden, where a row of unhappy trees 
were spread out perfectly flat against a 
brick wall, looking as if impaled alive, or 
crucified, with a cruel and unattainable 
purpose of compelling them to produce rich 
fruit by torture. For my part, I never ate 
an English fruit, raised in the open air, 
that could compare in flavor with a Yankee 
turnip. 

The garden included that prime feature 
of English domestic scenery, a lawn. It 
had been leveled, carefully shorn, and con- 



A Country House 



A LONDON SUBURB 36$ 

verted into a bowling-green, on which we 
sometimes essayed to practice the time- 
honored game of bowls, most unskillfully, 
yet not without a perception that it in- 
volves a very pleasant mixture of exercise 
and ease, as is the case with most of the 
old English pastimes. Our little domain 
was shut in by the house on one side, and 
in other directions by a hedge-fence and a 
brick wall, which last was concealed or soft- 
ened by shrubbery and the impaled fruit- 
trees already mentioned. Over all the outer 
region, beyond our immediate precincts, 
there was an abundance of foliage, tossed 
aloft from the near or distant trees with 
which that agreeable suburb is adorned. 
The effect was wonderfully sylvan and 
rural, insomuch that we might have fancied 
ourselves in the depths of a wooded seclu- 
sion ; only that, at brief intervals, we could 
hear the galloping sweep of a railway-train 
passing within a quarter of a mile, and its 
discordant screech, moderated by a little 
farther distance, as it reached the Black- 
heath Station. That harsh, rough sound, 
seeking me out so inevitably, was the voice 
of the great world summoning me forth. 
I know not whether I was the more pained 
or pleased to be thus constantly put in 



366 OUR OLD HOME 

mind of the neighborhood of London ; for, 
on the one hand, my conscience stung me 
a little for reading a book, or playing with 
children in the grass, when there were 
so many better things for an enlightened 
traveler to do, — while, at the same time, 
it gave a deeper delight to my luxurious 
idleness to contrast it with the turmoil 
which I escaped. On the whole, however, 
I do not repent of a single wasted hour, 
and only wish that I could have spent 
twice as many in the same way ; for the 
impression on my memory is, that I was 
as happy in that hospitable garden as the 
English summer day was long. 

One chief condition of my enjoyment 
was the weather. Italy has nothing like 
it, nor America. There never was such 
weather except in England, where, in re- 
quital of a vast amount of horrible east 
wind between February and June, and a 
brown October and black November, and 
a wet, chill, sunless winter, there are a few 
weeks of incomparable summer, scattered 
through July and August, and the earlier 
portion of September, small in quantity, 
but exquisite enough to atone for the whole 
year's atmospherical delinquencies. After 
all, the prevalent sombreness may have 



A LONDON SUBURB 36/ 

brought out those sunny intervals in such 
high relief that I see them, in my recol- 
lection, brighter than they really were : a 
little light makes a glory for people who 
live habitually in a gray gloom. The Eng- 
lish, however, do not seem to know how 
enjoyable the momentary gleams of their 
summer are ; they call it broiling weather, 
and hurry to the seaside with red, perspir- 
ing faces, in a state of combustion and de- 
liquescence ; and I have observed that even 
their cattle have similar susceptibilities, 
seeking the deepest shade, or standing 
midleg deep in pools and streams to cool 
themselves, at temperatures which our own 
cows would deem little more than barely 
comfortable. To myself, after the summer 
heats of my native land had somewhat 
efEervesced out of my blood and memory, 
it was the weather of Paradise itself. It 
might be a little too warm ; but it was 
that modest and inestimable superabun- 
dance which constitutes a bounty of Provi- 
dence, instead of just a niggardly enough. 
During my first year in England, residing 
in perhaps the most ungenial part of the 
kingdom, I could never be quite comfort- 
able without a fire on the hearth ; in the 
second twelvemonth, beginning to get ac- 



368 OUR OLD HOME 

climatized, I became sensible of an austere 
friendliness, shy, but sometimes almost ten- 
der, in the veiled, shadowy, seldom smiling 
summer ; and in the succeeding years, — 
whether that I had renewed my fibre with 
English beef and replenished my blood 
with English ale, or whatever were the 
cause, — I grew content with winter and 
especially in love with summer, desiring 
little more for happiness than merely to 
breathe and bask. At the midsummer 
which we are now speaking of, I must 
needs confess that the noontide sun came 
down more fervently than I found alto- 
gether tolerable ; so that I was fain to 
shift my position with the shadow of the 
shrubbery, making myself the movable in- 
dex of a sundial that reckoned up the 
hours of an almost interminable day. 

For each day seemed endless, though 
never wearisome. As far as your actual 
experience is concerned, the English sum- 
mer day has positively no beginning and 
no end. When you awake, at any reason- 
able hour, the sun is already shining 
through the curtains ; you live through 
unnumbered hours of Sabbath quietude, 
with a calm variety of incident softly 
etched upon their tranquil lapse; and at 



A LONDON SUBURB 369 

length you become conscious that it is 
bedtime again, while there is still enough 
daylight in the sky to make the pages of 
your book distinctly legible. Night, if 
there be any such season, hangs down a 
transparent veil through which the by- 
gone day beholds its successor ; or, if not 
quite true of the latitude of London, it 
may be soberly affirmed of the more north- 
em parts of the island, that To-morrow is 
bom before its Yesterday is dead. They 
exist together in the golden twilight, where 
the decrepit old day dimly discerns the face 
of the ominous infant ; and you, though a 
mere mortal, may simultaneously touch 
them both with one finger of recollection 
and another of prophecy. I cared not how 
long the day might be, nor how many of 
them. I had earned this repose by a long 
course of irksome toil and perturbation, 
and could have been content never to stray 
out of the limits of that suburban villa and 
its garden. If I lacked anything beyond, 
it would have satisfied me well enough to 
dream about it, instead of struggling for its 
actual possession. At least, this was the 
feeling of the moment ; although the tran- 
sitory, flitting, and irresponsible character 
of my life there, was perhaps the most en- 



370 OUR OLD HOME 

joyable element of all, as allowing me much 
of the comfort of house and home, without 
any sense of their weight upon my back. 
The nomadic life has great advantages, if 
we can find tents ready pitched for us at 
every stage. 

So much for the interior of our abode, — 
a spot of deepest quiet, within reach of the 
intensest activity. But, even when we 
stepped beyond our own gate, we were not 
shocked with any immediate presence of 
the great world. We were dwelling in one 
of those oases that have grown up (in com- 
paratively recent years, I believe) on the 
wide waste of Blackheath, which otherwise 
offers a vast extent of unoccupied ground 
in singular proximity to the metropolis. 
As a general thing, the proprietorship of 
the soil seems to exist in everybody and 
nobody; but exclusive rights have been 
obtained, here and there, chiefly by men 
whose daily concerns link them with Lon- 
don, so that you find their villas or boxes 
standing along village streets which have 
often more of an American aspect than the 
elder English settlements. The scene is 
semi-rural. Ornamental trees overshadow 
the sidewalks, and grassy margins border 
the wheel-tracks. The houses, to be sure. 



A LONDON SUBURB 371 

have certain points of difference from those 
of an American village, bearing tokens of 
architectural design, though seldom of in- 
dividual taste ; and, as far as possible, they 
stand aloof from the street, and separated 
each from its neighbor by hedge or fence, 
in accordance with the careful exclusive- 
ness of the English character, which impels 
the occupant, moreover, to cover the front 
of his dwelling with as much concealment 
of shrubbery as his limits will allow. 
Through the interstices, you catch glimpses 
of well-kept lawns, generally ornamented 
with flowers, and with what the English 
call rock-work, being heaps of ivy-grown 
stones and fossils, designed for romantic 
effect in a small way. Two or three of 
such village streets as are here described 
take a collective name, — as, for instance, 
Blackheath Park, — and constitute a kind 
of community of residents, with gateways, 
kept by a policeman, and a semi-privacy, 
stepping beyond which, you find yourself 
on the breezy heath. 

On this great, bare, dreary common I 
often went astray, as I afterwards did on 
the Campagna of Rome, and drew the air 
(tainted with London smoke though it 
might be) into my lungs by deep inspira- 



372 OUR OLD HOME 

tions, with a strange and unexpected sense 
of desert freedom. The misty atmosphere 
helps you to fancy a remoteness that per- 
haps does not quite exist. During the little 
time that it lasts, the solitude is as impres- 
sive as that of a Western prairie or forest ; 
but soon the railway shriek, a mile or two 
away, insists upon informing you of your 
whereabout ; or you recognize in the dis- 
tance some landmark that you may have 
known, — an insulated villa, perhaps, with 
its garden-wall around it, or the rudimental 
street of a new settlement which is sprout- 
ing on this otherwise barren soil. Half 
a century ago, the most frequent token 
of man's beneficent contiguity might have 
been a gibbet, and the creak, like a tavern 
sign, of a murderer swinging to and fro in 
irons. Blackheath, with its highwaymen 
and footpads, was dangerous in those days ; 
and even now, for aught I know, the West- 
ern prairie may still compare favorably with 
it as a safe region to go astray in. When 
I was acquainted with Blackheath, the in- 
genious device of garroting had recently 
come into fashion ; and I can remember, 
while crossing those waste places at mid- 
night, and hearing footsteps behind me, to 
have been sensibly encouraged by also 



A LONDON SUBURB 373 

hearing, not far off, the clinking hoof-tramp 
of one of the horse-patrols who do regular 
duty there. About sunset, or a little later, 
was the time when the broad and some- 
what desolate peculiarity of the heath 
seemed to me to put on its utmost impres- 
siveness. At that hour, finding myself on 
elevated ground, I once had a view of 
immense London, four or five miles off, 
with the vast Dome in the midst, and the 
towers of the two Houses of Parliament 
rising up into the smoky canopy, the thin- 
ner substance of which obscured a mass of 
things, and hovered about the objects that 
were most distinctly visible, — a glorious 
and sombre picture, dusky, awful, but irre- 
sistibly attractive, like a young man's dream 
of the great world, foretelling at that dis- 
tance a grandeur never to be fully realized. 
While I lived in that neighborhood, the 
tents of two or three sets of cricket-players 
were constantly pitched on Blackheath, and 
matches were going forward that seemed 
to involve the honor and credit of com- 
munities or counties, exciting an interest 
in everybody but myself, who cared not 
what part of England might glorify itself 
at the expense of another. It is necessary 
to be bom an Englishman, I believe, in 



374 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

order to enjoy this great national game ; at 
any rate, as a spectacle for an outside ob- 
server, I found it lazy, lingering, tedious, 
and utterly devoid of pictorial effects. 
Choice of other amusements was at hand. 
Butts for archery were established, and 
bows and arrows were to be let, at so many 
shots for a penny, — there being abundance 
of space for a farther flight-shot than any 
modem archer can lend to his shaft. Then 
there was an absurd game of throwing a 
stick at crockery-ware, which I have wit- 
nessed a hundred times, and personally 
engaged in once or twice, without ever 
having the satisfaction to see a bit of 
broken crockery. In other spots you found 
donkeys for children to ride, and ponies of 
a very meek and patient spirit, on which 
the Cockney pleasure-seekers of both sexes 
rode races and made wonderful displays of 
horsemanship. By way of refreshment 
there was gingerbread (but, as a true pa- 
triot, I must pronounce it greatly inferior 
to our native dainty), and ginger -beer, 
and probably stancher liquor among the 
booth-keeper's hidden stores. The fre- 
quent railway - trains, as well as the nu- 
merous steamers to Greenwich, have made 
the vacant portions of Blackheath a play- 



The Houses of Parliament 



A LONDON SUBURB 375 

ground and breathing-place for the Lon- 
doners, readily and very cheaply accessible ; 
so that, in view of this broader use and 
enjoyment, I a little grudged the tracts 
that have been filched away, so to speak, 
and individualized by thriving citizens. 
One sort of visitors especially interested 
me: they were schools of little boys or 
girls, under the guardianship of their in- 
structors, — charity schools, as I often sur- 
mised from their aspect, collected among 
dark alleys and squalid courts ; and hither 
they were brought to spend a summer af- 
ternoon, these pale little progeny of the 
sunless nooks of London, who had never 
known that the sky was any broader than 
that narrow and vapory strip above their 
native lane. I fancied that they took but 
a doubtful pleasure, being half affrighted 
at the wide, empty space overhead and 
round about them, finding the air too little 
medicated with smoke, soot, and graveyard 
exhalations, to be breathed with comfort, 
and feeling shelterless and lost because 
grimy London, their slatternly and disrep- 
utable mother, had suffered them to stray 
out of her arms. 

Passing among these holiday people, we 
come to one of the gateways of Greenwich 



376 OUR OLD HOME 

Park, opening through an old brick wall 
It admits us from the bare heath into a 
scene of antique cultivation and woodland 
ornament, traversed in all directions by 
avenues of trees, many of which bear to- 
kens of a venerable age. These broad and 
well-kept pathways rise and decline over 
the elevations, and along the bases of 
gentle hills, which diversify the whole sur- 
face of the park. The loftiest and most 
abrupt of them (though but of very mod- 
erate height) is one of the earth's noted 
summits, and may hold up its head with 
Mont Blanc and Chimborazo, as being the 
site of Greenwich Observatory, where, if 
all nations will consent to say so, the longi- 
tude of our great globe begins. I used to 
regulate my watch by the broad dial-plate 
against the observatory wall, and felt it 
pleasant to be standing at the very centre 
of Time and Space. 

There are lovelier parks than this in the 
neighborhood of London, richer scenes of 
greensward and cultivated trees ; and Ken- 
sington, especially, in a summer afternoon, 
has seemed to me as delightful as any 
place can or ought to be, in a world which, 
some time or other, we must quit. But 
Greenwich, too, is beautiful, — a spot where 



A LONDON SUBURB 377 

the art of man has conspired with Nature, 
as if he and the great mother had taken 
counsel together how to make a pleasant 
scene, and the longest liver of the two had 
faithfully carried out their mutual design. 
It has, likewise, an additional charm of its 
own, because, to all appearance, it is the 
people's property and play -ground in a 
much more genuine way than the aristo- 
cratic resorts in closer vicinity to the me- 
tropolis. It affords one of the instances 
in which the monarch's property is actually 
the people's, and shows how much more 
natural is their relation to the sovereign 
than to the nobility, which pretends to 
hold the intervening space between the 
two : for a nobleman makes a paradise 
only for himself, and fills it with his own 
pomp and pride; whereas the people are 
sooner or later the legitimate inheritors of 
whatever beauty kings and queens create, 
as now of Greenwich Park. On Sundays, 
when the sun shone, and even on those 
grim and sombre days when, if it do not 
actually rain, the English persist in calling 
it fine weather, it was too good to see how 
sturdily the plebeians trod under their own 
oaks, and what fullness of simple enjoy- 
ment they evidently found there. They 



378 OUR OLD HOME 

were the people, — not the populace, — 
specimens of a class whose Sunday clothes 
are a distinct kind of garb from their week- 
day ones : and this, in England, implies 
wholesome habits of life, daily thrift, and 
a rank above the lowest. I longed to be 
acquainted with them, in order to investi- 
gate what manner of folks they were, what 
sort of households they kept, their politics, 
their religion, their tastes, and whether 
they were as narrow-minded as their bet- 
ters. There can be very little doubt of 
it ; an Englishman is English, in whatever 
rank of life, though no more intensely so, 
I should imagine, as an artisan or petty 
shopkeeper, than as a member of Parlia- 
ment. 

The English character, as I conceive it, 
is by no means a very lofty one ; they 
seem to have a great deal of earth and 
grimy dust clinging about them, as was 
probably the case with the stalwart and 
quarrelsome people who sprouted up out of 
the soil, after Cadmus had sown the drag- 
on's teeth. And yet, though the individ- 
ual Englishman is sometimes preternatu- 
rally disagreeable, an observer standing 
aloof has a sense of natural kindness to- 
wards them in the lump. They adhere 



A LONDON SUBURB 379 

closer to the original simplicity in which 
mankind was created than we ourselves 
do ; they love, quarrel, laugh, cry, and turn 
their actual selves inside out with greater 
freedom than any class of Americans would 
consider decorous. It was often so with 
these holiday folks in Greenwich Park ; 
and, ridiculous as it may sound, I fancy 
myself to have caught very satisfactory 
glimpses of Arcadian life among the Cock- 
neys there, hardly beyond the scope of 
Bow -Bells, picnicking in the grass, un- 
couthly gamboling on the broad slopes, or 
straying in motley groups or by single 
pairs of love-making youths and maidens, 
along the sun-streaked avenues. Even the 
omnipresent policemen or park-keepers 
could not disturb the beatific impression 
on my mind. One feature, at all events, 
of the Golden Age was to be seen in the 
herds of deer that encountered you in the 
somewhat remoter recesses of the park, 
and were readily prevailed upon to nibble 
a bit of bread out of your hand. But, 
though no wrong had ever been done them, 
and no horn had sounded nor hound bayed 
at the heels of themselves or their antlered 
progenitors for centuries past, there was 
still an apprehensiveness lingering in their 



38o OUR OLD HOME 

hearts ; so that a slight movement of the 
hand or a step too near would send a whole 
squadron of them scampering away, just as 
a breath scatters the winged seeds of a 
dandelion. 

The aspect of Greenwich Park, with all 
those festal people wandering through it, 
resembled that of the Borghese Gardens 
under the walls of Rome, on a Sunday or 
Saint's day ; but, I am not ashamed to say, 
it a little disturbed whatever grimly ghost 
of Puritanic strictness might be lingering 
in the sombre depths of a New England 
heart, among severe and sunless remem- 
brances of the Sabbaths of childhood, and 
pangs of remorse for ill-gotten lessons in 
the catechism, and for erratic fantasies or 
hardly suppressed laughter in the middle 
of long sermons. Occasionally, I tried to 
take the long-hoarded sting out of these 
compunctious smarts by attending divine 
service in the open air. On a cart outside 
of the park-wall (and, if I mistake not, at 
two or three corners and secluded spots 
within the park itself) a Methodist preacher 
uplifts his voice and speedily gathers a con- 
gregation, his zeal for whose religious wel- 
fare impels the good man to such earnest 
vociferation and toilsome gesture that his 



A LONDON SUBURB 38 1 

perspiring face is quickly in a stew. His 
inward flame conspires with the too fervid 
sun, and makes a positive martyr of him, 
even in the very exercise of his pious 
labor; insomuch that he purchases every 
atom of spiritual increment to his hearers 
by loss of his own corporeal solidity, and, 
should his discourse last long enough, must 
finally exhale before their eyes. If I smile 
at him, be it understood, it is not in scorn ; 
he performs his sacred office more accept- 
ably than many a prelate. These wayside 
services attract numbers who would not 
otherwise listen to prayer, sermon, or 
hymn, from one year's end to another, and 
who, for that very reason, are the auditors 
most likely to be moved by the preacher's 
eloquence. Yonder Greenwich pensioner, 
too, — in his costume of three - cornered 
hat, and old-fashioned, brass-buttoned blue 
coat with ample skirts, which makes him 
look like a contemporary of Admiral Ben- 
bow, — that tough old mariner may hear a 
word or two which will go nearer his heart 
than anything that the chaplain of the 
Hospital can be expected to deliver. I al- 
ways noticed, moreover, that a considera- 
ble proportion of the audience were sol- 
diers, who came hither with a day's leave 



382 OUR OLD HOME 

from Woolwich, — hardy veterans in as- 
pect, some of whom wore as many as four 
or five medals, Crimean or East Indian, on 
the breasts of their scarlet coats. The mis- 
cellaneous congregation listen with every 
appearance of heartfelt interest ; and, for 
my own part, I must frankly acknowledge 
that I never found it possible to give five 
minutes* attention to any other English 
preaching: so cold and commonplace are 
the homilies that pass for such, under the 
aged roofs of churches. And as for cathe- 
drals, the sermon is an exceedingly diminu- 
tive and unimportant part of the religious 
services, — if, indeed, it be considered a 
part, — among the pompous ceremonies, 
the intonations, and the resounding and 
lofty-voiced strains of the choristers. The 
magnificence of the setting quite dazzles 
out what we Puritans look upon as the 
jewel of the whole affair ; for I presume 
that it was our forefathers, the Dissenters 
in England and America, who gave the 
sermon its present prominence in the Sab- 
bath exercises.^ 

1 We all, together with Mr. Squarey, went to Chester 
last Sunday, and attended the cathedral service. . . . 
In America the sermon is the principal thing ; but here 
all this magnificent ceremonial of prayer and chanted 



A LONDON SUBURB 383 

The Methodists are probably the first 
and only Englishmen who have worshiped 
in the open air since the ancient Britons 
listened to the preaching of the Druids; 
and it reminded me of that old priesthood, 
to see certain memorials of their dusky 
epoch — not religious, however, but war- 
like — in the neighborhood of the spot 
where the Methodist was holding* forth. 
These were some ancient barrows, beneath 
or within which are supposed to lie buried 
the slain of a forgotten or doubtfully re- 
membered battle, fought on the site of 
Greenwich Park as long ago as two or 
three centuries after the birth of Christ. 
Whatever may once have been their height 
and magnitude, they have now scarcely 
more prominence in the actual scene than 
the battle of which they are the sole mon- 
uments retains in history, — being only a 
few mounds side by side, elevated a little 
above the surface of the ground, ten or 
twelve feet in diameter, with a shallow de- 
pression in their summits. When one of 
them was opened, not long since, no bones, 

responses and psalms and anthems was the setting to a 
short, meagre discourse, which would not have been con- 
sidered of any account among the elaborate intellectual 
efforts of New England ministers. — I. 466. 



384 OUR OLD HOME 

nor armor, nor weapons were discovered, 
nothing but some small jewels, and a tuft 
of hair, — perhaps from the head of a val- 
iant general, who, dying on the field of his 
victory, bequeathed this lock, together with 
his indestructible fame, to after ages. The 
hair and jewels are probably in the British 
Museum, where the potsherds and rubbish 
of inn\imerable generations make the vis- 
itor wish that each passing century could 
carry off all its fragments and relics along 
with it, instead of adding them to the con- 
tinually accumulating burden which human 
knowledge is compelled to lug upon its 
back.^ As for the fame, I know not what 
has become of it. 

^ The fact is, the world is accumulating too many 
materials for knowledge. We do not recognize for rub- 
bish what is really rubbish ; and under this head might 
be reckoned very many things one sees in the British 
Museum : and, as each generation leaves its fragments 
and potsherds behind it, such will finally be the desper- 
ate conclusion of the learned. — II. 143. 

Yesterday I went out at about twelve, and visited 
the British Museum; an exceedingly tiresome affair. 
It quite crushes a person to see so much at once, and 
I wandered from hall to hall with a weary and heavy 
heart, wishing (Heaven forgive me!) that the Elgin 
Marbles and the frieze of the Parthenon were all burnt 
into lime, and that the granite Egyptian statues were 
hewn and squared into building-stones, and that the 
mummies had all turned to dust two thousand years 



A LONDON SUBURB 385 

After traversing the park, we come into 
the neighborhood of Greenwich Hospital, 
and will pass through one of its spacious 
gateways for the sake of glancing at an es- 
tablishment which does more honor to the 
heart of England than anything else that 
I am acquainted with, of a public nature. 
It is very seldom that we can be sensible 
of anything like kindliness in the acts or 
relations of such an artificial thing as a 
National Government. Our own govern- 
ment, I should conceive, is too much an 
abstraction ever to feel any sympathy for 
its maimed sailors and soldiers, though it 
will doubtless do them a severe kind of 
justice, as chilling as the touch of steel. 
But it seemed to me that the Greenwich 
pensioners are the petted children of the 
nation, and that the government is their 
dry-nurse, and that the old men themselves 
have a child-like consciousness of their 

ago ; and, in fine, that all the material relics of so many 
successive ages had disappeared ^vath the generations 
that produced them. The present is burdened too 
much with the past. We have not time, in our earthly 
existence, to appreciate what is warm with life, and im- 
mediately around us ; yet we heap up these old shells, 
out of which human life has long emerged, casting them 
off forever. I do not see how future ages are to stagger 
onward under all this dead weight, with the additions 
that will be continually made to it. — II. 207. 



386 OUR OLD HOME 

position. Very likely, a better sort of life 
might have been arranged, and a wiser 
care bestowed on them ; but, such as it is, 
it enables them to spend a sluggish, care- 
less, comfortable old age, grumbling, growl- 
ing, gruff, as if all the foul weather of their 
past years were pent up within them, yet 
not much more discontented than such 
weather-beaten and battle - battered frag- 
ments of human kind must inevitably be. 
Their home, in its outward form, is on a 
very magnificent plan. Its germ was a 
royal palace, the full expansion of which 
has resulted in a series of edifices externally 
more beautiful than any English palace 
that I have seen, consisting of several 
quadrangles of stately architecture, united 
by colonnades and gravel -walks, and in- 
closing grassy squares, with statues in the 
centre, the whole extending along the 
Thames. It is built of marble, or very 
light - colored stone, in the classic style, 
with pillars and porticos, which (to my own 
taste, and, I fancy, to that of the old sail- 
ors) produce but a cold and shivery effect 
in the English climate. Had I been the 
architect, I would have studied the charac- 
ters, habits, and predilections of nautical 
people in Wapping, Rotherhithe, and the 



A LONDON SUBURB 387 

neighborhood of the Tower (places which 
I visited- in affectionate remembrance of 
Captain TLemuel Gulliver, and other actual 
or mythological navigators), and would 
have built the hospital in a kind of ethe- 
real similitude to the narrow, dark, ugly, 
and inconvenient, but snug and cosey home- 
liness of the sailor boarding-houses there. 
There can be no question that all the above 
attributes, or enough of them to satisfy an 
old sailor's heart, might be reconciled with 
architectural beauty and the wholesome 
contrivances of modem dwellings, and thus 
a novel and genuine style of building be 
given to the world. 

But their countrymen meant kindly by 
the old fellows in assigning them the an- 
cient royal site where Elizabeth held her 
court and Charles 11. began to build his 
palace. So far as the locality went, it was 
treating them like so many kings; and, 
with a discreet abundance of grog, beer, 
and tobacco, there was perhaps little more 
to be accomplished in behalf of men whose 
whole previous lives have tended to unfit 
them for old age. Their chief discomfort 
is probably for lack of something to do or 
think about. But, judging by the few 
whom I saw, a listless habit seems to have 



388 OUR OLD HOME 

crept over them, a dim dreaminess of 
mood, in which they sit between asleep 
and awake, and find the long day ^rearing 
towards bedtime without its having made 
any distinct record of itself upon their 
consciousness. Sitting on stone benches 
in the sunshine, they subside into slumber, 
or nearly so, and start at the approach of 
footsteps echoing under the colonnades, 
ashamed to be caught napping, and rous- 
ing themselves in a hurry, as formerly on 
the midnight watch at sea. In their bright- 
est moments, they gather in groups and 
bore one another with endless sea -yams 
about their voyages under famous admirals, 
and about gale and calm, battle and chase, 
and all that class of incident that has its 
sphere on the deck and in the hollow in- 
terior of a ship, where their world has ex- 
clusively been. For other pastime, they 
quarrel among themselves, comrade with 
comrade, and perhaps shake paralytic fists 
in furrowed faces. If inclined for a little 
exercise, they can bestir their wooden legs 
on the long esplanade that borders by the 
Thames, criticising the rig of passing ships, 
and firing off volleys of malediction at the 
steamers, which have made the sea another 
element than that they used to be ac- 



A LONDON SUBURB 589 

quainted with. All this is but cold com- 
fort for the evening of life, yet may com- 
pare rather favorably with the preceding 
portions of it, comprising little save im- 
prisonment on shipboard, in the course of 
which they have been tossed all about the 
world and caught hardly a glimpse of it, 
forgetting what grass and trees are, and 
never finding out what woman is, though 
they may have encountered a painted spec- 
tre which they took for her. A country 
owes much to human beings whose bodies 
she has worn out and whose immortal part 
she has left undeveloped or debased, as 
we find them here ; and having wasted an 
idle paragraph upon them, let me now sug- 
gest that old men have a kind of suscepti- 
bility to moral impressions, and even (up 
to an advanced period) a receptivity of 
truth, which often appears to come to them 
after the active time of life is past. The 
Greenwich pensioners might prove better 
subjects for true education now than in 
their schoolboy days ; but then where is 
the Normal School that could educate in- 
structors for such a class } 

There is a beautiful chapel for the pen- 
sioners, in the classic style, over the altar 
of which hangs a picture by West. I 



390 OUR OLD HOME 

never could look at it long enough to make 
out its design; for this artist (though it 
pains . me to say it of so respectable a 
countryman) had a gift of frigidity, a knack 
of grinding ice into his paint, a power of 
stupefying the spectator's perceptions and 
quelling his sympathy, beyond any other 
limner that ever handled a brush. In spite 
of many pangs of conscience, I seize this 
opportunity to wreak a lifelong abhorrence 
upon the poor, blameless man, for the sake 
of that dreary picture of Lear, an explosion 
of frosty fury, that used to be a bugbear to 
me in the Athenaeum Exhibition. Would 
fire bum it, I wonder ? 

The principal thing that they have to 
show you, at Greenwich Hospital, is the 
Painted Hall. It is a splendid and spacious 
room, at least a hundred feet long and half 
as high, with a ceiling painted in fresco by 
Sir James Thomhill. As a work of art, I 
presume, this frescoed canopy has little 
merit, though it produces an exceedingly 
rich effect by its brilliant coloring and as a 
specimen of magnificent upholstery. The 
walls of the grand apartment are entirely 
covered with pictures, many of them repre- 
senting battles and other naval incidents 
that were once fresher in the world's mem- 



A LONDON SUBURB 391 

ory than now, but chiefly portraits of old 
admirals, comprising the whole line of he- 
roes who have trod the quarter-decks of 
British ships for more than two hundred 
years back. Next to a tomb in Westmin- 
ster Abbey, which was Nelson's most ele- 
vated object of ambition, it would seem to 
be the highest meed of a naval warrior to 
have his portrait hung up in the Painted 
Hall ; but, by dint of victory upon victory, 
these illustrious personages have grown to 
be a mob, and by no means a very inter- 
esting one, so far as regards the character 
of the faces here depicted. They are gen- 
erally commonplace, and often singularly 
stolid ; and I have observed (both in the 
Painted Hall and elsewhere, and not only 
in portraits, but in the actual presence of 
such renowned people as I have caught 
glimpses of) that the countenances of he- 
roes are not nearly so impressive as those 
of statesmen, — except, of course, in the 
rare instances where warlike ability has 
been but the one-sided manifestation of a 
profound genius for managing the world's 
affairs. 

Nine tenths of these distinguished ad- 
mirals, for instance, if their faces tell 
truth, must needs have been blockheads, 



392 OUR OLD HOME 

and might have served better, one would 
imagine, as wooden figure-heads for their 
own ships than to direct any difficult and 
intricate scheme of action from the quar- 
ter-deck. It is doubtful whether the same 
kind of men will hereafter meet with a 
similar degree of success; for they were 
victorious chiefly through the old English 
hardihood, exercised in a field of which 
modem science had not yet got possession. 
Rough valor has lost something of its value 
since their days, and must continue to sink 
lower and lower in the comparative esti- 
mate of warlike qualities. In the next 
naval war, as between England and France, 
I would bet, methinks, upon the French- 
man's head. 

It is remarkable, however, that the great 
naval hero of England — the greatest, 
therefore, in the world, and of all time 
— had none of the stolid characteristics 
that belong to his class, and cannot fairly 
be accepted as their representative man. 
Foremost in the roughest of professions, 
he was as delicately organized as a woman, 
and as painfully sensitive as a poet. More 
than any other Englishman he won the love 
and admiration of his country, but won 
them through the efficacy of qualities that 



A LONDON SUBURB 393 

are not English, or, at all events, were 
intensified in his case and made poignant 
and powerful by something morbid in the 
man, which put him otherwise at cross- 
purposes with life. He was a man of 
genius ; and genius in an Englishman (not 
to cite the good old simile of a pearl in the 
oyster) is usually a symptom of a lack of 
balance in the general making-up of the 
character ; as we may satisfy ourselves by 
running over the list of their poets, for 
example, and observing how many of them 
have been sickly or deformed, and how 
often their lives have been darkened by 
insanity. An ordinary Englishman is the 
healthiest and wholesomest of human be- 
ings ; an extraordinary one is altnost always, 
in one way or another, a sick man. It was 
so with Lord Nelson. The wonderful con- 
trast or relation between his personal 
qualities, the position which he held, and 
the. life that he lived, makes him as inter- 
esting a personage as all history has to 
show ; and it is a pity that Southey's biog- 
raphy — so good in its superficial way, and 
yet so inadequate as regards any real delin- 
eation of the man — should have taken the 
subject out of the hands of some writer 
endowed with more delicate appreciation 



394 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

and deeper insight than that genuine Eng- 
lishman possessed. But Southey accom- 
plished his own purpose, which, apparently, 
was to present his hero as a pattern for 
England's young midshipmen. 

But the English capacity for hero-wor- 
ship is full to the brim with what they 
are able to comprehend of Lord Nelson's 
character. Adjoining the Painted Hall is 
a smaller room, the walls of which are 
completely and exclusively adorned with 
pictures of the great Admiral's exploits. 
We see the frail, ardent man in all the 
most noted events of his career, from his 
encounter with a Polar Bear to his death 
at Trafalgar, quivering here and there about 
the room like a blue, lambent flame. No 
Briton ever enters that apartment without 
feeling the beef and ale of his composition 
stirred to its depths, and finding himself 
changed into a hero for the nonce, however 
stolid his brain, however tough his heart, 
however unexcitable his ordinary mood. 
To confess the truth, I myself, though be- 
longing to another parish, have been deeply 
sensible to the sublime recollections there 
aroused, acknowledging that Nelson ex- 
pressed his life in a kind of symbolic poetry 
which I had as much right to understand 



A LONDON SUBURB 395 

as these burly islanders.^ Cool and critical 
observer as I sought to be, I enjoyed their 
burst of honest indignation when a visitor 
(not an American, I am glad to say) thrust 
his walking-stick almost into Nelson's face, 
in one of the pictures, by way of pointing 
a remark ; and the bystanders immediately 
glowed like so many hot coals, and would 
probably have consumed the ofEender in 
their wrath, had he not effected his retreat. 
But the most sacred objects of all are 
two of Nelson's coats, under separate glass 
cases. One is that which he wore at the 
Battle of the Nile, and it is now sadly in- 
jured by moths, which will quite destroy it 
in a few years, unless its guardians preserve 
it as we do Washington's military suit by 
occasionally baking it in an oven. The 
other is the coat in which he received his 
death-wound at Trafalgar. On its breast 
are sewed three or four stars and orders 
of knighthood, now much dimmed by time 
and damp, but which glittered brightly 
enough on the battle-day to draw the fatal 

^ Even the great sailor, Nelson, was unlike his country- 
men 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. — II. 531. 



396 OUR OLD HOME 

aim of a French marksman. The bullet- 
hole is visible on the shoulder, as well as a 
part of the golden tassels of an epaulet, the 
rest of which was shot away. Over the 
coat is laid a white waistcoat, with a great 
blood-stain on it, out of which all the red- 
ness has utterly faded, leaving it of a dingy 
yellow hue, in the threescore years since 
that blood gushed out. Yet it was once 
the reddest blood in England, — Nelson's 
blood ! 

The hospital stands close adjacent to the 
town of Greenwich, which- will always re- 
tain a kind of festal aspect in my memory, 
in consequence of my having first become 
acquainted with it on Easter Monday. Till 
a few years ago, the first three days of 
Easter were a carnival season in this old 
town, during which the idle and disrepu- 
table part of London poured itself into the 
streets like an inundation of the Thames, 
— as unclean as that turbid mixture of the 
offscourings of the vast city, and overflow- 
ing with its grimy pollution whatever rural 
innocence, if any, might be found in the 
suburban neighborhood. This festivity was 
called Greenwich Fair, the final one of 
which, in an immemorial succession, it was 
my fortune to behold. 



A LONDON SUBURB 397 

If I had bethought myself of going 
through the fair with a note-book and 
pencil, jotting down all the prominent ob- 
jects, I doubt not that the result pfiight have 
been a sketch of English life quite as char- 
acteristic and worthy of historical preserva- 
tion as an account of the Roman Carnival 
Having neglected to do so, I remember 
little more than a confusion of unwashed 
and shabbily dressed people, intermixed 
with some smarter figures, but, on the 
whole, presenting a mobbish appearance 
such as we never see in our own country. 
It taught me to understand why Shake- 
speare, in speaking of a crowd, so often 
alludes to its attribute of evil odor. The 
common people of England, I am afraid, 
have no daily familiarity with even so 
necessary a thing as a wash-bowl, not to 
mention a bathing-tub. And, furthermore, 
it is one mighty difference between them 
and us, that every man and woman on our 
side of the water has a working-day suit 
and a holiday suit, and is occasionally as 
fresh as a rose, whereas, in the good old 
country, the griminess of his labor or squa- 
lid habits clings forever to the individual, 
and gets to be a part of his personal sub- 
stance. These are broad facts, involving 



398 OUR OLD HOME 

great corollaries and dependencies. There 
are really, if you stop to think about it, few 
sadder spectacles in the world than a rag- 
ged coat, or a soiled and shabby gown, at a 
festival. 

This unfragrant crowd was exceedingly 
dense, being welded together, as it were, 
in the street through which we strove to 
make our way. On either side were oyster- 
stands, stalls of oranges (a very prevalent 
fruit in England, where they give the with- 
ered ones a guise of freshness by boiling 
them), and booths covered with old sail- 
cloth, in which the commodity that most 
attracted the eye was gilt gingerbread. It 
was so completely enveloped in Dutch 
gilding that I did not at first recognize an 
old acquaintance, but wondered what those 
golden crowns and images could be. There 
were likewise drums and other toys for 
small children, and a variety of showy and 
worthless articles for children of a larger 
growth ; though it perplexed me to imagine 
who, in such a mob, could have the inno- 
cent taste to desire playthings, or the 
money to pay for them. Not that I have 
a right to accuse the mob, on my own 
knowledge, of being any less innocent than 
a set of cleaner and better dressed people 



A LONDON SUBURB 399 

might have been ; for, though one of them 
stole my pocket-handkerchief, I could not 
but consider it fair game, under the circum- 
stances, and was grateful to the thief for 
sparing me my purse. They were quiet, 
civil, anc^ remarkably good-humored, mak- 
ing due allowance for the national gruff- 
ness; there was no riot, no tumultuous 
swaying to and fro of the mass, such as I 
have often noted in an American crowd ; 
no noise of voices, except frequent bursts 
of laughter, hoarse or shrill, and a widely 
diffused, inarticulate murmur, resembling 
nothing so much as the rumbling of the 
tide among the arches of London Bridge. 
What immensely perplexed me was a sharp, 
angry sort of rattle, in all quarters, far off 
and close at hand, and sometimes right at 
my own back, where it sounded as if the 
stout fabric of my English surtout had 
been ruthlessly rent in twain; and every- 
body's clothes, all over the fair, were evi- 
dently being torn asunder in the same way. 
By and by, I discovered that this strange 
noise was produced by a little instrument 
called " The Fun of the Fair, " — a sort of 
rattle, consisting of a wooden wheel, the 
cogs of which turn against a thin slip of 
wood, and so produce a rasping sound when 



400 OUR OLD HOME 

drawn smartly against a person's back. 
The ladies draw their rattles against the 
backs of their male friends (and everybody 
passes for a friend at Greenwich Fair), and 
the young men return the compliment on 
the broad British backs of the laiiies ; and 
all are bound by immemorial custom to 
take it in good part and be merry at the 
joke. As it was one of my prescribed 
official duties to give an account of such 
mechanical contrivances as might be un- 
known in my own country, I have thought 
it right to be thus particular in describing 
the Fun of the Fair. 

But this was far from being the sole 
amusement. There were theatrical booths, 
in front of which were pictorial representa- 
tions of the scenes to be enacted within ; 
and anon a drummer emerged from one of 
them, thumping on a terribly lax drum, 
and followed by the entire dramatis per- 
soncB^ who ranged themselves on a wooden 
platform in front of the theatre. They 
were dressed in character, but wofuUy 
shabby, with very dingy and wrinkled 
white tights, threadbare cotton - velvets, 
crumpled silks, and crushed muslin, and 
all the gloss and glory gone out of their 
aspect and attire, seen thus in the broad 



A LONDON SUBURB 40I 

daylight and after a long series of perform- 
ances. They sang a song together, and 
withdrew into the theatre, whither the pub- 
lic were invited to follow them at the in- 
considerable cost of a penny a ticket. Be- 
fore another booth stood a pair of brawny 
fighting-men, displaying their muscle, and 
soliciting patronage for an exhibition of 
the noble British art of pugilism. There 
were pictures of giants, monsters, and out- 
landish beasts, most prodigious, to be sure, 
and worthy of all admiration, unless the 
artist had gone incomparably beyond his 
subject. Jugglers proclaimed aloud the 
miracles which they were prepared to 
work; and posture-makers dislocated every 
joint of their bodies and tied their limbs 
into inextricable knots, wherever they 
could find space to spread a little square 
of carpet on the ground. In the midst of 
the confusion, while everybody was tread- 
ing on his neighbor's toes, some little boys 
were very solicitous to brush your boots. 
These lads, I believe, are a product of 
modem society, — at least, no older than 
the time of Gay, who celebrates their ori- 
gin in his " Trivia ; *' but in most other 
respects the scene reminded me of Bun- 
yan's description of Vanity Fair, — nor is 



402 OUR OLD HOME 

it at all improbable that the Pilgrim may 
have been a merry-maker here in his wild 
youth. 

It seemed very singular — though, of 
course, I immediately classified it as an 
English characteristic — to see a great 
many portable weighing-machines, the own- 
ers of which cried out continually and 
amain, " Come, know your weight ! Come, 
come, know your weight to-day ! Come, 
know your weight ! " and a multitude of 
people, mostly large in the girth, were 
moved by this vociferation ' to sit down in 
the machines. I know not whether they 
valued themselves on their beef, and es- 
timated their standing as members of so- 
ciety at so much a pound ; but I shall set it 
down as a national peculiarity, and a sym- 
bol of the prevalence of the earthly over 
the spiritual element, that Englishmen are 
wonderfully bent on knowing how solid and 
physically ponderous they are. 

On the whole, having an appetite for the 
brown bread and the tripe and sausages 
of life, as well as for its nicer cates and 
dainties, I enjoyed the scene, and was 
amused at the sight of a gruff old Green- 
wich pensioner, who, forgetful of the sailor- 
frolics of his young days, stood looking 



A LONDON SUBURB 403 

with grim disapproval at all these vanities. 
Thus we squeezed our way through the 
mob-jammed town, and emerged into the 
Park, where, likewise, we met a great many 
merry-makers, but with freer space for 
their gambols than in the streets. We 
soon found ourselves the targets for a can- 
nonade with oranges (most of them in a 
decayed condition), which went humming 
past our ears from the vantage-ground of 
neighboring hillocks, sometimes hitting our 
sacred persons with an inelastic thump. 
This was one of the privileged freedoms 
of the time, and was nowise to be resented, 
except by returning the salute. Many per- 
sons were running races, hand in hand, 
down the declivities, especially that steep- 
est one on the summit of which stands the 
world-central Observatory, and (as in the 
race of life) the partners were usually male 
and female, and often caught a tumble to- 
gether before reaching the bottom of the 
hill. Hereabouts we were pestered and 
haunted by two young girls, the elder not 
more than thirteen, teasing us to buy 
matches ; and finding no market for their 
commodity, the taller one suddenly turned 
a somerset before our faces, and rolled 
heels over head from top to bottom of the 



404 OUR OLD HOME 

hill on which we stood. Then, scrambling 
up the acclivity, the topsy-turvy trollop 
offered us her matches again, as demurely 
as if she had never flung aside her equili- 
brium ; so that, dreading a repetition of 
the feat, we gave her sixpence and an ad- 
monition, and enjoined her never to do so 
any more. 

The most curious amusement that we 
witnessed here — or anywhere else, indeed 
— was an ancient and hereditary pastime 
called "Kissing in the Ring." I shall de- 
scribe the sport exactly as I saw it, although 
an English friend assures me that there 
are certain ceremonies with a handker- 
chief, which make it much more decorous 
and graceful. A handkerchief, indeed ! 
There was no such thing in the crowd, ex- 
cept it were the one which they had just 
filched out of my pocket. It is one of the 
simplest kinds of games, needing little or 
no practice to make the player altogether 
perfect ; and the manner of it is this : A 
ring is formed (in the present case, it was 
of large circumference and thickly gemmed 
around with faces, mostly on the broad 
grin), into the centre of which steps an ad- 
venturous youth, and, looking round the 
circle, selects whatever maiden may most 



A LONDON SUBURB 405 

delight his eye. He presents his hand 
(which she is bound to accept), leads her 
into the centre, salutes her on the lips, and 
retires, taking his stand in the expectant 
circle. The girl, in her turn, throws a 
favorable regard on some fortunate young 
man, offers her hand to lead him forth, 
makes him happy with a maidenly kiss, 
and withdraws to hide her blushes, if any 
there be, among the simpering faces in the 
ring; while the favored swain loses no 
time in transferring her salute to the pret- 
tiest and plumpest among the many mouths 
that are primming themselves in anticipa- 
tion. And thus the thing goes on, till all 
the festive throng are inwreathed and in- 
tertwined into an endless and inextricable 
chain of kisses ; though, indeed, it smote 
me with compassion to reflect that some 
forlorn pair of lips might be left out, and 
never know the triumph of a salute, after 
throwing aside so many delicate reserves 
for the sake of winning it. If the young 
men had any chivalry, there was a fair 
chance to display it by kissing the home- 
liest damsel in the circle. 

To be frank, however, at the first glance, 
and to my American eye, they looked all 
homely alike, and the chivalry that I sug- 



406 OUR OLD HOME 

gest is more than I could have been ca- 
pable of, at any period of my life. They 
seemed to be country-lasses, of sturdy and 
wholesome aspect, with coarse-grained, 
cabbage-rosy cheeks, and, I am willing to 
suppose, a stout texture of moral principle, 
such as would bear a good deal of rough 
usage without suffering much detriment. 
But how unlike the trim little damsels of 
my native land ! I desire above all things 
to be courteous ; but, since the plain truth 
must be told, the soil and climate of Eng- 
land produce feminine beauty as rarely as 
they do delicate fruit ; and though admi- 
rable specimens of both are to be met with, 
they are the hot-house ameliorations of re- 
fined society, and apt, moreover, to relapse 
into the coarseness of the original stock. 
The men are manlike, but the women are 
not beautiful, though the female Bull be 
well enough adapted to the male. To re- 
turn to the lasses of Greenwich Fair, their 
charms were few, and their behavior, per- 
haps, not altogether commendable ; and 
yet it was impossible not to feel a degree 
of faith in their innocent intentions, with 
such a half-bashful zest and entire sim- 
plicity did they keep up their part of the 
game. It put the spectator in good-humor 



A LONDON SUBURB 407 

to look at them, because there was still 
something of the old Arcadian life, the 
secure freedom of the antique age, in their 
way of surrendering their lips to strangers, 
as if there were no evil or impurity in the 
world. As for the young men, they were 
chiefly specimens of the vulgar sediment 
of London life, often shabbily genteel, 
rowdyish, pale, wearing the unbrushed coat, 
unshifted linen, and unwashed faces of 
yesterday, as well as the haggardness of 
last night's jollity in a gin-shop. Gather- 
ing their character from these tokens, I 
wondered whether there were any reason- 
able prospect of their fair partners return- 
ing to their rustic homes with as much in- 
nocence (whatever were its amount or qual- 
ity) as they brought to Greenwich Fair, in 
spite of the perilous familiarity established 
by Kissing in the Ring. 

The manifold disorders resulting from 
the fair, at which a vast city was brought 
into intimate relations with a comparatively 
rural district, have at length led to its sup- 
pression ; this was the very last celebration 
of it, and brought to a close the broad- 
mouthed merriment of many hundred years. 
Thus my poor sketch, faint as its colors 
are, may acquire some little value in the 



4d8 our old home 

reader's eyes from the consideration that 
no observer of the coming time will ever 
have an opportunity to give a better. I 
should find it difficult to believe, however, 
that the queer pastime just described, or 
any moral mischief to which that and other 
customs might pave the way, can have led 
to the overthrow of Greenwich Fair; for 
it has often seemed to me that Englishmen 
of station and respectability, unless of a 
peculiarly philanthropic turn, have neither 
any faith in the feminine purity of the 
lower orders of their countrywomen, nor 
the slightest value for it, allowing its pos- 
sible existence. The distinction of ranks 
is so marked, that the English cottage 
damsel holds a position somewhat analogous 
to that of the negro girl in our Southern 
States. Hence comes inevitable detriment 
to the moral condition of those men them- 
selves, who forget that the humblest wo- 
man has a right and a duty to hold herself 
in the same sanctity as the highest. The 
subject cannot well be discussed in these 
pages; but I offer it as a serious convic- 
tion, from what I have been able to observe, 
that the England of to-day is the unscrupu- 
lous old England of Tom Jones and Joseph 
Andrews, Humphrey Clinker and Roder- 



A LONDON SUBURB 409 

ick Random ; and in our refined era, just 
the same as at that more free-spoken epoch, 
this singular people has a certain contempt 
for any fine -strained purity, any special 
squeamishness, as they consider it, on the 
part of an ingenuous youth. They appear 
to look upon it as a suspicious phenomenon 
in the masculine character. 

Nevertheless, I by no means take upon 
me to affirm that English morality, as re- 
gards the phase here alluded to, is really at 
a lower point than our own. Assuredly, I 
hope so, because, making a higher preten- 
sion, or, at all events, more carefully hiding 
whatever may be amiss, we are either better 
than they, or necessarily a great deal worse. 
It impressed me that their open avowal 
and recognition of immoralities served to 
throw the disease to the surface, where it 
might be more effectually dealt with, and 
leave a sacred interior not utterly profaned, 
instead of turning its poison back among 
the inner vitalities of the character, at the 
imminent risk of corrupting them all. Be 
that as it may, these Englishmen are cer- 
tainly a franker and simpler people than 
ourselves, from peer to peasant ; but if we 
can take it as compensatory on our part 
(which I leave to be considered) that they 



4IO 



OUR OLD HOME 



owe those noble and manly qualities to a 
coarser grain in their nature, and that, 
with a finer one in ours, we shall ultimately 
acquire a marble polish of which they are 
unsusceptible, I believe that this may be 
the truth. 



X. 

UP THE THAMES 

The upper portion of Greenwich (where 
my last article left me loitering) is a cheer- 
ful, comely, old-fashioned town, the pe- 
culiarities of which, if there be any, have 
passed out of my remembrance. As you 
descend towards the Thames the streets get 
meaner, and the shabby and sunken houses, 
elbowing one another for frontage, bear the 
signboards of beer-shops and eating-rooms, 
with especial promises of white-bait and 
other delicacies in the fishing line. You 
observe, also, a frequent announcement of 
" Tea Gardens " in the rear ; although, 
estimating the capacity of the premises by 
their external compass, the entire sylvan 
charm and shadowy seclusion of such bliss- 
ful resorts must be limited within a small 
back-yard. These places of cheap suste- 
nance and recreation depend for support 
upon the innumerable pleasure-parties who 
come from London Bridge by steamer, at 
a fare of a few pence, and who get as en- 



412 OUR OLD HOME 

joyable a meal for a shilling a head as the 
Ship Hotel would afford a gentleman for a 
guinea. 

The steamers, which are constantly 
smoking their pipes up and down the 
Thames, offer much the most agreeable 
mode of getting to London. At least, it 
might be exceedingly agreeable, except for 
the myriad floating particles of soot from 
the stove-pipe, and the heavy heat of mid- 
summer sunshine on the unsheltered deck, 
or the chill, misty air-draught of a cloudy 
day, and the spiteful little showers of rain 
that may spatter down upon you at any 
moment, whatever the promise of the sky ; 
besides which there is some slight incon- 
venience from the inexhaustible throng of 
passengers, who scarcely allow you stand- 
ing-room, nor so much as a breath of un- 
appropriated air, and never a chance to sit 
down. If these difficulties, added to the 
possibility of getting your pocket picked, 
weigh little with you, the panorama along 
the shores of the memorable river, and the 
incidents and shows of passing life upon its 
bosom, render the trip far preferable to the 
brief yet tiresome shoot along the railway 
track. On one such voyage, a regatta of 
wherries raced past us, and at once involved 



London Bridge 



UP THE THAMES 413 

every soul on board our steamer in the tre- 
mendous excitement of the struggle. The 
spectacle was but a moment within our 
view, and presented nothing more than a 
few light skiffs, in each of which sat a 
single rower, bare-armed, and with little 
apparel, save a shirt and drawers, pale, 
anxious, with every muscle on the stretch, 
and plying his oars in such fashion that 
the boat skimmed along with the aerial 
celerity of a swallow. I wondered at my- 
self for so immediately catching an interest 
in the affair, which seemed to contain no 
very exalted rivalship of manhood; but, 
whatever the kind of battle or the prize of 
victory, it stirs one's sympathy immensely, 
and is even awful, to behold the rare sight 
of a man thoroughly in earnest, doing his 
best, putting forth all there is in him, and 
staking his very soul (as these rowers ap- 
peared willing to do) on the issue of the 
contest. It was the seventy-fourth annual 
regatta of the Free Watermen of Green- 
wich, and announced itself as under the 
patronage of the Lord Mayor and other 
distinguished individuals, at whose expense, 
I suppose, a prize-boat was offered to the 
conqueror, and some small amounts of 
money to the inferior competitors. 



414 OUR OLD HOME 

The aspect of London along the Thames, 
below Bridge, as it is called, is by no means 
so impressive as it ought to be, considering 
what peculiar advantages are offered for 
the display of grand and stately archi- 
tecture by the passage of a river through 
the midst of a great city. It seems, indeed, 
as if the heart of London had been cleft 
open for the mere purpose of showing how 
rotten and drearily mean it had become. 
The shore is lined with the shabbiest, 
blackest, and ugliest buildings that can be 
imagined, decayed warehouses with blind 
windows, and wharves that look ruinous ; 
insomuch that, had I known nothing more 
of the world's metropolis, I might have 
fancied that it had already experienced the 
downfall which I have heard commercial 
and financial prophets predict for it, within 
the century. And the muddy tide of the 
Thames, reflecting nothing, and hiding a 
million of unclean secrets within its breast, 
— a sort of guilty conscience, as it were, 
unwholesome with the rivulets of sin that 
constantly flow into it, — is just the dis- 
mal stream to glide by such a city. The 
surface, to be sure, displays no lack of 
activity, being fretted by the passage of a 
hundred steamers and covered with a good 



UP THE THAMES 415 

deal of shipping, but mostly of a clumsier 
build than I had been accustomed to see 
in the Mersey : a fact which I complacently 
attributed to the smaller number of Ameri- 
can clippers in the Thames, and the less 
prevalent influence of American example 
in refining away the broad -bottomed ca- 
pacity of the old Dutch or English models. 
About midway between Greenwich and 
London Bridge, at a rude landing-place on 
the left bank of the river, the steamer rings 
its bell and makes a momentary pause in 
front of a large circular structure, where it 
may be worth our while to scramble ashore. 
It indicates the locality of one of those 
prodigious practical blunders that would 
supply John Bull with a topic of inexhaus- 
tible ridicule if his cousin Jonathan had 
committed them, but of which he himself 
perpetrates ten to our one in the mere 
wantonness of wealth that lacks better em- 
ployment. The circular building covers 
the entrance to the Thames Tunnel, and is 
surmounted by a dome of glass, so as to 
throw daylight down into the great depth 
at which the passage of the river com- 
mences. Descending a wearisome succes- 
sion of staircases, we at last find ourselves, 
still in the broad noon, standing before a 



4l6 OUR OLD HOME 

closed door, on opening which we behold 
the vista of an arched corridor that extends 
into everlasting midnight In these days, 
when glass has been applied to so many 
new purposes, it is a pity that the architect 
had not thought of arching portions of his 
abortive tunnel with immense blocks of 
the lucid substance, over which the dusky 
Thames would have flowed like a cloud, 
making the sub-fluvial avenue only a little 
gloomier than a street of upper London. 
At present, it is illuminated at regular in- 
tervals by jets of gas, not very brilliantly, 
yet with lustre enough to show the damp 
plaster of the ceiling and walls, and the 
massive stone pavement, the crevices of 
which are oozy with moisture, not from the 
incumbent river, but from hidden springs 
in the earth's deeper heart. There are 
two parallel corridors, with a wall between, 
for the separate accommodation of the 
double throng of foot-passengers, equestri- 
ans, and vehicles of all kinds, which was 
expected to roll and reverberate continually 
through the tunnel. Only one of them 
has ever been opened, and its echoes are 
but feebly awakened by infrequent foot- 
falls. 

Yet there seem to be people who spend 



UP THE THAMES 417 

their lives here, and who probably blink 
like owls, when, once or twice a year, per- 
haps, they happen to climb into the sun- 
shine. All along the corridor, which I be- 
lieve to be a mile in extent, we see stalls 
or shops in little alcoves, kept principally 
by women ; they were of a ripe age, I was 
glad to observe^ and certainly robbed Eng- 
land of none of its very moderate supply of 
feminine loveliness by their deeper than 
tomb -like interment. As you approach 
(and they are so accustomed to the dusky 
gaslight that they read all your character- 
istics afar off), they assail you with hungry 
entreaties to buy some of their merchan- 
dise, holding forth views of the tunnel put 
up in cases of Derbyshire spar, with a 
magfnifying glass at one end to make the 
vista more effective. They offer you, be- 
sides, cheap jewelry, sunny topazes, and 
resplendent emeralds for sixpence, and di- 
amonds as big as the Kohinoor at a not 
much heavier cost, together with a multi- 
farious trumpery which has died out of the 
upper world to reappear in this Tartarean 
bazaar. That you may fancy yourself still 
in the realms of the living, they urge you 
to partake of cakes, candy, ginger-beer, and 
such small refreshment, more suitable, how- 



41 8 OUR OLD HOME 

ever, for the shadowy appetite of ghosts 
than for the sturdy stomachs of English- 
men. The most capacious of the shops 
contains a dioramic exhibition of cities and 
scenes in the daylight world, with a dreary 
glimmer of gas among them all ; so that 
they serve well enough to represent the 
dim, unsatisfactory remembrances that 
dead people might be supposed to retain 
from their past lives, mixing them up with 
the ghastliness of their unsubstantial state. 
I dwell the more upon these trifles, and do 
my best to give them a mockery of impor- 
tance, because, if these are nothing, then 
all this elaborate contrivance and mighty 
piece of work has been wrought in vain. 
The Englishman has burrowed under the 
bed of his great river, and set ships of two 
or three thousand tons a-roUing over his 
head, only to provide new sites for a few 
old women to sell cakes and ginger-beer! 
Yet the conception was a grand one ; 
and though it has proved an absolute fail- 
ure, swallowing an immensity of toil and 
money, with annual returns hardly suffi- 
cient to keep the pavement free from the 
ooze of subterranean springs, yet it needs, 
I presume, only an expenditure three or 
four (or, for aught I know, twenty) times 



UP THE THAMES 419 

as large, to make the enterprise brilliantly 
successful. The descent is so great from 
the bank of the river to its surface, and the 
tunnel dips so profoundly under the riv- 
er's bed, that the approaches on either 
side must commence a long way off, in 
order to render the entrance accessible to 
horsemen or vehicles ; so that the larger 
part of the cost of the whole affair should 
have been expended on its margins. It 
has turned out a sublime piece of folly; 
and when the New-Zealander of distant 
ages shall have moralized sufficiently among 
the ruins of London Bridge, he will be- 
think himself that somewhere thereabout 
was the marvelous Tunnel, the very ex- 
istence of which will seem to him as in- 
credible as that of the hanging gardens of 
Babylon. But the Thames will long ago 
have broken through the massive arch, and 
choked up the corridors with mud and 
sand and with the large stones of the 
structure itself, intermixed with skeletons 
of drowned people, the rusty ironwork of 
sunken vessels, and the great many such 
precious and curious things as a river al- 
ways contrives to hide in its bosom ; the 
entrance will have been obliterated, and 
its very site forgotten beyond the memory 



420 OITR OLD HOME 

of twenty generations of men, and the 
whole neighborhood be held a dangerous 
spot on account of the malaria ; insomuch 
that the traveler will make but a brief and 
careless inquisition for the traces of the 
old wonder, and will stake his credit before 
the public, in some Pacific Monthly of that 
day, that the story of it is but a myth, 
though enriched with a spiritual profundity 
which he will proceed to unfold. 

Yet it is impossible (for a Yankee, at 
least) to see so much magnificent ingenu- 
ity thrown away, without trying to endow 
the unfortunate result with some kind of 
usefulness, though perhaps widely differ- 
ent from the purpose of its original concep- 
tion. In former ages, the mile-long corri- 
dors, with their numerous alcoves, might 
have been utilized as a series of dungeons, 
the fittest of all possible receptacles for 
prisoners of state. Dethroned monarchs 
and fallen statesmen would not have needed 
to remonstrate against a domicile so spa- 
cious, so deeply secluded from the world's 
scorn, and so admirably in accordance with 
their thenceforward sunless fortunes. An 
alcove here might have suited Sir Walter 
Raleigh better than that darksome hiding- 
place communicating with the great cham- 



UP THE THAMES 42 1 

ber in the Tower, pacing from end to end 
of which he meditated upon his " History 
of the World." His track would here have 
been straight and narrow, indeed, and 
would therefore have lacked somewhat of 
the freedom that his intellect demanded ; 
and yet the length to which his footsteps 
might have traveled forth and retraced 
themselves would partly have harmonized 
his physical movement with the grand 
curves and planetary returns of his thought, 
through cycles of majestic periods. Hav- 
ing it in his mind to compose the world's 
history, methinks he could have asked no 
better retirement than such a cloister as 
this, insulated from all the seductions of 
mankind and womankind, deep beneath 
their mysteries and motives, down into the 
heart of things, full of personal reminis- 
cences in order to the comprehensive 
measurement and verification of historic 
records, seeing into the secrets of human 
nature, — secrets that daylight never yet 
revealed to mortal, — but detecting their 
whole scope and purport with the infallible 
eyes of unbroken solitude and night. And 
then the shades of the old mighty men 
might have risen from their still pro- 
founder abodes and joined him in the dim 



422 OUR OLD HOME 

corridor, treading beside him with an an- 
tique stateliness of mien, telling him in 
melancholy tones, grand, but always mel- 
ancholy, of the greater ideas and purposes 
which their most renowned performances 
so imperfectly carried out; that, magnifi- 
cent successes in the view of all poster- 
ity, they were but failures to those who 
planned them. As Raleigh was a navi- 
gator, Noah would have explained to him 
the peculiarities of construction that made 
the ark so seaworthy; as Raleigh was a 
statesman, Moses would have discussed 
with him the principles of laws and govern- 
ment ; as Raleigh was a soldier, Caesar and 
Hannibal would have held debate in his 
presence, with this martial student for their 
umpire ; as Raleigh was a poet, David, or 
whatever most illustrious bard he might 
call up, would have touched his harp, and 
made manifest all the true significance of 
the past by means of song and the subtle 
intelligences of music. 

Meanwhile, I had forgotten that Sir 
Walter Raleigh's century knew nothing of 
gaslight, and that it would require a pro- 
digious and wasteful expenditure of tal- 
low-candles to illuminate the tunnel suffi- 
ciently to discern even a ghost. On this 



UP THE THAMES 423 

account, however, it would be all the more 
suitable place of confinement for a met- 
aphysician, to keep him from bewildering 
mankind with his shadowy speculations ; 
and, being shut off from external converse, 
the dark corridor would help him to make 
rich discoveries in those cavernous regions 
and mysterious by-paths of the intellect, 
which he had so long accustomed himself 
to explore. But how would every succes- 
sive age rejoice in so secure a habitation 
for its reformers, and especially for each 
best and wisest man that happened to be 
then alive ! He seeks to burn up our 
whole system of society, under pretense of 
purifying it from its abuses ! Away with 
him into the tunnel, and let him begin by 
setting the Thames on fire, if he is able ! 

If not precisely these, yet akin to these 
were some of the fantasies that haunted 
me as I passed under the river : for the 
place is suggestive of such idle and irre- 
sponsible stuff by its own abortive charac- 
ter, its lack of whereabout on upper earth, 
or any solid foundation of realities. Could 
I have looked forward a few years, I might 
have regretted that American enterprise 
had not provided a similar tunnel, under 
the Hudson or the Potomac, for the con- 



424 OUR OLD HOME 

venience of our National Government in 
times hardly yet gone by. It would be de- 
lightful to clap up all the enemies of our 
peace and Union in the dark together, and 
there let them abide, listening to the mo- 
notonous roll of the river above their 
heads, or perhaps in a state of miraculously 
suspended animation, until, — be it after 
months, years, or centuries, — when the 
turmoil shall be all over, the Wrong washed 
away in blood (since that must needs be 
the cleansing fluid), and the Right firmly 
rooted in the soil which that blood will 
have enriched, they might crawl forth again 
and catch a single glimpse at their re- 
deemed country, and feel it to be a better 
land than they deserve, and die ! 

I was not sorry when the daylight 
reached me after a much briefer abode in 
the nether regions than, I fear, would await 
the troublesome personages just hinted at. 
Emerging on the Surrey side of the 
Thames, I found myself in Rotherhithe, a 
neighborhood not unfamiliar to the readers 
of old books of maritime adventure. There 
being a ferry hard by the mouth of the 
tunnel, I recrossed the river in the prim- 
itive fashion of an open boat, which the 
conflict of wind and tide, together with the 



UP THE THAMES 425 

swash and swell of the passing steamers, 
tossed' high and low rather tumultuously. 
This inquietude of our frail skiff (which, 
indeed, bobbed up and down like a cork) so 
much alarmed an old lady, the only other 
passenger, that the boatmen essayed to 
comfort her. " Never fear, mother ! ** 
grumbled one of them; "we'll make the 
river as smooth as we can for you. We *11 
get a plane, and plane down the waves ! " 
The joke may not read very brilliantly; 
but I make bold to record it as the only 
specimen that reached my ears of the old, 
rough water -wit for which the Thames* 
used to be so celebrated. Passing directly 
along the line of the sunken tunnel, we 
landed in Wapping, which I should have 
presupposed to be the most tarry and 
pitchy spot on earth, swarming with old 
salts, and full of warm, bustling, coarse, 
homely, and cheerful life. Nevertheless, 
it turned out to be a cold and torpid neigh- 
borhood, mean, shabby, and unpicturesque, 
both as to its buildings and inhabitants: 
the latter comprising (so far as was visible 
to me) not a single unmistakable sailor, 
though plenty of land-sharks, who get a 
half-dishonest livelihood by business con- 
nected with the sea. Ale and spirit vaults 



426 OUR OLD HOME 

(as petty drinking-establishments are styled 
in England, pretending to contain vast 
cellars full of liquor within the compass 
of ten feet square above ground) were 
particularly abundant, together with ap- 
ples, oranges, and oysters, the stalls of 
fishmongers and butchers, and slop-shops, 
where blue jackets and duck trousers 
swung and capered before the doors. 
Everything was on the poorest scale, and 
the place bore an aspect of unredeemable 
decay. From this remote point of London 
I strolled leisurely towards the heart of the 
city ; while the streets, at first but thinly 
occupied by man or vehicle, got more and 
more thronged with foot-passengers, carts, 
drays, cabs, and the all-pervading and all- 
accommodating omnibus. But I lack cour- 
age, and feel that I should lack persever- 
ance, as the gentlest reader would lack 
patience, to undertake a descriptive stroll 
through London streets ; more especially 
as there would be a volume ready for the 
printer before we could reach a midway 
resting-place at Charing Cross. It will be 
the easier course to step aboard another 
passing steamer, and continue our trip up 
the Thames. 

The next notable gproup of objects is an 



UP THE THAMES 427 

assemblage of ancient walls, battlements, 
and turrets, out of the midst of which rises 
prominently one great square tower, of a 
grayish hue, bordered with white stone, 
and having a small turret at each comer 
of the roof. This central structure is the 
White Tower, and the whole circuit of 
ramparts and inclosed edifices constitutes 
what is known in English history, and still 
more widely and impressively in English 
poetry, as the Tower. A crowd of river- 
craft are generally moored in front of it ; 
but if we look sharply at the right moment 
under the base of the rampart, we may 
catch a glimpse of an arched water -en- 
trance, half submerged, past which the 
Thames glides as indifferently as if it were 
the mouth of a city-kennel. Nevertheless, 
it is the Traitor's Gate, a dreary kind of 
triumphal passage-way (now supposed to be 
shut up and barred forever), through which 
a multitude of noble and illustrious person- 
ages have entered the Tower and found it 
a brief resting-place on their way to heaven. 
Passing it many times, I never observed 
that anybody glanced at this shadowy and 
ominous trap-door, save myself.^ It is well 
that America exists, if it were only that 
her vagrant children may be impressed 



428 OUR OLD HOME 

* 

and affected by the historical monuments 
of England in a degree of which the native 
inhabitants are evidently incapable. These 
matters are too familiar, too real, and too 
hopelessly built in amongst and mixed up 
with the common objects and affairs of life, 
to be easily susceptible of imaginative 
coloring in their minds ; and even their 
poets and romancers feel it a toil, and al- 
most a delusion, to extract poetic material 
out of what seems embodied poetry itself 
to an American. An Englishman cares 
nothing about the Tower, which to us is a 
haunted castle in dreamland. That honest 
and excellent gentleman, the late Mr. G. P. 
R. James (whose mechanical ability, one 
might have supposed, would nourish itself 
by devouring every old stone of such a 
structure), once assured me that he had 
never in his life set eyes upon the Tower, 
though for years an historic novelist in 
London. 

Not to spend a whole summer's day 
upon the voyage, we will suppose ourselves 
to have reached London Bridge, and thence 
to have taken another steamer for a farther 
passage up the river. But here the mem- 
orable objects succeed each other so rap- 
idly that I can spare but a single sentence 



Tower of London 



UP THE THAMES 429 

even for the great Dome, though I deem 
it more picturesque, in that dusky atmos- 
phere, than St. Peter's in its clear blue sky.^ 
I must mention, however (since everything 
connected with royalty is especially inter- 
esting to my dear countrymen), that I once 
saw a large and beautiful barge, splendidly 
gilded and ornamented, and overspread with 
a rich covering, lying at the pier nearest to 
St. Paul's Cathedral ; it had the royal ban- 
ner of Great Britain displayed, besides be- 
ing decorated with a number of other flags ; 
and many footmen (who are universally the 
grandest and gaudiest objects to be seen 

^ St. Paul's appeared to me unspeakably grand and 
noble, and the more so from the throng and bustle 
continually going on around its base, without in the least 
disturbing the sublime repose of its great dome, and, 
indeed, of all its massive height and breadth. Other 
edifices may crowd close to its foundation, and people 
may tramp as they like about it; but still the great 
cathedral is as quiet and serene as if it stood in the 
middle of Salisbury Plain. There cannot be anything 
else in its way so good in the world as just this effect of 
St. Paul's in the very heart and densest tumult of Lon- 
don. I do not know whether the church is built of 
marble, or of whatever other white or nearly white ma- 
terial ; but in the time that it has been standing there, it 
has grown black with the smoke of ages, through which 
there are, nevertheless, gleams of white, that make a 
most picturesque impression on the whole. It is much 
better than staring white; the edifice would not be 
nearly so grand without this drapery of black. — II. 91. 



430 



OUR OLD HOME 



in England at this day, and these were 
regal ones, in a bright scarlet livery bedi- 
zened with gold-lace, and white silk stock- 
ings) were in attendance. I know not what 
festive or ceremonial occasion may have 
drawn out this pageant ; after all, it might 
have been merely a city-spectacle, apper- 
taining to tlie Lord Mayor ; but the sight 
had its value in bringing vividly before me 
the grand old times when the sovereign 
and nobles were accustomed to use the 
Thames as the high street of the metrop- 
olis, and join in pompous processions upon 
it ; whereas, the desuetude of such customs 
nowadays has caused the whole show of 
river-life to consist in a multitude of smoke- 
begrimed steamers. An analogous change 
has taken place in the streets, where cabs 
and the omnibus have crowded out a rich 
variety of vehicles ; and thus life gets more 
monotonous in hue from age to age, and ap- 
pears to seize every opportunity to strip off 
a bit of its gold-lace among the wealthier 
classes, and to make itself decent in the 
lower ones. 

Yonder is Whitefriars, the old rowdy 
Alsatia, now wearing as decorous a face 
as any other portion of London ; and, ad- 
joining it, the avenues and brick squares 



St PauTs Cathedral 



I 



UP THE THAMES 43 1 

of the Temple, with that historic garden, 
close upon the river-side, and still rich in 
shrubbery and flowers, where the partisans 
of York and Lancaster plucked the fatal 
roses, and scattered their pale and bloody 
petals over so many English battle-fields. 
Hard by, we see the long white front or 
rear of Somerset House, and, farther on, 
rise the two new Houses of Parliament, 
with a huge unfinished tower already hid- 
ing its imperfect summit in the smoky 
canopy, — the whole vast and cumbrous 
edifice a specimen of the best that modem 
architecture can effect, elaborately imitat- 
ing the master-pieces of those simple ages 
when men "builded better than they 
knew." ^ Close by it, we have a glimpse 

^ After coming out of the Abbey, we looked at the two 
Houses of Parliament, directly across the way, — an im- 
mense structure, and certainly most splendid, built of a 
beautiful warm-colored stone. The building has a very 
elaborate finish, and delighted me at first ; but by and 
by I began to be sensible of a weariness in the effect, a 
lack of variety in the plan and ornament, a deficiency of 
invention ; so that instead of being more and more in- 
terested the longer one looks, as is the case with an old 
Gothic edifice, and continually reading deeper into it, 
one finds that one has seen all in seeing a little piece, 
and that the magnificent palace has nothing better to 
show one or to do for one. It is wonderful how the old 
weather-stained and smoke-blackened Abbey shames 
down this brand - newness ; not that the Parliament 
Houses are not fine objects to look at too. — II. 105. 



432 OUR OLD HOME 

of the roof and upper towers of the holy 
Abbey ; while that gray, ancestral pile on 
the opposite side of the river is Lambeth 
Palace, a venerable group of halls and tur- 
rets, chiefly built of brick, but with at 
least one large tower of stone.^ In our 
course, we have passed beneath half a 
dozen bridges, and, emerging out of the 
black heart of London, shall soon reach a 
cleanly suburb, where old Father Thames, 
if I remember, begins to put on an aspect 
of unpolluted innocence. And now we 
look back upon the mass of innumerable 
roofs, out of which rise steeples, towers, 
columns, and the great crowning Dome, 
— look back, in short, upon that mystery 
of the world's proudest city, amid which 
a man so longs and loves to be ; not, per- 
haps, because it contains much that is pos- 
itively admirable and enjoyable, but be- 
cause, at all events, the world has nothing 
better. The cream of external life is there; 

1 It stands immediately on the bank of the river, not 
far above the bridge. V^e merely walked round it, and 
saw only an old stone tower or two. partially renewed 
with brick, and a high connecting wall, within which ap- 
peared gables and other portions of the palace, all of an 
mn^n r^\ ^'''^ venerable aspect, though evidently 
rj^ sinl -r /^ ^"^ '^^^^^-d in the course of the many 
ages since Its foundation. ^11 ,93. 



UP THE THAMES 433 

and whatever merely intellectual or ma- 
terial good we fail to find perfect in Lon- 
don, we may as well content ourselves to 
seek that unattainable thing no farther on 
this earth. 

The steamer terminates its trip at Chel- 
sea, an old town endowed with a prodigious 
number of pothouses, and some famous 
gardens, called the Cremome, for public 
amusement. The most noticeable thing, 
however, is Chelsea Hospital, which, like 
that of Greenwich, was founded, I believe, 
by Charles 11. (whose bronze statue, in the 
guise of an old Roman, stands in the cen- 
tre of the quadrangle), and appropriated 
as a home for aged and infirm soldiers of 
the British army. The edifices are of three 
stories, with windows in the high roofs, 
and are built of dark, sombre brick, with 
stone edgings and facings. The effect 
is by no means that of grandeur (which 
is somewhat disagreeably an attribute of 
Greenwich Hospital), but a quiet and ven- 
erable neatness. At each extremity of the 
street-front there is a spacious and hospi- 
tably open gateway, lounging about which 
I saw some gray veterans in long scarlet 
coats of an antique fashion, and the cocked 
hats of a century ago, or occasionally, a 



434 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

modem foraging-cap. Almost all of them 
moved with a rheumatic gait, two or three 
stumped on wooden legs, and here and 
there an arm was missing. Inquiring of 
one of these fragmentary heroes whether 
a stranger could be admitted to see the 
establishment, he replied most cordially, 
" Oh yes, sir, — anywhere ! Walk in and 
go where you please, — upstairs, or any- 
where ! " So I entered, and, passing along 
the inner side of the quadrangle, came to 
the door of the chapel, which forms a part 
of the contiguity of edifices next the street. 
Here another pensioner, an old warrior of 
exceedingly peaceable and Christian de- 
meanor, touched his three-cornered hat and 
asked if I wished to see the interior; to 
which I assenting, he imlocked the door, 
and we went in. 

The chapel consists of a great hall with 
a vaulted roof, and over the altar is a large 
painting in fresco, the subject of which 
I did not trouble myself to make out. 
More appropriate adornments of the place, 
dedicated as well to martial reminiscences 
as religious worship, are the long ranges 
of dusty and tattered banners, that hang 
from their staves all round the ceiling of 
the chapel. They are trophies of battles 



UP THE THAMES 435 

fought and won in every quarter of the 
world, comprising the captured flags of all 
the nations with whom, the British lion 
has waged war since James II.'s time, — 
French, Dutch, East Indian, Prussian, Rus- 
sian, Chinese, and American, — collected 
together in this consecrated spot, not to 
symbolize that there shall be no more dis- 
cord upon earth, but drooping over the 
aisle in sullen, though peaceable, humil- 
iation. Yes, I said "American'* among 
the rest ; for the good old pensioner mis- 
took me for an Englishman, and failed not 
to point out (and, methought, with an es- 
pecial emphasis of triumph) some flags 
that had been taken at Bladen sburg and 
Washington. I fancied, indeed, that they 
hung a little higher and drooped a little 
lower than any of their companions in dis- 
grace. It is a comfort, however, that their 
proud devices are already indistinguish- 
able, or nearly so, owing to dust and tat- 
ters and the kind offices of the moths, and 
that they will soon rot from the banner- 
staves and be swept out in unrecognized 
fragments from the chapel-door. 

. It is a good method of teaching a man 
how imperfectly cosmopolitan he is, to 
show him his country's flag occupying a 



436 OUR OLD HOME 

position of dishonor in a foreign land. But, 
in truth, the whole system of a people 
crowing over its military triunlphs had far • 
better be dispensed with, both on account 
of the ill-blood that it helps to keep fer- 
menting among the nations, and because 
it operates as an accumulative inducement 
to future generations to aim at a kind of 
glory, the gain of which has generally 
proved more ruinous than its loss. I heart- 
ily wish that every trophy of victory might 
crumble away, and that every reminiscence 
or tradition of a hero, from the beginning 
of the world to this day, could pass out of 
all men's memories at once and forever. 
I might feel very differently, to be sure, if 
we Northerners had anything especially 
valuable to lose by the fading of those il- 
luminated names. 

I gave the pensioner (but I am afraid 
there may have been a little affectation in 
it) a magnificent guerdon of all the silver 
I had in my pocket, to requite him for 
having unintentionally stirred up my pa- 
triotic susceptibilities. He was a meek- 
looking, kindly old man, with a humble 
freedom and affability of manner that made 
it pleasant to converse with him. Old sol- 
diers, I know not why, seem to be more 



UP THE THAMES 437 

accostable than old sailors. One is apt to 
hear a growl beneath the smoothest cour- 
tesy of the latter. The mild veteran, with 
his peaceful voice, and gentle reverend 
aspect, told me that he had fought at a 
cannon all through the Battle of Waterloo, 
and escaped unhurt ; he had now been in 
the hospital four or five years, and was 
married, but necessarily underwent a sep- 
aration from his wife, who lived outside 
of the gates. To my inquiry whether his 
fellow - pensioners were comfortable and 
happy, he answered, with great alacrity, * 
"Oh yes, sir!" qualifying his evidence, 
after a moment's consideration, by saying 
in an undertone, " There are some people, 
your Honor knows, who could not be com- 
fortable anywhere." I did know it, and 
fear that the system of Chelsea Hospital 
allows too little of that wholesome care 
and regulation of their own occupations 
and interests which might assuage the 
sting of life to those naturally uncomfort- 
able individuals by giving them something 
external to think about. But my old friend 
here was happy in the hospital, and by this 
time, very likely, is happy in heaven, in 
spite of the bloodshed that he may have 
caused by touching ofif a cannon at Wa- 
terloo. 



438 OUR OLD HOME 

Crossing Battersea Bridge, in the neigh- 
borhood of Chelsea, I remember seeing a 
distant gleam of the Crystal Palace, glim- 
mering afar in the afternoon sunshine like 
an imaginary structure, — an air-castle by 
chance descended upon earth, and resting 
there one instant before it vanished, as we 
sometimes see a soap-bubble touch un- 
harmed on the carpet, — a thing of only 
momentary visibility and no substance, 
destined to be overburdened and crushed 
down by the first cloud-shadow that might 
' fall upon that spot. Even as I looked, it 
disappeared.^ Shall I attempt a picture of 
this exhalation of modem ingenuity, or 
what else shall I try to paint ? Everything 
in London and its vicinity has been depicted 
innumerable times, but never once trans- 
lated into intelligible images; it is an'* old, 
old story," never yet told, nor to be told. 
While writing these reminiscences, I am 
continually impressed with the futility of 

1 The Crystal Palace gleamed in the sunshine ; but I 
do not think a very impressive edifice can be built of 
glass, — light and airy, to be sure, but still it will be no 
other than an overgrown conservatory. It is unlike 
anything else in England ; uncongenial with the English 
character, without privacy, destitute of mass, weight, and 
shadow, unsusceptible of ivy, lichens, or any mellowness 
from age. — IL 135. 



UP THE THAMES 439 

the effort to give any creative truth to my 
sketch, so that it might produce such pic- 
tures in the reader's mind as would cause 
the original scenes to appear familiar when 
afterwards beheld. Nor have other writers 
often been more successful in representing 
definite objects prophetically to my own 
mind. In truth, I believe that the chief 
delight and advantage of -this kind of liter- 
ature is not for any real information that 
it supplies to untraveled people, but for 
reviving the recollections and reawakening 
the emotions of persons already acquainted 
with the scenes described. Thus I found 
an exquisite pleasure, the other day, in 
reading Mr. Tuckerman's " Month in Eng- 
land, " — a fine example of the way in 
which a refined and cultivated American 
looks at the Old Country, the things that 
he naturally seeks there, and the modes of 
feeling and reflection which they excite. 
Correct outlines avail little or nothing, 
though truth of coloring may be somewhat 
more efficacious. Impressions, however, 
states of mind produced by interesting and 
remarkable objects, these, if truthfully and 
vividly recorded, may work a genuine effect, 
and, though but the result of what we see, 
go further towards representing the actual 



440 OUR OLD HOME 

scene than any direct ejfifort to paint it 
Give the emotions that cluster about it, 
and, without being able to analyze the spell 
by which it is summoned up, you get some- 
thing like a simulachre of the object in the 
midst of them. From some of the above 
reflections I draw the comfortable infer- 
ence, that, the longer and better known a 
thing may be, so much the more eligible is 
it as the subject of a descriptive sketch. 

On a Sunday afternoon, I passed through 
a side-entrance in the time-blackened wall 
of a place of worship, and found myself 
among a congregation assembled in one of 
the transepts and the immediately contig- 
uous portion of the nave. It was a vast 
old edifice, spacious enough, within the ex- 
tent covered by its pillared roof and over- 
spread by its stone pavement, to accommo- 
date the whole of church -going London, 
and with a far wider and loftier concave 
than any human power of lungs could fill 
with audible prayer. Oaken benches were 
arranged in the transept, on one of which 
I seated myself, and joined, as well as I 
knew how, in the sacred business that was 
going forward. But when it came to the 
sermon, the voice of the preacher was 
puny, and so were his thoughts, and both 



UP THE THAMES 441 

seemed impertinent at such a time and 
place, where he and all of us were bodily 
included within a sublime act of religion, 
which could be seen above and around us 
and felt beneath our feet. The structure 
itself was the worship of the devout men 
of long ago, miraculously preserved in stone 
without losing an atom of its fragrance 
and fervor ; it was a kind of anthem-strain 
that they had sung and poured out of the 
organ in centuries gone by ; and being so 
grand and sweet, the Divine benevolence 
had willed it to be prolonged for the behoof 
of auditors unborn. I therefore came to 
the conclusion, that, in my individual case, 
it would be better and more reverent to 
let my eyes wander about the edifice than 
to fasten them and my thoughts on the 
evidently uninspired riiortal who was ven- 
turing — and felt it no venture at all — to 
speak here above his breath. 

The interior of Westminster Abbey (for 
the reader recognized it, no doubt, the 
moment we entered) is built of rich brown 
stone; and the whole of it — the lofty roof, 
the tall, clustered pillars, and the pointed 
arches — appears to be in consummate re- 
pair. At all points where decay has laid 
its finger, the structure is clamped with 



442 OUR OLD HOME 

iron or otherwise carefully protected ; and 
being thus watched over, — whether as a 
place of ancient sanctity, a noble specimen 
of Gothic art, or an object of national inter- 
est and pride, — it may reasonably be ex- 
pected to survive for as many ages as have 
passed over it already. It was sweet to 
feel its venerable quietude, its long-endur- 
ing peace, and yet to observe how kindly 
and even cheerfully it received the sun- 
shine of to-day, which fell from the great 
windows into the fretted aisles and arches 
that laid aside somewhat of their aged 
gloom to welcome it. Sunshine always 
seems friendly to old abbeys, churches, and 
castles, kissing them, as it were, with a 
more affectionate, though still reverential 
familiarity, than it accords to edifices of 
later date. A square of golden light lay 
on the sombre pavement of the nave, afar 
off, falling through the grand western en- 
trance, the folding leaves of which were 
wide open, and afforded glimpses of people 
passing to and fro in the outer world, while 
we sat dimly enveloped in the solemnity of 
antique devotion. In the south transept, 
separated from us by the full breadth of 
the minster, there were painted glass win- 
dows, of which the uppermost appeared to 



UP THE THAMES 443 

be a great orb of many-colored radiance, 
being, indeed, a cluster of saints and angels 
whose glorified bodies formed the rays of 
an aureole emanating from a cross in the 
midst. These windows are modern, but 
combine softness with wonderful brilliancy 
of effect. Through the pillars and arches, 
I saw that the walls in that distant region 
of the edifice were almost wholly incrusted 
with marble, now grown yellow with time, 
no blank, unlettered slabs, but memorials 
of such men as their respective generations 
deemed wisest and bravest Some of them 
were commemorated merely by inscriptions 
on mural tablets, others by sculptured bas- 
reliefs, others (once famous, but now for- 
gotten, generals or admirals, these) by 
ponderous tombs that aspired towards the 
roof of the aisle, or partly curtained the 
immense arch of a window. These moun- 
tains of marble were peopled with the 
sisterhood of Allegory, winged trumpeters, 
and classic figures in full-bottomed wigs; 
but it was strange to observe how the old 
Abbey melted all such absurdities into the 
breadth of its own grandeur, even magnify- 
ing itself by what would elsewhere have 
been ridiculous. Methinks it is the test 
of Gothic sublimity to overpower the ridic- 



444 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

ulous without deigning to hide it; and 
these grotesque monuments of the last 
century answer a similar purpose with the 
grinning faces which the old architects 
scattered among their most solemn con- 
ceptions. 

From these distant wanderings (it was 
my first visit to Westminster Abbey, and 
I would gladly have taken it all in at a 
glance) my eyes came back and began to 
investigate what was immediately about 
me in the transept. Close at my elbow 
was the pedestal of Canning's statue. Next 
beyond it was a massive tomb, on the spa- 
cious tablet of which reposed the full- 
length figures of a marble lord and lady, 
whom an inscription announced to be the 
Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, — the 
historic Duke of Charles L's time, and the 
fantastic Duchess, traditionally remembered 
by her poems and plays. She was of a 
family, as the record on her tomb proudly 
informed us, of which all the brothers had 
been valiant and all the sisters virtuous. 
A recent statue of Sir John Malcolm, the 
new marble as white as snow, held the 
next place ; and near by was a mural mon- 
ument and bust of Sir Peter Warren. The 
round visage of this old British admiral 



UP THE THAMES 445 

has a certain interest for a New-Englander, 
because it was by no merit of his own 
(though he took care to assume it as such), 
but by the valor and warlike enterprise 
of our colonial forefathers, especially the 
stout men of Massachusetts, that he won 
rank and renown, and a tomb in West- 
minster Abbey. Lord Mansfield, a huge 
mass of marble done into the guise of a 
judicial gown and wig, with a stem face in 
the midst of the latter, sat on the other 
side of the transept ; and on the pedestal 
beside him was a figure of Justice, holding 
forth, instead of the customary grocer's 
scales, an actual pair of brass steelyards. 
It is an ancient and classic instrument, un- 
doubtedly ; but I had supposed that Portia 
(when Shylock's pound of flesh was to be 
weighed) was the only judge that ever 
really called for it in a court of justice. 
Pitt and Fox were in the same distin- 
guished company; and John Kemble, in 
Roman costume, stood not far off, but 
strangely shorn of the dignity that is said 
to have enveloped him like a mantle in his 
lifetime. Perhaps the evanescent majesty 
of the stage is incompatible with the long 
endurance of marble and the solemn reality 
of the tomb ; though, on the other hand, 



446 OUR OLD HOME 

almost every illustrious personage here rep. 
resented has been invested with more or 
less of stage-trickery by his sculptor. In 
truth, the artist (unless there be a divine 
efficacy in his touch, making evident a 
heretofore hidden dignity in the actual 
form) feels it an imperious law to remove 
his subject as far from the aspect of or- 
dinary life as may be possible without sac- 
rificing every trace of resemblance. The 
absurd eflfect of the contrary course is very 
remarkable in the statue of Mr. Wilber- 
force, whose actual self, save for the lack 
of color, I seemed to behold, seated just 
across the aisle. 

This excellent man appears to have sunk 
into himself in a sitting posture, with a 
thin leg crossed over his knee, a book in 
one hand, and a finger of the other under 
his chin, I believe, or applied to the side 
of his nose, or to some equally familiar 
purpose ; while his exceedingly homely and 
wrinkled face, held a little on one side, 
twinkles at you with the shrewdest com- 
placency, as if he were looking right into 
your eyes, and twigged something there 
which you had half a mind to conceal 
from him. He keeps this look so pertina- 
ciously that you feel it to be insufferably 



i 



UP THE THAMES 447 

impertinent, and bethink yourself what 
common ground there may be between 
yourself and a stone image, enabling you 
to resent it. I have no doubt that the 
statue is as like Mr. Wilberforce as one 
pea to another, and you might fancy, that, 
at some ordinary moment, when he least 
expected it, and before he had time to 
smooth away his knowing complication of 
wrinkles, he had seen the Gorgon's head, 
and whitened into marble, — not only his 
personal self, but his coat and small-clothes, 
down to a button and the minutest crease 
of the cloth. The ludicrous result marks 
the impropriety of bestowing the age-long 
duration of marble upon small, character- 
istic individualities, such as might come 
within the province of waxen imagery. 
The sculptor should give permanence to 
the figure of a great man in his mood of 
broad and grand composure, which would 
obliterate all mean peculiarities ; for, if 
the original were unaccustomed to such a 
mood, or if his features were incapable of 
assuming the guise, it seems questionable 
whether he could really have been entitled 
to a marble immortality. In point of fact, 
however, the English face and form are 
seldom statuesque, however illustrious the 
individual 



448 OUR OLD HOME 

It ill becomes me, perhaps, to have lapsed 
into this mood of half-jocose criticism in 
describing my first visit to Westminster 
Abbey, a spot which I had dreamed about 
more reverentially, from my childhood up- 
ward, than any other in the world, and 
which I then beheld, and now look back 
upon, with profound gratitude to the men 
who built it, and a kindly interest, I may 
add, in the humblest personage that has 
contributed his little all to its impressive- 
ness, by depositing his dust or his memory 
there. But it is a characteristic of this 
grand edifice that it permits you to smile 
as freely under the roof of its central nave 
as if you stood beneath the yet grander 
canopy of heaven. Break into laughter, if 
you feel inclined, provided the vergers do 
not hear it echoing among the arches. In 
an ordinary church you would keep your 
countenance for fear of disturbing the 
sanctities or proprieties of the place ; but 
you need leave no honest and decorous 
portion of your human nature outside of 
these benign and truly hospitable walls. 
Their mild awfulness will take care of it- 
self. Thus it does no harm to. the general 
impression, when you come to be sensible 
that many of the monuments are ridiculous, 



UP THE THAMES 449 

and commemorate a mob of people who 
are mostly forgotten in their graves, and 
few of whom ever deserved any better 
boon from posterity. You acknowledge 
the force of Sir Godfrey Kneller's objection 
to being buried in Westminster Abbey, 
because " they do bury fools there ! " 
Nevertheless, these grotesque carvings 
of marble, that break out in dingy-white 
blotches on the old freestone of the inte- 
rior walls, have come there by as natural a 
process as might cause mosses and ivy to 
cluster about the external edifice ; for they 
are the historical and biographical record 
of each successive age, written with its 
own hand, and all the truer for the inevi- 
table mistakes, and none the less solemn 
for the occasional absurdity. Though you 
entered the Abbey expecting to see the 
tombs only of the illustrious, you are con- 
tent at last to read many names, both in 
literature and history, that have now lost 
the reverence of mankind, if indeed they 
ever really possessed it. Let these men 
rest in peace. Even if you miss a name 
or two that you hoped to find there, they 
may well be spared. It matters little a 
few more or less, or whether Westminster 
Abbey contains or lacks any one man's 



450 OUR OLD HOME 

grave, so long as the Centuries, each with 
the crowd of personages that it deemed 
memorable, have chosen it as their place 
of honored sepulture, and laid themselves 
down under its pavement. The inscrip- 
tions and devices on the walls are rich 
with evidences of the fluctuating tastes, 
fashions, manners, opinions, prejudices, 
follies, wisdoms, of the past, and thus they 
combine into a more truthful memorial of 
their dead times than any individual epi- 
taph-maker ever meant to write. 

When the services were over, many of 
the audience seemed inclined to linger in 
the nave or wander away among the mys- 
terious aisles ; for there is nothing in this 
world so fascinating as a Gothic minster, 
which always invites you deeper and deeper 
into its heart both by vast revelations and 
shadowy concealments. Through the open- 
work screen that divides the nave from 
the chancel and choir, we could discern 
the gleam of a marvelous window, but 
were debarred from entrance into that 
more sacred precinct of the Abbey by the 
vergers. These vigilant officials (doing 
their duty all the more strenuously because 
no fees could be exacted from Sunday 
visitors) flourished their staves, and drove 



UP THE THAMES 45 1 

US towards the grand entrance like a flock 
of sheep. Lingering through one of the 
aisles, I happened to look down, and found 
my foot upon a stone inscribed with this 
familiar exclamation, " O rare Benjonson I " 
and remembered the story of stout old 
Ben*s burial in that spot, standing upright, 
— not, I presume, on account of any un- 
seemly reluctance on his part to lie down 
in the dust, like other men, but because 
standing-room was all that could reason- 
ably be demanded for a poet among the 
slumberous notabilities of his age. It made 
me weary to think of it! — such a pro- 
digious length of time to keep one's feet I 
— apart from the honor of the thing, it 
would certainly have been better for Ben 
to stretch himself at ease in some country 
churchyard. To this day, however, I fancy 
that there is a contemptuous alloy mixed 
up with the admiration which the higher 
classes of English society profess for their 
literary men. 

Another day — in truth, many other 
days — -I sought out Poets' Comer, and 
found a sign -board and pointed finger 
directing the visitor to it, on the comer 
house of a little lane leading towards the 
rear of the Abbey. The entrance is at the 



452 OUR OLD HOME 

southeastern end of the south transept, and 
it is used, on ordinary occasions, as the 
only free mode of access to the building. 
It is no spacious arch, but a small, lowly 
door, passing through which, and pushing 
aside an inner screen that partly keeps out 
an exceedingly chill wind, you find yourself 
in a dim nook of the Abbey, with the busts 
of poets gazing at you from the otherwise 
bare stone-work of the walls. Great poets, 
too ; for Ben Jonson is right behind the 
door, and Spenser's tablet is next, and 
Butler's on the same side of the transept, 
and Milton's (whose bust you know at once 
by its resemblance to one of his portraits, 
though older, more wrinkled, and sadder 
than that) is close by, and a profile-medal- 
lion of Gray beneath it. A window high 
aloft sheds down a dusky daylight on these 
and many other sculptured marbles, now 
as yellow as old parchment, that cover the 
three walls of the nook up to an elevation 
of about twenty feet above the pavement. 
It seemed to me that I had always been 
familiar with the spot. Enjoying a humble 
intimacy — and how much of my life had 
else been a dreary solitude ! — with many 
of its inhabitants, I could not feel myself 
a stranger there. It was delightful to be 



UP THE THAMES 453 

among them. There was a genial awe, 
mingled with a sense of kind and friendly 
presences about me ; and I was glad, more- 
over, at finding so many of them there 
together, in fit companionship, mutually 
recognized and duly honored, all reconciled 
now, whatever distant generations, what- 
ever personal hostility or other miserable 
impediment, had divided them far asunder 
while they lived. I have never felt a 
similar interest in any other tombstones, 
nor have I ever been deeply moved by the 
imaginary presence of other famous dead 
people. A poet's ghost is the only one 
that survives for his fellow - mortals, after 
his bones are in the dust, — and he not 
ghostly, but cherishing many hearts with 
his own warmth in the chillest atmosphere 
of life. What other fame is worth aspir- 
ing for } Or, let me speak it more boldly, 
what other long-enduring fame can exist } 
We neither remember nor care anything 
for the past, except as the poet has made 
it intelligibly noble and sublime to our 
comprehension. The shades of the mighty 
have no substance; they flit ineffectually 
about the darkened stage where they per- 
formed their momentary parts, save when 
the poet has thrown his own creative soul 



454 OUR OLD HOME 

into them, and imparted a more vivid life 
than ever they were able to manifest to 
mankind while they dwelt in the body. 
And therefore — though he cunningly dis- 
guises himself in their armor, their robes 
of state, or kingly purple — it is not the 
statesman, the warrior, or the monarch 
that survives, but the despised poet, whom 
they may have fed with their crumbs, and 
to whom they owe all that they now are or 
have, — a name ! ^ 

^ September 30, 1 8 $ 5. Poets* C orner has never seemed 
like a strange place to me ; it has been familiar from the 
very first ; at all events, I cannot now recollect the pre- 
vious conception, of which the reality has taken the place. 
I seem always to have known that somewhat dim 
comer, with the bare brown stone-work of the old edi- 
fice aloft, and a window shedding down its light on the 
marble busts and tablets, yellow with time, that cover 
the three walls of the nook up to a height of about 
twenty feet. Prior's is the largest and richest monu- 
ment. It is observable that the bust and monument of 
Congreve are in a distant part of the Abbey. His 
duchess probably thought it a degradation to bring a 
gentleman among the beggarly poets. — II. 153. 

November 12, 1857. We found our way to Poets' Cor- 
ner, however, and entered those holy precincts, which 
looked very dusky and grim in the smoky light. ... I 
was strongly impressed with the perception that very 
commonplace people compose the great bulk of society 
in the home of the illustrious dead. It is wonderful 
how few names there are that one cares anything about 
a hundred years after their departure ; but perhaps each 



UP THE THAMES 455 

In the foregoing paragraph I seem to 
have been betrayed into a flight above 
or beyond the customary level that best 
agrees with me ; but it represents fairly 
enough the emotions with which I passed 
from Poets* Corner into the chapels, which 
contain the sepulchres of kings and great 
people. They are magnificent even now, 
and must have been inconceivably so when 
the marble slabs and pillars wore their new 
polish, and the statues retained the brilliant 
colors with which they were originally 
painted, and the shrines their rich gilding, 
of which the sunlight still shows a glimmer 
or a streak, though the sunbeam itself looks 
tarnished with antique dust. Yet this rec- 
ondite portion of the Abbey presents few 
memorials of personages whom we care 
to remember. The shrine of Edward the 
Confessor has a certain interest, because 
it was so long held in religious reverence, 
and because the very dust that settled 
upon it was formerly worth gold. The 
helmet and war-saddle of Henry V., worn 

generation acts in good faith in canonizing its own 
men. . . . But the fame of the buried person does not 
make the marble live, — the marble keeps merely a cold 
and sad memory of a man who would else be forgotten. 
No man who needs a monument ever ought to have 
one. — II. 565. 



456 OUR OLD HOME 

at Agincourt, and now suspended above 
his tomb, are memorable objects, but more 
for Shakespeare's sake than the victor's 
own. Rank has been the general pass- 
port to admission here. Noble and regal 
dust is as cheap as dirt under the pave- 
ment. I am glad to recollect, indeed (and 
it is too characteristic of the right Eng- 
lish spirit not to be mentioned), one or 
two gigantic statues of great mechanicians, 
who contributed largely to the material 
welfare of England, sitting familiarly in 
their marble chairs among forgotten kings 
and queens. Otherwise, the quaintness of 
the earlier monuments, and the antique 
beauty of some of them, are what chiefly 
gives them value. Nevertheless, Addison 
is buried among the men of rank ; not on 
the plea of his literary fame, however, but 
because he was connected with nobility by 
marriage, and had been a Secretary of 
State. His gravestone is inscribed with a 
resounding verse from Tickell's lines to 
his memory, the only lines by which Tick- 
ell himself is now remembered, and which 
(as I discovered a little while ago) he 
mainly filched from an obscure versifier of 
somewhat earlier date. 

Returning to Poets' Comer, I looked 



UP THE THAMES 457 

again at the walls, and wondered how the 
requisite hospitality can be shown to poets 
of our own and the succeeding ages. There 
is hardly a foot of space left, although 
room has lately been found for a bust of 
Southey and a full-length statue of Camp- 
bell. At best, only a little portion of the 
Abbey is dedicated to poets, literary men, 
musical composers, and others of the gen- 
tle artist breed, and even into that small 
nook of sanctity men of other pursuits have 
thought it decent to intrude themselves. 
Methinks the tuneful throng, being at 
home here, should recollect how they were 
treated in their lifetime, and turn the cold 
shoulder, looking askance at nobles and 
official personages, however worthy of 
honorable interment elsewhere. Yet it 
shows aptly and truly enough what portion 
of the world's regard and honor has hereto- 
fore been awarded to literary eminence in 
comparison with other modes of greatness, 
— this dimly lighted corner (nor even that 
quietly to themselves) in the vast minster 
the walls of which are sheathed and hidden 
under marble that has been wasted upon 
the illustrious obscure. Nevertheless, it 
may not be worth while to quarrel with the 
world on this account ; for, to confess the 



458 OUR OLD HOME 

very truth, their own little nook contains 
more than one poet whose memory is kept 
alive by his monument, instead of imbuing 
the senseless stone with a spiritual immor- 
tality, — men of whom you do not ask, 
" Where is he ? " but, " Why is he here ? " 
I estimate that all the literary people who 
really make an essential part of one's inner 
life, including the period since English 
literature first existed, might have ample 
elbow-room to sit down and quaff their 
draughts of Castaly round Chaucer's broad, 
horizontal tombstone. These divinest poets 
consecrate the spot, and throw a reflected 
glory over the humblest of their com- 
panions. And as for the latter, it is to be 
hoped that they may have long outgrown 
the characteristic jealousies and morbid 
sensibilities of their craft, and have found 
out the little value (probably not amount- 
ing to sixpence in immortal currency) of 
the posthumous renown which they once 
aspired to win. It would be a poor com- 
pliment to a dead poet to fancy him leaning 
out of the sky and snuffing up the impure 
breath of earthly praise. 

Yet we cannot easily rid ourselves of 
the notion that those who have bequeathed 
us the inheritance erf an undying song 



UP THE THAMES 459 

would fain be conscious of its endless 
reverberations in the hearts of mankind, 
and would delight, among sublimer enjoy- 
ments, to see their names emblazoned in 
such a treasure -place of great memories 
as Westminster Abbey. There are some 
men, at all events, — true and tender poets, 
moreover, and fully deserving of the honor, 
— whose spirits, I feel certain, would linger 
a little while about Poets' Comer, for the 
sake of witnessing their own apotheosis 
among their kindred. They have had a 
strong natural yearning, not so much for 
applause as sympathy, which the cold for- 
tune of their lifetime did but scantily sup- 
ply ; so that this unsatisfied appetite may 
make itself felt upon sensibilities at once 
so delicate and retentive, even a step or 
two beyond the grave. Leigh Hunt, for 
example, would be pleased, even now, if he 
could learn that his bust had been reposited 
in the midst of the old poets whom he ad- 
mired and loved ; though there is hardly a 
man among the authors of to-day and yes- 
terday whom the judgment of Englishmen 
would be less likely to place there. He 
deserves it, however, if not for his verse 
(the value of which I do not estimate, 
never having been able to read ft), yet for 



460 OUR OLD HOME 

his delightful prose, his unmeasured po- 
etry, the inscrutable happiness of his touch, 
working soft miracles by a life-process like 
the growth of grass and flowers. As with 
all such gentle writers, his page sometimes 
betrayed a vestige of affectation, but, the 
next moment, a rich, natural luxuriance 
overgrew and buried it out of sight. I 
knew him a little, and (since, Heaven be 
praised, few English celebrities whom I 
chanced to meet have enfranchised my pen 
by their decease, and as I assume no liber- 
ties with living men) I will conclude this 
rambling article by sketching my first m- 
terview with Leigh Hunt. 

He was then at Hammersmith, occupy- 
ing a very plain and shabby little house, in 
a contiguous range of others like it, with 
no prospect but that of an ugly village 
street, and certainly nothing to gratify his 
craving for a tasteful environment, inside 
or out. A slatternly maid-servant opened 
the door for us, and he himself stood in 
the entry, a beautiful and -venerable old 
man, buttoned to the chin in a black dress- 
coat, tall and slender, with a countenance 
quietly alive all over, and the gentlest and 
most naturally courteous manner. He 
ushered us into his little study, or parlor, 



UP THE THAMES 46 1 

or both, — a very forlorn room, with poor 
paper-hangings and carpet, few books, no 
pictures that I remember, and an awful 
lack of upholstery. I touch distinctly upon 
these external blemishes and this nudity of 
adornment, not that they would be worth 
mentioning in a sketch of other remarkable 
persons, but because Leigh Hunt was born 
with such a faculty of enjoying all beauti- 
ful things that it seemed as if Fortune did 
him as much wrong in not supplying them 
as in withholding a sufficiency of vital 
breath from ordinary men. All kinds of 
mild magnificence, tempered by his taste, 
would have become him well ; but he had 
not the grim dignity that assumes naked- 
ness as the better robe. 

I have said that he was a beautiful old 
man. In truth, I never saw a finer coun- 
tenance, either as to the mould of features 
or the expression, nor any that showed the 
play of feeling so perfectly without the 
slightest theatrical emphasis. It was like 
a child's face in this respect. At my first 
glimpse of him, when he met us in the 
entry, I discerned that he was old, his long 
hair being white and his wrinkles many; 
it was an aged visage, in short, such as I 
had not at all expected to see, in spite of 



462 OUR OLD HOME 

dates, because his books talk to the reader 
with the tender vivacity of youth. But 
when he began to speak, and as he grew 
more earnest in conversation, I ceased to 
be sensible of his age ; sometimes, indeed, 
its dusky shadow darkened through the 
gleam which his sprightly thoughts dif- 
fused about his face, but then another 
flash of youth came out of his eyes and 
made an illumination again. I never wit- 
nessed such a wonderfully illusive trans- 
formation, before or since ; and, to this 
day, trusting only to my recollection, I 
should find it difficult to decide which was 
his genuine and stable predicament, — 
youth or age. I have met no Englishman 
whose manners seemed to me so agreeable, 
soft, rather than polished, wholly uncon- 
ventional, the natural growth of a kindly 
and sensitive disposition without any refer- 
ence to rule, or else obedient to some rule 
so subtile that the nicest observer could 
not detect the application of it. 

His eyes were dark and very fine, and 
his delightful voice accompanied their vis- 
ible language like music. He appeared to 
be exceedingly appreciative of whatever 
was passing among those who surrounded 
him, and especially of the vicissitudes in 



UP THE THAMES 463 

the consciousness of the person to whom 
he happened to be addressing himself at 
the moment. I felt that no effect upon 
my mind of what he uttered, no emotion, 
however transitory, in myself, escaped his 
notice, though not from any positive vigi- 
lance on his part, but because his faculty of 
observation was so penetrative and delicate ; 
and to say the truth, it a little confused me 
to discern always a ripple on his mobile 
face, responsive to any slightest breeze that 
passed over the inner reservoir of my senti- 
ments, and seemed thence to extend to a 
similar reservoir within himself. On mat- 
ters of feeling, and within a certain depth, 
you might spare yourself the trouble of 
utterance, because he already knew what 
you wanted to say, and perhaps a little 
more than you would have spoken. His 
figure was full of gentle movement, though, 
somehow, without disturbing its quietude ; 
and as he talked, he kept folding his hands 
nervously, and betokened in many ways a 
fine and immediate sensibility, quick to feel 
pleasure or pain, though scarcely capable, 
I should imagine, of a passionate experi- 
ence in either direction. There was not 
an English trait in him from head to foot, 
morally, intellectually, or physically. Beef, 



464 OUR OLD HOME 

ale, or stout, brandy or port-wine, entered 
not at all into his composition. In his 
earlier life, he appears to have g^ven evi- 
dences of courage and sturdy principle, and 
of a tendency to fling himself into the 
rough struggle of humanity on the liberal 
side. It would be taking too much upon 
myself to affirm that this was merely a 
projection of his fancy world into the ac- 
tual, and that he never could have hit a 
downright blow, and was altogether an un- 
suitable person to receive one. I beheld 
him not in his armor, but in his peacefulest 
robes. Nevertheless, drawing my conclu- 
sion merely from what I saw, it would have 
occurred to me that his main deficiency 
was a lack of grit. Though anything but 
a timid man, the combative and defensive 
elements were not prominently developed 
in his character, and could have been made 
available only when he put an unnatural 
force upon his instincts. It was on this 
account, and also because of the fineness 
of his nature generally, that the English 
appreciated him no better, and left this 
sweet and delicate poet poor, and with 
scanty laurels, in his declining age. 

It was not, I think, from his American 
blood that Leigh Hunt derived either his 



UP THE THAMES 465 

amiability or his peaceful inclinations ; at 
least, I do not see how we can reasonably 
claim the former quality as a national char- 
acteristic, though the latter might have 
been fairly inherited from his ancestors on 
the mother's side, who were Pennsylvania 
Quakers. But the kind of excellence that 
distinguished him — his fineness, subtilty, 
and grace — was that which the richest 
cultivation has heretofore tended to de- 
velop in the happier examples of American 
genius, and which (though I say it a little 
reluctantly) is perhaps what our future in- 
tellectual advancement may make general 
among us. His person, at all events, was 
thoroughly American, and of the best type, 
as were likewise his manners ; for we are 
the best as well as the worst * mannered 
people in the world. 

Leigh Hunt loved dearly to be praised. 
That is to say, he desired sympathy as a 
flower seeks sunshine, and perhaps profited 
by it as much in the richer depth of color- 
ing that it imparted to his ideas. In re- 
sponse to all that we ventured to express 
about his writings (and, for my part, I went 
quite to the extent of my conscience, which 
was a long way, and there left the matter 
to a lady and a young girl, who happily 



466 OUR OLD HOME 

were with me), his face shone, and he man- 
ifested great delight, with a perfect, and 
yet delicate, frankness, for which I loved 
him. He could not tell us, he said, the 
happiness that such appreciation gave him ; 
it always took him by surprise, he re- 
marked, for — perhaps because he cleaned 
his own boots, and performed other little 
ordinary offices for himself — he never had 
been conscious of anything wonderful in 
his own person. And then he smiled, 
making himself and all the poor little parlor 
about him beautiful thereby. It is usually 
the hardest thing in the world to praise a 
man to his face ; but Leigh Hunt received 
the incense with such gracious satisfaction 
(feeling it to be sympathy, not vulgar 
praise), that the only difficulty was to keep 
the enthusiasm of the moment within the 
limit of permanent opinion. A storm had 
suddenly come up while we were talking ; 
the rain poured, the lightning flashed, and 
the thunder broke ; but I hope, and have 
great pleasure in believing, that it was a 
sunny hour for Leigh Hunt. Nevertheless, 
it was not to my voice that he most favor- 
ably inclined his ear, but to those of my 
companipns. Women are the fit ministers 
at such a shrine. 



UP THE THAMES 467 

He must have suffered keenly in his 
lifetime, and enjoyed keenly, keeping his 
emotions so much upon the surface as he 
seemed to do, and convenient for everybody 
to play upon. Being of a cheerful temper- 
ament, happiness had probably the upper- 
hand. His was a light, mildly joyous 
nature, gentle, graceful, yet seldom attain- 
ing to that deepest grace which results 
from power ; for beauty, like woman, its 
human representative, dallies with the 
gentle, but yields its consummate favor 
only to the strong. I imagine that Leigh 
Hunt may have been more beautiful when 
I met him, both in person and character, 
than in his earlier days. As a young man, 
I could conceive of his being finical in 
certain moods, but not now, when the 
gravity of age shed a venerable grace about 
him. I rejoiced to hear him say that he 
was favored with most confident and cheer- 
ing anticipations in respect to a future life ; 
and there were abundant proofs, through- 
out our interview, of an unrepining spirit, 
resignation, quiet relinquishment of the 
worldly benefits that were denied- him, 
thankful enjoyment of whatever he had to 
enjoy, and piety, and hope shining onward 
into the dusk, — all of which gave a rever- 



468 OUR OLD HOME 

ential cast to the feeling with which we 
parted from him. I wish that he could 
have had one full draught of prosperity 
before he died. As a matter of artistic 
propriety, it would have been delightful to 
see him inhabiting a beautiful house of his 
own, in an Italian climate, with all sorts of 
elaborate upholstery and minute elegances 
about him, and a succession of tender and 
lovely women to praise his sweet poetry 
from morning to night. I hardly know 
whether it is my fault, or the effect of a 
weakness in Leigh Hunt's character, that 
I should be sensible of a regret of this 
nature, when, at the same time, I sincerely 
believe that he has found an infinity of 
better things in the world whither he has 
gone. 

At our leave-taking he grasped me 
warmly by both hands, and seemed as much 
interested in our whole party as if he had 
known us for years. All this was genuine 
feeling, a quick, luxuriant growth out of 
his heart, which was a soil for flower-seeds 
of rich and rare varieties, not acorns, but 
a true heart, nevertheless. Several years 
afterwards I met him for the last time at a 
London dinner-party, looking sadly broken 
down by infirmities ; and my final recoUec- 



UP THE THAMES 469 

tion of the beautiful old man presents him 
arm in arm with, nay, if I mistake not, 
partly embraced and supported by, another 
beloved and honored poet, whose minstrel- 
name, since he has a week-day one for his 
personal occasions, I will venture to speak. 
It was Barry Cornwall, whose kind intro- 
duction had first made me known to Leigh 
Hunt.i 

1 Barry Cornwall, Mr. Procter, called on me a week 
or more ago, but I happened not to be in the office. 
Saturday last he called again, and as I had crossed to 
Rock Park he followed me thither. A plain, middle- 
sized, English-looking gentleman, elderly, with short 
white hair, and particularly quiet in his manners. He 
talks in a somewhat low tone without emphasis, scarcely 
distinct. . . . His head has a good outline, and would 
look well in marble. I liked him very well. He talked 
unaffectedly, showing an author's regard to his reputa- 
tion, and was evidently pleased to hear of his American 
celebrity. He said that in his younger days he was a sci- 
entific pugilist, and once took a journey to have a spar- 
ring encounter with the Game-Chicken. Certainly no 
one would have looked for a pugilist in this subdued 
old gentleman. He is now Commissioner of Lunacy, 
and makes periodical circuits through the country, at- 
tending to the business of his office. He is slightly deaf, 
and this may be the cause of his unaccented utterance, 
— owing to his not being able to regulate his voice ex- 
actly by his own ear. . . . He is a good man, and much 
better expressed by his real name, Procter, than by his 
poetical one, Barry Cornwall. ... He took my hand in 
both of his at parting. . . . — 1. 498. 



XL 

OUTSIDE GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH 
POVERTY 

Becoming an inhabitant of a great Eng- 
lish town, I often turned aside from the 
prosperous thoroughfares (where the edi^ 
fices, the shops, and the bustling crowd 
differed not so much from scenes with 
which I was familiar in my own country), 
and went designedly astray among pre- 
cincts that reminded me of some of Dick- 
ens's grimiest pages. There I caught 
glimpses of a people and a mode of life 
that were comparatively new to my obser- 
vation, a sort of sombre phantasmagoric 
spectacle, exceedingly undelightful to be- 
hold, yet involving a singular interest and 
even fascination in its ugliness. 

Dirt, one would fancy, is plenty enough 
all over the world, being the symbolic ac- 
companiment of the foul incrustation which 
began to settle over and bedim all earthly 
things as soon as Eve had bitten the apple ; 
ever since which hapless epoch, her daugh- 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 47 1 

ters have chiefly been engaged in a des- 
perate and unavailing struggle to get rid of 
it. But the dirt of a poverty-stricken Eng- 
lish street is a monstrosity unknown on 
our side of the Atlantic. It reigns supreme 
within its own limits, and is inconceivable 
everywhere beyond them. We enjoy the 
great *advantage, that the brightness and 
dryness of our atmosphere keep every- 
thing clean that the sun shines upon, con- 
verting the larger portion of our impurities 
into transitory dust which the next wind 
can sweep away, in contrast with the damp, 
adhesive grime that incorporates itself with 
all surfaces (unless continually and pain- 
fully cleansed) in the chill moisture of the 
English air. Then the all-pervading smoke 
of the city, abundantly intermingled with 
the sable snow-flakes of bituminous coal, 
hovering overhead, descending, and alight- 
ing on pavements and rich architectural 
fronts, on the snowy muslin of the ladies, 
and the gentlemen's starched collars and 
shirt-bosoms, invests even the better streets 
in a half-mourning garb. It is beyond the 
resources of Wealth to keep the smut away 
from its premises or its own fingers* ends ; 
and as for Poverty, it surrenders itself to 
the dark influence without a struggle. 



472 OUR OLD HOME 

Along with disastrous circumstances, pinch- 
ing need, adversity so lengthened out as 
to constitute the rule of life, there comes 
a certain chill depression of the spirits 
which seems especially to shudder at cold 
water. In view of so wretched a state of 
things, we accept the ancient Deluge not 
merely as an insulated phenomenon, but 
as a periodical necessity, and acknowledge 
that nothing less than such a general wash- 
ing-day could suffice to cleanse the slovenly 
old world of its moral and material dirt. 

Gin-shops, or what the English call 
spirit-vaults, are numerous in the vicinity 
of these poor streets, and are set off with 
the magnificence of gilded door-posts, tar- 
nished by contact with the unclean cus- 
tomers who haunt there. Ragged chil- 
dren come thither with old shaving-mugs, 
or broken-nosed teapots, or any such make- 
shift receptacle, to get a little poison or 
madness for their parents, who deserve no 
better requital at their hands for having 
engendered them. Inconceivably sluttish 
women enter at noonday and stand at the 
counter among boon -companions of both 
sexes, stirring up misery and jollity in a 
bumper together, and quaffing off the mix- 
ture with a relish. As for the men, they 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 473 

lounge there continually, drinking till they 
are drunken, — drinking as long as they 
have a halfpenny left, — and then, as it 
seemed to me, waiting for a sixpenny mir- 
acle to be wrought m their pockets so as 
to enable them to be drunken again. Most 
of these establishments have a significant 
advertisement of " Beds," doubtless for 
the accommodation of their customers in 
the interval between one intoxication and 
the next. I never could find it in my 
heart, however, utterly to condemn these 
sad revelers, and should certainly wait till 
I had some better consolation to offer 
before depriving them of their dram of 
gin, though death itself were in the glass ; 
for methought their poor souls needed 
such fiery stimulant to lift them a little 
way out of the smothering squalor of both 
their outward and interior life, giving them 
glimpses and suggestions, even if bewil- 
dering ones, of a spiritual existence that 
limited their present misery. The temper- 
ance-reformers unquestionably derive their 
commission from the Divine Beneficence, 
but have never been taken fully into its 
counsels. All may not be lost, though 
those good men fail. 

Pawnbrokers* establishments — distin- 



474 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

guished by the mystic symbol of the three 
golden balls, — were conveniently accessi- 
ble ; though what personal property these 
wretched people could possess, capable of 
being estimated in silver or copper, so as 
to aflford a basis for a loan, was a problem 
that still perplexes me. Old clothesmen, 
likewise, dwelt hard by, and hung out an- 
cient garments to dangle in the wind. 
There were butchers* shops, too, of a class 
adapted to the neighborhood, presenting 
no such generously fattened carcasses as 
Englishmen love to gaze at in the market, 
no stupendous halves of mighty beeves, no 
dead hogs, or muttons ornamented with 
carved bas-reliefs of fat on their ribs and 
shoulders, in a peculiarly British style of 
art, — not these, but bits and gobbets of 
lean meat, selvages snipt off from steaks, 
tough and stringy morsels, bare bones 
smitten away from joints by the cleaver ; 
tripe, liver, bullocks' feet, or whatever else 
was cheapest and divisible into the small- 
est lots. I am afraid that even such deli- 
cacies came to many of their tables hardly 
oftener than Christmas. In the windows 
of other little shops you saw half a dozen 
wizened herrings ; some eggs in a .basket, 
looking so dingily antique that your imagi- 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 475 

nation smelt them; fly-speckled biscuits, 
segments of a hungry cheese, pipes and 
papers of tobacco. Now and then a sturdy 
milk-woman passed by with a wooden yoke 
over her shoulders, supporting a pail on 
either side, filled with a whitish fluid, the 
composition of which was water and chalk 
and the milk of a sickly cow, who gave 
the best she had, poor thing! but could 
scarcely make it rich or wholesome, spend- 
ing her life in some close city-nook and 
pasturing on strange food. I have seen, 
once or twice, a donkey coming into one 
of these streets with panniers full of vege- 
tables, and departing with a return cargo of 
what looked like rubbish and street-sweep- 
ings. No other commerce seemed to exist, 
except, possibly, a girl might offer you a 
pair of stockings or a worked collar, or a 
man whisper something mysterious about 
wonderfully cheap cigars. And yet I re- 
member seeing female hucksters in those 
regions, with their wares on the edge of 
the sidewalk and their own seats right in 
the carriage-way, pretending to sell half- 
decayed oranges and apples, toffy, Orms- 
kirk cakes, combs, and cheap jewelry, the 
coarsest kind of crockery, and little plates 
of oysters, — knitting patiently all day long. 



476 OUR OLD HOME 

and removing their undiminished stock in 
trade at nightfall. All indispensable im- 
portations from other quarters of the town 
were on a remarkably diminutive scale : for 
example, the wealthier inhabitants pur- 
chased their coal by the wheelbarrow-load, 
and the poorer ones by the peck-measure. 
It was a curious and melancholy spectacle, 
when an overladen coal-cart happened to 
pass through the street and drop a handful 
or two of its burden in the mud, to see half 
a dozen women and children scrambling 
for the treasure-trove, like a flock of hens 
and chickens gobbling up some spilt com. 
In this connection I may as well mention 
a commodity of boiled snails (for such they 
appeared to me, though probably a marine 
production) which used to be peddled from 
door to door, piping hot, as an article of 
cheap nutriment. 

The population of these dismal abodes 
appeared to consider the sidewalks and 
middle of the street as their common hall. 
In a drama of low life, the unity of place 
might be arranged rigidly according to the 
classic rule, and the street be the one 
locality in which every scene and incident 
should occur. Courtship, quarrels, plot 
and counterplot, conspiracies for robbery 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 477 

and murder, family difficulties or agp-ee- 
ments, — all such matters, I doubt not, are 
constantly discussed or transacted in this 
sky-roofed saloon, so regally hung with its 
sombre canopy of coal-smoke. Whatever 
the disadvantages of the English climate, 
the only comfortable or wholesome part of 
life, for the city poor, must be spent in the 
open air. The stifled and squalid rooms 
where they lie down at night, whole fam- 
ilies and neighborhoods together, or sulkily 
elbow one another in the daytime, when a 
settled rain drives them within doors, are 
worse horrors than it is worth while (with- 
out a practical object in view) to admit into 
one's imagination. No wonder that they 
creep forth from the foul mystery of their 
interiors, stumble down from their garrets, 
or scramble up out of their cellars, on the 
upper step of which you may see the grimy 
housewife, before the shower is ended, 
letting the raindrops gutter down her vis- 
age; while her children (an impish progeny 
of cavernous recesses below the common 
sphere of humanity) swarm into the day- 
light and attain all that they know of per- 
sonal purification in the nearest mud- 
puddle. It might almost make a man 
doubt the existence of his own soul, to 



478 OUR OLD HOME 

observe how Nature has flung these little 
wretches into the street and left them 
there, so evidently regarding them as 
nothing worth, and how all mankind acqui- 
esce in the great mother's estimate of her 
offspring. For, if they are to have no 
immortality, what superior claim can I 
assert for mine ? And how difficult to be- 
lieve that anything so precious as a germ 
of immortal growth can have been buried 
under this dirt -heap, plunged into this 
cesspool of misery and vice ! As often as 
I beheld the scene, it affected me with 
surprise and loathsome interest, much re- 
sembling, though in a far intenser degree, 
the feeling with which, when a boy, I used 
to turn over a plank or an old log that had 
long lain on the damp ground, and found a 
vivacious multitude of unclean and devilish- 
looking insects scampering to and fro be- 
neath it. Without an infinite faith, there 
seemed as much prospect of a blessed 
futurity for those hideous bugs and many- 
footed worms as for these brethren of our 
humanity and co-heirs of all our heavenly 
inheritance. Ah, what a mystery ! Slowly, 
slowly, as after groping at the bottom of a 
deep, noisome, stagnant pool, my hope 
struggles upward to the surface, bearing 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 479 

the half- drowned body of a child along 
with it, and heaving it aloft for its life, and 
my own life, and all our lives. Unless 
these slime - clogged nostrils can be made 
capable of inhaling celestial air, I know 
not how the purest and most intellectual 
of us can reasonably expect ever to taste a 
breath of it. The whole question of eter- 
nity is staked there. If a single one of 
those helpless little ones be lost, the world 
is lost ! 

The women and children greatly prepon- 
derate in such places; the men probably 
wandering abroad in quest of that daily 
miracle, a dinner and a drink, or perhaps 
slumbering in the daylight that they may 
the better follow out their cat-like ram- 
bles through the dark. Here are women 
with young figures, but old, wrinkled, yel- 
low faces, tanned and blear-eyed with the 
smoke which they cannot spare from their 
scanty fires, — it being too precious for its 
warmth to be swallowed by the chimney. 
Some of them sit on the doorsteps, nursing 
their unwashed babies at bosoms which we 
will glance aside from, for the sake of our 
mothers and all womanhood, because the 
fairest spectacle is here the foulest. Yet 
motherhood, in these dark abodes, is 



480 OUR OLD HOME 

Strangely identical with what we have 
all known it to be in the happiest homes. 
Nothing, as I remember, smote me with 
more grief and pity (all the more poignant 
because perplexingly entangled with an 
inclination to smile) than to hear a gaunt 
and ragged mother priding herself on the 
pretty ways of her ragged and skinny in- 
fant, just as a young matron might, when 
she invites her lady friends to admire her 
plump, white-robed darling in the nursery. 
Indeed, no womanly characteristic seemed 
to have altogether perished out of these 
poor souls. It was the very same creature 
whose tender torments make the rapture 
of our young days, whom we love, cherish, 
and protect, and rely upon in life and 
death, and whom we delight to see beautify 
her beauty with rich robes and set it off 
with jewels, though now fantastically mas- 
querading in a garb of tatters, wholly unfit 
for her to handle. I recognized her, over 
and over again, in the groups round a door- 
step or in the descent of a cellar, chatting 
with prodigious earnestness about intangi- 
ble trifles, laughing for a little jest, sym- 
pathizing at almost the same instant with 
one neighbor's sunshine and another's 
shadow ; wise, simple, sly, and patient, yet 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 48 1 

easily perturbed, and breaking into small 
feminine ebullitions of spite, wrath, and 
jealousy, tornadoes of a moment, such as 
vary the social atmosphere of her silken- 
skirted sisters, though smothered into pro- 
priety by dint of a well-bred habit. Not 
that there was an absolute deficiency of 
good-breeding, even here. It often sur- 
prised me to witness a courtesy and def- 
erence among these ragged folks, which, 
having seen it, I did not thoroughly believe 
in, wondering whence it should have come. 
I am persuaded, however, that there were 
laws of intercourse which they never vio- 
lated, — a code of the cellar, the garret, the 
common staircase, the doorstep, and the 
pavement, which, perhaps, had as deep a 
foundation in natural fitness as the code of 
the drawing-room. 

Yet again I doubt whether I may not 
have been uttering folly in the last two 
sentences, when I reflect how rude and 
rough these specimens of feminine char- 
acter generally were. They had a readi- 
ness with their hands that reminded me of 
Molly Seagrim and other heroines in Field- 
ing's novels. For example, I have seen 
a woman meet a man in the street, and, 
for no reason perceptible to me, suddenly 



482 OUR OLD HOME 

clutch him by the hair and cuff his ears, — 
an infliction which he bore with exemplary 
patience, only snatching the very earliest 
opportunity to take to his heels. Where a 
sharp tongue will not serve the purpose, 
they trust to the sharpness of their finger- 
nails, or incarnate a whole vocabulary of 
vituperative words in a resounding slap, or 
the downright blow of a doubled fist. All 
English people, I imagine, are influenced 
in a far greater degree than ourselves by 
this simple and honest tendency, in cases 
of disagreement, to batter one another's 
persons ; and whoever has seen a crowd of 
English ladies (for instance, at the door of 
the Sistine Chapel, in Holy Week) will be 
satisfied that their belligerent propensities 
are kept in abeyance only by a merciless 
rigor on the part of society. It requires a 
vast deal of refinement to spiritualize their 
large physical endowments. Such being 
the case with the delicate ornaments of 
the drawing-room, it is less to be wondered 
at that women who live mostly in the open 
air, amid the coarsest kind of companion- 
ship and occupation, should carry on the 
intercourse of life with a freedom unknown 
to any class of American females, though 
still, I am resolved to think, compatible 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 483 

with a generous breadth of natural propri- 
ety. It shocked me, at first, to see them 
(of all ages, even elderly, as well as infants 
that could just toddle across the street 
alone) going about in the mud and mire, or 
through the dusky snow and slosh of a 
severe week in winter, with petticoats high 
uplifted above bare, red feet and legs ; but 
I was comforted by observing that both 
shoes and stockings generally reappeared 
with better weather, having been thriftily 
kept out of the damp for the convenience 
of dry feet within doors. Their hardihood 
was wonderful, and their strength greater 
than could have been expected from such 
spare diet as they probably lived upon. I 
have seen them carrying on their heads 
great burdens under which they walked as 
freely as if they were fashionable bonnets ; 
or sometimes the burden was huge enough 
almost to cover the whole person, looked 
at from behind, — as in Tuscan villages you 
may see the girls coming in from the coun- 
try with great bundles of green twigs upon 
their backs, so that they resemble locomo- 
tive masses of verdure and fragrance. But 
these poor English women seemed to be 
laden with rubbish, incongruous and inde- 
scribable, such as bones and rags, the 



484 OUR OLD HOME 

sweepings of the house and of the street, 
a merchandise gathered up from what pov- 
erty itself had thrown away, a heap of 
filthy stuflf analogous to Christian's bundle 
of sin. 

Sometimes, though very seldom, I de- 
tected a certain gracefulness among the 
younger women that was altogether new 
to my observation. It was a charm proper 
to the lowest class. One girl I particularly 
remember, m a garb none of the cleanest 
and nowise smart, and herself exceedingly 
coarse in all respects, but yet endowed 
with a sort of witchery, a native charm, a 
robe of simple beauty and suitable behavior 
that she was bom in and had never been 
tempted to throw off, because she had 
really nothing else to. put on. Eve herself 
could not have been more natural Noth- 
ing was afEected, nothing imitated; no 
proper grace was vulgarized by an effort 
to assume the manners or adornments of 
another sphere. This kind of beauty, ar- 
rayed in a fitness of its own, is probably 
vanishing out of the world, and will cer- 
tainly never be found in America, where all 
the girls, whether daughters of the upper- 
tendom, the mediocrity, the cottage, or the 
kennel, aim at one standard of dress and 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 485 

deportment, seldom accomplishing a per- 
fectly triumphant hit or an utterly absurd 
failure. Those words, " genteel '* and " lady- 
like, " are terrible ones, and do us infinite 
mischief, but it is because (at least, I hope 
so) we are in a transition state, and shall 
emerge into a higher mode of simplicity 
than has ever been known to past ages. 

In such disastrous circumstances as I 
have been attempting to describe, it was 
beautiful to observe what a mysterious ef- 
ficacy still asserted itself in character. A 
woman, evidently poor as the poorest of 
her neighbors, would be knitting or sewing 
on the doorstep, just as fifty other women 
were ; but round about her skirts (though 
wofully patched) you would be sensible of 
a certain sphere of decency, which, it 
seemed to me, could not have been kept 
more impregnable in the cosiest little sit- 
ting-room, where the teakettle on the hob 
was humming its good old song of domestic 
peace. Maidenhood had a similar power. 
The evil habit that grows upon us in this 
harsh world makes me faithless to my own 
better perceptions ; and yet I have seen 
girls in these wretched streets, on whose 
virgin purity, judging merely from their 
impression on my instincts as they passed 



486 OUR OLD HOME 

by, I should have deemed it safe, at the 
moment, to stake my life. The next mo- 
ment, however, as the surrounding flood of 
moral uncleanness surged over their foot- 
steps, I would not have staked a spike of 
thistle-down on the same wager. Yet the 
miracle was within the scope of Providence, 
which is equally wise and equally benefi- 
cent (even to those poor girls, though I 
acknowledge the fact without the remotest 
comprehension of the mode of it), whether 
they were pure or what we fellow-sinners 
call vile. Unless your faith be deep-rooted 
and of most vigorous growth, it is the 
safer way not to turn aside into this region 
so suggestive of miserable doubt. It was 
a place "with dreadful faces thronged," 
wrinkled and grim with vice and wretched- 
ness ; and, thinking over the line of Mil- 
ton here quoted, I come to the conclusion 
that those ugly lineaments which startled 
Adam and Eve, as they looked backward to 
the closed gate of Paradise, were no fiends 
from the pit, but the more terrible fore- 
shadowings of what so many of their de- 
scendants were to be. God help them, and 
us likewise, their brethren and sisters ! 
Let me add, that, forlorn, ragged, careworn, 
hopeless, dirty, haggard, hungry, as they 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 487 

were, the most pitiful thing of all was to 
see the sort of patience with which they 
accepted their lot, as if they had been born 
into the world for that and nothing else. 
Even the little children had this character- 
istic in as perfect development as their 
grandmothers. 

The children, in truth, were the ill- 
omened blossoms from which another har- 
vest of precisely such dark fruitage as I 
saw ripened around me was to be produced. 
Of course you would imagine these to be 
lumps of crude iniquity, tiny vessels as full 
as they could hold of naughtiness ; nor can 
I say a great deal to the contrary. Small 
proof of parental discipline could I discern, 
save when a mother (drunken, I sincerely 
hope) snatched her own imp out of a group 
of pale, half-naked, humor-eaten abortions 
that were playing and squabbling together 
in the mud, turned up its tatters, brought 
down her heavy hand on its poor little 
tenderest part, and let it go again with a 
shake. If the child knew what the punish- 
ment was for, it was wiser than I pretend 
to be; It yelled and went back to its play- 
mates in the mud. Yet let me bear tes- 
timony to what was beautiful, and more 
touching than anything that I ever wit- 



488 OUR OLD HOME 

nessed before in the intercourse of happier 
children. I allude to the superintendence 
which some of these small people (too small, 
one would think, to be sent into the street 
alone, had there been any other nursery 
for them) exercised over still smaller ones. 
Whence they derived such a sense of duty, 
unless immediately from God, I cannot 
tell; but it was wonderful to observe the 
expression of responsibility in their deport- 
ment, the anxious fidelity with which they 
discharged their unfit office, the tender pa- 
tience with which they linked their less 
pliable impulses to the wayward footsteps 
of an infant, and let it guide them whith- 
ersoever it liked. In the hollow-cheeked, 
large-eyed girl of ten, whom I saw giving 
a cheerless oversight to her baby-brother, 
I did not so much marvel at it. She had 
merely come a little earlier than usual to 
the perception of what was to be her busi- 
ness in life. But I admired the sickly- 
looking little boy, who did violence to his 
boyish nature by making himself the ser- 
vant of his little sister, — she too small to 
walk, and he too small to take her in his 
arms, — and therefore working a kind of 
miracle to transport her from one dirt-heap 
to another. Beholding such works of love 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 489 

and duty, I took heart again, and deemed 
it not so impossible, after all, for these 
neglected children to find a path through 
the squalor and evil of their circumstances 
up to the gate of heaven. Perhaps there 
was this latent good in all of them, though 
generally they looked brutish, and dull even 
in their sports; there was little mirth 
among them, nor even a fully awakened 
spirit of blackguardism. Yet sometimes, 
again, I saw, with surprise and a sense as 
if I had been asleep and dreaming, the 
bright, intelligent, merry face of a child 
whose dark eyes gleamed with vivacious 
expression through the dirt that incrusted 
its skin, like sunshine struggling through 
a very dusty window-pane. 

In these streets the belted and blue- 
coated policeman appears seldom in com- 
parison with the frequency of his occur- 
rence in more reputable thoroughfares. I 
used to think that the inhabitants would 
have ample time to murder one another, or 
any stranger, like myself, who might vio- 
late the filthy sanctities of the place, be- 
fore the law could bring up its lumbering 
assistance. Nevertheless, there is a super- 
vision ; nor does the watchfulness of author- 
ity permit the populace to be tempted to 



490 OUR OLD HOME 

any outbreak. Once, in a time of dearth, 
I noticed a ballad-singer going through the 
street hoarsely chanting some discordant 
strain in a provincial dialect, of which I 
could only make out that it addressed the 
sensibilities of the auditors on the score 
of starvation ; but by his side stalked the 
policeman, offering no interference, but 
watchful to hear what this rough minstrel 
said or sang, and silence him, if his effusion 
threatened to prove too soul-stirring. In 
my judgment, however, there is little or no 
danger of that kind : they starve patiently, 
sicken patiently, die patiently, not through 
resignation, but a diseased flaccid ity of 
hope. If ever they should do mischief to 
those above them, it will probably be by 
the communication of some destructive 
pestilence ; for, so the medical men affirm, 
they suffer all the ordinary diseases with 
a degree of virulence elsewhere unknown, 
and keep among themselves traditionary 
plagues that have long ceased to afflict 
more fortunate societies. Charity herself 
gathers her robe about her to avoid their 
contact. It would be. a dire revenge, in- 
deed, if they were to prove their claims to 
be reckoned of one blood and nature with 
the noblest and wealthiest, by compelling 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 49 1 

them to inhale death through the diffusion 
of their own poverty-poisoned atmosphere. 
A true Englishman is a. kind man at 
heart, but has an unconquerable dislike to 
poverty and beggary. Beggars have here- 
tofore been so strange to an American that 
he is apt to become their prey, being recog- 
nized through his national peculiarities, 
and beset by them in the streets. The 
English smile at him, and say that there 
are ample public arrangements for every 
pauper's possible need, that street charity 
promotes idleness and vice, and that yon- 
der personification of misery on the pave- 
ment will lay up a good day's profit, be- 
sides supping more luxuriously thaii the 
dupe who gives him a shilling. By and by 
the stranger adopts their theory and be- 
gins to practice upon it, much to his own 
temporary freedom from annoyance, but 
not entirely without moral detriment or 
sometimes a too late contrition. Years 
afterwards, it may be, his memory is still 
haunted by some vindictive wretch whose 
cheeks were pale and hunger -pinched, 
whose rags fluttered in the east -wind, 
whose right arm was paralyzed and his left 
leg shriveled into a mere nerveless stick, 
but whom he passed by remorselessly be- 



492 OUR OLD HOME 

cause an Englishman chose to say that the 
fellow's misery looked too perfect, was too 
artistically got up, to be genuine. Even 
allowing this to be true (as, a hundred 
chances to one, it was), it would still have 
been a clear case of economy to buy him 
off with a little loose silver, so that his 
lamentable figure should not limp at the 
heels of your conscience all over the world. ^ 
To own the truth, I provided myself with 
several such imaginary persecutors in Eng- 
land, and recruited their number with at 
least one sickly-looking wretch whose ac- 
quaintance I first made at Assisi, in Italy, 
and, taking a dislike to something sinister 
in his aspect, permitted him to beg early 
and late, and all day long, without getting 
a single baiocco. At my latest glimpse of 
him, the villain avenged himself, not by a 
volley of horrible curses as any other Ital- 
ian beggar would, but by taking an expres- 
sion so grief- stricken, want -wrung, hope- 
less, and withal resigned, that I could paint 
his lifelike portrait at this moment. Were 
I to go over the same ground again, I would 

^ The natural man cries out against the philosophy 
that rejects beggars. It is a thousand to one that they 
are impostors, but yet we do ourselves a wrong by hard- 
ening our hearts against them. — II. 152. 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 493 

listen to no man's theories, but buy the lit- 
tle luxury of beneficence at a cheap rate, 
instead of doing myself a moral mischief 
by exuding a stony incrustation over what- 
ever natural sensibility I might possess. 

On the other hand, there were some 
mendicants whose utmost efforts I even 
now felicitate myself on having withstood. 
Such was a phenomenon abridged of his 
lower half, who beset me for two or three 
years together, and, in spite of his defi- 
ciency of locomotive members, had some 
supernatural method of transporting him- 
self (simultaneously, I believe) to all quar- 
ters of the city. He wore a sailor's jacket 
(possibly, because skirts would have been 
a superfluity to his figure), and had a re- 
markably broad-shouldered and muscular 
frame, surmounted by a large, fresh-colored 
face, which was full of power and intelli- 
gence. His dress and linen were the per- 
fection of neatness. Once a day, at least, 
wherever I went, I suddenly became aware 
of this trunk of a man on the path before 
me, resting on his base, and looking as if 
he had just sprouted out of the pavement, 
and would sink into it again and reappear 
at some other spot the instant you left him 
behind. The expression of his eye was 



494 ^^^ OLD HOME 

perfectly respectful, but terribly fixed, 
holding your own as by fascination, never 
once winking, never wavering from its 
point-blank gaze right into your face, till 
you were completely beyond the range of 
his battery of one immense rifled cannon. 
This was his mode of soliciting alms ; and 
he reminded me of the old beggar who ap- 
pealed so touchingly to the charitable sym- 
pathies of Gil Bias, taking aim at him 
from the roadside with a long - barreled 
musket. The intentness and directness of 
his silent appeal, his close and unrelenting 
attack upon your individuality, resj^ectful 
as it seemed, was the very flower c(jf inso- 
lence; or, if you give it a possibl^jjr truer 
interpretation, it was the tyrannical! effort 
of a man endowed with great natural force 
of character to constrain your re^Buctant 
will to his purpose. Apparently, like had 
staked his salvation upon the ultimatte suc- 
cess of a daily struggle between h amself 
and me, the triumph of which would i com- 
pel me to become a tributary to tt ^le hat 
that lay on the pavement beside him.|^ Man 
or fiend, however, there was a stubbol ^nness 
in his intended victim which this mf^^assive 
fragment of a mighty personality hsj^yjid not 
altogether reckoned upon, and by its! ; aid I 



GLIMPSED OF ENGLISH POVERTY 495 

was enabled to pass him at my customary 
pace hundreds of times over, quietly meet- 
ing his terribly respectful eye, and allowing 
him the fair chance which I felt to be his 
due, to subjugate me, if he really had the 
strength for it. He never succeeded, but, 
on the other hand, never gave up the con- 
test ; and should I ever walk those streets 
again, I am certain that the truncated ty- 
rant will sprout up through the pavement 
and look me fixedly in the eye, and perhaps 
get the victory. 1 

I should think all the more highly of 
myself, if I had shown equal heroism in 

^ Among the beggars of Liverpool, the hardest to en- 
counter is a man without any legs, and if I mistake not, 
likewise deficient in arms. You see him before you all 
at once, as if he had sprouted half-way out of the earth, 
and would sink down and reappear in some other place 
the moment he has done with you. His countenance is 
large, fresh, and very intelligent ; but his great power 
lies in his fixed gaze, which is inconceivably difficult to 
bear. He never once removes his eye from you till you 
are quite past his range ; and you feel it all the same, 
although you do not meet his glance. He is perfectly 
respectful ; but the intentness and directness of his silent 
appeal is far worse than any impudence. In fact, it is 
the very flower of impudence. I would rather go a mile 
about than pass before his battery. I feel wronged by 
him, and yet unutterably ashamed. There must be great 
force in the man to produce such an effect. There is 
nothing of the customary squalidness of beggary about 
him, but remarkable trimness and cleanliness. — 1.47$. 



496 OUR OLD HOME^ 

resisting another class of beggarly depre- 
dators, who assailed me on my weaker side 
and won an easy spoil. Such was the 
sanctimonious clergyman, with his white 
cravat, who visited me with a subscription- 
paper, which he himself had drawn up, in a 
case of heart-rending distress; — the re- 
spectable and ruined tradesman, going from 
door to door, shy and silent in his own per- 
son, but accompanied by a sympathizing 
friend, who bore testimony to his integrity, 
and stated the unavoidable misfortunes that 
had crushed him down ; ^ — or the delicate 

1 It appears to be customary for people of decent 
station, but in distressed circumstances, to go round 
among their neighbors and the public, accompanied by a 
friend, who explains the case. I have been accosted in 
the street in regard to one of these matters ; and to-day 
there came to my office a grocer, who had become secur- 
ity for a friend, and who was threatened with an execu- 
tion, — with another grocer for supporter and advocate. 
The beneficiary takes very little active part in the affair, 
merely looking careworn, distressed, and pitiable, and 
throwing in a word of corroboration, or a sigh, or an ac- 
knowledgment, as the case may demand. . . . The whole 
matter is very foreign to American habits. No respect- 
able American would think of retrieving his affairs by 
such means, but would prefer ruin ten times over ; no 
friend would take up his cause ; no public would think 
it worth while to prevent the small catastrophe. And 
yet the custom is not without its good side, as indicating 
a closer feeling of brotherhood, a more efficient sense of 
neighborhood, than exists among ourselves, although. 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 497 

and prettily dressed lady, who had been 
bred in affluence, but was suddenly thrown 
upon the perilous charities of the world 
by the death of an indulgent, but secretly 
insolvent father, or the commercial catas- 
trophe and simultaneous suicide of the best 
of husbands ; — or the gifted, but unsuc- 
cessful author, appealing to my fraternal 
sympathies, generously rejoicing in some 
small prosperities which he was kind 
enough to term my own triumphs in the 
field of letters, and claiming to have largely 
contributed to them by his unbought no- 
tices in the public journals. England is 
full of such people, and a hundred other 
varieties of peripatetic tricksters, higher 
than these, and lower, who act their parts 
tolerably well, but seldom with an abso- 
lutely illusive effect. I knew at once, raw 
Yankee as I was, that they were humbugs, 
almost without an exception, — rats that 
nibble at the honest bread and cheese of 
the community, and grow fat by their petty 
pilferings, — yet often gave them what 
they asked, and privately owned myself a 
simpleton. There is a decorum which re- 

perhaps, we are more careless of a fellow-creature*s ruin, 
because ruin with us is by no means the fatal and irre- 
trievable event that it is in England. — I. 543. 



498 OUR OLD HOME 

strains you (unless you happen to be a 
police-constable) from breaking through a 
crust of plausible respectability, even when 
you are certain that there is a knave be- 
neath it. 

After making myself as familiar as I 
decently could with the poor streets, I be- 
came curious to see what kind of a home 
was provided for the inhabitants at the 
public expense, fearing that it must needs 
be a most comfortless one, or else their 
choice (if choice it were) of so miserable a 
life outside was truly difficult to account 
for. Accordingly, I visited a great alms- 
house, and was glad to observe how unex- 
ceptionably all the parts of the establish- 
ment were carried on, and what an orderly 
life, full-fed, sufficiently reposeful, and un- 
disturbed by the arbitrary exercise of au- 
thority, seemed to be led there. Possibly, 
indeed, it was that very orderliness, and 
the cruel necessity of being neat and clean, 
and even the comfort resxilting from these 
and other Christian-like restraints and reg- 
ulations, that constituted the principal 
grievance on the part of the poor, shiftless 
inmates, accustomed to a life-long luxury 
of dirt and harum-scarumness. The wild 
life of the streets has perhaps as unforget- 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 499 

able a charm, to those who have once 
thoroughly imbibed it, as the life of the 
forest or the prairie. But I conceive rather 
that there must be insuperable difficulties, 
for the majority of the poor, in the way of 
getting admittance to the almshouse, than 
that a merely aesthetic preference for the 
street would incline the pauper class to fare 
scantily and precariously, and expose their 
raggedness to the rain and snow, when 
such a hospitable door stood wide open for 
their entrance. It might be that the rough- 
est and darkest side of the matter was not 
shown me, there being persons of eminent 
station and of both sexes in the party 
which I accompanied; and, of course, a 
properly trained public functionary would 
have deemed it a monstrous rudeness, as 
well as a great shame, to exhibit anything 
to people of rank that might too painfully 
shock their sensibilities. 

The women's ward was the portion of 
the establishment which we especially ex- 
amined. It could not be questioned that 
they were treated with kindness as well as 
care. No doubt, as has been already sug- 
gested, some of them felt the irksomeness 
of submission to general rules of orderly 
behavior, after being accustomed to that 



500 OUR OLD HOME 

perfect freedom from the minor proprieties, 
at least, which is one of the compensations 
of absolutely hopeless poverty, or of any 
circumstances that set us fairly below the 
decencies of life. I asked the governor of 
the house whether he met with any diffi- 
culty in keeping peace and order among 
his inmates ; and he informed me that his 
troubles among the women were incompa- 
rably greater than with the men. They 
were freakish, and apt to be quarrelsome, 
inclined to plague and pester one another 
in ways that it was impossible to lay hold 
of, and to thwart his own authority by the 
like intangible methods. He said this with 
the utmost good-nature, and quite won my 
regard by so placidly resigning himself to 
the inevitable necessity of letting the wo- 
men throw dust into his eyes. They cer- 
tainly looked peaceable and sisterly enough 
as I saw them, though still it might be 
faintly perceptible that some of them were 
consciously playing their parts before the 
governor and his distinguished visitors. 

This governor seemed to me a man thor- 
oughly fit for his position. An American, 
in an office of similar responsibility, would 
doubtless be a much superior person, better 
educated, possessing a far wider range of 



An English Almshouse 



'! r 


1 1 





GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 50I 

thought, more naturally acute, with a 
quicker tact of external observation and 
a readier faculty of dealing with difficult 
cases. The women would not succeed in 
throwing half so much dust into his eyes. 
Moreover, his black coat, and thin, sallow 
visage, would make him look like a scholar, 
and his manners would indefinitely approx- 
imate to those of a gentleman. But I 
cannot help questioning whether, on the 
whole, these higher endowments would 
produce decidedly better results. The 
Englishman was thoroughly plebeian both 
in aspect and behavior, a blufif, ruddy-faced, 
hearty, kindly, yeoman-like personage, with 
no refinement whatever, nor any super- 
fluous sensibility, but gifted with a native 
wholesomeness of character which must 
have been a very beneficial element in the 
atmosphere of the almshouse. He spoke 
to his pauper family in loud, good-humored, 
cheerful tones, and treated them with a 
healthy freedom that probably caused the 
forlorn wretches to feel as if they were 
free and healthy likewise. If he had under- 
stood them a little better, he would not 
have treated them half so wisely. We are 
apt to make sickly people more morbid, 
and unfortunate people more miserable, by 



502 OUR OLD HOME 

endeavoring to adapt our deportment to 
their especial and individual needs. They 
eagerly accept our well-meant efforts ; but 
it is like returning their own sick breath 
back upon themselves, to be breathed over 
and over again, intensifying the inward 
mischief at every reception. The sympa- 
thy that would really do them good is of 
a kind that recognizes their sound and 
healthy parts, and ignores the part affected 
by disease, which will thrive under the eye 
of a too close observer like a poisonous 
weed in the sunshine. My good friend the 
governor had no tendencies in the latter 
direction, and abundance of them in the 
former, and was consequently as wholesome 
and invigorating as the west-wind with a 
little spice of the north in it, brightening 
the dreary visages that encountered us as 
if he had carried a sunbeam in his hand. 
He expressed himself by his whole being 
and personality, and by works more than 
words, and had the not unusual English 
merit of knowing what to do much better 
than how to talk about it. 

The women, I imagine, must have felt 
one imperfection in their state, however 
comfortable otherwise. They were forbid- 
den, or at all events lacked the means, to 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 503 

follow out their natural instinct of adorn- 
ing themselves ; all were well dressed in 
one homely uniform of blue-checked gowns, 
with such caps upon their heads as English 
servants wear. Generally, too, they had 
one dowdy English aspect, and a vulgar 
type of features so nearly alike that they 
seemed literally to constitute a sisterhood. 
We have few of these absolutely unillumi- 
nated faces among our native American 
population, individuals of whom must be 
singularly unfortunate, if, mixing as we 
do, no drop of gentle blood has contributed 
to refine the turbid element, no gleam of 
hereditary intelligence has lighted up the 
stolid eyes, which their forefathers brought 
from the Old Country. Even in this Eng- 
lish almshouse, however, there was at least 
one person who claimed to be intimately 
connected with rank and wealth. The 
governor, after suggesting that this per- 
son would probably be gratified by our 
visit, ushered us into a small parlor, which 
was furnished a little more like a room 
in a private dwelling than others that we 
entered, and had a row of religious books 
and fashionable novels on the mantelpiece. 
An old lady sat at a bright coal-fire, reading 
a romance, and rose to receive us with a 



504 OUR OLD HOME 

certain pomp of manner and elaborate dis- 
play of ceremonious courtesy, which, in 
spite of myself, made me inwardly question 
the genuineness of her aristocratic preten- 
sions. But, at any rate, she looked like 
a respectable old soul, and was evidently 
gladdened to the very core of her frost- 
bitten heart by the awful punctiliousness 
with which we responded to her gracious 
and hospitable, though unfamiliar welcome. 
After a little polite conversation, we re- 
tired ; and the governor, with a lowered 
voice and an air of deference, told us that 
she had been a lady of quality, and had 
ridden in her own equipage, not many years 
before, and now lived in continual expecta- 
tion that some of her rich relatives would 
drive up in their carriages to take her 
away. Meanwhile, he added, she was 
treated with great respect by her fellow- 
paupers. I could not help thinking, from a 
few criticisable peculiarities in her talk and 
manner, that there might have been a mis- 
take on the governor's part, and perhaps 
a venial exaggeration on the old lady's, 
concerning her former position in society ; 
but what struck me was the forcible in- 
stance of that most prevalent of English 
vanities, the pretension to aristocratic con- 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 505 

nection, on one side, and the submission 
and reverence with which it was accepted 
by the governor and his household, on the 
other. Among ourselves, I think, when 
wealth and eminent position have taken 
their departure, they seldom leave a pallid 
ghos( behind them, — or, if it sometimes 
stalks abroad, few recognize it. 

We went into several other rooms, at the 
doors of which, pausing on the outside, we 
could hear the volubility, and sometimes 
the wrangling, of the female inhabitants 
within, but invariably found silence and 
peace when we stepped over the threshold. 
The women were grouped together in their 
sitting-rooms, sometimes three or four, 
sometimes a larger number, classified by 
their spontaneous affinities, I suppose, and 
all busied, so far as I can remember, with 
the one occupation of knitting coarse yarn 
stockings. Hardly any of them, I am sorry 
to say, had a brisk or cheerful air, though 
it often stirred them up to a momentary 
vivacity to be accosted by the governor, 
and they seemed to like being noticed, 
however slightly, by the visitors. The 
happiest person whom I saw there (and 
running hastily through my experiences, I 
hardly recollect to have seen a happier one 



So6 OUR OLD HOME 

in my life, if you take a careless flow of 
spirits as happiness) was an old woman 
that lay in bed among ten or twelve heavy- 
looking females, who plied their knitting- 
work round about her. She laughed, when 
we entered, and immediately began to talk 
to us, in a thin, little, spirited quaver, claim- 
ing to be more than a century old ; and 
the governor (in whatever way he happened 
to be cognizant of the fact) confirmed her 
age to be a hundred and four. Her jaun- 
tiness and cackling merriment were really 
wonderful. It was as if she had got 
through with all her actual business in life 
two or three generations ago, and now, 
freed from every responsibility for herself 
or others, had only to keep up a mirthful 
state of mind till the short time, or long 
time (and, happy as she was, she appeared 
not to care whether it were long or short), 
before Death, who had misplaced her name 
in his list, might remember to take her 
away. She had gone quite round the circle 
of human existence, and come back to the 
play-ground again. And so she had grown 
to be a kind of miraculous old pet, the 
plaything of people seventy or eighty years 
younger than herself, who talked and 
laughed with her as if she were a child, 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 50/ 

finding great delight in her wayward and 
strangely playful responses, into some of 
which she cunningly conveyed a gibe that 
caused their ears to tingle a little. She 
had done getting out of bed in this world, 
and lay there to be waited upon like a 
queen or a baby. 

In the same room sat a pauper who had 
once been an actress of considerable re- 
pute, but was compelled to give up her 
profession by a softening of the brain. 
The disease seemed to have stolen the con- 
tinuity out of her life, and disturbed all 
healthy relationship between the thoughts 
within her and the world without. On our 
first entrance, she looked cheerfully at us, 
and showed herself ready to engage in 
conversation ; but suddenly, while we were 
talking with the century-old crone, the poor 
actress began to weep, contorting her face 
with extravagant stage-grimaces, and wring- 
ing her hands for some inscrutable sorrow. 
It might have been a reminiscence of ac- 
tual calamity in her past life, or, quite as 
probably, it was but a dramatic woe, be- 
neath which she had staggered and shrieked 
and wrung her hands with hundreds of 
repetitions in the sight of crowded thea- 
tres, and been as often comforted by thun- 



508 OUR OLD HOME 

ders of applause. But my idea of the mys- 
tery was, that she had a sense of wrong in 
seeing the aged woman (whose empty vivac- 
ity was like the rattling of dry peas in a 
bladder) chosen as the central object of 
interest to the visitors, while she herself, 
who had agitated thousands of hearts with 
a breath, sat starving for the admiration 
that was her natural food. I appeal to the 
whole society of artists of the Beautiful 
and the Imaginative, — poets, romancers, 
painters, sculptors, actors, — whether or no 
this is a grief that may be felt even amid 
the torpor of a dissolving brain ! 

We looked into a good many sleeping- 
chambers, where were rows of beds, mostly 
calculated for two occupants, and provided 
with sheets and pillow-cases that resem- 
bled sackcloth. It appeared to me that 
the sense of beauty was insufficiently re- 
garded in all the arrangements of the alms- 
house ; a little cheap luxury for the eye, at 
least, might do the poor folks a substantial 
good. But, at all events, there was the 
beauty of perfect neatness and orderliness, 
which, being heretofore known to few of 
them, was perhaps as much as they could 
well digest in the remnant of their lives. 
We were invited into the laundry, where a 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 509 

great washing and drying were in process, 
the whole atmosphere being hot and vapor- 
ous with the steam of wet garments and 
bedclothes. This atmosphere was the pau- 
per-life of the past week or fortnight re- 
solved into a gaseous state, and breathing 
it, however fastidiously, we were forced to 
inhale the strange element into our inmost 
being. Had the Queen been there, I know 
not how she could have escaped the neces- 
sity. What an intimate brotherhood is 
this in which we dwell, do what we may to 
put an artificial remoteness between the 
high creature and the low one! A poor 
man's breath, borne on the vehicle of to- 
bacco-smoke, floats into a palace - window 
and reaches the nostrils of a monarch. It 
is but an example, obvious to the sense, of 
the innumerable and secret channels by 
which, at every moment of our lives, the 
flow and reflux of a common humanity per- 
vade us all How su{fbrficial are the nice- 
ties of such as pretend to keep aloof! Let 
• the whole world be cleansed, or not a man 
or woman of us all can be clean. 

By and by we came to the ward where 
the children were kept, on entering which, 
we saw, in the first place, several unlovely 
and unwholesome little people lazily play- 



5IO OUR OLD HOME 

ing together in a court-yard. And here a 
singular incommodity befell one member 
of our party. Among the children was a 
wretched, pale, half -torpid little thing 
(about six years old, perhaps, but I know 
not whether a girl or a boy), with a humor 
in its eyes and face, which the governor 
said was the scurvy, and which appeared 
to bedim its powers of vision, so that it 
toddled about gropingly, as if in quest of it 
did not precisely know what. This child 
— this sickly, wretched, humor-eaten infant, 
the offspring of unspeakable sin and sorrow, 
whom it must liave required several gener- 
ations of guilty progenitors to render so 
pitiable an object as we beheld it — im- 
mediately took an unaccountable fancy to 
the gentleman just hinted at. It prowled 
about him like a pet kitten, rubbing against 
his legs, following everywhere at his heels, 
pulling at his coat-tails, and, at last, exert- 
ing all the speed that its poor limbs were 
capable of, got directly before him and 
held forth its arms, mutely insisting on 
being taken up. It said not a word, being 
perhaps underwitted and incapable of prat- 
tle. But it smiled up in his face, — a sort 
of woful gleam was that smile, through the 
sickly blotches that covered its features, — 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 511 

and found means to express such a perfect 
confidence that it was going to be fondled 
and made much of, that there was no pos- 
sibility in a human heart of balking its ex- 
pectation. It was as if God had promised 
the poor child this favor on behalf of that 
individual, and he was bound to fulfill the 
contract, or else no longer call himself a 
man among men. Nevertheless, it could 
be no easy thing for him to do, he being a 
person burdened with more than an Eng- 
lishman's customary reserve, shy of actual 
contact with human beings, afflicted with 
a peculiar distaste for whatever was ugly, 
and, furthermore, accustomed to that habit 
of observation from an insulated stand- 
point which is said (but, I hope, errone- 
ously) to have the tendency of putting ice 
into the blood. 

So I watched the struggle in his mind 
with a good deal of interest, and am seri- 
ously of opinion that he did an heroic act, 
and effected more than he dreamed of to- 
wards his final salvation, when he took up 
the loathsome child and caressed it as ten- 
derly as if he had been its father. To be 
sure, we all smiled at him, at the time, but 
doubtless would have acted pretty much 
the same in a similar stress of circum- 



512 OUR OLD HOME 

Stances. The child, at any rate, appeared 
to be satisfied with his behavior ; for when 
he had held it a considerable time, and set 
it down, it still favored him with its com- 
pany, keeping fa,st hold of his forefinger 
till we reached the confines of the place. 
And on our return through the court-yard, 
after visiting another part of the establish- 
ment, here again was this same little 
Wretchedness waiting for its victim, with 
a smile of joyful, and yet dull recognition 
about its scabby mouth and in its rheumy 
eyes. No doubt, the child's mission in 
reference to our friend was to remind him 
that he was responsible, in his degree, for 
all the sufferings and misdemeanors of 
the world in which he lived, and was not 
entitled to look upon a particle of its dark 
calamity as if it were none of his concern : 
the offspring of a brother's iniquity being 
his own blood-relation, and the guilt, like- 
wise, a burden on him, unless he expiated 
it by better deeds.^ 

1 February 28, 1856. " After this, we went to the ward 
[West Derby Workhouse] where the children were kept, 
and, on entering this, we saw, in the first place, two or 
three unlovely and unwholesome little imps, who were 
lazily playing together. One of them (a child about si^ 
years old, but I know not whether girl or boy) immedi- 
ately took the strangest fancy for me. It was a wretched. 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 513 

All the children in this ward seemed to 
be invalids, and, going upstairs, we found 
more of them in the same or a worse con- 
dition than the little creature just de- 
scribed, with their mothers (or more prob- 
ably other women, for the infants were 
mostly foundlings) in attendance as nurses. 
The matron of the ward, a middle-aged 
woman, remarkably kind and motherly in 
aspect, was walking to and fro across the 

pale, half-torpid little thing, with a humor in its eyes 
which the governor said was the scurvy. I never saw, 
till a few moments afterwards, a child that I should feel 
less inclined to fondle. But this little, sickly, humor- 
eaten fright prowled around me, taking hold of my skirts, 
following at my heels, and at last held up its hands, 
smiled in my face, and, standing directly before me, in- 
sisted on my taking it up 1 Not that it said a word, for 
I rather think it was undeiwitted, and could not talk; 
but its face expressed such perfect confidence that it 
was going to be taken up and made much of, that it 
was impossible not to do it It was as if God had 
promised the child this favor on my behalf, and that I 
must needs fulfill the contract. I held my undesirable 
burden a little while ; and, after setting the child down, 
it still followed me, holding two of my fingers and play- 
ing with them, just as if it were a child of my own. It 
was a foundling, and out of all human kind it chose me 
to be its father ! We went up stairs into another ward; 
and, on coming down again, there was this same child 
waiting for me, with a sickly smile round its defaced 
mouth, and in its dim red eyes. ... I never should 
have forgiven myself if I had repelled its advances." <— 
IL 184. 



514 OUR OLD HOME 

chamber — on that weary journey in which 
careful mothers and nurses travel so con- 
tinually and so far, and gain never a step 
of progress — with an unquiet baby in her 
arms. She assured us that she enjoyed 
her occupation, being exceedingly fond of 
children; and, in fact, the absence of ti- 
midity in all the little people was a suffi- 
cient proof that they could have had no 
experience of harsh treatment, though, on 
the other hand, none of them appeared to 
be attracted to one individual more than 
another. In this point they differed widely 
from the poor child below stairs. They 
seemed to recognize a universal mother- 
hood in womankind, and cared not which 
individual might be the mother of the mo- 
ment. I found their tameness as shock- 
ing as did Alexander Selkirk that of the 
brute subjects of his else solitary kingdom. 
It was a sort of tame familiarity, a perfect 
indifference to the approach of strangers, 
such as I never noticed in other children. 
I accounted for it partly by their nerveless, 
unstrung state of body, incapable of the 
quick thrills of delight and fear which play 
upon the lively harp-strings of a healthy 
child's nature, and partly by their woful 
lack of acquaintance with a private home, 



GLIAtPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY $1$ 

and their being therefore destitute of the 
sweet home-bred shyness, which is like the 
sanctity of heaven about a mother-petted 
child. Their condition was like that of 
chickens hatched in an oven, and growing 
up without the especial guardianship of a 
matron hen : both the chicken and the 
child, methinks, must needs want some- 
thing that is essential to their respective 
characters. 

In this chamber (w^ich was spacious, 
containing a large number of beds) there 
was a clear fire burning on the hearth, as 
in all the other occupied rooms ; and di- 
rectly in front of the blaze sat a woman 
holding a baby, which, beyond all reach of 
comparison, was the most horrible object 
that ever afflicted my sight. Days after- 
wards — nay, even now, when I bring it up 
vividly before my mind's eye — it seemed 
to lie upon the floor of my heart, pollut- 
ing my moral being with the sense of 
something grievously amiss in the entire 
conditions of humanity. The holiest man 
could not be otherwise than full of wick- 
edness, the chastest virgin seemed impure, 
in a world where such a babe was possi- 
ble. The governor whispered me, apart, 
that, .like nearly all the rest of them, it was 



5l6 OUR OLD HOME 

the child of unhealthy parents. Ah, yes f 
There was the mischief. This spectral in- 
fant, a hideous mockery of the visible link 
which Love creates between man and wo- 
man, was bom of disease and sin. Dis- 
eased Sin was its father, and Sinful Disease 
its mother, and their offspring lay in the 
woman's arms like a nursing Pestilence, 
which, could it live and grow up, would 
make the world a more accursed abode 
than ever heretofore. Thank Heaven, it 
could not live ! This baby, if we must 
give it that sweet name, seemed to be 
three or four months old, but, being such 
an unthrifty changeling, might have been 
considerably older. It was all covered 
with blotches, and pretematurally dark and 
discolored ; it was withered away, quite 
shrunken and fleshless ; it breathed only 
amid pantings and gaspings, and moaned 
painfully at every gasp. The only comfort 
in reference to it was the evident impossi- 
bility of its surviving to draw many more 
of those miserable, moaning breaths ; and 
it would have been infinitely less heart- 
depressing to see it die, right before my 
eyes, than to depart and carry it alive in 
my remembrance, still suffering the incal- 
culable torture of its little life. I can by 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 5 1/ 

no means express how horrible this infant 
was, neither ought I to attempt it. And 
yet I must add one final touch. Young as 
the poor little creature was, its pain and 
misery had endowed it with a premature 
intelligence, insomuch that its eyes seemed 
to stare at the by-standers out of their 
sunken sockets knowingly and appealingly, 
as if summoning us one and all to wit- 
ness the deadly wrong of its existence. 
At least, I so interpreted its look, when it 
positively met and responded to my own 
awe-stricken gaze, and therefore I lay the 
case, as far as I am able, before mankind, 
on whom God has imposed the necessity 
to suffer in soul and body till this dark and 
dreadful wrong be righted. 

Thence we went to the school - rooms, 
which were underneath the chapel. The 
pupils, like the children whom we had just 
seen, were, in large proportion, foundlings. 
Almost without exception, they looked 
sickly, with marks of eruptive trouble in 
their doltish faces, and a general tendency 
to diseases of the eye. Moreover, the 
poor little wretches appeared to be uneasy 
within their skins, and screwed themselves 
about on the benches in a disagreeably 
suggestive way, as if they had inherited 



5l8 OUR OLD HOME 

the evil habits of their parents as an in- 
nermost garment of the same texture and 
material as the shirt of Nessus, and must 
wear it with unspeakable discomfort as long 
as they lived I saw only a single child 
that looked healthy; and on my pointing 
him out, the governor informed me that 
this little boy, the sole exception to the 
miserable aspect of his school-fellows, was 
not a foundling, nor properly a workhouse 
child, being bom of respectable parent- 
age, and his father one of the officers of 
the institution. As for the remainder, — 
the hundred pale abortions to be counted 
against one rosy-cheeked boy, — what shall 
we say or do ? Depressed by the sight of 
so much misery, and uninventive of reme- 
dies for the evils that force themselves on 
my perception, I can do little more than 
recur to the idea already hinted at in the 
early part of this article, regarding the 
speedy necessity of a new deluge. So far 
as these children are concerned, at any 
rate, it would be a blessing to the human 
race, which they will contribute to ener- 
vate and corrupt, — a greater blessing to 
themselves, who inherit no patrimony but 
disease and vice, and in whose souls, if 
there be a spark of God's life, this seems 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 519 

the only possible mode of keeping it aglow, 
— if every one of them could be drowned 
to-night, by their best friends, instead of 
being put tenderly to bed. This heroic 
method of treating human maladies, moral 
and material, is certainly beyond the scope 
of man's discretionary rights, and probably 
will not be adopted by Divine Providence 
until the opportunity of milder reformation 
shall have been offered us again and again, 
through a series of future ages. 

It may be fair to acknowledge that the 
humane and excellent governor, as well as 
other persons better acquainted . with the 
subject than myself, took a less gloomy 
view of it, though still so dark a one as to 
involve scanty consolation. They remarked 
that individuals of the male sex, picked up 
in the streets and nurtured in the work- 
house, sometimes succeed tolerably weH in 
life, because they are taught trades before 
being turned into the world, and, by dint 
of immaculate behavior and good luck, are 
not unlikely to get employment and earn a 
livelihood. The case is different with the 
girls. They can only go to service, and 
are invariably rejected by families of re- 
spectability on account of their origin, and 
for the better reason of their unfitness to 



520 OUR OLD HOME 

fill satisfactorily even the meanest situa- 
tions in a well-ordered English household. 
Their resource is to take service with 
people only a step or two above the poorest 
class, with whom they fare scantily, endure 
harsh treatment, lead shifting and preca- 
rious lives, and finally drop into the slough 
of evil, through which, in their best estate, 
they do but pick their slimy way on step- 
ping-stones. 

From the schools we went to the bake- 
house, and the brew-house (for such cruelty 
is not harbored in the heart of a true Eng- 
lishman as to deny a pauper his daily 
allowance of beer), and through the kitch- 
ens, where we beheld an immense pot over 
the fire, surging and walloping with some 
kind of a savory stew that filled it up to its 
brim. We also visited a tailor's shop, and 
a shoemaker's shop, in both of which a 
number of men, and pale, diminutive ap- 
prentices, were at work, diligently enough, 
though seemingly with small heart in the 
business. Finally, the governor ushered 
us into a shed, inside of which was piled 
up an immense quantity of new coffins. 
They were of the plainest description, 
made of pine boards, probably of Ameri- 
can growth, not very nicely smoothed by 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 52! 

the plane, neither painted nor stained with 
black, but provided with a loop of rope at 
either end for the convenience of lifting 
the rude box and its inmate into the cart 
that shall carry them to the burial-groimA 
There, in holes ten feet deep, the paupers 
are buried one above another, mingling 
their relics indistinguishably. In another 
world may they resume their individuality, 
and find it a happier one than here ! 

As we departed, a character came under 
our notice which I have met with in all 
almshouses, whether of the city or village, 
or in England or America. It was the fa- 
miliar simpleton, who shuffled across the 
court -yard, clattering his wooden -soled 
shoes, to greet us with a howl or a laugh, 
I hafdly know which, holding out his hand 
for a penny, and chuckling grossly when it 
was given him. All underwitted persons, 
so far as my experience goes, have this 
craving for copper coin, and appear to es- 
timate its value by a miraculous instinct, 
which is one of the earliest gleams of hu- 
man intelligence while the nobler faculties 
are yet in abeyance. There may come a 
time, even in this world, when we shall all 
understand that our tendency to the indi- 
vidual appropriation of gold and broad 



522 OUR OLD HOME 

acres, fine houses, and such good and beau- 
tiful things as are equally enjoyable by a 
multitude, is but a trait of imperfectly de- 
veloped intelligence, like the simpleton's 
cupidity of a penny. When that day 
dawns, — and probably not till then, — I 
imagine that there will be no more poor 
streets nor need of almshouses. 

I was once present at the wedding of 
some poor English people, and was deeply 
impressed by the spectacle, though by no 
means with such proud and delightful emo- 
tions as seem to have affected all England 
on the recent occasion of the marriage of 
its Prince. It was in the Cathedral at 
Manchester, a particularly black and grim 
old structure, into which I had stepped to 
examine some ancient and curious wood- 
carvings within the choir. The woman in 
attendance greeted me with a smile (which 
always glimmers forth on the feminine vis- 
age, I know not why, when a wedding is 
in question), and asked me to take a seat 
in the nave till some poor parties were 
married, it being the Easter holidays, and 
a good time for them to marry, because no 
fees would be demanded by the clergyman. 
I sat down accordingly, and soon the par- 
son and his clerk appeared at the altar, and 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY 523 

a considerable crowd of people made their 
entrance at a side-door, and ranged them- 
selves in a long, huddled line across the 
chancel. They were my acquaintances of 
the poor streets, or persons in a precisely 
similar condition of life, and were pow 
come to their marriage-ceremony in just 
such garbs as I had always seen them 
wear : the men in their loafers' coats, out 
at elbows, or their laborers' jackets, de- 
faced with grimy toil ; the women drawing 
their shabby shawls tighter about their 
shoulders, to hide the raggedness beneath ; 
all of them un brushed, unshaven, unwashed, 
uncombed, and wrinkled with penury and 
care ; nothing virgin-like in the brides, nor 
hopeful or energetic in the bridegrooms ; 
— they were, in short, the mere rags and 
tatters of the human race, whom some 
east-wind of evil omen, howling along the 
streets, had chanced to sweep together into 
an unfragrant heap. Each and all of them, 
conscious of his or her individual misery, 
had blundered into the strange miscalcu- 
lation of supposing that they could lessen 
the sum of it by multiplying it into the 
misery of another person. All the couples 
(and it was difficult, in such a confused 
crowd, to compute exactly their number) 



524 OUR OLD HOME 

Stood up at once, and had execution done 
upon them in the lump, the clergyman ad- 
dressing only small parts of the service to 
each individual pair, but so managing the 
larger portion as to include the whole com- 
pany without the trouble of repetition. By 
this compendious contrivance, one would 
apprehend, he came dangerously near mak- 
ing every man and woman the husband or 
wife of every other; nor, perhaps, would 
he have perpetrated much additional mis- 
chief by the mistake ; but, after receiving 
a benediction in common, they assorted 
themselves in their own fashion, as they 
only knew how, and departed to the gar- 
rets, or the cellars, or the unsheltered 
street-corners, where their honeymoon and 
subsequent lives were to be spent. The 
parson smiled decorously, the clerk and 
the sexton grinned broadly, the female 
attendant tittered almost aloud, and even 
the married parties seemed to see some- 
thing exceedingly funny in the affair ; but 
for my part, though generally apt enough 
to be tickled by a joke, I laid it away in 
my memory as one of the saddest sights I 
ever looked upon. 

Not very long afterwards, I happened to 
be passing the same venerable cathedral. 



GLIMPSES OF ENGLISH POVERTY $2$ 

and heard a clang of joyful bells, and be- 
held a bridal party coming down the steps 
towards a carriage and four horses, with a 
portly coachman and two postilions, that 
waited at the gate. One parson and one 
service had amalgamated the wretched- 
ness of a score of paupers ; a Bishop and 
three or four clergymen had combined 
their spiritual might to forge the golden 
links of this other marriage -bond. The 
bridegroom's mien had a sort of careless 
and kindly English pride ; the bride floated 
along in her white drapery, a creature so 
nice and delicate that it was a luxury to 
see her, and a pity that her silk slippers 
should touch anything so grimy as the 
old stones of the churchyard avenue. The 
crowd of ragged people, who always cluster 
to witness what they may of an aristocratic 
wedding, broke into audible admiration of 
the bride's beauty and the bridegroom's 
manliness, and uttered prayers and ejacu- 
lations (possibly paid for in alms) for the 
happiness of both. If the most favorable 
of earthly conditions could make them 
happy, they had every prospect of it. They 
were going to live on their abundance in 
one of those stately and delightful English 
homes, such as no other people ever ere- 



526 OUR OLD HOaME 

ated or inherited, a hall set far and safe 
within its own private grounds, and sur- 
rounded with venerable trees, shaven lawns, 
rich shrubbery, and trimmest pathways, the 
whole so artfully contrived and tended that 
summer rendered it a paradise, and even 
winter would hardly disrobe it of its beauty ; 
and all this fair property seemed more ex- 
clusively and inalienably their own, because 
of its descent through many forefathers, 
each of whom had added an improvement 
or a charm, and thus transmitted it with a 
stronger stamp of rightful possession to his 
heir. And is it possible, after all, that 
there may be a flaw in the title-deeds ? Is, 
or is not, the system wrong that gives one 
married pair so immense a superfluity of 
luxurious home, and shuts out a million 
others from any home whatever? One 
day or another, safe as they deem them- 
selves, and safe as the hereditary temper 
of the people really tends to make them, 
the gentlemen of England will be com- 
pelled to face this question. 



XII. 

CIVIC BANQUETS 

It has often perplexed me to imagine 
how an Englishman will be able to recon- 
cile himself to any future state of existence 
from which the earthly institution of dinner 
shall be excluded. Even if he fail to take 
his appetite along with him (which it seems 
to me hardly possible to believe, since this 
endowment is so essential to his compo- 
sition), the immortal day must still admit 
an interim of two or three hours during 
which he will be conscious of a slight dis- 
taste, at all events, if not an absolute re- 
pugnance, to merely spiritual nutriment. 
The idea of dinner has so imbedded itself 
among his highest and deepest character- 
istics, so illuminated itself with intellect 
and softened itself with the kindest emo- 
tions of his heart, so linked itself with 
Church and State, and grown so majestic 
with long hereditary customs and cere- 
monies, that, by taking it utterly away, 
Death, instead of putting the final touch 



528 OUR OLD HOME 

to his perfection, would leave him infinitely 
less complete than we have already known 
him. He could not be roundly happy. 
Paradise, among all its enjoyments, would 
lack one daily felicity which his sombre 
little island possessed. Perhaps it is not 
irreverent to conjecture that a provision 
may have been made, in this particular, for 
the Englishman's exceptional necessities. 
It strikes me that Milton was of the opin- 
ion here suggested, and may have intended 
to throw out a delightful and consolatory 
hope for his countrymen, when he repre- 
sents the genial archangel as playing his 
part with such excellent appetite at Adam's 
dinner-table, and confining himself to fruit 
and vegetables only, because, in those early 
days of her housekeeping, Eve had no 
more acceptable viands to set before him. 
Milton, indeed, had a true English taste 
for the pleasures of the table, though re- 
fined by the lofty and poetic discipline to 
which he had subjected himself. It is 
delicately implied in the refection in Para- 
dise, and more substantially, though still 
elegantly, betrayed in the sonnet proposing 
to " Laurence, of virtuous father virtuous 
son," a series of nice little dinners in 
midwinter ; and it blazes fully out in that 



CIVIC BANQUETS 529 

untasted banquet, which, elaborate as it 
was, Satan tossed up in a trice from the 
kitchen-ranges of Tartarus. 

Among this people, indeed, so wise in 
their generation, dinner has a kind of sanc- 
tity quite independent of the dishes that 
may be set upon the table ; so that, if it be 
only a mutton-chop, they treat it with due 
reverence, and are rewarded with a degree 
of enjoyment which such reckless devour- 
ers as ourselves do not often find in our 
richest abundance. It is good to see how 
stanch they are after fifty or sixty years of 
heroic eating, still relying upon their di- 
gestive powers and indulging a vigorous 
appetite ; whereas an American has gener- 
ally lost the one and learned to distrust the 
other long before reaching the earliest de- 
cline of life ; and thenceforward he makes 
little account of his dinner, and dines at 
his peril, if at all. I know not whether my 
countrymen will allow me to tell them, 
though I think it scarcely too much to af- 
firm, that on this side of the water people 
never dine. At any rate, abundantly as 
Nature has provided us with most of the 
material requisites, the highest possible 
dinner has never yet been eaten in Amer- 
ica. It is the consummate flower of civil- 



530 OUR OLD HOME 

ization and refinement ; and our inability 
to produce it, or to appreciate its admirable 
beauty if a happy inspiration should bring 
it into bloom, marks fatally the limit of 
culture which we have attained. 

It is not to be supposed, however, that 
the mob of cultivated Englishmen know 
how to dine in this elevated sense. The 
unpolishable ruggedness of the national 
character is still an impediment to them, 
even in that particular line where they are 
best qualified to excel. Though often pres- 
ent at good men's feasts, I remember only a 
single dinner, which, while lamentably con- 
scious that many of its higher excellences 
were thrown away upon me, I yet could 
feel to be a^perfect work of art. It could 
not, without unpardonable coarseness, be 
styled a matter of animal enjoyment, be- 
cause, out of the very perfection of that 
lower bliss, there had arisen a dream-like 
development of spiritual happiness. As in 
the masterpieces of painting and poetry, 
there was a something intangible, a final 
deliciousness that only fluttered about your 
comprehension, vanishing whenever you 
tried to detain it, and compelling you to 
recognize it by faith rather than sense. It 
seemed as if a diviner set of senses were 



CIVIC BANQUETS 53 1 

requisite, and had been partly supplied, for 
the special fruition of this banquet, and 
that the guests around the table (only eight 
in number) were becoming so educated, 
polished, and softened, by the delicate in- 
fluences of what they ate and drank, as to 
be now a little more than mortal for the 
nonce. And there was that gentle, deli- 
cious sadness, too, which we find in the 
very summit of our most exquisite enjoy- 
ments, and feel it a charm beyond all the 
gayety through which it keeps breathing 
its undertone. In the present case, it was 
worth a heavier sigh to reflect that such a 
festal achievement — the production of so 
much art, skill, fancy, invention, and perfect 
taste — the growth of all the ages, which 
appeared to have been ripening for this 
hour, since man first began to eat and to 
moisten his food with wine — must lavish 
its happiness upon so brief a moment 
when other beautiful things can be made a 
joy forever. Yet a dinner like this is no 
better than we can get, any day, at the 
rejuvenescent Comhill Coffee-house, un- 
less the whole man, with soul, intellect, 
and stomach, is ready to appreciate it, and 
unless, moreover, there is such a harmony 
in all the circumstances and accompani- 



532 OUR OLD HOME 

ments, and especially such a pitch of well- 
according minds, that nothing shall jar 
rudely against the guest's thoroughly awak- 
ened sensibilities. The world, and espe- 
cially our part of it, being the rough, ill- 
assorted, and tumultuous place we find it, 
a beefsteak is about as good as any other 
dinner. 

The foregoing reminiscence, however, 
has drawn me aside from the main object 
of my sketch, in which I purposed to give 
a slight idea of those public, or partially 
public banquets, the custom of which so 
thoroughly prevails among the English 
people, that nothing is ever decided upon, 
in matters of peace and war, until they 
have chewed upon it in the shape of roast- 
beef, and talked it fully over in their cups. 
Nor are these festivities merely occasional, 
but of stated recurrence in all considerable 
municipalities and associated bodies. The 
most ancient times appear to have been as 
familiar with them as the Englishmen of 
to-day. In many of the old English towns, 
you find some stately Gothic hall or cham- 
ber in which the Mayor and other authorities 
of the place have long held their sessions ; 
and always, in convenient contiguity, there 
is a dusky kitchen, with an immense fire- 



CIVIC BANQUETS 533 

place where an ox might lie roasting at his 
ease, though the less gigantic scale of mod- 
em cookery may now have permitted the 
cobwebs to gather in its chimney. St. 
Mary's Hall, in Coventry, is so good a 
specimen of an ancient banqueting-room, 
that perhaps I may profitably devote a page 
or two to the description of it. 

In a narrow street opposite to St. Mi- 
chael's Church, one of the three famous 
spires of Coventry, you behold a mediaeval 
edifice, in the basement of which is such a 
venerable and now deserted kitchen as I 
have above alluded to, and, on the same 
level, a cellar, with low stone pillars and in- 
tersecting arches, like the crypt of a cathe- 
dral. Passing up a well-worn staircase, the 
oaken balustrade of which is as black as 
ebony, you enter the fine old hall, some 
sixty feet in length, and broad and lofty in 
proportion. It is lighted by six windows 
of modern stained glass, on one side, and 
by the immense and magnificent arch of 
another window at the farther end of the 
room, its rich and ancient panes consti- 
tuting a genuine historical piece, in which 
are represented some of the kingly person- 
ages of old times, with their heraldic bla- 
zonries. Notwithstanding the colored light 



534 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

thus thrown into the hall, and though it 
was noonday when I last saw it, the panel- 
ing of black-oak, and some faded tapestry 
that hung round the walls, together with 
the cloudy vault of the roof above, made a 
gloom, which the richness only illuminated 
into more appreciable efifect. The tapes- 
try is wrought with figures in the dress 
of Henry VI/s time (which is the date of 
the hall), and is regarded by antiquaries as 
authentic evidence both for the costume 
of that epoch, and, I believe, for the actual 
portraiture of men known in history. They 
are as colorless as ghosts, however, and 
vanish drearily into the old stitch-work of 
their substance when you try to make them 
out. Coats of arms were formerly embla- 
zoned all round the hall, but have been al- 
most rubbed out by people hanging their 
overcoats against them, or by women with 
dishclouts and scrubbing-brushes, obliter- 
ating hereditary glories in their blind hos- 
tility to dust and spiders* webs. Full-length 
portraits of several English kings, Charles 
II. being the earliest^ hang on the walls ; 
and on the dats, or elevated part of the 
floor, stands an antique chair of state, 
which several royal characters are tradi- 
tionally said to have occupied while feast- 



CIVIC BANQUETS 535- 

ing here with their loyal subjects of Cov- 
entry. It is roomy enough for a person of 
kingly bulk, or even two such, but angular 
and uncomfortable, reminding me of the 
oaken settles which used to be seen in old- 
fashioned New England kitchens. 

Overhead, supported by a self-sustaining 
power, without the aid of a single pillar, is 
the original ceiling of oak, precisely simi- 
lar in shape to the roof of a barn, with all 
the beams and rafters plainly to be seen. 
At the remote height of sixty feet, you 
hardly discern that they are carved with 
figures of angels, and doubtless many other 
devices, of which the admirable Gothic art 
is wasted in the duskiness that has so long 
been brooding there. Over the entrance 
of the hall, opposite the great arched win- 
dow, the party-colored radiance of which 
glimmers faintly through the interval, is a 
gallery for minstrels ; and a row of ancient 
suits of armor is suspended from its balus- 
trade. It impresses me, too (for, having 
gone so far, I would fain leave nothing 
untouched upon), that I remember, some- 
where about these venerable precincts, a 
picture of the Countess Godiva on horse- 
back, in which the artist has been so nig- 
gardly of that illustrious lady's hair, that, 



536 OUR OLD HOME 

if she had no ampler garniture, there was 
certainly much need for the good people 
of Coventry to shut their eyes. After all 
my pains, I fear that I have made but a 
poor hand at the description, as regards a 
transference of the scene from my own 
mind to the reader's. It gave me a most 
vivid idea of antiquity that had been very 
little tampered with ; insomuch that, if a 
group of steel-clad knights had come clank- 
ing through the doorway, and a bearded and 
beruffed old figure had handed in a stately 
dame, rustling in gorgeous robes of a long- 
forgotten fashion, unveiling a face of beauty 
somewhat tarnished in the mouldy tomb, 
yet stepping majestically to the trill of 
harp and viol from the minstrels' gallery, 
while the rusty armor responded with a 
hollow ringing sound beneath, — why, I 
should have felt that these shadows, once 
so familiar with the spot, had a better right 
in St. Mary's Hall than I, a stranger from 
a far country which has no Past. But the 
moral of the foregoing description is to 
show how tenaciously this love of pompous 
dinners, this reverence for dinner as a 
sacred institution, has caught hold of the 
English character ; since, from the earliest 
recognizable period, we find them building 



CIVIC BANQUETS 537 

their civic banqueting - halls as magnifi- 
cently as their palaces or cathedrals. 

I know not whether the hall just de- 
scribed is now used for festive purposes, 
but others of similar antiquity and splen- 
dor still are. For example, there is Bar- 
ber Surgeons' Hall, in London, a very fine 
old room, adorned with admirably carved 
wood-work on the ceiling and walls. It is 
also enriched with Holbein's masterpiece, 
representing a grave assemblage of barbers 
and surgeons, all portraits (with such ex- 
tensive beards that methinks one half of 
the company might have been profitably 
occupied in trimming the other), kneeling 
before King Henry VHI. Sir Robert Peel 
is said to hr.ve offered a thousand pounds 
for the liberty of cutting out one of the 
heads from this picture, he conditioning to 
have a perfect facsimile painted in.* The 

1 In this room hangs the most valuable picture by 
Holbein now in existence, representing the company of 
Barber Surgeons kneeling before Henry VIII., and re- 
ceiving their charter from his hands. The picture is 
about six feet square. The king is dressed in scarlet, 
and quite fulfills one's idea of his aspect. The Barber- 
Surgeons, all portraits, are an assemblage of grave-look- 
ing personages, in dark costumes. The company has 
refused five thousand pounds for this unique picture; 
and the keeper of the Hall told me that Sir Robert Peel 
had offered a thousand pounds for liberty to take out 



538 OUR OLD HOME 

room has many other pictures of distin- 
guished members of the company in long- 
past times, and of some of the monarchs 
and statesmen of England, all darkened with 
age, but darkened into such ripe magnifi- 
cence as only age could bestow. It is not 
my design to inflict any more specimens of 
ancient hall-painting on the reader; but it 
may be worth while to touch upon other 
modes of stateliness that still survive in 
these time-honored civic feasts, where there 
appears to be a singular assumption of dig- 
nity and solemn pomp by respectable citi- 
zens who would never dream of claiming 
any privilege of rank outside of their own 
sphere. Thus, I saw two caps of state 
for the warden and junior warden of the 
company, caps of silver (real coronets or 
crowns, indeed, for these city - grandees) 
wrought in open-work and lined with crim- 
son velvet. In a strong - closet, opening 
from the hall, there was a great deal of 
rich plate to furnish forth the banquet- 
table, comprising hundreds of forks and 
spoons, a vast silver punch-bowl, the gift 

only one of the heads, that of a person named Penn, he 
conditioning to have a perfect facsimile painted in. I 
did not see any merit in this head over the others. — 
II. 200. 



CIVIC BANQUETS 539 

of some jolly king or other, and, besides 
a multitude of less noticeable vessels, two 
loving-cups, very elaborately wrought in 
silver gilt, one presented by Henry VIII., 
the other by Charles II. These cups, in- 
cluding the covers and pedestals, are very 
large and weighty, although the bowl - part 
would hardly contain more than half a pint 
of wine, which, when the custom was first 
established, each guest was probably ex- 
pected to drink ofiF at a draught. In pass- 
ing them from hand to hand adown a long 
table of compotators, there is a peculiar 
ceremony which I may hereafter have oc- 
casion to describe. Meanwhile, if I might 
assume such a liberty, I should be glad to 
invite the reader to the official dinner-table 
of his Worship, the Mayor, at a large Eng- 
lish seaport where I spent several years. 

The Mayor's dinner-parties occur as 
often as once a fortnight, and, inviting his 
guests by fifty or sixty at a time, his Wor- 
ship probably assembles at his board most 
of the eminent citizens and distinguished 
personages of the town and neighborhood 
more than once during his year's incum- 
bency, and very much, no doubt, to the 
promotion of good feeling among individ- 
uals of opposite parties and diverse pursuits 



540 OUR OLD HOME 

in life. A miscellaneous party of English- 
men can always find more comfortable 
groimd to meet upon than as many Ameri- 
cans, their diflFerences of opinion being 
incomparably less radical than ours, and it 
being the sincerest wish of all their hearts, 
whether they call themselves Liberals or 
what not, that nothing in this world shall 
ever be greatly altered from what it has 
been and is. Thus there is seldom such a 
virulence of political hostility that it may 
not be dissolved in a glass or two of wine, 
without making the good liquor any more 
dry or bitter than accords with English 
taste. 

The first dinner of this kind at which I 
had the honor to be present took place 
during assizc-time, and included among the 
guests the judges and the prominent mem- 
bers of the bar. Reaching the Town Hall 
at seven o'clock, I communicated my name 
to one of several splendidly dressed foot- 
men, and he repeated it to another on the 
first staircase, by whom it was passed to a 
third, and thence to a fourth at the door of 
the reception-room, losing all resemblance 
to the original sound in the course of these 
transmissions ; so that I had the advantage^ 
of making my entrance in the character of 



CIVIC BANQUETS 541 

a stranger, not only to the whole company, 
but to myself as well. His Worship, how- 
ever, kindly recognized me, and put me on 
speaking -terms with two or three gentle- 
men, whom I found very affable, and all 
the more hospitably attentive on the score 
of my nationality. It is very singular how 
kind an Englishman will almost invariably 
be to an individual American, without ever 
bating a jot of his prejudice against the 
American character in the lump. My new 
acquaintances took evident pains to put me 
at my ease ; and, in requital of their good- 
nature, I soon began to look round at 
the general company in a critical spirit, 
making my crude observations apart, and 
drawing silent inferences, of the correct- 
ness of which I should not have been half 
so well satisfied a year afterwards as at 
that moment. 

There were two judges present, a good 
many lawyers, and a few officers of the 
army in uniform. The other guests seemed 
to be principally of the mercantile class, 
and among them was a ship-owner from 
Nova Scotia, with whom I coalesced a little, 
inasmuch as we were born with the same 
sky over our heads, and an unbroken con- 
tinuity of soil between his abode and mine. 



542 OUR OLD HOME 

There was one old gentleman, whose char- 
acter I never made out, with powdered hair, 
clad in black breeches and silk stockings, 
and wearing a rapier at his side ; otherwise, 
with the exception of the military unifontis, 
there was little or no pretense of official 
costume. It being the first considerable 
assemblage of Englishmen that I had seen, 
my honest impression about them was that 
they were a heavy and homely set of people, 
with a remarkable roughness of aspect and 
behavior, not repulsive, but beneath which 
it required more familiarity with the na- 
tional character than I then possessed 
always to detect the good breeding of a 
gentleman. Being generally middle-aged, 
or still further advanced, they were by no 
means graceful in figure ; for the comeli- 
ness of the youthful Englishman rapidly 
diminishes with years, his body appearing 
to grow longer, his legs to abbreviate them- 
selves, and his stomach to assume the dig- 
nified prominence which justly belongs to 
that metropolis of his system. His face 
(what with the- acridity of the atmosphere, 
ale at lunch, wine at dinner, and a well- 
digested abundance of succulent food) gets 
red and mottled, and develops at least one 
additional chin, with a promise of more ; 



CIVIC BANQUETS 543 

SO that, finally, a stranger recognizes his 
animal part at the most superficial glance, 
but must take time and a little pains to 
discover the intellectual. Comparing him 
with an American, I really thought that 
our national paleness and lean habit of 
flesh gave us greatly the advantage in an 
aesthetic point of view. It seemed to me, 
moreover, that the English tailor had not 
done so much as he might and ought for 
these heavy figures, but had gone on will- 
fully exaggerating their uncouthness by the 
roominess of their garments ; he had evi- 
dently no idea of accuracy of fit, and smart- 
ness was entirely out of his line. But, to 
be quite open with the reader, I afterwards 
learned to think thqf this aforesaid tailor 
has a deeper art^han his brethren among 
ourselves, knowing how to dress his cus- 
tomers with such individual propriety that 
they look as if they were bom in their 
clothes, the fit being to the character rather 
than the form. If you make an English- 
man smart (unless he be a very exceptional 
one, of whom I have seen a few), you make 
him a monster; his best aspect is that of 
ponderous respectability. 

To make an end of these first impres- 
sions, I fancied that not merely the Suffolk 



544 ^^^ O^^ HOME 

bar, but the bar of any inland county in 
New England, might show a set of thin- 
visaged men looking wretchedly worn, sal- 
low, deeply wrinkled across the forehead, 
and grimly furrowed about the mouth, with 
whom these heavy - cheeked English law- 
yers, slow -paced and fat-witted as they 
must needs be, would stand very little 
chance in a professional contest. How 
that matter might turn out, I am unquali- 
fied to decide. But I state these results 
of my earliest glimpses at Englishmen, not 
for what they are worth, but because I 
ultimately gave them up as worth little or 
nothing. In course of time, I came to the 
conclusion that Englishmen of all ages are 
a rather good-looking; people, dress in ad- 
mirable taste from their wm point of view, 
and, under a surface never silken to the 
touch, have a refinement of manners too 
thorough and genuine to be thought of as 
a separate endowment, — that is to say, if 
the individual himself be a man of station, 
and has had gentlemen for his father and 
grandfather. The sturdy Anglo-Saxon 
nature does not refine itself short of the 
third generation. The tradesmen, too, and 
all other classes, have their own proprieties. 
The only value of my criticisms, there- 



CJVIC BANQUETS 545 

fore, lay in their exemplifying the proneness 
of a traveler to measure one people by the 
distinctive characteristics of another, — as 
English writers invariably measure us, and 
take upon themselves to be disgusted ac- 
cordingly, instead of trying to find out some 
principle of beauty with which we may be 
in conformity. 

In due time we were summoned to the 
table, and went thither in no solemn pro- 
cession, but with a good deal of jostling, 
thrusting behind, and scrambling for places 
when we reached our destination. The 
legal gentlemen, I suspect, were responsi- 
ble for this indecorous zeal, which I never 
afterwards remarked in a similar party. 
The dining-hall was of noble size, and, like 
the other rooms of the suite, was gorgeously 
painted and gilded and brilliantly illumi- 
nated. There was a splendid table-service, 
and a noble array of footmen, some of 
them in plain clothes, and others wearing 
the town-livery, richly decorated with gold- 
lace, and themselves excellent specimens of 
the blooming young manhood of Britain. 
When we were fairly seated, it was cer- 
tainly an agreeable spectacle to look up 
and down the long vista of earnest faces, 
and behold them so resolute, so conscious 



546 OUR OLD HOME 

that there was an important business in 
hand, and so determined to be equal to 
the occasion. Indeed, Englishman or not, 
I hardly know what can be prettier than 
a snow-white tablecloth, a huge heap of 
flowers as a central decoration, bright sil- 
ver, rich china, crystal glasses, decanters 
of Sherry at due intervals, a French roll 
and an artistically folded napkin at each 
plate, all that airy portion of a banquet, in 
short, that comes before the first mouth- 
ful, the whole illuminated by a blaze of 
artificial light, without which a dinner of 
made-dishes looks spectral, and the simplest 
viands are the best. Printed bills -of -fare 
were distributed, representing an abundant 
feast, no part of which appeared on the 
table Until called for in separate plates. I 
have entirely forgotten what it was, but 
deem it no great matter, inasmuch as there 
is a pervading commonplace and identical- 
ness in the composition of extensive din- 
ners, on account of the impossibility of 
supplying a hundred guests with anything 
particularly delicate or rare. It was sug- 
gested to me that certain juicy old gentle- 
men had a private understanding what to 
call for, and that it would be good policy 
in a stranger to follow in their footsteps 



CIVIC BANQUETS 547 

through the feast. I did not care to do so, 
however, because, like Sancho Panza's dip 
out of Camacho's caldron, any sort of pot- 
luck at such a table would be sure to suit 
my purpose ; so I chose a dish or two on 
my own judgment, and, getting through 
my labors betimes, had great pleasure in 
seeing the Englishmen toil onward to the 
end. 

They drank rather copiously, too, though 
wisely; for I observed that they seldom 
took Hock, and let the Champagne bubble 
slowly away out of the goblet, solacing 
themselves with Sherry, but tasting it 
warily before bestowing their final confi- 
dence. Their taste in wines, however, did 
not seem so exquisite, and certainly was 
not so various, as that to which many 
Americans pretend. This foppery of an 
intimate acquaintance with rare vintages 
does not suit a sensible Englishman, as 
he is very much in earnest about his 
wines, and adopts one or two as his life- 
long friends, seldom exchanging them for 
any Delilahs of a moment, and reaping the 
reward of his constancy in an unimpaired 
stomach, and only so much gout as he 
deems wholesome and desirable. Know- 
ing well the measure of his powers, he is 



548 OUR OLD HOME 

not apt to fill his glass too often. Society, 
indeed, would hardly tolerate habitual im- 
prudences of that kind, though, in my opin- 
ion, the Englishmen now upon the stage 
could carry oflF their three bottles, at need, 
with as steady a gait as any of their fore- 
fathers. It is not so very long since the 
three -bottle heroes sank finally under the 
table. It may be (at least, I should be 
glad if it were true) that there was an oc- 
cult sympathy between our temperance 
reform, now somewhat in abeyance, and 
the almost simultaneous disappearance of 
hard-drinking among the respectable 
classes in England. I remember a middle- 
aged gentleman telling me (in illustration 
of the very slight importance attached to 
breaches of temperance within the mem- 
ory of men not yet old) that he had seen 
a certain magistrate, Sir John Linkwater, 
or Drinkwater, — but I think the jolly old 
knight could hardly have staggered under 
so perverse a misnomer as this last, — 
while sitting on the magisterial bench, pull 
out a crown-piece and hand it to the clerk. 
** Mr. Clerk," said Sir John, as if it were 
the most indifferent fact in the world, " I 
was drunk last night. There are my five 
shillings." 



CIVIC BANQUETS 549 

During the dinner, I had a good deal of 
pleasant conversation with the gentlemen 
on either side of me. One of them, a law- 
yer, expatiated with great unction on the 
social standing of the judges. Represent- 
ing the dignity and authority of the Crown, 
they take precedence, during assize-time, 
of the highest military men in the king- 
dom, of the Lord Lieutenant of the coun- 
ty, of the Archbishops, of the royal Dukes, 
and even of the Prince of Wales. For 
the nonce, they are the greatest men in 
England. With a glow of professional 
complacency that amounted to enthusiasm, 
my friend assured me, that, in case of a 
royal dinner, a judge, if actually holding 
an assize, would be expected to offer his 
arm and take the Queen herself to the 
table. Happening to be in company with 
some of these elevated personages, on sub- 
sequent occasions, it appeared to me that 
the judges are fully conscious of their 
paramount claims to respect, and take 
rather more pains to impress them on 
their ceremonial inferiors than men of 
high hereditary rank are apt to do. Bish- 
ops, if it be not irreverent to say so, are 
sometimes marked by a similar character- 
istic. Dignified position is so sweet to an 



550 OUR OLD HOME 

Englishman, that he needs to be bom in it, 
and to feel it thoroughly incorporated with 
his nature from its original germ, in order 
to keep him from flaunting it obtrusively 
in the faces of innocent by-standers. 

My companion on the other side was a 
thick-set, middle-aged man, uncouth in man- 
ners, and ugly where none were handsome, 
with a dark, roughly hewn visage, that 
looked grim in repose, and seemed to hold 
within itself the machinery of a very ter- 
rific frown. He ate with resolute appetite, 
and let slip few opportunities of imbibing 
whatever liquids happened to be passing 
by. I was meditating in what way this 
grisly featured table-fellow might most 
safely be accosted, when he turned to me 
with a surly sort of kindness, and invited 
me to take a glass of wine. We then 
began a conversation that abounded, on his 
part, with sturdy sense, and, somehow or 
other, brought me closer to him than I 
had yet stood to an Englishman. I should 
hardly have taken him to be an educated 
man, certainly not a scholar of accurate 
training; and yet he seemed to have all 
the resources of education and trained in- 
tellectual power at command. My fresh 
Americanism, and watchful observation of 



CIVIC BANQUETS 55 1 

English characteristics, appeared either to 
interest or amuse him, or perhaps both. 
Under the mollifying influences of abun- 
dance of meat and drink, he grew very 
gracious (not that I ought to use such a 
phrase to describe his evidently genuine 
good-will), and by and by expressed a wish 
for further acquaintance, asking me to call 
at his rooms in London and inquire for 
Sergeant Wilkins, — throwing out the name 
forcibly, as if he had no occasion to be 
ashamed of it. I remembered Dean Swift's 
retort to Sergeant Bettesworth on a similar 
announcement, — "Of what regiment, pray, 
sir?" — and fancied that the same question 
might not have been quite amiss, if applied 
to the rugged individual at my side. But 
I heard of him subsequently as one of the 
prominent men at the English bar, a rough 
customer, and a terribly strong champion in 
criminal cases ; and it caused me more re- 
gret than might have been expected, on so 
slight an acquaintanceship, when, not long 
afterwards, I saw his death announced in 
the newspapers. Not rich in attractive 
qualities, he possessed, I think, the most 
attractive one of all, — thorough manhood. 
After the cloth was removed, a goodly 
group of decanters were set before the 



552 OUR OLD HOME 

Mayor, who sent them forth on their out- 
ward voyage, full freighted with Port, 
Sherry, Madeira, and Claret, of which ex- 
cellent liquors, methought, the latter found 
least acceptance among the guests. When 
every man had filled his glass, his Worship 
stood up and proposed a toast. It was, of 
course, "Our gracious Sovereign," or words 
to that effect ; and immediately a band of 
musicians, whose preliminary tootings and 
thrummings I had already heard behind 
me, struck up " God save the Queen ! " and 
the whole company rose with one impulse 
to assist in singing that famous national 
anthem. It was the first time in my life 
that I had ever seen a body of men, or 
even a single man, under the active influ- 
ence of the sentiment of Loyalty; for, 
though we call ourselves loyal to our coun- 
try and institutions, and prove it by our 
readiness to shed blood and sacrifice life in 
their behalf, still the principle is as cold 
and hard, in an American bosom, as the 
steel spring that puts in motion a powerful 
machinery. In the Englishman's system, 
a force similar to that of our steel spring 
is generated by the warm throbbings of 
human hearts. He clothes our bare ab- 
straction in flesh and blood, — at present. 



CIVIC BANQUETS 553 

in the flesh and blood of a woman, — and 
manages to combine love, awe, and intel- 
lectual reverence, all in one emotion, and 
to embody his mother, his wife, his chil- 
dren, the whole idea of kindred, in a single 
person, and make her the representative of 
his country and its laws. We Americans 
smile superior, as I did at the Mayor's 
table ; and yet, I fancy, we lose some very 
agreeable titillations of the heart in conse- 
quence of our proud prerogative of caring 
no more about our President than for a 
man of straw, or a stuffed scarecrow strad- 
dling in a cornfield. 

•But, to say the truth, the spectacle 
struck me rather ludicrously, to see this 
party of stout middle-aged and elderly gen- 
tlemen, in the fullness of meat and drink, 
their ample and ruddy faces glistening with 
wine, perspiration, and enthusiasm, rum- 
bling out those strange old stanzas from the 
very bottom of their hearts and stomachs, 
which two organs, in the English interior 
arrangement, lie closer together than in 
ours. The song seemed to me the rudest 
old ditty in the world ; but I could not won- 
der at its universal acceptance and indestruc- 
tible popularity, considering how inimitably 
it expresses the national faith and feeling 



554 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

as regards the inevitable righteousness of 
England, the Almighty's consequent re- 
spect and partiality for that redoubtable 
little island, and his presumed readiness to 
strengthen its defense against the contu- 
macious wickedness and knavery of all 
other principalities or republics. Tenny- 
son himself, though evidently English to 
the very last prejudice, could not write half 
so good a song for the purpose. Finding 
that the entire dinner-table struck in, with 
voices of every pitch between rolling thun- 
der and the squeak of a cart-wheel, and that 
the strain was not of such delicacy as to be 
much hurt by the harshest of them, I de- 
termined to lend my own assistance in 
swelling the triumphant roar. It seemed 
but a proper courtesy to the first Lady in 
the land, whose guest, in the largest sense, 
I might consider myself. Accordingly, my 
first tuneful efforts (and probably my last, 
for I purpose not to sing any more, unless 
it be "Hail Columbia'* on the restoration 
of the Union) were poured freely forth in 
honor of Queen Victoria. The Sergeant 
smiled like the carved head of a Swiss 
nutcracker, and the other gentlemen in 
my neighborhood, by nods and gestures, 
evinced grave approbation of so suitable a 



CIVIC BANQUETS 555 

tribute to English superiority ; and we fin- 
ished our stave and sat down in an ex- 
tremely happy frame of mind 

Other toasts followed in honor of the 
great institutions and interests of the coun- 
try, and speeches in response to each were 
made by individuals whom the Mayor des- 
ignated or the company called for. None 
of them impressed me with a very high 
idea of English postprandial oratory. It 
is inconceivable, indeed, what ragged and 
shapeless utterances most Englishmen are 
satisfied to give vent to, without attempt- 
ing anything like artistic shape, but clap- 
ping on a patch here and another there, 
and ultimately getting out what they want 
to say, and generally with a result of suffi- 
ciently good sense, but in some such dis- 
organized mass as if they had thrown it up 
rather than spoken it. It seemed to me 
that this was almost as much by choice 
as necessity. An Englishman, ambitious 
of public favor, should not be too smooth. 
If an orator is glib, his countrymen dis- 
trust him. They dislike smartness. The 
stronger and heavier his thoughts, the 
better, provided there be an element of 
commonplace running through them ; and 
any rough, yet never vulgar, force of ex- 



556 OUR OLD HOME 

pression, such as would knock an opponent 
down if it hit him, only it must not be too 
personal, is altogether to their taste ; but a 
studied neatness of language, or other such 
superficial graces, they cannot abide. They 
do not often permit a man to make himself 
a fine orator of malice aforethought, that is, 
unless he be a nobleman (as, for example. 
Lord Stanley, of the Derby family), who, 
as an hereditary legislator and necessarily 
a public speaker, is bound to remedy a poor 
natural delivery in the best way he can. 
On the whole, I partly agree with them, 
and, if I cared for any oratory whatever, 
should be as likely to applaud theirs as our 
own. When an English speaker sits down, 
you feel that you have been listening to 
a real man, and not to an actor ; his senti- 
ments have a wholesome earth -smell in 
them, though, very likely, this apparent 
naturalness is as much an art as what we 
expend in rounding a sentence or elabora- 
ting a peroration. 

It is one good effect of this inartificial 
style, that nobody in England seems to 
feel any shyness about shoveling the un- 
trimmed and untrimmable ideas out of his 
mind for the benefit of an audience. At 
least, nobody did on the occasion now in 



Ciy^IC BANQUETS 557 

hand, except a poor little Major of Artil- 
lery, who responded for the Army in a 
thin, quavering voice, with a terribly hesi- 
tating trickle of fragmentary ideas, and, I 
question not, would rather have been bayo- 
neted in front of his batteries than to have 
said a word. Not his own mouth, but 
the cannon's, was this poor Major's proper 
organ of utterance. 

While I was thus amiably occupied in 
criticising my fellow - guests, the Mayor 
had got up to propose another toast ; and 
listening rather inattentively to the first 
sentence or two, I soon became sensible of 
a drift in his Worship's remarks that made 
me glance apprehensively towards Sergeant 
Wilkins. "Yes, " grumbled that gruff per- 
sonage, shoving a decanter of Port towards 
me, "it is your turn next ; " and seeing in 
my face, I suppose, the consternation of a 
wholly unpracticed orator, he kindly added, 
" It is nothing. A mere acknowledgment 
will answer the purpose. The less you 
say, the better they will like it." That 
being the case, I suggested that perhaps 
they would like it best if I said nothing 
at all. But the Sergeant shook his head. 
Now, on first receiving the Mayor's invita- 
tion to dinner, it had occurred to me that 



558 OUR OLD HOME 

I might possibly be brought into my pres- 
ent predicament ; but I had dismissed the 
idea from my mind as too disagreeable to 
be entertained, and, moreover, as so alien 
from my disposition and character that 
Fate surely could not keep such a misfor- 
tune in store for me. If nothing else pre- 
vented, an earthquake or the crack of doom 
would certainly interfere before I need rise 
to speak. Yet here was the Mayor getting 
on inexorably, — and, indeed, I heartily 
wished that he might get on and on for- 
ever, and of his wordy wanderings find no 
end. 

If the gentle reader, my kindest friend 
and closest confidant, deigns to desire it, I 
can impart to him my own experience as 
a public speaker quite as indifferently as 
if it concerned another person. Indeed, it 
does concern another, or a mere spectral 
phenomenon, for it was not I, in my proper 
and natural self, that sat there at table or 
subsequently rose to speak. At the mo- 
ment, then, if the choice had been offered 
me whether the Mayor should let off a 
speech at my head or a pistol, I should 
unhesitatingly have taken the latter alter- 
native. I had really nothing to say, not an 
idea in my head, nor, which was a great 



CIVIC BANQUETS 559 

deal worse, any flowing words or embroi- 
dered sentences in which to dress out that 
empty Nothing, and give it a cunning as- 
pect of intelligence, such as might last the 
poor vacuity the little time it had to live. 
But time pressed; the Mayor brought his 
remarks, afEectionately eulogistic of the 
United States and highly complimentary 
to their distinguished representative at 
that table, to a close, amid a vast deal of 
cheering; and the band struck up "Hail 
Columbia, " I believe, though it might have 
been " Old Hundred, " or " God save the 
Queen'* over again, for anything that I 
should have known or cared. When the 
music ceased, there was an intensely dis- 
agreeable instant, during which I seemed 
to rend away and fling off the habit of a 
lifetime, and rose, still void of ideas, but 
with preternatural composure, to make a 
speech. The guests rattled on the table, 
and cried, " Hear ! " most vociferously, as 
if now, at length, in this foolish and idly 
garrulous world, had come the long-ex- 
pected moment when one golden word was 
to be spoken ; and in that imminent crisis, 
I caught a glimpse of a little bit of an ef- 
fusion of international sentiment, which it 
might, and must, and should do to utter. 



560 OUR OLD HOME 

Well I it was nothing, as the Sergeant 
had said* What surprised me most was 
the sound of my own voice, which I had 
never before heard at declamatory pitch, 
and which impressed me as belonging to 
some other person, who, and not myself, 
would be responsible for the speech : a 
I prodigious consolation and encouragement 

i under the circumstances ! I went on with- 

out the slightest embarrassment, and sat 
down amid great applause, wholly unde- 
served by anything that I had spoken, but 
well won from Englishmen, methought, by 
the new development of pluck that alone 
bad enabled me to speak at all. "It was 
handsomely done!" quoth Sergeant Wil- 
kins ; and I felt like a recruit who had 
been for the first time under fire.^ 

I would gladly have ended my oratorical 

_ career then and there forever, but was 

often placed in a similar or worse position, 

/ w.^ -ompelled to meet it as I best might ; 

>ody may make an after-dinner speech who will 

It tu talk onward without saying anything. My 

pas tiDt more than two or three inches long; 

iidermg that I did not know a soul there, ex- 

1 Mayor himself, and that I am wholly imprac- 

a all sorts of oratory, and that I had nothing to 

it was quite successful. I hardly thought it was in 

^t but, being once started, I felt no embarrassment, 

■I'ld went through it as coolly as if I were going to be 

liattged. — L 429. 




CIVIC BANQUETS Xfol 

for this was one of the necessities of an 
office which I had voluntarily taken on my 
shoulders, and beneath which I might be 
crushed by no moral delinquency on my 
own part, but could not shirk without cow- 
ardice and shame. My subsequent for- 
tune was various. Once, though I felt it 
to be a kind of imposture, I got a speech 
by heart, and doubtless it might have been 
a very pretty one, only I forgot every sylla- 
ble at the moment of need, and had to im- 
provise another as well as I could. I found 
it a better method to prearrange a few 
points in my mind, and trust to the spur 
of the occasion, and the kind aid of Provi* 
dence, for enabling me to bring them to 
bear. The presence of any considerable 
proportion of personal friends generally 
dumfounded me. I would rather have 
talked with an enemy in the gate. Invari- 
ably, too, I was much embarrassed by a 
small audience, and succeeded better with 
a large one, — the sympathy of a multitude 
possessing a buoyant effect, which lifts the 
speaker a little way out of his individ- 
uality, and tosses him towards a perhaps 
better range of sentiment than his pri- 
vate one. Again, if I rose carelessly and 
confidently, with an expectation of going 



562 OUR OLD HOME 

through the business entirely at my ease, 
I often found that I had little or nothing 
to say; whereas, if I came to the charge 
in perfect despair, and at a crisis when 
failure would have been horrible, it once 
or twice happened that the frightful emer- 
gency concentrated my poor faculties, and 
enabled me to give definite and vigorous 
expression to sentiments which an instant 
before looked as vague and far off as the 
clouds in the atmosphere. On the whole, 
poor as my own success may have been, I 
apprehend that any intelligent man with a 
tongue possesses the chief requisite of ora- 
torical power, and may develop many of 
the others, if he deems it worth while to 
bestow a great amount of labor and pains 
on an object which the most accomplished 
orators, I suspect, have not found alto- 
gether satisfactory to their highest im- 
pulses. At any rate, it must be a re- 
markably true man who can keep his own 
elevated conception of truth when the 
lower feeling of a multitude is assailing his 
natural sympathies, and who can speak out 
frankly the best that there is in him, when 
by adulterating it a little, or a good deal, 
he knows that he may make it ten times 
as acceptable to the audience. 



CIVIC BANQUETS 563 

This slight article on the civic banquets 
of England would be too wretchedly imper- 
fect without an attempted description of a 
Lord Mayor's dinner at the Mansion House 
in London. I should have preferred the 
annual feast at Guildhall, but never had 
the good fortune to witness it. Once, how- 
ever, I was honored with an invitation to 
one of the regular dinners, and gladly ac- 
cepted it, — taking the precaution, never- 
theless, though it hardly seemed necessary, 
to inform the City-King, through a mutual 
friend, that I was no fit representative 
of American eloquence, and must humbly 
make it a condition that I should not be 
expected to open my mouth, except for the 
reception of his Lordship's bountiful hospi- 
tality. The reply was gracious and acqui- 
escent ; so that I presented myself in the 
great entrance-hall of the Mansion House, 
at half-past six o'clock, in a state of most 
enjoyable freedom from the pusillanimous 
apprehensions that often tormented me 
at such times. The Mansion House was 
built in Queen Anne's days, in the very 
heart of old London, and is a palace wor- 
thy of its inhabitant, were he really as great 
a man as his traditionary state and pomp 
would seem to indicate. Times are changed, 



564 OUR OLD ffOMJS 

however, since the days of Whittington, or 
even of Hogarth's Industrious Apprentice, 
to whom the highest imaginable reward of 
lifelong integrity was a seat in the Lord 
Mayor's chair. People nowadays say that 
the real dignity and importance have per- 
ished out of the office, as they do, sooner or 
later, out of all earthly institutions, leaving 
only a painted and gilded shell like that of 
an Easter egg, and that it is only second- 
rate and third-rate men who now conde- 
scend to be ambitious of the Mayoralty. 
I felt a little grieved at this ; for the orig- 
inal emigrants of New England had strong 
sympathies with the people of London, who 
were mostly Puritans in religion and Par- 
liamentarians in politics, in the early days 
of our country ; so that the Lord Mayor was 
a potentate of huge dimensions in the esti- 
mation of our forefathers, and held to be 
hardly second to the prime minister of the 
throne. The true great men of the city 
now appear to have aims beyond city great- 
ness, connecting themselves with national 
politics, and seeking to be identified with 
the aristocracy of the country. 

In the entrance-hall I was received by 
a body of footmen dressed in a livery of 
blue coats and buff breeches, in which 



CIVIC BANQUETS 565 

they looked wonderfully like American 
Revolutionary generals, only bedizened 
with far -more lace and embroidery than 
those simple and grand old heroes ever 
dreamed of wearing. There were likewise 
two very imposing figures, whom I should 
have taken to be military men of rank, be- 
ing arrayed in scarlet coats and large silver 
epaulets; but they turned out to be officers 
of the Lord Mayor's household, and were 
now employed in assigning to the guests 
the places which they were respectively to 
occupy at the dinner-table. Our names 
(for I had included myself in a little group 
of friends) were announced ; and ascending 
the staircase, we met his Lordship in the 
doorway of the first reception-room, where, 
also, we had the advantage of a presenta- 
tion to the Lady Mayoress. As this dis- 
tinguished couple retired into private life 
at the termination of their year of office, it 
is inadmissible to make any remarks, criti- 
cal or laudatory, on the manners and bear- 
ing of two personages suddenly emerging 
from a position of respectable mediocrity 
into one of preeminent dignity within 
their own sphere. Such individuals almost 
always seem to grow nearly or quite to 
the full size of their office. If it were 



566 OUR OLD HOME 

desirable to write an essay on the latent 
aptitude of ordinary people for grandeur, 
we have an exemplification in our own 
country, and on a scale incomparably 
greater than that of the Mayoralty, though 
invested with nothing like the outward 
magnificence that gilds and embroiders the 
latter. If I have been correctly informed, 
the Lord Mayor's salary is exactly double 
that of the President of the United States, 
and yet is found very inadequate to his ne- 
cessary expenditure. 

There were two reception-rooms, thrown 
into one by the opening of wide folding- 
doors ; and though in an old style, and not 
yet so old as to be venerable, they are 
remarkably handsome apartments, lofty as 
well as spacious, with carved ceilings and 
walls, and at either end a splendid fireplace 
of white marble, ornamented with sculp- 
tured wreaths of flowers and foliage. The 
company were about three hundred, many 
of them celebrities in politics, war, litera- 
ture, and science, though I recollect none 
preeminently distinguished in either de- 
partment. But it is certainly a pleasant 
mode of doing honor to men of literature, 
for example, who deserve well of the public, 
yet do not often meet it face to face, thus 



CIVIC BANQUETS $67 

to bring them together under genial au- 
spices, in connection with persons of note 
in other lines. I know not what may be 
the Lord Mayor's mode or principle of 
selecting his guests, nor whether, during 
his official term, he can profifer his hospi- 
tality to every man of noticeable talent 
in the wide world of London, nor, in fine, 
whether his Lordship's invitation is much 
sought for or valued ; but it seemed to me 
that this periodical feast is one of the many 
sagacious methods which the English have 
contrived for keeping up a good under- 
standing among different sorts of people. 
Like most other distinctions of society, 
however, I presume that the Lord Mayor's 
card does not often seek out modest merit, 
but comes at last when the recipient is 
conscious of the bore, and doubtful about 
the honor. 

One very pleasant characteristic, which 
I never met with at any other public or 
partially public dinner, was the presence 
of ladies. No doubt, they were principally 
the wives and daughters of city magnates ; 
and if we may judge from the many sly 
allusions in old plays and satirical poems, 
the city of London has always been famous 
for the beauty of its women and the re- 



568 OUR OLD HOME 

ciprocal attractions between them and the 
men of quality. Be that as it might, while 
straying hither and thither through those 
crowded apartments, I saw much reason for 
modifying certain heterodox opinions which 
I had imbibed, in my Transatlantic new- 
ness and rawness, as regarded the delicate 
character and frequent occurrence of Eng- 
lish beauty. To state the entire truth 
(being, at this period, some years old in 
English life), my taste, I fear, had long 
since begun to be deteriorated by acquain- 
tance with other models of feminine loveli- 
ness than it was my happiness to know 
in America I often found, or seemed to 
find, if I may dare to confess it, in the 
persons of such of my dear countrywomen 
as I now occasionally met, a certain mea- 
greness (Heaven forbid that I should call 
it scrawniness !), a deficiency of physical 
development, a scantiness, so to speak, in 
the pattern of their material make, a pale- 
ness of complexion, a thinness of voice, — 
all of which characteristics, nevertheless, 
only made me resolve so much the more 
sturdily to uphold these fair creatures as 
angels, because I was sometimes driven to 
a half -acknowledgment that the English 
ladies, looked at from a lower point of 



CIVIC BANQUETS 569 

view, were perhaps a little finer animals 
than they. The advantages of the latter, 
if any they could really be said to have, 
wero all comprised in a few additional 
lumps of clay on their shoulders and other 
parts of their figures. It would be a piti- 
ful bargain to give up the ethereal charm 
of American beauty in exchange for half a 
hundred-weight of human clay ! 

At a given signal we all found our way 
into an immense room, called the Egyptian 
Hall, I know not why, •except that the 
architecture was classic, and as different 
as possible from the ponderous style of 
Memphis and the Pyramids. A powerful 
band played inspiringly as we entered, and 
a brilliant profusion of light shone down 
on two long tables, extending the whole 
length of the hall, and a cross -table be- 
tween them, occupying nearly its entire 
breadth. Glass gleamed and silver glis- 
tened on an acre or two of snowy damask, 
over which were set out all the accompani- 
ments of a stately feast. We found our 
places without much difficulty, and the 
Lord Mayor's chaplain implored a blessing 
on the food, — a ceremony which the Eng- 
lish never omit, at a great dinner or a 
small one, yet consider, I fear not so much 



570 OUR OLD HOME 

a religious rite as a sort of preliminary 
relish before the soup. 

The soup, of course, on this occasion, 
was turtle, of which, in accordance with 
immemorial custom, each guest was allowed 
two platefuls, in spite of the otherwise im- 
mitigable law of table - decorum. Indeed, 
judging from the proceedings of the 
gentlemen near me, I surmised that there 
was no practical limit, except the appetite 
of the guests and the capacity of the soup- 
tureens. Not being fond of this civic 
dainty, I partook of it but once, and then 
only in accordance with the wise maxim, 
always to taste a fruit, a wine, or a cele- 
brated dish, at its indigenous site ; and the 
fountain-head of turtle-soup, I suppose, is 
in the Lord Mayor's dinner-pot. It is one 
of those orthodox customs which people 
follow for half a century without knowing 
why, to drink a sip of rum-punch, in a very 
small tumbler, after the soup. It was ex- 
cellently well -brewed, and it seemed to*me 
almost worth while to sup the soup for the 
sake of sipping the punch. The rest of 
the dinner was catalogued in a bill -of -fare 
printed on delicate white paper within an 
arabesque border of green and gold. It 
looked very good, not only in the English 



CIVIC BANQUETS 57 1 

and French names of the numerous dishes, 
but also in the positive reality of the dishes 
themselves, which were all set on the table 
to be carved and distributed by the guests. 
This ancient and honest method is attended 
with a good deal of trouble, and a lavish 
effusion of gravy, yet by no means be- 
stowed or dispensed in vain, because you 
have thereby the absolute assurance of a 
banquet actually before your eyes, instead 
of a shadowy promise in the bill -of -fare, 
and such meagre fulfillment as a single 
guest can contrive to get upon his individ- 
ual plate. I wonder that Englishmen, who 
are fond of looking at prize -oxen in the 
shape of butcher's meat, do not generally 
better estimate the aesthetic gormandism 
of devouring the whole dinner with their 
eyesight, before proceeding to nibble the 
comparatively few morsels which, after all, 
the most heroic appetite and widest stom- 
achic capacity of mere mortals can enable 
even an alderman really to eat. There fell 
to my lot three delectable things enough, 
which I take pains to remember, that the 
reader may not go away wholly unsatisfied 
from the Barmecide feast to which I have 
bidden him, — a red mullet, a plate of 
mushrooms, exquisitely stewed, and part of 



572 OUR OLD HOME 

a ptarmigan, a bird of the same family as 
the grouse, but feeding high up towards 
the summit of the Scotch mountains, 
whence it gets a wild delicacy of flavor 
very superior to that of the artificially nur- 
tured English game -fowl. All the other 
dainties have vanished from my memory 
as completely as those of Prosperous ban- 
quet after Ariel had clapped his wings 
over it. The band played at intervals in- 
spiriting us to new efiforts, as did likewise 
the sparkling wines which the footmen 
'supplied from an inexhaustible cellar, and 
which the guests quaffed with little appar- 
ent reference to the disagreeable fact that 
there comes a to-morrow morning after 
every feast. As long as that shall be the 
case, a prudent man can never have full 
enjoyment of his dinner. 

Nearly opposite to me, on the other side 
of the table, sat a young lady in white, 
whom I am sorely tempted to describe, 
but dare not, because not only the super- 
eminence of her beauty, but its peculiar 
character, would cause the sketch to be 
recognized, however rudely it might be 
drawn. I hardly thought that there existed 
such a woman outside of a picture - frame, 
or the covers of a romance : not that I had 



CIVIC BANQUETS 573 

ever met with her resemblance even there, 
but, being so distinct and singular an ap- 
parition, she seemed likelier to find her 
sisterhood in poetry and picture than in 
real life. Let us turn away from her, lest 
a touch too apt should compel her stately 
and cold and soft and womanly grace to 
gleam out upon my page with a strange 
repulsion and unattainableness in the very 
spell that made her beautiful.^ At her 

* 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 wonder- 
ful 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 beauti- 
ful 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 



574 ^^^ ^^^ HOME 

side, and familiarly attentive to her, sat 
a gentleman of whom I remember only a 
bard outline of tbe nose and forehead, and 
such a monstrous portent of a beard that 
you could discover no symptom of a mouth, 
except when he opened it to speak, or to 
put in a morsel of food. Then, indeed, you 
suddenly became aware of a cave hidden 
behind the impervious and darksome shrub- 
bery. There could be no doubt who this 
gentleman and lady were. Any child would 
have recognized them at a glance. It was 
Bluebeard and a new wife (the loveliest of 
the series, but with already a mysterious 
gloom overshadowing her fair young brow) 
traveling in their honeymoon, and dining, 
among other distinguished strangers, at the 
Lord Mayor's table. 

After an hour or two of valiant achieve- 
ment with knife and fork came the dessert ; 
and at the point of the festival where 
finger-glasses are usually introduced, a 
large silver basin was carried round to the 
guests, containing rose-water, into which 
we dipped the ends of our napkins and 
were conscious of a delightful fragrance, 

race, my sense that she was a Jewess, or whatever else, 
I felt a sort of repugnance, simultaneously with my per- 
ception that she was an admirable creature. — II. 238. 



CIVIC BANQUETS 575 

instead of that heavy and weary odor, the 
hateful ghost of a defunct dinner. This 
seems to be an ancient custom of the 
city, not confined to the Lord Mayor's 
table, but never met with westward of 
Temple Bar. 

During all the feast, in accordance with 
another ancient custom, the origin or pur- 
port of which I do not remember to have 
heard, there stood a man in armor, with a 
helmet on his head, behind his Lordship's 
chair. When the after-dinner wine was 
placed on the table, still another official 
personage appeared behind the chair, and 
proceeded to make a solemn and sonorous 
proclamation (in which he enumerated the 
principal guests, comprising three or four 
noblemen, several baronets, and plenty of 
generals, members of Parliament, aldermen, 
and other names of the illustrious, one of 
which sounded strangely familiar to my 
ears), ending in some such style as this : 
"and other gentlemen and ladies, here 
present, the Lord Mayor drinks to you all 
in a loving-cup, " — giving a sort of senti- 
mental twang to the two words, — " and 
sends it round among you ! " And forth- 
with the loving-cup — several of them, 
indeed, on each side of the tables — came 



576 OUR OLD HOME 

slowly down with all the antique ceremony. 
The fashion of it is thus. The Lord 
Mayor, standing up and taking the covered 
cup in both hands, presents it to the guest 
at his elbow, who likewise rises, and re- 
moves the cover for his Lordship to drink, 
which being successfully accomplished, the 
guest replaces the cover and receives the 
cup into his own hands. He then presents 
it to his next neighbor, that the cover may 
be again removed for himself to take a 
draught, after which the third person goes 
through a 'Similar manoeuvre with a fourth, 
and he with a fifth, until the whole com- 
pany find themselves inextricably inter- 
twisted and entangled in one complicated 
chain of love. When the cup came to my 
hands, I examined it critically, both inside 
and out, and perceived it to be an antique 
and richly ornamented silver goblet, capa- 
ble of holding about a quart of wine. Con- 
sidering how much trouble we all expended 
in getting the cup to our lips, the guests 
appeared to content themselves with won- 
derfully moderate potations. In truth, 
nearly or quite the original quart of wine 
being still in the goblet, it seemed doubt- 
ful whether any of the company had more 
than barely touched the silver rim before 



CIVIC BANQUETS 577 

passing it to their neighbors, — a degree of 
abstinence that might be accounted for by 
a fastidious repugnance to so many com- 
potators in one cup, or possibly by a disap- 
probation of the liquor. Being curious to 
know all about these important matters, 
with a view of recommending to my 
countrymen whatever they might usefully 
adopt, I drank an honest sip from the lov- 
ing-cup, and had no occasion for another, 
— ascertaining it to be Claret of a poor 
original quality, largely mingled with water, 
and spiced and sweetened. It was good 
enough, however, for a merely spectral or 
ceremonial drink, and could never have 
been intended for any better purpose. 

The toasts now began in the customary 
order, attended with speeches neither more 
nor less witty and ingenious than the spec- 
imens of table eloquence which had here- 
tofore delighted me. As preparatory to 
each new display, the herald, or whatever 
he was, behind the chair of state, gave 
awful notice that the Right Honorable 
the Lord Mayor was about to propose 
a toast. His Lordship being happily de- 
livered thereof, together with some ac- 
companying remarks, the band played an 
appropriate tune, and the herald again 



5/8 OUR OLD HOME 

issued proclamation to the eflFect that such 
or such a nobleman, or gentleman, general, 
dignified clergyman, or what not, was go- 
ing to respond to the Right Honorable the 
Lord Mayor's toast ; then, if I mistake not, 
there was another prodigious flourish of 
trumpets and twanging of stringed instru- 
ments ; and, finally, the doomed individual, 
waiting all this while to be decapitated, 
got up and proceeded to make a fool of 
himself. A bashful young earl tried his 
maiden oratory on the good citizens of 
London, and, having evidently got every 
word by heart (even including, however 
he managed it, the most seemingly casual 
improvisations of the moment), he really 
spoke like a book, and made incomparably 
the smoothest speech I ever heard in Eng- 
land. 

The weight and gravity of the speakers, 
not only on this occasion, but all similar 
ones, was what impressed me as most 
extraordinary, not to say absurd. Why 
should people eat a good dinner, and put 
their spirits into festive trim with Cham- 
pagne, and afterwards mellow themselves 
into a most enjoyable state of quietude 
with copious libations of Sherry and old 
Port, and then disturb the whole excellent 



CIVIC BANQUETS 579 

result by listening to speeches as heavy as 
an after-dinner nap, and in no degree so 
refreshing? If the Champagne had thrown 
its sparkle over the surface of these effu- 
sions, or if the generous Port had shone 
through their substance with a ruddy glow 
of the old English humor, I might have 
seen a reason for honest gentlemen prat- 
tling in their cups, and should undoubtedly 
have been glad to be a listener. But there 
was no attempt nor impulse of the kind on 
the part of the orators, nor apparent expec- 
tation of such a phenomenon on that of 
the audience. In fact, I imagine that the 
latter were best pleased when the speaker 
embodied his ideas in the figurative lan- 
guage of arithmetic, or struck upon any 
hard matter of business or statistics, as 
a heavy-laden bark bumps upon a rock 
in mid-ocean.^ The sad severity, the too 
earnest utilitarianism, of modern life, have 

^ I rather think that Englishmen would purposely 
avoid eloquence or neatness in after-dinner speeches. It 
seems to be no part of their object. Yet any English- 
man almost, much more generally than Americans, will 
stand up and talk on in a plain way, uttering one rough, 
ragged, and shapeless sentence after another, and will 
have expressed himself sensibly, though in a very rude 
manner, before he sits down. And this is quite satis- 
factory to his audience, who, indeed, are rather preju- 
diced agains* the man who speaks too glibly. — I. 54a 



58o OUR OLD HOME 

wrought a radical and lamentable change, 
I am afraid, in this ancient and goodly 
institution of civic banquets. People used 
to come to them, a few hundred years ago, 
for the sake of being jolly ; they come now 
with an odd notion of pouring sober wis- 
dom into their wine by way of wormwood- 
bitters, and thus make such a mess of it 
that the wine and wisdom reciprocally 
spoil one another. 

Possibly, the foregoing sentiments have 
taken a spice of acridity from a circum- 
stance that happened about this stage of 
the feast, and very much interrupted my 
own further enjoyment of it. Up to this 
time, my condition had been exceedingly 
felicitous, both on account of the brilliancy 
of the scene, and because I was in close 
proximity with three very pleasant English 
friends. One of them was a lady, whose 
honored name my readers would recognize 
as a household word, if I dared write it; 
another, a gentleman, likewise well known 
to them, whose fine taste, kind heart, and 
genial cultivation are qualities seldom 
mixed in such happy proportion as in him. 
The third was the man to whom I owed 
most in England, the warm benignity of 
whose nature was never weary of doing me 



CIVIC BANQUETS 58 1 

good, who led me to many scenes of life, 
in town, camp, and country, which I never 
could have found out for myself, who knew 
precisely the kind of help a stranger needs, 
and gave it as freely as if he had not had a 
thousand more important things to live for. 
Thus I never felt safer or cosier at any- 
body's fireside, even my own, than at the 
dinner-table of the Lord Mayor. 

Out of this serene sky came a thunder- 
bolt. His Lordship got up and proceeded 
to make some very eulogistic remarks upon 
" the literary and commercial " — I ques- 
tion whether those two adjectives were 
ever before married by a copulative con- 
junction, and they certainly would not live 
together in illicit intercourse, of their own 
accord — "the literary and commercial at- 
tainments of an eminent gentleman there 
present," and then went on to speak of 
the relations of blood and interest between 
Great Britain and the aforesaid eminent 
gentleman's native country. Those bonds 
were more intimate than had ever before 
existed between two great nations, through- 
out all history, and his Lordship felt as- 
sured that that whole honorable company 
would join him in the expression of a fer- 
vent wish that they might be held in viola- 



582 OUR OLD HOME 

bly sacred, on both sides of the Atlantic, 
now and forever. Then came the same 
wearisome old toast, dry and hard to chew 
upon as a musty sea-biscuit, which had been 
the text of nearly all the oratory of my 
public career. The herald sonorously an- 
nounced that Mr. So-and-so would now re- 
spond to his Right Honorable Lordship's 
toast and speech, the trumpets sounded the 
customary flourish for the onset, there was 
a thunderous rumble of anticipatory ap- 
plause, and finally a deep silence sank upon 
the festive hall. 

All this was a horrid piece of treachery 
on the Lord Mayor's part, after beguiling 
me within his lines on a pledge of safe-con- 
duct ; and it seemed very strange that he 
could not let an unobtrusive individual eat 
his dinner in peace, drink a small sample 
of the Mansion House wine, and go away 
grateful at heart for the old English hos- 
pitality. If his Lordship had sent me an 
infusion of ratsbane in the loving-cup, I 
should have taken it much more kindly at 
his hands. But I suppose the secret of the 
matter to have been somewhat as follows. 

All England, just then, was in one of 
those singular fits of panic excitement (not 
fear, though as sensitive and tremulous as 



CIVIC BANQUETS 583 

that emotion), which, in consequence of 
the homogeneous character of the people, 
their intense patriotism, and their depen- 
dence for their ideas in public afifairs on 
other sources than their own examination 
and individual thought, are more sudden, 
pervasive, and unreasoning than any sim- 
ilar mood of our own public. In truth, I 
have never seen the American public in a 
state at all similar, and believe that we are 
incapable of it. Our excitements are not 
impulsive, like theirs, but, right or wrong, 
are moral and intellectual. For example, 
the grand rising of the North, at the com- 
mencement of this war, bore the aspect 
of impulse and passion only because it was 
so universal, and necessarily done in a mo- 
ment, just as the quiet and simultaneous 
getting-up of a thousand people out of 
their chairs would cause a tumult that 
might be mistaken for a storm. We were 
cool then, and have been cool ever since, 
and shall remain cool to. the end, which 
we shall take coolly, whatever it may be. 
There is nothing which the English find it 
so difficult to understand in us as this char- 
acteristic. They imagine us, in our collec- 
tive capacity, a kind of wild beast, whose 
normal condition is savage fury, and are 



584 OUR OLD HOME 

always looking for the moment when we 
shall break through the slender barriers of 
international law and comity, and compel 
the reasonable part of the world, with them- 
selves at the head, to combine for the pur- 
pose of putting us into a stronger cage. 
At times this apprehension becomes so 
powerful (and when one man feels it, a 
million do) that it resembles the passage of 
the wind over a broad field of grain, where 
you see the whole crop bending and sway- 
ing beneath one impulse, and each sep- 
arate stalk tossing with the self-same dis- 
turbance as its myriad companions. At 
such periods all Englishmen talk with a 
terrible identity of sentiment and expres- 
sion. You have the whole country in 
each man ; and not one of them all, if you 
put him strictly to the question, can give a 
reasonable ground for his alarm. There 
are but two nations in the world — our 
own country and France — that can put 
England into this singular state. It is the 
united sensitiveness of a people extremely 
well-to-do, careful of their country's honor, 
most anxious for the preservation of the 
cumbrous and moss-grown prosperity which 
they have been so long in consolidating, 
and incompetent (owing to the national 



CIVIC BANQUETS 585 

half-sightedness, and their habit of trust- 
ing to a few leading minds for their public 
opinion) to judge when that prosperity is 
really threatened. 

If the English were accustomed to look 
at the foreign side of any international 
dispute, they might easily have satisfied 
themselves that there was very little 
danger of a war at that particular crisis, 
from the simple circumstance that their 
own Government had positively not an 
inch of honest ground to stand upon, and 
could not fail to be aware of the fact. 
Neither could they have met Parliament 
with any show of a justification for incur- 
ring war. It was no such perilous juncture 
as exists now, when law and right are 
really controverted on sustainable or plau- 
sible grounds, and a naval commander may 
at any moment fire off the first cannon of 
a terrible contest. If I remember it cor- 
rectly, it was a mere diplomatic squabble, 
in which the British ministers, with the 
politic generosity which they are in the 
habit of showing towards their official sub- 
ordinates, had tried to browbeat us for the 
purpose of sustaining an ambassador in an 
indefensible proceeding ; and the American 
Grovemment (for God had not denied us an 



586 OUR OLD HOME 

administration of statesmen then) had re- 
taliated with stanch courage and exquisite 
skill, putting inevitably a cruel mortifica- 
tion upon their opponents, but indulging 
them with no pretense whatever for active 
resentment. 

Now the Lord Mayor, like any other 
Englishman, probably fancied that War 
was on the western gale, and was glad to 
lay hold of even so insignificant an Ameri- 
can as myself, who might be made to harp 
on the rusty old strings of national sympa- 
thies, identity of blood and interest, and 
community of language and literature, and 
whisper peace where there was no peace, 
in however weak an utterance. And pos- 
sibly his Lordship thought, in his wisdom, 
that the good feeling which was sure to be 
expressed by a company of well-bred Eng- 
lishmen, at his august and far-famed dinner- 
table, might have an appreciable influence 
on the grand result. Thus, when the Lord 
Mayor invited me to his feast, it was a 
piece of strategy. He wanted to induce 
me to fling myself, like a lesser Curtius, 
with a larger object of self-sacrifice, into 
the chasm of discord between England and 
America, and, on my ignominious demur, 
had resolved to shove me in with his own 



CIVJC BANQUETS Xfij 

right -honorable hands, in the hope of clos* 
ing up the horrible pit forever. On the 
whole, I forgive his Lordship. He meant 
well by all parties, — himself, who would 
share the glory, and me, who ought to have 
desired nothing better than such an he- 
roic opportunity^ — his own country, which 
would continue to get cotton and bread- 
stuffs, and mine, which would get every- 
thing that men work with and wear. 

As soon as the Lord Mayor began to 
speak, I rapped upon my mind, and it 
gave forth a hollow sound, being abso- 
lutely empty of appropriate ideas. I never 
thought of listening to the speech, because 
I knew it all beforehand in twenty repeti- 
tions from other lips, and was aware that it 
would not oflfer a single suggestive point. 
In this dilemma, I turned to one of my 
three friends, a gentleman whom I knew 
to possess an enviable flow of silver speech, 
and obtested him, by whatever he deemed 
holiest, to give me at least an available 
thought or two to start with, and, once 
afloat, I would trust my guardian-angel for 
enabling me to flounder ashore again. He 
advised me to begin with some remarks 
complimentary to the Lord Mayor, and 
expressive of the hereditary reverence in 



$88 OUR OLD HOME 

which his office was held, — at least, my 
friend thought that there would be no 
harm in giving his Lordship this little 
sugar- plum, whether quite the fact or no, 
— was held by the descendants of the Puri- 
tan forefathers. Thence, if I liked, getting 
flexible with the oil of ny own eloquence, 
I might easily slide off into the momentous 
subject of the relations between England 
and America, to which his Lordship had 
made such weighty allusion. 

Seizing this handful of straw with a 
death -grip, and bidding my three friends 
bury me honorably, I got upon my legs to 
save both countries, or perish in the at- 
tempt. The tables roared and thundered 
at me, and suddenly were silent again. 
But, as I have never happened to stand in 
a position of greater dignity and peril, I 
deem it a stratagem of sage policy here to 
close these Sketches, leaving myself still 
erect in so heroic an attitude. 



INDEX 



AcTRBSS, an. in an almshoase, 
507; starving for admiration, 
508. 

Addison, early home of. 21 k; 
buried among the men of rank, 

Advice, as to giving, 4a. 

Ailsa Craig, 158. 

Alexander, Miss, the Lass of 

Ballochmyle, 344. 
Almshouse, a great English, 498- 

American flags, captured, dis- 
played in Chelsea Hospital, 

American mercantile marine, mis- 
represented at Liverpool, a, 3, 
46 ; its vicious system, 45, 48. 

American shipmasters, cruelties 
of, 44-49. . , ^ 

Amencans, national characteris- 
tics of, as seen by a consul, 9, 
10; vagabond habits of, 11, 12 ; 
as claimants of English estates, 
18, 22-31 ; erowth and change 
the law of their existence, 9) ; 
their scholars and critics, 190 ; 
their light regard for the Pres- 
ident, 553. 

Andr^, Major, at Lichfield, 216. 

Anne, Queen, statue of, at Blen- 
heim, 995. 

Antiquity, hoar, in English 
scenes, 90. 

Archdeacon ale, 300. 

Armour, Jean, 329, 330, 346. 

Auchinleck, estate of, 343. 

Avon, the, arched brid.ite at War- 
wick, 105; a sluggish river, 
166. 

Ayr, ride to, 347 ; its two bridges, 
348. 

Bacon, Lord, his Letters, 176. 
Bacon, Miss a very remarkable 
w<»nan, 17a ; her Shakespear- 



ean theory, 173, 173, 176-178; 
her personal appearance, 174; 
her book, 179, 189, 19a ; an ad- 
mirable talker, 180; at Strat* 
ford, 181-191; her plans for 
searching Shakespeare^s ^ve, 
182-184 ; Hawthorne incurs 
her displeasure, 188; her in- 
sanity, 1 01 ; her death, 192. 

Ballochmyle, the I<ass of, 344. 

Banquets, dvic, U7-588. 

Barber Surgeons' Hall, in Lon- 
don, 537-539' 

Bear and Ragged Staff, the, cog- 
nizance of^e Warwick Earl- 
dom, 109 ; silver badge of, 113 ; 
representations of, at Leices- 
ter's Hospital, 116, 118, 133. 

Beauchamp, Richard, Earl of 
Warwick, memorial of, 138; 
strange accident to, 139. 

Beauchamp Chapel, at Warwick, 
»37-i40- 

Bebbington, monuments at. 85, 
nate; old village church 01, ^, 
naie. 

Beggar, a true Englishman's dis- 
like of a, 491 ; hardening the 
heart against, 492 ; a phenom- 
enal. 493-495. 

Belmont, August, minister at the 
Hague, 29. 

Ben Lomond, 358. 

Black Swan inn, Lichfield, 299. 

Blackheath, the wide waste of, 
370-373 ; amusements at, 373- 
375- . 

Blenheim, excursion to, 281, 282; 
its park, 283-289 ; Marlbor- 
ough's Triumphal Pillar at, 
289; its palace, 389-296; its 
gardens, 296-298. 

Bolton, 231. 

Boston, old, trip to, by steamef 
from Lincoln, 255-259; the 
riv^ aid^ of» 260 ; antique-look- 



590 



INDEX 



wg hooaes at, 263 ; a booksell- 
ers shop at, 264, 265; its 
crooked and narrow streets, 
275 ; iu Charity Sdiool schol- 
ars, 277 < market-day in, 278. 

Boswell, Sir Tames, grandson of 
Johnson's niend, 343. 

Brooke, Lord, shot near the 
Minster Poo', 206. 

Brown, Capability, his lake at 
Blenheim, 284 ; grounds at 
Nuneham Courtney, 321. 

Buchanan, James, in London, 
ao; receires Hawthorne's res- 
ignation, 55 ; calls on Miss Ba- 
con, 178. 

Buckland, Dean, swallows part 
of Louis XlV.'s'heart, 27a 

Bull, John, too intensely English, 
lot. 

Bunker Hill, England, 279. 

Btirleigh, Lord, waistcoat of, 266. 

Burns, Robert, his house at Dimi- 
fries, 335-327 ; his mausoleum, 
329, 3^; marble statue of, 
xi^\ his outward Hfe, 331; his 
faunily pew in St. Michael's 
Church, 334 ; his farm of Moss 
^^1> 337~343t bis birthplace, 
340-35J ; ni» monument, 351- 

Butchers' shops, in poor streets 
of London, 474. 

Carfax, the, ^30. 

Caskets, bunai, ** a vile modem 
phrase," 140. 

Cass, Lewis, responds to inter- 
ference of British Minister, 46. 

Catrine, " the clean village of 
Scotland,*' 345. 

Ceylon, wild men of, 28. 

Charlecote Hall, 195-198. 

Charlecote Park, 193; deer in, 
i94i <95- 

Charles, the Martyr, kinp;, 270. 

Charles L, Vandyck's picture of, 
292. 

Chelsea, 433- 

Chelsea Hospital, 433-437. 

Chester, most curious town in 
England, 59. 

Children in an English alms- 
house, 509-519. 

Children, poor, in London streets, 

487-489- 
Church of the Holy Trinity, 

Stratford, 1^5. 
C'imate, English, unfavorable to 

op^n-air memorials, 83, 84. 



Cockneys, in Greenwich Paric, 

CofiFee-room, English, ponderous 
gloom of, 200. 

Combe, John a', boon-companion 
of Shakespeare, i6.(; buried 
near Shakespeare, 168 ; marble 
figure of, 170; Shakespeare's 
squib on, 170. 

Concord River, omipared with 
the Leam, 67. 

Connecticut^ shopkeeper, a, seek- 
ing interview with the Queen, 
17-21. 

Conner, Mr., an American patron 
of Leicester's Hospital, 133. 

Consul, as general adviser and 
helper, 31, 32, 42, 43 ; as ar- 
biter between seamen and their 
ofiicers, 44~49; not a favorite 
with shipmasters, 49; nece»> 
sary qualifications, 51, 52; 
wrong system of appointment 
and removal, 52; important 
duties, 53 ; emoluments, 55, 

Consulate, American, in Liver- 
pool, its location, i ; its ap- 
proaches, 1,2; its furnishings. 
3^; visitors at^ 7-21; faithful 
English subordinates, 50, 51 ; 
Hawthorne's successor at, 56. 

Cook, Captain, present uom 
Queen of Otaheite to, 266. 

Cornwall, Barry, 469. 

Cottages, rustic laborers', 79-81. 

Cotton, Rev. John, in Old Bos- 
ton, 263, 270, 271. 

Crystal Palace, the, 438. 

Cumnor, village of, 301; its 
church, 302, 303. 

Cymbeline, King, founder of 
Warwick, 103, 129 ; one of his 
original gateways, 112. 

Deluge, necessity of a new, 472, 
518. 

Dinner, the English idea of, 527 ; 
Milton on, 528; a perfect work 
of art, 530, 531; an English 
mayor's, 539-560: Lord May- 
or's, at the " 
563. 



Mandon House, 



Doctor of Divinity, an erring, 

33-4»- 

Doon, the bridge of, 357. 

Dowager, an English, 73-75. 

Dudley, Earl of Leicester, estal> 
lishes Leicester's Ho^tal, 
1(5; a grim sinner, la/i his 



INDEX 



591 



monument in Beauchamp 

Chapel, 137 ; his long-enduring 

kindness, 138. 
Dumfries, excursion to, 325-334. 
Dutch government, an American 

under the ban of, 29. 

East winds, English, 257. 
Edward IV., Kmg, a lock of his 

hair, 140. 
Edward the Confessor, shrine of, 

Elizabeth, Queen, Secret-Book 
of, 269. 

Elm, the beautiful Warwickshire, 
69. 

England, conservative, 141 ; yet 
the foundations of its aristo- 
cracy crumbling, 141. 

English, the, forgetful of defeats, 
4; their character, massive ma- 
teriality of, 23; secret of their 
practical success, 42 ; impos- 
tors betrayed by pronunci- 
ation of '* Deen," 44 ; their in- 
t^n^ty* 51 1 their love of high 
stone fences and shrubbery, 69, 
371 ; curious infelicity of, 100 ; 
uke to feel the weight of the 
past, I II ; the very kindest peo- 
ple on earth, 305 ; their insular 
narrowness, 306; their ina- 
bility to enjoy summer, 367; 
original simplicity of, 379; ea- 
ger to know their weight, ^02 ; 
women not beautiful, 406 ; their 
contempt for fine-strained 
purity, 408, 409 ; their tendency 
to batter one another's persons, 
482. 

English crowds, unfragrant, 397, 
398. 

English post-prandial oratory, 

English village, fossilized life of 
an. 93. • 

English weather, ^, 366-368. 

Englishman, a middle-aged, 
sonal appearance of, 542. 

Epiuphs: illegible, on English 
gravestones, 84 ; moss-em- 
bossed, 85; forlorn one on 
John Treeo, 86, 87. 

Eugene, Prince, tapestry portraits 
01,294. 

feeing, in England, 161, 163, 
^' noU. 
'emii^ne character among the 
London poor, 481-487. 



per- 



Fences, English stone, adorned 
by Nature, 151, 15a, mo/^. 

Forster, Anthony, buried in 
Cumnor Church, 303. 

Fruit, English, poor flavor of, 
364- 

Fun of the Fair, the, 399. 

Garrick, David, boyish days at 

Lichfield, 216. 
Gin-shops, London, 473. 
Girls, English and American, 

contrasted, 72, 75, 406. 
Godiva, Countess, picture of, 

Godstowe, old nunnery of, 317. 

Gravestones, Enelish. successive 
crops of, 83 ; illegible inscrip- 
tions on, 84; moss-embossed 
inscriptions on, 85. 

Greenwich, its park, 376, 377, 
379» 380, 383 ; Its observatory, 
the centre of Time and Space, 
376; its hospital, 385-396; its 
fair, 396-408. 

Hatton, a communitv of old set- 
tlers, 95 ; its church, 96, 97. 

Hawthorne responds to toasts at 
civi<;. banquets, 558-560, 582- 
588. 

Hedges, English, 149. 

Henry v., his helmet and war* 
saddle displayed in Westmin- 
ster Abbey, 455. 

Highland Mary, the pocket Bible 
that Bums gave her, 355. 

Holbein, masterpiece of, in Bar- 
ber Surgeons' Hall, ^^7. 

Home, a genuine British, 359- 
364. 

Hotels and hotel bilb, English, 
162, note. 

Houses of Parliament, the, 431. 

Hunt, Leigh, interview with, 
459-468 ; final recollection of, 

Imogen, Shakespeare's woman- 
liest woman, 129. 

Jackson, General, bust of, 4. 

James, G. P. R., never saw Lon- 
don Tower, 428. 

James L, King^ feasted by an 
Earl of Warwick, 119, 13^. 

Jephson, Dr., discoverer of cha- 
lybeate well at Leamington, 63. 

Jephson Garden, 00 the Learn, 
65-67. 



I 



592 



INDEX 



Johnson, Dr., bora at Lichfield, 
aoi ; as a nun, a talker, and a 
humorist, aoa; the rareat Eng- 
lish moralist, 303; nis birth- 
place, 216, a 17; his statue, by 
Lucas, 318 ; statue in St Paul^ 
Cathedral^ 219, noU; doing 
penance m the market-place, 
220^ 223, 228, 229, 230; his faith 
in beef and mutton, 225. 

Johnson, Michael, selling books 
on market-day. 221 ; his book- 
stall, 22a; at the Nag's Head 
inn, 226, 227. 

Jolly Beggars, the, at Pode Nan- 
sie's inn, 336. 

Jonson, Ben, buried standing up- 
right, 451. 

Judges, social standing of, 549. 

Kemble, John, statue of, in West- 
minster Abbey, 445. 

Kirk AUoway, 354-356. 

*' Kissing in the Ring,** 404. 

Kneller, Sir Godfrey, his olqec- 
tion to being buned in West- 
minster Abbey, 449. 

Lambeth Palace, 432. 

Lancashire, a dreary county, 231. 

Lansdowne Circus, 60 ; its houses, 
61 ; its inhabitants, 62. 

Leam^ the river, 63, 65 ; the lazi- 
est m the world, 67. 

Leamington Spa, 60; a perma- 
nent watering-place, 63. 64; 
the business portion oz the 
town, 68; beautiful in street 
and suburb, 69; but preten- 
tious, 70 ; its aristocratic 
names, 71 ; the throng on its 
principal Parade, 71, 72. 

Lear, West's dreary picture of, 
390- 

Leicester's Hospital at War- 
wick: an assemblage of edi- 
fices, X12 ; the twelve brethren 
of, 1x3, 115, X16, n8, 125, 131, 
i34> 135.; a perfect si>ecimen, 
X16; a jolly old domicile, xai; 
system of life in, 123; the por- 
ter at, 124-126. 

Lestran^, Sir Nicholas, first 
propnetor of Leicester's Hos- 
pital buildings, iiji, 115. 

Lichfield, 199: origin of the 
name, aot; birthj^oe of Dr. 
Johnson, aoi, ai6; its people 
old-fashioned, 204; its cathe- 
dral, 206-214. 



Lillington, the villan, 78; its 
churdi, 81, 82 ; its churchyard, 
83-87. 

Lincoln, cabs unknown there, 
236 ; its narrow principal street, 
237; its cathedra], 236, 2^9- 
249, 253, 254; Roman remains 
at, 250 ; Norman ruins at, 251. 

Linkwater, Sir John, fines him- 
self for drunkenness, 548. 

Liquor, varieties of hop and 
malt, in England, 299, 30a 

Liverpool, a convenient starting- 
point for excursions, 58. 

Lodgings, English custom (rf, 70, 
note. 

London, suburb, a, 359 ; a distant 
view of, 373 ; gnmy, 375- ^ 

Lord Mayor's dinner, at the 
Mansion House, 563-588. 

Lovers' Grove, at Lesunington, 
77- 

Loving-cup, the Lord Mayor-s, 

Lucy, Sir Thomas, and Shake- 
speare, 196. 

Malay pirates, delightful quali- 
ties ot, 28. 

Mansfield, Lord, statue of, in 
Westminster Abbey^ 445. 

Mansion House, the, in London, 

563. 

Marlborough. Duke of, Tri- 
umphal Pillar of, 288. 

Mary Queen of Scots, quilt em- 
broidered by, 265, 271. 

Mauchline, redolent of Bums, 
335 ; rusty and time-worn, 336 ; 
Its chief business, 346. 

Maury, Mr., appointed consul at 
Liverpool by Washineton, 50. 

McClellan, General, before Rich- 
mond, 43. 

Melville, Herman, his " Israel 
Potter " referred to, 13. 

" Memory ^een, keep his," pos- 
sible ongin of the pnrase,^ 86. 

Methodist open-air preaching in 
Greenwich Park, 380-383. 

Minster Pool, the, at Lichfield, 
205. 

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 
monument to, in Lichfield Ca- 
thedral, 211. 

Moss Giel, Bums's farm of, 337- 
343. 

Museum, the British, too many 
materials for knowledge it», 384, 
note. 



INDEX 



593 



Nag's Head inn, the, at Uttox- 
eter, 226. 

Nelson, Admiral, his highest am- 
bition, 391 ; not a representa- 
tivc man, 392-394; Southey's 
biography 01, 393; pictures of 
his exploits, 304; two of his 
coats pr:servea at Greenwich 
Hospital, 395. 

Newcastle, Duke and Duchess 

New Orleans, battle of, forgotten 

by Englishmen, 4. 
Nuneham Courtney^ 314, 320-322. 

Old ase, cheerful and genial in 
England, 277. 

Open-air life of the London poor, 
476-481. 

Otaheite, Queen of, her present 
to Captain Cook, 266^ 271. 

Oxford, barges at, 318; indescrib- 
able, 322, 323. 

Painted Hall, the, at Greenwich 
Hospital, 390, 591. 

Parliament, British, and Amer- 
ican sailors, 45, 46. 

Parr, Dr , once vicar of Hatton, 
95 ; a misplaced man, 97 ; a 
guest at Leicester's Hospital, 
130. 

Peacock hotel, Old Boston, 259. 

Pearce, Mr., vice^x>nsul at Liv- 
erpool, 50. 

Peel, Sir Robert, and Holbein*s 
masterpiece in Barber Sur- 
geons^ Hall, 537. 

Philadelphia printer, a, wander- 
ing about England, 13-17. 

Poets* Corner, in Westminster 
Abbey, 451-459- 

Pope, Alexander, his account of 
Stanton Harcourt, 308 ; trans- 
lation of Homer, 314. 

Porter, Mr., bookseller at Old 
Boston, 265-271. 

Posie Nansie's inn at Mauch- 
line, 336. 

Posthumus and Imogen, 129. 

Poverty, glimpses of English, 
470-524- 

Procter, Bryan Waller, 469. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, and the 
Thames Tunnel, 420-422. 

"Red Letter A," author of, 
306. 

Redfem's Old Curiosity Shop, at 
Warwick, 143, 143. 



Regatta of the Free Watennen of 

Greenwich, a, 413. 
Remorse, tragedy of, 40. 
Robsart, Amy. embroidery by, 

at Leicester's Hospital, 133; 

monument of her avenger, 137. 
Rosamond, Fair, at the nunnery 

of Godstowe, 317. 
Rosamond's Weu, Blenheim, 287. 
Russell, Lord John, remonstrates 

against outrages on American 

sailors, 46. 

Sacheverell, Dr., 319. 

Sacrament Sunday at Mauch- 
line, 337. 

Sailors, American, ill-usage of, 
44. 

St. Botolph's Church, Old Bos- 
ton. 259, 26a, 272-275. 

St. Chad, 2ot. 

St. Hugh, shrine of, in Lincoln 
Cathedral, 247. 

St John's School- House, at War- 
wick, 104. 

St. Mary's Church, at Warwick, 
136. 

St. Mary's Hall, at Coventry, 
533-536. 

St. Mary's Square, at Lichfield, 
216,218. 

St. Michael's Church, at Dum- 
fries, 328, 332-334- 

St. Paul's Cathedral, 429. 

Saracen's Head hotel, Lincohi, 
236. 

Scenery, English, 146, 232. 

Schools, English, long-estab- 
lished, 104. 

Scott, Sir Walter, attractiveness 
of his name, 160 ; and Anthony 
Forster, 503. 

Seward, Miss, at Lichfield, a 16. 

Shakespeare : his church, 155 ; 
his birthplace, 157^163 ; his vari- 
ous guises, 164 ;' his curse on the 
man who should stir his bones, 
165; his burial-place, 165-171; 
family monuments, 167; his 
bust, in the church at Strat- 
ford, 168, 169; Miss Bacon's 
theory, 175; immeasurable 
depth of his plays, 175. 

Sheffield, the town of razors and 
smoke, 235. 

Sherwood Forest, 235. 

Shrewsbury, pleasant walks in, 
338, note. 

Southey, Robert, his Life of Net 
son, 393. 



594 



INDEX 



Stanton Harcourt, its hospitable 
parsonage, 305 ; its old castle, 
306, 307, JIB, 314 ; Pope's con- 
nection with, 308, 309, 314, 315 ; 
its church, 309-312. 

Sterne, Laurence, crayon-por- 
trait of, 267. 

Stocks, village, at Whitnash, 90. 

Stratford-on-ATon, scenery near, 
14s; approach to, 153, 154; 
queer edifices in, 155. 

Swans, aspect and movement of, 
66. 

Swynfordj Catherine, monument 
ol, in Lancoln Cathedral, 347. 

Tarn O^Shanter, statue of, 153. 
Taylor, General, portrait 01, 4. 
Temple, the, 431. 
Tennyson, and English scenery, 

77* 
Testament, New, consular copy 

„^^» ^» ^f • 

Thames, ferry near Cumnor, 305 ; 

steamers on, 412; its muddy 
tide, 414; a summer day's voy- 
age on, 412-435- 

Thames Tunnel, the, 415-423. 

Thomhill, Sir James, 291, 390. 

Tickell, Thomas, his lines on 
Addison, 456. 

Tower of London, the, 427, 428. 

Traitor's Gate, the, 427. 

Treeo, John, forlorn epitaph on, 
86. 

Trees, finelish and American, 
compared, 147-149. 

Tttckerman, H. T., his " Month 
in England," 439. 

Uttoxeter, 221; its idle people, 
223 ; its abundance of public 
houses, 224. 

Vagabonds, Yankee, abroad, 

1 1-22. 
Vandyck, his picture of Charles 

L, 292. 
Victoria, Queen, a Connecticut 

shopkeeper goes to England to 

see her, 18-21 ; some American 

blood-relatives, 26. 

Walmesley, Gilbert, monument 
to, in Lichfield Cathedral, 211. 
Wapping, cold and torpid, 425. 



Warren, Sir Peter, bust of* in 

Westminster Abbejr, 444. 

Warwick, founded by Cjrmbeline, 
103, 129; its castle, 105, 107; 
its principal street, 108, 100; 
military display at, 109; the 
High Street, no; Leicester's 
Hospital, ri2-z27 ; the home 
of Posthumus and Imogen, 
129; church of St. Mary's, 
136-140; Redfem's Old Curi- 
G&Wy Shop, 142, 143. 

Warwickshire Elm, the beauti- 
ful, 69. 

Wasps, attracted by pomatum, 
3>9-. 

Wedding, of some poor English 
people, 522-524; an aristo- 
cratic, in the same cathedral. 

Wedding, silver, as a matter of 
conscience, 76. 

West, Benjamin, picture by, at 
Greenwich, 389. 

Westminster Abbey, a Sunday 
afternoon service in, 440; its 
interior, 441 ; statues and tombs 
in, 444-447; "they do bury 
fools there," 449; Poets' 
Comer, 451-459. 

Whitefriars, the old rowdy Al- 
satia, 430. 

Whitnash, secluded village <^ 
88; yew-tree of incalcmlable 
age at, 89 ; village stocks of, 
90 ; change at work in, 93, 94. 

Wilberforce, William, statue of, 
in Westminster Abbey, 446, 

Wilmng, Mr., vice<onsul at 

Liverpool, 51. 
Wilkins, Sergeant, 550, 551, 

Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, a86. 

Witham, the river, 255, 263. 

Women, in the poorer streets of 
London, 479, 484; in an Eng- 
lish almshouse, 499; at pubhc 
dinners. 567. 

Woodstock, 282. 

Wren, Sir Christopher, restorer 
of St. Mary's Church, War- 
wick, 136. . 

Yew-tree, extraordinary age o^ 
89. 



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