The present residence is a plain mansion, standing on a beautiful lawn, near the old castle. The head gardener of the estate and many of the servants came out to meet us, with faces full of interest. The gardener walked about to show us the localities, and had a great deal of the quiet intelligence and self-respect which, I think, is characteristic of the laboring classes here. I noticed that on the green sweep of the lawn, he had set out here and there a good many daisies, as embellishments to the grass, and these in many places were defended by sticks bent over them, and that, in one place, a bank overhanging the stream was radiant with yellow daffodils, which appeared to have come up and blossomed there accidentally. I know not whether these were planted there, or came up of themselves.
We next went to the famous Bothwell bridge, which Scott has immortalized in Old Mortality. We walked up and down, trying to recall the scenes of the battle, as there described, and were rather mortified, after we had all our associations comfortably located upon it, to be told that it was not the same bridge—it had been newly built, widened, and otherwise made more comfortable and convenient.
Of course, this was evidently for the benefit of society, but it was certainly one of those cases where the poetical suffers for the practical. I comforted myself in my despondency, by looking over at the old stone piers underneath, which were indisputably the same. We drove now through beautiful grounds, and alighted at an elegant mansion, which in former days belonged to Lockhart, the son-in-law of Scott. It was in this house that Old Mortality was written.
As I was weary, the party left me here, while they went on to see the Duke of Hamilton's grounds. Our kind hostess showed me into a small study, where she said Old Mortality was written. The window commanded a beautiful view of many of the localities described. Scott was as particular to consult for accuracy in his local descriptions as if he had been writing a guide book.
He was in the habit of noting down in his memorandum book even names and characteristics of the wild flowers and grasses that grew about a place. When a friend once remarked to him, that he should have supposed his imagination could have supplied such trifles, he made an answer that is worth remembering by every artist—that no imagination could long support its freshness, that was not nourished by a constant and minute observation of nature.
Craignethan Castle, which is the original of Tillietudlem, we were informed, was not far from thence. It is stated in Lockhart's Life of Scott, that the ruins of this castle excited in Scott such delight and enthusiasm, that its owner urged him to accept for his lifetime the use of a small habitable house, enclosed within the circuit of the walls.
After the return of the party from Hamilton Park, we sat down to an elegant lunch, where my eye was attracted more than any thing else, by the splendor of the hothouse flowers which adorned the table. So far as I have observed, the culture of flowers, both in England and Scotland, is more universally an object of attention than with us. Every family in easy circumstances seems, as a matter of course, to have their greenhouse, and the flowers are brought to a degree of perfection which I have never seen at home.
I may as well say here, that we were told by a gentleman, whose name I do not now remember, that this whole district had been celebrated for its orchards; he added, however, that since the introduction of the American apple into the market, its superior excellence had made many of these orchards almost entirely worthless. It is a curious fact, showing how the new world is working on the old.
After taking leave of our hospitable friends, we took to our carriages again. As we were driving slowly through the beautiful grounds, admiring, as we never failed to do, their perfect cultivation, a party of servants appeared in sight, waving their hats and handkerchiefs, and cheering us as we passed. These kindly expressions from them were as pleasant as any we received.
In the evening we had engaged to attend another soiree, gotten up by the working classes, to give admission to many who were not in circumstances to purchase tickets for the other. This was to me, if any thing, a more interesting reunion, because this was just the class whom I wished to meet. The arrangements of the entertainment were like those of the evening before.
As I sat in the front gallery and looked over the audience with an intense interest, I thought they appeared on the whole very much like what I might have seen at home in a similar gathering. Men, women, and children were dressed in a style which showed both self-respect and good taste, and the speeches were far above mediocrity. One pale young man, a watchmaker, as I was told afterwards, delivered an address, which, though doubtless it had the promising fault of too much elaboration and ornament, yet I thought had passages which would do honor to any literary periodical whatever.
There were other orators less highly finished, who yet spoke "right on," in a strong, forcible, and really eloquent way, giving the grain of the wood without the varnish. They contended very seriously and sensibly, that although the working men of England and Scotland had many things to complain of, and many things to be reformed, yet their condition was world-wide different from that of the slave.
One cannot read the history of the working classes in England, for the last fifty years, without feeling sensibly the difference between oppressions under a free government and slavery. So long as the working class of England produces orators and writers, such as it undoubtedly has produced; so long as it has in it that spirit of independence and resistance of wrong, which has shown itself more and more during the agitations of the last fifty years; and so as long as the law allows them to meet and debate, to form associations and committees, to send up remonstrances and petitions to government,—one can see that their case is essentially different from that of plantation slaves.
I must say, I was struck this night with the resemblance between the Scotchman and the New Englander. One sees the distinctive nationality of a country more in the middle and laboring classes than in the higher, and accordingly at this meeting there was more nationality, I thought, than at the other.
The highest class of mind in all countries loses nationality, and becomes universal; it is a great pity, too, because nationality is picturesque always. One of the greatest miracles to my mind about Kossuth was, that with so universal an education, and such an extensive range of language and thought, he was yet so distinctively a Magyar.
One thing has surprised and rather disappointed us. Our enthusiasm for Walter Scott does not apparently meet a response in the popular breast. Allusions to Bannockburn and Drumclog bring down the house, but enthusiasm for Scott was met with comparative silence. We discussed this matter among ourselves, and rather wondered at it.
The fact is, Scott belonged to a past, and not to the coming age. He beautified and adorned that which is waxing old and passing away. He loved and worshipped in his very soul institutions which the majority of the common people have felt as a restraint and a burden. One might naturally get a very different idea of a feudal castle by starving to death in the dungeon of it, than by writing sonnets on it at a picturesque distance. Now, we in America are so far removed from feudalism,—it has been a thing so much of mere song and story with us, and our sympathies are so unchecked by any experience of inconvenience or injustice in its consequences,—that we are at full liberty to appreciate the picturesque of it, and sometimes, when we stand overlooking our own beautiful scenery, to wish that we could see,
"On yon bold brow, a lordly tower; In that soft vale, a lady's bower; In yonder meadow, far away, The turrets of a cloister gray;"
when those who know by experience all the accompaniments of these ornaments, would have quite another impression.
Nevertheless, since there are two worlds in man, the real and the ideal, and both have indisputably a right to be, since God made the faculties of both, we must feel that it is a benefaction to mankind, that Scott was thus raised up as the link, in the ideal world, between the present and the past. It is a loss to universal humanity to have the imprint of any phase of human life and experience entirely blotted out. Scott's fictions are like this beautiful ivy, with which all the ruins here are overgrown,—they not only adorn, but, in many cases, they actually hold together, and prevent the crumbling mass from falling into ruins.
To-morrow we are going to have a sail on the Clyde.
MY DEAR SISTER:—
To-day a large party of us started on a small steamer, to go down the Clyde. It has been a very, very exciting day to us. It is so stimulating to be where every name is a poem. For instance, we start at the Broomielaw. This Broomielaw is a kind of wharf, or landing. Perhaps in old times it was a haugh overgrown with broom, from whence it gets its name; this is only my conjecture, however.
We have a small steamer quite crowded with people, our excursion party being very numerous. In a few minutes after starting, somebody says,—
"O, here's where the Kelvin enters." This starts up,—
"Let us haste to Kelvin Grove."
Then soon we are coming to Dumbarton Castle, and all the tears we shed over Miss Porter's William Wallace seem to rise up like a many-colored mist about it. The highest peak of the rock is still called Wallace's Seat, and a part of the castle, Wallace's Tower; and in one of its apartments a huge two-handed sword of the hero is still shown. I suppose, in fact, Miss Porter's sentimental hero is about as much like the real William Wallace as Daniel Boone is like Sir Charles Grandison. Many a young lady, who has cried herself sick over Wallace in the novel, would have been in perfect horror if she could have seen the real man. Still Dumbarton Castle is not a whit the less picturesque for that. Now comes the Leven,—that identical Leven Water known in song,—and on the right is Leven Grove.
"There," said somebody to me, "is the old mansion of the Earls of Glencairn." Quick as thought, flashed through my mind that most eloquent of Burns's poems, the Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn.
"The bridegroom may forget the bride Was made his wedded wife yestreen; The monarch may forget the crown That on his head an hour hath been; The mother may forget the child That smiles sae sweetly on her knee; But I'll remember thee, Glencairn, And a' that thou hast done for me."
This mansion is now the seat of Graham of Gartmor.
Now we are shown the remains of old Cardross Castle, where it was said Robert Bruce breathed his last. And now we come near the beautiful grounds of Roseneath, a green, velvet-like peninsula, stretching out into the widening waters.
"Peninsula!" said C——. "Why, Walter Scott said it was an island."
Certainly, he did declare most explicitly in the person of Mr. Archibald, the Duke of Argyle's serving man, to Miss Dollie Dutton, when she insisted on going to it by land, that Roseneath was an island. It shows that the most accurate may be caught tripping sometimes.
Of course, our heads were full of David Deans, Jeanie, and Effie, but we saw nothing of them. The Duke of Argyle's Italian mansion is the most conspicuous object.
Hereupon there was considerable discussion on the present Duke of Argyle among the company, from which we gathered that he stood high in favor with the popular mind. One said that there had been an old prophecy, probably uttered somewhere up in the Highlands, where such things are indigenous, that a very good duke of Argyle was to arise having red hair, and that the present duke had verified the prediction by uniting both requisites. They say that he is quite a young man, with a small, slight figure, but with a great deal of energy and acuteness of mind, and with the generous and noble traits which have distinguished his house in former times. He was a pupil of Dr. Arnold, a member of the National Scotch Kirk, and generally understood to be a serious and religious man. He is one of the noblemen who have been willing to come forward and make use of his education and talent in the way of popular lectures at lyceums and athenaeums; as have also the Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Carlisle, and some others. So the world goes on. I must think, with all deference to poetry, that it is much better to deliver a lyceum lecture than to head a clan in battle; though I suppose, a century and a half ago, had the thing been predicted to McCallummore's old harper, he would have been greatly at a loss to comprehend the nature of the transaction.
Somewhere about here, I was presented, by his own request, to a broad-shouldered Scotch farmer, who stood some six feet two, and who paid me the compliment to say, that he had read my book, and that he would walk six miles to see me any day. Such a flattering evidence of discriminating taste, of course, disposed my heart towards him; but when I went up and put my hand into his great prairie of a palm, I was as a grasshopper in my own eyes. I inquired who he was, and was told he was one of the Duke of Argyle's farmers. I thought to myself, if all the duke's farmers were of this pattern, that he might be able to speak to the enemy in the gates to some purpose.
Roseneath occupies the ground between the Gare Loch and Loch Long. The Gare Loch is the name given to a bay formed by the River Clyde, here stretching itself out like a lake. Here we landed and went on shore, passing along the sides of the loch, in the little village of Row.
As we were walking along a carriage came up after us, in which were two ladies. A bunch of primroses, thrown from this carriage, fell at my feet. I picked it up, and then the carriage stopped, and the ladies requested to know if I was Mrs. Stowe. On answering in the affirmative, they urged me so earnestly to come under their roof and take some refreshment, that I began to remember, what I had partly lost sight of, that I was very tired; so, while the rest of the party walked on to get a distant view of Ben Lomond, Mr. S. and I suffered ourselves to be taken into the carriage of our unknown friends, and carried up to a charming little Italian villa, which stood, surrounded by flower gardens and pleasure grounds, at the head of the loch. We were ushered into a most comfortable parlor, where a long window, made of one clear unbroken sheet of plate glass, gave a perfect view of the loch with all its woody shores, with Roseneath Castle in the distance. My good hostesses literally overwhelmed me with kindness; but as there was nothing I really needed so much as a little quiet rest, they took me to a cozy bedroom, of which they gave me the freedom, for the present. Does not every traveller know what a luxury it is to shut one's eyes sometimes? The chamber, which is called "Peace," is now, as it was in Christian's days, one of the best things that Charity or Piety could offer to the pilgrim. Here I got a little brush from the wings of dewy-feathered sleep.
After a while our party came back, and we had to be moving. My kind friends expressed so much joy at having met me, that it was really almost embarrassing. They told me that they, being confined to the house by ill health, and one of them by lameness, had had no hope of ever seeing me, and that this meeting seemed a wonderful gift of Providence. They bade me take courage and hope, for they felt assured that the Lord would yet entirely make an end of slavery through the world.
It was concluded, after we left here, that, instead of returning by the boat, we should take carriage and ride home along the banks of the river. In our carriage were Mr. S. and myself, Dr. Robson and Lady Anderson. About this time I commenced my first essay towards giving titles, and made, as you may suppose, rather an odd piece of work of it, generally saying "Mrs." first, and "Lady" afterwards, and then begging pardon. Lady Anderson laughed, and said she would give me a general absolution. She is a truly genial, hearty Scotch woman, and seemed to enter happily into the spirit of the hour.
As we rode on we found that the news of our coming had spread through the village. People came and stood in their doors, beckoning, bowing, smiling, and waving their handkerchiefs, and the carriage was several times stopped by persons who came to offer flowers. I remember, in particular, a group of young girls brought to the carriage two of the most beautiful children I ever saw, whose little hands literally deluged us with flowers.
At the village of Helensburgh we stopped a little while to call upon Mrs. Bell, the wife of Mr. Bell, the inventor of the steamboat. His invention in this country was about the same time of that of Fulton in America. Mrs. Bell came to the carriage to speak to us. She is a venerable woman, far advanced in years. They had prepared a lunch for us, and quite a number of people had come together to meet us, but our friends said that there was not time for us to stop.
We rode through several villages after this, and met quite warm welcome. What pleased me was, that it was not mainly from the literary, nor the rich, nor the great, but the plain, common people. The butcher came out of his stall, and the baker from his shop, the miller, dusty with his flour, the blooming, comely, young mother, with her baby in her arms, all smiling and bowing with that hearty, intelligent, friendly look, as if they knew we should be glad to see them.
Once, while we stopped to change horses, I, for the sake of seeing something more of the country, walked on. It seems the honest landlord and his wife were greatly disappointed at this; however, they got into the carriage and rode on to see me, and I shook hands with them with a right good will.
We saw several of the clergymen, who came out to meet us, and I remember stopping, just to be introduced to a most delightful family who came out, one by one, gray-headed father and mother, with comely brothers and fair sisters, looking all so kindly and home-like, that I would have been glad to use the welcome that they gave me to their dwelling.
This day has been a strange phenomenon to me. In the first place, I have seen in all these villages how universally the people read. I have seen how capable they are of a generous excitement and enthusiasm, and how much may be done by a work of fiction, so written as to enlist those sympathies which are common to all classes. Certainly, a great deal may be effected in this way, if God gives to any one the power, as I hope he will to many. The power of fictitious writing, for good as well as evil, is a thing which ought most seriously to be reflected on. No one can fail to see that in our day it is becoming a very great agency.
We came home quite tired, as you may well suppose. You will not be surprised that the next day I found myself more disposed to keep my bed than to go out. I regretted it, because, being Sunday, I would like to have heard some of the preachers of Glasgow. I was, however, glad of one quiet day to recall my thoughts, for I had been whirling so rapidly from scene to scene, that I needed time to consider where I was; especially as we were to go to Edinburgh on the morrow.
Towards sunset Mr. S. and I strolled out entirely alone to breathe a little fresh air. We walked along the banks of the Kelvin, quite down to its junction with the Clyde. The Kelvin Grove of the ballad is all cut away, and the Kelvin flows soberly between stone walls, with a footpath on each side, like a stream that has learned to behave itself.
"There," said Mr. S., as we stood on the banks of the Clyde, now lying flushed and tranquil in the light of the setting sun, "over there is Ayrshire."
"Ayrshire!" I said; "what, where Burns lived?"
"Yes, there is his cottage, far down to the south, and out of sight, of course; and there are the bonny banks of Ayr."
It seemed as if the evening air brought a kind of sigh with it. Poor Burns! how inseparably he has woven himself with the warp and woof of every Scottish association!
We saw a great many children of the poor out playing—rosy, fine little urchins, worth, any one of them, a dozen bleached, hothouse flowers. We stopped to hear them talk, and it was amusing to hear the Scotch of Walter Scott and Burns shouted out with such a right good will. We were as much struck by it as an honest Yankee was in Paris by the proficiency of the children in speaking French.
The next day we bade farewell to Glasgow, overwhelmed with kindness to the last, and only oppressed by the thought, how little that was satisfactory we were able to give in return.
Again in the railroad car on our way to Edinburgh. A pleasant two hours' trip is this from Glasgow to Edinburgh. When the cars stopped at Linlithgow station, the name started us as out of a dream.
There, sure enough, before our eyes, on a gentle eminence stood the mouldering ruins of which Scott has sung:—
"Of all the palaces so fair, Built for the royal dwelling, In Scotland, far beyond compare Linlithgow is excelling; And in its park in genial June, How sweet the merry linnet's tune, How blithe the blackbird's lay! The wild buck's bells from thorny brake. The coot dives merry on the lake,— The saddest heart might pleasure take, To see a scene so gay."
Here was born that woman whose beauty and whose name are set in the strong, rough Scotch heart, as a diamond in granite. Poor Mary! When her father, who lay on his death bed at that time in Falkland, was told of her birth, he answered, "Is it so? Then God's will be done! It [the kingdom] came with a lass, and it will go with a lass!" With these words he turned his face to the wall, and died of a broken heart. Certainly, some people appear to be born under an evil destiny.
Here, too, in Linlithgow church, tradition says that James IV. was warned, by a strange apparition, against that expedition to England which cost him his life. Scott has worked this incident up into a beautiful description, in the fourth canto of Marmion.
The castle has a very sad and romantic appearance, standing there all alone as it does, looking down into the quiet lake. It is said that the internal architectural decorations are exceedingly rich and beautiful, and a resemblance has been traced between its style of ornament and that of Heidelberg Castle, which has been accounted for by the fact that the Princess Elizabeth, who was the sovereign lady of Heidelberg, spent many of the earlier years of her life in this place.
Not far from here we caught a glimpse of the ruins of Niddrie Castle, where Mary spent the first night after her escape from Lochleven.
The Avon here at Linlithgow is spanned by a viaduct, which is a fine work of art. It has twenty-five arches, which are from seventy to eighty feet high and fifty wide.
As the cars neared Edinburgh we all exclaimed at its beauty, so worthily commemorated by Scott:—
"Such dusky grandeur clothes the height, Where the huge castle holds its state, And all the steeps slope down, Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky, Piled deep and massy, close and high, Mine own romantic town!"
Edinburgh has had an effect on the literary history of the world for the last fifty years, that cannot be forgotten by any one approaching her. The air seemed to be full of spirits of those who, no longer living, have woven a part of the thread of our existence. I do not know that the shortness of human life ever so oppressed me as it did on coming near to the city.
At the station house the cars stopped amid a crowd of people, who had assembled to meet us. The lord provost met us at the door of the car, and presented us to the magistracy of the city, and the committees of the Edinburgh antislavery societies. The drab dresses and pure white bonnets of many Friends were conspicuous among the dense moving crowd, as white doves seen against a dark cloud. Mr. S. and myself, and our future hostess, Mrs. Wigham, entered the carriage with the lord provost, and away we drove, the crowd following with their shouts and cheers. I was inexpressibly touched and affected by this. While we were passing the monument of Scott, I felt an oppressive melancholy. What a moment life seems in the presence of the noble dead! What a momentary thing is art, in all its beauty! Where are all those great souls that have created such an atmosphere of light about Edinburgh? and how little a space was given them to live and to enjoy!
We drove all over Edinburgh, up to the castle, to the university, to Holyrood, to the hospitals, and through many of the principal streets, amid shouts, and smiles, and greetings. Some boys amused me very much by their pertinacious attempts to keep up with the carriage.
"Heck," says one of them, "that's her; see the courls."
The various engravers, who have amused themselves by diversifying my face for the public, having all, with great unanimity, agreed in giving prominence to this point, I suppose the urchins thought they were on safe ground there. I certainly think I answered one good purpose that day, and that is, of giving the much oppressed and calumniated class, called boys, an opportunity to develop all the noise that was in them—a thing for which I think they must bless me in their remembrances.
At last the carriage drove into a deep gravelled yard, and we alighted at a porch covered with green ivy, and found ourselves once more at home.
MY DEAR SISTER:—
You may spare your anxieties about me, for I do assure you, that if I were an old Sevres China jar, I could not have more careful handling than I do. Every body is considerate; a great deal to say, when there appears to be so much excitement. Every body seems to understand how good for nothing I am; and yet, with all this consideration, I have been obliged to keep my room and bed for a good part of the time. One agreeable feature of the matter is, it gave me an opportunity to make the acquaintance of the celebrated homoeopathic physician, Dr. Henderson, in whose experiments and experience I had taken some interest while in America.
Of the multitudes who have called, I have seen scarcely any.
Mrs. W., with whom I am staying, is a most thoughtful nurse. They are Friends, and nothing can be more a pattern of rational home enjoyment, without ostentation and without parade, than a Quaker family.
Though they reject every thing in arrangement which savors of ostentation and worldly show, yet their homes are exquisite in point of comfort. They make great use of flowers and natural specimens in adorning their apartments, and also indulge to a chaste and moderate extent in engravings and works of art. So far as I have observed, they are all "tee-totalers;" giving, in this respect, the whole benefit of their example to the temperance cause.
To-morrow evening is to be the great tea party here. How in the world I am ever to live through it, I don't know.
The amount of letters we found waiting for us here in Edinburgh was, if possible, more appalling than in Glasgow. Among those from persons whom you would be interested in hearing of, I may mention, a very kind and beautiful one from the Duchess of Sutherland, and one also from the Earl of Carlisle, both desiring to make appointments for meeting us as soon as we come to London. Also a very kind and interesting note from the Rev. Mr. Kingsley and lady. I look forward with a great deal of interest to passing a little time with them in their rectory. Letters also from Mr. Binney and Mr. Sherman, two of the leading Congregational clergymen of London. The latter officiates at Surrey Chapel, which was established by Rowland Hill. Both contain invitations to us to visit them in London.
As to all engagements, I am in a state of happy acquiescence, having resigned myself, as a very tame lion, into the hands of my keepers. Whenever the time comes for me to do any thing, I try to behave as well as I can, which, as Dr. Young says, is all that an angel could do in the same circumstances.
As to these letters, many of them are mere outbursts of feeling; yet they are interesting as showing the state of the public mind. Many of them are on kindred topics of moral reform, in which they seem to have an intuitive sense that we should be interested. I am not, of course, able to answer them all, but C—— does, and it takes a good part of every day. One was from a shoemaker's wife in one of the islands, with a copy of very fair verses. Many have come accompanying little keepsakes and gifts. It seems to me rather touching and sad, that people should want to give me things, when I am not able to give an interview, or even a note, in return. C—— wrote from six to twelve o'clock, steadily, answering letters.
April 26. Last night came off the soiree. The hall was handsomely decorated with flags in front. We went with the lord provost in his carriage. The getting in to the hall is quite an affair, I assure you, the doorway is blocked up by such a dense crowd; yet there is something very touching about these crowds. They open very gently and quietly, and they do not look at you with a rude stare, but with faces full of feeling and intelligence. I have seen some looks that were really beautiful; they go to my heart. The common people appear as if they knew that our hearts were with them. How else should it be, as Christians of America?—a country which, but for one fault, all the world has reason to love.
We went up, as before, into a dressing room, where I was presented to many gentlemen and ladies. When we go in, the cheering, clapping, and stamping at first strikes one with a strange sensation; but then every body looks so heartily pleased and delighted, and there is such an all-pervading atmosphere of geniality and sympathy, as makes one in a few moments feel quite at home. After all I consider that these cheers and applauses, are Scotland's voice to America, a recognition of the brotherhood of the countries.
We were arranged at this meeting much as in Glasgow. The lord provost presided; and in the gallery with us were distinguished men from the magistracy, the university, and the ministry, with their wives, besides the members of the antislavery societies. The lord provost, I am told, has been particularly efficient in all benevolent operations, especially those for the education of the poorer classes. He is also a zealous supporter of the temperance cause.
Among the speakers, I was especially interested in Dr. Guthrie, who seems to be also a particular favorite of the public. He is a tall, thin man, with a kind of quaintness in his mode of expressing himself, which sometimes gives an air of drollery to his speaking. He is a minister of the Free Church, and has more particularly distinguished himself by his exertions in behalf of the poorer classes.
One passage in his speech I will quote, for I was quite amused with it. It was in allusion to the retorts which had been made in Mrs. Tyler's letter to the ladies of England, on the defects in the old country.
"I do not deny," he said, "that there are defects in our country. What I say of them is this—that they are incidental very much to an old country like our own. Dr. Simpson knows very well, and so does every medical man, that when a man gets old he gets very infirm, his blood vessels get ossified, and so on; but I shall not enter into that part of the subject. What is true of an old country is true of old men, and old women, too. I am very much disposed to say of this young nation of America, that their teasing us with our defects might just get the answer which a worthy member of the church of Scotland gave to his son, who was so dissatisfied with the defects in the church, that he was determined to go over to a younger communion. 'Ah, Sandy, Sandy, man, when your lum reeks as lang as ours, it will, may be, need sweeping too.'[J] Now, I do not deny that we need sweeping; every body knows that I have been singing out about sweeping for the last five years. Let me tell my good friends in Edinburgh, and in the country, that the sooner you sweep the better; for the chimney may catch fire, and reduce your noble fabric to ashes.
"They told us in that letter about the poor needlewomen, that had to work sixteen hours a day. ''Tis true, and pity 'tis 'tis true.' But does the law compel them to work sixteen hours a day? I would like to ask the writer of the letter. Are they bound down to their garrets and cellars for sixteen hours a day? May they not go where they like, and ask better wages and better work? Can the slave do that? Do they tell us of our ragged children? I know something about ragged children. But are our ragged children condemned to the street? If I, or the lord provost, or any other benevolent man, should take one of them from the street and bring it to the school, dare the policeman—miscalled officer of justice—put his foot across the door to drag it out again to the street? Nobody means to defend our defects; does any man attempt to defend them? Were not these noble ladies and excellent women, titled and untitled, among the very first to seek to redress them?"
I wish I could give you the strong, broad Scotch accent.
The national penny offering, consisting of a thousand golden sovereigns on a magnificent silver salver, stood conspicuously in view of the audience. It has been an unsolicited offering, given in the smallest sums, often from the extreme poverty of the giver. The committee who collected it in Edinburgh and Glasgow bore witness to the willingness with which the very poorest contributed the offering of their sympathy. In one cottage they found a blind woman, and said, "Here, at least, is one who will feel no interest, as she cannot have read the book."
"Indeed," said the old lady, "if I cannot read, my son has read it to me, and I've got my penny saved to give."
It is to my mind extremely touching to see how the poor, in their poverty, can be moved to a generosity surpassing that of the rich. Nor do I mourn that they took it from their slender store, because I know that a penny given from a kindly impulse is a greater comfort and blessing to the poorest giver than even a penny received.
As in the case of the other meeting, we came out long before the speeches were ended. Well, of course, I did not sleep any all night. The next day I felt quite miserable. Mrs. W. went with Mr. S. and myself for a quiet drive in her carriage.
It was a beautiful, sunny day that we drove out to Craigmiller Castle, formerly one of the royal residences. It was here that Mary retreated after the murder of Rizzio, and where, the chronicler says, she was often heard in those days wishing that she were in her grave. It seems so strange to see it standing there all alone, in the midst of grassy fields, so silent, and cold, and solitary. I got out of the carriage and walked about it. The short, green grass was gemmed with daisies, and sheep were peacefully feeding and resting, where was once all the life and bustle of a court.
We had no one to open the inside of the castle for us, where there are still some tolerably preserved rooms, but we strolled listlessly about, looking through the old arches, and peeping through slits and loopholes into the interior.
The last verse of Queen Mary's lamentation seemed to be sighing in the air:—
"O, soon for me shall simmer's suns Nae mair light up the morn; Nae mair for me the autumn wind Wave o'er the yellow corn. But in the narrow house of death Let winter round me rave, And the next flowers that deck the spring Bloom on my peaceful grave."
Only yesterday, it seemed, since that poor heart was yearning and struggling, caught in the toils of this sorrowful life. How many times she looked on this landscape through sad eyes! I suppose just such little daisies grew here in the grass then, and perhaps she stooped and picked them, wishing, just as I do, that the pink did not grow on the under side of them, where it does not show. Do you know that this little daisy is the gowan of Scotch poetry? So I was told by a "charming young Jessie" in Glasgow, one day when I was riding out there.
The view from Craigmiller is beautiful—Auld Reekie, Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Crags, and far down the Frith of Forth, where we can just dimly see the Bass Hock, celebrated as a prison, where the Covenanters were immured.
It was this fortress that Habakkuk Mucklewrath speaks of in his ravings, when he says, "Am not I Habakkuk Mucklewrath, whose name is changed to Magor-Missabib, because I am made a terror unto myself, and unto all that are around me? I heard it: when did I hear it? Was it not in the tower of the Bass, that overhangeth the wide, wild sea? and it howled in the winds, and it roared in the billows, and it screamed, and it whistled, and it clanged, with the screams, and the clang, and the whistle of the sea birds, as they floated, and flew, and dropped, and dived, on the bosom of the waters."
These Salisbury Crags, which overlook Edinburgh, have a very peculiar outline; they resemble an immense elephant crouching down. We passed Mushats Cairn, where Jeanie Deans met Robertson; and saw Liberton, where Reuben Butler was a schoolmaster. Nobody doubts, I hope, the historical accuracy of these points.
Thursday, 21st. We took cars for Aberdeen. The appropriation of old historical names to railroad stations often reminds me of Hood's whimsical lines on a possible railroad in the Holy Land. Think of having Bannockburn shouted by the station master, as the train runs whistling up to a small station house. Nothing to be seen there but broad, silent meadows, through which the burn wimples its way. Here was the very Marathon of Scotland. I suppose we know more about it from the "Scots wha ha' wi' Wallace bled," than we do from history; yet the real scene, as narrated by the historian, has a moral grandeur in it.
The chronicler tells us, that when on this occasion the Scots formed their line of battle, and a venerable abbot passed along, holding up the cross before them, the whole army fell upon their knees.
"These Scots will not fight," said Edward, who was reconnoitring at a distance. "See! they are all on their knees now to beg for mercy."
"They kneel," said a lord who stood by, "but it is to God alone; trust me, those men will win or die."
The bold lyric of Burns is but an inspired kind of version of the real address which Bruce is said to have made to his followers; and whoever reads it will see that its power lies not in appeal to brute force, but to the highest elements of our nature, the love of justice, the sense of honor, and to disinterestedness, self-sacrifice, courage unto death.
These things will live and form high and imperishable elements of our nature, when mankind have learned to develop them in other spheres than that of physical force. Burns's lyric, therefore, has in it an element which may rouse the heart to noble endurance and devotion, even when the world shall learn war no more.
We passed through the town of Stirling, whose castle, magnificently seated on a rocky throne, looks right worthy to have been the seat of Scotland's court, as it was for many years. It brought to our minds all the last scenes of the Lady of the Lake, which are laid here with a minuteness of local description and allusion characteristic of Scott.
According to our guide book, one might find there the visible counterpart of every thing which he has woven into his beautiful fiction—"the Lady's Rock, which rang to the applause of the multitude;" "the Franciscan steeple, which pealed the merry festival;" "the sad and fatal mound," apostrophized by Douglas,—
"That oft has heard the death-axe sound As on the noblest of the land, Fell the stern headsman's bloody hand;"—
the room in the castle, where "a Douglas by his sovereign bled;" and not far off the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey. One could not but think of the old days Scott has described.
"The castle gates were open flung, The quivering drawbridge rocked and rung, And echoed loud the flinty street Beneath the coursers' clattering feet, As slowly down the steep descent Fair Scotland's king and nobles went, While all along the crowded way Was jubilee and loud huzza."
The place has been long deserted as a palace; but it is one of the four fortresses, which, by the articles of union between Scotland and England, are always to be kept in repair.
We passed by the town of Perth, the scene of the "Fair Maid's" adventures. We had received an invitation to visit it, but for want of time were obliged to defer it till our return to Scotland.
Somewhere along here Mr. S. was quite excited by our proximity to Scone, the old crowning-place of the Scottish kings; however, the old castle is entirely demolished, and superseded by a modern mansion, the seat of the Earl of Mansfield.
Still farther on, surrounded by dark and solemn woods, stands Glamis Castle, the scene of the tragedy in Macbeth. We could see but a glimpse of it from the road, but the very sound of the name was enough to stimulate our imagination. It is still an inhabited dwelling, though much to the regret of antiquarians and lovers of the picturesque, the characteristic outworks and defences of the feudal ages, which surrounded it, have been levelled, and velvet lawns and gravel walks carried to the very door. Scott, who passed a night there in 1793, while it was yet in its pristine condition, comments on the change mournfully, as undoubtedly a true lover of the past would. Albeit the grass plats and the gravel walks, to the eye of sense, are undoubtedly much more agreeable and convenient. Scott says in his Demonology, that he never came any where near to being overcome with a superstitious feeling, except twice in his life, and one was on the night when he slept in Glamis Castle. The poetical and the practical elements in Scott's mind ran together, side by side, without mixing, as evidently as the waters of the Alleghany and Monongahela at Pittsburg. Scarcely ever a man had so much relish for the supernatural, and so little faith in it. One must confess, however, that the most sceptical might have been overcome at Glamis Castle, for its appearance, by all accounts, is weird and strange, and ghostly enough to start the dullest imagination.
On this occasion Scott says, "After a very hospitable reception from the late Peter Proctor, seneschal of the castle, I was conducted to my apartment in a distant part of the building. I must own, that when I heard door after door shut, after my conductor had retired, I began to consider myself as too far from the living, and somewhat too near the dead. We had passed through what is called 'the King's Room,' a vaulted apartment, garnished with stags' antlers and similar trophies of the chase, and said by tradition to be the spot of Malcolm's murder, and I had an idea of the vicinity of the castle chapel. In spite of the truth of history, the whole night scene in Macbeth's castle rushed at once upon my mind, and struck my imagination more forcibly than even when I have seen its terrors represented by the late John Kemble and his inimitable sister. In a word, I experienced sensations which, though not remarkable either for timidity or superstition, did not fail to affect me to the point of being disagreeable, while they were mingled at the same time with a strange and indescribable kind of pleasure."
Externally, the building is quaint and singular enough; tall and gaunt, crested with innumerable little pepper box turrets and conical towers, like an old French chateau.
Besides the tragedy of Macbeth, another story of still more melancholy interest is connected with it, which a pen like that of Hawthorne, might work up with gloomy power.
In 1537 the young and beautiful Lady Glamis of this place was actually tried and executed for witchcraft. Only think, now! what capabilities in this old castle, with its gloomy pine shades, quaint architecture, and weird associations, with this bit of historic verity to start upon.
Walter Scott says, there is in the castle a secret chamber; the entrance to which, by the law of the family, can be known only to three persons at once—the lord of the castle, his heir apparent, and any third person whom they might choose to take into their confidence. See, now, the materials which the past gives to the novelist or poet in these old countries. These ancient castles are standing romances, made to the author's hands. The castle started a talk upon Shakspeare, and how much of the tragedy he made up, and how much he found ready to his hand in tradition and history. It seems the story is all told in Holingshed's Chronicles; but his fertile mind has added some of the most thrilling touches, such as the sleep walking of Lady Macbeth. It always seemed to me that this tragedy had more of the melancholy majesty and power of the Greek than any thing modern. The striking difference is, that while fate was the radical element of those, free will is not less distinctly the basis of this. Strangely enough, while it commences with a supernatural oracle, there is not a trace of fatalism in it; but through all, a clear, distinct recognition of moral responsibility, of the power to resist evil, and the guilt of yielding to it. The theology of Shakspeare is as remarkable as his poetry. A strong and clear sense of man's moral responsibility and free agency, and of certain future retribution, runs through all his plays.
I enjoyed this ride to Aberdeen more than any thing we had seen yet, the country is so wild and singular. In the afternoon we came in sight of the German Ocean. The free, bracing air from the sea, and the thought that it actually was the German Ocean, and that over the other side was Norway, within a day's sail of us, gave it a strange, romantic charm.
"Suppose we just run over to Norway," said one of us; and then came the idea, what we should do if we got over there, seeing none of us understood Norse.
The whole coast along here is wild and rock-bound; occasionally long points jut into the sea; the blue waves sparkle and dash against them in little jets of foam, and the sea birds dive and scream around them.
On one of these points, near the town of Stonehaven, are still seen the ruins of Dunottar Castle, bare and desolate, surrounded on all sides by the restless, moaning waves; a place justly held accursed as the scene of cruelties to the Covenanters, so appalling and brutal as to make the blood boil in the recital, even in this late day.
During the reigns of Charles and James, sovereigns whom Macaulay justly designates as Belial and Moloch, this castle was the state prison for confining this noble people. In the reign of James, one hundred and sixty-seven prisoners, men, women, and children, for refusing the oath of supremacy, were arrested at their firesides: herded together like cattle; driven at the point of the bayonet, amid the gibes, jeers, and scoffs of soldiers, up to this dreary place, and thrust promiscuously into a dark vault in this castle; almost smothered in filth and mire; a prey to pestilent disease, and to every malignity which brutality could inflict, they died here unpitied. A few escaping down the rocks were recaptured, and subjected to shocking tortures.
A moss-grown gravestone, in the parish churchyard of Dunottar, shows the last resting-place of these sufferers.
Walter Scott, who visited this place, says, "The peasantry continue to attach to the tombs of these victims an honor which they do not render to more splendid mausoleums; and when they point them out to their sons, and narrate the fate of the sufferers, usually conclude by exhorting them to be ready, should the times call for it, to resist to the death in the cause of civil and religious liberty, like their brave forefathers."
It is also related by Gilfillan, that a minister from this vicinity, having once lost his way in travelling through a distant part of Scotland, vainly solicited the services of a guide for some time, all being engaged in peat-cutting; at last one of the farmers, some of whose ancestors had been included among the sufferers, discovering that he came from this vicinity, had seen the gravestones, and could repeat the inscriptions, was willing to give up half a day's work to guide him on his way.
It is well that such spots should be venerated as sacred shrines among the descendants of the Covenanters, to whom Scotland owes what she is, and all she may become.
It was here that Scott first became acquainted with Robert Paterson, the original of Old Mortality.
Leaving Stonehaven we passed, on a rising ground a little to our left, the house of the celebrated Barclay of Ury. It remains very much in its ancient condition, surrounded by a low stone wall, like the old fortified houses of Scotland.
Barclay of Ury was an old and distinguished soldier, who had fought under Gustavus Adolphus in Germany, and one of the earliest converts to the principles of the Friends in Scotland. As a Quaker, he became an object of hatred and abuse at the hands of the magistracy and populace; but he endured all these insults and injuries with the greatest patience and nobleness of soul.
"I find more satisfaction," he said, "as well as honor, in being thus insulted for my religious principles, than when, a few years ago, it was usual for the magistrates, as I passed the city of Aberdeen, to meet me on the road and conduct me to public entertainment in their hall, and then escort me out again, to gain my favor."
Whittier has celebrated this incident in his beautiful ballad, called "Barclay of Ury." The son of this Barclay was the author of that Apology which bears his name, and is still a standard work among the Friends. The estate is still possessed by his descendants.
A little farther along towards Aberdeen, Mr. S. seemed to amuse himself very much with the idea, that we were coming near to Dugald Dalgetty's estate of Drumthwacket, an historical remembrance which I take to be somewhat apocryphal.
It was towards the close of the afternoon that we found ourselves crossing the Dee, in view of Aberdeen. My spirits were wonderfully elated: the grand sea scenery and fine bracing air; the noble, distant view of the city, rising with its harbor and shipping, all filled me with delight. Besides which the Dee had been enchanted for me from my childhood, by a wild old ballad which I used to hear sung to a Scottish tune, equally wild and pathetic. I repeated it to C——, and will now to you.
"The moon had climbed the highest hill That rises o'er the banks of Dee, And from her farthest summit poured Her silver light o'er tower and tree,—
When Mary laid her down to sleep, Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea, And soft and low a voice she heard, Saying, 'Mary, weep no more for me.'
She from her pillow gently raised Her head, to see who there might be; She saw young Sandy shivering stand, With pallid cheek and hollow ee.
'O Mary dear, cold is my clay; It lies beneath the stormy sea; The storm, is past, and I'm at rest; So, Mary, weep no more for me.'
Loud crew the cock; the vision fled; No more young Sandy could she see; But soft a parting whisper said, 'Sweet Mary, weep no more for me.'"
I never saw these lines in print any where; I never knew who wrote them; I had only heard them sung at the fireside when a child, to a tune as dreamy and sweet as themselves; but they rose upon me like an enchantment, as I crossed the Dee, in view of that very German Ocean, famed for its storms and shipwrecks.
In this propitious state, disposed to be pleased with every thing, our hearts responded warmly to the greetings of the many friends who were waiting for us at the station house.
The lord provost received us into his carriage, and as we drove along, pointed out to us the various objects of interest in the beautiful town. Among other things, a fine old bridge across the Dee attracted our particular attention.
We were conducted to the house of Mr. Cruikshank, a Friend, and found waiting for us there the thoughtful hospitality which we had ever experienced in all our stopping-places. A snug little quiet supper was laid out upon the table, of which we partook in haste, as we were informed that the assembly at the hall were waiting to receive us.
There arrived, we found the hall crowded, and with difficulty made our way to the platform. Whether owing to the stimulating effect of the air from the ocean, or to the comparatively social aspect of the scene, or perhaps to both, certain it is, that we enjoyed the meeting with great zest. I was surrounded on the stage with blooming young ladies, one of whom put into my hands a beautiful bouquet, some flowers of which I have now dried in my album. The refreshment tables were adorned with some exquisite wax flowers, the work, as I was afterwards told, of a young lady in the place. One of the designs especially interested me. It was a group of water lilies resting on a mirror, which gave them the appearance of growing in the water.
We had some very animated speaking, in which the speakers contrived to blend enthusiastic admiration and love for America with detestation of slavery.
All the afternoon the beautiful coast had reminded me of the State of Maine, and the genius of the meeting confirmed the association. They seemed to me to be a plain, genial, strong, warm-hearted people, like those of Maine.
One of the speakers concluded his address by saying that John Bull and Brother Jonathan, with Paddy and Sandy Scott, should they clasp hands together, might stand against the world; which sentiment was responded to with thunders of applause.
It is because America, like Scotland, has stood for right against oppression, that the Scotch love and sympathize with her. For this reason do they feel it as something taken from the strength of a common cause, when America sides with injustice and oppression. The children of the Covenant and the children of the Puritans are of one blood.
They presented an offering in a beautiful embroidered purse, and after much shaking of hands we went home, and sat down to the supper table, for a little more chat, before going to bed. The next morning,—as we had only till noon to stay in Aberdeen,—our friends, the lord provost, and Mr. Leslie, the architect, came immediately after breakfast to show us the place.
The town of Aberdeen is a very fine one, and owes much of its beauty to the light-colored granite of which most of the houses are built. It has broad, clean, beautiful streets, and many very curious and interesting public buildings. The town exhibits that union of the hoary past with the bustling present which is characteristic of the old world.
It has two parts, the old and the new, as unlike as L'Allegro and Penseroso—the new, clean, and modern; the old, mossy and dreamy. The old town is called Alton, and has venerable houses, standing, many of them, in ancient gardens. And here rises the peculiar, old, gray cathedral. These Scotch cathedrals have a sort of stubbed appearance, and look like the expression in stone of defiant, invincible resolution. This is of primitive granite, in the same heavy, massive style as the cathedral of Glasgow, but having strong individualities of its own.
Whoever located the ecclesiastical buildings of England and Scotland certainly had an exquisite perception of natural scenery; for one notices that they are almost invariably placed on just that point of the landscape, where the poet or the artist would say they should be. These cathedrals, though all having a general similarity of design, seem, each one, to have its own personality, as much as a human being. Looking at nineteen of them is no compensation to you for omitting the twentieth; there will certainly be something new and peculiar in that.
This Aberdeen Cathedral, or Cathedral of St. Machar, is situated on the banks of the River Don; one of those beautiful amber-brown rivers that color the stones and pebbles at the bottom with a yellow light, such as one sees in ancient pictures. Old trees wave and rustle around, and the building itself, though a part of it has fallen into ruins, has, in many parts, a wonderful clearness and sharpness of outline. I cannot describe these things to you; architectural terms convey no picture to the mind. I can only tell you of the character and impression it bears—a character of strong, unflinching endurance, appropriately reminding one of the Scotch people, whom Walter Scott compares to the native sycamore of their hills, "which scorns to be biased in its mode of growth, even by the influence of the prevailing wind, but shooting its branches with equal boldness in every direction, shows no weather side to the storm, and may be broken, but can never be bended."
One reason for the sharpness and distinctness of the architectural preservation of this cathedral is probably that closeness of texture for which Aberdeen granite is remarkable. It bears marks of the hand of violence in many parts. The images of saints and bishops, which lie on their backs with clasped hands, seem to have been wofully maltreated and despoiled, in the fervor of those days, when people fondly thought that breaking down carved work was getting rid of superstition. These granite saints and bishops, with their mutilated fingers and broken noses, seem to be bearing a silent, melancholy witness against that disposition in human nature, which, instead of making clean the cup and platter, breaks them altogether.
The roof of the cathedral is a splendid specimen of carving in black oak, wrought in panels, with leaves and inscriptions in ancient text. The church could once boast in other parts (so says an architectural work) a profusion of carved woodwork of the same character, which must have greatly relieved the massive plainness of the interior.
In 1649, the parish minister attacked the "High Altar," a piece of the most splendid workmanship of any thing of the kind in Europe, and which had to that time remained inviolate; perhaps from the insensible influence of its beauty. It is said that the carpenter employed for the purpose was so struck with the noble workmanship, that he refused to touch it till the minister took the hatchet from his hand and gave the first blow.
These men did not consider that "the leprosy lies deep within," and that when human nature is denied beautiful idols, it will go after ugly ones. There has been just as unspiritual a resting in coarse, bare, and disagreeable adjuncts of religion, as in beautiful and agreeable ones; men have worshipped Juggernaut as pertinaciously as they have Venus or the Graces; so that the good divine might better have aimed a sermon at the heart than an axe at the altar.
We lingered a long time around here, and could scarcely tear ourselves away. We paced up and down under the old trees, looking off on the waters of the Don, listening to the waving branches, and falling into a dreamy state of mind, thought what if it were six hundred years ago! and we were pious simple hearted old abbots! What a fine place that would be to walk up and down at eventide or on a Sabbath morning, reciting the penitential psalms, or reading St. Augustine!
I cannot get over the feeling, that the souls of the dead do somehow connect themselves with the places of their former habitation, and that the hush and thrill of spirit, which we feel in them, may be owing to the overshadowing presence of the invisible. St. Paul says, "We are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses." How can they be witnesses, if they cannot see and be cognizant?
We left the place by a winding walk, to go to the famous bridge of Balgounie, another dream-land affair, not far from here. It is a single gray stone arch, apparently cut from solid rock, that spans the brown rippling waters, where wild, overhanging banks, shadowy trees, and dipping wild flowers, all conspire to make a romantic picture. This bridge, with the river and scenery, were poetic items that went, with other things, to form the sensitive mind of Byron, who lived here in his earlier days. He has some lines about it:—
"As 'auld lang syne' brings Scotland, one and all, Scotch, plaids, Scotch snoods, the blue hills and clear streams, The Dee, the Don, Balgounie's brig's black wall, All my boy-feelings, all my gentler dreams, Of what I then dreamt clothed in their own pall, Like Banquo's offspring,—floating past me seems My childhood, in this childishness of mind: I care not—'tis a glimpse of 'auld lang syne.'"
This old bridge has a prophecy connected with it, which was repeated to us, and you shall have it literatim:—
"Brig of Balgounie, black's your wa', Wi' a wife's ae son, and a mare's a foal, Doon ye shall fa'!"
The bridge was built in the time of Robert Bruce, by one Bishop Cheyne, of whom all that I know is, that he evidently had a good eye for the picturesque.
After this we went to visit King's College. The tower of it is surmounted by a massive stone crown, which forms a very singular feature in every view of Aberdeen, and is said to be a perfectly unique specimen of architecture. This King's College is very old, being founded also by a bishop, as far back as the fifteenth century. It has an exquisitely carved roof, and carved oaken seats. We went through the library, the hall, and the museum. Certainly, the old, dark architecture of these universities must tend to form a different style of mind from our plain matter-of-fact college buildings.
Here in Aberdeen is the veritable Marischal College, so often quoted by Dugald Dalgetty. We had not time to go and see it, but I can assure you on the authority of the guide book, that it is a magnificent specimen of architecture.
After this, that we might not neglect the present in our zeal for the past, we went to the marble yards, where they work the Aberdeen granite. This granite, of which we have many specimens in America, is of two kinds, one being gray, the other of a reddish hue. It seems to differ from other granite in the fineness and closeness of its grain, which enables it to receive the most brilliant conceivable polish. I saw some superb columns of the red species, which were preparing to go over the Baltic to Riga, for an Exchange; and a sepulchral monument, which was going to New York. All was busy here, sawing, chipping, polishing; as different a scene from the gray old cathedral as could be imagined. The granite finds its way, I suppose, to countries which the old, unsophisticated abbots never dreamed of.
One of the friends who had accompanied us during the morning tour was the celebrated architect, Mr. Leslie, whose conversation gave us all much enjoyment. He and Mrs. Leslie gave me a most invaluable parting present, to wit, four volumes of engravings, representing the "Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland," illustrated by Billings. I cannot tell you what a mine of pleasure it has been to me. It is a proof edition, and the engravings are so vivid, and the drawing so fine, that it is nearly as good as reality. It might almost save one the trouble of a pilgrimage. I consider the book a kind of national poem; for architecture is, in its nature, poetry; especially in these old countries, where it weaves into itself a nation's history, and gives literally the image and body of the times.
While here in Aberdeen I received a very odd letter, so peculiar and curious that I will give you the benefit of it. The author appears to be, in his way, a kind of Christopher in his cave, or Timon of Athens. I omit some parts which are more expressive than agreeable. It is dated
"STONEHAVEN, N.B., Kincardineshire, } 57 deg. N.W. This 21st April, 1853. }
"To MRS. HARRIET B. STOWE:—
"My dear Madam: By the time that this gets your length, the fouk o' Aberdeen will be shewin ye off as a rare animal, just arrived frae America; the wife that writ Uncle Tom's Cabin.
"I wad like to see ye mysel, but I canna win for want o' siller, and as I thought ye might be writin a buke about the Scotch when ye get hame, I hae just sent ye this bit auld key to Sawney's Cabin.
"Well then, dinna forget to speer at the Aberdeenians if it be true they ance kidnappet little laddies, and selt them for slaves; that they dang down the Quaker's kirkyard dyke, and houket up dead Quakers out o' their graves; that the young boys at the college printed a buke, and maist naebody wad buy it, and they cam out to Ury, near Stonehaven, and took twelve stots frae Davie Barclay to pay the printer.
"Dinna forget to speer at ——, if it was true that he flogget three laddies in the beginning o' last year, for the three following crimes: first, for the crime of being born of puir, ignorant parents; second, for the crime of being left in ignorance; and, third, for the crime of having nothing to eat.
"Dinna be telling when ye gang hame that ye rode on the Aberdeen railway, made by a hundred men, who were all in the Stonehaven prison for drunkenness; nor above five could sign their names.
"If the Scotch kill ye with ower feeding and making speeches, be sure to send this hame to tell your fouk, that it was Queen Elizabeth who made the first European law to buy and sell human beings like brute beasts. She was England's glory as a Protestant, and Scotland's shame as the murderer of their bonnie Mary. The auld hag skulked away like a coward in the hour of death. Mary, on the other hand, with calmness and dignity, repeated a Latin prayer to the Great Spirit and Author of her being, and calmly resigned herself into the hands of her murderers.
"In the capital of her ancient kingdom, when ye are in our country, there are eight hundred women, sent to prison every year for the first time. Of fifteen thousand prisoners examined in Scotland in the year 1845, eight thousand could not write at all, and three thousand could not read.
"At present there are about twenty thousand prisoners in Scotland. In Stonehaven they are fed at about seventeen pounds each, annually. The honest poor, outside the prison upon the parish roll, are fed at the rate of five farthings a day, or two pounds a year. The employment of the prisoners is grinding the wind, we ca' it; turning the crank, in plain English. The latest improvement is the streekin board; it's a whig improvement o' Lord Jonnie Russell's.
"I ken brawly ye are a curious wife, and would like to ken a' about the Scotch bodies. Weel, they are a gay, ignorant, proud, drunken pack; they manage to pay ilka year for whuskey one million three hundred and forty-eight thousand pounds.
"But then their piety, their piety; weel, let's luke at it; hing it up by the nape o' the neck, and turn it round atween our finger and thumb on all sides.
"Is there one school in all Scotland where the helpless, homeless poor are fed and clothed at the public expense? None.
"Is there a hame in all Scotland for the cleanly but sick servant maid to go till, until health be restored? Alas! there is none.
"Is there a school in all Scotland for training ladies in the higher branches of learning? None. What then is there for the women of Scotland?
* * * * *
"A weel, be sure and try a cupful of Scottish Kail Broase. See, and get a sup Scotch lang milk.
"Hand this bit line yout to the Rev. Mr. ——. Tell him to store out fats nae true.
"God bless you, and set you safe hame, is the prayer of the old Scotch Bachelor."
I think you will agree with me, that the old testifying spirit does not seem to have died out in Scotland, and that the backslidings and abominations of the land do not want for able exponents.
As the indictment runs back to the time of Charles II., to the persecutions of the Quakers in the days of Barclay of Ury, and brings up again the most modern offences, one cannot but feel that there are the most savory indications in it of Scotch thoroughness.
Some of the questions which he wishes to have me "speer" at Aberdeen, I fear, alas! would bring but an indifferent answer even in Boston, which gives a high school only to boys, and allows none to girls. On one point, it seems to me, my friend might speer himself to advantage, and that is the very commendable efforts which are being made now in Edinburgh and Aberdeen both, in the way of educating the children of the poor.
As this is one of the subjects which are particularly on my mind, and as all information which we can get upon this subject is peculiarly valuable to us in view of commencing efforts in America, I will abridge for you an account of the industrial schools of Aberdeen, published by the society for improving the condition of the laboring classes, in their paper called the Laborer's Friend.
In June, 1841, it was ascertained that in Aberdeen there were two hundred and eighty children, under fourteen years of age, who maintained themselves professedly by begging, but partly by theft. The first effort to better the moral condition of these children brought with it the discovery which our philanthropists made in New York, that in order to do good to a starving child, we must begin by feeding him; that we must gain his confidence by showing him a benevolence which he can understand, and thus proceed gradually to the reformation of his spiritual nature.
In 1841, therefore, some benevolent individuals in Aberdeen hired rooms and a teacher, and gave out notice among these poor children that they could there be supplied with food, work, and instruction. The general arrangement of the day was four hours of lessons, five hours of work, and three substantial meals. These meals were employed as the incitement to the lessons and the work, since it was made an indispensable condition to each meal that the child should have been present at the work or lessons which preceded it. This arrangement worked admirably; so that they reported that the attendance was more regular than at ordinary schools.
The whole produce of the work of the children goes towards defraying the expense of the establishment, thus effecting several important purposes,—reducing the expense of the school, and teaching the children, practically, the value of their industry,—in procuring for them food and instruction, and fostering in them, from the first, a sound principle of self-dependence; inasmuch as they know, from the moment of their entering school, that they give, or pay, in return for their food and education, all the work they are capable of performing.
The institution did not profess to clothe the children; but by the kindness of benevolent persons who take an interest in the school, there is generally a stock of old clothes on hand, from which the most destitute are supplied.
The following is the daily routine of the school: The scholars assemble every morning at seven in summer, and eight in winter. The school is opened by reading the Scriptures, praise, and prayer, and religious instruction suited to their years; after which there is a lesson in geography, or the more ordinary facts of natural history, taught by means of maps and prints distributed along the walls of the school room; two days in the week they have a singing lesson; at nine they breakfast on porridge and milk, and have half an hour of play; at ten they again assemble in school, and are employed at work till two. At two o'clock they dine; usually on broth, with coarse wheaten bread, but occasionally on potatoes and ox-head soup, &c. The diet is very plain, but nutritious and abundant, and appears to suit the tastes of the pupils completely. It is a pleasing sight to see them assembled, with their youthful appetites sharpened by four hours' work, joining, at least with outward decorum, in asking God's blessing on the food he has provided for them, and most promptly availing themselves of the signal given to commence their dinner.
From dinner till three, the time is spent in exercise or recreation, occasionally working in the garden; from three to four, they work either in the garden or in the work room; from four till seven, they are instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic. At seven they have supper of porridge and milk; and after short religious exercises, are dismissed to their homes at eight.
On Saturday, they do not return to school after dinner; and occasionally, as a reward of good behavior, they accompany the teacher in a walk to the country or the sea coast.
On Sunday, they assemble at half past eight for devotion; breakfast at nine; attend worship in the school room; after which they dine, and return home, so as, if possible, to go with their parents to church in the afternoon.
At five they again meet, and have Sabbath school instruction in Bible and catechism; at seven, supper; and after evening worship are dismissed.
From this detail it will be seen that these schools differ from common day schools. In day schools, neither food nor employment is provided—teaching only is proposed, with a very little moral training.
The principle on which the industrial school proceeds, of giving employment along with instruction—especially as that employment is designed at the same time, if possible, to teach a trade which may be afterwards available—appears of the highest value. It is a practical discipline—a moral training, the importance of which cannot be over-estimated.
In a common school, too, there can be but little moral training, however efficiently the school may be conducted, just because there is little opportunity given for the development and display of individual character. The whole management of a school requires that the pupils be as speedily as possible brought to a uniform outward conduct, and thus an appearance of good behavior and propriety is produced within the school room, which is too often cast aside and forgotten the moment the pupils pass the threshold.
The remark was once made by an experienced teacher, that for the purposes of moral training he valued more the time he spent with his pupils at their games, than that which was spent in the school room.
The pecuniary value of the work done in these schools is not so great as was at first hoped, from the difficulty of procuring employment such as children so neglected could perform to advantage. The real value of the thing, however, they consider lies in the habits of industry and the sense of independence thus imparted.
At the outset the managers of the school regretted extremely their want of ability to furnish lodgings to the children. It was thought and said that the homes, to which the majority of them were obliged to return after school hours, would deprave faster than any instruction could reform. Fortunately it was impossible, at the time, to provide lodging for the children, and thus an experience was wrought out most valuable to all future laborers in this field.
The managers report that after six years' trial, the instances where evil results from the children returning home, are very rare; while there have been most cheering instances of substantial good being carried by the child, from the school, through the whole family. There are few parents, especially mothers, so abandoned as not to be touched by kindness shown to their offspring. It is the direct road to the mother's heart. Show kindness to her child, and she is prepared at once to second your efforts on its behalf. She must be debased, indeed, who will not listen to her child repeating its text from the Bible, or singing a verse of its infant hymn; and by this means the first seeds of a new life may be, and have been, planted in the parent's heart.
In cases where parents are so utterly depraved as to make it entirely hopeless to reform the child at home, they have found it the best course to board them, two or three together, in respectable families; the influences of the family state being held to be essential.
The success which attended the boys' school of industry soon led to the establishment of one for girls, conducted on the same principles; and it is stated that the change wrought among poor, outcast girls, by these means, was even more striking and gratifying than among the boys.
After these schools had been some time in operation, it was discovered that there were still multitudes of depraved children who could not or did not avail themselves of these privileges. It was determined by the authorities of the city of Aberdeen, in conformity with the Scripture injunction, to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Under the authority of the police act they proposed to lay hold of the whole of the juvenile vagrants, and provide them with food and instruction.
Instructions were given to the police, on the 19th of May, 1845, to convey every child found begging to the soup kitchen; and, in the course of the day, seventy-five were collected, of whom four only could read. The scene which ensued is indescribable. Confusion and uproar, quarrelling and fighting, language of the most hateful description, and the most determined rebellion against every thing like order and regularity, gave the gentlemen engaged in the undertaking of taming them the hardest day's work they had ever encountered. Still, they so far prevailed, that, by evening, their authority was comparatively established. When dismissed, the children were invited to return next day—informed that, of course, they could do so or not, as they pleased, and that, if they did, they should be fed and instructed, but that, whether they came or not, begging would not be tolerated. Next day, the greater part returned. The managers felt that they had triumphed, and that a great field of moral usefulness was now secured to them.
The class who were brought to this school were far below those who attend the other two institutions—low as they appeared to be when the schools were first opened; and the scenes of filth, disease, and misery, exhibited even in the school itself, were such as would speedily have driven from the work all merely sentimental philanthropists. Those who undertake this work must have sound, strong principle to influence them, else they will soon turn from it in disgust.
The school went on prosperously; it soon excited public interest; funds flowed in; and, what is most gratifying, the working classes took a lively interest in it; and while the wealthier inhabitants of Aberdeen contributed during the year about one hundred and fifty pounds for its support, the working men collected, and handed over to the committee, no less than two hundred and fifty pounds.
Very few children in attendance at the industrial schools have been convicted of any offence. The regularity of attendance is owing to the children receiving their food in the school; and the school hours being from seven in the morning till seven at night, there is little opportunity for the commission of crime.
The experience acquired in these schools, and the connection which most of the managers had with the criminal courts of the city, led to the opening of a fourth institution—the Child's Asylum. Acting from day to day as judges, these gentlemen had occasionally cases brought before them which gave them extreme pain. Children—nay, infants—were brought up on criminal charges: the facts alleged against them were incontestably proved; and yet, in a moral sense, they could scarcely be held guilty, because, in truth, they did not know that they had done wrong.
There were, however, great practical difficulties in the way, which could only be got over indirectly. The magistrate could adjourn the case, directing the child to be cared for in the mean time, and inquiry could be made as to his family and relations, as to his character, and the prospect of his doing better in future; and he could either be restored to his relations, or boarded in the house of refuge, or with a family, and placed at one or other of the industrial schools; the charge of crime still remaining against him, to be made use of at once if he deserted school and returned to evil courses.
The great advantage sought here was to avoid stamping the child for life with the character of a convicted felon before he deserved it. Once thus brand a child in this country, and it is all but impossible for him ever, by future good conduct, to efface the mask. How careful ought the law and those who administer it to be, not rashly to impress this stigma on the neglected child!
The Child's Asylum was opened on the 4th of December, 1846; and as a proof of the efficiency of the industrial schools in checking juvenile vagrancy and delinquency, it may be noticed that nearly a week elapsed before a child was brought to the asylum. When a child is apprehended by the police for begging, or other misdemeanor, he is conveyed to this institution, and his case is investigated; for which purpose the committee meets daily. If the child be of destitute parents, he is sent to one of the industrial schools; if the child of a worthless, but not needy, parent, efforts are made to induce the parent to fulfil his duty, and exercise his authority in restraining the evil habits of the child, by sending him to school, or otherwise removing him out of the way of temptation.
From the 4th of December up to the 18th of March, forty-seven cases, several of them more than once, had been brought up and carefully inquired into. Most of them were disposed of in the manner now stated; but a few were either claimed by, or remitted to, the procurator fiscal, as proper objects of punishment.
It is premature to say much of an institution which has existed for so short a time; but if the principle on which it is founded be as correct and sound as it appears, it must prosper and do good. There is, however, one great practical difficulty, which can only be removed by legislative enactment: there is no power at present to detain the children in the Asylum, or to force them to attend the schools to which they have been Bent.